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    NHK 7AM this morning: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

    Posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Related to my post last Saturday talking about how things were becoming cheaper in a deflationary Japanese economy:

    Something came on NHK News this morning at 7AM that nearly induced reverse peristalsis on my corn flakes due to excessive laughter.  Deep breath:

    The exchange rate this morning was 81 yen and change to the dollar.  The (well-grounded) complaint is that this is discouraging tourism to Japan and purchases from NJ tourists, due to things being make more expensive upon exchange.

    So NHK was breathlessly reporting (live) from Narita Airport this morning how authorities had come up with a great wheeze to stimulate spending!

    Ready for it?

    “PREFERENTIAL RATE COUPONS!!”

    Meaning that if you hold one of these coupons (they provided a graphic with a big-nosed (of course) gaijin clutching this precious slip of paper), you would get a discount on your exchange from dollars (or whatever) into yen.

    And that preferential rate would be?

    Ready for it?

    (Rips the Post-It off the graphic…)

    30 SEN!!

    Yes, 0.3 OF A YEN discount off your yen exchange rate!!

    They even conveniently calculated with a couple more graphic Post-Its how much you would save.  Tourists, if they could see beyond their proboscis to spending some 2300 USD or so, the amount saved would be…

    Ready for it?

    (Rips the Post-It off the graphic…)

    EIGHT DOLLARS!!

    My god, I’m surprised people aren’t lining up!  The main NHK announcers also found this decidedly uncooworthy.

    They also gave a rupo afterwards (with some token NJ tourists praising Japanese food) at a Narita cafeteria that was also taking drastic (and I mean DRASTIC!) measures to encourage consumption of their meals, by dropping some prices a few hundred yen.  Some fried chicken had been reduced from 700 to 500 yen!  (Albeit this price was arguably overpriced in the first place; a captive-market airport economy tends to do that.)  We had some grateful NJ tourists praising the move, and closeups of one slurping noodles with a big grin.

    For all the money they saved from the preferential coupons (provided they carry a few thousand dollars in cash on them during their stay), they could get one free entree from this cafeteria AND a can of Coke from a vending machine — and still have a few yen change!!  Roll up!  Roll up!

    File under cluelessness.

    Seacrest Out!

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Media, Tourism | 18 Comments »

    NYT on Japan’s deflation: “Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline”

    Posted on Sunday, October 17th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog. In yesterday’s blog entry, Doug gave us a comment referencing a NYT article on the effects of a long recession, deflation, and overall economic slippage in world rankings on Japanese society. The bit that resonated with me came at the very end:

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////
    Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline
    By MARTIN FACKLER
    Published in the New York Times October 16, 2010

    …Deflation has also affected businesspeople by forcing them to invent new ways to survive in an economy where prices and profits only go down, not up.

    Yoshinori Kaiami was a real estate agent in Osaka, where, like the rest of Japan, land prices have been falling for most of the past 19 years. Mr. Kaiami said business was tough. There were few buyers in a market that was virtually guaranteed to produce losses, and few sellers, because most homeowners were saddled with loans that were worth more than their homes.

    Some years ago, he came up with an idea to break the gridlock. He created a company that guides homeowners through an elaborate legal subterfuge in which they erase the original loan by declaring personal bankruptcy, but continue to live in their home by “selling” it to a relative, who takes out a smaller loan to pay its greatly reduced price.

    “If we only had inflation again, this sort of business would not be necessary,” said Mr. Kaiami, referring to the rising prices that are the opposite of deflation. “I feel like I’ve been waiting for 20 years for inflation to come back.”

    One of his customers was Masato, the small-business owner, who sold his four-bedroom condo to a relative for about $185,000, 15 years after buying it for a bit more than $500,000. He said he was still deliberating about whether to expunge the $110,000 he still owed his bank by declaring personal bankruptcy.

    Economists said one reason deflation became self-perpetuating was that it pushed companies and people like Masato to survive by cutting costs and selling what they already owned, instead of buying new goods or investing.

    “Deflation destroys the risk-taking that capitalist economies need in order to grow,” said Shumpei Takemori, an economist at Keio University in Tokyo. “Creative destruction is replaced with what is just destructive destruction.”
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Whole article at:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/world/asia/17japan.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    COMMENT:  The homey explanation of complex economics aside (which few can comment on with certainty due to the unusualness of a deflationary economy), the reason why this passage resonated with me:

    As a friend of mine’s brother (who works for a major US insurance company) said to me the other night, I am “upside down” in terms of my house loan.

    I recently had my house (a 49.5-tsubo structure on 169 tsubo of land), purchased in 1997, appraised. Under current market prices, I was told that I could get 65,000 yen in monthly rent should I ever try to rent it out.

    However, I am paying around 115,000 yen PER MONTH in terms of mortgage, plus three months of rent out of my Bonus twice a year. Not to mention property taxes per annum of about 102,000 yen (down slightly from two years ago), and some insurance of about 60,000 yen per year. All told under current exchange rates, I have to make more than USD 25,000 per year just to feed the home front.

    And if heaven forfend I were to sell the house, the market for second-hand homes is such that the house itself is basically worthless. Essentially only the land is worth something. The plot was purchased for 12,000,000 yen back in ’97. The next-door plot, of equal size and back then of equal price, is now being signposted as going for 4,500,000 yen. Event then, the plot is still unsold. So I don’t fancy my chances for recouping much of anything should I try to unload my property.  Then I would still be saddled with a vestigial loan balance with nothing to gain from it.

    Of course, it was understood back then when I bought the house that it was not an investment in terms of money, but rather a chance for me to carve out a world of my own design within Japan — with a house designed to my family’s specifications with enough space to grow and be comfortable.  A place of our own.  With a lawn to cut.

    It was meant to be a “Happily Ever After” scenario.  But then again few of those fairy-tale scenarios withstand the Test of Time.  I didn’t count on my asking for a divorce, on no longer living under that roof,  or on my salary going down by about a quarter as the loan premiums went up.  As frequent readers of Debito.org know, my ex and kids are still living there (I didn’t want to boot my kids out of the house they were growing up in) and I’m covering everything except utilities.  Hence my “Upside Down Mortgage” is going from financial Albatross to increasingly unsustainable.  Something’s gotta give, sooner or later.  I just hope it won’t be personal bankruptcy.

    As one of Debito.org’s goals is to cover the life of one person living in Japan as a form of case study (so people can avoid and learn from my mistakes), I’ll keep you advised someday on what happens next.

    When I came to Japan I said I wanted to live like other Japanese.  According to the NYT article above, it seems I’m doing just that.  Arudou Debito

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 14 Comments »

    Weekend Tangent: Discovering how cheap, yes cheap, parts of Japan are becoming

    Posted on Saturday, October 16th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  I just finished a first draft of an update of the Hokkaido chapter in a famous travel guidebook (tell you more later after it hits the press), and thought I’d tell you what I noticed:

    Japan is becoming surprisingly attractive for tourism.  One thing I’ve seen when traveling overseas is just how surprisingly expensive things are — like, say, dining out.  Inflation, Euro-currency-inflation, tips and service charges of ten to twenty percent, etc. have made eating in a sit-down restaurant a rather unattractive option (when traveling I usually self-cater, visiting overseas supermarkets where things are far cheaper).

    In contrast, Japan’s currency sans inflation, a stable tax regime, and deflationary prices in many sectors have ultimately kept prices the same while they gradually rise overseas. After all these years of hearing about Japan as “the place where you goggle at hundred-dollar department store melons”, it’s finally reached a point where generally speaking, it’s now become cheaper in Japan.  While travel costs seem about the same (if not slightly higher in some cases due to fuel-cost-appreciation), once you get here, you’re able to predict costs, stick to budgets, and pay comparatively less without hidden fees creeping in.

    Then look at Hokkaido, which is becoming a bargain destination.  It’s possible to get a relatively cheap flight up here (20,000-30,000 yen RT) if you plan accordingly and time it right.  Then once here (especially if you get a package tour subsidized by the Hokkaido government to include a few nights in a hotel), tourists make out.  As far as this guidebook went, just about every hotel I checked had reduced their rates (compared to the previous edition) substantially — some by half! Making them substantially cheaper than comparable hotels I saw overseas.  Further, dining out is very cheap (in Sapporo Susukino, for example, you can get a 2-hour tabe-nomi-houdai all you can eat and drink for about 3500 yen).  I can see why tourism is booming up here.  Good.  We’re no longer the poorest prefecture, IIRC.

    That said, any economy increasingly being powered by tourism suffers from two major flaws:  1) a fickle market, and 2) residents may be enjoying an income, but in general the reason why things are getting cheaper here are because people are making less money themselves.  As they say:  Nice place to visit.  Wouldn’t want to live here.  Because the resident economy and the higher-income tourist economy is by nature fundamentally different in its buying and spending power.

    I’m not speaking as an expert in any of these fields.  I just thought I’d comment on something I’ve observed over the past couple of days and open up the blog to discussion.  Anyone else noticing these trends?  Arudou Debito

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    Posted in Discussions, Food, Tangents, Tourism | 19 Comments »

    Fukuoka General Union info site on how BOEs are outsourcing ALTs through dispatch companies, not through JET Programme

    Posted on Thursday, October 14th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Here’s an informative page from the Fukuoka General Union on how local boards of education are outsourcing ALTs through dispatch companies in place of actual JETs through the JET Programme.  Excerpt follows:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    THE ALT SCAM
    By the Fukuoka General Union
    Throughout Japan Boards of Education have been moving away from the JET program in favour of outsourcing ALT jobs to dispatch companies. In Fukuoka it has come to the point that most BOEs subcontract out their work.

    This page is aimed to shed some light on the current systems that operate to the detriment of ALTs – who are practically all non-Japanese (NJ).

    - Why do BOEs outsource ALT teaching jobs.
    - The difference between direct employ, sub-contract and dispatch contracts.
    - What is illegal about a sub-contract ALT working at a public school.
    - The tender bid process.
    - How much money do dispatch companies make from ALTs?
    - Dispatch company ALT and health insurance.
    - How dispatch companies and BOEs get rid of ALTs they don’t like.
    - Ministry of Education tells BOEs to directly employ ALTs – BOEs ignore directive.
    - Labour Standards Office issue reprimand, BOE has head in the sand.
    - How the sub-contracting system damages other teachers in the industry.
    - Why the Fukuoka General Union is fighting for direct employment.
    - Reference materials
    - You Tube news reports on the ALT sub-contracting issue (Helps explain the situation to Japanese teachers)

    Why do BOEs outsource ALT teaching jobs.
    Up until a few years ago most local governments procured their Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) through the JET program. However, with local government budgets tightening, they began looking for ways to cut expenditure. The cost of keeping a JET was about 6 million yen per year, so when they were approached by dispatch companies which offered to do it for less they jumped on the bandwagon. But not only did they save money, they outsourced the management of the ALTs, getting the dispatch company to take on the troublesome chore of getting the ALT accommodation, assimilating them into Japanese society and taking care of any trouble that arises. Like a cancer the number of non-JET ALTs at public schools increased to a point where they make up the bulk of ALTs in Fukuoka (and other) Prefectures. To outsource the ALT teaching jobs, they have determined that it is a “service” (業務 gyomu)…

    ///////////////////////////////////////

    Rest at http://fukuoka.generalunion.org/alt/index.html

    Here’s an old article from the Mainichi I had lingering in my archives on this subject, to give you an idea just how widespread the practice is.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    偽装請負:千葉・柏市小中61校で認定 外国人指導助手不在に
    毎日新聞 2010年4月17日 東京朝刊, Courtesy JH
    http://mainichi.jp/life/edu/news/20100417ddm041040164000c.html
    ◇せんせいは偽装請負でおやすみです
    千葉県柏市の市立小中学校全61校で3月末まで英語を教えていた外国人の指導助手(ALT)23人について、厚生労働省千葉労働局が、業務請負契約なのに学校の指揮下で働いていたとして13日付で違法な「偽装請負」と認定した。是正指導を受けた市教委が16日発表した。これにより、学校はALTの授業が新年度始められない事態に直面。同様の実態は全国的に多数あるとみられ、影響が広がる可能性がある。

    柏市教委によると、同市のALT民間委託は00年に始まり、07~09年度の3年間は東京都内の業者に委託。同期間のALT23人が3月末に契約期限切れを迎えた。これに対し、ALTを支援する労働組合「千葉労連東葛ユニオン」が市教委に雇用継続を求める一方、千葉労働局に「偽装請負だ」と申し立て、労働局が調査していた。

    市教委は新年度から、業務請負を労働者派遣契約に切り替え、新たに別のALTを受け入れる予定だった。ところが、過去3年間のALTが実質は派遣労働の「偽装請負」と認定され、派遣期間が3年を超えると直接雇用申し入れの義務が生じるとする労働者派遣法の規定や、新たに派遣契約を結ぶには3カ月間以上空けるとする厚労省の指針により、新年度からのALT受け入れができなくなった。市教委は3カ月後の7月以降、ALTの授業を再開する方針だ。

    文部科学省国際教育課は昨年8月、ALTの業務委託契約について直接雇用や派遣に切り替えるよう全国の自治体教委に通知。その直後の調査で、全国670教委が業務委託契約を締結しており、うち439教委は「見直しの予定はない」と回答した。同課は「各教委は労働局に相談して適切な対応を取ってほしい」としている。【早川健人】

    ==============

    ■ことば

    ◇偽装請負
    業務を受注した請負会社が単に労働者を送り込み、発注元の指揮下で仕事をさせる行為。実態は派遣労働と変わらない。本来の業務請負契約は、請負会社が労働者を指揮して仕事をさせる。偽装請負は使用者責任があいまいになるとして、職業安定法や労働者派遣法で禁止されている。

    毎日新聞 2010年4月17日 東京朝刊
    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Education, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 23 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 9, 2010

    Posted on Sunday, October 10th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 9, 2010

    Table of Contents:
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////
    STEPS FORWARD AND BACK
    1) Paul Toland on US House of Representatives vote against child abductions to Japan 416-1
    2) Globe and Mail (Canada): “A black sun rises in a declining Japan”
    3) Police notice: “Oreore Sagi” and other theft crimes with NJ crime placed in the proper context
    4) Sendaiben and MB on Narita Airport again, this time both before and after entry
    5) Discussion: Oguri Saori’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” manga series: Does it help NJ assimilate?
    6) Nagasakitabi.net uses “gaijin” stereotypes (blond wigs and fake noses) to push their website on TV

    OTHERS “DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT”
    7) “Pinprick Protests”: Chand Bakshi fights back against “NJ ID Checkpoint” hotel, gets apology
    8 ) “Pinprick Protests”: NJ refusing to comply with GOJ Census?
    9) Japan Times “Richard Cory” updates us on child custody woes and systematic bias against NJ fathers
    10) Japan Times “Richard Cory” on child custody woes part 2: Who abducts wins

    TANGENTS APLENTY
    11) Weekend Tangent: My great grandmother’s veal turkey stuffing recipe
    12) Travel Tangent: Hell to pay at LAX
    13) Transit Tangent: Visited Tokyo DisneySea and tried not to enjoy myself, unsuccessfully
    14) Cultural Tangent: American Soap Operas vs. Japanese Houmu Dorama
    15) Just for fun: What are the going rates for English private lessons in your neck of Japan?

    … and finally…
    16) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Oct 5 2010: “Census blind to Japan’s true diversity”
    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito from Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily Blog updates, RSS, commentary, and podcasts at www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    STEPS FORWARD AND BACK

    1) Paul Toland on US House of Representatives vote against child abductions to Japan 416-1

    Media: The U.S. House of Representatives turned up the pressure Wednesday on Japan, strongly urging Tokyo to return immediately half-Japanese children that lawmakers say have been kidnapped from their American parents.

    The House voted overwhelmingly for a nonbinding resolution that “condemns the abduction and retention” of children held in Japan “in violation of their human rights and United States and international law.”

    The resolution, which passed 416 to 1, also calls for Japan to allow Americans to visit their children and for Tokyo to join a 1980 international convention on child abduction that would allow for the quick return of the children to America.

    Democratic Rep Jim Moran told reporters that the resolution sends a strong signal to Japan that the U.S. Congress “is watching and expecting action.”

    Republican Rep. Chris Smith said, “Americans are fed up with our friend and ally Japan and their pattern of noncooperation.”

    The Japanese Embassy said in a statement that Japan is sympathetic to the plight of children caught in custody battles between Japanese and American citizens and “is continuing to make sincere efforts to deal with this issue from the standpoint that the welfare of the child should be of the utmost importance.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7556

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) Globe and Mail (Canada): “A black sun rises in a declining Japan”

    Globe and Mail makes a case that a groundswell of far-rightism in Japan is even worrying the traditional far-rightists:

    “Until recently, it was the likes of Mitsuhiro Kimura that worried Japan’s political mainstream. The leader of the far-right Issuikai movement, he counted Saddam Hussein and French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen among his allies, and created friction with Japan’s neighbours by loudly denying the country’s Second World War crimes.

    But now Mr. Kimura is among those concerned about a new breed of extremists, who are capitalizing on the bruised pride and swelling anger in Japan with a brand of politics that makes even a friend of the former Iraqi dictator uncomfortable. As this country staggers through a second decade of economic stagnation, and suffers the indignation of being eclipsed by historic rival China, there’s a common refrain coming from the growing ranks of this country’s young and angry: Japan must stand up for itself — and that foreigners are to blame for the country’s ills.

    Take the past week alone. Infuriated by a perceived Japanese climbdown in a dispute with China over an island chain that both nations claim, right-wingers tossed smoke bombs at the Chinese consulates in the cities of Fukuoka and Nagasaki. Another man was arrested with a knife in his bag outside the Tokyo residence of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. On Friday, a motorcade of 60 cars organized by a right-wing group briefly surrounded a bus carrying Chinese tourists in Fukuoka, prompting Beijing to issue a warning to its citizens about the dangers of visiting Japan…”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7577

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Police notice: “Oreore Sagi” and other theft crimes with NJ crime placed in the proper context

    Here we have the Hokkaido police issuing a warning (procured from a Sapporo post office ATM area last February) about “Oreore Sagi” (“Hey Mom, it’s me, I need money fast” fraud) and other types of snatch and grab thefts. As you can read below, we have 1) a shyster phoning some old mom claiming to be her son and asking for emergency funds to be sent to an account, 2) a cash card being used for theft because the owner uses his or her birthday as their PIN number, 3) people storing their inkans too close to their bankbooks, 4) mysterious people distracting marks so they can snatch their belongings, and 5) call the police immediately if they think they’ve been a victim of crime.

    Item 4) below in particular is germane to Debito.org. It mentions (in passing) that grabbers might say “you dropped some money” or “your clothes are dirty”, or speak to you in a foreign language. After distracting you, then they run off with your cash or bag.

    Fine. It’s in context of other crimes committed by Japanese. Compare it with some past NPA posters making foreigners out to be the main culprits, including racist caricatures (which are fortunately avoided above), like this nasty one with darkies speaking katakana:

    I think this new one is a definite improvement. Perhaps we’re getting listened to.

    One more thing: About this “Oreore Sagi” fraud phenomenon. One thing I’ve always wondered is, are parents so distant from their children nowadays that they can’t recognize their own child’s voice on the phone? I don’t understand how they get duped. Explain, somebody?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7116

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) Sendaiben and MB on Narita Airport again, this time both before and after entry

    Sendaiben Sept 29: Just came back through Narita and gave my usual calm and friendly rant to the immigration officer (she wasn’t particularly impressed -got a very curt “if you don’t comply you can’t come in”). Fair enough.

    I then had a thought. The re-entry permit holder line anywhere I’ve been has been by far the shortest. I have never had to wait more than a minute or so, unlike the Japanese citizens who often have long lines (and let’s not talk about the tourist lines, which are often pretty bad). I can also take my family through with me (even though they have Japanese passports) and save them time standing in line too.

    If you think of the re-entry line as a VIP line that requires additional security (fingerprints), does that not make the whole thing easier to swallow? After all, it’s not such a big deal, is it? It’s not worth getting het up about every single time we come back into the country, is it?

    Sadly, that doesn’t work for me, however much I would like it to. I really dislike the policy, which seems pointless and needlessly offensive to me.

    I will keep complaining, although I make sure I do so in a calm and friendly manner (the immigration officers on the desks didn’t make the rules, so there is no point being hostile to them). However, as public servants, they should know how the public feels about the policies they carry out: thus it is my right to talk about it in a calm and reasonable way

    Ironically it is this more than anything else which is pushing me to naturalize: I don’t need the grief every time I come home. What does everyone else think?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7554

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) Discussion: Oguri Saori’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” manga series: Does it help NJ assimilate?

    We’ve recently had a decent discussion come up within the comments section of a blog entry, and it’s good enough to warrant its own entry.

    The topic was Oguri Saori’s “Daarin Wa Gaikokujin” (My Darling is a Foreigner), a best-selling series of manga depicting the life of a quirky bilingual foreigner by the name of “Tony” who marries a Japanese woman. The manga chronicles the different personalities of the husband and wife as they deal with issues in Japan, create a life and a family together, travel from one place to another, and generally try to get inside “Tony’s mind”. There are several books under Oguri’s authorship (at least one with real-life husband Tony Laszlo’s co-billing — his “Guide to Happiness”), and even a movie earlier this year, not to mention an English translation, subway and train PSAs, and an ANA advertising deal. It’s a very influential economic juggernaut that has spawned imitators (there are other “Darling”-types of books connected with different nationalities), and now with “DWG with baby” on board the epic is anticipated to continue for some years to come.

    The question for Debito.org Readers: Is the DWG manga series really working in NJs best interests? As in, as far as Debito.org is concerned, helping NJ to assimilate, be treated as equals and moreover residents of Japan?

    I came out in my last blog entry and said I wasn’t sure it is. Let me give my standpoint and open the floor up for discussion:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7531

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) Nagasakitabi.net uses “gaijin” stereotypes (blond wigs and fake noses) to push their website on TV

    Debito.org Reader RN sends this:

    September 19, 2010

    Hi Debito, Hope all is well. Not sure if I’ve told you this before but I own a Slingbox in Fukuoka which allows me to watch live Japanese television from home here in the USA. This evening I was watching (FBS) and saw a commercial that was apparently trying to depict two Japanese people feeling like they were in a foreign country while on vacation. To make them look “foreign” they placed large noses and blonde hair on them and made them speak Japanese with a distinct foreign accent. It kind of reminded me of the whole McDonald’s Mr. James deal (not as blatant but still made me think, “What the heck?!”). I was attempting to put together screen shots, etc. for you (as my Slingbox allows me to pause and back up) but I found the commercial on YouTube. The company is XXXXX [which links to an English site sponsored by the "Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Visitors Bureau"]. Here is the CM link:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7523

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    OTHERS “DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT”

    7) “Pinprick Protests”: Chand Bakshi fights back against “NJ ID Checkpoint” hotel, gets apology

    Here is a report from Chand Bakshi on how he called “basta” to a hotel that was racially profiling its customers, demanding all visually-looking NJ submit to an ID check and copy — claiming erroneously that this was required by law. Chand followed up on this to the point where he got capitulation and an apology. Well done.

    This is actually pretty effective. The hotel I usually stay at in Tokyo has on various occasions (depending on how I was dressed) tried to Gaijin Card me too. I told them (and later followed up with an explanation to the management) that this only applied to tourists; NJ with Japanese addresses are not required to show ID. Of course, that’s not what the NPA would have hotels believe — they have explicitly instructed hotels to inspect and photocopy ID of ALL NJ. Which is why we must fight back against this invitation to racial profiling, as Chand has below.

    In my case, my Tokyo hotel yesterday asked me if I had a domestic address upon check-in (which I’m fine with). I pointed to my name on the check-in card and said, check your records — I’m not only a Japanese, but also a frequent customer. Got a deep apology. But at least now my hotel chain is more sophisticated in its approach.

    Read on for Chand’s report…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7580

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) “Pinprick Protests”: NJ refusing to comply with GOJ Census?

    KD: “Hi Debito, Today a lady rang my door and kindly asked me to fill out the census papers. As you probably remember from previous censuses, in the spirit of civil disobedience I refuse to participate with the census, in protest of long-term resident NJ’s not having the right to vote in local elections.

    I discussed this with the lady who brought the census papers. She clearly understood my position and also brought up some points herself why it was strange that long-term NJ have no voting rights.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, I do not intend to be an activist, but I thought that perhaps other people who follow you might be interested in the idea of protesting our lack of voting rights in this way.

    In itself it won’t get us voting rights, but it does send a message. Sending that message, whenever we can, and in every way we can, is important.”

    What do others think?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7536

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) Japan Times “Richard Cory” updates us on child custody woes and systematic bias against NJ fathers

    Japan Times: In December 2009, shortly after I detailed my fears in this column (Zeit Gist, Nov. 3, 2009) about my wife’s ongoing affair potentially resulting in me losing custody of my children, family life got even worse as she became increasingly physically abusive toward our children. In fact, the police visited my home after one incident in December and recommended that I take my daughter to the Child Guidance Center (jidosodanjo) so that we could determine how to best handle her mother’s violent behavior. Over the next few months, my daughter was interviewed twice at the Child Guidance Center and a few times at her public elementary school.

    Unfortunately, as we neared the abduction date, bias against her American father started to become evident. Exactly two weeks before her abduction, her female school principal met privately with my daughter, who summarized her principal’s comments as follows: “Your mother might be violent, but we know she’s a very nice mother on the inside. She will change one day. She’s just stressed right now.”

    Two days before the abduction, the school principal and two child welfare officers met with my daughter in the principal’s office, and just hours after returning home, my daughter reported the following exchange between her and one of the welfare officers, an older Japanese woman: “And then she said, ‘Who are you going to choose?’ And I said, ‘Because Mama beats me, I want to go to Daddy’s side. I’m going to choose Daddy.’ Then she said, ‘Your mother does all the stuff at home, like cooking and doing the clothes and stuff like that, so I think it would be better if you choose your mother.’ “

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7545

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Japan Times “Richard Cory” on child custody woes part 2: Who abducts wins

    Japan Times: Look at my case (and what the judge wrote in her custody ruling in July). My wife had admitted to the following:

    ● More than three years of ongoing adultery (“The reason for the breakup of the marriage was the respondent’s adultery”); Giving large sums of money (JPY7.7 million) to her lover to help him pay off his gambling debt (“Respondent lent a large sum of money to her colleague”);

    ● Taking my children on dates to bet on horse racing;

    ● Being currently on medication for various disorders (“Respondent became mentally ill and started seeing a doctor in or around January 2010 and worried about her insufficient communication with the children”);

    ● Physically abusing her own spouse and children (“Respondent attacked petitioner . . . and used physical power that cannot be justified as discipline against the children”).

    Her own daughter fled from her after being abducted, and then testified against her. Moreover, my wife did not even petition for custody of the children until four months after I filed for divorce and custody. I even submitted a video showing my wife with not one of the bruises or injuries she claimed to have sustained the day before the video was taken. And we even had eyewitness testimony of her trying to injure herself. Could my case be any stronger?

    Nevertheless, when the judge awarded me physical custody of my daughter, she also awarded physical custody of the boys to their mother. The reason: “There’s no big problem (with the boys staying where they are).”

    Based on such reasoning, you can bet the bank that this judge would have awarded custody of all three children to my wife had I not been able to rescue one. And the judge would probably have given me custody of them all had they all been able to get free.

    Japan’s family court is simply a facade designed to make an unevolved system appear civilized.

    Let’s not kid ourselves. In Japan, “possession of the children” trumps the “best interests of the children” every time, particularly when the “best interests of the children” are never even addressed. And when you have a country that is pouring great sums of money into a system that shuffles children off to hidden locations whenever a parent makes an unverified DV claim, the state, in essence, becomes complicit in the abduction of the children…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7548

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    TANGENTS APLENTY

    11) Weekend Tangent: My great grandmother’s veal turkey stuffing recipe

    In honor of upcoming Canadian (and soon American) Thanksgiving:
    APPOLONIA MENDIS CYPCAR’S TURKEY STUFFING
    From Arudou Debito, great grandson, Debito.org
    (for a 13-14 lb turkey)

    1 lb ground veal
    1/2 box of saltines (box 1 1b size) ground coarsely
    1 pint whole milk
    1/2 lb butter
    4 eggs beaten
    salt and pepper to taste

    It’s the taste I miss most from the USA.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5796

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) Travel Tangent: Hell to pay at LAX

    Here is a summary of the hell I went through at LAX. It wasn’t passport control. It was the simply awful treatment everyone has to go through regardless of nationality, unbecoming of a first-world airport. Seems like the American airline industry is on a race to the bottom for standards of customer service. Some airports have already essentially become bus stations. Other American airport horror stories welcome, in hopes that someone will care about outsiders’ opinions as much as the Japanese airports do.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7499

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Transit Tangent: Visited Tokyo DisneySea and tried not to enjoy myself, unsuccessfully

    I’m currently writing you from LAX from the United Airlines lounge, and am pretty zoned out at the moment what with the jetlag. Today I’ll write something a little more off-topic and talk about something more cultural: DisneySea.

    I’m not generally one for theme parks. I’ve been to the occasional traveling show (cue Cher song), visited a neighborhood place a couple of times called Roseland in Canandaigua, NY (with Roaring Twenties/WWII equivalents of video games — “The Feather Dance” and “Shoot Down the Zero!”, anyone?), enjoyed the Santa Cruz Boardwalk (highlights — seeing Eighties bands doing nostalgia tours, and enjoying the video arcade with the crowded corner offering video games like Pac-Man, Gorf, Tron, and Asteroids to the post-Pong generation), gone to Six Flags in a couple of places, and been to Disneys in Anaheim and Orlando. I find the nickle-and-diming of concessions and the dodginess of the Carny booths kinda get to me.

    And when I said to some drinking buddies on Saturday that I would be going to DisneySea with a friend (this would be my first time to go to Tokyo Disneyland), all the guys groaned and said, “Jeez, that’s a place for couples, all sappy’n’shit!”, while their girlfriends all gave a collective sigh of “ii naaa…” It’s the Happiest Place on the Planet(TM), they kept saying.

    But I checked my machismo at the door and went anyway…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7494

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) Cultural Tangent: American Soap Operas vs. Japanese Houmu Dorama

    Completely self-indulgent tangent, but I will relate it back to Japan. I watched on a complete whim the very last episode of American soap opera “As the World Turns”. It’s been going on for 54 years, with some characters apparently going on (according to Entertainment Weekly; it’s not as if I watch this stuff) for nearly forty. It has even been parodied by the Carol Burnett Show as “As the Stomach Turns” (god I miss Carol’s comedy; what happened to her?); the soap opera has, however, outlasted her. Until now.

    I watched it and felt that the parody was appropriate. Fascinating was that every scene (this was a final tie-up all the relationships, making them all “happy ever after”, no drama necessary) ended with a hug if not a hug and a kiss. Every scene, seriously. As if all conflict, inner or outer, was healed by the power of hugs. In general, I find the more lower-market (as in, shooting for a larger, “average” audience, real or imagined) the American programs aimed for, the higher the hug frequency. And the mantra of the ATWT’s last show was that “we all lead normal lives”, real or imagined. Ewg. (The commercials, aiming for a female audience of course, stressed family security and warmth of the hearth; it added to this different world of “normalness” I’ve never really been a party to.) The last scene (there was no retrospective, no cast bows at the end saying goodbye like on some American farewell stage shows) showed the anchoring-character of the doctor leaving his office for retirement, switching off his light, and leaving a spotlight on this cheesy globe (out of place in the dark-panelled room) doing, you guessed it, a long spin… Just in case you lack comprehension of metaphor.

    Contrast that with the “home dramas” of Japan that I’ve managed to sit through…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7513

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    15) Just for fun: What are the going rates for English private lessons in your neck of Japan?

    I often get requests from people online who think about moving to Japan and supplementing their Eikaiwa income with “private lessons”, i.e. your own cottage industry of meetings with an individual or groups in an informal setting and at an hourly rate. They inquire how efficacious that plan my be.

    I usually caution people against that, since the Bubble-Era fees are long gone (I was pulling down JPY10,000 an hour once upon a time). Moreover, the Post-Bubble “McDonaldization of Eikaiwa” (as I have heard it described on other listservs) by the NOVAs and ECs have driven average rates for English teaching down to hardscrabble levels, meaning people without a full-time job with health insurance and benefits will probably not be able to make a living on private lessons alone.

    But that’s just what’ve I heard. I haven’t done many privates for years now (Sapporo’s market rates, if you can get privates at all, appear to be around JPY2000-3500 an hour). I thought I’d ask Debito.org Readers around Japan what they’re getting/can get for private lessons (in English or in any language you teach) in their local area. Let us know.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7542

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally…

    16) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Oct 5 2010: “Census blind to Japan’s true diversity”

    Census blind to Japan’s true diversity
    The Japan Times: Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010
    By DEBITO ARUDOU

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101005ad.html
    Commentary at http://www.debito.org/?p=7574

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    All for a little while. I’m still going to be writing more and blogging less, so the next Newsletter will probably be in early November. Enjoy Canadian Thanksgiving, Canucks!

    Arudou Debito from Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily Blog updates, RSS, commentary, and podcasts at www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 9, 2010 ENDS

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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 (forgot to blog)

    Posted on Sunday, October 10th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    (Sorry, forgot to blog this last month.  Just realized it as the time approached for this month’s Newsletter.)

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 12, 2010

    Hello all. It’s been a long, hot summer, with minimal blogging, and at the start of this month I got a call from a self-described “religious checker of Debito.org”, worried about my welfare after so few updates. Well, summer was touring Hokkaido. Points of interest: Niseko, Noboribetsu, Eniwa-Dake and Shikotsuko, Biei, Monbetsu, Saromako, Abashiri, Yanbetsu, Utoro, Shiritoko Goko and Kamuiwakka, Notsuke Hantou, Nemuro, Nosappu Misaki, Kiritappu, and Akkeshi. Capped by driving the 550 kms circuitously between Nemuro back to Sapporo in one day. Now it’s trips to Tokyo and Canada (speaking at UBC in at JSAC in late September, and the Japan Writers’ Conference in Tokyo in early October). Thanks for reading and caring, Debito.org Readers. Now for the Newsletter:

    Table of Contents:

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////
    DEVELOPMENTS
    1) The 2010 Japan Census from October 1: Flash GOJ multilingual site explaining what it’s all about
    2) Summer Tangent: DailyFinance.com on Japan’s generation-long economic stagnation leading to a lost generation of youth
    3) Keishicho Kouhou on organized crime in Japan: Places NJ gangs in context for a change
    4) Wash Post: “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”, focus on nursing program
    5) Thrice-convicted crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo gets his: Supreme Court rejects appeal, jail time looms
    6) Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

    ACTIVISM ON BOTH SIDES
    7) NYT: “New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign”
    8 ) Success Story: Takamado English Speech Contest reform their “Japanese Only”, er, “Non-English Speakers Only” rules
    9) Meeting with US Embassy Tokyo Sept 9, regarding State Dept. Country Reports on Human Rights
    10) Asahi: Zaitokukai arrests: Rightist adult bullies of Zainichi schoolchildren being investigated
    11) “The Cove” Taiji Dolphin protesters cancel local demo due to potential Rightist violence
    12) Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.
    13) Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints
    14) M-Net Magazine publishes FRANCA March 2010 report to UN Rapporteur in Japanese

    INTERESTING TANGENTS
    15) Economist.com summary of Amakudari system
    16) Coleman Japan Inc. has instructions “For Japanese Consumers Only”
    17) Discussion: “If you could change one thing about a society…”

    … and finally …
    18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: ‘Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English”
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito, currently in Tokyo in air conditioning
    Daily Blog updates at www.debito.org, email debito@debito.org, twitter arudoudebito
    Freely Forwardable

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    DEVELOPMENTS

    1) The 2010 Japan Census from October 1: Flash GOJ multilingual site explaining what it’s all about

    Japan is gearing up to take another big Census of the population come October. This time, fortunately, we have a flash site explaining what it’s all about in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and English.

    Jolly decent of the GOJ to make the effort to explain what’s going on, if in prime Japanicana schoolteacher style.

    As for the Census itself. I’ve always had a problem about it not measuring people (using optional questions) about their ethnicity (minzoku). Up until now, respondents were always asked about their nationality (kokuseki), never their roots, meaning someone like me can’t indicate anywhere that I’m ethnically an American-Japanese (amerika kei nihonjin). But I see that as political: This way Japan in government statistics officially remains the nondiverse Monocultural Society, with only 1.6% or so of the population as “foreign”. If anyone sees that being handled differently this time, please let us know.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7449

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) Summer Tangent: DailyFinance.com on Japan’s generation-long economic stagnation leading to a lost generation of youth

    Daily Finance.com: What happens to a generation of young people when:

    They are told to work hard and go to college, yet after graduating they find few permanent job opportunities?
    Many of the jobs that are available are part-time, temporary or contract labor?
    These insecure jobs pay one-third of what their fathers earned?
    The low pay makes living at home the only viable option?
    Poor economic conditions persist for 10, 15 and 20 years in a row?

    For an answer, turn to Japan. The world’s second-largest economy has stagnated in just this fashion for almost 20 years, and the consequences for the “lost generations” that have come of age in the “lost decades” have been dire. In many ways, Japan’s social conventions are fraying under the relentless pressure of an economy in seemingly permanent decline.

    While the world sees Japan as the home of consumer technology juggernauts such as Sony and Toshiba and high-tech “bullet trains” (shinkansen), beneath the bright lights of Tokyo and the evident wealth generated by decades of hard work and Japan Inc.’s massive global export machine lies a different reality: increasing poverty and decreasing opportunity for the nation’s youth.

    Suddenly, It’s Haves and Have Nots

    The gap between extremes of income at the top and bottom of society — measured by the Gini coefficient — has been growing in Japan for years. To the surprise of many outsiders, once-egalitarian Japan is becoming a nation of haves and have-nots.

    The media in Japan have popularized the phrase “kakusa shakai,” literally meaning “gap society.” As the elite slice prospers and younger workers are increasingly marginalized, the media has focused on the shrinking middle class. For example, a best-selling book offers tips on how to get by on an annual income of less than 3 million yen ($34,800). Two million yen ($23,000) has become the de-facto poverty line for millions of Japanese, especially outside high-cost Tokyo.

    More than one-third of the workforce is part-time as companies have shed the famed Japanese lifetime employment system, nudged along by government legislation that abolished restrictions on flexible hiring a few years ago. Temp agencies have expanded to fill the need for contract jobs as permanent job opportunities have dwindled.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7409

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Keishicho Kouhou on organized crime in Japan: Places NJ gangs in context for a change

    Got this from friend MS yesterday, a monthly publication from the Tokyo Police letting us know what they’re up to regarding fighting crime. In this case, the Yakuza. Have a look:

    I’m happier with this than usual. Yes, we have the regular report on the evils that foreign criminals get up to. But this time, it’s not a major focus, and it’s within a context of all the other evils that Japanese criminals get up to.

    Fine. Go get the bad guys. Just don’t make it seem the bad guys are bad because they are foreign. As the past NPA notices have taken great pains (and taxpayer outlay) to make clear (archive here at Debito.org).

    This is an improvement. It provides context as well as content. And the appropriate weight.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7466

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) Wash Post: “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”, focus on nursing program

    Here’s more information that we’re making public seeping into overseas media. Nothing terribly new to regular readers here (but no doubt new to many readers overseas). But brace yourself for the Comments section of this article, full of the nastiness that goes beyond cultural relativity. Amazing how immigrants are the eternal bashables, told to abide by whatever vague rules the nativists come up with (and don’t always follow themselves), told to accept inferior wages and working conditions, and told to go home if they have any problems or complaints. Worse yet is when the government is essentially saying the same thing by setting up hurdles that are nearly insurmountable. As the article gets into below. Enjoy.

    Wash Post: “There’s a lack of urgency or lack of sense of crisis for the declining population in Japan,” said Satoru Tominaga, director of Garuda, an advocacy group for Indonesian nurse and caretaker candidates. “We need radical policy change to build up the number” of such workers. “However, Japan lacks a strong government; if anything, it’s in chaos.”

    When Japan struck economic partnership agreements with Indonesia and the Philippines, attracting nurses and caretakers wasn’t the primary objective. Japan sought duty-free access for its automakers to the Southeast Asian market. Accepting skilled labor was just part of the deal.

    But by 2025, Japan will need to almost double its number of nurses and care workers, currently at 1.2 million. And because of the test, substandard language skills, not substandard caretaking skills, are keeping the obvious solution from meeting the gaping need.

    The 998 Filipino and Indonesian nurses and caretakers who’ve come to Japan since 2008 all have, at minimum, college educations or several years of professional experience. Nurses can stay for three years, with three chances to pass the test. Other caregivers can stay for four years, with one chance to pass. Those who arrive in Japan take a six-month language cram class and then begin work as trainees.

    They are allotted a brief period every workday — 45 minutes, in Paulino’s case — for language study. Many also study for hours at night.

    “The language skills, that is a huge hurdle for them,” said Kiichi Inagaki, an official at the Japan International Corporation for Welfare Services, which oversees the program. “However, if you go around the hospital, you understand how language is important. Nurses are dealing with medical technicalities. They are talking to doctors about what is important. In order to secure a safe medical system, they need a very high standard of Japanese.”

    Advocates for foreign nurses and caregivers do not play down the importance of speaking and understanding Japanese. But they emphasize that the Japanese characters for medical terminology are among the hardest to learn; perhaps some jargon-heavy portion of the certification test, they say, could be given in English or workers’ native language.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7348

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) Thrice-convicted crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo gets his: Supreme Court rejects appeal, jail time looms

    Good news. Former LDP kingpin (now in his own little Hokkaido-based Party of One) Suzuki Muneo, who was twice convicted in lower courts of corruption charges, has just been convicted a third time by having his appeal rejected by the Supreme Court.

    This ‘orrible little man has been of concern to Debito.org for many years now, because he has shown just how some people (one of us Dosanko, no less) are above the law. His life as case study demonstrates how in Japanese politics, a bent LDP bigwig could manipulate public policy (he was once known as the Shadow Foreign Minister, establishing under-the table kickback relationships — using GOJ discretionary budgets — with places like Russia and Tanzania, putting “Muneo Houses” in places like the Northern Territories (which he claimed were within his electorate in Outback Hokkaido). Not only that, he could get reelected despite repeated convictions just by appealing to a higher court. See more on Muneo here, and here’s a contemporary essay from 2002 (shortly before his downfall) depicting what shenanigans he was up to in real time.

    Well, it only took eight years since his arrest to get this guy properly sentenced, but there you go: That’s how slowly our judiciary moves. Muneo faces jail time and loss of Diet seat. Good. Sadly, we’re bound to see this guy turn up again like a bent yen coin in our pocket. He’ll be incarcerated for a couple of years, wait out his five-year ban on running again, and no doubt throw his hat back in the ring before he hits his seventieth birthday. Hokkaido people can be that desperate to elect this man (one of the most charismatic Japanese politicians I’ve ever met) and he’ll be back protesting the rapaciousness of the Public Prosecutor. Article excerpt from the Japan Times follows.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7484

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

    The GOJ just said it will join the Hague Convention (on Child Abductions, not child custody, as entitled below; guess that’s more palatable to readers), something sorely needed in in a society which acts as a haven for international child kidnapping after divorce. It’s an important announcement, with a couple of caveats: 1) It hasn’t happened yet (or it’s uncertain when it will happen, so it’s not quite news), and 2) it’s unclear, as the article notes (and many Debito.org Readers believe, according to a recent poll here) that Japan will properly enforce it if it does ratify (as it has done in the past with, say, the Convention on Racial Discrimination) with laws guaranteeing joint custody and/or visitation rights. Good news, kinda. Wait and see.

    Kyodo: Japan has decided to become a party to a global treaty on child custody as early as next year amid growing calls abroad for the country to join it to help resolve custody problems resulting from failed international marriages, government sources said Saturday.

    The government will develop domestic laws in line with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides a procedure for the prompt return of ”abducted” children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights, the sources said.

    Complaints have been growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often a mother, brings a child to Japan without the consent of the foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child…

    However, the government has yet to determine when to ratify the treaty, as it is expected to take time to develop related domestic laws because of differences in the legal systems of Japan and other signatory nations.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7419

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    ACTIVISM ON BOTH SIDES

    7) NYT: “New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign”

    NYT: The [xenophobic] protests also signaled the emergence here of a new type of ultranationalist group. The groups are openly anti-foreign in their message, and unafraid to win attention by holding unruly street demonstrations.

    Since first appearing last year, their protests have been directed at not only Japan’s half million ethnic Koreans, but also Chinese and other Asian workers, Christian churchgoers and even Westerners in Halloween costumes. In the latter case, a few dozen angrily shouting demonstrators followed around revelers waving placards that said, “This is not a white country.”

    Local news media have dubbed these groups the Net far right, because they are loosely organized via the Internet, and gather together only for demonstrations. At other times, they are a virtual community that maintains its own Web sites to announce the times and places of protests, swap information and post video recordings of their demonstrations.

    While these groups remain a small if noisy fringe element here, they have won growing attention as an alarming side effect of Japan’s long economic and political decline. Most of their members appear to be young men, many of whom hold the low-paying part-time or contract jobs that have proliferated in Japan in recent years.

    Though some here compare these groups to neo-Nazis, sociologists say that they are different because they lack an aggressive ideology of racial supremacy, and have so far been careful to draw the line at violence. There have been no reports of injuries, or violence beyond pushing and shouting. Rather, the Net right’s main purpose seems to be venting frustration, both about Japan’s diminished stature and in their own personal economic difficulties…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7446

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) Success Story: Takamado English Speech Contest reform their “Japanese Only”, er, “Non-English Speakers Only” rules

    Debito.org (via The Community) originally reported about a decade ago that the Takamado English speech contest, for junior-highschooler English speaking ability name-sponsored by a member of the Japanese royalty, was refusing foreign children enrolled in Japanese schools entry. This might seem reasonable, since native English speakers competing with Japanese L2 students would indeed have an unfair advantage.

    However, Takamado’s rules excluded ALL foreigners, including those from countries that are not native English-speaking countries (such as Chinese or Mongolians). Moreover, the rules also excluded ALL Japanese who had foreign blood, as far back as grandparents.

    So I wrote about it for The Community. Nothing happened. Then I wrote about it for The Japan Times back in 2004. Then something happened. I checked the rules for Takamado yesterday, and they’ve been revised to be more sophisticated about deeming who has a linguistic advantage. A foreigner is no longer just a foreigner and not a blanket tainter of Japanese student blood. Pays to say something. No longer is it a blanket system of “a foreigner is a foreigner is a foreigner”, and the attitude is less that any foreigner is a blanket tainter of Japanese student blood. Okay, better. Pays to say something. Especially in print.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7423

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) Meeting with US Embassy Tokyo Sept 9, regarding State Dept. Country Reports on Human Rights

    Yesterday three friends and I visited the US Embassy in Tokyo to discuss employment and other issues of discrimination in Japan. The consular official who received us, a Mr Thomas Whitney, kindly gave us 90 minutes to give as much information as we liked for consideration in the US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights, an annual report given by the USG on individual countries that has in past years included information on even the Otaru Onsens Case (thanks). What follows are the summaries provided in advance of what we would say. Here’s mine, since it’s shortest:

    The Japanese Government (GOJ) has a history of not abiding by its treaty obligations. With “Japanese Only” signs and rules in businesses nationwide (despite unlawfulness under both the Japanese Constitution and the UN CERD) and clear and present inequality towards non-Japanese in both the workplace and in protections under the law, Japan still has no national law with penalties against racial discrimination. The GOJ continues to make arguments to the UN against adopting one (i.e., freedom of speech and the efficacy of the Japanese judiciary for redress), while abuses towards non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese worsen (e.g., new and overt examples of hate speech and xenophobia, racist statements by politicians and media, even targeting of naturalized citizens for suspicion and exclusion). The GOJ has had more than a decade (having effected the CERD in 1996) to make legislative attempts to rectify this system, and its negligence presents ill precedent for abiding under future treaty signings (such as the Hague Convention on Child Abductions). Friends must help friends break bad habits, and gentle international pressure to assist the GOJ under a new reformist administration move in the right direction is a good thing for all concerned.

    NB: Since our focus was on employment issues, I cited my experiences with TADD and Ambassador Mondale back in 1995 (See Ivan Hall CARTELS OF THE MIND), and the systematic full-time contracting of NJ in academia as witnessed through the Blacklist of Japanese Universities. I also mentioned that the GOJ has constantly refused attempts to release hard numbers on how many NJ academics in Japan have contracts vs tenure compared to Japanese academics getting contracts vs tenure (see more on this Academic Apartheid here). I also tied everyone’s presentations at the end with a request for USG visits to the Ministries of Education and Labor (following on Mondale’s precedent), to express awareness of the problem and the desire for proper enforcement of existing labor laws (if not the creation of a law against racial discrimination). Finally, I gave Mr Whitney the FRANCA handouts I gave the United Nations last March regarding general issues of discrimination in Japan (here and here).

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7480

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Asahi: Zaitokukai arrests: Rightist adult bullies of Zainichi schoolchildren being investigated

    We’ve seen plenty of cases where Far-Right protesters who harass and even use violence towards people and counter-demonstrators doing so with impunity from the Japanese police (examples here, here, here, and within the movie Yasukuni). However, it looks as though they went too far when this case below was brought up before a United Nations representative visiting Japan last March, and now arrests and investigations of the bullies are taking place (youtube video of that event here, from part two). Good.

    Asahi: Senior members of a group of “Net rightists” who hurled abuse at elementary schoolchildren attending a pro-Pyongyang Korean school were arrested by police on Tuesday.

    The group, part of a new wave of extreme nationalist groups that use video-sharing websites to promote their activities, targeted children at Kyoto Chosen Daiichi Elementary School in the city’s Minami Ward with taunts including “Leave Japan, children of spies” and “This school is nurturing North Korean spies.”

    A janitor, a snack bar operator, an electrician and a company employee, all men in their 30s and 40s, are suspected of playing leading roles in the demonstration near the school on Dec. 4 last year.

    On Tuesday, police began questioning four people, including Dairyo Kawahigashi, 39, an executive of Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai, which literally means, “a citizens group that does not approve of privileges for Korean residents in Japan,” and is known as Zaitokukai for short.

    Police also searched the Tokyo home of the group’s chairman, Makoto Sakurai, 38…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7406

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) “The Cove” Taiji Dolphin protesters cancel local demo due to potential Rightist violence

    To: Members in “The Cove” — Save Japan Dolphins
    UPDATE: Sept.1 Taiji events cancelled
    Received August 20, 2010

    For several important reasons, we have decided to cancel our plans in Taiji, Japan for Sept. 1st (the first day of the annual dolphin slaughter.)

    Most importantly, we received word that an extreme nationalist group known to be violent is set to confront us in Taiji. Our work in Japan has never been about physical confrontation. Since “The Cove” premiered in theaters earlier this Summer, we believe we are making progress by bringing the truth to the people of Japan about the dolphin slaughter and about mercury-poisoned dolphin meat in markets. We will not play the game that the nationalist groups want us to play — we will not have it become “us versus them.” — The militant nationalist groups may gather as they like in Taiji; we will be elsewhere in Japan, talking to the media, explaining the problem, and making sure the public understands that we are not there to fight, but to work together.

    COMMENT: The development above has stirred mixed feelings in me because: 1) The decision to cancel and move elsewhere the demonstration is understandable because we don’t want violence to mar the demos (and I think some of the groups will make good on their threat of violence — the police have a habit of not stopping public violence if it’s inflicted by the Right Wing. Only a violence-free demo will reassure an already tetchy Japanese public that not all demonstrators are extremists.

    Yet 2) In principle, giving in to bullies only makes them stronger, and if the Rightists are able to deter demos in Taiji by threatening violence, then what’s to stop them from threatening the same elsewhere? Whenever any group is able to successfully hold public safety hostage, violence (or the threat of it) will in fact be more encouraged. This is just an internal debate I have going on inside of me. What do others think? Blog poll also included.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7432

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.

    In another big piece of news, Japan is taking another step closer to healing the wounds around Asia of a cruel colonial past by saying sorry to South Korea. Good. Bravo. Sad that it took a century for the apologies and return of some war spoils, but better now than never. Let’s hope it further buries the ahistorical revisionist arguments that basically run, “We were invited to Korea, and did them a favor by taking them over.” — arguments that help nobody get over the past or help with neighborly Asian cooperation.

    Kyodo: Prime Minister Naoto Kan is scheduled to release a statement for South Korea on Tuesday regarding the centenary later this month of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula, ruling party lawmakers said Monday.

    The statement will include a phrase expressing deep remorse and apologizing for Japan’s colonial rule, stating also that Japan will return cultural artifacts taken from the peninsula that South Korea has been demanding, according to sources familiar with the matter…

    On the transfer of cultural artifacts, the items in question are believed to be held by the Imperial Household Agency, including the Joseon Wangsil Uigwe, a meticulous record of Korean royal ceremonies and rituals.

    The statement to be released Tuesday will only be directed at South Korea, whereas the Murayama statement apologized to Asian victims of Japan’s past aggression, the sources said.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7397

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints

    Sendaiben: Flying out of Narita on September 5th, I had a few hours to kill after connecting from Sendai. I was alone, reading on a bench in the restaurant area. After about 20 minutes, a young and very pleasant policeman came up and asked to see my passport in passable English. I replied in Japanese, and we had an interesting conversation. Unfortunately I was mentally unprepared for all of this, so gave him my passport from which he noted down all the details. I refused to provide a contact phone number, however…

    Some important points:

    1. It seems that the whole exercise is voluntary, something he mentioned when I refused to provide the phone number.

    2. I reminded him of the law on the management of personal information, but he was unable to tell me why they needed my passport details or how long they would be kept on file.

    3. He claimed it was a random check but that they asked ‘people who seemed foreign’. I asked him to ask some Asian people next, and he said he would

    The whole thing seemed like a training exercise, down to the silent sempai observing from ten metres away…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7461

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) M-Net Magazine publishes FRANCA March 2010 report to UN Rapporteur in Japanese

    Here is my FRANCA report last March delivered to UN Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante, rendered into Japanese (English original from here).

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7029

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    INTERESTING TANGENTS

    15) Economist.com summary of Amakudari system

    For a Summer Tangent, here’s a good summary of Japan’s Amakudari system, and its effects on politics and prospects for reform. The Economist has come a long way from when I first read it back in the Eighties, when it basically assumed that Japan’s postwar economic miracle was due to theoretical economic efficiencies (as opposed to a closed captive domestic market and sweetheart-deal overseas trade access). Now they have people here on the ground (well, one that I’ve met, and I found him knowledgeable and impressive) who aren’t blinkered by mere Adam-Smithism and clearly know their way around. Good. Have a read. It’s short and sweet.

    Economist: A swathe of high-ranking bureaucrats from Japan’s biggest ministries began in new posts on July 30th, doled out as part of an annual summer rite. A gaggle of even more senior ones were asked to retire — and immediately won cushy, lucrative jobs at quasi-public agencies and private foundations. Some were even sent to companies in industries they had previously regulated.

    The practice is called amakudari (meaning “descent from heaven”). It has long reflected unhealthily close relations between bureaucrats and business, distorting the work of civil servants on the look out for a plum job, and burdening firms with the deadweight of ex-pen pushers serving as “senior advisers”. At its worst, it lets civil servants enrich themselves, pay back vested interests and resist economic reform. One reason why Japan’s banking crisis in the 1990s took so long to fix was because former senior staff from the finance ministry and Bank of Japan had moved to the banks that needed fixing. They pressed their former deputies to bail them out on soft terms, and then failed to carry out much-needed surgery…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7403

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    16) Coleman Japan Inc. has instructions “For Japanese Consumers Only”

    As a lighter post, Debito.org Reader SW sends these words and a silly instruction booklet from Coleman Japan Inc., saying their instructions are “For Japanese Consumers Only”.

    I think Coleman HQ (in the US) has let their oversight of their licensee go a bit, allowing the assumption that only Japanese can read Japanese. A bit of sense and sensitivity would have rendered it as “For Consumers in Japan Only” (which I’ve seen enclosed for some products in terms of warranties). Or else this needn’t be put on the form at all: I doubt anyone will panic if they see a page of gibberish as long as there is another page with something legible. But this carelessness has left a bit of a sour taste in one consumer’s mouth, quite unnecessarily.

    Or, more to the point, considering how anally-retentive people can get here about rules, business practices, outside impressions, what have you, it’s a stark contrast to see this much carelessness and half-assedness in preparation and presentation. It should be out of character. The fact that it’s not, i.e. we see half-assed and careless translations like these all the time (and this time from an American-brand licensee, no less), gets to the point where it begs a lot of questions about sensitivity and cultural awareness, not to mention professionality…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7390

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    17) Discussion: “If you could change one thing about a society…”

    In one of my nights out here in Tokyo (we have a lot of deep conversations), friend HippieChris brought up an interesting question:

    “If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about a society, what would that be?”

    I thought I’d pose that to the blog. Rules are: What one thing would you change about Japan, and what one thing would you change about your society of origin, if different? Two places. (It’s a useful exercise. It’s actually surprisingly difficult to find something fundamentally changeworthy about your society of origin, since it’s hard for a fish to see the water in the fishbowl until s/he’s been out of it for awhile.)

    I’ll start:

    The one thing I’d change about Japan would be the lack of “Do Unto Others…” Not enough people see a problem as something that warrants attention because it doesn’t affect them. “Hey, that’s your problem, not mine, so why create more bother for myself by considering it or asking for it to stop?” The lack of a universal, “this hurts people, so stoppit” has created numerous issues for me in my calls for “Japanese Only” signs to come down, for example. A common attitude: “Well, it doesn’t affect me”, meaning they’re not going to be stopped by the sign, has let countless apathetics off the hook of caring. Even if we try to say, “Well, what if you went overseas and it happened to you?” doesn’t always work either: They just say, “Well, I’m not going overseas.” For all the trappings of the “Omoi Yari” society, people here are surprisingly diffident about the plights of others, not walking a mile in their shoes. Magic-wanding that away would take care of a lot of social ills that affect people who aren’t in the majority.

    The one thing I’d change about the United States would be the arrogance. It’s amazing how much ignorance the “We’re Number One” attitude breeds, shutting Americans off to so many cultural influences. Worse yet, a common assumption that everyone wants to be American, and that every society is eventually going to be (or want to be) like America, makes people blind to alternative ways of life (not a good thing when you’re trying to promote democracy as a system overseas; that ultimately puts more Americans in harm’s way). A sobering belief that other people might be happy in their “foreign lifestyles”, even might find objectionable the things that Americans take for granted without much reflection (e.g., food as fuel, judging value in terms of money, seeing success as how rich you are, etc.), might open a few doors to a more self-examined life.

    These aren’t all that different, actually. The undercurrent is the need to understand the values and life choices of others, and treat them with the respect they deserve. But that’s my magic wand. How about other Debito.org Readers? I’d rather people offer their visions rather than take apart mine (participate in the exercise rather than be a critic, please). Go for it.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7489

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally …

    18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: ‘Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English”

    NB: This article became the #1 most read article all day last Tuesday, then very unusually remained #2 all day Wednesday before bumping back up to #1 again. It’s probably the most-read article I’ve ever written for the JT. Enjoy.

    The Japan Times Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010
    JUST BE CAUSE
    Don’t blame JET for Japan’s poor English
    By DEBITO ARUDOU
    Courtesy
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100907ad.html
    Feedback and links to sources at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=7474

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    All for today. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito of Sapporo, Japan

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Japan Times “Richard Cory” on child custody woes part 2: Who abducts wins

    Posted on Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    As part two to yesterday’s excerpt, here’s how Richard Cory managed to save one of his children from a cheating, insane, abusive mom — by simply abducting her. Too bad for the other two. Godspeed. Arudou Debito in transit

    THE ZEIT GIST
    Behind the facade of family law
    Having been reunited with his daughter, Richard Cory faces a tougher battle for custody of his sons
    By Richard Cory
    The Japan Times Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010

    (excerpt): Look at my case (and what the judge wrote in her custody ruling in July). My wife had admitted to the following:

    • More than three years of ongoing adultery (“The reason for the breakup of the marriage was the respondent’s adultery”); Giving large sums of money (¥7.7 million) to her lover to help him pay off his gambling debt (“Respondent lent a large sum of money to her colleague”);

    • Taking my children on dates to bet on horse racing;

    • Being currently on medication for various disorders (“Respondent became mentally ill and started seeing a doctor in or around January 2010 and worried about her insufficient communication with the children”);

    • Physically abusing her own spouse and children (“Respondent attacked petitioner . . . and used physical power that cannot be justified as discipline against the children”).

    Her own daughter fled from her after being abducted, and then testified against her. Moreover, my wife did not even petition for custody of the children until four months after I filed for divorce and custody. I even submitted a video showing my wife with not one of the bruises or injuries she claimed to have sustained the day before the video was taken. And we even had eyewitness testimony of her trying to injure herself. Could my case be any stronger?

    Nevertheless, when the judge awarded me physical custody of my daughter, she also awarded physical custody of the boys to their mother. The reason: “There’s no big problem (with the boys staying where they are).”

    Based on such reasoning, you can bet the bank that this judge would have awarded custody of all three children to my wife had I not been able to rescue one. And the judge would probably have given me custody of them all had they all been able to get free.

    Japan’s family court is simply a facade designed to make an unevolved system appear civilized.

    Let’s not kid ourselves. In Japan, “possession of the children” trumps the “best interests of the children” every time, particularly when the “best interests of the children” are never even addressed. And when you have a country that is pouring great sums of money into a system that shuffles children off to hidden locations whenever a parent makes an unverified DV claim, the state, in essence, becomes complicit in the abduction of the children…

    Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100928zg.html

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Child Abductions, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Lawsuits | 6 Comments »

    Police notice: “Oreore Sagi” and other theft crimes with NJ crime placed in the proper context

    Posted on Friday, September 17th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  In the same vein as a previous post putting Japanese and NJ crime in context, we have the Hokkaido police issuing a warning (procured from a Sapporo post office ATM area last February) about “Oreore Sagi” (“Hey Mom, it’s me, I need money fast” fraud) and other types of snatch and grab thefts.  As you can read below, we have 1) a shyster phoning some old mom claiming to be her son and asking for emergency funds to be sent to an account, 2) a cash card being used for theft because the owner uses his or her birthday as their PIN number (duh…), 3) people storing their inkans too close to their bankbooks, 4) mysterious people distracting marks so they can snatch their belongings, and 5) call the police immediately if they think they’ve been a victim of crime.

    Item 4) below in particular is germane to Debito.org.  It mentions (in passing) that grabbers might say “you dropped some money” or “your clothes are dirty”, or speak to you in a foreign language.  After distracting you, then they run off with your cash or bag.

    Fine.  It’s in context of other crimes committed by Japanese.  Compare it with some past NPA posters making foreigners out to be the main culprits, including racist caricatures (which are fortunately avoided above), like this nasty one:

    Darkies speaking katakana.  How nice.  More at http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

    I think this new one is a definite improvement.  Perhaps we’re getting listened to.

    One more thing:  About this “Oreore Sagi” fraud phenomenon.  One thing I’ve always wondered is, are parents so distant from their children nowadays that they can’t recognize their own child’s voice on the phone?  I don’t understand how they get duped.  Explain, somebody?  Arudou Debito in Calgary

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Good News, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, 日本語 | 6 Comments »

    Weekend Tangent: “If you could change one thing about a society…”

    Posted on Sunday, September 12th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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    Hi Blog.  In one of my nights out here in Tokyo (we have a lot of deep conversations), friend HippieChris brought up an interesting question:

    “If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about a society, what would that be?”

    I thought I’d pose that to the blog.  Rules are:  What one thing would you change about Japan, and what one thing would you change about your society of origin, if different?  Two places.  (It’s a useful exercise.  It’s actually surprisingly difficult to find something fundamentally changeworthy about your society of origin, since it’s hard for a fish to see the water in the fishbowl until s/he’s been out of it for awhile.)

    I’ll start:

    The one thing I’d change about Japan would be the lack of “Do Unto Others…”  Not enough people see a problem as something that warrants attention because it doesn’t affect them.  “Hey, that’s your problem, not mine, so why create more bother for myself by considering it or asking for it to stop?”  The lack of a universal, “this hurts people, so stoppit” has created numerous issues for me in my calls for “Japanese Only” signs to come down, for example.  A common attitude:  “Well, it doesn’t affect me”, meaning they’re not going to be stopped by the sign, has let countless apathetics off the hook of caring.  Even if we try to say, “Well, what if you went overseas and it happened to you?” doesn’t always work either:  They just say, “Well, I’m not going overseas.”  For all the trappings of the “Omoi Yari” society, people here are surprisingly diffident about the plights of others, not walking a mile in their shoes.  Magic-wanding that away would take care of a lot of social ills that affect people who aren’t in the majority.

    The one thing I’d change about the United States would be the arrogance.  It’s amazing how much ignorance the “We’re Number One” attitude breeds, shutting Americans off to so many cultural influences.  Worse yet, a common assumption that everyone wants to be American, and that every society is eventually going to be (or want to be) like America, makes people blind to alternative ways of life (not a good thing when you’re trying to promote democracy as a system overseas; that ultimately puts more Americans in harm’s way).  A sobering belief that other people might be happy in their “foreign lifestyles”, even might find objectionable the things that Americans take for granted without much reflection (e.g., food as fuel, judging value in terms of money, seeing success as how rich you are, etc.), might open a few doors to a more self-examined life.

    These aren’t all that different, actually.  The undercurrent is the need to understand the values and life choices of others, and treat them with the respect they deserve.  But that’s my magic wand.  How about other Debito.org Readers?  I’d rather people offer their visions rather than take apart mine (participate in the exercise rather than be a critic, please).  Go for it.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Tangents | 24 Comments »

    Wash Post: “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”, focus on nursing program

    Posted on Monday, August 9th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Here’s more information that we’re making public seeping into overseas media.  Nothing terribly new to regular readers here (but no doubt new to many readers overseas).  But brace yourself for the Comments section of this article, full of the nastiness that goes beyond cultural relativity.  Amazing how immigrants are the eternal bashables, told to abide by whatever vague rules the nativists come up with (and don’t always follow themselves), told to accept inferior wages and working conditions, and told to go home if they have any problems or complaints.  Worse yet is when the government is essentially saying the same thing by setting up hurdles that are nearly insurmountable.  As the article gets into below.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future
    By Chico Harlan
    The Washington Post Wednesday, July 28, 2010
    , Courtesy lots of people.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/27/AR2010072706053.html

    TOKYO — Her new country needs her, her new employer adores her, and Joyce Anne Paulino, who landed here 14 months ago knowing not a word of the language, can now say in Japanese that she’d like very much to stay. But Paulino, 31, a nurse from the Philippines, worries about the odds. To stay in Japan long-term, she must pass a test that almost no foreigner passes.

    For Japan, maintaining economic relevance in the next decades hinges on its ability — and its willingness — to grow by seeking outside help. Japan has long had deep misgivings about immigration and has tightly controlled the ability of foreigners to live and work here.

    But with the country’s population expected to fall from 127 million to below 100 million by 2055, Prime Minister Naoto Kan last month took a step toward loosening Japan’s grip on immigration, outlining a goal to double the number of highly skilled foreign workers within a decade.

    In Japan, just 1.7 percent of the population (or roughly 2.2 million people) is foreign or foreign-born. Foreigners represent small slices of almost every sector of the economy, but they also represent the one slice of the population with a chance to grow. Japan is on pace to have three workers for every two retirees by 2060.

    But the economic partnership program that brought Paulino and hundreds of other nurses and caretakers to Japan has a flaw. Indonesian and Filipino workers who come to care for a vast and growing elderly population cannot stay for good without passing a certification test. And that test’s reliance on high-level Japanese — whose characters these nurses cram to memorize — has turned the test into a de facto language exam.

    Ninety percent of Japanese nurses pass the test. This year, three of 254 immigrants passed it. The year before, none of 82 passed.

    For immigrant advocates, a pass-or-go-home test with a success rate of less than 1 percent creates a wide target for criticism — especially at a time when Japan’s demographics are increasing the need for skilled foreign labor.

    For many officials in the government and the medical industry, however, difficulties with the program point to a larger dilemma confronting a country whose complex language and resistance to foreigners make it particularly tough to penetrate.

    Kan’s goal to double the number of skilled foreign workers seems reasonable enough, given that Japan currently has 278,000 college-educated foreign workers — the United States has more than 8 million, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development — but it meets some resistance.

    An Asahi Shimbun newspaper poll in June asked Japanese about accepting immigrants to “maintain economic vitality.” Twenty-six percent favored the idea. Sixty-five percent opposed it. And the likelihood of substantive changes in immigration policy took a major hit, experts said, when Kan’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan saw setbacks in parliamentary elections this month.

    Political analysts now paint a grim picture of a country at legislative impasse. Foreigners such as Paulino find it difficult to get here, difficult to thrive and difficult to stay, and at least for now, Kan’s government will have a difficult time changing any of that.

    ‘A lack of urgency’

    “There’s a lack of urgency or lack of sense of crisis for the declining population in Japan,” said Satoru Tominaga, director of Garuda, an advocacy group for Indonesian nurse and caretaker candidates. “We need radical policy change to build up the number” of such workers. “However, Japan lacks a strong government; if anything, it’s in chaos.”

    When Japan struck economic partnership agreements with Indonesia and the Philippines, attracting nurses and caretakers wasn’t the primary objective. Japan sought duty-free access for its automakers to the Southeast Asian market. Accepting skilled labor was just part of the deal.

    But by 2025, Japan will need to almost double its number of nurses and care workers, currently at 1.2 million. And because of the test, substandard language skills, not substandard caretaking skills, are keeping the obvious solution from meeting the gaping need.

    The 998 Filipino and Indonesian nurses and caretakers who’ve come to Japan since 2008 all have, at minimum, college educations or several years of professional experience. Nurses can stay for three years, with three chances to pass the test. Other caregivers can stay for four years, with one chance to pass. Those who arrive in Japan take a six-month language cram class and then begin work as trainees.

    They are allotted a brief period every workday — 45 minutes, in Paulino’s case — for language study. Many also study for hours at night.

    “The language skills, that is a huge hurdle for them,” said Kiichi Inagaki, an official at the Japan International Corporation for Welfare Services, which oversees the program. “However, if you go around the hospital, you understand how language is important. Nurses are dealing with medical technicalities. They are talking to doctors about what is important. In order to secure a safe medical system, they need a very high standard of Japanese.”

    Advocates for foreign nurses and caregivers do not play down the importance of speaking and understanding Japanese. But they emphasize that the Japanese characters for medical terminology are among the hardest to learn; perhaps some jargon-heavy portion of the certification test, they say, could be given in English or workers’ native language.

    A new culture

    When Paulino boarded a flight from Manila to Tokyo in May 2009, she had a sense of trepidation and adventure — not that she could express it in Japanese. She saw her mission as a way to make better money and “explore herself,” she said. Her first chance for exploration came onboard, when a meal of rice, which she doesn’t like, came with chopsticks, which she didn’t know how to use.

    “All the way to Japan, we were joking about that,” said Fritzie Perez, a fellow Filipino nurse who sat in the same row. “We were saying, ‘Joyce, how are you going to eat?’ “

    Now eight months into her stint at the Tamagawa Subaru nursing home, Paulino feels comfortable speaking and joking with the elderly people she cares for.

    “She did have problems initially, especially in the Japanese language, but there’s been so much improvement,” said Keisuke Isozaki, head of caretaking at the home. “She’s not capable of writing things down for the record, but otherwise she’s as capable as any Japanese staffer.”

    Paulino said she is nervous about her test, scheduled for January 2013. This month, 33 nurses and caretakers returned to their home countries, discouraged with their chances.

    Her friend, Perez, described the language study and the caretaking as “serving two masters at the same time.”

    “When I get home, that’s when I study,” Paulino said. “But every time I read my book, I start to fall asleep. It’s bothering me. Because [the test] is only one chance. And I don’t know if I can get it.”

    Special correspondent Akiko Yamamoto contributed to this report.
    ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 7 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 6, 2010

    Posted on Saturday, August 7th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 6, 2010

    Hi All. Fat one this time, what with nearly a month gone by since the last one. And with summer here, I’m going to be less on the keyboard and outside trying to get sick of warm, sunny weather. Can’t imagine it happening, but it’s worth a try. Enjoy August!

    Table of Contents:
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    SPECIAL ON THE DPRK SPY KIM HYON HUI JAPAN VISIT: THE BIG CON

    1) North Korean spy and terrorist skirts Immigration, gets to stay in Hatoyama summer home, due to Yokota Megumi Case
    2) UPDATE: Additional thoughts on the DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit from a friend in the know
    3) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Aug 3: Kim uses Japan’s “perpetual victimhood” to her advantage

    OTHER BIG CONS

    4) Japan’s Centenarians are missing: Registry systems that ignore NJ residents are also registering long-dead Japanese as alive
    5) Kyodo: NJ crime down once again, but NPA spin says NJ crime gangs “increasingly” targeting Japan, whines about difficulty in statistically measuring NJ crime
    6) More racism in NPA police posters, this time Kanagawa Ken Yamate police and big-nosed “int’l NJ crime groups”.
    (UPDATE: Contrast with same Kanagawa Police site in English: “we patrol community hoping smiles of residents never vanish.” Retch.)
    7) Shame on Berlitz Japan for its court harassments, firing teacher for having cancer
    8 ) Yomiuri: New “lay judges” in J judiciary strict about demanding evidence from prosecutors, give ‘benefit of doubt’. Well, fancy that.
    9) Economist London on Japan’s treatment of Chinese: Welcome tourist money, work “Trainees” to death
    10) NYT has video and article on JITCO NJ “Trainee” Program, including sweatshop conditions and karoushi
    11) Mainichi/Kyodo: J companies will boost hiring of NJ by 50%! Yeah, sure.
    12) JIPI’s Sakanaka on Gaijin Tank detentions for visa overstays: Put a maximum time limit on them
    13) Toyota QC and “culture” again, says it will increase safety by dealing with mechanical and cultural defects, with Japanese-only review panel
    14) Asahi: South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle, whatever that means
    15) AP and JT on “Soft Power” of JET Programme, projecting Japan’s influence abroad
    16) IMADR Connect Mag: UN CERD concerns and recommendations 2010 for the GOJ; rinse and repeat

    OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

    17) NJ population falls in 2009 for the first time since 1961
    18) New separate blog with details about taking Japanese citizenship, in English, written by other fellow naturalized Japanese
    19) Thoughts on GOJ Upper House Election July 11, 2010: A DPJ loss, but not a rout, regardless of what the media says.
    20) Asahi editorial supports NJ PR Suffrage, published during election-period debates

    INTERESTING TANGENTS

    21) AP: A Milestone For Russia: African-born Town Councilor Is Country’s 1st Black Elected To Office
    22) Japan Times columnist CW Nicol (a whaling supporter) on why “The Cove’s” Taiji dolphin culls bother him

    … and finally…

    23) My Schofill family roots include Cherokee and lots of American South skeletons
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily Blog Updates and RSS at www.debito.org. Facebook and Twitter arudoudebito
    Freely Forwardable

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    SPECIAL ON THE DPRK SPY KIM HYON HUI JAPAN VISIT: THE BIG CON

    1) North Korean spy and terrorist skirts Immigration, gets to stay in Hatoyama summer home, due to Yokota Megumi Case

    As a friend most poignantly pointed out to me yesterday evening, something’s very wrong with Japan’s current top news story:

    “Have you been following the reaction to the treatment given that ex-North Korean spy who blew up a plane and murdered 115 people, yet came to Japan as a VIP and is now staying at Hatoyama’s Karuizawa retreat? David McNeil and Justin McCurry did pieces with a hint of outrage, especially David, who noted that, if Japanese authorities had bothered to follow the immigration law, she would have been arrested. To be fair, some Japanese journalists noted last night (on TBS, I think) that something isn’t quite right.

    “You may be interested to know that the group “Bring Abducted Children Home” is pretty upset as well, noting that the Japanese government rolls out the red carpet for a mass murderer just because she might have some information on Japanese children who were kidnapped out of Japan but doesn’t want to deal with anybody seeking a meeting about Japanese children kidnapped back to Japan by a Japanese parent.”

    Quite. As far as I recall not a peep about the terrorism on NHK 7PM last night. Only the meeting with the Yokotas and all the smiles. Elite politics indeed trumps all.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7278

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) UPDATE: Additional thoughts on the DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit from a friend in the know

    Excerpt: Kim Hyon Hui, a wannabe actress-turned-terrorist who blew up a 747 filled with 115 people back in 1987 when she was a North Korean agent and who got the death penalty, only to see it revoked for reasons that are still unclear, arrived at Haneda airport Wednesday by special charter plane from her home in South Korea. Ms. Kim saw Japan’s fine hospitality at its best, and was even given her own motorcade to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s summer home in Karuizawa. No delays at train stations or red lights for our Ms. Kim!…

    Yes, Ms. Kim did suffer a memory loss when she originally told Japanese officials she’d never met Megumi Yokota. But that was then and this is now. The Japanese government is quite happy to learn she has regained her memory, calling it a miracle and dismissing cynics who wonder whether Kim’s memory loss was restored with the aid of both hypnosis and secret bank accounts in Switzerland, Macau, or the Cayman Islands.

    So busy were Japanese officials with their one-woman “Yokoso Japan!” on behalf of Ms. Kim and her testimony about children abducted from Japan by foreigners in violation of domestic and international law that readers will surely sympathize with our nation’s overworked and understaffed bureaucracy when they insist they have no time to meet with Americans, Canadians, British, Germans, French, Indians, or anyone else who would like — just a few minutes, if you please — to discuss the issue of children abducted to Japan by Japanese in violation of domestic and international law.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7282

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Aug 3: Kim uses Japan’s “perpetual victimhood” to her advantage

    The Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010
    JUST BE CAUSE
    The victim complex and Kim’s killer con
    Courtesy
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100803ad.html
    Comments and links to sources at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=7378
    By DEBITO ARUDOU

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    OTHER BIG CONS

    4) Japan’s Centenarians are missing: Registry systems that ignore NJ residents are also registering long-dead Japanese as alive

    As a tangent (but a very interesting one) is the biggest news story the past few days in Japan; Japan has some very old people who have gone missing or are long dead, but are still registered as living pensioners.

    This of course calls into question two things:

    1) The oft-cited claim that Japanese live longest in the world. With actually-dead people nudging up the average, and the possibility that the oldest people are only that way because nobody has checked on them in thirty years, this source of national pride has given way to questions of the efficacy of Japan’s Kokusei Chousa (National Census) system, which has somehow missed recording these people for decades (or in all probability, enabled horrific scams of “baachan in a freezer” while her pensions keep getting collected).

    and 2) (and this is why it’s tangentially related to Debito.org), it calls into question the efficacy of the Juuminhyou and Koseki systems too. Although any formal registry system might miss people who are not being noticed or are being deliberately hidden, it’s funny to find a centarian registered as living at a car park. But it’s not funny when you realize that taxpaying NJ are not registered as “spouse” on the Koseki Family Registry system, or even as visible residents and family under the Juuminhyou Residency Certificate system. Meanwhile, long-dead people are, just because they’re Japanese. It’s screwy. It’s an angle that has not been covered in the debate on this. But it oughta be.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7370

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) Kyodo: NJ crime down once again, but NPA spin says NJ crime gangs “increasingly” targeting Japan, whines about difficulty in statistically measuring NJ crime

    Kyodo reports the semiannual NPA NJ crime propaganda campaign, claiming once again some kind of “increase”. Before, we had decreases in crime depicted as an increase, depending on what crime you looked at or what language the article was in. Now it’s the NPA, in the face of a 40% admitted drop in “NJ criminals rounded up” since 2004, giving the spin of doubting its own statistics. What’s next, saying NJ are more likely to commit crime because of their criminal DNA? (Actually, Tokyo Gov Ishihara beat them to that nearly a decade ago.)

    Here’s the report being referred to in pdf format:
    http://www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai6/rainichi.pdf

    Note how on the bottom of page two, they give a definition that the “gaikokujin” they’re referring to do not mean those here with PR status, the Zainichi, the US military, or “those with unclear Statuses of Residence” (what, refugees? certainly not visa overstayers). Okay. Pity the media doesn’t mention that. Nor is it mentioned that although this report is supposed to deal with “international crime”, it is just titled “Rainichi Gaikokujin Hanzai no Kenkyo Joukyou” (lit. The Situation of Cases of Crimes by Foreigners Coming to Japan). I guess just talking about garden-variety crime by NJ (back in the day when it was allegedly going up) isn’t convenient anymore. You have to narrow the focus to find the crime and shoot the fish in the proverbial barrel — it gets the headlines that attribute crime to nationality, even somehow allows you to doubt your own statistics. Moreover enables you to claim a budget to “establish a system in which investigators across the nation would be able to work in an integrated manner to counter crimes committed by foreigners” (as opposed to an integrated manner to counter crimes in general).

    Let’s see what the NPA spin is next time. Fascinatingly bad science.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7293

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) More racism in NPA police posters, this time Kanagawa Ken Yamate police and big-nosed “int’l NJ crime groups”.
    (UPDATE: Contrast with same Kanagawa Police site in English: “we patrol community hoping smiles of residents never vanish.” Retch.)

    For a nice bite-size Sunday post, dovetailing with yesterday’s post on the NPA’s whipping up fear of foreign crime gangs, here we have the Kanagawa Police offering us a poster with racist caricatures of NJ, and more minced language to enlist the public in its Gaijin Hunt. Check this out:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7296

    Let’s analyze this booger. In the same style of fearmongering and racist police posters in the past (see for example here, here, here, and here), we have the standard NJ conks and wily faces. Along with a crime gang stealing from a jewelry store (nothing like getting one’s hands dirty, unlike all the white-collar homegrown yakuza crime we see fewer posters about).

    The poster opens with employers being told to check Status of Residences of all the NJ they employ. Of course, employers who employ NJ usually sponsor them for a visa, so this warning shouldn’t be necessary. I guess it’s nicer than warning the employer that if they do employ overstayers, the employer should also be punished. But again, we hear little about that. It’s the NJ who is the wily party, after all.

    Then we get the odd warning about overstayers (they say these are lots of “rainichi gaikokujin”, which is not made clear except in fine print elsewhere that they don’t mean the garden-variety NJ) and their links to “international crime groups” (although I haven’t seen convincing statistics on how they are linked). Then they hedge their language by saying “omowaremasu” (it is thought that…), meaning they don’t need statistics at all. It’s obviously a common perception that it’s “recently getting worse” (kin’nen shinkoku ka)…

    Finally, we have the places to contact within the Kanagawa Police Department. We now have a special “international crime” head (kokusai han kakari), a “economic security” head (keizai hoan kakari), and a “gaiji kakari”, whatever that is shortened for (surely not “gaikokujin hanzai jiken”, or “foreign crime incidents”). Such proactiveness on the part of the NPA. I hope they sponsor a “sumo-yakuza tobaku kakari” soon…

    Anyone else getting the feeling that the NPA is a law unto itself, doing whatever it likes in the purported pursuit of criminals, even if that means racial profiling, social othering of taxpayers and random enforcement of laws based upon nationality (even a death in police custody with impunity), and manufacturing consent to link crime with nationality?

    UPDATE: Compare and contrast with the English version of PR for the same police department, courtesy of crustpunker:

    http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/eng/eng_idx.htm

    Not only is it a disingenuous lie, its contents are utterly banal. And since I can’t find the gaiji kakari under “Section Information” in English, so I doubt the overall accuracy as well.

    This is linked from this even nastier Kanagawa Police site regarding NJ:

    http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/mes/mese2001.htm

    More at http://www.debito.org/?p=7296

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    7) Shame on Berlitz Japan for its court harassments, firing teacher for having cancer

    Japan Times: The battle between Berlitz Japan and Begunto began with a strike launched Dec. 13, 2007, as Berlitz Japan and its parent company, Benesse Corp., were enjoying record profits. Teachers, who had gone without an across-the-board raise for 16 years, struck for a 4.6-percent pay hike and a one-month bonus. The action grew into the largest sustained strike in the history of Japan’s language school industry, with more than 100 English, Spanish and French teachers participating in walkouts across Kanto.

    On Dec. 3, 2008, Berlitz Japan claimed the strike was illegal and sued for a total of JPY 110 million in damages. Named in the suit were the five teachers volunteering as Begunto executives, as well as two union officials: the president of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu, Yujiro Hiraga , and Carlet, former NUGW case officer for Begunto and currently executive president of Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union (Tozen)…

    Another of the teachers named in the suit, Catherine Campbell, was fired earlier this month after taking too long to recover from late-stage breast cancer cancer. In June 2009, Campbell took a year of unpaid leave to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Because Berlitz Japan failed to enroll Campbell in the shakai hoken health insurance scheme, she was unable to receive the two-thirds wage coverage it provides and had to live with her parents in Canada during treatment. The company denied Campbell’s request to extend her leave from June to Sept. 2010 and fired her for failing to return to work.

    Berlitz Japan work rules allow for leave-of-absence extensions where the company deems it necessary. “If cancer is not such a case, what would be?” Campbell asks…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7327

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) Yomiuri: New “lay judges” in J judiciary strict about demanding evidence from prosecutors, give ‘benefit of doubt’. Well, fancy that.

    Here’s an article (I can’t find in Japanese) regarding what’s happening in Japan’s “Lay Judge” system (i.e. generally bringing six common folk to sit on Japanese juries as “saiban’in”, with three other real judges offering “legal guidance”, as in, keeping an eye on them). Well, guess what, we have “Runaway Juries”, by Japanese standards! They’re getting in the way of the public prosecutor (who gets his or her way in convicting more than 99.9% of cases brought to Japanese criminal court) and offering acquittals! Well, how outrageous! Given what I know about the Japanese police and how they arrest and detain suspects (particularly if they are existing while foreign), I doubt they are right 99.9% of the time. And it looks like some of the saiban’in would agree. But here’s a lament by the Yomiuri about how those darn lay judges (how belittling; why aren’t they just “jurists”?) are getting in the way. Good. Raise the standard for burden of proof.

    Yomiuri: Three complete or partial acquittals were handed down in lay-judge trials in June and July, in which the principle of giving the benefit of the doubt to defendants in criminal trials was strictly applied. As a result, some prosecutors believe it is becoming harder and harder to persuade lay judges that defendants are guilty…

    According to lawyer Koshi Murakami, a former division chief of the Tokyo High Court, the sentences of not guilty were handed down in these cases due to professional judges and lay judges’ different understanding of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard for deciding whether a defendant is guilty.

    “Even if they doubt a piece of circumstantial evidence, professional judges decide whether a defendant is guilty after a comprehensive review of other pieces of evidence,” Murakami said. “However, lay judges may consider a not guilty decision if they are suspicious of even one piece of evidence.”…

    During the trial, the prosecution did not submit as evidence a security video that recorded conversations between a shop clerk and the defendant and his accomplice.

    The prosecution decided it was unnecessary to submit the videotape and did not preserve it because of the consistent statements given by the defendant, the accomplice and the clerk in the course of the investigation.

    However, one of the trial’s lay judges criticized the prosecution for its choice.

    “I felt the prosecution was overly optimistic not submitting the security video record, which is very objective evidence,” said company employee Nanako Sugawara, 62.

    “From now on, objective pieces of evidence such as video tapes must be preserved until all hearings related to a case are finished,” a senior official at the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office said, reflecting on the trial. “We have to improve our investigation methods so that we can prove our allegations regardless of who is chosen as lay judges…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7287

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) Economist London on Japan’s treatment of Chinese: Welcome tourist money, work “Trainees” to death

    A couple of days after this issue appeared in Kyodo and on Debito.org, the Economist London had an article in its print and online version. (If Debito.org is an inspiration for your articles, may we say how grateful we are for the extended audience.) With even more research and quotes, and a comparison with another issue also recently discussed on Debito.org (how Chinese money is affecting the tourist economy), here’s the article:

    Economist: Many Japanese strive to keep up egalitarian appearances… But when it comes to the way Japan treats its nouveau riche neighbour, China, different rules apply. Two events this month betray the double standards with which Japanese officialdom treats China’s rich and poor. On July 1st Japan relaxed visa requirements for well-off Chinese tourists. It was not stated how much anyone needed to earn to apply for one. But as long as they had at least a gold credit card and a solid professional or civil-service job to go back to, they were free to come to Japan, to shop until they dropped.

    Far from the bright lights of Japan’s shopping districts, however, young Chinese working in small industrial firms get anything but red-carpet treatment. On July 5th Kyodo, a news agency, reported that 21 Chinese were among 27 foreign trainees who died last year on a government-sponsored skills-transfer scheme for developing countries that over the past four years has brought in an average of 94,000 workers a year, mostly from China.

    Of the 27, nine died of heart or brain diseases, four died while working and three committed suicide. A few days earlier officials confirmed that a 31-year-old Chinese trainee who died in 2008 after clocking up about 100 hours a month of overtime was the victim not of heart failure, as originally reported, but of “karoshi”, the Japanese affliction of death from overwork…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7243

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) NYT has video and article on JITCO NJ “Trainee” Program, including sweatshop conditions and karoushi

    NYT: For businesses, the government-sponsored trainee program has offered a loophole to hiring foreign workers. But with little legal protection, the indentured work force is exposed to substandard, sometimes even deadly, working conditions, critics say.

    Government records show that at least 127 of the trainees have died since 2005 — or one of about every 2,600 trainees, which experts say is a high death rate for young people who must pass stringent physicals to enter the program. Many deaths involved strokes or heart failure that worker rights groups attribute to the strain of excessive labor.

    The Justice Ministry found more than 400 cases of mistreatment of trainees at companies across Japan in 2009, including failing to pay legal wages and exposing trainees to dangerous work conditions. This month, labor inspectors in central Japan ruled that a 31-year-old Chinese trainee, Jiang Xiaodong, had died from heart failure induced by overwork.

    Under pressure by human rights groups and a string of court cases, the government has begun to address some of the program’s worst abuses. The United Nations has urged Japan to scrap it altogether…

    The Japan International Training Cooperation Organization, or Jitco, which operates the program, said it was aware some companies had abused the system and that it was taking steps to crack down on the worst cases. The organization plans to ensure that “trainees receive legal protection, and that cases of fraud are eliminated,” Jitco said in a written response to questions…

    As part of the government’s effort to clean up the program, beginning July 1, minimum wage and other labor protections have for the first time been applied to first-year workers. The government has also banned the confiscating of trainees’ passports.

    But experts say it will be hard to change the program’s culture… “If these businesses hired Japanese workers, they would have to pay,” said Kimihiro Komatsu, a labor consultant in Hiroshima. “But trainees work for a bare minimum,” he said. “Japan can’t afford to stop.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7276

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) Mainichi/Kyodo: J companies will boost hiring of NJ by 50%! Yeah, sure.

    Major Japanese firms are planning to boost hiring of foreign nationals by up to 50 percent of their new recruits in fiscal 2011, officials of the companies said Tuesday.

    Fast Retailing Co., the operator of the popular Uniqlo casual clothing chain, major convenience store chain Lawson Inc. and Rakuten Inc., which operates the largest Internet mall in Japan, are planning to recruit foreigners mainly from Asian countries including China, Taiwan and Malaysia, according to the officials.

    As they are expanding global operations especially in emerging markets in Asia amid shrinking domestic sales, the three companies are accelerating operations to hire Asian graduates in their home countries and those studying at Japanese universities.

    The firms hope to promote them to company executives in the future to lead their operations in the Asian markets, the officials said…

    COMMENT: My my, we’ve heard that before. Not just recently in the Asahi last April (where respondents who had been through the hiring process recently smelled tripe and onions; as did the Yomiuri April 2009). We heard this tune back in the Bubble Years too (one of the reasons why people like me came here in the late 1980s). We were made promises that simply were not kept. Remains to be seen, then as now. Just saying it will happen don’t make it so. Feels to me like somebody’s talking up the Japanese job market.

    And even if they do hire as many as they say, will they have the smarts to offer them job conditions that will keep them on board? Or will they fall back into the hackneyed practice of assuming that job applicants should just feel grateful for the honor to work for a Japanese company? Hah. I think people are more informed than that nowadays. Opinions?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7161

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) JIPI’s Sakanaka on Gaijin Tank detentions for visa overstays: Put a maximum time limit on them

    Here we have JIPI’s Sakanaka-san in the Japan Times speaking out from a position of authority again in favor of NJ, this time regarding Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (aka Gaijin Tanks for visa overstayers) and their conditions. As has been discussed here before, Gaijin Tanks are not prisons; they do not fall under the penal code for incarceration conditions, there is no arraignment before a judge or court sentence to fulfill, and there is no time limit to how long you can be incarcerated for visa violations in Japan. This has deleterious effects on the physical and mental health of detainees, of course. So Mr S. is quite magnanimously (given Japan’s racially-profiling law enforcement) offering a compromise limit of one year behind bars. Think there will be any takers?

    Japan Times: Illegal residents should not be held in detention for more than one year because any longer causes too much stress, a former chief of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau said, noting extended incarceration led to two hunger strikes at detention centers this year, one of which followed suicides…

    There is no limit on how long the government can hold foreign residents deemed to be in Japan illegally. The Immigration Bureau’s Enforcement Division said 71 inmates out of 442 being held in three detention centers in Ibaraki, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures had been confined for more than a year as of May 31.

    Dozens of detainees went on hunger strikes lasting more than a week at the East Japan Immigration Control Center in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, in May and at the West Japan Immigration Control Center in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, in March. They were demanding better treatment, including limiting their incarceration to six months… The hunger strikes failed to win any concessions…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7249

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Toyota QC and “culture” again, says it will increase safety by dealing with mechanical and cultural defects, with Japanese-only review panel

    As an update to the whole Toyota and safety issues (with people blaming them on cultural differences), now we have news that Toyota is actually going to “review defect measures” and “beef up quality controls” using “outsiders” for “independent scrutiny”.

    I myself am not all that optimistic. Toyota is, as the article says below, essentially “keeping it in the family”. After previously penalizing an American QC expert for his scrutiny, they’ve anointed a blue-ribbon panel of experts who are Japanese only. Yeah, that’ll learn ‘em about “cultural differences”, all right. Especially since the article below once again quotes Toyota as still trying to “bridge a cultural gap”. As if culture is any factor here in making unsafe cars safe. Enforced cluelessness.

    Meanwhile, a US federal grand jury is subpoenaing Toyota to make sure the documentation doesn’t also continue to “stay in the family”. That article and video below too.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7227

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) Asahi: South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle, whatever that means

    Here are two articles about an economic phenom I’ve never quite gotten the hang of: the “coolness” of a country. The Asahi frets that Japan is losing out to other Asian countries in “coolness”, whatever that means. There is an actual department within METI dealing with “cool”, BTW, and an article below talks about “Japan’s Gross National Cool”, again, whatever that means. Sounds like a means for former PMs like Aso to create manga museums and bureaucrats to get a line-item budget for officially studying “soft power”. Ka-ching.

    But in all fairness, it’s not only Japan. Brazil is doing something similar with its quest for “soft power” (but more as an understated tangent to its economic growth, according to The Economist London). And of course, PM Blair had “Cool Brittania”. So this may be just an extension of trying to measure the value of services as well as hard material goods, or a hybrid thereof. It’s just that with “soft power” comes the potential for some equally soft-focus science — how can you be “losing” to other countries in something so hard to measure?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7326

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    15) AP and JT on “Soft Power” of JET Programme, projecting Japan’s influence abroad

    Here are two articles talking about what I brought up yesterday, Japan’s “soft power”, and how the JET Programme is an example of that. First one delves into the history and goals, the other making the case for and against it, with input from former students under JETs’ tutelage.

    We’ve talked extensively about JET cuts/possible abolition here already on Debito.org (archives here), and raised doubts about the efficacy of the program as a means to teach Japanese people a foreign language and “get people used to NJ” (which I agree based upon personal experience has been effective, as Anthony says below). I guess the angle to talk about this time, what with all the international networking and alumni associations, is the efficacy of the program as a means of projecting Japan’s “soft power”, if not “cool”, abroad.

    I have already said that I am a fan of JET not for the projection of power abroad, but rather because the alternative, no JET, would not be less desirable. Otherwise, in this discussion, I haven’t any real angle to push (for a change), so let’s have a discussion. Give us some good arguments on how effective JET is abroad.

    AP: Of the more than 52,000 people who have taken part, many are moving into leadership at companies, government offices and non-profits that make decisions affecting Japan, said David McConnell, an anthropology professor at The College of Wooster in Ohio and author of a book about JET.

    “The JET Program is, simply put, very smart foreign policy,” he said.

    James Gannon, executive director for the nonprofit Japan Center for International Exchange in New York, describes JET as a pillar of the U.S.-Japan relationship and the “best public diplomacy program that any country has run” in recent decades.

    JT: Upon return to their home countries, they act as unofficial goodwill ambassadors for Japan, and their experience as a JET is looked upon favorably by employers such as the U.S. State Department. For a relatively small investment on the part of taxpayers, the JET program has created huge returns, welcoming generations of non-Japanese who have, and will, go on to promote better relations between Japan and their own country and expose Japanese to the outside world in unprecedented ways.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7344

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    16) IMADR Connect Mag: UN CERD concerns and recommendations 2010 for the GOJ; rinse and repeat

    Here we have a report from human rights group IMADR, along with a number of other NGOs, making their case to the UN CERD Committee again about discrimination in Japan. The UN then makes recommendations, and then the GOJ answers once again that those recommendations are unfeasible. It’s the same process that has been going on for decades, my recent research has shown. I’ll share that paper with you when it gets published. Meanwhile, enjoy the circus below.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7098

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

    17) NJ population falls in 2009 for the first time since 1961

    In probably the most significant news germane to Debito.org this year, we have for the first time in nearly a half-century (48 years) the population of NJ decreasing in Japan. Looks like the “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe” was very effective indeed.

    To try to take the edge off this bad news, I have an Ishihara joke at the end of this blog post if you’re interested.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7153

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    18) New separate blog with details about taking Japanese citizenship, in English, written by other fellow naturalized Japanese

    Late last June a naturalized Japanese friend of mine set up a website devoted solely to offering information to people interested in taking out Japanese citizenship (or of course for those who just have a curiosity about what’s involved). Written by people who have actually gone through the process (yours truly included). See it at:

    http://www.turning-japanese.info/

    Debito.org was once pretty much the source for that in English, but the data there is out of date in places (of course, it’s been a decade). This collection of modern and variable experiences from the increasingly-visible naturalized Japanese citizens (word has it your treatment by MOJ officials depends quite a bit on your race and national origin; I believe as a White former American I had a comparatively easy time of it) is a valuable addition to the canon, and I wanted to devote today’s blog entry to point you towards it.

    Topics thus far covered there:
    ===================================

    • High-fidelity MS Word and OpenDocument Japan naturalization forms
    • FAQ: Which is more difficult: permanent residency or naturalization
    • Comparison: The U.S. Citizenship Test on Video
    • Misinformation: justlanded.ru: Japanese citizenship
    • The three types of naturalization
    • Misinformation: eHow: How to become a Japanese Citizen
    • FAQ: Do you have to speak perfect Japanese to naturalize?
    • FAQ: How much paperwork is involved?
    • FAQ: Can I have an official Japanese name even if I don’t naturalize?
    • What the Ministry of Justice website says about naturalization
    • Analyzing the Application Procedures
    • FAQ: Do you have to be a permanent resident or special permanent resident to naturalize?
    • Your newly acquired right to vote: Using the web to know your candidates
    • FAQ: Do you have to take a Japanese name if you naturalize?
    • FAQ: How much does it cost to naturalize?
    • Becoming Japanese is becoming more expensive for Americans
    • Japanese “Naturalization Permission Application Guidance” booklet
    • Renouncing Former Nationalities
    • My first visit to the Nationality Section

    ===================================

    and more.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7298

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    19) Thoughts on GOJ Upper House Election July 11, 2010: A DPJ loss, but not a rout, regardless of what the media says.

    Background: The Upper House of Japan’s Diet (parliament) has a total of 242 seats. Half the UH gets elected every three years, meaning 121 seats were being contested this time. Of the ones not being contested, the ruling DPJ, which has held the majority of UH seats (through a coalition with another party) since 2007, had the goal of keeping that majority. To do that, the DPJ had to win 55 seats plus one this time (since they already had 66 seats not being contested this election). The opposition parties (there are many, see below) had the goal of gaining 66 seats plus one (since 55 of theirs were not being contested this election) to take the UH majority back. Here’s how the numbers fell this morning after yesterday’s election:

    DPJ won 44 (and their coalition partner lost all of theirs).
    Non-DPJ won 77.

    Totals now come up to 106 (a loss of ten) seats for the DPJ, meaning they lost their absolute Upper House majority thanks to a coalition partner party (Kokumin Shintou) losing all their contested seats (three). Thus the DPJ lost control of the Upper House.

    However, this does not mean that somebody else assumes power of it. Nobody is close to forming a Upper House majority, meaning there will be some coalition work from now on. After breaking down the numbers on this blog, conclusions:

    DPJ lost this election, there’s no other spin to be had. But it was not a rout (like the UH election of 2007 against the LDP was, see here). Consider this:

    Number of electoral districts where DPJ came out on top where they weren’t on top before (in other words, electoral gains as far as DPJ is concerned): None.

    Number of electoral districts where DPJ stayed on top or kept their seat same as last election (in other words, no change for the worse): 22

    Number of electoral districts where DPJ lost but lost before anyway (in other words, the status quo of no electoral gains held): 10

    Number of electoral districts where DPJ flat out won before but lost a seat this time (this is the bad news, electoral losses): 12

    Conclusion: The DPJ essentially held their own in a near-majority of contested electoral districts. They did not gain much, but did not lose big. In fact, in all multiple-seat constituencies, at least one DPJ candidate won (see below)…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7206

    UPDATE: A reporter friend asks me for a critique of his article (which I thought fell for the Japanese media line of “the rout”). Here’s what I wrote:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7206#comment-198285

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    20) Asahi editorial supports NJ PR Suffrage, published during election-period debates

    In the middle of the election period, here’s a surprising editorial from the Asahi — in support of NJ PR Suffrage! The ruling DPJ dropped it from their manifesto, and most parties that took it up as an issue (LDP, Kokumin Shintou (rendered below as People’s New Party) and Tachiagare Nippon (i.e. Sunrise Party, hah)) used it to bash NJ and try to gain votes from xenophobia (didn’t matter; the latter two still did not gain seats from it). Anyway, here’s the strongest argument made by mainstream Japanese media in support of it. And it’s a doozy. Thanks Asahi for injecting some tolerance into the debate. Maybe it made a difference in voting patterns.

    Asahi: More than 2.2 million foreign residents are registered in Japan, and 910,000 of them have been granted permanent resident status. Japan is already a country comprising people with various backgrounds. It is appropriate to have those people rooted in their local communities to share the responsibility in solving problems and developing their communities.

    It is also appropriate to allow their participation in local elections as residents, while respecting their bonds to their home nations.

    In its new strategy for economic growth, the government says it will consider a framework for taking in foreigners to supplement the work force. To become an open country, Japan must create an environment that foreigners find easy to live in.

    An Asahi Shimbun survey in late April and May showed that 49 percent of the respondents were in favor of foreign suffrage while 43 percent were against it.

    Since public opinion is divided, the DPJ, which put the issue on the public agenda, should not waffle but should give steady and persuasive arguments to the public.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7147

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    INTERESTING TANGENTS

    21) AP: A Milestone For Russia: African-born Town Councilor Is Country’s 1st Black Elected To Office

    (AP) People in this Russian town used to stare at Jean Gregoire Sagbo because they had never seen a black man. Now they say they see in him something equally rare — an honest politician.

    Sagbo last month became the first black to be elected to office in Russia.

    In a country where racism is entrenched and often violent, Sagbo’s election as one of Novozavidovo’s 10 municipal councilors is a milestone. But among the town’s 10,000 people, the 48-year-old from the West African country of Benin is viewed simply a Russian who cares about his hometown…

    COMMENT: Already seen it in Japan with people like Tsurunen Marutei, Anthony Bianchi, and Jon Heese, and we’re going to see more of it worldwide as ever-increasing international migration means mixing, assimilation, then representation in governmental bodies.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7317

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    22) Japan Times columnist CW Nicol (a whaling supporter) on why “The Cove’s” Taiji dolphin culls bother him

    As another angle to the subject of the documentary The Cove, here we have Japan Times naturalist columnist (and fellow naturalized citizen) C.W. Nicol offering his view on what’s going on in Taiji. What’s interesting is his take on the matter of animal cruelty. Although he supports whaling as an issue and has no truck with tradition involving hunting of wild animals, what gets him is what the hunt does to the people in the neighborhood. I’m reminded of what goes on at Pitcairn Island (you get a society removed enough long enough from the authorities, they’ll invent their own rules, even if at variance with permissible conduct in society at large, and claim it as tradition). It was another reason for me personally to feel the conduct at Taiji is reprehensible.

    The problem is that although Taiji is a small community, once it’s claimed to be “Japanese tradition”, you get one of the world’s most powerful economies behind it. Then all manner of issues (Japan bashing, economics, a general dislike at the national level of having outsiders telling Japan what to do, fear of right-wing repercussions, and corruption of culturally-tolerant debate arenas overseas) adhere and make the debate murky.

    Nicol: What horrified me in Taiji was that the dolphins were not harpooned, and thus secured to be quickly dispatched. Instead, the hunters were simply throwing spears into a melee of the animals swimming in a small inlet they had sealed off from the sea, hitting them here and there. Then they’d retrieve the spear by hauling in a rope tied to it and hurl it again or use it close up to stab with. This was a far cry from the efficiency — and respect for life, and death — of an Inuit hunter or a whaler at sea.

    That first time I witnessed the Taiji killings, I saw a dolphin take 25 minutes to die, while on another hunt I saw one that thrashed and bled for a horrible 45 minutes before it succumbed to its wounds. Killing, if justified and necessary, should surely be merciful and quick — yet I even saw an old grandmother laughing at a dolphin’s death throes and pointing out the animal to the small child with her as if it was some kind of joke. That really hurt and shook my belief in people.

    In addition to this catalog of horrors, though, as a former marine mammal research technician in Canada, it shocked me that all those dolphins were being captured and killed with no government inspector or fisheries biologist on hand to take data and monitor the kill. I protested about what was going on to the fishermen, and to Town Hall officials in Taiji. I even went to Tokyo and protested to a senior official in the Fisheries Agency, but he just sneered and said, “What does it matter, they die anyway.”…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7137

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally…

    23) My Schofill family roots include Cherokee and lots of American South skeletons

    About two months ago I received out of the blue two fat books from a distant relative. Information on the Schofill Clan, hand-collated from family history and lore.

    I have gone through four name changes in my life: I was born 1965 as David Christopher Schofill, was adopted after divorce by my stepfather around 1971 to become David Christopher Aldwinckle, became Sugawara Arudoudebito (due to koseki woes) when I naturalized into Japan 2000, and then had the Sugawara legally removed from my koseki in 2006 by Japanese court weeks after my divorce to become Arudou Debito. Hiya.

    But I have been so far removed from family, any family, my entire life (birth father, step father, and mother all moved far away from their birth roots, and my mother severed almost all contact with the Schofill Clan after the divorce; I’ve furthermore been excommunicated by my parents since my naturalization) that receiving these fat books of family lore was a very pleasant surprise and unprecedented experience for me.

    So here’s what I’ve gleaned: I have a picture of Philip Schofill, my great great great great grandfather, born March 31, 1803 in Lexington, South Carolina.

    What’s also an interesting find is that Philip Schofill’s father was, according to family legend, a Cherokee Indian by the name of Red Feather, before marrying a settler and taking the name Reese Busbee. Here’s a photo (undated): So that means that I’m 1/128th Cherokee, which translates to about a pound and a half of my flesh; better not diet). Might matter in Canada.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6847

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    That’s all for a while. Again, enjoy August!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 6, 2010 ENDS

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    Tangent: Japan’s Centenarians are missing: Registry systems that ignore NJ residents are also registering long-dead Japanese as alive

    Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2010

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    Hi Blog. As a tangent (but a very interesting one) is the biggest news story the past few days in Japan; Japan has some very old people who have gone missing or are long dead, but are still registered as living pensioners.

    This of course calls into question two things:

    1) The oft-cited claim that Japanese live longest in the world. With actually-dead people nudging up the average, and the possibility that the oldest people are only that way because nobody has checked on them in thirty years, this source of national pride has given way to questions of the efficacy of Japan’s Kokusei Chousa (National Census) system, which has somehow missed recording these people for decades (or in all probability, enabled horrific scams of “baachan in a freezer” while her pensions keep getting collected).

    and 2) (and this is why it’s tangentially related to Debito.org), it calls into question the efficacy of the Juuminhyou and Koseki systems too. Although any formal registry system might miss people who are not being noticed or are being deliberately hidden, it’s funny to find a centarian registered as living at a car park. But it’s not funny when you realize that taxpaying NJ are not registered as “spouse” on the Koseki Family Registry system, or even as visible residents and family under the Juuminhyou Residency Certificate system. Meanwhile, long-dead people are, just because they’re Japanese. It’s screwy. It’s an angle that has not been covered in the debate on this. But it oughta be.

    Read on for the first article I read on this issue. If you see any more that cover other important angles, send them on with links, thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////

    Tokyo’s oldest listed person, age 113, is missing
    By MARI YAMAGUCHI
    Associated Press August 3, 2010

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jK7v2YLnsB_Ih0SuHlVgZSpnrL6AD9HC0I080

    TOKYO (AP) — A 113-year-old woman listed as Tokyo’s oldest person is missing, officials said Tuesday, days after the city’s oldest man was found dead and mummified.

    Fusa Furuya, born in July 1897, does not live at the address in the Japanese capital where she is registered and her whereabouts are unknown, Tokyo Suginami ward official Hiroshi Sugimoto said.

    Her disappearance surfaced just days after the shocking discovery last week that Tokyo’s oldest man, who would have been 111 years old, had actually been dead for decades.

    Officials said that they had not personally contacted the two oldest people for decades, despite their listing as the longest-living in the city. They apparently found out that the man was dead, and Furuya missing, when they began updating their records ahead of a holiday in honor of the elderly that is to be observed next month.

    Officials visited Furuya’s apartment last Friday, but her 79-year-old daughter said she has never lived there.

    The daughter, whose name was not disclosed, told officials she was not aware of her mother’s registration at that address and said she thought her mother was just outside Tokyo with her younger brother, with whom she has lost touch.

    But when officials checked that address they found a vacant lot.
    Officials are also looking for a 106-year-old man who is missing in Nagoya, central Japan, Kyodo News agency reported. The Asahi newspaper said three more centenarians were unaccounted for.

    The number of centenarians in Japan has been rising for decades.
    Japan has 40,399 people aged 100 or older, including 4,800 in Tokyo, according to an annual health ministry report last year marking a Sept. 21 holiday honoring the elderly. Each centenarian receives a letter and a gift from a local government office — usually by mail.

    In the earlier case, police are investigating the family of the man found dead and mummified on suspicion of abandonment and swindling his pension money. Sogen Kato is believed to have died 32 years ago after he had retreated to his bedroom, saying he wanted to be a living Buddha.

    Health and Welfare Minister Akira Nagatsuma has urged officials to find a better way to monitor centenarians, but local officials say it is hard to keep track because their families are often reluctant to receive official visits.

    Many also send their elderly relatives to nursing homes without doing the proper paperwork.
    AP-ES-08-03-10 0506EDT
    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents | 20 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Aug 3 2010: “The victim complex and Kim’s killer con”

    Posted on Thursday, August 5th, 2010

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    justbecauseicon.jpg

    The Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010
    JUST BE CAUSE
    The victim complex and Kim’s killer con
    By DEBITO ARUDOU

    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100803ad.html

    It’s fascinating whenever someone cons people out of pots of money — doubly so when someone cons a whole government. Take, for example, Japan’s biggest news story two weeks ago: Kim Hyon Hui’s four-day visit to Japan.

    You might recall that in 1987 this North Korean spy, traveling on a fake Japanese passport, blew up a South Korean commercial airliner, killing 115 passengers.

    Last July 20, however, this agent of international terrorism was allowed into Japan for a reception worthy of a state guest. Bypassing standard immigration procedures, Kim had her entry visa personally approved by our justice minister, boarded a chartered flight that cost Japan’s taxpayers ¥10 million, and was whisked by helicopter to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s private dacha to eat with political elites.

    Then, flanked by a phalanx of 100 cops (who made sure nobody raised any uncomfortable questions), Kim got to meet the parents of Megumi Yokota, the cause celebre of North Korean kidnappings of innocent Japanese citizens decades ago. Next, at her request, Kim boarded another helicopter (at around ¥800,000 an hour) for an aerial tour of Mount Fuji. As a parting gift, she got an undisclosed amount of “additional remuneration.” Sweet.
    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201007230525.html

    And what did Japan get? Kim said she had information for the Yokotas about their missing daughter and other Japanese abductees who trained her to be a multilingual spy — even though, way back when, she said she had never met Megumi. So suddenly Kim has a quarter-century-old brain fart and gets the red carpet?

    The Megumi Yokota tragedy has for the past decade been a political football in Japanese politics, a means for Japan as a whole to claim victimhood status. That is to say, by portraying itself as a victim of North Korea, Japan gets brownie points at the geopolitical bargaining table and audiences with American presidents. It also creates a villain to mobilize and scare the Japanese public, justifying bunker-mentality policing powers. (Not to mention outright xenophobia. Remember some of the arguments against suffrage for non-Japanese permanent residents (JBC, Feb. 2)? “How dare we give the vote to potential North Korean agents!” We’ll get no national law protecting universal human rights in Japan while the current regime is in place in Pyongyang.)

    Yet ironies abound. After decades of virtually ignoring the abductions issue, the government has now firmly entrenched it as one of those “international sympathy” chestnuts, along with “Japan is the only country ever bombed by nuclear weapons,” “Our nation as a whole was a victim of a rapacious military junta during World War II,” and just about any claim of “Japan-bashing” rolled out whenever somebody needs to win a domestic or international argument.

    Never mind the hypocrisies, such as Japan’s own wartime atrocities and public complicity, the officially sponsored bashing of non-Japanese residents, and the kidnappings (both international and domestic) of children under Japan’s insane laws covering divorce, child custody and visitation. Portraying Japan as the perpetual “victim of circumstance or historical conspiracy” keeps our past unexamined, the status quo unchallenged, and our society blissfully inculpable.

    But as I said earlier, the Kim visit showed how victimhood can be used — even against the pros — for fun and profit.

    Think about it. Kim should be the poster child for all that’s bad about North Korea. Masquerading as a Japanese in her attempt to kill as many innocent people as possible, she was a fundamental part of the system that abducted innocent Japanese, and a beneficiary of their captive services. Yet she so effectively converted herself into a “victim of the North” that South Korea commuted her death sentence, and her memoir even became a best seller.

    So last month, by joining hands with Japan against a putative common enemy, Kim played our government like a shamisen. She essentially got the trip to Disneyland that fellow North Korean elite Kim Jong Nam (son of the Dear Leader) tried to get when he smuggled himself into Japan on a false passport in 2001. He should have pretended to be a victim, not a Dominican.
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,108692,00.html

    In sum, Kim Hyon Hui pulled off an awesome con. But consider the damage done.

    What was had for this Kim visit? We taxpayers were. “Little information to help solve the long-standing abduction issue was obtained,” according to the Asahi Shimbun. Yet this rot has become even more bureaucratically entrenched: The fiscal 2010 budget allots ¥1.2 billion for “abduction-related activities,” double that of 2009. More money into the sinkhole while other programs are facing cuts?
    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201007230525.html

    Worse still is the political precedent that has been set. Taking office last year from the corrupt Liberal Democratic Party on the promise of reform, the Democratic Party of Japan has now squandered political capital and goodwill.

    This columnist has supported the DPJ mostly because we need a viable alternative to the LDP — an opposition party that can force Japanese politics out of its crapulence and decrepitude. Yet here the DPJ has shown itself unwilling to break the mold of Japan’s elite potentates. Not only are they just as susceptible to the same con that double-agents such as Kim specialize in; they are also just as willing to bend the rules to suit the will of a privileged few.

    We saw this happen before spectacularly in the Alberto Fujimori case (JBC, May 5, 2009): An international criminal suspect wanted by Interpol could resign his Peruvian presidency, flee to Japan and get treated as a celebrity. He could even enjoy a safe haven from, yes, being “victimized” under Peru’s allegedly unfair judiciary. “Give us your huddled victims yearning to get rich …”

    So I guess the moral is that the new boss is turning out the same as the old boss. Who cares about the rule of law, or cutting deals with international terrorists? We’re hosting a smashing party for our victims, and we don’t want you bounders and oiks to spoil it! Oh, and the bureaucrats want to justify their budgets too, so let’s make like we’re doing something about the abductions. Thus the con is not Kim’s alone.

    But spare a final thought for the ultimate victims in this case: the abductees’ families, such as the Yokotas. Lured by false hopes of any news of their loved ones, they got entangled in this political stunt and lost enormous public sympathy for their cause. In the end, they were suckers for a self-proclaimed victim who is in fact a spy, a con artist and a mass murderer.

    Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp

    ///////////////////////////////////

    REFERENTIAL ASAHI SHINBUN ARTICLE, for the archives:

    Critics say ex-spy treated too well
    THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2010/07/24

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201007230525.html

    Kim Hyon Hui arrived in Japan on a government-chartered jet, was given a full police escort to the vacation home of a former prime minister and enjoyed a helicopter tour over the capital. All her expenses were paid for by taxpayers in Japan, plus some additional remuneration.

    The official treatment of this former North Korean spy once sentenced to death for blowing up a South Korean airliner and killing 115 people has been likened to that for a state guest.

    Despite the huge tab and long list of exceptions made for this to happen, relatives of Japanese who were abducted by North Korea said they were encouraged by what she had to say and now have renewed hopes of seeing their kin again.

    Kim’s four-day visit to Japan started Tuesday and ended Friday. In the end, however, most agree that little information to help solve the long-standing abduction issue was obtained.

    The extent of the exceptional treatment stunned some foreign media. The British newspaper The Independent reported on the story Wednesday under the headline “Former North Korean spy who bombed jet welcomed by Japan.”

    The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo said Kim, who was pardoned for the 1987 bombing of a South Korean passenger jet, received “state guest” treatment.

    Critics including the president of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, Sadakazu Tanigaki, slammed the event as a public-relations feat by the government to impress the public.

    However, Hiroshi Nakai, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, countered by saying that if it were merely a political performance, “we would have done it before the Upper House election.”

    A source close to the government said, “I heard the government fixed the date (now), to attract public attention to the news after the soccer World Cup finished.”

    Japan’s official stance is that 17 of its citizens were abducted by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

    In 2002, Pyongyang admitted to having abducted 13 Japanese citizens and returned five, claiming the rest were dead. Some of the missing abductees are believed to be alive.

    The Japanese government had thought that prospects were dim to obtain new information from the former spy that would help solve the abduction issue. Thus, Kim’s visit might have been aimed at showing the public that it was still working on the issue, a government official said.

    Kim, 48, should have been barred from entering Japan because she was carrying a fake Japanese passport at the time of the 1987 Korean Air jet bombing. That problem was taken care of by Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, who granted Kim special permission under the immigration control law.

    According to a source close to the government, the chartered jet alone cost 10 million yen ($114,810). Add to that several millions of yen more for Kim’s motorcade from Tokyo to Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, which mobilized 100 police officers. It was “comparable to that of U.S. ministerial or deputy ministerial level officials,” the source said.

    The helicopter sightseeing tour was a request by Kim, who reportedly wanted to see Mount Fuji. A helicopter flight of that type would cost 800,000 yen an hour, according to an industry source.

    For fiscal 2010, 1.2 billion yen was allotted for abduction-related activities, twice the amount in fiscal 2009.

    Even amid all the criticism, family members of abductees viewed Kim’s visit in a positive light. Kim met families of the abductees during her visit.

    Shigeo Iizuka, who heads the association of the Japanese abductees’ families, said: “She said she was looking forward to seeing (my sister Yaeko Taguchi). I am sure she will continue to help us.”

    Sakie Yokota, the mother of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted in 1977 at the age of 13, said, “I was encouraged by (Kim’s) words, ‘I believe she is still alive.’”
    ENDS

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    Get my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column tomorrow Aug 3, on the Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit and The Big Con

    Posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Short post for today, to tell you to get my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column tomorrow, Aug 3, 2010.

    Topic:  DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui’s visit to Japan last month, and how she conned Japan out of a lot of money by using the same “victimhood” phenomenon so often used by the GOJ.  Props to her, I guess, for turning the tables.

    In the words of my editor, the essay “made [his] blood boil”.  Good.  Hopefully it will inspire some discussion.  Have a read tomorrow (online and on newsstands, Wednesday editions in the provinces).  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    UPDATE:  Here it is:

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100803ad.html

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    Sunday Tangent: AP: A Milestone For Russia: African-born Town Councilor Is Country’s 1st Black Elected To Office

    Posted on Sunday, August 1st, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  I have a feeling we’re going to see this sort of thing more and more (we’ve already seen it in Japan with people like Tsurunen Marutei, Anthony Bianchi, and Jon Heese) as ever-increasing international migration means mixing, assimilation, then representation in governmental bodies.  Just an interesting article that is in the vein of Debito.org.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    //////////////////////////////////////

    Associated Press Jul. 25, 2010
    A Milestone For Russia: African-born Town Councilor Is Country’s 1st Black Elected To Office
    Coutesy of Carl et al.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/07/25/ap/world/main6711421.shtml

    (AP) NOVOZAVIDOVO, Russia (AP) – People in this Russian town used to stare at Jean Gregoire Sagbo because they had never seen a black man. Now they say they see in him something equally rare – an honest politician.

    Sagbo last month became the first black to be elected to office in Russia.

    In a country where racism is entrenched and often violent, Sagbo’s election as one of Novozavidovo’s 10 municipal councilors is a milestone. But among the town’s 10,000 people, the 48-year-old from the West African country of Benin is viewed simply a Russian who cares about his hometown.

    He promises to revive the impoverished, garbage-strewn town where he has lived for 21 years and raised a family. His plans include reducing rampant drug addiction, cleaning up a polluted lake and delivering heating to homes.

    “Novozavidovo is dying,” Sagbo said in an interview in the ramshackle municipal building. “This is my home, my town. We can’t live like this.”

    “His skin is black but he is Russian inside,” said Vyacheslav Arakelov, the mayor. “The way he cares about this place, only a Russian can care.”

    Sagbo isn’t the first black in Russian politics. Another West African, Joaquin Crima of Guinea-Bissau, ran for head of a southern Russian district a year ago but was heavily defeated.

    Crima was dubbed by the media “Russia’s Obama.” Now they’ve shifted the title to Sagbo, much to his annoyance.

    “My name is not Obama. It’s sensationalism,” he said. “He is black and I am black, but it’s a totally different situation.”

    Inspired by communist ideology, Sagbo came to Soviet Russia in 1982 to study economics in Moscow. There he met his wife, a Novozavidovo native. He moved to the town about 100 kilometers (65 miles) north of Moscow in 1989 to be close to his in-laws.

    Today he is a father of two, and negotiates real estate sales for a Moscow conglomerate. His council job is unpaid.

    Sagbo says neither he nor his wife wanted him to get into politics, viewing it as a dirty, dangerous business, but the town council and residents persuaded him to run for office.

    They already knew him as a man of strong civic impulse. He had cleaned the entrance to his apartment building, planted flowers and spent his own money on street improvements. Ten years ago he organized volunteers and started what became an annual day of collecting garbage.

    He said he feels no racism in the town. “I am one of them. I am home here,” Sagbo said.

    He felt that during his first year in the town, when his 4-year-old son Maxim came home in tears, saying a teenage boy spat at him. Sagbo ran outside in a rage, demanding that the spitter explain himself. Women sitting nearby also berated the teenager. Then the whole street joined in.

    Russia’s black population hasn’t been officially counted but some studies estimate about 40,000 “Afro-Russians.” Many are attracted by universities that are less costly than in the West. Scores of them suffer racially motivated attacks every year – 49 in Moscow alone in 2009, according to the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy Task Force on Racial Violence and Harassment, an advocacy group.

    After the Soviet Union collapsed, Novozavidovo’s industries were rapidly privatized, leaving it in financial ruin.

    High unemployment, corruption, alcoholism and pollution blight what was once an idyllic town, just a short distance from the Zavidovo National Park, where Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev take nature retreats.

    Denis Voronin, a 33-year-old engineer in Novozavidovo, said Sagbo was the town’s first politician to get elected fairly, without resorting to buying votes

    “Previous politicians were all criminals,” he said.

    A former administration head – the equivalent of mayor in rural Russia – was shot to death by unknown assailants two years ago.

    The post is now held by Arakelov, a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan who says he also wants to clean up corruption. He says money used to constantly disappear from the town budget and is being investigated by tax police.

    Residents say they pay providers for heat and hot water, but because of ineffective monitoring by the municipality they don’t get much of either. The toilet in the municipal building is a room with a hole in the floor.

    As a councilor, Sagbo has already scored some successes. He mobilized residents to collect money and turn dilapidated lots between buildings into colorful playgrounds with new swings and painted fences.

    As he strolled around his neighborhood everyone greeted him and he responded in his fluent, French-African-accented Russian. Boys waved to Sagbo, who had promised them a soccer field.

    Sitting in the newly painted playground with her son, Irina Danilenko said it was the only improvement she has seen in the five years she has lived here.

    “We don’t care about his race,” said Danilenko, 31. “We consider him one of us.”

    ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Tangents | 4 Comments »

    AP and JT on “Soft Power” of JET Programme, projecting Japan’s influence abroad.

    Posted on Saturday, July 31st, 2010

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    Hi Blog. Here are two articles talking about inter alia what I brought up yesterday, Japan’s “soft power”, and how the JET Programme is an example of that.  First one delves into the history and goals, the other making the case for and against it, with input from former students under JETs’ tutelage.

    We’ve talked extensively about JET cuts/possible abolition here already on Debito.org (archives here), and raised doubts about the efficacy of the program as a means to teach Japanese people a foreign language and “get people used to NJ” (which I agree based upon personal experience has been effective, as Anthony says below).  I guess the angle to talk about this time, what with all the international networking and alumni associations, is the efficacy of the program as a means of projecting Japan’s “soft power”, if not “cool”, abroad.

    I have already said that I am a fan of JET not for the projection of power abroad, but rather because the alternative, no JET, would not be less desirable.  Otherwise, in this discussion, I haven’t any real angle to push (for a change), so let’s have a discussion.  Give us some good arguments on how effective JET is abroad (discuss how effective JET is in Japan at a different blog entry here, please read comments before commenting to avoid retreads)  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    Does Japan still need 23-yr-old exchange program?

    By TOMOKO A. HOSAKA
    Associated Press: Jul 28, 2010, courtesy of AR

    http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_15818/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=srUD04pJ

    PHOTO CAPTION: In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 21, 2010, Steven Horowitz, a JET alumni who is now on the board of the JET alumni association, poses for a picture in New York. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, known as JET, is now among the biggest international exchange programs in the world. More than 52,000 people, mostly American, have taken part and supporters proclaim it as Japan’s most successful soft power initiative since World War II. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    TOKYO (AP) – Every year for the past two decades, legions of young Americans have descended upon Japan to teach English. This government-sponsored charm offensive was launched to counter anti-Japan sentiment in the United States and has since grown into one of the country’s most successful displays of soft power.

    But faced with stagnant growth and a massive public debt, lawmakers are aggressively looking for ways to rein in spending. One of their targets is the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, or JET.

    Versions of the JET program can be found in other countries. French Embassies around the world help to recruit young people to teach their languages in France for a year. The U.S. Fulbright program, run by the State Department, works in both directions: American graduates are sent abroad to study and teach, and foreigners are brought to the U.S. to do the same.

    But JET’s origins and historical context make it unique. Having long pursued policies of isolation – with short bursts of imperialism – Japan was looking for a new way to engage with the world in 1987, at the height of its economic rise.

    The country’s newfound wealth was viewed as a threat in the U.S., where anti-Japanese sentiment ran high. At the same time, Tokyo wanted to match its economic power with political clout. JET emerged as one high-profile solution to ease trade friction, teach foreigners about Japan and open the country to the world.

    Under the program, young people from English-speaking countries – mostly Americans – work in schools and communities to teach their language and foster cultural exchange. They receive an after-tax salary of about 3.6 million yen ($41,400), roundtrip airfare to Japan and help with living arrangements. More than 90 percent of this year’s incoming class of 4,334 will work as assistant language teachers.

    Word about possible cuts began filtering through JET alumni networks several weeks ago, and members of the New York group mobilized quickly, starting an online signature campaign. Former JET – as the alums are known – Steven Horowitz, now living in Brooklyn, is devoting his website jetwit.com to rally support. Another alumnus in Florida launched a Facebook page.

    Their message to Tokyo is that Japan’s return on investment in the program is priceless. Japan, they say, cannot afford to lose this key link to the world, especially as its global relevance wanes in the shadow of China. And the program, they argue, not only teaches the world about Japan but also teaches Japan about the world.

    “There has been a benefit from the program that you can’t measure,” said New York native Anthony Bianchi. “People used to freak out when they’d see a foreigner. Just the fact that that doesn’t happen anymore is a big benefit.”

    Bianchi’s experience shows the power of the program to create cultural ties. After working as a teacher for two years in Aichi prefecture in central Japan, he landed a job with the mayor in Inuyama City, an old castle town in the area. He eventually adopted Japanese citizenship and ran for city council. Now in his second term, the 51-year-old is working to convince Diet members that JET is worth saving.

    Bianchi is not alone. Of the more than 52,000 people who have taken part, many are moving into leadership at companies, government offices and non-profits that make decisions affecting Japan, said David McConnell, an anthropology professor at The College of Wooster in Ohio and author of a book about JET.

    “The JET Program is, simply put, very smart foreign policy,” he said.

    James Gannon, executive director for the nonprofit Japan Center for International Exchange in New York, describes JET as a pillar of the U.S.-Japan relationship and the “best public diplomacy program that any country has run” in recent decades.

    But many taxpayers are asking if the program is worth the price – and criticism of JET has become part of a larger political showdown about how much government Japan can afford.

    The organization that oversees JET, the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations, has drawn the ire of lawmakers as a destination where senior bureaucrats retire to plush jobs. The practice, known as “amakudari,” or “descent from heaven,” is viewed as a source of corruption and waste.

    Motoyuki Odachi, head of a budget review panel that examined JET, said taxpayers are getting ripped off.

    “There’s a problem with the organization itself,” said Odachi, an upper house member from central Japan. “This program has continued in order to maintain ‘amakudari.’”

    JET’s administrators tried to defend themselves at a public hearing in late May and submitted planned reforms, including a 15 percent slimmer budget this fiscal year. The council has allocated about $10 million for the program, which includes airfare, orientation costs and counseling services. Teachers’ salaries are paid by the towns and cities that hire them. Several government ministries cover other JET-related costs, such as overseas recruitment.

    Odachi expects his panel’s recommendations will be adopted as formal policy later this year.

    “Whether that means zero (money) or half, we don’t know yet,” he said. “But our opinion has been issued, so (JET) will probably shrink.”

    Kumiko Torikai, dean of Rikkyo University’s Graduate School of Intercultural Communication and the author of several books on English education in Japan, says JET has outgrown its usefulness and needs an overhaul.

    “Bringing thousands of JETs to Japan is not a good investment for the country’s taxpayers in this day and age of an already globalized world,” Torikai said.

    ENDS

    /////////////////////////////////////

    Japan Times Tuesday, July 27, 2010
    THE ZEIT GIST
    Ex-students don’t want JET grounded
    Eric Johnston and Kanako Nakamura ask ‘children of JET’ whether the program deserves to be on the chopping block
    By Eric Johnston and Kanako Nakamura (excerpt)

    The case for JET
    The JET program is one of — perhaps the only — project carried out by the Japanese government during the bubble-economy years of the late 1980s and early 1990s to promote kokusaika (internationalization) that actually had some success.

    Since its inception, over 50,000 young foreigners have come to Japan to teach English and share their cultures with young Japanese who would otherwise not likely have been able to speak directly with a foreign teacher. These young people have also benefited local education by improving the abilities of Japanese teachers of English.

    Upon return to their home countries, they act as unofficial goodwill ambassadors for Japan, and their experience as a JET is looked upon favorably by employers such as the U.S. State Department. For a relatively small investment on the part of taxpayers, the JET program has created huge returns, welcoming generations of non-Japanese who have, and will, go on to promote better relations between Japan and their own country and expose Japanese to the outside world in unprecedented ways.

    The case against
    The JET program is a relic of the go-go days of the bubble-economy years, when any half-baked idea could get government funding if it had the word “kokusaika” attached to it. Since its inception, over 50,000 young foreigners with few, if any, teaching credentials have come to Japan and partied for a year at taxpayer expense. They have usually enjoyed their stay, but their effectiveness in improving the English language ability of their students was never quantitatively measured and, given Japanese students’ performances on international English tests, is questionable at best.

    Because most JET teachers are from North America, Europe or Australasia, the program promotes an “Anglo-Saxon” view of the world that disregards the importance of other cultures.

    A JET’s presence in the classroom with Japanese teachers can actually be disruptive to classroom discipline, while the need for their colleagues to assist them with personal matters due to the language barrier places extra burdens on school staff.

    Upon return to their countries, they land the same jobs others who were in Japan get, and it’s naive to think most JETs will be goodwill ambassadors.

    At a time of fiscal austerity and when thousands of native English-speakers — many with teaching qualifications, Japanese language ability and a much better understanding of Japanese culture — can be hired as contract workers from private firms depending on local needs and at lower cost, why should Japanese taxpayers continue to subsidize the JET program?

    The ex-students’ view…

    Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100727zg.html

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Education, Gaiatsu, Japanese Government | 7 Comments »

    Kyodo: NJ crime down once again, but NPA spin says NJ crime gangs “increasingly” targeting Japan, whines about difficulty in statistically measuring NJ crime

    Posted on Saturday, July 24th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Here’s the semiannual NPA NJ crime propaganda campaign, claiming once again some kind of “increase”.  Before, we had decreases in crime depicted as an increase, depending on what crime you looked at or what language the article was in.  Now it’s the NPA, in the face of a 40% admitted drop in “NJ criminals rounded up” since  2004, giving the spin of doubting its own statistics.  What’s next, saying NJ are more likely to commit crime because of their criminal DNA?  (Actually, Tokyo Gov Ishihara beat them to that nearly a decade ago; dead record due to Tony Laszlo’s Issho Kikaku, so Japanese here.)

    Here’s the report being referred to in pdf format:

    http://www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai6/rainichi.pdf

    Note how last month’s police raids of NJ junkyard businesses was done in time  for the survey.  Gotta say something, act as though they’re doing something, even if it doesn’t seem like they found much.

    Also note how on the bottom of page two of the report, they give a definition that the “gaikokujin” they’re referring to are not those here with PR status, the Zainichi, the US military, or “those with unclear Statuses of Residence” (what, refugees?  certainly not visa overstayers).  Okay.  Pity the media doesn’t mention that.  Nor is it mentioned that although this report is supposed to deal with “international crime”, it is just titled “Rainichi Gaikokujin Hanzai no Kenkyo Joukyou” (lit. The Situation of Cases of Crimes by Foreigners Coming to Japan).  I guess just talking about garden-variety crime by NJ (back in the day when it was allegedly going up) isn’t convenient anymore.  You have to narrow the focus to find the crime and shoot the fish in the proverbial barrel — it gets the headlines that attribute crime to nationality, even somehow allows you to doubt your own statistics.  Moreover enables you to claim a budget to “establish a system in which investigators across the nation would be able to work in an integrated manner to counter crimes committed by foreigners” (as opposed to an integrated manner to counter crimes in general).

    More on the issue at Debito.org here.  Let’s see what the NPA spin is next time.  Fascinatingly bad science.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    NPA says foreign crime groups increasingly targeting Japan
    Kyodo News Friday 23rd July, 2010, Courtesy of JK and KG and many others

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/npa-says-foreign-crime-groups-increasingly-targeting-japan

    TOKYO — International criminal organizations are increasingly targeting Japan as members of such groups, the locations where they commit crimes and their victims have become more multinational, the National Police Agency said in its white paper released Friday.

    While members of foreign crime groups have tended to stay in Japan for a short period of time to steal or engage in other criminal activities then flee overseas, such groups are now coordinating with crime syndicates in Japan and repeatedly committing crimes using existing ‘‘criminal infrastructure,’’ according to the annual paper.

    In analyzing the globalization of crime, the document points to underground banks, groups specializing in arranging fake marriages and scrap yards in the suburbs as examples of such infrastructure.

    Police inspected in June a total of more than 400 yards in Japan. One reason was to see whether they were being used as a base for global criminal activities. Some scrap yards were found to have been used to disassemble stolen cars and heavy machinery to export parts.

    The number of foreigners rounded up last year on suspicion of being involved in criminal activities was about 13,200, down roughly 40% from 2004 when the number peaked.

    ‘‘The extent of how much crime has become globalized cannot be grasped through statistics,’’ the paper says, attributing part of the reason to difficulties in solving crimes committed by foreigners—which are more likely to be carried out by multiple culprits than those committed by Japanese.

    To counter the trend, the agency set up in February an office specializing in collecting and analyzing intelligence on crimes committed by foreigners.

    It aims to establish a system in which investigators across the nation would be able to work in an integrated manner to counter crimes committed by foreigners.

    ENDS

    /////////////////////////////////////

    UPDATE

    Foreign criminals building up Japanese operations, threatening public order: NPA
    (Mainichi Japan) July 23, 2010 Courtesy of MS
    Globe-spanning foreign criminal organizations have secretly been building up their operations in Japan in recent years, according to a National Police Agency (NPA) white paper for fiscal 2010 submitted to the Cabinet on July 23.

    According to a special “globalized crime” section of the report, the types of crimes perpetrated by foreigners in Japan are changing at the same time as criminal activity involving the movement of people money and the flow of information over borders is building — presenting what the agency emphasizes is “a threat to public order.”

    The globalization of crime “could very well cause a tectonic shift in the public order of our nation,” the report declares. “From this point on, law enforcers are required to respond to the situation in an appropriate manner.”

    Previously, crimes perpetrated by foreigners tended to be of the “hit and run” variety, committed during short-term stays in Japan and followed with the criminal fleeing the country. However, in recent years, cases of global foreign criminal organizations targeting Japan, and the formation of criminal groups in Japan made up of foreigners from many countries, have been conspicuous — a trend dubbed “the globalization of crime.”

    As an example, the report cites a 2007 tear gas spray attack on a jewelry store clerk and theft of a 280 million yen tiara from the shop in Tokyo’s Ginza area by a Montenegrin group called the “Pink Panther” gang. It also details a 2006-2009 scam by a primarily Nigerian group that used fake credit cards to buy electronics from volume dealers, which they then sold to used electronics shops. Another example is a Pakistani, Cameroonian, Sri Lankan and Japanese group which stole heavy construction equipment in some 500 cases from 2002 to 2008, dismantled them and exported the parts.

    There are also cases of foreigners involved in drug dealing, smuggling counterfeit goods, Internet-based computer hacking and money laundering, and some of them in connection with Japan’s own yakuza criminal organizations.

    This year, the NPA is formulating a strategy to counter the globalized crime trend, and has set up a special “globalized crime countermeasures” unit. The agency is also strengthening cooperation and information exchanges with foreign public security agencies via diplomatic channels and Interpol. It is also building on extradition treaties for the smooth extradition of criminals.
    ENDS

    警察白書:「グローバル化」脅威に 外国人犯罪に焦点

    毎日新聞 2010年7月23日

    http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20100723k0000e040042000c.html

    警察庁は23日、10年版警察白書を閣議に報告した。特集「犯罪のグローバル化と警察の取り組み」を組み、世界的規模の犯罪組織が近年、日本で暗躍する実態を解説した。国境を超えた人、カネ、情報の行き来が活発になるなか、外国人犯罪に質的な変化が起きていると指摘。「治安への脅威になっている」と強調している。【鮎川耕史】

    従来の外国人犯罪は、短期滞在の在留資格で来日し、犯行後すぐに海外に逃走する「ヒット・アンド・アウエー」型が典型だった。

    最近は、世界規模で活動する組織が日本を標的にするケースや、多国籍のメンバーで組織を構成しているケースが目立ち、「犯罪のグローバル化」と呼ばれている。

    象徴的な事件として白書は、モンテネグロ人らの組織「ピンクパンサー」が東京・銀座の貴金属店で店員に催涙スプレーを吹きかけ、2億8000万円相当のティアラ(王冠形の髪飾り)を奪った事件(07年)▽ナイジェリア人を中心とするグループが、偽造クレジットカードで家電量販店からだまし取った電化製品を古物商で換金していた事件(06~09年)▽パキスタン人、カメルーン人、スリランカ人、日本人で構成するグループが、自動車や建設用重機を狙って約500件の窃盗を繰り返し、「ヤード」と呼ばれる作業場で解体したうえ、海外へ輸出していた事件(02~08年)--などを挙げている。

    覚せい剤の密売、偽ブランド品の密輸、インターネット上の不正アクセス、マネーロンダリングでもグローバル化は進み、日本の暴力団とのつながりが判明した事件もある。

    警察庁は今年、犯罪のグローバル化に対する戦略プランを策定し、情報の収集・分析を担当する「犯罪のグローバル化対策室」を発足させた。国際刑事警察機構(ICPO)や外交ルートを通じた外国治安当局との情報交換や捜査協力も強化。国外に逃亡した容疑者の特定や所在の確認、犯罪人引き渡し条約に基づく引き渡しなどでも連携を深めている。

    白書は「(犯罪のグローバル化は)わが国の治安に地殻変動を引き起こす要因となりかねない。今後、組織をあげて的確に取り組むことが求められる」としている。

    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Issho.org/Tony Laszlo, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 4 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 11, 2010

    Posted on Sunday, July 11th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hello All. On this Election Day in Japan, let me send you:

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 11, 2010

    Table of Contents:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    CALLS FOR CHANGE, WELL MAYBE NOT:
    1) JET Programme on GOJ chopping block: Appeal from JQ Magazine and JETAA in NYC (plus Debito.org Poll)
    2) Powerpoint presentation: “Japan Past the Point of No Return”
    3) Alarmist Nikkei Business cover re Chinese business practices: “Chapan: Your new boss is Chinese”
    4) Japan Times: LDP & rightists still clinging to anti NJ PR Suffrage, even though not an issue in this election
    5) Metropolis Mag has thoughtful article regarding the convoluted debate for NJ PR suffrage
    6) Japan Times Zeit Gist on how NJ can participate in Japanese elections
    7) Japan Times & Kyodo: Foreign “trainees” dying at rate of two to three a month, takes two years for one to be declared “from overwork” (karoushi), more than a quarter from “unknown causes”
    8 ) IMADR Connect Magazine article on recent UN visit by High Commissioner of Human Rights to Japan May 2010

    CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, WELL MAYBE NOT:
    9) Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japanese enforcement of vague laws: “No need to know the law, but you must obey it”
    10) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun & Jiji on Japanese police’s extralegal powers, and how that power corrupts
    11) Kyodo: Police raid car scrap yards run by NJ, suspecting them as “breeding grounds for crime”
    12) NYT guest column on racial profiling of Japanese for “looking too tall and dark”. Just like arrest of “foreign-looking” Japanese back in 2006.
    13) TBS: Daring heist of expensive watches in Sapporo. So daring it might have been foreigners!, says Hokkaido Police
    14) J protesters of “The Cove” lose injunction in Yokohama District Court, cannot stop screenings, so they target people’s homes for intimidation
    15) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2010

    TANGENTS
    16) Newsweek: Immigrants do not increase crime
    17) How the US deals with Arizona racial profiling: Federal lawsuits and Jon Stewart humor
    18) Activist Junichi Sato on International Whaling Commission corruption and GOJ/NPA collusion
    19) Canada spending even more than Japan this time on G8/G20 summits. However, controversy ensues.
    20) Yours is no disgrace, World Cup Japan Team. Otsukare. I hope the J media does not spin this as a loss.
    21) Sunday Tangent: “A Growing Love for ‘Cool Japan’” by Akira Yamada (of MOFA)

    … and finally …

    22) JUST BE CAUSE column July 6, 2010: “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry”: how government agencies want NJ tourists yet are accessories to excluding them (full text)
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily Blog updates and RSS feeds at http://www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
    Freely Forwardable

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    CALLS FOR CHANGE, WELL MAYBE NOT

    1) JET Programme on GOJ chopping block: Appeal from JQ Magazine and JETAA in NYC (plus Debito.org Poll)

    Dear Mr. Arudou: Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Justin Tedaldi, and I am the editor of JQ Magazine New York, a publication of the JET Programme Alumni Association of America’s New York Chapter. I also write about Japanese culture in New York for Examiner.com. I lived in Kobe City for about two years, and my first work experience out of school was as a coordinator for international relations with the JET Programme.

    I’m a longtime follower of your site (over ten years), and I would like to ask your help on behalf of all the JETs worldwide. As part of Japan’s efforts to grapple with its massive public debt, the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Program may be cut. Soon after coming into power, the new government launched a high profile effort to expose and cut wasteful spending. In May 2010, the JET Program and CLAIR came up for review, and during the course of an hourlong hearing, the 11-member panel criticized JET, ruling unanimously that a comprehensive examination should be undertaken to see if it should be pared back or eliminated altogether. The number of JET participants has already been cut back by almost 30 percent from the peak in 2002, but this is the most direct threat that the program has faced in its 23-year history.

    We are asking JET Program participants past and present, as well as other friends of the program to speak out and petition the Japanese government to reconsider the cuts. Please sign this petition in support of the grassroots cultural exchange the JET Program has fostered and write directly to the Japanese government explaining the positive impact the Program has made in your life and that of your adopted Japanese community.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/view/save_the_jet_program

    Very lively discussion at http://www.debito.org/?p=7134

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    DEBITO.ORG POLL:
    Rumor has it that the JET Programme is on the chopping block. What should the GOJ do about JET?

    Options:

    • Nothing: Keep the JET Programme as is.
    • Tweak: Keep the JET Programme but adjust the fundamental goals/budget.
    • Slash: Eliminate the JET Programme entirely.
    • Something else.
    • Don’t know.

    Vote at any blog page at http://www.debito.org (right-hand column)

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    2) Powerpoint presentation: “Japan Past the Point of No Return”

    Here is a powerpoint presentation by a Mr Vitaliy Katsenelson of an investment consulting firm, telling us in a very easily understood powerpoint presentation how Japan’s economic particulars just don’t add up to sustainability — mentioning the demographics and insufficient immigration that will drive Japan in the long run into insolvency. Have a look.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6973

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    3) Alarmist Nikkei Business cover re Chinese business practices: “Chapan: Your new boss is Chinese”

    Get a load of this Nikkei Business cover (courtesy of MS). Nothing like a bit of Photoshop to add a Chinese-style torii (and a crappy shadow against the sun) in the middle of Ginza to create alarm and sell papers: “Your new boss is Chinese”, reads the headline, coining the word “Chapan”.

    Also enjoy the typical invective that invades Japanese business rhetoric: Rakuten’s “enemy” is America’s Amazon Inc and China’s Ali Baba. As Chalmers Johnson wrote back in 1980 (article here for those who can access it), Japanese companies don’t just enter a market, they “hit the beaches” (jouriku suru). So let’s gird the troops for battle, especially now that we’re on a defensive posture. I don’t know which is worse — the sh*t-eating grins and claims of superiority (when Japan was a rising economy during the Bubble Economy), or the sore-loser crybaby language one sees nowadays, even though Japan can’t clean up its act (debtwise, for example), or accept that the current way of doing business may not be sustainable. Better to resort to aggressive invective against the outsider, I guess. Those are my thoughts on a crabby morning after watching too much early-morning World Cup.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7005

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    4) Japan Times: LDP & rightists still clinging to anti NJ PR Suffrage, even though not an issue in this election

    The LDP and other rightists are still playing up the NJ PR Suffrage Issue, even though it’s not even a platform plank in this election (the DPJ Manifesto does not mention it this time) in a rather lame (and xenophobic) attempt to gather votes. Nothing quite like bashing a small, disenfranchised minority to make yourself look powerful and worthy of governance. Excerpt follows:

    Japan Times: Whether to grant permanent foreign residents voting rights for local-level elections and allow married couples to keep their respective surnames have become contentious issues ahead of the July 11 Upper House election.

    The ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which advocates the introduction of foreigner suffrage and separate surnames for married couples if desired, faces strong opposition from conservatives in the Liberal Democratic Party and small parties, including its own ruling bloc partner.

    Aichi Prefecture voters, however, are puzzled by the conservatives’ fervor because the topics have yet to stir national debate…

    The LDP and small conservative parties set out to oppose the ideas in their platforms, vying with the DPJ, which has liberal views on these issues. Some homemakers, who used to be the last to become involved in politics, now speak to people at the weekly rally of Inoue’s group held at Kanayama Station in Nagoya.

    “The pride of this country that has been built up by the Yamato (Japanese) race must be passed down to our children, otherwise there will be no future for the country,” said Masahito Fujikawa, 49, an LDP-backed candidate in the Aichi electoral district…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7105

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    5) Metropolis Mag has thoughtful article regarding the convoluted debate for NJ PR suffrage

    Excerpt: “The Chinese coming to Japan now were educated during the rule of Jiang Zemin. Their ideology is not welcome in Japan. We want more foreigners like you — Americans and Britons — to come here.”

    Atsuyuki Sassa, 79, makes no bones about what type of gaikokujin he’d prefer to see living and working in his native country. The former secretary general of the Security Council of Japan is up in arms about recent moves to allow the nearly 1 million permanent residents here to vote in local elections. In April, he organized a “10,000 People Rally” at the Nippon Budokan to bring together opponents of the plan, with keynote speeches by the likes of People’s New Party leader Shizuka Kamei and Your Party chief Yoshimi Watanabe.

    “If Chinese could vote in local elections, they wouldn’t vote for [candidates] who criticize China or North Korea,” he says. “What could happen if this type of person were granted the vote?”…

    Forty-five countries — about one in every four democracies — offer some sort of voting rights for resident aliens, according to David Earnest, author of Old Nations, New Voters, an extensive study of why democracies grant suffrage to noncitizens… Earnest explains that the consequences of granting local suffrage to foreigners are not yet entirely clear, seeing as how it is a relatively recent phenomenon. However, he gives four benefits that are typically cited by advocates: it encourages foreign residents to naturalize; it leads to better government; it’s an opportunity for “brain gain” rather than “brain drain”; and it makes for a more just society.

    On the other hand… According to Earnest, critics argue that extending voting rights to foreigners can devalue the institution of citizenship and discourage naturalization. They also say it can marginalize as much as integrate foreign residents, because governments may use it as a substitute for naturalization, assuring permanent populations of foreigners with no prospect of becoming citizens.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6987

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    6) Japan Times Zeit Gist on how NJ can participate in Japanese elections

    In an article cited in the above blog post, we had some xenophobe who organizes anti-NJ-suffrage campaigns saying:

    “I’m not prejudiced against foreigners, but the law states that foreigners must not take part in election campaigns.”

    There goes a typical zealot making a typically empty unresearched claim. According to the Japan Times this week, NJ can indeed take part in election campaigns. Excerpt:

    Although foreign residents may not be able to actually cast votes in elections, there are quite a few other things that we can do to involve ourselves in Japan’s political “machine” — and they are all legal. This tidbit of knowledge may come as somewhat of a surprise to Japanese and non-Japanese readers alike, but I assure you that it’s all verifiable in black-and-white. Well, to be totally honest, you’ll find this truth “told” more in white than black, as the Election Law is much more revealing in terms of what is not written on its pages than what is. The point is simply this: Although the law doesn’t directly state that foreign residents can participate in political and electoral activities, it also does not prohibit us from doing so. You can check it out for yourself; the Free Choice Foundation has posted the election rules in English on its Web site at www.FreeChoice.jp/election.asp or you can call the Election Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to hear it straight from the powers that be. The bureaucrats will be happy to tell you that, other than not being able to make political donations, residents of Japan are immune from discrimination of any kind — including by nationality — regarding participation in electoral activities.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6996

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    7) Japan Times & Kyodo: Foreign “trainees” dying at rate of two to three a month, takes two years for one to be declared “from overwork” (karoushi), more than a quarter from “unknown causes”

    Kyodo: Twenty-seven foreign nationals who came to Japan for employment under a government-authorized training program died in fiscal 2009, the second worst figure on record, government officials said Monday. The number was the second largest, following the 35 foreign nationals who died in fiscal 2008. This could trigger moves toward revising the government program, first launched in 1993, as a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages.

    Separate Kyodo: A labor office in Ibaraki Prefecture will acknowledge that a Chinese national working as an intern at a local firm under a government-authorized training program died from overwork in 2008, marking the first foreign trainee “karoshi” death from overwork, sources said Friday…

    COMMENTS: Taste the ironies in these articles. First, how in 2009, the death of 27 “Trainees” (i.e. people brought over by the GOJ who as people allegedly “in occupational training” don’t qualify as “workers” (roudousha) entitled to labor law protections) is only the SECOND worst figure on record. Second, how we have close to a third (as in eight NJ) of the total dying of “unknown causes” (as if that’s a sufficient explanation; don’t they have autopsies in Japan to fix that? Oh wait, not always.) Third, how about the stunning ignorance of the sentence, “a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages”. If the Kyodo reporter had bothered to do research of his media databases, he’d realize it’s hardly “recent” at all. And it’s not being fixed, despite official condemnation in 2006 of the visa regime as “a swindle” and death after death (at a rate two to three per month) racking up. Karoushi was a big media event way back when when Japanese were dying of it. Less so it seems when NJ are croaking from it. Finally, look how it only took about two years for “a labor office” to admit that a NJ “trainee” had been worked to death, given the hours he worked that were a part of the record? Gee whiz, what Sherlocking! How many more people have to die before this exploitative and even deadly system is done away with?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7111

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    8 ) IMADR Connect Magazine article on recent UN visit by High Commissioner of Human Rights to Japan May 2010

    Here is NGO International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), based in Tokyo, with their periodical in English on the issue. They inter alia are the group who keeps bringing over the UN for briefings (here and here), and have kept various committees appraised of GOJ progress (or mostly lack thereof), and answered GOJ benkai justifying inaction re human rights (example here). Their May 2010 edition talks about the UN’s May 14 visit to hear cases of discrimination in Japan. FYI.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6999

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    CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, WELL MAYBE NOT:

    9) Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japanese enforcement of vague laws: “No need to know the law, but you must obey it”

    Colin Jones in the Japan Times: A few months ago I met with some Western diplomats who were looking for information about Japanese law — in particular, an answer to the question, “Is parental child abduction a crime?” As international child abduction has become an increasingly sore point between Japan and other countries, foreign envoys have been making concerted efforts to understand the issue from the Japanese side. Having been told repeatedly by their Japanese counterparts that it is not a crime, some diplomats may be confused by recent cases of non-Japanese parents being arrested, even convicted for “kidnapping” their own children. I don’t think I helped much, since my contribution was something along the lines of “Well, it probably depends on whether the authorities need it to be a crime.”

    Of course, the very question “Is x a crime?” reflects a fairly Western view of the law as a well-defined set of rules, the parameters of which people can know in advance in order to conduct themselves accordingly. However, there is a Confucian saying that is sometimes interpreted as “The people do not need to know the law, but they should be made to obey it.” This adage was a watchword of the Tokugawa Shogunate, whose philosophy of government was based in part on neo-Confucian principles.

    It is also a saying that could provide some insights into why it sometimes seems difficult to get a clear answer about what exactly the law is in modern Japan. I am not suggesting that Japanese police and prosecutors have Confucian platitudes hanging framed over their desks, but knowing the law is a source of power. Being able to say what the law means is an even greater one, particularly if you can do so without being challenged. In a way, clearly defined criminal laws bind authority as much as they bind the people, by limiting the situations in which authorities can act. Since law enforcement in Japan often seems directed primarily at “keeping the peace,” laws that are flexible are more likely to serve this goal…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7076

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    10) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun & Jiji on Japanese police’s extralegal powers, and how that power corrupts

    Further exploring the theme of the Japanese police’s extralegal powers and how power corrupts, here are two articles outlining cases where the Japanese police can arrest people they find inconvenient:

    XX comments on Jiji Press article: In this news item a man who does not like the police has been putting up notices near crime scenes that say “Congratulations on not catching the killer.” He was arrested and prosecutored for violating the Minor Crimes Act. Interestingly, the Minor Crimes Act does not seem to have any offenses which cover what he did. Minor technicality, I guess.

    FCCJ Number 1 Shimbun: Semba retired from the Ehime Prefectural Police in March, after 36 years on the force. At 24, he had been the youngest officer in the history of the prefectural force to be promoted to the rank of sergeant, but he says his refusal to falsify expenses forms that were funneled into a vast slush fund meant that he was never promoted again, was regularly transferred between unappealing assignments and had his handgun taken away on the grounds that he might kill himself or pose a danger to others.

    “The Japanese police are a criminal organization and the senior officers of the force are all criminals,” Semba said. “Of all the companies and organizations in Japan, only the ‘yakuza’ and the police commit crimes on a daily basis. That includes building up slush funds and it was because I refused to participate in that that I stayed in the same position for all those years.”

    Semba alleges that JPY40 billion is systematically racked up from falsified travel expenses and fictitious payments to individuals who assist the police in their investigations. Pretty much every officer in the country is involved in the scam, he claims, and they do not speak out because they are all too busy climbing the ranks to try to get their hands on a larger share of the pie.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7011

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    11) Kyodo: Police raid car scrap yards run by NJ, suspecting them as “breeding grounds for crime”

    Kyodo: Ten prefectural police authorities on Tuesday launched coordinated on-site inspections of around 426 car scrap facilities across the country, suspecting that the facilities, run mostly by foreigners, could be breeding grounds for crimes such as vehicle theft, auto parts smuggling and harboring illegal immigrants.

    The inspections were conducted based on the antique dealings law, the immigration law, the building standards law and other legislation, with the participation of immigration authorities and some local governments. Of the 426 facilities, 14 were raided based on warrants issued by courts.

    Investigators said the raids are part of Japan’s efforts to tighten security ahead of a meeting of government leaders from Asia-Pacific rim countries in Yokohama in November, as some of the facilities could be linked to international terrorist groups.

    The inspections and raids had led to the arrest of seven foreigners including Iranians, Ghanaians, Vietnamese and Chinese in Kanagawa, Saitama, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures on suspicion of violating the immigration law, police said.

    COMMENT: My main one is that the majority of the raids were conducted without warrants, something I’m not sure would be permissible at Japanese-run chop shops without a suspicion of a crime. NJ, however, fall under immigration law, meaning they are more vulnerable to random search for suspected visa violations (and oh by the way we’ll check the business you run too while we’re at it). I don’t know much about the subject (or the market), so those who do please feel free to fill us in.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7044

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    12) NYT guest column on racial profiling of Japanese for “looking too tall and dark”. Just like arrest of “foreign-looking” Japanese back in 2006.

    Here we have a good opinion piece in the NYT (the overseas paper the GOJ takes most seriously) from a Japanese (not a NJ, so there’s no possible excuse of a “cultural misunderstanding”) who looks suspicious to Japanese police simply because she is taller and darker than average. So she gets zapped for racial profiling (a word, as she acknowledges, is not in common currency in nihongo). Well, good thing she didn’t get arrested for looking “too foreign” and not having a Gaijin Card, which happened back in February 2006 (article enclosed below).

    As I have said on numerous occasions, racial profiling by the NPA is a serious problem, as it will increasingly single out and multiethnic Japanese as well. I am waiting one day to get leaked a copy of the NPA police training manuals (not available to the public) which cover this sort of activity and scrutinize them for latent racist attitudes (we’ve already seen plenty of other racism in print by the Japanese police, see for example here, here, and here). But scrutiny is one thing the NPA consistently avoids. So this is what happens — and victims have to take it to outside media to get any attention.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7172

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    13) TBS: Daring heist of expensive watches in Sapporo. So daring it might have been foreigners!, says Hokkaido Police

    Sapporo was given a thrill on June 25 with a heist at one of it’s biggest department stores, Marui Imai. Somebody went along an outdoor enclosed corridor connecting two buildings over a road, smashed a window on the building, lifted nearly a million bucks of expensive jewels and watches, then rappelled down the building to the street below for a clean getaway. Think Pink Panther comes to Japan’s largest small town.

    The media called it a “daring” robbery. But Hokkaido Police, with no other evidence, reportedly said it was so daring it might have been foreigners! I guess Japanese are too docile and uningenious to be daring. I think they forgot the World Cup in Sapporo ended in 2002, so it’s a bit odd to keep blaming crime on them. But again, NJ are a soft and convenient target.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7051

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    14) J protesters of “The Cove” lose injunction in Yokohama District Court, cannot stop screenings, so they target people’s homes for intimidation

    Kyodo: The Yokohama District Court has banned a Tokyo civic group from staging protests around a movie theater in Yokohama that plans to screen the Oscar-winning U.S. documentary “The Cove” about a controversial dolphin hunt in Japan, its Japanese distributor said Friday.

    The court decision on the injunction Thursday prohibits making loud speeches within a 100-meter radius of the movie theater and entering the movie theater without permission, the distributor Unplugged Inc. said.

    As the movie theater is planning to screen the film from July 3, scores of people from the Tokyo group staged street protests around the theater on June 12. The theater applied to the court for an injunction to ban such protests.

    The theater said it will show the movie as scheduled. The film, which was mostly shot in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, partly with hidden cameras, won the 2010 Academy Award for best documentary.

    Ric O’Barry: Last week we had some important successes in Japan — several theater owners came forward and committed to show the film and we also won a key injunction in a Yokohama court against the group protesting the film. Unfortunately, the “protestors” are ramping up, employing their worst tactics to date.

    This week they moved to the Yokohoma theater owner’s home, and when that didn’t work they moved on to his mother’s home:

    (YouTube video): As you can see, the woman is elderly. She has nothing to do with the distribution of the film. This is intimidation of the lowest order.

    We tried to engage or critics — inviting them to participate in open forums, but they refused. Rather than discuss the issues they engage in highly aggressive bullying tactics to shut down the film. I personally believe they are being paid to protest and don’t really have a point of view. I don’t even think they care about Taiji. There only goal is to keep people from knowing the truth, no matter what it takes.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7067

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    15) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2010

    In this podcast:

    • Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 46, “Punishing Foreigners, Exonerating Japanese”, on growing evidence of judicial double standards towards NJ (March 24, 2009)
    • Japan Times ZEIT GIST Community Page Article 47/JUST BE CAUSE Column 14, “Golden parachutes for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy”, on the failure of Japan’s labor visa policies, and the repatriation bribe of the Nikkei (April 7, 2009)

    Plus interim excerpts from Tangerine Dream “White Eagle” and concluding with Duran Duran’s “Breath After Breath” (Wedding Album, 1993).

    26 minutes. Enjoy!

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7089

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    TANGENTS

    16) Newsweek: Immigrants do not increase crime

    As a Sunday tangent, here’s a Newsweek article making an argument that immigrants do not increase crime rates. It’s talking about the US example, but FYI. But it’s more food for thought when the NPA keeps erroneously telling us that NJ crime is on the rise.

    Excerpt: So, yes, there are pretty compelling data to support the argument that immigrants as such — even presumably “illegal” immigrants — do not make cities more dangerous to live in. But what mechanism about such immigration makes cities safer? Robert J. Sampson, head of the sociology department at Harvard, has suggested that, among other things, immigrants move into neighborhoods abandoned by locals and help prevent them from turning into urban wastelands. They often have tighter family structures and mutual support networks, all of which actually serve to stabilize urban environments. As Sampson told me back in 2007, “If you want to be safe, move to an immigrant city.”

    What other variables may be at work driving crime down? The ones most often cited are rising levels of incarceration, changes in drug markets, and the aging of the overall population. The authors of Freakonomics argue that the big drop in violent crime during the 1990s was a direct result of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973 and reduced by millions the pool of unwanted children who might have grown up to be criminals a generation later. Still, Wadsworth’s research and the recent FBI data reinforce the judgment that the vast majority of immigrants make our cities safer, especially when police know how to work with them, not against them. To blame all immigrants for the crimes committed by a few, and give the cops the job of chasing them for immigration offenses instead of focusing resources on catching the real bad guys, is simply nuts.

    But that message just isn’t getting through. Polls continue to show that the vast majority of Americans think immigrants cause crime…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6969

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    17) How the US deals with Arizona racial profiling: Federal lawsuits and Jon Stewart humor

    We’ve recently been discussing racial profiling on this blog, comparing what’s happening in Arizona with new immigration laws vs what goes on as SOP in Japanese police law enforcement and gaijin harassment.

    What’s interesting for me is how the US deals with it: They actually discuss it. First watch this Jon Stewart Daily Show excerpt (courtesy of Dave Spector) on the subject and then we’ll woolgather:

    Let’s recount the important differences apparent in this video:

    1) In the US, they have not only a presidential administration making clear statements against racial profiling, but also a judiciary filing federal suit against errant state policy that would condone that. Imagine either of those happening in Japan.

    2) In the US, the voices of minorities are actually being heard — and listened to — somewhere. Imagine THAT happening in Japan!

    3) In the US, police training materials and the actual text of law enforcement are coming under scrutiny! Imagine… oh you get the idea.

    4) In the US, they have things such as satire and sarcasm to enable people to take this apart with the very powerful tool of humor, and an investigative media that can hold people accountable for what they say and do! (God bless the Daily Show!)

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7180

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    18) Activist Junichi Sato on International Whaling Commission corruption and GOJ/NPA collusion

    For a Sunday Tangent, here is a hard-hitting article (thanks CNN) showing how activism against a corrupt but entrenched system gets treated: Detention and interrogation of activists, possible sentencing under criminal law, and international bodies turning a blind eye to their own mandate. Lucky for the author (and us) he is out on bail so he could write this. He wouldn’t be bailed if he were NJ. More on the IWC’s corruption in documentary The Cove — yet another reason why the bully boys who target people’s families (yet don’t get arrested for their “activism”) don’t want you to see it.

    Sato opens with: After just two days of closed-door negotiations, the leaders who had gathered at the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco, announced no agreement was reached on the IWC chair’s proposal to improve whale conservation.

    Greenpeace did not support the proposal, but we had hoped governments would change it to become an agreement to end whaling, not a recipe for continuing it.

    It is particularly disappointing to me, because my professional commitment to end the whale hunt in my country of Japan — which led to the exposure of an embezzlement scandal at the heart of the whaling industry — has come at significant personal cost.

    The investigation I conducted with my colleague, Toru Suzuki, led to our arrests in front of banks of media outlets who had been told about it in advance.

    The homes of Greenpeace office and staff members were raided. Seventy-five police officers were deployed to handcuff two peaceful activists. We were held without charge for 23 days; questioned for up to 10 hours a day while tied to chairs and without a lawyer present. We are now out on bail awaiting verdict and sentencing, expected in early September.

    If I can risk my future to bring the fraudulent Japanese hunt to an end, if whaling whistle-blowers are prepared to risk their lives to expose the corruption, how can it be that the IWC has yet again failed to take the political risk to pressure my government to end the scientific whaling sham?…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7114

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    19) Canada spending even more than Japan this time on G8/G20 summits. However, controversy ensues.

    Economist London: FOR all his gifts as a political tactician, Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister, may have miscalculated how much Canadians want to pay to host the G8 and G20 summits from June 25th to 27th. As the government struggles to close a large budget deficit, it is spending C$1.2 billion ($1.2 billion) to host the world’s leaders — 60% more than Japan, the previous record holder, coughed up for the G8 gathering in Okinawa in 2000.

    Canadian Press: Auditor General Sheila Fraser is ready to look at the huge security costs for the G8 and G20 summit meetings next month. “Once the events have occurred and the spending has occurred we can look to see if it was done appropriately,” she told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.

    COMMENT: Let’s see how a vetting media works. Investigating journalists uncover money being wasted and tell the public about it. Few apparent fears in the domestic media about spoiling the party for our international guests. And no apparent trampling on civil liberties. Should happen in Japan too, as we have freedom of the press. But no, check out what happened the last two times Japan hosted G8 Summits (here and here). I think it’s about time we stopped this corrupt nonsense. It’s like holding an Olympics every year in a sparkling new venue, except nobody can attend but government elites. Pigs at the trough.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6977

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    20) Yours is no disgrace, World Cup Japan Team. Otsukare. I hope the J media does not spin this as a loss.

    I just wanted to say the final Japan-Paraguay game for the Top Eight was excellent. Japan played very well (and also quite fairly — I was rather unimpressed with how often Paraguay’s players went for people’s legs instead of the ball), and coming down to a 0-0 draw after two overtimes is testament to how well Japan played. Penalty kicks (Para 5 Japan 3, with Japan going second so no chance to make it 5-4) are the luck of the draw, in my opinion, and it could have gone either way, the teams were so well matched.

    Now I’m worried about how the Japanese media is going to digest this. We already have Manager Okada apologizing for not having enough power to achieve his “Best Four” goal (but so what — the current team is streets ahead of any other World Cup team Japan has ever fielded; ergo coaching power aplenty).

    I’m afraid we’re going to get the loss viewed through the Nihonjinron Lens of the high-pressure Japanese media, with excuses about some sort of innate Japanese superiority/inferiority (as I mentioned last time I blogged on this topic the other day), and how this loss is representative of something.

    Look, it’s just a game. This time a great series of games done by a great team that just lost out thanks to one ball getting through at the very end.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7070

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    21) Sunday Tangent: “A Growing Love for ‘Cool Japan’” by Akira Yamada (of MOFA)

    As a Sunday Tangent, here we have an essay from a GOJ shill doing what I call “turning a frown upside down” (I know — I do it myself enough.) He makes the case that a waning Japan is not so waning. It’s emerging as a carrier of “cool”, as in culturally-based “soft power”. Funny to see this screed appearing before a bunch of academics in an academic network, making all manner of hopeful assertions not grounded in much reliable evidence. It’s just trying to tell us how much the world in fact still “loves” Japan. Well, clearly the author does. Enjoy.

    “A Growing Love for “Cool Japan”” by Akira Yamada: Japan may appear defensive on the economic and political fronts. Has the world lost interest in an aging Japan whose economy will fall to third largest? There is, however, a side of Japan that is the object of ever stronger and deeper affection around the globe: Japanese popular culture, particularly anime (Japanese animation) and manga.

    It will be no exaggeration to say that the world’s interest in and admiration for Japanese pop culture has grown dramatically in the first decade of the 21st century, thanks partly to the global spread of the Internet. This fact, however, is not well known around the world, even in Japan. Not many of the readers of the AJISS-Commentary, either Japanese or non-Japanese, likely have a clear understanding of the whole picture.

    Although the exact number is unknown, there may be well over 100 events annually organized around the world featuring Japanese pop culture, anime and manga in particular, and attracting more than 10,000 participants. If events with several hundred or thousand participants are included, the number would be countless. Events focusing on Japanese pop culture are growing continuously both in numbers and in size. The largest event of this kind, “Japan Expo” held annually in Paris since 2000, brought in a record 164,000 participants in 2009. It is said that Brazil had several events with more than 100,000 participants…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7170

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally …

    22) JUST BE CAUSE column July 6, 2010: “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry”: how government agencies want NJ tourists yet are accessories to excluding them (full text)

    The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 6, 2010JUST BE CAUSE
    Japan’s hostile hosteling industry
    By DEBITO ARUDOU

    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100706ad.html
    Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=7145

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Thanks for reading! Enjoy the election that probably won’t change much. I will. I voted.

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    Daily Blog updates and RSS feeds at http://www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 11, 2010 ENDS

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    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column July 6, 2010: “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry”: how government agencies want NJ tourists yet are accessories to excluding them

    Posted on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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    The Japan Times, Tuesday, July 6, 2010
    JUST BE CAUSE
    Japan’s hostile hosteling industry
    By DEBITO ARUDOU
    Draft eleven with links to sources and alternate conclusion

    Online version at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100706ad.html

    As you may know, Japan has no national civil or criminal legislation outlawing and punishing racial discrimination, meaning businesses with “Japanese only” signs aren’t doing anything illegal.

    Problem is, I’m not sure it would matter if such a law existed.

    To illustrate, consider one business sector that — technically — cannot exclude customers by race or nationality: hotels. Article 5 of Japan’s Hotel Management Law (ryokan gyoho, or HML) says that licensed accommodations cannot refuse service unless 1) rooms are full, 2) there is a threat of contagious disease, or 3) there is a issue of “public morals” (as in shooting porno movies there, etc.).

    SOURCEhttp://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#refusedhotel

    However, as discussed here last week (“No need to know the law, but you must obey it,” Zeit Gist, June 29), the law in Japan can be a mere technicality.

    The HML is frequently ignored. Quick online searches (try Rakuten or Jalan) soon uncover hotels either outright refusing non-Japanese (NJ) lodgers, or, more circumspectly, those that say, “We don’t take reservations from NJ without addresses in Japan” (which is still unlawful).

    SOURCE:  Jalan:  (recently amended to say “NJ without domestic contact addresses” refused)

    Rakuten:  (now amended to say “no bookings from overseas”)

    Still excluding:  http://travel.rakuten.co.jp/HOTEL/18497/18497_std.html

    When I call these hotels and ask why they feel the need to exclude (it’s my hobby), their justifications range from the unprofessional to the cowardly.

    Most claim they can’t provide sufficient service in English (as if that’s all that NJ can speak), so naturally it follows that they won’t provide NJ with any service at all. Or they say they have no Western-style beds (I wonder if they worry about people using chopsticks too?).

    More clever managers claim “safety” (the trump card in Japanese culture), as in: “In case of an emergency, how can we communicate with NJ effectively to get them out of a burning building?” (When I ask how they would deal with blind or deaf Japanese customers, they become markedly less clever.)

    The nasty managers hiss that NJ steal hotel goods or cause trouble for other guests, thus making it a crime issue. (After all, Japanese guests never get drunk and rowdy, or “permanently borrow” hotel amenities themselves, right?)

    This attitude in Japanese hotels is surprisingly widespread. According to a 2008 government survey, 27 percent of them said they didn’t want any NJ customers at all.

    SOURCEhttp://www.debito.org/?p=1940

    Some might claim this is no big deal. After all, you could go someplace else, and why stay at a place that doesn’t want you there anyway? At least one columnist might claim that culturally insensitive NJ deserve to be excluded because some of them have been bad guests.

    Fortunately, these apologist fringe opinions do limited damage. However, when a government agency allows — even promotes — the systematic exclusion of NJ clients, we have a real problem with the rule of law in Japan.

    Consider the curious case of the Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Association ( www.tif.ne.jp ). In September 2007, I was notified that their English site was offering member hotels two preset options for “acceptance of foreigners” and “admittance of foreigners” (whatever that difference may be). Of the 142 hotels then listed, 35 chose not to accept or admit NJ customers.

    SOURCE: http://www.debito.org/?p=1941

    I contacted FPTA and asked about the unlawfulness. A month later their reply was they had advised all 35 hotels that they really, really oughta stop that — although not all of them would. For its part, FPTA said it would remove the site’s “confusing” preset options, but it could not force hotels to repeal their exclusionary rules — FPTA is not a law enforcement agency, y’know. I asked if FPTA would at least delist those hotels, and got the standard “we’ll take it under advisement.”

    Case closed. Or so I thought. I was doing some followup research last December and discovered that even after two years, FPTA still had the option to exclude on their Japanese Web site. And now nine times more hotels — 318 — were advertised as refusing NJ (gaikokujin no ukeire: fuka).

    SOURCE: http://www.debito.org/?p=5619

    I put the issue up on Debito.org, and several concerned readers immediately contacted FPTA to advise them their wording was offensive and unlawful. Within hours, FPTA amended it to “no foreign language service available” (gaikokugo taio: fuka).

    This sounds like progress, but the mystery remains: Why didn’t FPTA come up with this wording in Japanese on its own?

    Moreover, unlike the Japanese site, FPTA’s English site had stopped advertising that NJ were being refused at all. So instead of fixing the problem, FPTA made it invisible for NJ who can’t read Japanese.

    Furthermore, when researching this article last month, I discovered FPTA had revamped its site to make it more multilingual (with Korean and two Chinese dialects, as well as English). However, the multilingual site buttons for searching accommodations led to dead links (the Japanese links, however, worked just fine).

    On May 24, a Mr. Azuma, head of FPTA’s Tourism Department, told me it was taking a while to reword things properly. I asked if the past two years plus six months was insufficient. Miraculously, in time for this article, the foreign-language links are now fixed, and no more excluders can be found on the site.

    However, the underlying problem has still not been fixed. Another NJ recently alerted me to the fact that the only hotel in Futaba town, Fukushima Prefecture, refused him entry on May 2. He had made the mistake of going up alone to the front desk and asking in Japanese if he could have a room. Management claimed none were available.

    Suspicious, he walked outside and had his Japanese wife phone the hotel from the parking lot. Presto! A twin room was procured. She walked in, got the key, and all was sparkly.

    When I phoned the hotel myself to confirm this story, the manager claimed that a room had just happened to open up right after my friend left. Amazing what coincidences happen, especially when this hotel — also featured on the FPTA Web site — advertises that they “can’t offer services in foreign languages” (or, it seems, even if a foreigner speaks a nonforeign language).

    SOURCES: here and here

    Let’s connect some dots: We have public policies working at cross-purposes. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism wants more NJ to visit and pump money into our economy, with Japan relaxing visa requirements for mainland Chinese tourists as of July 1. Yet the Ministry of Justice and other law enforcement agencies just want to keep policing NJ, and that includes deputizing hotels. This is why since 2005 they’ve been demanding hotels photocopy all NJ passports at check-in — again, unlawful (Zeit Gists, Mar. 8 and Oct. 18, 2005).

    Of course, this assumes that anyone pays attention to the laws at all.

    Japan’s lack of legal support for hapless NJ tourists (not to mention residents) — who face unfettered exclusionism precisely where the HML says they shouldn’t — are thus finding local government bodies conspiring against them.

    SOURCES: http://www.debito.org/japantimes030805.html
    http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html

    Brains cooked yet? Now get a load of this:

    As of June 1, the Toyoko Inn chain, already saddled with a history of poor treatment of NJ and handicapped customers, opened up a “Chinese only” hotel in Sapporo. When I called there to confirm, the cheery clerk said yes, only Chinese could stay there. Other NJ — and even Japanese — would be refused reservations!

    I asked if this wasn’t of questionable legality. She laughed and said, “It probably is.” But she wasn’t calling it out. Nor was anyone else. Several articles appeared in the Japanese media about this “exclusively Chinese hotel,” and none of them raised any qualms about the legal precedents being set.

    SOURCES:  Toyoko’s history: http://www.debito.org/olafongaijincarding.html
    and http://www.debito.org/?p=797
    and http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060128a1.html
    Sapporo Chinese Only: http://www.debito.org/?p=6864

    So what’s next? More hotels segregated by nationality? Separate floors within hotels reserved for Chinese, Japanese and garden-variety gaijin? What happens to guests with international marriages and multiethnic families? Are we witnessing the Balkanization of Japan’s hosteling industry?

    SOURCEhttp://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hbo1xSifyRFYI3LW95Zfu_4u-drwD9GKOE8G0

    Folks, it’s not difficult to resolve this situation. Follow the rule of law. You find a hotel violating the HML, you suspend its operating license until they stop, like the Kumamoto prefectural government did in 2004 to a hotel excluding former Hansen’s disease patients.

    SOURCEhttp://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20040217a3.html

    Oh wait — the ex-Hansen’s patients were Japanese, so they deserve to have their legal rights protected. It sucks to be NJ: The laws, such as they are, don’t apply to you anyway — if they are applied at all. Yokoso Japan.

    ALTERNATIVE CONCLUSION (not chosen):

    Oh wait — the ex-Hansen’s patients were Japanese, so they deserve to have their legal rights protected.

    Sucks to be NJ: Let NJ in our orderly society, and they cause so much confusion that people don’t even feel the need to obey the law anymore. Now that even Japanese are being excluded, no doubt NJ will be blamed for disrupting the “wa” once again. Yōkoso Japan.

    Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp

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    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Tourism | 22 Comments »

    FCCJ No.1 Shimbun & Jiji on Japanese police’s extralegal powers, and how that power corrupts

    Posted on Thursday, July 1st, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Further exploring the theme of the Japanese police’s extralegal powers and how power corrupts, here are two articles outlining cases where the Japanese police can arrest people they find inconvenient.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////

    6都府県の殺人現場に張り紙=「未逮捕おめでとう」男書類送検―軽犯罪法違反容疑
    2010年6月24日13時51分配信 時事通信 Courtesy of XX
    http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20100624-00000099-jij-soci
    東京都世田谷区の一家4人殺害事件などの現場付近に、「未逮捕おめでとう」などと書いた張り紙をしたとして、警視庁捜査1課は24日までに、軽犯罪法違反容疑で、会社員の男(29)=群馬県邑楽町=を書類送検した。
    同課によると、男は「小さいころから警察が嫌いだった」と述べ、容疑を認めている。埼玉、千葉、東京、愛知、大阪、兵庫各都府県で「15件ぐらいやった」とも話しているという。
    送検容疑は今月初旬から中旬、一家4人殺害事件(2000年12月)と板橋区の資産家夫婦殺人放火事件(09年5月)、江東区の質店夫婦殺害事件(02年12月)の現場付近に、「故一家に捧ぐ」「犯人未逮捕一周年おめでとうございます」などと書かれた紙を張った疑い。
    同課によると、板橋の現場には「あ」と書かれた紙と線香を「ハ」の字の形に並べ、笑い声を模したものもあった。

    XX notes: So golly, apparently it actually is a crime to criticize the police. In this news item a man who does not like the police has been putting up notices near crime scenes that say “Congratulations on not catching the killer.” He was arrested and prosecutored for violating the Minor Crimes Act. Interestingly, the Minor Crimes Act does not seem to have any offenses which cover what he did. Minor technicality, I guess. Interesting law to read though – it is a crime to cut in line, among other things…
    http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S23/S23HO039.html

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    On the Wrong Side of the Law
    by Julian Ryall
    Japanese Police Branded as ‘Criminals’ by One of their Own

    Number 1 Shimbun, June 2010
    http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/5758

    Haruhiko Kataoka is remarkably composed. For a man who has only recently been released from prison after completing a sentence of one year and four months for a crime that he is adamant he did not commit, his self-control is admirable. Even more so when one takes into account Kataoka’s insistence that he was framed by the police for the death of one of their officers, and that the legal system colluded in sending an innocent man to prison.

    When he spoke at a press conference at the Club in April, there was no disguising Kataoka’s determination to continue the fight to clear his name.

    There have been a number of high-profile cases that have gone against the police and judicial authorities in recent months – perhaps most famously the exoneration of Toshikazu Sugaya in March after he served more than 17 years in prison on the strength of inaccurate DNA evidence and a coerced confession to the sexual assault and murder of a girl aged 4 in Ashikaga in 1991. But Toshiro Semba, a former police officer who is supporting Kataoka’s claims, says these cases involving the Japanese police – which he describes as “a criminal organization” – are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Kataoka’s head-on collision with the forces of law and order here began on the afternoon of May 3, 2006, as he was behind the wheel of a bus containing 22 students and three teachers on National Route 56 in Kochi City. After slowly pulling out of a restaurant parking lot – and observing all the appropriate safety precautions, he insists – a motorcycle being driven by a uniformed member of the Kochi Prefectural Police drove into the right side of his vehicle.

    At the instant the accident happened, Kataoka says the bus was at a complete halt, a claim that he says has been backed up by the students and teachers aboard the vehicle as well as the principal of Niyodo Junior High School, who was in a passenger car following the bus.

    As he tried to help the injured motorcyclist, another police officer who happened to be passing intervened and arrested Kataoka on the spot. When he reached the local police station, he was told that the officer on the motorcycle had died.

    Taken back to the site of the accident later in the day, he was told to describe what had happened, but was not permitted to get out of the police patrol car. Kataoka says he could not even see the part of the road where the collision occurred. After being questioned for two days – and repeatedly told that the officer’s death was his fault – Kataoka was released.

    “It was only eight months later that I was given an opportunity to explain what had happened, after I was summoned to the Kochi District Prosecutors’ office,” he said. “But the description of the accident they gave me then was beyond my belief.”

    The prosecutors told Kataoka the accident had been entirely his fault due to his negligence to confirm that the road was clear, and that he was being charged with professional negligence resulting in death. To support their case, the police showed him photos of tire skid marks on the road.

    “Since the bus was stopped, I told them, there was no way it could have made the skid marks,” he said. “It was then that I realized I was in a very problematic situation.

    TESTIMONY DISMISSED

    “From the moment the accident happened, the police had a scenario in which all the blame was put on me, and they didn’t even bother to carry out a proper on-site investigation.”

    Kataoka had not given up the belief that his name would be cleared as, he reasoned, he would at least be able to explain what had really happened on Route 56 in court. He says he “had trust in Japan’s trial system.”

    Instead, the testimony of the school principal and a teacher who had been aboard the bus were dismissed by Judge Yasushi Katata of the Kochi Local Court, on the grounds that their comments “lacked a realistic basis.” The testimony provided by the police officer who had been passing the scene of the accident on another motorcycle, however, was perfectly acceptable to the court because “testimony by a fellow officer is not necessarily unreliable.”

    The court also accepted the tire skid marks put forward by the prosecution, which provided scientific analysis that the bus was moving at a speed of 14 kph while the motorcycle was traveling at between 30 kph and 40 kph. That contradicted another eye-witness statement that the police motorcycle was doing 60 kph. Judge Katata dismissed that suggestion as simply difficult to believe.

    Kataoka was found guilty and sentenced to one year and four months in prison – with the judge taking a swipe at the defendant in his summing up by saying that he had failed to show feelings of remorse.

    An appeal was immediately launched, with Kataoka’s lawyers carrying out exhaustive tests on an identical bus that revealed that even if the vehicle had been moving at the speed prosecutors insisted, it would only have left a skid mark measuring 30 cm long. Instead, police were presenting evidence of skid marks measuring 1 meter for the front right tire and 1.2 meters for the left tire. Kataoka says there are other discrepancies in the evidence, including the fact that the marks were not parallel. Fortunately for the police case, they claimed the marks had completely disappeared the day after the accident. And they refused to hand over the negatives of the photos of the skid marks, which could have been used to prove Kataoka’s innocence.

    Even confronted with this evidence, the Takamatsu High Court dismissed Kataoka’s appeal.

    “The judge said there was no reason to reopen the investigation,” Kataoka said. “He merely dismissed all the evidence that was unfavorable to the police and tried to cover up the criminal actions of the police against me.”

    The Supreme Court reacted in the same way.

    “I believe the courts have discarded the very principles of the judicial system and are only trying to cover up the wrongful actions of the police,” Kataoka said. “But I cannot allow that to happen. This case is not special at all and there have been many victims of criminal actions by the police and the failure of the powers that be to carry out full investigations.

    “How can I put my faith in the justice system when the facts of a case are fabricated?”

    JAPANESE MEDIA SLAMMED

    And Kataoka reserves a healthy dose of scorn for the Japanese media.

    “It is up to the media to follow up on cases such as this, but they looked away,” he said. “I was interviewed by the local media in Kochi, but no stories ever appeared.

    “It is the responsibility of the Japanese media to report these events, but they cannot face up to the police,” he added.

    Sitting alongside him, Semba nodded in agreement, adding that the system of kisha clubs “exists to conceal what is problematic for the police.” And he added that the media’s failure to report on these issues means that every day, more false charges are filed against innocent people.

    Semba retired from the Ehime Prefectural Police in March, after 36 years on the force. At 24, he had been the youngest officer in the history of the prefectural force to be promoted to the rank of sergeant, but he says his refusal to falsify expenses forms that were funneled into a vast slush fund meant that he was never promoted again, was regularly transferred between unappealing assignments and had his handgun taken away on the grounds that he might kill himself or pose a danger to others.

    “The Japanese police are a criminal organization and the senior officers of the force are all criminals,” Semba said. “Of all the companies and organizations in Japan, only the ‘yakuza’ and the police commit crimes on a daily basis. That includes building up slush funds and it was because I refused to participate in that that I stayed in the same position for all those years.”

    Semba alleges that ¥40 billion is systematically racked up from falsified travel expenses and fictitious payments to individuals who assist the police in their investigations. Pretty much every officer in the country is involved in the scam, he claims, and they do not speak out because they are all too busy climbing the ranks to try to get their hands on a larger share of the pie.

    “The money is spent by senior officer on purchasing cars, buying homes and entertainment,” he said, pointing to the example set by Takaji Kunimatsu, the former commissioner general of the National Police Agency who was shot by an unidentified assailant outside an apartment amid the Aum Shinrikyo cult investigations in 1995.

    Even though Kunimatsu was on a civil servant’s wages, Semba alleges, he had two apartments worth a combined ¥80 million. And Semba says the gunman was able to get close enough to nearly kill him because Kunimatsu’s bodyguards had apparently been given the night off (for reasons that discretion prevents Number 1 Shimbun from mentioning).

    “Japanese journalists all know this but they won’t report it,” Semba said.

    Similarly, he said they know that the charges against Kataoka are based on falsified evidence, but the police are not held accountable.

    Semba has written a series of books about police corruption and given 88 lectures around the country on his experiences, the vast majority of them while he was still a serving officer. He was never disciplined for his whistle-blowing, he believes, because the police do not want a court case in which all their dirty laundry can be aired in public.

    Semba is still clearly a thorn in the side of the force – two plainclothes officers attended the press conference at the Club and took notes on what was said – and he half-joked that it is “a miracle that I am still alive.”

    “If I was in a senior position in the police, I would definitely eliminate Semba,” he said. “I’m the police’s worst enemy. But it is those who have already given up their lives that are the strongest.” ❶

    Julian Ryall is the Japan correspondent of The Daily Telegraph.

    ENDS

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    Sunday Tangent: Newsweek: Immigrants do not increase crime

    Posted on Sunday, June 27th, 2010

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    As a Sunday tangent, here’s a Newsweek article making an argument that immigrants do not increase crime rates.  It’s talking about the US example, but FYI.  It’s more food for thought when the NPA keeps erroneously telling the media (which parrots it with little analysis) that NJ crime is on the rise (here in general and in specific).  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ===================================

    Reading, Ranting, And Arithmetic
    Good cops know the difference between dangerous criminals and illegal aliens, which is one reason violent crime is going down, even in Arizona.
    Newsweek, May 27, 2010, Courtesy of Fox

    http://www.newsweek.com/2010/05/27/reading-ranting-and-arithmetic.html

    Last Friday, supporters of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer posted an amusing little video on YouTube showing a Kermit-ish frog singing about the need to read and then going into a funk after screening clips of Obama administration officials admitting they opined on the recent Arizona immigration bill without having, well, read it.

    Fair enough. You have to take a good look at the law to appreciate how truly sinister it really is. But Brewer and her supporters need to do their homework, too. A little basic research would have shown them that big cities with large immigrant populations are safer places to live.

    This is not just a matter of random correlation being mistaken for causation. A new study by sociologist Tim Wadsworth of the University of Colorado at Boulder carefully evaluates the various factors behind the statistics that show a massive drop in crime during the 1990s at a time when immigration rose dramatically. In a peer-reviewed paper appearing in the June 2010 issue of Social Science Quarterly, Wadsworth argues not only that “cities with the largest increases in immigration between 1990 and 2000 experienced the largest decreases in homicide and robbery,” which we knew, but that after considering all the other explanations, rising immigration “was partially responsible.”

    To deny that reality and ignore its implications is likely to make life more dangerous all over America, diverting resources away from the fight against violent crime and breaking down the hard-won trust between cops and the communities where they work. Several police chiefs tried to make exactly this point Wednesdayon a visit to Washington to talk about the Arizona law, due to take effect in July, and the bad precedent it sets. “This is not a law that increases public safety. This is a bill that makes it much harder for us to do our jobs,” said Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. “Crime will go up if this becomes law in Arizona or in any other state.”

    This is not an ideological question, although some of the law’s supporters, including some cops, would like to turn it into one. Experience has shown that when immigrants think they’ll be nailed for immigration offenses, they stop cooperating with law enforcement. The intelligence needed to find and fight hard-core criminals, whatever their immigration status, will be harder to get. People who feel themselves singled out for discrimination will withdraw more and more into ghettos, increasingly marginalized from American life instead of integrated into it. Smart cops understand all this perfectly well.

    But of course if you’re using frog puppets as part of a know-nothing campaign to convince people that immigrants bring crime to the United States like rats carrying the plague, you’re not going to want to listen to reason, and you’ll ignore facts like the just-released preliminary statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report, which appear to line up with Wadsworth’s research. What’s so striking about them, he told me in an e-mail, is not just that the FBI numbers provide anecdotal support for his analysis, but that they are “entirely inconsistent with the claims of politicians and the general public sentiment.”

    Let’s start with Arizona.

    Something scary is going on there, and it’s not just politics. It’s gangs that smuggle people and drugs and that sometimes settle scores among themselves by murdering and kidnapping. Most of those involved are of Mexican origin, which is why the Obama administration is sending 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwest to get more “boots on the ground” near the border. But nobody’s going to be manning a Great Wall of Arizona. The troop deployment, along with a request for a half billion dollars in new funding, aims at building what the office of Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords describesas “a multi-layered effort to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money.” Notice the focus is not on the illegal immigrants, who are more likely to be victims than perpetrators.

    That’s a distinction that raving pundits on the right have always had trouble making when they talk about an “illegal-alien crime wave.” And even some politicians who know better have been happy to stoke the fire. Thus Governor Brewer told Fox Newsand anyone else who’d listen, “We’ve been inundated with criminal activity. It’s just—it’s been outrageous.” Arizona’s Sen. John McCain said last monththat the failure to secure the border with Mexico “has led to violence—the worst I have ever seen.” The president of the Arizona Association of Sheriffs, Paul Babeu of Pinal County, claims, “Crime is off the chart in this state.”

    What the FBI chart actually shows is that the incidence of violent crime in Arizona declined dramatically in the last two years. After a spike in 2006 and 2007, the number in Phoenix dropped to 10,465 in 2008 and to 8,730 in 2009, which is lower than it was six years ago. Murders, which hit a high of 234 in 2006, dropped to 167 in 2008 and 122 in 2009. (Some lesser crimes may go unreported, especially if people are scared to talk to the cops, but police statistics only rarely miss a murder.)

    The Phoenix authorities should be congratulated. But as Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said last month, Brewer’s immigration law is just going to make his job more difficult. “It takes officers away from doing what our main core mission is, and that is to make our community safe, and instead tells us to become immigration officers and enforce routine immigration laws that I do not think we have the authority to even enforce,” Harris told the local Fox station, KSAZ. If you want to keep preventing violent crime, you do not waste your limited manpower on job-seeking “illegals.”

    Did I already make that point? It bears repeating. The FBI numbers show that in the midst of the supposed crime wave, many other cities in the Southwest have had declines in crime similar to Phoenix. El Paso, Texas, just across the Rio Grande from a ferocious drug war in Juarez, where some 5,000 people have been murdered in recent years, saw almost no change in its own crime rate and remains one of the safest cities in the country, with only 12 murders last year. San Antonio saw violent crime drop from 9,699 incidents to 7,844; murders from 116 to 99. Compare that with a city like Detroit, which is a little bigger than El Paso and much smaller than San Antonio—and not exactly a magnet for job-seeking immigrants. Its murder rate went up from 323 in 2008 to 361 in 2009.

    Indeed, some law-enforcement officers in Arizona’s own border towns scoff at the new law. The murder of Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz by a suspected illegal in March, which added fuel to the furor behind the Arizona law, was the exception rather than the rule. According to The Arizona Republic, which cited the Border Patrol, “Krentz is the only American murdered by a suspected illegal immigrant in at least a decade within the agency’s Tucson sector, the busiest smuggling route among the Border Patrol’s nine coverage regions along the U.S.-Mexican border.”

    Most of the immigrants are headed deeper into the country, of course, including New York City, which has seen its Mexican population rise by an astounding rate of almost 58 percent since 2000, for a total of almost 300,000 by 2007. And crime rates? New York City, with a population of 8.5 million, some 40 percent of whom were born outside the United States, is one of those jurisdictions that prohibit police officers from questioning people about their immigration status. Its murder rate plunged from 2,245 in 1990 to 471 in 2009.

    So, yes, there are pretty compelling data to support the argument that immigrants as such—even presumably “illegal” immigrants—do not make cities more dangerous to live in. But what mechanism about such immigration makes cities safer? Robert J. Sampson, head of the sociology department at Harvard, has suggested that, among other things, immigrants move into neighborhoods abandoned by locals and help prevent them from turning into urban wastelands. They often have tighter family structures and mutual support networks, all of which actually serve to stabilize urban environments. As Sampson told me back in 2007, “If you want to be safe, move to an immigrant city.”

    What other variables may be at work driving crime down? The ones most often cited are rising levels of incarceration, changes in drug markets, and the aging of the overall population. The authors ofFreakonomicsargue that the big drop in violent crime during the 1990s was a direct result of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973 and reduced by millions the pool of unwanted children who might have grown up to be criminals a generation later. Still, Wadsworth’s research and the recent FBI data reinforce the judgment that the vast majority of immigrants make our cities safer, especially when police know how to work with them, not against them. To blame all immigrants for the crimes committed by a few, and give the cops the job of chasing them for immigration offenses instead of focusing resources on catching the real bad guys, is simply nuts.

    But that message just isn’t getting through. Polls continue to show that the vast majority of Americans think immigrants cause crime. Maybe what’s needed is a YouTube video of a winsome frog puppet getting us to repeat after him: “Immigrants don’t kill people, criminals do.”

    ===========================

    Christopher Dickey is the author of six books, most recently Securing the City: Inside America’s Best Counterterror Force—the NYPD.

    ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Tangents | 3 Comments »

    Metropolis Mag has thoughtful article regarding the convoluted debate for NJ PR suffrage

    Posted on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  Andy Sharp in Metropolis Magazine offers up a very well researched touchstone article on the debate re NJ Permanent Residents getting suffrage, unearthing more arguments and attitudes behind those who support and oppose it.  Love the quote from the former cop (Sassa) who mistrusts NJ, but of course makes an exception (typical) for the NJ interviewer in the room (‘cos he’s White and from a developed country).  I myself don’t see the DPJ expending more political capital on the NJ PR suffrage issue anytime soon.  But let’s see how the upcoming election treats the Kan Cabinet.  I have already heard from a friend in politics that the below-mentioned far-right People’s New Party is awash in enough cash that they’re attracting a few underfunded candidates ready to make Faustian bargains.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    DISENFRANCHISED
    Japan weighs up whether to give foreign residents the vote
    Metropolis Magazine By: Andy Sharp | Jun 17, 2010 | Issue: 847 Courtesy of lots of people.

    http://metropolis.co.jp/features/feature/disenfranchised/

    “The Chinese coming to Japan now were educated during the rule of Jiang Zemin. Their ideology is not welcome in Japan. We want more foreigners like you—Americans and Britons—to come here.”

    Atsuyuki Sassa, 79, makes no bones about what type of gaikokujin he’d prefer to see living and working in his native country. The former secretary general of the Security Council of Japan is up in arms about recent moves to allow the nearly 1 million permanent residents here to vote in local elections. In April, he organized a “10,000 People Rally” at the Nippon Budokan to bring together opponents of the plan, with keynote speeches by the likes of People’s New Party leader Shizuka Kamei and Your Party chief Yoshimi Watanabe.

    “If Chinese could vote in local elections, they wouldn’t vote for [candidates] who criticize China or North Korea,” he says. “What could happen if this type of person were granted the vote?”

    The debate over foreign suffrage has rolled on for decades, but it was reignited last summer when the Democratic Party of Japan—a longtime champion of the issue—ousted the ruling Liberal Democrat Party from power. However, with the DPJ itself split over the subject, is there any hope of permanent residents ever getting the vote—local or otherwise?

    Forty-five countries—about one in every four democracies—offer some sort of voting rights for resident aliens, according to David Earnest, author of Old Nations, New Voters, an extensive study of why democracies grant suffrage to noncitizens. These range from first-world powers such as the United States, Canada, the UK and other European Union members, to less preeminent nations like Malawi and Belize.

    The type of voting rights differ from country to country: the UK permits resident Commonwealth citizens to vote in national and local elections; New Zealand allows foreigners who have lived there for more than a year to vote in parliamentary polls; Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway grant all foreign residents the vote in local polls, but not in national elections; and Portugal offers a hybrid that lets EU nationals vote only in local elections, but gives full enfranchisement in parliamentary elections to Brazilians.

    Earnest explains that the consequences of granting local suffrage to foreigners are not yet entirely clear, seeing as how it is a relatively recent phenomenon. However, he gives four benefits that are typically cited by advocates: it encourages foreign residents to naturalize; it leads to better government; it’s an opportunity for “brain gain” rather than “brain drain”; and it makes for a more just society.

    On the other hand, there are two core arguments for refusing to enfranchise alien residents. “By far and away, the most common reason is that governments or courts conclude that, as a constitutional or legal matter, the right to vote is reserved exclusively for citizens,” he says. “Another reason is that governments and citizens alike object to discrimination in voting rights. Canada and Australia once allowed British nationals to vote in parliamentary elections, but have since revoked this right. In both cases, the governments concluded that it was unfair to favor one group over other similar foreign residents.”

    According to Earnest, critics argue that extending voting rights to foreigners can devalue the institution of citizenship and discourage naturalization. They also say it can marginalize as much as integrate foreign residents, because governments may use it as a substitute for naturalization, assuring permanent populations of foreigners with no prospect of becoming citizens.

    According to the most recent Ministry of Justice figures, 912,361 of the approximately 2.22 million foreigners living in Japan are permanent residents. These eijusha are divided into two categories—a classification that has muddied the waters of the suffrage issue.

    Nearly half of them (420,305) are considered tokubetsu eijusha, “special permanent residents” who hail mostly from the Korean Peninsula and have additional privileges in relation to immigration matters. The remaining 492,056 “ordinary” eijusha come from 190 different countries, the largest populations being Chinese (142,469), Brazilian (110,267), Filipino (75,806) and Korean (53,106). The Western country with the most permanent residents in Japan is the United States, with 11,814.

    Granting local suffrage to these residents has long been a pet policy of DPJ pooh-bah Ichiro Ozawa, and was supported by former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. However, like many of the pledges that the party made prior to its election victory last year, it remains unfulfilled. The government has procrastinated over the issue as it became bogged down by funding scandals and the Futenma base controversy, which spun Hatoyama off the prime-ministerial kaiten-zushi belt and toppled Ozawa from his secretary general perch. New PM Naoto Kan also backs foreign suffrage, but it’s unclear whether he will make it a top priority.

    Other parties are divided on the subject. The leftist Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party are joined by New Komeito in their support of foreign suffrage, while the right-leaning Liberal Democratic Party, People’s New Party (a member of the DPJ-led coalition) and Your Party are opposed.

    The liberal-conservative split is also evident in the media. The Asahi Shimbun is in favor, while the Sankei and Yomiuri have slammed the idea, the latter stating in an editorial last October: “It is not unfathomable that permanent foreign residents who are nationals of countries hostile to Japan could disrupt or undermine local governments’ cooperation with the central government by wielding influence through voting in local elections.”

    Yet the public seems to approve of opening polling stations to these “lifers.” Surveys conducted by the Asahi in January and the Mainichi last November found that 60 and 59 percent of respondents, respectively, supported foreign suffrage in local elections—turnout for which tends to hover around the 40 percent mark.

    This August will mark the 100th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of Korea, an event which understandably has enormous resonance with the Korean diaspora living here today. Zainichi Koreans who were forcibly brought to Japan for work had been able to vote in local elections until they lost this entitlement in December 1945 (which was, ironically, the same month in which women were first given the vote).

    Since its establishment in 1946, the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) has repeatedly urged the government to restore local suffrage to zainichi. The pro-Seoul organization (which is distinct from the Pyongyang-affiliated Chongryon) stepped up its campaign in the ’70s through increased activism by second-generation zainichi.

    “We were born in Japan,” says Seo Won Cheol, secretary-general of a Mindan taskforce on foreign suffrage. “All our friends were Japanese, yet we couldn’t become teachers [or] local civil servants, nor could we take out loans or buy homes. We started [campaigning] because of this prejudice based purely on our nationality.”

    Mindan has continued to push for enfranchisement of all permanent residents over the years, filing a number of lawsuits—one of which led to a historical ruling. In 1995, the Supreme Court concluded that aliens with permanent residency have the constitutional right to vote in local elections, because local government is closely linked to the daily lives of residents.

    Reenergized, the DPJ and Komeito submitted a bill to the Diet advocating foreign suffrage, prior to a visit by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in 1998. Similar bills have been presented on several other occasions since, but successive LDP-led governments have bounced them all out of parliament.

    The South Korean government’s decision in 2005 to open ballot boxes to permanent residents in local elections gave proponents fresh hope, as did the change of government last summer. But Seo, a second-generation zainichi, frets over the DPJ’s procrastination.

    “It’s unlikely [a bill] will be submitted before the upper house election in July, but depending on where it lies on Kan’s list of priorities, it may or may not be put to the Diet during an extraordinary Diet session starting in September,” the 58-year-old says. “The resignations of Ozawa and Hatoyama are a blow, but Kan has long been a supporter and we’ll have to wait and see what develops.”

    Opponents often argue that foreigners should become Japanese citizens if they want to vote, but permanent residents can be reluctant to relinquish their nationality for reasons of culture and identity—especially zainichi, many of whom were forced migrants or their descendents. “The Supreme Court’s 1995 ruling showed we were entitled to vote at the local level without naturalizing,” says Seo.

    Supporters of foreign suffrage aren’t the only ones who were galvanized by the DPJ’s election victory. There has also been a surge in activity by rightists, one of whom was so incensed that he stormed into the DPJ headquarters brandishing a wooden sword and smashed up a computer in Hatoyama’s empty office last October.

    Sassa, who was decorated as a Commander of the British Empire for arranging security for Queen Elizabeth II’s visit here in 1975, takes a more conventional stance.

    “I’m not prejudiced against foreigners, but the law states that foreigners must not take part in election campaigns,” he says. “The Constitution states that only Japanese citizens may vote.

    “Foreigners should nationalize if they have money and speak the language. I do think, however, that [this process] takes many years and the conditions should be relaxed.”

    Sassa has bitter memories of zainichi North Koreans from his days as a top brass in the Metropolitan Police Department. He fears that enfranchising pro-Pyongyang Koreans could lead to a repeat of the violent attacks against his constabulary peers during communist-led demonstrations in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

    “If we granted them suffrage, many police officers would have to put their bodies on the line, and so from a security perspective, there is no way that I could agree with the enfranchisement [of North Koreans],” he says. “We’d have to clamp down on some, but grant the vote to people of other nationalities. This is contradictory.”

    Sassa also argues that foreign suffrage in local elections could have repercussions at a national level, if residents of prefectures that administer disputed territories were coerced by their respective governments to vote for particular candidates.

    Kazuhiro Nagao, a professor of constitutional law at Chuo University, explained how this might work in a March 1 Daily Yomiuri op-ed: “There are about 30,000 eligible voters in Tsushima city, and a candidate can win in the city council election with at least 685 votes. If foreign residents are granted voting rights, those candidates who regard Tsushima Island as a South Korean territory can win in the election.”

    While opponents and advocates seem to be interpreting the law to suit their own beliefs, Earnest sees the zainichi situation as unique, and argues that the suffrage issue raises important ethical questions.

    “Japan’s special permanent residents did not choose to migrate to Japan,” he says. “No doubt there was some forced migration among the former European colonial powers and their overseas possessions, but Japan’s forced migration is more recent. What obligation does Japan have to permanent foreign residents?

    “Japan may offer a case where two wrongs make a right,” he continues. “While one might normally object to discrimination in the granting of voting rights, in this case, one might justify special rights for Japan’s special permanent residents as the country’s commitment to redress an historical injustice.”

    While such a solution could appease zainichi, however, the majority of permanent residents would remain disenfranchised. This is unlikely to placate the likes of Shayne Bowden, an Australian teacher and musician who is a permanent resident living in Fukuoka.

    “I’ve been here 11 years,” he says. “I should be able to have a say in the politics of my community. We pay our share and contribute to the place we live. This should justify our right to vote.”
    ENDS

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    Posted in Discussions, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics | 61 Comments »

    Canada spending even more than Japan this time on G8/G20 summits. However, controversy ensues.

    Posted on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Let’s see how a vetting media works.  Investigating journalists uncover money being wasted and tell the public about it.  Few apparent fears in the domestic media about spoiling the party for our international guests.  And no apparent trampling on civil liberties.

    Should happen in Japan too, as we have freedom of the press.  But no, check out what happened the last two times Japan hosted G8 Summits (here and here).

    I think it’s about time we stopped this corrupt nonsense in the guise of international summetry.  It’s like holding an Olympics every year in a sparkling new venue, except nobody can attend but government elites.  Pigs at the trough.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    Canadian summitry
    A loonie boondoggle
    Ostentation in a time of austerity
    Jun 17th 2010 | OTTAWA

    http://www.economist.com/node/16377317

    FOR all his gifts as a political tactician, Stephen Harper, Canada’s Conservative prime minister, may have miscalculated how much Canadians want to pay to host the G8 and G20 summits from June 25th to 27th. As the government struggles to close a large budget deficit, it is spending C$1.2 billion ($1.2 billion) to host the world’s leaders—60% more than Japan, the previous record holder, coughed up for the G8 gathering in Okinawa in 2000.

    Mr Harper points out that Canada is holding back-to-back summits—doubling the cost, he says. The government also notes that it can hardly be blamed for providing airtight security. It has built a steel fence around the woodland cottage resort at Muskoka that will receive the G8, and deployed special forces on overtime to lurk in the water and surrounding forest.

    But critics counter that Mr Harper could have saved money by inviting the G20 to Muskoka as well, rather than receiving them separately in Toronto, 200 km (125 miles) to the south. Moreover, they note that much of the budget has gone on items of dubious utility and taste. The prime minister has become the butt of jokes for commissioning an artificial lake, complete with mock canoes and recordings of the call of the loon, for the G20 summit’s media centre—which sits just yards from the real Lake Ontario. In Muskoka taxpayers are on the hook for a refurbished steamboat that won’t even float until the summit is over, and new outdoor toilets 20km from the meeting site. So much for small government.

    ENDS

    /////////////////////////////////////////////

    Auditor ready to look at G20 security tab
    Sun May 30, 9:45 PM
    By The Canadian Press, Courtesy of MMT

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100530/national/g20_security_audit

    OTTAWA – Auditor General Sheila Fraser is ready to look at the huge security costs for the G8 and G20 summit meetings next month.

    ”Once the events have occurred and the spending has occurred we can look to see if it was done appropriately,” she told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.

    The billion-dollar tab for security prompted angry clashes in the House of Commons last week, with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews staunchly defending the costs.

    ”It certainly seems like a lot of money,” Fraser said. ”I think we have to understand better what is it for.”

    She said the audit would be routine.

    ”Given the amount of spending, it is something that we would normally look at in our financial work,” she said.

    ”I would expect that there are a lot of people involved in this,” she said. ”The costs of housing and overtime and equipment I’m sure are going to be substantial.

    ”We would have to look at what planning has gone on and was the spending really just for these events or not.”

    Toews says he’s fine with an audit.

    The G8 is slated for Huntsville, Ont. June 25-26 followed immediately by the G20 in Toronto.

    Fraser also said she hasn’t heard formally that MPs and senators have changed their minds about letting her audit the half-billion parliamentary budget.

    ”I’ve had no communication from them since their letter indicating that they were refusing our request.”

    The politicians, though, are saying she’s welcome to come in for an audit. They changed their tune after the public reacted angrily to the news they had turned down Fraser’s request to look at Parliament’s annual half-billion-dollar budget.

    Fraser says if she does get a formal invitation, she won’t focus on the expenses of individual MPs and senators.

    ”What we had proposed was never an audit of MP expenses alone,” she said. ”That would have been part of a financial management audit, but we would also look potentially at issues like human resource management or security on the Hill, contracting, those sort of broader management issues.”

    Her auditors would be more interested in procedures and policies.

    ”We would look to see what kind of rules and procedures and controls are in place,” she said.

    ”We would expect the House of Commons and the Senator to have good policies and procedures, that they be comprehensive and that they be communicated well. If that is the case, we would do spot checks to make sure that those policies are actually being followed.”

    She said such an audit normally takes about a year, so if the invitation comes soon, she could have a report by the middle of 2011.

    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit 2008, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media | 11 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2010

    Posted on Sunday, June 20th, 2010

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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2010

    Table of Contents:
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    THE CHINESE ARE COMING
    1) Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly
    2) Toyoko Inn opens “exclusively Chinese” hotel in Susukino Sapporo, refuses Japanese and other NJ; media ignores questionable legality
    3) Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it
    4) Debito.org Reader asks for advice regarding Chinese “Trainees” exploitation, stolen wallet, and local police

    THE IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT
    5) Asahi poll: Japan would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigration
    6) Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson
    7) Kansai Scene June 2010 article on issue of refugees and J Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”)
    8 ) Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!

    TANGENTS
    9) Reuters: Showings of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove cancelled in Japan due to threat of protest
    10) Support and preview FROM THE SHADOWS documentary on Japan’s Child Abductions: Tokyo Shibuya Thurs Jun 24 7PM, admission free
    11) Kyodo: GOJ survey indicates 70% of J disabled feel discriminated against. Nice they, unlike NJ, even got asked.
    12) Fun Facts #15: Percentages of J high school grads matriculating into college by prefecture
    13) Excellent Mark Schreiber article on history of crime terms in J media

    … and finally …

    14) Kansai Scene June 2010 interview re NJ PR suffrage issue (full text)
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
    Daily RSS Feed debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito
    Freely Forwardable

    Table of Contents:
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    THE CHINESE ARE COMING

    1) Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly

    The Asahi opines and whines: China tourists stingy in some areas

    Japanese businesses and local governments that have gone all out to win over the throngs of Chinese tourists are finding that their guests can be a frugal bunch at times.

    The Chinese tourists have shown a tendency to scrimp on accommodations and meals and bypass tourist attractions for the main purpose of their trips — buying electronic appliances and designer brand clothing and accessories.

    In Fukuoka, where 66 cruise ships from China are scheduled to call port this year, city officials have estimated an economic windfall of 2.89 billion yen from the Chinese visitors.

    But according to a travel agency official in the city, the cruise ships moor in Fukuoka for only about 10 hours, and most tourists are more interested in shopping than taking in the sights. The central government has eased visa requirements for individual tourists and increased promotion campaigns to lure more Chinese tourists to Japan. But experts say this may not be enough to spread the wealth.

    COMMENT: Chinese spend too much of their time SHOPPING! Heavens to Murgatroyd! I think Japan’s media in this economic climate should be happy that rich Chinese are coming here to spend at all (and not staying on to trouble Japanese society through illegal overstays); they’re already being sequestered in some places. But no, we’ll get the grumbles that they’re not getting out enough anyway. What would be the perfect tourist in Japanese media eyes, I wonder?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6948

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) Toyoko Inn opens “exclusively Chinese” hotel in Susukino Sapporo, refuses Japanese and other NJ; media ignores questionable legality

    Dovetailing with the recent Debito.org posts showing China’s increasing domestic influence over Japan’s economics (here and here), below we have some newspaper articles (Japanese, couldn’t find English anywhere) noting that Toyoko Inn has opened a new hotel complex in Sapporo Susukino that caters exclusively to Chinese. The Nikkei and the Yomiuri call it “Chuugokujin sen’you hoteru” below, smacking of the “Nihonjin Sen’you Ten” wording used for signs in Russian excluding all foreigners entry from businesses in Monbetsu, Hokkaido (i.e. only Chinese are allowed to stay in this hotel). Local Doshin only mildly mentions they are “Chuugokujin muke” (catering to Chinese).

    I’m pretty torn by this development. On one hand, here is an unusually progressive business initiative in hiring and catering to NJ (with nary a mention of all the “different culture resulting in the inevitable frictions” that was a undercurrent of much domestic reporting about, say, Australians investing in Niseko). Supply and demand, you might say, who cares if the money is from Chinese. Fine.

    On the other hand, however, we have the Balkanization of the hotel industry, with NJ being assigned their own special gated community (in violation of Japanese law; choosing customers by nationality is unlawful under the Hotel Management Law), with again nary a question about the legality.

    And again, this is the Toyoko Inn, with its history of special policies for racial profiling and declining hotel rooms (or threatening to) to “foreigners”, including residents and naturalized citizens, who do not show their Gaijin Cards. Not to mention embezzling GOJ funds earmarked for handicapped facilities.

    In short, I smell a rat. Yet more opportunism and questionable legal practices by Toyoko Inn. I’d recommend you not patronize them, but then again, unless you’re a Chinese reading this, you probably can’t stay at the hotel in question anyway.

    UPDATE: Called Toyoko Inn. Yes, they accept only Chinese guests. All other NJ and Japanese (yes, Japanese) are refused lodging.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6864

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it

    The new Kan Cabinet started out last week, and it would of course be remiss of me to not mention that one of the Cabinet members, Renho, has become the first multiethnic Dietmember to serve in the highest echelons of elected political power in Japan. Congratulations!

    She is, however, a constant target of criticism by the Far Right in Japan, who accuse her of not being a real Japanese (she is of Japanese-Taiwanese extraction, who chose Japanese citizenship). Dietmember Hiranuma Takeo most notably. He continued his invective against her on May 7 from a soundtruck, and it made the next day’s Tokyo Sports Shinbun. Courtesy of Dave Spector.

    It goes without saying that this is a basically a rant about a Cabinet member by a former Cabinet member who will never be a Cabinet member again, an aging ideological dinosaur raging against tide and evolution. Sucks to be a bigot and in a position of perpetual weakness as well, I guess.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6873

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) Debito.org Reader asks for advice regarding Chinese “Trainees” exploitation, stolen wallet, and local police

    Here is a post from somebody seeking advice from Debito.org Readers. He’s seen a situation where Chinese “Trainees” are being exploited, where his wallet has been stolen but police allegedly won’t act on it, and just general confusion about what to do and where to go about things that he considers to be just plain off-kilter. Again, advice welcome.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6931

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    THE IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT

    5) Asahi poll: Japan would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigration

    The Asahi did an extensive poll on what people see as Japan’s future in relative economic decline. Results indicate that people are distressed about China overtaking Japan, but they apparently aren’t ready to change much to change that. Most germane to Debito.org is the question:

    “On accepting immigrants to maintain economic vitality, only 26 percent supported such a move, while 65 percent opposed.”

    Meaning that people polled apparently would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigrants.

    Of course, no immigrant without citizenship was polled (if even then), so ah well.

    That said, we had the good point, raised within the blog comments on this the other day, that it just might be better for organic acceptance of immigrants over time than to bring in huge numbers and force them on the populace (although I don’t see events over this past decade helping matters much, including the unfettered hate speech towards NJ during the PR Suffrage debates, political leaders publicly doubting the “true Japaneseness” of naturalized Japanese or Japanese with NJ roots, and other elements of officialdom blaming NJ for social problems such as crime, terrorism, and infectious diseases).

    Then again, a friend of mine also raised an even more pertinent point: “What’s the point of asking that question at all? We still haven’t had a good debate on immigration and why Japan needs it. Nobody’s explained the merits of immigration to the Japanese public all that well. [In fact, discussion of it is even taboo.]. So no wonder people are negatively predisposed. Why change things when we don’t understand why?” Touche.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6905

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson

    Here we have a part of Osaka Chuo-ku making public announcements protecting their municipality against “illegal foreign overstayers” and “illegal workers”. Using invective like “furyou gaikokujin haijo” (exclude bad foreigners), it’s rendered on the same level as the regular neighborhood clarion calls for “bouryokudan haijo” (exclude the yakuza). I see. Foreigners who overstay their visa and who get employed (sometimes at the behest and the advantage of the Japanese employer) are on the same level as organized crime? And you can pick out Yakuza just as easily as NJ on sight, right?

    This campaign has been going on for years (since Heisei 17, five years ago), but the Yomiuri now reports efforts to really get the public involved by tapping an enka singer to promote the campaign. How nice. But it certainly seems an odd problem to broadcast on the street like this since 1) I don’t see the same targeting happening to Japanese employers who give these “bad foreigners” their jobs, and 2) numbers of illegal overstays caught have reportedly gone down by half since a decade ago.

    Never mind. We have budgets to spend, and disenfranchised people to pick on. Nice touch to see not only sponsorship from the local International Communication Association (how interculturally sensitive!), but also “America Mura no Kai”, whatever that is. Yet another example of state-sanctioned attempts to spread xenophobia and lower the image of NJ — this time by gangsterizing them.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6835

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    7) Kansai Scene June 2010 article on issue of refugees and J Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”)

    Here’s an interesting article from Kansai Scene magazine this month, this time on the issue of refugees and Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”) in Japan. Excerpt:

    Joseph isn’t his real name. He’s afraid of what theconse- quences might be if Japanese Immigration finds out that that he is speaking with the press. There’s a chance he would be sent back to the Immigrant Detention Center. His appeal might be denied, which would lead todepor- tation. Deportation means arrest as soon as his plane hits African soil. ‘Arrest’ in his country usually means disappearing forever. He needs to stay in Japan, and to stay here he has to remain invisible. So, he stays invisible.

    Historically, Japan has been far from welcoming to refugees. Since 1990, 344 people have been given refugee status. In 2009, only thirty asylum-seekers were accepted, out of 1,388 applicants; an acceptance rate of 2.2 percent. Despite signing the 1951 UN Conventions Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees in 1981 and 1982, respectively, the government essentially keeps the borders closed to the dispossessed, while donating enough money to the UNHCR (UN High Commission for Refugees) to justify their claim to be a humanitarian nation.

    The issue, however, is not only the overwhelming denial of applications, but also the total lack of a safety net for those who do arrive on Japanese soil. It is difficult to obtain informa-tion at the airport, and some who try are sent to detention centers or are deported immediately for lack of proper documentation. Because of the language barrier, many new arrivals are unaware that a refugee application process exists at all. They simply overstay their visas until they are caught by immigration and arrested.

    The detention centers are essentially prisons. Up to ten people share a room with one toilet. They are each given five blankets for a bed, and one or two hours of exercise a day. Those applying for refugee status are mixed with criminals awaiting deportation. Joseph spent almost a year in the Ibaraki detention center after being arrested for overstaying his visa. It was upon arriving at the center that he first learned of the potential to be declared a refugee, and began the application process. His application was refused within a month, and he started his appeal. In the meantime, he sat in his cell, keeping to himself. “The inmates are chaotic,” he told me. “[They are] from prison and awaiting deportation. They will do anything. They know they are going back.”…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6922

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!

    Another Debito.org Reader contributes two poignant articles: One is germane to the recent comments here about whether immigration offers economic benefits to societies (an article in The Guardian in 2007 citing a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study indicates that it has for the UK). Another is an evergreen letter to the editor (which went unpublished) about Japan’s historical record advocating anti-racism 90 years ago in the League of Nations.

    Guardian: The flow of migrant workers into the UK has boosted economic growth and helped keep a lid on inflation without undermining the jobs of British-born workers, according to a study released [in February 2007]. The report by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers enters a vigorous debate about whether immigration has a positive impact on the UK economy. The public finances have also not suffered as a result of the influx of migrant workers, the study finds. Most migrants are aged between 18 and 34 years, with high employment rates compared with their UK equivalents, and therefore benefit payments are low. They also receive comparatively low wages despite their good education and skills levels. Younger workers have fewer dependants and so are unlikely to be an additional burden on public services, the report says.

    League of Nations: Discussions for what should be included in the [League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations] Covenant were not without controversy, notably the following proposal: “The equality of nations being a basic principle of the League of Nations, the High Contracting Parties agree to accord, as soon as possible, to all alien nationals of states members of the League, equal and just treatment in every respect, making no distinction, either in law or fact, on account of their race or nationality.”

    Unsurprisingly, Great Britain and its Dominions of Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand saw the proposal as a threat to “white” colonial power and swiftly engineered its rejection … Perhaps surprising, especially to letter writers whose advice to foreign residents with complaints about their lives here is to put up, shut up, or leave, is that the proposal was put forward by Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobuaki Makino.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6450

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    TANGENTS

    9) Reuters: Showings of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove cancelled in Japan due to threat of protest

    Reuters: Tokyo screenings of “The Cove,” an Oscar-winning documentary about a grisly annual dolphin hunt have been canceled over planned protests by conservatives who say the film is anti-Japanese, the distributor said on Saturday…

    Planned showings of the film at two cinemas in Tokyo this month have been canceled because of fears the protests might inconvenience movie-goers and others, according to Unplugged, the Japan distributor.

    Screenings at one Osaka theater have also been called off, but Unplugged is still in negotiations to show the movie at 23 venues around the country this summer, said a spokeswoman for the company, who asked not to be named.

    Unplugged has received threatening phone calls and protesters have gathered outside its offices, she said.

    “‘The Cove’ is absolutely not an anti-Japanese film,” Takeshi Kato of Unplugged said in a faxed statement. “I believe a deep and constructive debate is needed about the content of the film.”

    COMMENT: Here we go again. Something critical of Japan becomes derided as “anti-Japanese” and is threatened if it gets shown in Japan. This society has to learn that criticism of Japan is actually good for Japan, and that bully boys who want to suppress healthy debate about an issue should be ignored or criticized themselves as unhealthy and unconstitutional. Yet protests by The Left go ignored because they probably won’t get violent, while protests by The Right just might, and the police won’t prosecute if they do. Hence the incentive to become violent is there for the bullies, and they get even more power through intimidation. Canceling showings of a controversial movie like this just strengthens the bullies and helps them proliferate.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6866

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Support and preview FROM THE SHADOWS documentary on Japan’s Child Abductions: Tokyo Shibuya Thurs Jun 24 7PM, admission free

    Forwarding from Eric: Right now there exists the terrible reality that — as gaijin parents — we are at substantial risk of completely losing access to our children if our marriage dissolves, or even if our spouse just decides to make a break with us and abduct the kid(s). Japan is a country with no dual-custody laws, and a social practice of severely limiting, and often severing, the non-custodial parent’s access to their kids when the marriage ends.

    I write today to seek your contribution for the completion of a documentary that is trying to directly help protect the interests of parents like us.

    Take a look at this trailer for one particular group’s upcoming documentary film:

    http://www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com/english/index.html

    Political and social awareness is picking up, but we need to add fuel to this movement that is trying to help us.

    In Jan 2010, six out of seven G7 governments pressed Japan to sign an international anti-parental child abduction treaty called the Hague Convention, which Japan has so far refused for nearly 30 years. There has also been a recent proposed House (US Congress) Resolution threatening sanctions on Japan for allowing the kidnapping of US citizens. More info is here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hr111-1326&tab=summary

    This is all going in the right direction, but it is not enough. We need grass roots pressure as well.

    I am trying to help a two gentlemen (see attached doc for more background info) who have worked their butts off the past couple of years to make a documentary film about child abduction in Japan. As you will see in the attachment, they’ve had a lot of success so far, but hope to enter their documentary into a major film festival so that its profile can be raised and reach a broad audience.

    My personal request…?

    I hope you can join a group of us at 7:00 pm on Thurs, June 24th in Shibuya

    Cerego Japan Inc.

    Ninomiya Bldg 4F
    18-4 Sakuragaoka-cho
    150-0031 Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

    (location: http://blog.smart.fm/en/about/location/ ) to watch the latest cut of their documentary, engage with other concerned and/or affected parents, and help contribute to the completion and ongoing success of this film.

    There is no entry fee to join us and watch. That said, contributions (assuming you like what you see) would be much appreciated…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6939

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) Kyodo: GOJ survey indicates 70% of J disabled feel discriminated against. Nice they, unlike NJ, even got asked.

    Kyodo: Nearly seven out of every 10 people with disabilities said they have faced discrimination or biased treatment, an annual government report showed Friday.

    The fiscal 2010 white paper on measures for disabled people, released by the Cabinet Office, says 68.0 percent of those surveyed said they have experienced discrimination or biased treatment because of their disabilities.

    The office surveyed 2,178 people with disabilities between December 2009 and January 2010.

    COMMENT: How nice. But wouldn’t it also be nice if the GOJ were to survey NJ to see if THEY feel they had been discriminated against. But they won’t. They don’t survey NJ. And when they do survey the general public in human-rights surveys, the questions are phrased so as to discount, even justify, the discrimination against them. Citations from 2007 GOJ survey here.

    In sum, this to me is another example of the GOJ manufacturing consent to sway the public to accept a policy position. Fortunately, it’s for protecting people, not hurting them. But wouldn’t it be nice if the GOJ had somehow stepped in during all the nasty debates re NJ PR suffrage and curbed the hate speech, or even ask NJ sometime in a Cabinet Survey if THEY feel discriminated against? After all, we’ve already signed a Convention designed to protect them — nearly fifteen years ago in 1996, so there should be no disinclination. But no, NJ don’t deserve the same attention. After all, they aren’t Japanese.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6897

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) Fun Facts #15: Percentages of J high school grads matriculating into college by prefecture

    As a Sunday Tangent, here are the Ministry of Education’s latest figures (2009) for Japanese high school students entering college. In most prefectures, it’s only about half the graduates. Figures here.

    A cursory look reveals that Okinawa has by far the fewest percentage of students going on to college (the national average is 53.9%), and Tokyo/Kyoto (Kyoto allegedly being the place with the highest number of colleges per capita) the highest. Hokkaido is significantly below average as well (third from the bottom), but it’s still higher than Iwate. See how your prefecture stacks up.

    As this is a Fun Facts category, I’ll leave interpretations to others. But this is significantly less than the American percentages, according to the US Department of Labor, reporting that 70.1% of high school graduates went to college last year. Given that university is significantly more expensive in the US than in Japan (it costs at least a luxury car per year these days in tuition alone to go to, say, an elite private or Ivy League), I’m disinclined to say it’s a matter of economics. Thoughts?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6907

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Excellent Mark Schreiber article on history of crime terms in J media

    As a Sunday Tangent, here’s a lovely little lesson in Japanese from a person who’s collated all this information the hardscrabble way — through years of experience in Japan. Mark Schreiber has been here about as long as I’ve been alive (he came to Japan in 1965 shortly after I was born; no connection, of course), and I love it when we have shortcuts like this to useful linguistic knowledge.

    Excerpt: “If nabbed by police in ●●● (genkouhan, the act of committing a crime), a culprit might warn his cohorts by saying, ●●●●●●●●●●● (Oi, nigero! Satsu da!, Beat it! It’s the cops!).

    To obtain witness testimony at ●●●● (hankou genba, the scene of the crime), police will engage in ●●●● (kikikomi, door-to-door canvassing). In serious cases, a ●●●●toubousha, fugitive) might be the subject of a ●●●●●● (zenkoku shimei tehai, nationwide dragnet).

    Of course, ●●● (zenkamono, people with a previous criminal record) facing a prison sentence are likely to ●●●●●●● (muzai wo shuchou suru, proclaim innocence), using such expressions as ●●●●●●●●●● (Boku wa zettai ni yatte nai, I absolutely didn’t do it), ●●●● (Boku wa shiro da, I’m “white,” i.e., “clean” or innocent), or even ●●●●●●●●● (Nureginu wo kiserareta, I was made to wear wet silk, i.e., framed).

    To avoid the possibility of ●●●● (enzai saiban, a miscarriage of justice), police must follow procedure while bearing in mind that ●●●●●●●● (utagawashiki wa bassezu, suspicion does not equal guilt, i.e., the suspect is innocent until proved guilty).”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6307

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally …

    14) Kansai Scene June 2010 interview re NJ PR suffrage issue (full text)

    Online at http://www.debito.org/?p=6848

    On May 8, 2010, at 3:32 PM, Kansai Scene wrote:

    Mr. Arudou, Many, many thanks for the swift response. My questions for you are as follows.

    1) To my knowledge, the number of Special Permanent Residents and Regular Permanent Residents is large enough to make up decent-sized voting blocs in only very, very few places in Japan. It’s cynical question, but why do you think the Democratic Party of Japan would take up an issue this contentious, given that there seems to be little tangible benefit for them, even if they do succeed?

    ARUDOU: I’m not sure. Like with so many policies, the DPJ has been pretty poor in further justifying their policies in the face of blowback. Rumor has it that shadow leader Ichiro Ozawa is tight with South Korea and the Zainichi Japan-born ethnic Korean residents. But that’s essentially a rumor. Perhaps it is just seen as the right thing to do for these people, even if it meant the loss of political capital. However, the prioritizing (there were other policies in the DPJ Manifesto they could have accumulated political capital with first) and the fact that the opposition dominated the debate (where were the cabinet ministers, or even Finn-born Marutei Tsurunen, who should have stepped up and counterargued?) meant right-wing alarmism shouted down the issue. Shame. Poorly-run campaign.

    2) Commentors on one message board (Japan Today) argued that if Zainichi Koreans weren’t willing to renounce their Korean citizenship, and naturalize, then they weren’t that particularly tied to Japan or its future, and didn’t deserve the right to any vote that would influence the same. Would you agree or disagree, and why?

    ARUDOU: I disagree. As I’ve written elsewhere, there are close to half a million Zainichi born and raised here, who have been paying Japanese taxes their entire lives. Moreover, their relatives were former citizens of the Japanese empire (brought here both by force and by the war economy), contributing to and even dying for our country. In just about any other developed nation, they would be citizens already; they once were. Given that I’ve known some Zainichi refused citizenship for things as petty as a speeding ticket, this entire debate tack is an insult to some very long-suffering people, in fact very tied to Japan and its future.

    3) You wrote in your 2.2.10 Japan Times column that naturalizing as a means to gain the right to vote was “not that simple”, due to the amount of effort required. However, you also wrote of the “years and effort” necessary to meet PR qualifications. Given that naturalized Japanese and Permanent Residents have both completed fairly lengthy procedures — suggesting their dedication to staying in the country — why do you think they are looked at so differently as far as “foreigners in Japan who deserve the right to vote” goes?

    ARUDOU: Because PR residents and citizens are of course of legally different statuses. Citizens are not foreigners anymore. But given how difficult and arbitrary both nationality and PR procedure can be in Japan, and that plenty of other developed countries (see http://www.debito.org/?p=6209) have little problem granting long-term residents the right to vote in local elections, I will remain in support for local suffrage for any PRs in Japan.

    4) Say, for example, that every foreigner in Japan were naturalized overnight, and could now vote freely in any election. How do you think the political landscape would change?

    ARUDOU: I think we’d have a lot less alarmism from the radical right, who at the moment are picking on non-Japanese because they are so disenfranchised in Japan. Politicians would have to appeal to non-Japanese residents too. But the question is moot. Few if any countries allow non-citizens the vote when they’re fresh off the boat. Qualifying lines are always drawn. I’ll say PR is a good place to draw. In any case, with non-Japanese only 1.7% of the total population, I don’t see any major revolutions or devolutions resulting. People feared the same when women were granted suffrage after WWII. Have you ever seen a proportional rise in women representatives?

    5) The issue itself now seems fairly dead in the water (at least for the time being). Do you think that PR in Japan will ever receive the right to vote? Why or why not?

    ARUDOU: I think they will. I just have no idea when right now. But I’m by nature a hopeful person.

    6) Finally, do you yourself vote? And, do you have any plans whatsoever to run for political office, as did Jon Heese of Ibaraki Prefecture?

    ARUDOU: Of course I vote. I enjoy ballot boxing in Japan. No hanging chads here. Very sensible procedure. As for political office, it’s an entertaining thought…

    ENDS

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    All for now. Enjoy the Summer Solstice!

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
    Daily RSS Feed debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2010 ENDS

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    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly

    Posted on Saturday, June 19th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Here’s something to kick the weekend off:  A whiny article by the Asahi picking on Chinese tourist spending habits.  It’s not that they don’t spend, oh no; it’s more that they don’t spend PROPERLY.  They spend too much of their time SHOPPING!  Heavens to Murgatroyd!  I think Japan’s media in this economic climate should be happy that rich Chinese are coming here to spend at all (and not staying on to trouble Japanese society through illegal overstays); they’re already being sequestered in some places.  But no, we’ll get the grumbles that they’re not getting out enough anyway.  What would be the perfect tourist in Japanese media eyes, I wonder?  What would be the perfect consumer, period?  Dare anyone criticize the Japanese public for their underconsumption, then?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    China tourists stingy in some areas
    BY ETSUSHI TSURU THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
    2010/06/16 Courtesy of Peach

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201006150338.html

    Japanese businesses and local governments that have gone all out to win over the throngs of Chinese tourists are finding that their guests can be a frugal bunch at times.

    The Chinese tourists have shown a tendency to scrimp on accommodations and meals and bypass tourist attractions for the main purpose of their trips–buying electronic appliances and designer brand clothing and accessories.

    Industry officials said if Japan wants to truly capitalize on the roughly 480,000 Chinese who visit Japan each year, it will have to do much more to convince the tourists that there is more to Japan than just shopping.

    “Many of the points of interest, meals and souvenirs that Japanese are promoting are of little interest to Chinese,” said Ke Yue, president of public relations company Japan-China Communication Co.

    Ke said Japan’s strategy should include nurturing human resources to specialize in the needs of Chinese tourists, whose numbers show no signs of slowing down.

    A fierce price war has erupted over tours to Japan, with the price of a five-night, six-day packaged trip being offered for as little as 4,000 yuan (about 53,000 yen or $577) to 5,000 yuan.

    According to an executive at a Chinese tourist agency, companies are eking out profits by cutting costs for meals and accommodations.

    As a result, 90 percent of the packaged group tours are handled by Chinese, Hong Kong or Taiwanese businesses because few Japanese tourist companies would be able to generate a profit.

    In Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, located at one end of the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line highway that spans Tokyo Bay, the number of Chinese who stayed overnight soared thirteenfold from 2,089 in 2005 to 26,162 in 2009.

    The rise was attributed largely to the change in management at the Tokyo Bay Plaza Hotel in the city in 2006, when the current owner, a Japanese national originally from China, took over.

    But the influx of tourists has not led to increased income for local businesses in the area.

    According to Tokyo Bay Plaza Hotel staff, most Chinese simply use the hotel as a launch pad to travel across the bay and spend their money at stores in the Ginza and Akihabara districts of Tokyo.

    The tourists’ shopping priorities are also reflected at the Taiyoro restaurant on the 47th floor of the Apa Hotel & Resort Tokyo Bay Makuhari in Chiba, which is usually packed with Chinese tourists on weekends.

    “Ninety-five percent of our customers are group customers. Of them, 70 percent are Chinese,” said Akiharu Taiyoro, operator of the Taiyoro chain of restaurants. Taiyoro, a Shanghai native who became a naturalized Japanese in 2006, operates 10 restaurants in such tourist destinations as Tokyo and Osaka.

    In 2009, more than 1.18 million people dined at Taiyoro’s buffet-style restaurants, which offer all-you-can-eat lunches for 1,500 yen, and dinners for 2,000 yen, plus free soft drinks, for two hours.

    Tour groups accompanied by guides can receive a 30-percent discount.

    Taiyoro said he visits China every other month to negotiate with travel agencies there.

    “Chinese tourists come to Japan to shop, so they like to finish their meals quickly. The average tour group will spend about 45 minutes eating at our restaurant before a new group comes in. So it is a low-margin, high-turnover business, but it’s profitable,” he said.

    In Fukuoka, where 66 cruise ships from China are scheduled to call port this year, city officials have estimated an economic windfall of 2.89 billion yen from the Chinese visitors.

    But according to a travel agency official in the city, the cruise ships moor in Fukuoka for only about 10 hours, and most tourists are more interested in shopping than taking in the sights.

    The central government has eased visa requirements for individual tourists and increased promotion campaigns to lure more Chinese tourists to Japan.

    But experts say this may not be enough to spread the wealth.

    “Japan must rush to create an environment that allows visitors to freely enjoy their visit,” said Du Guoqing, an associate professor of tourism at Rikkyo University.

    Du, for example, pointed out that the inability to use Chinese driver’s licenses in Japan deprives the tourists of a chance to see much of the country.
    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Tourism | 14 Comments »

    Toyoko Inn opens “exclusively Chinese” hotel in Susukino Sapporo, refuses Japanese and other NJ; media ignores questionable legality

    Posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Dovetailing with the recent Debito.org posts showing China’s increasing domestic influence over Japan’s economics (here and here), below we have some newspaper articles (Japanese, couldn’t find English anywhere) noting that Toyoko Inn has opened a new hotel complex in Sapporo Susukino that caters exclusively to Chinese.  The Nikkei and the Yomiuri call it “Chuugokujin sen’you hoteru” below, smacking of the “Nihonjin Sen’you Ten” wording used for signs in Russian excluding all foreigners entry from businesses in Monbetsu, Hokkaido (i.e. only Chinese are allowed to stay in this hotel).  Local Doshin only mildly mentions they are “Chuugokujin muke” (catering to Chinese).

    I’m pretty torn by this development.  On one hand, here is an unusually progressive business initiative in hiring and catering to NJ (with nary a mention of  all the “different culture resulting in the inevitable frictions” that was a undercurrent of much domestic reporting about, say, Australians investing in Niseko).  Supply and demand, you might say, who cares if the money is from Chinese.  Fine.

    On the other hand, however, we have the Balkanization of the hotel industry, with NJ being assigned their own special gated community (in violation of Japanese law; choosing customers by nationality is unlawful under the Hotel Management Law), with again nary a question about the legality.

    And again, this is the Toyoko Inn, with its history of special policies for racial profiling and declining hotel rooms (or threatening to) to “foreigners”, including residents and naturalized citizens, who do not show their Gaijin Cards.  Not to mention embezzling GOJ funds earmarked for handicapped facilities.

    In short, I smell a rat.  Yet more opportunism and questionable legal practices by Toyoko Inn.  I’d recommend you not patronize them, but then again, unless you’re a Chinese reading this, you probably can’t stay at the hotel in question anyway.   Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    東横イン、札幌に中国人専用ホテル 来月開業 :日本経済新聞
    http://www.nikkei.com/news/local/article/g=96958A9C93819491E0E4E2E2E38DE0E4E2E7E0E2E3E29EE6E3E2E2E2

    ///////////////////////////////////////

    - 中国人客専用ホテル…札幌にきょう開業 -

    開業を前に接客の練習をする中国人スタッフら(31日午後、札幌市中央区で)=三浦邦彦撮影
    (2010年6月1日 読売新聞)

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/hokkaido/news/20100601-OYT8T00026.htm

    ビジネスホテルチェーンの東横イン(東京)は、道内で増加している中国人観光客に対応するため、札幌市中央区南6東2にある「札幌すすきの南」を1日、中国人客専用の「東横INN札幌薄野南」として改装オープンする。フロント係やレストランのスタッフに中国人を採用したほか、施設内の案内表示を中国語に変え、全客室で中国のテレビ番組が見られるようにした。

    札幌市内の5店舗を含め、国内などで約220店舗を展開する同社で初の試み。

    道内を訪れる中国人観光客は、道のまとめで08年度が4万7400人と、98年度の1900人の約25倍と大幅に増えている。今年7月には、個人観光ビザの発給要件が緩和され、さらに中国からの団体ツアーなどの増加が見込めるため、集中的に受け入れサービスの充実を図る。

    客室は家族連れらを見越し、既存のトリプル(2室)以外はツインに統一し、朝食に中華がゆも提供する。今後は支配人に中国人が就き、銀聯(ぎんれん)カードでの決済も検討していく。

    31日はオープンを控え、フロントに新規採用された男女4人の中国人従業員が、チェックイン時の応対などについて、日本人従業員から指導を受けた。1日は、既に団体ツアーの予約が入っているという。

    ENDS

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    東横イン 札幌に「中国人向け」6月開業 接客、食事に工夫(05/28 06:40)
    http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/economic/233803.html

    ビジネスホテル運営の東横イン(東京)は6月1日、中国人観光客に照準を合わせたホテルを札幌市内に開業する。増加傾向にある中国人客の受け入れ態勢を整備するとともに、中国語対応の人材や設備を一つのホテルに集約して経費削減を目指す。

    ビジネスホテルとして現在運営している札幌すすきの南店(中央区南6東2)を改装。4人の中国人従業員を配置するほか、約200の全客室で中国国営放送を視聴できるようにし、朝食に中華がゆも用意する。

    東横インは札幌市内に5ホテルを展開。各ホテルに分宿している中国人客をすすきの南店に集める。中国人客向けの施設整備や中国人従業員の配置を集約でき、経費節減効果も期待できる。

    昨年の中国人の道内宿泊者数は前年比7割増の18万3千人で、今年2月の春節(中国の旧正月)以降、増加傾向に加速が付いている。7月から個人観光ビザ発給対象が中間層まで拡大される予定のため、中国人来道者の増加期待が高まっている。
    ENDS
    ———————————-
    UPDATE JUNE 10 4:15 PM

    I called Toyoko Inn Susukino Minami at 011-551-1045 and got a very friendly female clerk. Our conversation went something like this:

    “Hi there. I heard about your place in the newspaper. Just wanted to ask: Does your hotel accept only Chinese guests?”

    “That’s correct. Only Chinese.”

    “You mean Japanese customers are refused too?”

    “That’s right.”

    “And all other foreigners other than Chinese are not allowed to stay?”

    “That’s right.”

    “Er, isn’t that against the Hotel Management Law?”

    “Yes, it probably is.”

    We started laughing, and I said, “This is the first hotel I’ve heard of in Japan where even Japanese guests are refused.”

    “Yes, quite. It’s a funny situation, isn’t it.”

    I appreciated the candor, but the question still remains: What the hell is going on, and why is nobody calling Toyoko Inn on the unlawfulness of the situation? Instead, we have newspapers promoting them as such without any analysis?

    What a bent hotel chain the Toyoko Inn Group is.
    ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 50 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010

    Posted on Monday, June 7th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010

    Table of Contents:

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    MORE DEBATES FROM BIZARROLAND
    1) Eikawa GEOS claims in NZ court that workplace harassment is “The Japanese Way”, loses big
    2) JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)
    3) Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban
    4) Kyodo: MOFA conducts online survey on parental child abductions and signing Hague Convention (in Japanese only)
    5) Japan Times exposes dissent amidst scientist claims that eating dolphin is not dangerous
    6) Economist London column on DPJ woes, passim on how senile Tokyo Gov Ishihara seems to be getting
    7) Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!
    8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2010 (Japanese), May 15 speech in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken

    UPDATES
    9) AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki
    10) Robert Dujarric in Japan Times: Immigrants can buoy Japan as its regional power gives way to China
    11) Tangent: Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

    … and finally…

    12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy (full text)

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////
    By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    RSS feeds, daily updates at www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
    Freely forwardable

    MORE DEBATES FROM BIZARROLAND

    1) Eikawa GEOS claims in NZ court that workplace harassment is “The Japanese Way”, loses big

    NZ Herald: The boss of a multi-national English language school in Auckland has been awarded $190,000 after an employment tribunal dismissed claims he was used to being treated “the Japanese way”.

    David Page was stripped of his job as regional director of GEOS New Zealand at a conference in 2008 and demoted to head of the company’s Auckland language centre.

    In April last year, he was fired by email after being given “one last chance” to make the school profitable.

    Page launched an unfair dismissal claim against GEOS, which comes under the umbrella of the GEOS Corporation founded by Japanese businessman Tsuneo Kusunoki.

    But the company responded by claiming that Page “accepted understanding of the ‘Japanese way’ of doing business”. They went on to say he was used to Kusunoki “ranting”, “berating” and “humiliating” people “so this was nothing new”.

    But the Employment Relations Authority said the company’s failings were “fundamental and profound”.

    Member Denis Asher said the final warning was “an unscrupulous exploitation of the earlier, unlawful demotion”. He said: “A conclusion that the ‘Japanese way’ already experienced by Mr Page was continuing to be applied is difficult to avoid.”

    COMMENT: GEOS forgot this ain’t a Japanese courtroom where this actually might wash. They lose. Just goes to show you that what are considered working standards in Japan towards NJ (or anybody, really) aren’t something that will pass without sanction in other fellow developed societies. Attitudes like these will only deter other NJ from working in Japanese companies in future. Idiots.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6810

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    2) JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)

    Sakanaka Hidenori, former head of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau who has been written about on Debito.org various times, had an article on the need for immigration to Japan in the Daily Yomiuri the other day. Happy to see. However, I can’t find a Japanese version in the paper anywhere. Tut. Excerpt follows:

    “My view is that a low birthrate is unavoidable as a civilization matures.

    Other industrially advanced countries have also turned into societies with low birthrates as they have matured. Advancements in education, increased urbanization, the empowerment of women and diversification of lifestyles also exemplify the maturity of a society.

    Japan, a mature civilization, should expect to experience a low birthrate for at least the foreseeable future.

    Even if the government’s measures succeed in increasing the birthrate sharply and cause the population to increase, any era of population growth is far away and will be preceded by a stage of “few births and few deaths,” where there are declines in both birth and mortality rates.

    Accordingly, the only long-term solution for alleviating the nation’s population crisis is a government policy of accepting immigrants. Promotion of an effective immigration policy will produce an effect in a far shorter time period than steps taken to raise the nation’s birthrate.

    We, the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, propose that Japan accept 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years.

    We believe that to effectively cope with a crisis that threatens the nation’s existence, Japan must become an “immigration powerhouse” by letting manpower from around the world enter the country.”…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6788

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    3) Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban

    Jay Klaphake: I would like to draw readers’ attention to the outstanding work of the municipal government of Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture. After receiving complaints that citizens find bearded men unpleasant, Isesaki — just as all levels of Japanese government often do — took decisive action to address an important public concern: The city announced a ban on beards for municipal workers…

    Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has been quick to point to surveys that show government workers with beards are more likely to be supporters of voting rights for non-Japanese residents than clean-shaven employees. Excessive facial hair could even be used to mask an individual’s foreign roots, meaning that many of the hirsute could be naturalized citizens or children of naturalized citizens…

    A legal defense committee led by human-rights advocate Debito Arudou (of course he has a beard) and law professor Colin P. A. Jones is looking into whether Isesaki used off-budget secret funds to operate a barbershop in the basement of City Hall and provided free haircuts and shaves to public employees. Arudou reportedly tried to enter the barbershop but was refused access because his beard didn’t look Japanese, even though he insisted that his beard did, in fact, become Japanese several years ago.

    Professor Jones has apparently filed a freedom of information request for documents detailing whether, and how much of, taxpayers’ money was used for the secret project. In response, the city said that no such documents could be found, no such barbershop exists, and furthermore it would be a violation of the privacy of the barber to say anything more…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6825

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    4) Kyodo: MOFA conducts online survey on parental child abductions and signing Hague Convention (in Japanese only)

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just started asking for opinions from the public regarding Japan’s ascension to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (which provides guidelines for dealing with cases of children being taken across borders without the consent of both parents, as well as establishing custody and visitation).

    Sounds good until you consider the contexts. We’ve already had a lot of Japanese media portraying the Japanese side of an international marriage as victims, fleeing an abusive NJ. Even the odd crackpot lawyer gets airtime saying that signing the Hague will only empower the wrong side of the divorce (i.e. the allegedly violent and-by-the-way foreign side), justifying Japan keeping its status as a safe haven. Even the Kyodo article below shies away from calling this activity “abduction” by adding “so-called” inverted quotes (good thing the Convention says it plainly).

    But now we have the MOFA officially asking for public opinions from the goldfish bowl. Despite the issue being one of international marriage and abduction, the survey is in Japanese only. Fine for those NJ who can read and comment in the language. But it still gives an undeniable advantage to the GOJ basically hearing only the “Japanese side” of the divorce. Let’s at least have it in English as well, shall we?

    Kyodo article below, along with the text of the survey in Japanese and unofficial English translation. Is it just me, or do the questions feel just a tad leading, asking you to give reasons why Japan shouldn’t sign? In any case, I find it hard to imagine an aggrieved J parent holding all the aces (not to mention the kids) saying, “Sure, sign the Hague, eliminate our safe haven and take away my power of custody and revenge.” That’s why we need both sides of the story, with I don’t believe this survey is earnestly trying to get.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6777

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    5) Japan Times exposes dissent amidst scientist claims that eating dolphin is not dangerous

    Excerpt: On May 10, in a front-page lead story headlined “Taiji locals test high for mercury,” The Japan Times reported the results of tests by the National Institute of Minamata Disease (NIMD) that found “extremely high methyl-mercury (MeHg) concentrations in the hair of some residents of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, where people have a tradition of eating whale and dolphin.”

    Meanwhile, commenting on Okamoto’s advice for Taiji residents that it is “important that they decide what they should eat,” Dr. Pal Wiehe, chief physician in the Department of Occupational Medicine, Public Health in the Danish-controlled Faroe Islands, said, “This is inappropriate advice… We have seen over a period of time that there were negative impacts at all levels in our neurological, physiological and psychological tests that were irreversible.”…

    Whatever the attempts in Japan to ignore questions surrounding the NIMD’s approval for Japanese citizens to continue eating toxic dolphin, however, one of America’s leading neurologists, Florida-based Dr. David Permutter — a recipient of the prestigious Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Award for his research into brain disease — was far less inhibited…

    “These levels (of MeHg) are dramatically elevated. This practice of serving dolphin meat is tantamount to poisoning people; they may as well serve them arsenic, it would be no less harmful! What they’re doing is wrong on every count; it’s the wrong thing to do for the people and the wrong thing to do for the dolphins. No matter how you look at this, it’s perverse — it’s a tragedy and it should be condemned. If the role of government is to protect the people, then they’re failing miserably in their role.”

    COMMENT: It’s not the first time I’ve seen GOJ/public pressure interfere with the scientific community in Japan. Two examples come to mind, archived at Debito.org: 1) Japan’s Demographic Science making “Immigration” a Taboo Topic, and 2) Apple Imports and the Tanii Suicide Case.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6793

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    6) Economist London column on DPJ woes, passim on how senile Tokyo Gov Ishihara seems to be getting

    Here’s an (outdated, but still) thought-provoking essay on Japanese politics from The Economist (London). Within it is a vignette on Tokyo Governor Ishihara getting all pissy about how Japanese men are being emasculated, based upon the way they are allegedly being forced to urinate. The other points within the essay are more important, but I find it singularly impressive how a leader of one of the world’s cities could go off on such an irrelevant and unprofessional tangent before a member of the international press (who, charitably, passes it off as the rantings of a grumpy old man). That’s just one more signal to me, however, of how senile Ishihara has become. Only one more year of the man left in office, fortunately.

    Excerpt: “A black dog of a depression has settled back over the country’s politics, affecting both main parties. In opposition the LDP has unravelled with impressive speed. In late April the country’s favourite politician, Yoichi Masuzoe, a rare combination in the LDP of ambition and ideas, joined a stream of high-profile defectors forming new parties. He calls for refreshing change: deregulation, decentralisation and — crucially for a country with too many paws on the levers of power — a halving of the number in the Diet (parliament).

    For the moment, such groupings have not captured the public imagination. They contain too many lone wolves and grumpy old men, such as the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, who is responsible for the naming of one notable new party, Tachiagare Nippon!●literally, Stand Up, Japan! When Banyan once called on him, he launched into a tirade about Japanese men cowed by their womenfolk into sitting down when they pee.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6757

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    7) Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!

    Mark in Yayoi on Okinawa Futenma Issue: Debito, when reading your essay, I was surprised to find that I agreed with you, but for almost totally opposite reasons…

    The American occupation of Okinawa, unjust as it might be, is a net benefit to the mainland Tokyo government, which gets protection while simultaneously pretending that it’s “Japan” bearing the burden when in fact it’s Okinawa that suffers — they’re the people putting up with the loud airplanes and unruly soldiers. And these people bearing the cost of the protection were never seen as equals by Tokyo — they were used as human shields in a hopeless defense of Japan in 1945, and used as tax-paying slaves in the decades before that.

    The US bases need to leave, and Okinawa needs to be free. Not free from the US, and not free to be Japan’s 47th prefecture (both chronologically and on the status totem pole), but free to be *its own independent nation.*

    Exactly what “sovereignty” can the Tokyo government legitimately claim over the people of Okinawa, if we’re trying to redress past wrongs?...

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6828

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    8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2010 (Japanese), May 15 speech in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken

    This month’s podcast is a speech I gave in Japanese last month in Gifu Prefecture, Kani City.

    Talk title: “Otonari ni gaikokujin ga kitara…”, where I’m discussing what needs to be done to help NJ assimilate.

    I am reading from a powerpoint. Follow along with me if you like at http://www.debito.org/kanishi051510.ppt

    1hr 40 minutes, uncut. Hear me in action.

    Download free from iTunes or listen at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=6813

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    UPDATES

    9) AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki

    AFP: Scores of foreigners in a Japanese immigration detention centre have been on hunger strike for more than a week, demanding to be released and protesting the mysterious death of an African deportee.

    Some 70 detainees — many of them Sri Lankans and Pakistanis — have refused food since May 10, also seeking to highlight suicides there by a Brazilian and a South Korean inmate, say their outside supporters.

    The protest comes after UN rights envoy Jorge Bustamante in March raised concerns about Japan’s often years-long detentions of illegal migrants, including parents with children as well as rejected asylum seekers…

    Human rights activists, lawyers and foreign communities have complained for years about conditions at Ushiku and Japan’s two other such facilities, in the western prefecture of Osaka and in southwestern Nagasaki prefecture.

    At Ushiku, about 380 people are detained, with eight or nine inmates living in rooms that measure about 20 square metres (215 square feet), said Tanaka, a member of the Ushiku Detention Centre Problem Study Group.

    “They are crammed into tiny segmented rooms that are not very clean, and many contract skin diseases,” she told AFP…

    Hiroka Shoji of Amnesty International Japan said: “The immigration facilities are supposed to be places where authorities keep foreigners for a short period before deportation.

    “But some people have been confined for over two years as a result. The government must introduce a limit to detentions.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6745

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    10) Robert Dujarric in Japan Times: Immigrants can buoy Japan as its regional power gives way to China

    Excerpt: It is not possible to spend more than a few minutes with a Japanese diplomat or scholar without hearing the “C,” namely China. Most of them are convinced that the People’s Republic is expanding its global influence while Japan’s is shrinking. The entire world, and most worryingly Asia, which used to look toward Japan when Harvard scholar Ezra Vogel crowned it “No. 1– now sees China not only as the country of the future but already as today’s only Asian giant…

    There is one area, however, where Japan could engage in a strategy that would simultaneously help its economy and give it an edge over China. This is immigration. Japan is unique among economies that are highly developed and in demographic decline in having so few immigrants. In fact, even European states that are in much better demographic condition also have large numbers of foreigners and recently naturalized citizens in their labor force.

    The domestic economic advantages of a more open immigration policy are well documented. What is less understood is how it can be used as a foreign policy instrument. If Japan were home to several million guest workers, the country would become the lifeline of tens of millions of individuals back in their homeland who would benefit from the remittances of their relatives in the archipelago. Its economic role in the lives of some of these countries would become second to none. Many individuals would start to study Japanese, in the hope of one day working in the country…

    COMMENT: If Japan offers the promise of domestic work, and if “Many individuals would start to study Japanese, in the hope of one day working in the country.”, then it had better make good on the promise of offering equal opportunity for advancement and assimilation regardless of background, by enacting laws that protect against discrimination. We were made a similar promise under the purported “kokusaika” of the Bubble Era. That’s why many of our generation came to Japan in the first place, and decades later feel betrayed by the perpetual second-class status.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6741

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    11) Tangent: Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

    Yomiuri: China has also replaced Australia as the main foreign player in tourism and investment in and around Niseko, a southwestern Hokkaido town recently popular among foreign visitors as a ski resort.

    “Australia was once the chief player in tourism and investment here. Since the [global] financial crisis, however, there has been an increase in the number of Chinese companies [conducting such activities],” Tomokazu Aoki, a senior official of Niseko Promotion Board Co.’s secretariat, said.

    Founded in 1897, Niseko’s Yamada Onsen Hotel is renowned as the first resort to be built in the area. However, sold to a Chinese corporation this year, the hotel will reportedly be rebuilt as a villa-style accomodation.

    A relative newcomer, the Hanazono ski resort has also been acquired by a foreign buyer, a Hong Kong-based communications company.

    All this means progress and the go-ahead for further resort development in Niseko.

    In April, The Times, a British newspaper, carried an article that read: “Chinese visitors to Niseko used to take a simple view of apres-ski: head to the nearest izakaya and scoff as much Hokkaido crab as possible. Nowadays, after the last run of the day, they scramble for the nearest real estate agent. The Chinese who come to this resort generally have money, are hungry for luxury and find a Japan that, increasingly, is for sale at knockdown prices.”

    A local real estate agent said, “Most villas here are priced between 50 million yen and 100 million yen. Few Japanese can purchase such property, but there are Chinese paying cash to buy them.”

    The business-savvy Chinese view the resorts as moneymaking assets and rent the villas out to tourists except when they themselves wish to stay there. This can earn them annual profits equivalent to about 5 percent of the villas’ original purchase price.

    It is a trend that is set to continue. Teikoku Databank Ltd. estimates more than 300 Japanese corporations are currently funded by Chinese capital. Honma Golf Co., a major golf equipment manufacturer, is one of the latest — it became a Chinese subsidiary this year.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6773

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    … and finally…

    12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy (full text)

    JUST BE CAUSE
    Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy
    The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
    By DEBITO ARUDOU

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601ad.html

    Times are tough for the Hatoyama Cabinet. It’s had to backtrack on several campaign promises. Its approval ratings have plummeted to around 20 percent. And that old bone of contention — what to do about American military bases on Japanese soil — has resurfaced again.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100430a1.html

    The Okinawa Futenma base relocation issue is complicated, and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has devoted too much time to a battle he simply cannot win. If the American troops stay as is, Okinawan protests will continue and rifts within the Cabinet will grow. If the troops are moved within Japan, excessive media attention will follow and generate more anti-Hatoyama and anti-American sentiment. If the troops leave Japan entirely, people will grumble about losing American money.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100526a1.html

    So let’s ask the essential question: Why are U.S. bases still in Japan?

    One reason is inertia. America invaded Okinawa in 1945, and the bases essentially remain as spoils of war. Even after Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972, one-sixth of Okinawa is technically still occupied, hosting 75 percent of America’s military presence in Japan. We also have the knock-on effects of Okinawan dependency on the bases (I consider it a form of “economic alcoholism”), and generations of American entrenchment lending legitimacy to the status quo.

    Another reason is Cold War ideology. We hear arguments about an unsinkable aircraft carrier (as if Okinawa is someplace kept shipshape for American use), a bulwark against a pugilistic North Korea or a rising China (as if the DPRK has the means or China has the interest to invade, especially given other U.S. installations in, say, South Korea or Guam). But under Cold War logic including “deterrence” and “mutually assured destruction,” the wolf is always at the door; woe betide anyone who lets their guard down and jeopardizes regional security.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsinkable_aircraft_carrier

    Then there’s the American military’s impressive job of preying on that insecurity. According to scholar Chalmers Johnson, as of 2005 there were 737 American military bases outside the U.S. (an actual increase since the Cold War ended) and 2.5 million U.S. military personnel serving worldwide. What happened to the “peace dividend” promised two decades ago after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Part of it sunk into places like Okinawa.

    http://www.alternet.org/story/47998/

    But one more reason demonstrates an underlying arrogance within the American government: “keeping the genie in the bottle” — the argument that Japan also needs to be deterred, from remilitarizing. The U.S. military’s attitude seems to be that they are here as a favor to us.

    Some favor. As history shows, once the Americans set up a base abroad, they don’t leave. They generally have to lose a war (as in Vietnam), have no choice (as in the eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines), or be booted out by a dictator (as in Uzbekistan). Arguments about regional balances of power are wool over the eyes. Never mind issues of national sovereignty — the demands of American empire require that military power be stationed abroad. Lump it, locals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Pinatubo

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902038.html

    But in this case there’s a new complication: The Futenma issue is weakening Japan’s government.

    Hatoyama has missed several deadlines for a resolution (while the American military has stalled negotiations for years without reprisal), enabling detractors to portray him as indecisive. He’s had to visit Okinawa multiple times to listen to locals and explain. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party claims Hatoyama is reneging on a promise (which is spoon-bitingly hypocritical, given the five decades the LDP completely ignored Okinawa, and the fact that Hatoyama has basically accepted an accord concluded by the LDP themselves in 2006). And now, with Mizuho Fukushima’s resignation from the Cabinet, the coalition government is in jeopardy.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100525a6.html

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100530a1.html

    Futenma is taking valuable time away from other policies that concern Japan, such as corruption and unaccountability, growing domestic economic inequality, crippling public debts, and our future in the world as an aging society.

    As the momentum ebbs from his administration, Hatoyama is in a no-win situation. But remember who put him there. If America really is the world’s leading promoter of democracy, it should consider how it is undermining Japan’s political development. After nearly 60 years of corrupt one-party rule, Japan finally has a fledgling two-party system. Yet that is withering on the vine thanks to American geopolitical manipulation.

    We keep hearing how Japan’s noncooperation will weaken precious U.S.-Japan ties. But those ties have long been a leash — one the U.S., aware of how susceptible risk-averse Japan is to “separation anxiety,” yanks at whim. The “threatened bilateral relationship” claim is disingenuous — the U.S. is more concerned with bolstering its military-industrial complex than with Asia’s regional stability.

    In sum, it’s less a matter of Japan wanting the U.S. bases to stay, more a matter of the U.S. bases not wanting to leave. Japan is a sovereign country, so the Japanese government has the final say. If that means U.S. forces relocating or even leaving completely, the U.S. should respectfully do so without complaint, not demand Japan find someplace else for them to go. That is not Japan’s job.

    Yet our politicians have worked hard for decades to represent the U.S. government’s interests to the Japanese public. Why? Because they always have.

    The time has come to stop being prisoners of history. World War II and the Cold War are long over.

    That’s why this columnist says: Never mind Futenma. All U.S. bases should be withdrawn from Japanese soil, period. Anachronisms, the bases have not only created conflicts of interest and interfered with Japan’s sovereignty, they are now incapacitating our government. Japan should slip the collar of U.S. encampments and consider a future under a less dependent, more equal relationship with the U.S.

    ———————————

    Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    That’s all for today. Thanks to everyone for reading!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
    RSS feeds, daily updates at www.debito.org. Twitter arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010 ENDS

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    Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

    Posted on Sunday, June 6th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  As a somewhat Sundayish Tangent, here we have the Yomiuri talking about Chinese investing in Japan, both as consumers and businesspeople.  Of note to me is the Yomiuri’s claim that the Chinese are displacing Australian investment in Niseko, Hokkaido.  Fine with me.  Hokkaido could use the investment.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    Mega-China Changing Japan-China relations / A piste of the action: Chinese take to skiing and shops
    The Yomiuri Shimbun May. 25, 2010, Courtesy of Peach
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/world/T100524003379.htm

    China’s rapid rise is causing ever-widening repercussions in its relationship with Japan. This is the second installment in a series of articles examining new currents in bilateral relations.

    At 9 a.m. most days, the majority of shops are yet to open in Akihabara, Tokyo’s electronics shopping district.

    Yet two sightseeing buses are parked in front of bulk electrical appliance chain Laox Co.’s flagship store. Emerging from the buses, about 100 Chinese stream into the shop. Laox is open for business.

    The electrical cooking appliance section on the fourth floor proves particularly popular. A Laox employee, a Chinese national flag sticker worn on his chest, begins explaining the products on display. Sun Renmei, 61, of Shanghai, points at a stack of boxes containing rice cookers. She buys four: for herself, her children and a friend.

    “I’ve been looking forward to buying high-tech Japanese rice cookers,” she says with a smile before hurriedly boarding one of the buses.

    At the height of its prosperity, Laox boasted 149 outlets nationwide. In summer last year, however, following years of poor performance amid intensified domestic competition, Laox was bought out by Suning Appliance Co., the owner of China’s largest bulk home electrical appliance chain.

    Its president now a Chinese, Laox has repositioned its customer base as international, an extension of previous measures taken to improve the company’s ability to deal with customers in foreign languages.

    The flagship store has been renovated as a duty-free mecca that sells not only electrical appliances but also daily goods and souvenirs from Japan. Information about each product is provided in three languages–Japanese, English and Chinese. Twenty-three languages are spoken in the duty-free shop, including Tagalog.

    While it usually opens at 10 a.m., management displays flexibility and moves forward opening hours on behalf of group tours, if their timetables so require.

    Today, overseas visitors account for 60 percent to 70 percent of the flagship duty-free store’s customer base, a 10 percent increase since the Suning Appliance capital tie-up. Proceeds from sales to foreign customers have increased 70 percent.

    In June, Laox is scheduled to open a variety store in Shanghai selling Japan-related products and services. This will be followed by an ambitious plan to increase the international Laox outlets to 100 over a three-year period.

    Once a rarity, Chinese-owned shops serving Chinese customers in Japan–or overseas–are increasingly common nowadays.

    China has also replaced Australia as the main foreign player in tourism and investment in and around Niseko, a southwestern Hokkaido town recently popular among foreign visitors as a ski resort.

    “Australia was once the chief player in tourism and investment here. Since the [global] financial crisis, however, there has been an increase in the number of Chinese companies [conducting such activities],” Tomokazu Aoki, a senior official of Niseko Promotion Board Co.’s secretariat, said.

    Founded in 1897, Niseko’s Yamada Onsen Hotel is renowned as the first resort to be built in the area. However, sold to a Chinese corporation this year, the hotel will reportedly be rebuilt as a villa-style accomodation.

    A relative newcomer, the Hanazono ski resort has also been acquired by a foreign buyer, a Hong Kong-based communications company.

    All this means progress and the go-ahead for further resort development in Niseko.

    In April, The Times, a British newspaper, carried an article that read: “Chinese visitors to Niseko used to take a simple view of apres-ski: head to the nearest izakaya and scoff as much Hokkaido crab as possible. Nowadays, after the last run of the day, they scramble for the nearest real estate agent…The Chinese who come to this resort generally have money, are hungry for luxury and find a Japan that, increasingly, is for sale at knockdown prices.”

    A local real estate agent said, “Most villas here are priced between 50 million yen and 100 million yen. Few Japanese can purchase such property, but there are Chinese paying cash to buy them.”

    The business-savvy Chinese view the resorts as moneymaking assets and rent the villas out to tourists except when they themselves wish to stay there. This can earn them annual profits equivalent to about 5 percent of the villas’ original purchase price.

    It is a trend that is set to continue. Teikoku Databank Ltd. estimates more than 300 Japanese corporations are currently funded by Chinese capital. Honma Golf Co., a major golf equipment manufacturer, is one of the latest–it became a Chinese subsidiary this year.
    ENDS

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    Posted in Cultural Issue, Tangents, Tourism | 11 Comments »

    Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban

    Posted on Friday, June 4th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog. Here’s an excerpt of a satirical piece that appeared in the Japan Times Community Page earlier this week. On the Gunma-ken Isesaki City Bureaucrat Beard Ban. Thought it very funny. Especially when it brings up the nationality of my own beard! Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010
    THE ZEIT GIST
    Gunma city does battle with beards
    Local government’s hairy-chin ban sets example for nation
    By JAY KLAPHAKE

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601zg.html

    I would like to draw readers’ attention to the outstanding work of the municipal government of Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture. After receiving complaints that citizens find bearded men unpleasant, Isesaki — just as all levels of Japanese government often do — took decisive action to address an important public concern: The city announced a ban on beards for municipal workers.

    Isesaki deserves our thanks for recognizing that allowing beards is the first step along a slippery slope. If we let government workers get away with improper grooming, the next thing you know they will start being creative and ask inappropriate questions like, “If we are actually trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, maybe we shouldn’t make expressways toll-free?” or, “Why don’t we budget more to ease the national shortage of child-care facilities instead of giving parents a per-child payout every month?”…

    Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has been quick to point to surveys that show government workers with beards are more likely to be supporters of voting rights for non-Japanese residents than clean-shaven employees. Excessive facial hair could even be used to mask an individual’s foreign roots, meaning that many of the hirsute could be naturalized citizens or children of naturalized citizens…

    A legal defense committee led by human-rights advocate Debito Arudou (of course he has a beard) and law professor Colin P. A. Jones is looking into whether Isesaki used off-budget secret funds to operate a barbershop in the basement of City Hall and provided free haircuts and shaves to public employees. Arudou reportedly tried to enter the barbershop but was refused access because his beard didn’t look Japanese, even though he insisted that his beard did, in fact, become Japanese several years ago.

    Professor Jones has apparently filed a freedom of information request for documents detailing whether, and how much of, taxpayers’ money was used for the secret project. In response, the city said that no such documents could be found, no such barbershop exists, and furthermore it would be a violation of the privacy of the barber to say anything more…

    Rest of the article at
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601zg.html
    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 14 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy

    Posted on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

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    justbecauseicon.jpg
    JUST BE CAUSE
    Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy
    The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
    By DEBITO ARUDOU

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601ad.html

    Times are tough for the Hatoyama Cabinet. It’s had to backtrack on several campaign promises. Its approval ratings have plummeted to around 20 percent. And that old bone of contention — what to do about American military bases on Japanese soil — has resurfaced again.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100430a1.html

    The Okinawa Futenma base relocation issue is complicated, and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has devoted too much time to a battle he simply cannot win. If the American troops stay as is, Okinawan protests will continue and rifts within the Cabinet will grow. If the troops are moved within Japan, excessive media attention will follow and generate more anti-Hatoyama and anti-American sentiment. If the troops leave Japan entirely, people will grumble about losing American money.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100526a1.html

    So let’s ask the essential question: Why are U.S. bases still in Japan?

    One reason is inertia. America invaded Okinawa in 1945, and the bases essentially remain as spoils of war. Even after Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972, one-sixth of Okinawa is technically still occupied, hosting 75 percent of America’s military presence in Japan. We also have the knock-on effects of Okinawan dependency on the bases (I consider it a form of “economic alcoholism”), and generations of American entrenchment lending legitimacy to the status quo.

    Another reason is Cold War ideology. We hear arguments about an unsinkable aircraft carrier (as if Okinawa is someplace kept shipshape for American use), a bulwark against a pugilistic North Korea or a rising China (as if the DPRK has the means or China has the interest to invade, especially given other U.S. installations in, say, South Korea or Guam). But under Cold War logic including “deterrence” and “mutually assured destruction,” the wolf is always at the door; woe betide anyone who lets their guard down and jeopardizes regional security.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsinkable_aircraft_carrier

    Then there’s the American military’s impressive job of preying on that insecurity. According to scholar Chalmers Johnson, as of 2005 there were 737 American military bases outside the U.S. (an actual increase since the Cold War ended) and 2.5 million U.S. military personnel serving worldwide. What happened to the “peace dividend” promised two decades ago after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Part of it sunk into places like Okinawa.

    http://www.alternet.org/story/47998/

    But one more reason demonstrates an underlying arrogance within the American government: “keeping the genie in the bottle” — the argument that Japan also needs to be deterred, from remilitarizing. The U.S. military’s attitude seems to be that they are here as a favor to us.

    Some favor. As history shows, once the Americans set up a base abroad, they don’t leave. They generally have to lose a war (as in Vietnam), have no choice (as in the eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines), or be booted out by a dictator (as in Uzbekistan). Arguments about regional balances of power are wool over the eyes. Never mind issues of national sovereignty — the demands of American empire require that military power be stationed abroad. Lump it, locals.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Pinatubo

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902038.html

    But in this case there’s a new complication: The Futenma issue is weakening Japan’s government.

    Hatoyama has missed several deadlines for a resolution (while the American military has stalled negotiations for years without reprisal), enabling detractors to portray him as indecisive. He’s had to visit Okinawa multiple times to listen to locals and explain. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party claims Hatoyama is reneging on a promise (which is spoon-bitingly hypocritical, given the five decades the LDP completely ignored Okinawa, and the fact that Hatoyama has basically accepted an accord concluded by the LDP themselves in 2006). And now, with Mizuho Fukushima’s resignation from the Cabinet, the coalition government is in jeopardy.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100525a6.html

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100530a1.html

    Futenma is taking valuable time away from other policies that concern Japan, such as corruption and unaccountability, growing domestic economic inequality, crippling public debts, and our future in the world as an aging society.

    As the momentum ebbs from his administration, Hatoyama is in a no-win situation. But remember who put him there. If America really is the world’s leading promoter of democracy, it should consider how it is undermining Japan’s political development. After nearly 60 years of corrupt one-party rule, Japan finally has a fledgling two-party system. Yet that is withering on the vine thanks to American geopolitical manipulation.

    We keep hearing how Japan’s noncooperation will weaken precious U.S.-Japan ties. But those ties have long been a leash — one the U.S., aware of how susceptible risk-averse Japan is to “separation anxiety,” yanks at whim. The “threatened bilateral relationship” claim is disingenuous — the U.S. is more concerned with bolstering its military-industrial complex than with Asia’s regional stability.

    In sum, it’s less a matter of Japan wanting the U.S. bases to stay, more a matter of the U.S. bases not wanting to leave. Japan is a sovereign country, so the Japanese government has the final say. If that means U.S. forces relocating or even leaving completely, the U.S. should respectfully do so without complaint, not demand Japan find someplace else for them to go. That is not Japan’s job.

    Yet our politicians have worked hard for decades to represent the U.S. government’s interests to the Japanese public. Why? Because they always have.

    The time has come to stop being prisoners of history. World War II and the Cold War are long over.

    That’s why this columnist says: Never mind Futenma. All U.S. bases should be withdrawn from Japanese soil, period. Anachronisms, the bases have not only created conflicts of interest and interfered with Japan’s sovereignty, they are now incapacitating our government. Japan should slip the collar of U.S. encampments and consider a future under a less dependent, more equal relationship with the U.S.

    Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
    ENDS

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    Posted in Articles & Publications, Gaiatsu, History, Japanese Politics | 44 Comments »

    JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)

    Posted on Friday, May 28th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Sakanaka Hidenori, former head of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau who has been written about on Debito.org various times, had an article on the need for immigration to Japan in the Daily Yomiuri the other day.  Happy to see.  However, I can’t find a Japanese version in the paper anywhere.  Tut.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    Japan must become ‘immigration powerhouse’
    Hidenori Sakanaka / Special to The Daily Yomiuri
    May. 26, 2010,
    Courtesy of Daily Yomiuri staff
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/columns/commentary/20100526dy01.htm

    The size of a country’s population is a fundamental element of its government, economy and society. If the population keeps shrinking, it is self-evident that the nation’s strength will wane, the economy will shrink and the survival of society will be threatened.

    Three elements contribute to demographic changes: births, deaths and migration across national borders.

    In the face of Japan’s population problem, the government has focused on measures for boosting the birthrate. Huge sums of money have been poured into programs such as child allowances to help people raise children.

    But will the nation’s population start growing just by continuing with these measures?

    My view is that a low birthrate is unavoidable as a civilization matures.

    Other industrially advanced countries have also turned into societies with low birthrates as they have matured. Advancements in education, increased urbanization, the empowerment of women and diversification of lifestyles also exemplify the maturity of a society.

    Japan, a mature civilization, should expect to experience a low birthrate for at least the foreseeable future.

    Even if the government’s measures succeed in increasing the birthrate sharply and cause the population to increase, any era of population growth is far away and will be preceded by a stage of “few births and few deaths,” where there are declines in both birth and mortality rates.

    Accordingly, the only long-term solution for alleviating the nation’s population crisis is a government policy of accepting immigrants. Promotion of an effective immigration policy will produce an effect in a far shorter time period than steps taken to raise the nation’s birthrate.

    We, the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, propose that Japan accept 10 million immigrants over the next 50 years.

    We believe that to effectively cope with a crisis that threatens the nation’s existence, Japan must become an “immigration powerhouse” by letting manpower from around the world enter the country.

    By allowing people from a wide variety of racial and cultural backgrounds to mingle together, a new breed of culture, creativity and energy will arise, which will surely renew and revitalize Japan.

    If this proposal is implemented, the 10 million immigrants, most of whom will be young workers, will lessen the burden on young Japanese in funding social welfare programs for the elderly. The new immigrants will be “comrades,” not competitors in tackling the challenges of a graying society and a declining population.

    Young Japanese workers will need to join forces with the immigrants to weather these difficulties.

    Encouraging the acceptance of immigrants will not only help Japan out of the population crisis. The immigrants will also serve as a driving force in converting this homogenous and uniform society into one teeming with diversity, where a galaxy of talented people will interact to create a vigorous multiethnic society.

    It also must be clearly stated that if Japan hopes to benefit by throwing its doors open to immigrants, it must become a place where immigrants have sufficient opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

    Analysts at home and abroad have often declared the “sinking of Japan” because of its passivity over reform, but there can be no denying that transforming Japan into an immigration powerhouse should be the ultimate goal of any reform agenda.

    If this country dares to implement the immigration policy we envision, the world will surely welcome the opening of this country’s doors to immigrants as a “revolution of Japan.” This, I believe, will boost the presence of the nation in the international community.

    This is the “making of a new nation” that could develop into a change as radical as the Meiji Restoration.

    The grand, revolutionary task of transforming Japan cannot be achieved without ambitious men and women in their 20s and early 30s, people like Sakamoto Ryoma and Takasugi Shinsaku at the end of the Edo period (1603-1867).

    With this in mind, I plan to establish a school in July for young people to discuss what a desirable immigration policy should entail.

    I hope this will help foster leaders for the Heisei era (1989- ) that will carve out a future for Japan.

    Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, is executive director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute.

    ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 16 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 24, 2010

    Posted on Monday, May 24th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 24, 2010

    Table of Contents:
    ////////////////////////////////////////////
    INTERESTING VIEWS
    1)  Singapore Straits Times: Lee Kwan Yew advises Japan not to accept immigrants who don’t look Japanese
    2)  David McNeill interviews ultranationalist Sakurai Makoto, lays bare his illogical invective
    3)  Former J employees sue Prada for sexual and power harassment, TV claims “racial discrimination”
    4)  Yomiuri, Terrie’s Take offer thoughtful essays on easing language hurdles for NJ on a tight deadline, such as Filipine or Indonesian nurses
    5)  Further reading: Indonesian “care givers” and those pesky qualifying exams: a means to maintain “revolving door” NJ job market?
    6)  Times London on “Peter Rabbit Tax”: Optional 5GBP surcharge for Japanese tourists in England derided as “discriminatory”
    7)  Meat67 on “City of Urayasu Globalization Guidelines” Survey
    8 ) Suraj Case of death during deportation makes The Economist (London)
    9)  JALT PALE NEWSLETTER May 2010 (pdf file)

    NEWS YOU CAN USE
    10) Terumi Club refuses NJ for travel fares and tours, has cheaper fares for Japanese Only. Like H.I.S. and No.1 Travel.
    11) Takasago Hotel, Fukushima-ken, has “rooms all full” if lodger is NJ
    12) Japan Times: Housing glut resulting in more assistance for NJ renters, e.g., Japan Property Management Association
    13) Matthew Apple on how to take child care leave in Japan. Yes, even in Japan. Sanctioned by the GOJ.
    14) Sunday Tangent: Cato Institute on dealing with police racial profiling in general
    15) MOJ: Numbers of people naturalizing into Japan 1999-2008
    16) NYT: More American Expatriates Give Up US Citizenship

    … and finally …
    17) DEBITO.ORG BLOG POLL:  “What do you think about the whole Okinawa Futenma Issue?”
    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    Daily Blog Updates at www.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito
    Freely forwardable

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    INTERESTING VIEWS

    1)  Singapore Straits Times: Lee Kwan Yew advises Japan not to accept immigrants who don’t look Japanese

    Nothing breeds arrogance like success. It must be nice to have created a rich city-state in your image, so you think you can claim enough legitimacy to bald-facedly tell other countries to do as you say, not as you do. We have elder statesman Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore offering his opinions earlier this week to the GOJ about how to deal with immigration — where he advocates a “homogeneous Japan” solution that chooses people based upon their thoroughbredness:

    Lee: “You have the choice to keep Japan homogeneous and shrinking and stagnant economically, or you accept immigrants and grow,” he told the audience… He also advised the Japanese to chose immigrants who can be assimilated more easily.

    “If I were Japanese, I would not want to go beyond people who look like Japanese. I will (also) choose people from the high end, so that the children will also be of a higher calibre.”

    COMMENT: I wonder if Lee believes his fellow Chinese fall into the category of being “from the high end”? Many of his fellow “homogeneous Japan” proponents in Japan would not think so.

    Anyway, on behalf of all of us non-thoroughbred Japanese citizens: nuts to you Lee Kwan Yew.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6752

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    2)  David McNeill interviews ultranationalist Sakurai Makoto, lays bare his illogical invective

    Untangle an ardent ultranationalist:

    Sakurai: “To tell you the truth, Japan is extremely bad at dealing with foreigners,” he says. “Until about 100 years ago, before the Meiji Restoration, there were almost no foreigners here. We’ve only been dealing with them for a little over a century. But with globalization we understand that a lot of Japanese people go abroad, and that naturally a lot of foreigners now come to Japan. We realize we can’t prevent that. But they should obey Japanese rules.”

    Japan Times: So he’s not actually against foreigners coming to Japan, just those who break the law?

    Sakurai: “No, we oppose immigration. The (ruling) Democratic Party of Japan has proposed allowing 10 million people to come here. According to the ministry of health, by 2050 there will be 80 million Japanese here ● that’s a fall of over 40 million. By 2100 it will be 20 million. If it continues like this our working population will disappear. So people are wondering what we should do. Should be accept millions of foreigners? I don’t think so.”

    Japan Times: What about foreigners who have come here, married Japanese citizens, who pay taxes and have children. Would you send them all home?

    Sakurai: “That’s different. Those people weren’t invited to come here by the government. The government wants millions of people to come in and work like robots in industrial jobs. They can’t treat foreigners like robots. Are you going to treat them as citizens? The DPJ is not talking about this. They should be allowed in step by step. It should be deliberated.”

    Japan Times: Then you support a policy of phased, planned integration?

    Sakurai: “If we’re saying, ‘OK, let’s set up schools for these people to help them blend into our society,’ I can understand that a little. But that’s not happening. The government is simply saying, ‘Come to Japan as workers.’ There’s no debate.”

    Japan Times: OK, so let’s say there is a debate. Let’s say the government does deliberate this and create a policy that will allow phased mass emigration of 10 million people to come here. Would that be acceptable?

    Sakurai: “No, I oppose such a move…”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6747

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    3)  Former J employees sue Prada for sexual and power harassment, TV claims “racial discrimination”

    In an interesting twist to the whole “racial discrimination” issue in Japan, we have Japanese managers suing their former employer, world-famous luxury brand maker Prada, for alleged workplace sexual and power harassment, and “lookism” (i.e. treating people adversely based upon their “looks”).

    Good, in the sense that people who are treated badly by employers don’t just take it on the chin as usual. But what makes this a Debito.org issue is the allegation, made by at least one morning Wide Show (“Sukkiri” last Monday, May 17), is that the companies are practicing “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu).

    Funny thing, that. If this were a Japanese company being sued for harassment, there would be no claim of racial discrimination (as race would not be a factor). But this time it’s not a Japanese company — it’s Prada. Yet when NJ or naturalized Japanese sue for racial discrimination (as they did in the Otaru Onsen Case), the media would NEVER call it “racial discrimination”, merely “cultural misunderstandings” and the like.

    Another example of the Japanese media saying racism is only something done TO Japanese, never BY Japanese?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6726

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    4)  Yomiuri, Terrie’s Take offer thoughtful essays on easing language hurdles for NJ on a tight deadline, such as Filipine or Indonesian nurses

    Here is a slew of articles regarding the Japan-Asian countries’ EPA program to import health care workers to Japan, which we have discussed on Debito.org before.

    First up, some background FYI on the issue from the Japan Times, then an article by the Yomiuri on the language barrier faced by NJ nurses over here on the nursing visa program — once just Filipinos/Filipinas and Indonesians, perhaps being expanded to Thais and Vietnamese. Then a thoughtful essay by Terrie Lloyd on the prospects of overcoming the language barrier in a decent amount of time. And finally, a Japan Times article calling for a serious revision of the program to give people more time to come up to speed in the Japanese language.

    Unsaid (so I’ll say it) is the quite possible goal of setting a hurdle too high in the first place, so that few NJ will qualify to stay longer than three years, and the visa status remains a revolving-door employment program. It wouldn’t be the first time the GOJ has acted in such bad faith towards NJ labor.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6692

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    5)  Further reading: Indonesian “care givers” and those pesky qualifying exams: a means to maintain “revolving door” NJ job market?

    Here are a few articles that have sat in my “Drafts” section for months, waiting for the right time to be posted on Debito.org (it happens sometimes, sorry). Their point is that we have plenty of voices saying that the NJ nurses brought under the special visa program ought to be given a bit more of a break when it comes to language training (again, these people are qualified nurses — it’s only a language barrier), and yet the GOJ intransigently says that these people don’t deserve one — they should pass the same exam that only about 50% of native Japanese speakers pass anyway. Can’t you at least simplify the language and add furigana? Noooo, that would be unfair! As if it’s not unfair already.

    I understand the argument that in emergency situations, people should be able to be communicated with without error, but surely there’s some grey in there. My belief, as I said yesterday and numerous times before, is that this is just taking advantage of fear to mask the program’s true intention, of keeping NJ on a short-term revolving door visa program so they don’t come here to stay permanently. These articles below are further evidence I believe of the subterfuge. Sorry to have taken so long to get to them. One-two punch for this week.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=5258

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    6)  Times London on “Peter Rabbit Tax”: Optional 5GBP surcharge for Japanese tourists in England derided as “discriminatory”

    Times (London): Peter Rabbit, who has appeared on everything from tea towels to crockery, has now inspired a tax. A party of Japanese tourists posing for photographs yesterday at the Cumbrian cottage made famous by Beatrix Potter’s stories became the first to be asked to make a GBP 5 donation for the preservation of the local landscape.

    Now Japanese visitors will be invited by tour operators to contribute GBP 5, a charge already nicknamed the “Peter Rabbit tax”.

    Atsuhito Oikawa, 35, an academic in medical research, said that GBP 5 would not be prohibitive to most Japanese but they should not be the only ones to pay. “Everyone is equal in Japan,” he said. “If you distinguish between Japanese and others, you run the risk of appearing discriminatory.”

    COMMENT:  That’s kinda rich…!

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6655

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    7)  Meat67 on “City of Urayasu Globalization Guidelines” Survey

    Meat 67: I received the following survey in the mail from the City of Urayasu (see below). While I have many friends and acquaintances in Japan and Urayasu, I sometimes feel alienated from “official” Japan, so I was pleased to see that the city wanted my opinion on their “City of Urayasu Globalization Guidelines”. Like most things from governments there are good and bad things about this survey.

    The first nice thing about the survey was the option of doing it in English and Japanese. For those people whose Japanese is at a low level the option of doing it in English is nice, while the option of Japanese acknowledges that many immigrants, can, in fact, read and write Japanese. That being said, just from my own personal observation from living in Urayasu for the past seven years, the inclusion of Chinese and Tagalog versions as well would have made it even better.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6046

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) Suraj Case of death during deportation makes The Economist (London)

    Now here we have the Suraj Case making it out of Japan and being reported overseas. The new twist is that the widow now has lost her job allegedly because of the fuss made over her husband’s death while being deported by Japan’s Immigration Bureau. I’m fond of the title, with Immigration being depicted as “Japan’s Bouncers”, and pleased the reporter noted how little coverage this horrible incident got domestically. But the unaccountability regarding the cause of death and a possible homicide at the hands of GOJ officials is no joke.

    Economist excerpt: Around 2m foreigners live legally in Japan, which has a population of 128m; the justice ministry counted 91,778 illegal residents as of January. But the number, boosted by cheap Chinese labourers, may well be much higher. After a nine-day research trip last month, Jorge Bustamante, the UN’s special rapporteur on migrants’ rights, complained that legal and illegal migrants in Japan face “racism and discrimination, exploitation [and] a tendency by the judiciary and police to ignore their rights”.

    The Special Residency Permit system is an example of the problem. No criteria for eligibility are specified. Instead, published “guidelines” are applied arbitrarily. And people cannot apply directly for an SRP: illegal residents can only request it once in detention, or turn themselves in and try their luck while deportation proceedings are under way. So most illegal residents just stay mum. Mr Suraj fell into the SRP abyss after he was arrested for overstaying his visa. Although he had lived in Japan for 22 years, was fluent in the language and married to a Japanese citizen, his SRP request was denied.

    Why the tougher policy now? Koichi Kodama, an immigration lawyer assisting Mr Suraj’s widow, believes it is a reaction to the appointment last year as justice minister of Keiko Chiba, a pro-immigration reformer; the old guard is clamping down. The police are investigating the incident and the ten immigration officers in whose custody Mr Suraj died, though no charges have been brought. As for Mr Suraj’s widow, she has yet to receive details about her husband’s death or an official apology. The topic is one Japanese society would rather avoid. The press barely reported it. Still, when her name appeared online, she was fired from her job lest the incident sully her firm’s name.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6714

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    9)  JALT PALE NEWSLETTER May 2010 (pdf file)

    The Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) SIG group Professionalism, Administration, and Leadership in Education (PALE) has just put out its next semiannual newsletter for the season.

    Contents include 2010 average salary scales for university educators in the Kansai region (see how your salary stacks up; I’m about 300 man below average), a report on JALT’s advertising policies for unfair workplaces, a quick look at teaching licenses in Japan, MEXT scholarships and how international students are adversely treated, and how a university educator stopped his contract termination by hiring a lawyer.

    Download PDF file of the newsletter here:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6663

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    NEWS YOU CAN USE

    10) Terumi Club refuses NJ for travel fares and tours, has cheaper fares for Japanese Only. Like H.I.S. and No.1 Travel.

    Speaking of “Peter Rabbit Taxes” for Japanese tourists: Here we have more information about Japanese travel agencies overcharging, surcharging, or refusing to sell tickets at all to NJ. Tellmeclub.com is offering different prices based upon nationality, according to A and J below. Contrast with H.I.S. and No.1 Travel doing the same thing back in 2006, despite their claims that they would stop.

    Do watch yourself when dealing with travel agents in Japan. Check pricing at the agency’s website after you get an estimate, and don’t buy on the spot. Charging different fares by nationality, according to my investigations back in 2006, is not allowed by the Ministry of Transport. But it happens in Japan, it seems quite unabated.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6430

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) Takasago Hotel, Fukushima-ken, has “rooms all full” if lodger is NJ

    As a follow-up with the exclusionary hotels (and the prefectural tourist agency that promotes them) in Fukushima-ken, here we have one person’s experience the other day getting refused at one of them, by being told that there were no rooms available (meaning they get around the Hotel Management Law that forbids refusing people for reasons such as being a customer while NJ). Discriminators are getting more sophisticated, so it looks like we have to have native Japanese make reservations at some Japanese hotels on our behalf. Sheesh.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6690

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) Japan Times: Housing glut resulting in more assistance for NJ renters, e.g., Japan Property Management Association

    Debito.org Reader Kevin submitted this Japan Times article (thanks!) on how The Japan Property Management Association, which covers more than a thousand real estate agencies, is offering information to NJ renters and recourse to fearful landlords. They’re even suggesting hiring NJ to bridge communication gaps! Bravo. If you’re in the market for new digs, check this association out and give them your business.

    After all, one of the first nasty things a NJ experiences is the pretty ubiquitous housing discrimination in Japan — where a renter can be refused by the mere whim of a landlord, and tough titties if that landlord has a “thing” about foreigners (due to, say, envisioned phobias about “differing customs”, “communication troubles”, or just plain visceral xenophobia). Sadly, there is no way, outside of a courtroom (which will probably, experience and word-of-mouth dictates, not rule in the NJ’s favor unless the landlord changes his or her mind AFTER a rental contract is signed). ‘Cos, as y’all know so well, there ain’t no law against racial discrimination in this part of the world.

    One more thing, and this is a tangent but I’m feeling chatty today: Before we get all Pollyanna and flout any economic theories that “the marketplace will correct all if left to its own devices” (i.e. Japan’s housing glut is forcing the buyer’s market to find ways to be more accommodating to NJ), remember that there is no way economics is going to “fix” illogical or irrational behavior, such as fear and hatred of foreigners or other races that exist in every society. If anything, as seen in the course of the Otaru Onsens Case, bathhouse managers (and apologist bigots like Gregory Clark) have even made economic arguments to justify the status quo (“our customers don’t want to take baths with foreigners, so we have to give them what they demand”; some even created flawed surveys of customers to “prove” it, which got widely reported by unanalytical Japanese media. In any case, the market CAN break down (in classic cases like farmers dumping surplus crops in the ocean to keep the market
    price up), and needs laws to govern it. In this case, laws against the effects of the dread mental disease that is xenophobia.

    Anyway, again, bravo Japan Property Management Association. JT article about them follows.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6733

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Matthew Apple on how to take child care leave in Japan. Yes, even in Japan. Sanctioned by the GOJ.

    Excerpt: “My child care leave officially started on April 1, 2010, but the process of applying for leave started about half a year prior to that. Technically, I was required to give about one month’s notice before applying for leave, according to the Act on the Welfare of Workers Who Take Care of Children or Other Family Members Including Child Care and Family Care Leave (one of the longest names on record, perhaps?). However, I was asked in November, 2009, by the General Affairs Office of my school to check with my department head for “permission” to take child care leave.

    Said permission notwithstanding, the General Affairs Chief promised me at the time that, in the event the Department Head refused or evaded, he was prepared to support me in my claim as to the legality of taking child care leave. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, and I was given permission to apply for the leave.

    At any rate, the conditions of the leave were that I had to be already employed for over 12 months, that I had to be able to continue working at the same company after the leave ended, and that I would not be paid at all during the leave. The last condition hurt; I was even told that not being paid during leave would additionally impact on my retirement pay from the school as well as national pension● Last week, I was further informed that I could receive some financial support from the government to help care for my daughter. The official form is administered by Hello Work (surprisingly), and all funds come from unemployment insurance. Basically, I get 30% of my base salary until my daughter turns one year old, and then six months after I go back to work, I get an additional 20% as a bonus.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6739

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) Sunday Tangent: Cato Institute on dealing with police racial profiling in general

    As a Sunday Tangent, here is a Cato Institute webcast on Ten Rules for Dealing with Police, especially when you’ve become a target of racial profiling. Not completely applicable to Japan, but some lessons are, and it’s worth a viewing.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6445

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    15) MOJ: Numbers of people naturalizing into Japan 1999-2008

    Dovetailing with the article below talking about Americans who give up their US citizenship, here are some statistics for people taking out Japanese citizenship from the MOJ.

    These are all the numbers of people who applied between 1999 and 2008. The numbers have been up and down like a sine curve, but about 15,000 per year (which will add up to quite a substantial number over time). Most of them are of Korean descent (probably Zainichi). The trend is for fewer Koreans, about the same Chinese, but a doubling in the “other countries” column (I am one of the 725 in 2000). The numbers rejected are very small (about one or two percent), but as I argue in an old discussion on Mutantfrog (thanks to them for this link), this is unindicative of a lax system, since the entrance interviews weed out obviously most of the unsuitable candidates before they even apply. More on my experience with Japanese naturalization more than a decade ago here.

    Anyway, no booms here. Yet.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6709

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    16) NYT: More American Expatriates Give Up US Citizenship

    NYT: Amid mounting frustration over taxation and banking problems, small but growing numbers of overseas Americans are taking the weighty step of renouncing their citizenship.

    “What we have seen is a substantial change in mentality among the overseas community in the past two years,” said Jackie Bugnion, director of American Citizens Abroad, an advocacy group based in Geneva. “Before, no one would dare mention to other Americans that they were even thinking of renouncing their U.S. nationality. Now, it is an openly discussed issue.”…

    Anecdotally, frustrations over tax and banking questions, not political considerations, appear to be the main drivers of the surge. Expat advocates say that as it becomes more difficult for Americans to live and work abroad, it will become harder for American companies to compete.

    American expats have long complained that the United States is the only industrialized country to tax citizens on income earned abroad…

    Stringent new banking regulations — aimed both at curbing tax evasion and, under the Patriot Act, preventing money from flowing to terrorist groups — have inadvertently made it harder for some expats to keep bank accounts in the United States and in some cases abroad.

    Some U.S.-based banks have closed expats’ accounts because of difficulty in certifying that the holders still maintain U.S. addresses, as required by a Patriot Act provision.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6706

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally …

    17) DEBITO.ORG BLOG POLL:  “What do you think about the whole Okinawa Futenma Issue?”

    Here are the possible responses, in no particular order:

    • Having the Americans there is crucial not only to the Okinawan economy but also regional stability. Not to mention keeping the Genie in the Bottle.
    • Futenma should be given back and those US troops withdrawn to Guam.
    • This whole issue is a relic of Cold-War thinking. Japan should reassert its sovereignty and all US troops should withdraw from Japanese soil.
    • Hatoyama should follow US-J agreements even if signed under LDP rule. Bite the bullet.
    • I’m happy to see some US troops and bases leave, but having a complete withdrawal is too much to take in. Baby steps.
    • I can accept a compromise, where US Futenma troops are relocated piecemeal within Japan.
    • I’m all for more secure borders and the status quo, but we need more strict policing of the US troops.
    • I don’t know what to say, but the stalemate where the US keeps threatening “separation anxiety” is disrespectful towards Japan. Cut it out!
    • I’m neutral on the subject. Issue is too complicated.
    • Don’t know, don’t care, not sure etc.
    • Something else.

    Nearly 250 people have voted so far.  Cast your vote at any blog page at http://www.debito.org

    ////////////////////////////////////////////

    All for this month.  Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    Daily Blog Updates at www.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 24, 2010 ENDS

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    NYT: More American Expatriates Give Up US Citizenship

    Posted on Sunday, May 16th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  For a Sunday Tangent, here’s the NYT on how some (former) Americans are giving up their US Citizenship due to double-taxation concerns (which I’ve heard before) and also being treated as potential terrorists by US banks for having addresses abroad (I have a Canadian friend who’s fallen into that category; makes it very difficult to pay American credit card bills, and the credit companies enjoy the windfall of charging late fees).  My reason for giving up US citizenship was one of the rare political issues:  See what happened here.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    New York Times April 25, 2010
    More American Expatriates Give Up Citizenship
    By BRIAN KNOWLTON

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/26/us/26expat.html

    WASHINGTON — Amid mounting frustration over taxation and banking problems, small but growing numbers of overseas Americans are taking the weighty step of renouncing their citizenship.

    “What we have seen is a substantial change in mentality among the overseas community in the past two years,” said Jackie Bugnion, director of American Citizens Abroad, an advocacy group based in Geneva. “Before, no one would dare mention to other Americans that they were even thinking of renouncing their U.S. nationality. Now, it is an openly discussed issue.”

    The Federal Register, the government publication that records such decisions, shows that 502 expatriates gave up their U.S. citizenship or permanent residency status in the last quarter of 2009. That is a tiny portion of the 5.2 million Americans estimated by the State Department to be living abroad.

    Still, 502 was the largest quarterly figure in years, more than twice the total for all of 2008, and it looms larger, given how agonizing the decision can be. There were 235 renunciations in 2008 and 743 last year. Waiting periods to meet with consular officers to formalize renunciations have grown.

    Anecdotally, frustrations over tax and banking questions, not political considerations, appear to be the main drivers of the surge. Expat advocates say that as it becomes more difficult for Americans to live and work abroad, it will become harder for American companies to compete.

    American expats have long complained that the United States is the only industrialized country to tax citizens on income earned abroad, even when they are taxed in their country of residence, though they are allowed to exclude their first $91,400 in foreign-earned income.

    One Swiss-based business executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of sensitive family issues, said she weighed the decision for 10 years. She had lived abroad for years but had pleasant memories of service in the U.S. Marine Corps.

    Yet the notion of double taxation — and of future tax obligations for her children, who will receive few U.S. services — finally pushed her to renounce, she said.

    “I loved my time in the Marines, and the U.S. is still a great country,” she said. “But having lived here 20 years and having to pay and file while seeing other countries’ nationals not having to do that, I just think it’s grossly unfair.”

    “It’s taxation without representation,” she added.

    Stringent new banking regulations — aimed both at curbing tax evasion and, under the Patriot Act, preventing money from flowing to terrorist groups — have inadvertently made it harder for some expats to keep bank accounts in the United States and in some cases abroad.

    Some U.S.-based banks have closed expats’ accounts because of difficulty in certifying that the holders still maintain U.S. addresses, as required by a Patriot Act provision.

    “It seems the new anti-terrorist rules are having unintended effects,” Daniel Flynn, who lives in Belgium, wrote in a letter quoted by the Americans Abroad Caucus in the U.S. Congress in correspondence with the Treasury Department.

    “I was born in San Francisco in 1939, served my country as an army officer from 1961 to 1963, have been paying U.S. income taxes for 57 years, since 1952, have continually maintained federal voting residence, and hold a valid American passport.”

    Mr. Flynn had held an account with a U.S. bank for 44 years. Still, he wrote, “they said that the new anti-terrorism rules required them to close our account because of our address outside the U.S.”

    Kathleen Rittenhouse, who lives in Canada, wrote that until she encountered a similar problem, “I did not know that the Patriot Act placed me in the same category as terrorists, arms dealers and money launderers.”

    Andy Sundberg, another director of American Citizens Abroad, said, “These banks are closing our accounts as acts of prudent self-defense.” But the result, he said, is that expats have become “toxic citizens.”

    The Americans Abroad Caucus, headed by Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, and Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, has made repeated entreaties to the Treasury Department.

    In response, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner wrote Ms. Maloney on Feb. 24 that “nothing in U.S. financial law and regulation should make it impossible for Americans living abroad to access financial services here in the United States.”

    But banks, Treasury officials note, are free to ignore that advice.

    “That Americans living overseas are being denied banking services in U.S. banks, and increasingly in foreign banks, is unacceptable,” Ms. Maloney said in a letter Friday to leaders of the House Financial Services Committee, requesting a hearing on the question.

    Mr. Wilson, joining her request, said that pleas from expats for relief “continue to come in at a startling rate.”

    Relinquishing citizenship is relatively simple. The person must appear before a U.S. consular or diplomatic official in a foreign country and sign a renunciation oath. This does not allow a person to escape old tax bills or military obligations.

    Now, expats’ representatives fear renunciations will become more common.

    “It is a sad outcome,” Ms. Bugnion said, “but I personally feel that we are now seeing only the tip of the iceberg.”
    ENDS

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    Yomiuri, Terrie’s Take offer thoughtful essays on easing language hurdles for NJ on a tight deadline, such as Filipine or Indonesian nurses

    Posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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    Hi Blog.  Here is a slew of articles regarding the Japan-Asian countries’ EPA program to import health care workers to Japan, which we have discussed on Debito.org before.

    First up, some background FYI on the issue from the Japan Times, then an article by the Yomiuri on the language barrier faced by NJ nurses over here on the nursing visa program — once just Filipinos/Filipinas and Indonesians, perhaps being expanded to Thais and Vietnamese.  Then a thoughtful essay by Terrie Lloyd on the prospects of overcoming the language barrier in a decent amount of time.  And finally, a Japan Times article calling for a serious revision of the program to give people more time to come up to speed in the Japanese language.

    Unsaid (so I’ll say it) is the quite possible goal of setting a hurdle too high in the first place, so that few NJ will qualify to stay longer than three years, and the visa status remains a revolving-door employment program.  It wouldn’t be the first time the GOJ has acted in such bad faith towards NJ labor.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    Background on the issue from Japan Times FYI Column:

    FYI
    FOREIGN NURSES
    Language sets high hurdle for caregiver candidates
    By MIZUHO AOKI Staff writer
    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    (…)

    Why did Japan start accepting nurse and caregiver candidates from Indonesia and the Philippines?

    The acceptance is part of bilateral EPAs, one with Indonesia that took effect on July 1, 2008, and another with the Philippines that started on Dec. 11 the same year.

    Under the accords, Japan can benefit from the reduction or removal of tariffs on Japanese goods. In return, Japan agreed to accept nurses and caregivers from the two countries as candidates for certification to work here.

    Although the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has denied that accepting foreign caregivers is part of efforts to resolve the manpower shortage in health care, about 60 percent of hospitals and about 50 percent of welfare facilities that have accepted Indonesian candidates said they offered them jobs hoping to improve staff levels, according to a survey conducted by the health ministry.

    What is required to become a qualified nurse or caregiver in Japan under the EPAs?

    Both Indonesians and Filipinos must be qualified nurses in their home countries. Plus, Indonesian nurses must have more than two years of experience. Filipino nurses should have three years of experience.

    For caregivers, Indonesians must be graduates of nursing universities or schools that require at least three years of study. Filipinos must be graduates of four-year universities or nursing colleges.

    All are required to take six months of Japanese-language training before working for care facilities.

    Nurses must pass the annual exam within three years, while caregivers get four years. To be qualified to take the exam, caregiver applicants must have three years of on-the-job training in Japan, which means they have only one shot to pass the exam before they are asked to return to their countries.

    Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100511i1.html

    //////////////////////////////////////////////

    High language barrier for nurses
    Yomiuri Shimbun Apr. 13, 2010
    Hirofumi Noguchi and Takashi Ko
    yama / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers, Courtesy of Kevin
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20100413TDY01T01.htm

    Masugi Sato, the director of Sato Hospital in Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, was deeply disappointed by the results of this year’s national nurses examination. Two foreign nurses are working at his hospital under a project tied to an economic partnership agreement (EPA), aiming to pass the nurses exam after acquiring work experience in Japan, but both failed the test.

    Only three, or 1.2 percent, of the non-Japanese applicants for the latest test were successful.

    “I was correct in worrying that the Japanese-language proficiency [of the two foreign nurses] might be insufficient,” Sato said.

    The government announced the exam results March 26. It was the second chance to achieve qualification for the first group of foreign nurses who came to Japan under the economic partnership program.

    In the first opportunity in 2009, 82 foreign nurses took the exam, and all failed. This year, 254 such nurses applied, and three passed.

    The news was a relief for the different parties involved, but there were still 251 unsuccessful applicants. If any of the 98 Indonesian nurses in the first group fail the test next year, they will have to return home.

    Japan has agreed to accept nurses and nursing caregivers from Indonesia and the Philippines under its EPAs with those nations. Currently, 840 foreign nurses and caregivers work in Japan under the program.

    If they pass the qualifying exam within their designated periods–three years for nurses and four years for nursing caregivers–they can continue to work in Japan beyond those periods. The government is in talks to accept nurses and caregivers from Vietnam and caregivers from Thailand.

    Sato Hospital hosts two Indonesians, and it is the hospital’s responsibility to prepare them for the test, although there are no established methods or textbooks translated into Indonesian. It takes the Indonesian staff one week to learn a single page in a textbook written in Japanese, looking up the technical terms in dictionaries as they go.

    Indonesia does not have public health insurance or nursing care insurance systems. “The test covers three kinds of insurance programs, including national health insurance,” said Junichi Itaoka, 58, a volunteer who teaches Japanese to the nurses. “I taught them about it, but they don’t seem to grasp the differences.”

    One of the two Indonesians, Ida Ayu Made Juliantari, had a good education in Indonesia and four years of work experience at a hospital there before coming to Japan.

    But her experience often is not applicable in Japan. “In Indonesia, many patients [I dealt with] had infectious diseases or appendicitis. I rarely saw elderly people with dementia,” she said in Japanese.

    Tomomi Yoshino, the chief nurse who is her supervisor, said: “She has only one more chance. We must do our best.”

    ===

    Burden of education

    Morina Melina Ross Tambunan, 23, is a nursing care worker at Arcadia, a health care facility for the elderly in Musashi-Murayama, Tokyo. She continues to help patients eat even when it is time for her break, and is well liked among them.

    Chief care worker Manami Komatsu, 31, says: “She’s our role model for polite language. She inspires us.”

    Overall, however, medical institutions are seeking far fewer foreign nurses and caregivers this fiscal year. In total, they have requested 139 nurses and 189 caregivers, 60 percent fewer than the previous fiscal year.

    The reason is believed to be the educational burden involved in taking on foreign workers. Also, an increasing number of Japanese are seeking jobs in the nursing and caregiver fields amid the ongoing recession.

    Morina plans to take the national qualification exam for nursing caregivers two years from now. The pass rate among Japanese applicants is 50 percent.

    Morina takes a two-hour Japanese lesson three to four times a week, but is still far from the level needed to pass.

    “Under the current exam, all [foreign] applicants may fail, and the program itself may fail,” said facility head Tsuneto Kimura. “Even if they don’t pass the same exam as Japanese applicants, they can work well.”

    Numerous experts and observers are calling for the program to be reviewed.

    Four hospital groups, including the Japan Hospital Association, submitted a set of proposals to the government last month. The proposals included:

    • Foreign nurses and caregivers should be provided with sufficient Japanese-language education before coming to Japan.
    • Candidates should be allowed to stay in Japan for an extended period and given more opportunities to take the exam.

    A civic group named Garuda Supporters called for “special measures in consideration of the Japanese-language handicap,” such as extending the time applicants have to complete the exam.

    The tests use terms so technical that few native Japanese speakers can read them. For example, “jokuso” is a synonym of “tokozure” (bedsore), and “goen” is a term for aspiration.

    “I’ll ask the exam committee [that creates the questions] to consider whether difficult terms can be replaced with easy words,” Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Akira Nagatsuma has said,

    Still, it is unclear whether word changes would boost the number of foreigners passing the exam.

    To increase the number of successful applicants under the current framework, the government has begun supporting medical institutions in their efforts to help foreign employees improve their Japanese skills.

    Starting this fiscal year, the government is granting subsidies to medical facilities to hire Japanese-language teachers.

    The Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services, which acts as an intermediary between foreign nurses and Japanese medical institutions, distributed three kinds of textbooks for the exams.

    “Hospitals are having a harder time and are more frustrated than we expected. We want to support them,” an official of the organization said.
    (Apr. 13, 2010)

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    * * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *
    A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
    (http://www.terrie.com)

    General Edition Sunday, May 09, 2010 Issue No. 564

    Back in March (TT559) we reported that out of 257 Filipino nurses brought to Japan to help out with the nation’s nursing shortage, only 3 actually passed their Japanese-language nursing exams. While in 2009, none of the 82 candidates passed. This represents a stunning waste of human resources, money, and dreams, both here in Japan and back in the Philippines.

    As we mentioned in the news item at the time, most of the blame on this rather miserable statistic can be placed with the Japanese authorities who conceived the program in the first place. How can someone possibly learn enough Japanese in the first 6 months that over the remaining 2 1/2 years of gruelingly long hours of manual labor they can then acquire the rest of the language needed to actually pass their nursing exams?

    Indeed, one of the three to successfully pass recounted how she had to fight to stay awake and study until 01:00am every morning, trying to acquire sufficient kanji to read the exam questions in the first place. Let’s remember that she was already a fully qualified nurse — so this was really just a language issue.

    From our experience (both personal and through observation) the quickest that an intelligent person not used to Chinese/Japanese characters can actually learn and be functional in the language, from zero, is about one year. And for those wanting to be productive (versus merely functional) two years is a much better time frame. These periods, by the way, mean FULL TIME study — in a highly structured classroom setting, with lots of quality teaching time, and with the very best language aids that money can buy. Add work responsibilities and long hours, and an immigrant may never master Japanese properly.

    The basis for our saying one year is the practical minimum is based on the fact that certain diplomatic courses run here for staff of foreign embassies can turn out Japanese speakers/readers in one year so long as the person can dedicate themselves fully to their studies and doesn’t have to worry about income, job responsibilities, etc. Although the graduates from such courses can indeed read a newspaper after a year, they will quickly tell you that a dictionary and a spare hour per article is also needed to cope. That’s why we say that an extra year of study is worth investing in: it spares you having to carry a dictionary and hours of spare time.

    Thus, to expect nurses from a relatively relaxed culture to come in and suddenly become Japanese-fluent, while changing bed pans and turning immobile patients over (remember they’re not registered in Japan as nurses yet, so the work is manual and extremely tiring) is just an exercise in futility.

    And it’s not just nurses. There have been many schemes cooked up over the years to bring low-cost foreign workers to Japan and put them to work. One segment where there has been some (limited) success is in software development. In India, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines, there are numerous Japanese language schools servicing the needs of large corporations there that want to break into the Japanese market.

    Typically these foreign employers have their engineers study on their own time initially, to prove that they have the basic interest, commitment, and capability. If the person passes their Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) Level Four exam, then they are given financial and work support to do a full-time course for at least 3 months to get to Level 3 or higher. If they pass Level 3, then they are placed on an eligibility roster for eventual assignment in Japan.

    Now, admittedly, JLPT Level 3 isn’t really that useful in a Japanese work environment, you need to have Level 2 or even Level 1 ability to be a proper contributor. But at least one’s own personal needs and social support can be covered with Level 3. In reality, most of the work a foreign software person is going to perform in Japan anyway is going to be low level and relatively language independent. We say this because one of the most common jobs for foreign software developers is to churn out the mind-numbing code needed for device drivers and electromechanical devices. Recently there is some higher-end systems architecting work available, but this is still rare.

    Anyway, we now have a situation where the designers of the nursing program are starting to realize that their charges are actually people and not little flexible-limbed robots, and therefore the idea of extending their language lessons by at least another 3-6 months without the conflict of grueling work schedules, is highly likely. Yes, it’s going to be expensive, but without such steps, they can forget about having 10,000 extra foreign nurses here.

    Japan could learn about language learning for foreign immigrants by taking a look at how foreign companies prepare their own employees for overseas assignments, and pick up on best practices. The Nikkei’s erstwhile senior journalist, Waichi Sekiguchi, penned an interesting article several weeks ago about how Samsung prepares its staff for foreign postings, including coming to Japan.

    He points out that the firm realizes that employees working abroad have to have strong language skills and so it has a program whereby trainees are sent abroad for a year, to intensively learn English, Chinese, or Japanese.

    For the first nine months the employee does nothing but immersive study and for the following three months they are expected to get out into the local community and build a personal network. This last part is a stroke of brilliance because it strongly ties exam achievement with practical application of the newfound skill. Of course the employee receives salary during this entire period. Samsung also has Korea-based language training camps and about 1,100 employees attend these camps annually for 10 weeks of solid instruction. Apparently about 20,000 people, about 10% of the workforce, has gone through such intensive programs — which is very impressive.

    Now, this discussion is about inbound workers rather than Japanese employees being sent abroad. So the point of the Samsung model is that here you have a large group of corporate elite, and even for such motivated employees the minimum language training offered is twelve months (if you include the three months dedicated to personal networking). This, in our opinion is the absolute minimum that should be offered to the nurses and engineers who are supposed to help out the nation in the future.

    We have no doubt that some would prefer the technological answer. Therefore, one ray of hope may come from a company called Fuetrek, which has announced a software recognition application and accompanying chip set having an outstanding 99% accuracy. This is significantly higher than existing systems which come in at around 85% accuracy. The system uses a centralized network server to store and process a million-word/phrase database from input made on a cell phone or other remote device. The system is yet to be incorporated into any commercial devices, but if it is, perhaps this technology will go some way towards easing language issues for skilled foreign newcomers.

    Of course if someone is having a heart attack and you’re out of translator batteries, then we wonder who gets the blame? The hospital, the nurse, or the translation device vendor? ;-)

    ENDS

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    JAPAN TIMES EDITORIAL (excerpt)

    EDITORIAL Monday, April 5, 2010

    Ease up on the nursing exam

    It is clear that the Japanese language is the barrier in the exams. Trainees receive Japanese training for the first six months, but after they start working as trainees, they face increasing difficulty in allocating the time necessary to learn Japanese. Host institutions also have difficulty providing them with sufficient support. The government should work out the standards for acquiring the necessary Japanese-language ability and give the necessary financial and other support to trainees and host institutions to help them achieve the goals.

    There is the opinion that sufficient Japanese-language ability is a must because failure to understand medical records containing technical kanji terms could lead to serious accidents. If so, the period of stay for trainees should be lengthened to give them the opportunity to strengthen their Japanese-language ability as well as more chances to take the exams. Trainees should not be sent back home disappointed and feeling that they have failed.

    Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100405a2.html

    ENDS

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    Posted in Education, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues | 7 Comments »

    Times London on “Peter Rabbit Tax”: Optional 5GBP surcharge for Japanese tourists in England derided as “discriminatory”

    Posted on Saturday, May 8th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Another example of sauce for the goose.  When we see Japanese overseas being subjected to a unequal treatment (in this case, an optional tourist surcharge), we get news coverage and complaints (in this case, from a Japanese bystander — either ignorant or not wanting to acknowledge that the Home Team doesn’t in fact treat foreigners equally — who richly claims that “everyone is equal in Japan”).  Shoe sure does pinch on the other foot.

    For the record, I think this (optional) surcharge is okay as long as it’s optional and not applied to only one ethnic group (if there’s an issue of taxpayer subsidies of a place, then fine; allow for refunds of VAT for non-residents at the border to offset).  However, according to the article below, it looks like this very surcharge was encouraged by the Japanese tourist board!  Wheels within wheels.  At least they get a badge.  Anyway, something to chuckle over on a rainy Saturday.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ////////////////////////////////////////

    The tale of Peter Rabbit and a £5 ‘tax’ on his Japanese friends
    The Times (London)
    May 6, 2010, courtesy Ben Shearon

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7117473.ece
    Also visible at Japan Probe with commentary

    Peter Rabbit, who has appeared on everything from tea towels to crockery, has now inspired a tax. A party of Japanese tourists posing for photographs yesterday at the Cumbrian cottage made famous by Beatrix Potter’s stories became the first to be asked to make a £5 donation for the preservation of the local landscape.

    The group was following a trail from Bowness to Hawkshead taken by 80,000 of their countrymen each summer. They come to see Hill Top, the cottage where Peter Rabbit, a character as central to a Japanese child’s upbringing as Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse, was invented.

    Now Japanese visitors will be invited by tour operators to contribute £5, a charge already nicknamed the “Peter Rabbit tax”.

    Atsuhito Oikawa, 35, an academic in medical research, said that £5 would not be prohibitive to most Japanese but they should not be the only ones to pay. “Everyone is equal in Japan,” he said. “If you distinguish between Japanese and others, you run the risk of appearing discriminatory.”

    The initiative, believed to be the first of its kind, was born when Japanese Travel Trade, effectively the Japanese tourist board, approached Japan Forum, run by Lakeland businesses.

    Keira Holt, a marketing executive with Nurture Lakeland, which supports conservation in the Lakes, said that the Japanese were keen to promote ecotourism. She emphasised that the donation was voluntary and that Japanese people were not being discriminated against. They were, she said, simply leading the way. “Ecotourism is huge in Japan,” she said. “We are incredibly appreciative that their concern for the environment extends to our own country.

    “The money will go towards anything to do with conservation, restoring worn footpaths and promoting biodiversity such as projects to protect species like the red squirrel.”

    So far 3,200 visitors have signed up to the scheme. They will be rewarded with a badge bearing the legend “Help look after the landscape that inspired Peter Rabbit” and a certificate.

    The initiative was launched at Wray Castle, near Ambleside, where Potter stayed as a 16-year-old in 1882 and fell in love with the Lakes.

    She acquired Hill Top, a farm cottage near Sawrey, in 1905. The setting inspired The Tales of Peter Rabbit and characters such as Jemima Puddleduck, Tom Kitten and Samuel Whiskers. The author died in 1943, leaving the property to the National Trust. The curators maintain it as it was when she lived there.

    The popularity of the books has been boosted by the release of the 2007 film Miss Potter, starring Renée Zellweger.

    Yesterday the Japanese visitors, who make up about one in four of all visitors, stepped through the modest porch into the dark interior or enjoyed a pot of tea with spectacular views over Esthwaite. Junko Ishiwata, a tour guide for Mountain Goat, said: “In Japan Peter Rabbit is a very popular character like Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse. In the books there is the beatiful Lakeland scenery. Many people want to see it for themselves.

    “I think the donation scheme is great for the Lakes. Five pounds is not very big for the Japanese people, espcially if they receive the Peter Rabbit badges. But, at the same time, they have already paid a lot of money to come here. It really depends on each individual person. After they see the beautiful scenery, they may wish to contribute something.”

    John Moffat, general manager of the National Trust’s Beatrix Potter properties, said: “The Japanese are very important to us at Hill Top. It is a key place they want to visit when they come to the UK.”
    ENDS

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    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept. | 23 Comments »

    Swiss woman acquitted of crimes yet denied bail due to being NJ, then barred as “visa overstayer” anyway

    Posted on Friday, April 30th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Bringing this old article up as a matter of record:  I mentioned on Debito.org back in early 2008 about a Swiss woman who came to Japan as a tourist and was arrested on drug charges.  She got acquitted not once but twice in Japanese courts, yet was not released on bail because NJ and are considered more of a flight risk.  While actual convicted felons are released in the interim if they are Japanese.

    Again, foreigners aren’t allowed bail in Japan. Unlike Japanese: When Japanese defendants appeal guilty verdicts, they are not detained (see Horie Takafumi and Suzuki Muneo; the latter, now convicted of corruption twice over, is still on the streets, even re-elected to the Diet!).

    So despite being incarcerated as an innocent NJ since 2008, she finally gets booted out for “overstaying her visa” (oh, sure, she could have gone to Immigration any time and renewed, right?) and barred from reentry.  Rights of the defendant and “Hostage Justice” depending on your nationality.  What a swizz.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Held despite acquittal, now barred from re-entry, woman slams legal system
    The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008, courtesy of MMT (excerpt)

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081010a3.html

    CHIBA (Kyodo) A Swiss woman who was detained by Japanese authorities for seven months after being acquitted of a drug charge expressed anger over the Japanese legal system in a recent written message to Kyodo News.

    “I was put under continuous detention because of shortfalls in Japanese law and alien policies,” wrote Klaudia Zaberl. “I have been filled with despair and anger.”

    Upon arriving in Japan from Malaysia as a tourist in October 2006, Zaberl, 29, was arrested for allegedly smuggling about 2.2 kg of amphetamines hidden in a suitcase into Narita airport.

    She denied the allegation, saying she was not aware the suitcase she had been handed by a stranger in return for money contained the drugs, but was later indicted.

    The Chiba District Court cleared Zaberl of the charge in August 2007, saying there was reasonable doubt she was aware of the drugs.

    However, following the ruling she was transferred to an immigration facility instead of being freed, as her visa had expired during her detention.

    Prosecutors soon appealed the ruling and obtained court permission to detain her again to block her deportation.

    In April, the Tokyo High Court ruled that she was not guilty of the charges, leading prosecutors to drop the case. She returned to Switzerland later in April.

    Rest of the article at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081010a3.html

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    Posted in Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Lawsuits | 9 Comments »

    GEOS Bankruptcy and G-Education takeover: Internal document forwarded to Debito.org stating staff not getting back wages

    Posted on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  I’m sure you’ve heard about the next great pop in the Eikaiwa Bubble in Japan, the bankruptcy of GEOS this month.  Looks like there be a similar takeover and people left without jobs or remuneration for past work, so people in the industry, heads up.  I was forwarded this morning the following internal email from GEOS, and those in the know might be able to explain better here or elsewhere what this all means.  FYI.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Begin forwarded message:

    From: ジオス 法人営業部 加瀬 <junichiro_kase@geos-gci.jp>
    Date: April 27, 2010 2:32:25 PM GMT+09:00
    To: 法人営業部(中部) 加瀬 <junichiro_kase@geos-gci.jp>
    Subject: 【【Notice to all GCI corporate class teachers】】

    Dear all my hard working staff.

    With the absolutely regrettable news of the bankruptcy of Geos Corp, I must tell you that your salaries for the time period between 2010, March 16th to 2010. April 21st Will NOT be paid to you. There isn’t any cash left. We will work on a way for you all to collect some of your money back through the government. We are still unsure of the procedures to do this.

    G-Education has offered to take over the Geos Corporate sales Division and resume all corporate class operations from the May 6th 2010. However it will be under the new payroll system as follows:

    • All previously negotiated hourly/rates between the GCI and part-time teachers will remain in effect.
    • New Payment period will be as follows: For work done between 5/1 and 5/31+ transportation expenses  will be paid on 6/21. For work done between 6/1 and 6/30+ transportation expenses  will be paid on 7/20. etc.
    • Paydays will now be on the 20th of the month or previous business day should the 20th of the month fall on Nat. Holiday or weekend.

    At this point the GCI has been completely decimated. Our clients are outraged and my teachers left on stand by.  Myself and Terakawa-san have made a gentlemens agreement to try and salvage and rebuild our perfectly-functioning, profitable corporate class system. We are giving ourselves 3 months to do it, or we will eat our hats.

    What we need from all of my precious teachers is an agreement that you would like to continue your classes with Myself and Terakawa-san at the helm. Could you please respond to me by email  “Yes” or “No” If you respond “No” I hold no hard feelings against you and I would hope to work with you again in the future when other opportunities arise.  DEADLINE FOR RESPONSE WILL BE MAY 5TH 2010. And we hope to resume operations immediately after golden week.

    At your service

    Junichiro KASE
    G-Education (GEOS Corporate Classes Division)

    Junichiro_kase@geos-gci.jp

    ジオス 法人営業部/加瀬淳一郎

    連絡先; 080-3440-6397

    ————————————————-

    旧ジオス法人営業部の固定電話は不通になっております。

    新しい連絡先は別途お知らせいたしますので、

    恐れ入りますが今しばらくお待ち下さい。

    ————————————————-

    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Education, Labor issues | 12 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010

    Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog. Forgot to blog this. Enjoy. Debito in Sapporo

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010

    Table of Contents
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    PROACTIVE POLICYMAKING TOWARDS NJ
    1) Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors
    2) Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed
    3) Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns
    4) Mutantfrog on Death of Yokoso Japan, plus birth of Welcome to Tokyo
    5) Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions. Come again?
    6) Eurobiz Japan Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori
    7) “Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

    ISSUES RESPARKED
    8 ) Ghanian dies while being deported March 22, scant media on it
    9) FCCJ Press Conf on Ghanian death while being deported, 2 more deaths in Ibaraki Detention Ctr
    10) Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause
    11) GhanaWeb: Suraj apparently a son of a Ghanian Prince
    12) Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites Debito.org’s parody “Little Yellow J*p”
    13) Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer
    14) Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

    TANGENTS
    15) Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!
    16) Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada
    17) NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included
    18) Congratulations to Oguri Saori for her successful opening of “Darling wa Gaikokujin” movie

    … and finally…
    19) Debito.org Poll: “Do you think ‘Little Black Sambo’ should be in print and in educational institutions in Japan?”
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org) in Sapporo, Japan
    Freely Forwardable

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    PROACTIVE POLICYMAKING TOWARDS NJ

    1) Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors

    Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s latest rant has him accusing the ruling parties of having naturalized citizens for ancestors, therefore they want NJ PR suffrage. This latest smear campaign has finally turned Ishihara from a committed politician into a politician who should be committed.

    It hardly bears fully iterating, but: Here we have this dangerous tendency of Ishihara solidifying into a fully-formed ideology, based upon the fundamental tenets that 1) foreigners cannot be trusted, 2) foreigners are always foreigners, even if they are Japanese citizens for generations, 3) foreigners think along blood lines and will work against Japanese interests if their blood is not Japanese. In other words, personal belief is a matter of genetics. But these blood-based arguments went out of fashion a few generations ago when we saw that they led to things such as pogroms and genocides. Yet some of the most powerful people in Japan (in this case the governor of one of the world’s major cities) not only fervently believe it, but also create political parties to rally others around it.

    This is beyond pathological racism. This is the febrile insanity of a mean old man who has long since lost control of himself and his grasp of reality after so many years in power. And as evidenced above, he will even encourage xenophobic witch hunts for people on allegations of blood and ethnicity to push a political agenda that has one horrible conclusion: hatred, exclusion, and silencing of others.

    Dietmember Fukushima is right to call it racial discrimination and call for a retraction (and threaten legal action). But she must also make it clear to the public that even if somebody was naturalized, it is not a problem: Naturalized Japanese are real Japanese too. Otherwise there’s no point to naturalization. But for people like Ishihara, that IS the point; as I’ve written before, it makes no difference to racists whether or not people become Japanese citizens, despite the protests of those opposing votes for NJ PRs. “If they want the right to vote, they should naturalize” has been and always will be a red herring to genuine xenophobes, so see it for what it is — a Trojan Horse of an argument camouflaging racism as reasonableness.

    These are the people who should be booted from power. Give NJ PRs the vote and we’re one step closer. Don’t, and these bigots only grow stronger.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6564

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed

    For some people, anything is an excuse for a party. Especially if it’s a Political Party. For the Far-Right xenophobes in Japan, it’s their party and they’ll decry if they want to — as they continue their anti-NJ rantings, even when they’ve effectively shouted down the NJ Suffrage Bill the DPJ proposed after they came to power last August. Everyone has to have a hobby, it seems. Pity theirs is based upon hatred of NJ, particularly our geopolitical neighbors. Two submissions of primary source materials and posters enclosed below, one from Debito.org Reader AS, one from me that I picked up when I was in Tokyo last March, which led to a rally reported on in the Japan Times and Kyodo the other day. Drink in the invective and see how naked and bold Japan’s xenophobia is getting.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6509

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns

    As a natural extension of the strengthened policing of NJ by the GOJ (for we can only anticipate what scams NJ might get up to, untrustworthy lot), starting with fingerprinting them at the border every time as potential terrorists, criminals, and disease carriers, then tracking their money wherever they earn it, we now have the Tax Bureau doing the Immigration Bureau’s job of checking visa status if NJ were so good as to file their own tax forms. How dare they engage in such suspicious activities! It’s all part of expanding Gaijin Card Checks to unrelated agencies nationwide.

    KYA writes: Can someone help me shed some light on this situation? I’ve filed my taxes in Japan every year for the past 8 years. I can’t swear that I ws never asked for a gaijin card or other form of ID before, but I KNOW that last year I wasn’t, wasn’t even asked to fill out that form asking how many days you spent in and out of the country, etc (I was asked to do that one two or three times, definitely not every year). And I know that my refund has NEVER been delayed, I’ve always filed early and got my money back early.

    But this year, I filed my return in early March, and until today had heard nothing. Today, [I got a form in the mail requiring my Gaijin Card] (reproduced). I called immediately, asked why they needed it and if it was necessary, and got a big variety of non-answers in response. The first time I called, the person whose name was on the letter wasn’t there, so the guy who answered the phone said he’d answer my questions — I probably got more honest answers from him, although he was a bit of a jerk. He said that it’s always been like this, it’s not starting from this year, and that if I never had to do it before, it was because the person reviewing my return in the past decided that my name sounded Japanese enough, but that whoever did it this year thought it sounded foreign. I did challenge this, and asked him if it was okay to just judge people and choose who to question and delay based on their NAME, would he have done the same to one of the many Japanese people who don’t have any NJ heritage, but just have parents who gave them a katakana name? He basically said it just depended on the judgement of whoever got the return to review.

    I asked why this NEVER popped up when I was preparing my tax return on the tax department’s homepage. There were all kinds of lists of necessary documents, including some things that said “(when applicable)” etc beside them. Nowhere did it say Gaiijn Card (for those who have one) or something similar. He said “Well, the homepage is written with Japanese people in mind. If you’d asked for help at city hall they would have told you to submit it.” So… you are delaying my tax return BECAUSE I can read Japanese, look at the homepage and prepare my own tax return WITHOUT wasting the time of someone at city hall or at the tax office? That seems very counterprductive, and when I pointed out as much, again he had no reply.

    Then I told him I wanted to Google the law that made this necessary and asked him to tell me the name of the law requiring a gaijin card to get a tax refund. He said there was no law…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6506

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) Mutantfrog on Death of Yokoso Japan, plus birth of Welcome to Tokyo

    Japan has changed its approach to international tourism from “YOKOSO Japan” to “Japan. Endless Discovery”. Mutantfrog blog thinks its a step in the right direction. Less appraisable to me is Tokyo City’s new flash website welcoming tourism, with its cloying multilingual “Honey Anime” that makes everything just a little too clean-line. In sum, the campaign feels “terrarium in a fishbowl”, with little apparent knowhow of how to appeal to outsiders and what they want after a very expensive plane trip plus hotels (oooh, Tokyo’s got a ZOO!!). Like seeing the waxwork dish of lunch outside the restaurant, and coming in to see it’s not at all what it was advertised. But that’s only my impression. What do others think?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6448

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions. Come again?

    Here’s something that goes against common experience and common sense: The Asahi claiming that more major Japanese companies are hiring NJ more equitably. As in, they’ll be leaders in a quarter-century or so. Yeah, I heard that back in the Eighties during the “Kokusaika Boom”, when I too was hired at Japanese companies to help with companies “internationalization”, and got out real quick when I realized it was fallacious. What do others think? Have things changed? I have included some posts below from The Commnity talking about this, and they seem to disagree with the Asahi.

    Asahi: With overseas markets increasingly seen as the key to their survival, Japanese companies are adopting a more “international” look at home involving changes that would have been unheard of years ago.

    Long-held practices in hiring have been scrapped, as have limits on positions available to non-Japanese at the companies’ head offices in Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

    Methods of communication have shifted as foreigners take on increasingly important roles in devising strategy for overseas sales.

    The employment of Lee Guanglin Samson, a 29-year-old Singaporean, is one example of how electronic appliance maker Toshiba Corp. is evolving.

    “Judging that a more global use of human personnel is necessary, we decided not to use Japanese-language abilities as a requirement for employment,” said Seiichiro Suzuki, head of Toshiba’s personnel center. “Those whom we want are people who will be able to become leaders of business divisions 25 years later.”

    Comment from a job interviewee: Had two interviews at two major Japanese companies about two months ago (Nitori, the “home fashion” store found throughout Japan, and Zensho, the company behind Sukiya and family restaurants, 3rd largest food company behind McDonalds and Skylark). I got “we don’t think a foreigner can handle the intense Japanese work environment” from both, Nitori in particular narrowed it down from “foreigner” to “Americans,” saying that it’s not likely I’d be able to keep up, and even if I did, I would just get burned out, because that’s just how Americans are.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6426

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) Eurobiz Japan Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori

    Here are some excerpts of the January 2010 issue of EUROBIZ JAPAN magazine, the publication of the European Business Council in Japan, edited by a journalist friend of mine. Another journalist friend of mine interviewed the person I was interning with last week, Japan Immigration Research Institute’s Sakanaka-san, the former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief who retired and actually supports an immigration and assimilation policy for NJ in Japan. More on who he is and why in the interview below.Here are some excerpts of the January 2010 issue of EUROBIZ JAPAN magazine, the publication of the European Business Council in Japan, edited by a journalist friend of mine. Another journalist friend of mine interviewed the person I was interning with last week, Japan Immigration Research Institute’s Sakanaka-san, the former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief who retired and actually supports an immigration and assimilation policy for NJ in Japan. More on who he is and why in the interview below.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6367

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    7) “Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

    I would like to launch a new type of campaign, something I will call “Pinprick Protests”, an activity done on the individual level to protest injustice and unfair treatment in Japan. Less visible than picketing and petitions, it is no less effective over time: Enough individual protests nationwide, and it becomes mendoukusai for the authorities to have to deal with the issue anymore, and things shift for the better as GOJ attitudes and enforcement mechanisms change.

    Case in point: I received a good news from a translator yesterday in Debito.org’s comments section:

    JayIII: I work as a translator and often get jobs from the local government and I thought I would share a little bit of good news.

    A request came across my desk today for updating the english phrasing recommended for hotels to display for foreign guests. The Japanese was changed from requiring “foreign visitors” and “display their passport or gaijin card” to Non-Japanese visitors without a permanent Japanese residence and display their passport.

    So it’s one little step in the right direction.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6579

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    ISSUES RESPARKED

    8 ) Ghanian dies while being deported March 22, scant media on it

    Japan Times: The Japanese wife of a Ghanaian who died while being deported from Japan last month and some 50 supporters took to the streets Monday in Tokyo to demand a thorough investigation.

    Holding a banner that read, “Uncover the truth behind the death of Mr. Suraj during his deportation,” the protesters, including Ghanaians living in Japan, marched through Roppongi shouting “We want justice.”

    Although a police autopsy on Abubakar Awudu Suraj, 45, reportedly failed to pin down the cause of death and found no traces of violence, his wife and her supporters believe the death was probably caused by immigration officers…

    Asian People’s Friendship Society, a support group that organized Monday’s protest, said on its Web site that the immigration officers put a towel into Suraj’s mouth as they tried to subdue him, and he died shortly afterward.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6485

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) FCCJ Press Conf on Ghanian death while being deported, 2 more deaths in Ibaraki Detention Ctr

    PRESS CONFERENCE
    Koichi Kodama and Mayumi Yoshida
    Another illegal immigrant in Japan, another death:
    The fatal journey of Mr. Suraj
    10:00-11:00 Tuesday, April 20, 2010, FCCJ TOKYO

    On March 22, Mr. Abubakar Awudu Suraj, an illegal immigrant who was in the process of being deported to his native country of Ghana, died in Narita.

    The circumstances surrounding Mr. Suraj’s death are unknown. What is clear is that the immigration officers used a towel and handcuff to restrain Mr. Suraj as he was boarding an Egypt Air flight. In February, a first attempt to send Mr. Suraj back to Ghana had failed. Since then, he had been subject to confinement. Married since 2006 to a Japanese national, he had spent the equivalent of 2 years in detention for no other crime than staying illegally.

    The death of Mr. Suraj follows the suicide by hanging of a South Korean man a week ago in the Ibaraki detention center. And the self-hanging of a young Brazilian man in Ibaraki again. And a hunger strike by 70 detainees at the Osaka detention center in March.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6511

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause

    Japan Times: The Japanese wife of a Ghanaian who died last month while he was being deported for overstaying his visa called Tuesday on police and the Immigration Bureau to disclose exactly how he died…

    The wife’s lawyer, Koichi Kodama, questioned the police investigation, which has not resulted in any arrests.

    “If a man died after five or six civilians, not public servants, held his limbs, they would undoubtedly be arrested,” Kodama said, adding he told “exactly that to the prosecutors” he met with Monday in Chiba.

    The Chiba police are questioning about 10 immigration officers and crew of Egypt Air, Kodama quoted a Chiba prosecutor as saying. Police said March 25 the cause of death was unclear after an autopsy. Kodama said a more thorough autopsy is being performed.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6572

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) GhanaWeb: Suraj apparently a son of a Ghanian Prince

    NB: I make no claims for the accuracy of this article. Spelling, tone, and the victim’s name (the wife’s name is the same, however) all detract from the lending of legitimacy. However, if true, we’re more likely to see action on this case than average:

    Ghanaian Prince Dies In Custody of Japanese Immigration
    Diasporian News of Tuesday, 30 March 2010 (excerpt)

    The family of a Ghanaian prince from a royal home up north, who died in the custody of Japanese Immigration, is calling for full investigations into how their son died, since they believe that he was killed by the authorities in Japan!

    Additionally they have called for a repatriation of the body to Ghana as well as full compensation for the killing, if it is established that he died unlawfully.

    In an interview with members of his family in Accra yesterday, March 29, 2010, they said that Awudu Samad Abubakar, popularly known as ‘Mac Barry’ was a resident of Japan, and died in the capital town of Japan; Tokyo, while under the detention of the Japanese immigration on Sunday, 21st March, 2010.

    According to the family, the corpse of Awudu Samad Abubakar was subsequently rejected by his Japanese wife, when the immigration called her to come for the corpse of her husband. The reason his wife gave was that she had been doing everything possible for the release of her husband but all her actions did not yield any positive results and that they should bare their own cross.

    http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/diaspora/artikel.php?ID=179482

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    12) Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites Debito.org’s parody “Little Yellow J*p”

    The Japan Times this week published a very nicely-considered article on something brought up on Debito.org in February: The Little Black Sambo controversy, and how it was being taught without any racial sensitivity or historical/cultural context, to Japanese pre-schoolers, regardless of concerns raised about its appropriateness.

    For the record, I believe LBS is a work of history and as such should not be “banned”. It should, however, whenever used always be placed in historical context, and seen as materiel to enlighten people about the prejudices of the day. I have never seen it done so in Japan. In fact, the republisher Zuiunsha — which appears to have just appropriated the book from the previous Japanese publisher and republished it for fun and profit — doesn’t even offer a disclaimer or a foreword in the book explaining why this book has been problematic; existentially, it’s just a book they can get rich off of. Who cares if some people might be adversely affected by it?

    Hence my attempt, mentioned below, of providing not historical context, but through parody putting the shoe on the other foot for empathy, as “Little Yellow J*p”. That has occasioned cries of “racism” by the noncognizant. But the Japan Times essayist below gets it. Excerpt of article follows.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6488

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer

    Guest writer: This past December, just before winter vacation, the owner of the college where I teach called me into his office and announced in no uncertain terms that in 3 months, at the end of March, I would be fired. After 24 years working for the school, with hardly any advanced warning, I was to be among the unemployed, and at an age (56) when it would be all but impossible to find a similar position in Japan.

    The owner, not so generously, said he would allow me to continue as a part-timer at the bottom of the pay scale, with a loss of health care benefits, at an income which, unless I came up with something to supplement it, would impossible to live on. In addition, he made it a point to explain, though I might have thought I was fulltime, for the first 5 years, (when I taught at both his high school and college) I actually was a part-timer, and that I could expect my retirement package to reflect it…

    As I believe that the circumstances I describe might apply to any number of foreign workers in Japan, I am writing in the hope you might gain from some of my mistakes. First of all, verbal agreements mean nothing. Insist on getting those promises in writing. When I interviewed for my job at the high school, there were three people in the room, but 24 years later, two of them are dead, and the only person who might verify my story is the man I had to take to court.

    If you believe in labor unions, better join up before you encounter any problems. Or if you do try joining a labor union, don’t let them know of your predicament, or else they will have nothing to do with you. (I couldn’t even get them to recommend a lawyer.) Basically labor union resources are reserved for members of long standing who have paid their dues…

    Finally, and most important of all, get a lawyer. I simply would have been a dead man without one. I was lucky enough to have a friend recommend one to me, and still luckier that he was willing to go to court. It never seemed to even occur to my boss that I would or could litigate. I had already received notice, the court date was set, and I was meeting with my lawyer. It was March 30th and one day from termination, when I got a fax from my school’s lawyer rescinding it. I’m back at work now as if nothing happened, though who is to say whether or not I won’t go through the same hell again next year.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6466

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

    Kyodo: The proportion of Japan’s population aged 65 and over hit a record high of 22.7% last year — sign of its fast-aging society, the government reported Friday…

    Japan’s overall population as of Oct 2009 shrank to 127.51 million, down 183,000 people from a year earlier — the largest decline since the country’s population started shrinking five years ago, the ministry said. Some 29 million people are aged 65 or over, up from 28.2 million a year earlier.

    The results add to concerns over Japan’s labor shortage, declining tax income and overburdened public pension system…

    The ministry said a net decrease of 125,000 people living in Japan, also contributed to the population decrease last year. That includes 47,000 foreign nationals, many of them laborers who lost jobs at factories during the global economic slump.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6518

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    TANGENTS

    15) Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!

    It’s been pretty knee-jerk this past decade to blame NJ (or just plain multiculturalism) for anything that’s allegedly going askew in Japan. Things I’ve seen blamed on NJ and their “cultural differences” (no doubt you know most of these): Bathhouse altercations, crime, terrorism, infectious diseases, unemployment, neighborhood deterioration, bad smells in both neighborhoods and schools, divorces, DV, drugs, guns, prostitution, unpaid bills (including phone and restaurant), AIDs, youth crime, irregularly colored hair, improper garbage disposal, low J crews on Japanese ships, sports uncompetitiveness, lack of Olympic medals, uncertified sushi, Japan’s low English ability, national security in the SDF, and the potential carving up of Japan as a nation.

    But I gotta admit, I’ve never seen oral hygiene — as in more cavities — pinned on NJ before! Read on.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6579

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    16) Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada

    The Queen’s University student government has declared the sumo suit an instrument of ‘oppression’, and cancelled a food-bank fundraiser that was to feature two sumo suits.

    Dear [Queen's Alma Mater Society] members and members of the Queen’s community,

    We are writing in regards to an event that was scheduled to take place on Tuesday March 30th, organized and run by a group in the AMS. This event was planned to have students don padded suits, coloured and designed to resemble Japanese sumo wrestlers. The Facebook event created to advertise this event, entitled “SUMO Showdown,” included a picture of two cartoon Japanese wrestlers grappling.

    We recognize racism as the systemic oppression, both intentional and unintentional, of individuals and groups based on racial or ethnic identities.

    Regrettably, those of us who were aware of the event did not critically consider the racist meaning behind it. Asking students to wear these suits and partake in the activity appropriates an aspect of Japanese culture. This is wrong because it turns a racial identity into a costume; the process of putting-on and taking-off a racial identity is problematic because it dehumanizes those who share that identity and fails to capture the deeply imbedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced. The event also devalues an ancient and respected Japanese sport, which is rich in history and cultural tradition…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6432

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    17) NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included

    Most of us long-termers have heard about (if not visited) Aoyama Gaijin Bochi (as still written on the signs) foreign cemetery in downtown Tokyo (see here and here). Debito.org Reader CF writes about a less-known pair of NY cemeteries in Yokohama — Negishi and Hodogaya — that might be worth a look for history preservers.

    Japan Times: Welcome to Yokohama Negishi Gaikokujin Bochi, also known as the Negishi Foreign Cemetery. Only a few hundred meters from Yokohama’s Yamate Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line, its obscure location and ambiguous past have helped keep it out of the spotlight.

    While its diminutive size and inconvenient location have relegated this burial ground to near anonymity, its simple appearance, scattered headstones and wooden crosses belie a complicated past.

    More than a 1,000 people are buried here and most are foreigners and infants.

    Negishi was the poor foreigner’s cemetery. “Those who died of infectious diseases, sailors and those without money were mostly buried here. Of course there are some famous people, but it is basically a cemetery for poor people,” said Yasuji Tamura, a local teacher who has studied the cemetery for more than 15 years.

    This continued until the end of World War II — when the graveyard’s most controversial residents were buried. After the war, Tamura and others believe that more than 800 infants were buried here…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6446

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    18) Congratulations to Oguri Saori for her successful opening of “Darling wa Gaikokujin” movie

    Just a word of congratulations on apparently one of the more important intercultural events of the year — the successful movie release of Oguri Saori’s hit manga series “Darling wa Gaikokujin” (My Darling is a Foreigner).

    Officially released yesterday with balloons and girly frills, the movie is feted to make a splash with all the Japanese women jonesing to date foreign men (even though about three-quarters of all J-NJ marriages are J men to NJ women).

    Good for Saori. I’ve known her for years (even stayed at the couple’s apartment for many days back in the ‘Nineties), and know her to be a person of great talent. Here are some photos from the grand opening party for you to feast your eyes upon:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6468

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally…

    19) Debito.org Poll: “Do you think ‘Little Black Sambo’ should be in print and in educational institutions in Japan?”

    Options:
    ===========================================

    • Naturally. Freedom of speech and press.
    • Of course. There’s nothing wrong with the book itself.
    • Not unless there is some grounding in historical context.
    • No, I don’t think race relations in Japan are sophisticated enough to understand the issues behind it.
    • Definitely not. This book should not be in print anywhere.
    • Something else.
    • Don’t know, don’t care, not sure etc.

    ===========================================

    Vote on any blog page at www.debito.org

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    That’s all for this month! Enjoy Golden Week! Let’s hope things finally warm up!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010 ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Saturday Tangent: Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!

    Posted on Saturday, April 24th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

    Hi Blog.  It’s been pretty knee-jerk this past decade to blame NJ (or just plain multiculturalism) for anything that’s allegedly going askew in Japan.  Things I’ve seen blamed on NJ and their “cultural differences” (no doubt you know most of these):  Bathhouse altercations, crime, terrorism, infectious diseases, unemployment, neighborhood deterioration, bad smells in both neighborhoods and schools, divorces, DV, drugs, guns, prostitution, unpaid bills (including phone and restaurant), AIDs, youth crime, irregularly colored hair, improper garbage disposal, low J crews on Japanese ships, sports uncompetitiveness, lack of Olympic medals, uncertified sushi, Japan’s low English ability, national security in the SDF, and the potential carving up of Japan as a nation.  More on the NJ Blame Game here.

    But I gotta admit, I’ve never seen oral hygiene — as in more cavities — pinned on NJ before!  Read on.  What’s next:  Traffic lights staying red for too long?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////

    KYA writes:
    I saw this on the TV news today, it’s not really a legal issue or anything but it’s a little bit ridiculous and a little bit offensive:

    【社会】
    3歳児の虫歯激減 都内、歯磨き習慣定着
    東京新聞 2010年4月21日 07時17分
    http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/s/article/2010042190071508.html
    東京都内に住む三歳児の虫歯の罹患(りかん)率が、十年前のおよそ三人に一人から、二〇〇八年度で六人に一人まで減っていることが、都のまとめで分かった。四十年前に十人中七人に虫歯があったのに比べ大幅な減少。ただ、地域的にはまだばらつきがあり、都は「歯の健康」に関心を持つよう呼び掛ける。
    〇〇年に策定した都の歯科保健目標が最終年度にあたることから、〇八年度の三歳児歯科検診を分析。その結果、虫歯がある三歳児は17%にとどまり、一九九八年度の30%から大幅に減っていた。
    都福祉保健局によると、七一年度には虫歯がある三歳児は71%もいたが、歯磨き習慣の定着や虫歯予防のフッ化物塗布の広がりなどで年々減少。八五年度に初めて五割を切り、その後も全区市町村でなだらかな減少傾向が続いていた。都の担当者は「数の減少だけでなく、症状も軽くなっている」という。
    一方、自治体別にみた場合、最も良い千代田区が9%だったのに対し、対象人数が少ない町村を除くと福生市が最悪の28%。区内では唯一、足立区が二割を超え22%だった。
    福生市の担当者は「在住外国人が比較的多く、ジュースを日常的に飲むなどの食習慣が影響しているのでは」とし、足立区の担当者は「理由ははっきり分からないが、多くの親子に、歯科衛生の学習会への参加を促したい」としている。
    二〇〇八年度で首都圏の虫歯がある三歳児の割合は、神奈川が20%、埼玉が24%、千葉が26%だった。
    (東京新聞)

    Fussa’s got the highest percentage of 3 year olds with cavities in Tokyo, and the “person in charge” has decided to blame that on the fact that there are a lot of NJ residents in Fussa who “give their kids juice on a daily basis.”

    Given the proximity of Fussa to the Yokota base, however, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those NJ in Fussa that they’re talking about are American… and American children tend to have MUCH better teeth than their Japanese counterparts. Many Americans are almost paranoid about dental health these days… and on the other hand, Fussa is also one of the less expensive areas of Tokyo, I’d bet that a lot of those cavities can be ascribed to lower-income families who just can’t or won’t spend the money on dental visits and fluoride treatments, etc.

    I’m not sure whether to laugh at this or be offended by it… since the terrible teeth of Japanese children are quite the popular conversation topic among the American eikaiwa teachers that I’ve known, it seems ironic at the least. ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

    Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed

    Posted on Monday, April 19th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

    Hi Blog. For some people, anything is an excuse for a party. Especially if it’s a Political Party. For the Far-Right xenophobes in Japan, it’s their party and they’ll decry if they want to — as they continue their anti-NJ rantings, even when they’ve effectively shouted down the NJ Suffrage Bill the DPJ proposed after they came to power last August. Everyone has to have a hobby, it seems. Pity theirs is based upon hatred of NJ, particularly our geopolitical neighbors. Two submissions of primary source materials and posters enclosed below, one from Debito.org Reader AS, one from me that I picked up when I was in Tokyo last March, which led to a rally reported on in the Japan Times and Kyodo the other day.  Drink in the invective and see how naked and bold Japan’s xenophobia is getting.

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    From: AS
    Subject: More anti-NJ suffrage propaganda
    Date: April 14, 2010

    Hi Debito, There was a person handing out anti-NJ suffrage materials at Tokorozawa station yesterday morning, and, as I promised myself I would, I got a photo and the stuff he was handing out.

    I think I caught him off guard when I approached him from the flank and stuck my hand out for the pamphlets – he just handed them over without realizing until it was too late.

    Ok, the pamphlets themselves. The first one is not particularly nasty, it’s just another “Release the North Korean kidnap victims” flyer. It appears to be produced by another group.

    Funny how this stuff talks about the international community, while the group distributing it want nothing to do with the international community.

    The second one is quite vindictive and lacking in logic. The first side is largely devoted to portraying China as a murderous country with no justice or morals (“a culture of evil”) and then jumping to the conclusion that foreign suffrage, dual nationality, recognized residency for NJs and spouses with different surnames will mean the same fate for the Japanese as is has for ethnic minorities in China!! (The same kind of logic as “Don’t buy a Toyota because Tojo was a murderer!”)

    “China is evil, so we can’t have…”

    Page 2 resorts to character assassination of DPJ members, linking them with China, South Korea and communism, then goes on to the same arguments that NJs will abuse child support allowance and that Japanese won’t be able to receive it.

    Next is the big stinking lie that anyone (including illegal residents and criminals) can get PR just by living here for 5 years and that they will have the same voting rights as Japanese.

    It then goes on to suggest that human rights laws will turn Japan into a communist nation with no freedom (Gosh – I was under the impression that page one was slagging off China for not protecting human rights)

    Finally, we get the guff that allowing different surnames for spouses will be the end of the family unit. (Let’s just make everyone change their name to Suzuki, then).  DS

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    ADDENDUM FROM DEBITO:  I too saw these protesters and felt their invective outside the Diet Building on March 23, 2010, just after I gave my presentation to UN Special Rep Bustamante.  (I wonder if he caught wind of these people; they certainly were making enough of a stink.)

    I too managed to get some flyers (off a kind reporter), and here are some of them.  Hang on to your logical hats, everyone:

    In addition to the flyers AS referred to above (these are the same people distributing, after all):

    We have former ASDF general Tamogami wallowing in all the luscious pink trappings of Japanese patriotism, calling for people to come pay money to hear him speak in Kamakura.  What you would be in store for:  According to the Japan Times January 24, 2010 (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100124x4.html), “20 percent of shares in the Japanese mass media are held by foreigners. This means that the Japanese mass media are controlled by foreign investments. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was brought down by these foreign powers.” Good thing he’s no longer imbedded in our military.

    Here’s our laundry list of national heroes (with Tamogami and racist Dietmember Hiranuma enjoying big pictures) for us lesser mortals:

    The greater national hero I’d like to see honored more often would be journalist Kotoku Shusui, but some of these faces above are the type of people who would have him and his ideology killed.  (They managed it, and look where it got Japan — destroyed in WWII.)

    Underpinning all of the counterarguments proffered above is more hatred.  NJ hate us.  So we shouldn’t allow any of them to vote.  QED.

    Next up:

    ad

    And here comes the kitchen sinking — where we lump in all sorts of other issues (including Nikkyouso, even Japan’s sex education) with the NJ suffrage stuff.  And of course Ozawa’s qualification as a real Japanese are called into question due to his beliefs.  Didn’t realize “Japaneseness” also meant ideological conformity and uniform arguments.  Oh wait, yes it did, back in the bad old days when it led the nation to destruction in a world war.  Never mind.  Reenforced patriotism will surely fix everything!

    And finally:

    An advertisement for a big free public rally against NJ suffrage in the Budoukan (the place the Far-Rightists also protested when the Beatles played back in 1966, as they were too decadent for Japanese morals; they paved the way for Cheap Trick, however, phew).  Wish I could have gone.  The Japan Times and Kyodo attended, however.  Here’s what they say (excerpt):

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    The Japan Times Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Foreigner suffrage opponents rally
    Conservative politicians express outrage at DPJ plan

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100418a1.html
    By ALEX MARTIN Staff writer

    Conservative intellectuals and key executives from five political parties were among the thousands who gathered in Tokyo on Saturday to rally against granting foreign residents voting rights for local elections.

    On hand were financial services minister Shizuka Kamei, who heads Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tadamori Oshima, former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma, who recently launched his own political party, Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan), and Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe.

    According to the organizer, a total of 10,257 people attended the convention at the Nippon Budokan arena in Chiyoda Ward, including representatives of prefectural assemblies and citizens from across the nation…

    In an opening speech preceded by the singing of the “Kimigayo” national anthem, Atsuyuki Sassa, former head of the Cabinet Security Affairs Office and chief organizer of the event, expressed his concern about granting foreigners suffrage.

    “I was infuriated when I heard of plans to submit to the Diet a government-sponsored bill giving foreign residents voting rights,” he said.

    “Our Constitution grants those with Japanese nationality voting rights in return for their obligation to pay taxes,” he said. “Granting suffrage to those without Japanese nationality is clearly a mistake in national policy.”

    [NB:  As any taxpaying NJ knows, this is untrue.  I guess that means they don't need NJ tax monies.]

    Taking the podium to a round of applause, Kamei emphasized his party’s role in preventing the government from submitting the bill to the Diet, and said that “it was obvious that granting suffrage will destroy Japan.”

    Kamei, who has in the past argued that giving foreigners voting rights could incite nationalism during polling, went so far as to declare that his party would leave the ruling coalition if the government submitted the bill to the Diet…

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100418a1.html

    Kyodo News adds:

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Lawmakers oppose giving foreign residents right to vote

    Japan Today/Kyodo Sunday 18th April, 2010

    http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/lawmakers-voice-opposition-to-giving-foreign-residents-right-to-vote

    TOKYO — A group of conservative lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties on Saturday voiced their opposition to proposed legislation to enfranchise permanent foreign residents for local elections. Shizuka Kamei, who leads the People’s New Party, addressed a gathering of people against the proposed legislation in Tokyo, saying, ‘‘The right to vote for foreigners will ruin Japan.’‘

    ‘‘It will not be enacted during the current parliamentary session because the People’s New Party has invoked a veto (within the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama),’’ said Kamei, who is a cabinet member within the tripartite coalition government.

    While Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan is aiming to pass the legislation, at least one member is apparently opposed.

    Jin Matsubara, a House of Representative member of the DPJ, told the meeting, ‘‘There is an argument that Europe is positive about enfranchising foreigners, but that does not hold water in Japan. I am unequivocally opposed. It’s my belief that it is necessary to faithfully speak up (about the issue) within the party.’‘

    Meanwhile, Mizuho Fukushima, a cabinet member and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan that partners the DPJ and PNP in the government, reiterated her endorsement of the proposed legislation.

    ‘‘It’s not about all foreigners and it’s also limited to local elections,’’ she told reporters in Odate, Akita Prefecture. ‘‘Participation in the local community is necessary, as some countries have approved it.’‘

    Objections to the bill were also expressed by opposition lawmakers at the Tokyo meeting. Tadamori Oshima, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, ‘‘We must protect Japan’s sovereignty. I am absolutely opposed.’‘

    Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of Your Party, suggested that enfranchising foreign residents is a vote-buying tactic. ‘‘The Democratic Party says livelihood is the No. 1 issue, but in fact aren’t elections their No. 1 business?’’ he said.

    Takeo Hiranuma, who leads the just launched Sunrise Party of Japan, said he ‘‘will stake his life in fighting’’ against the legislation.

    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    CONCLUSION:  These are some awfully flash and well produced pamphlets, and renting sound trucks and the whole Budoukan for all these sound bites cost a helluva lot of money.  Who’s funding this?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Discussions, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, 日本語 | 26 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included

    Posted on Sunday, April 18th, 2010

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    Hi Blog. Most of us long-termers have heard about (if not visited) Aoyama Gaijin Bochi (as still written on the signs) foreign cemetery in downtown Tokyo (see here and here). Debito.org CF writes about a less-known pair of NY cemeteries in Yokohama — Negishi and Hodogaya — that might be worth a look for history preservers.  His photos are included below.

    First, some background.  The Japan Times (bless ‘em, again!) has an article on Negishi from 1999. Excerpting:

    =====================
    Headstones mark Yokohama haunt for the unknown
    By MICK CORLISS Staff writer (excerpt)
    The Japan Times: Wednesday, Aug. 25, 1999

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn19990825a9.html

    Welcome to Yokohama Negishi Gaikokujin Bochi, also known as the Negishi Foreign Cemetery. Only a few hundred meters from Yokohama’s Yamate Station on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line, its obscure location and ambiguous past have helped keep it out of the spotlight.

    While its diminutive size and inconvenient location have relegated this burial ground to near anonymity, its simple appearance, scattered headstones and wooden crosses belie a complicated past.

    More than a 1,000 people are buried here and most are foreigners (“gaikokujin”) and infants.

    Negishi was the poor foreigner’s cemetery. “Those who died of infectious diseases, sailors and those without money were mostly buried here. Of course there are some famous people, but it is basically a cemetery for poor people,” said Yasuji Tamura, a local teacher who has studied the cemetery for more than 15 years.

    This continued until the end of World War II — when the graveyard’s most controversial residents were buried. After the war, Tamura and others believe that more than 800 infants were buried here.

    “It is said that 824 babies, some the offspring of American soldiers who became close with Japanese women, were buried here,” Tamura said. “But there are no documents.”

    “After the war there were many children born between Japanese women and soldiers stationed here,” Sawabe said. “There were no abortion facilities so women would have the babies and then abandon them.”

    Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn19990825a9.html
    ================

    That article from a decade ago talks about a revival of Negishi as a historical site. Doesn’t look like it happened.  (Even the above-linked Wikipedia entry in E or J doesn’t mention the babies.)  As Debito.org Reader CF, who submitted the photos below, writes:

    ================
    Debito:  Here are some more places of interest I have found in Yokohama. One is a cemetery in Negishi used by Japanese women after WW2 who had affairs with American solders and were ashamed of the outcome and buried them here, so it is told. Over 800 babies buried here supposedly but the place is in disarray, most of the markers gone. The Japanese police at that time asked no questions I guess. You don’t see one American flag or upkeep from anybody and there is a base right up the street there in Negishi. Same deal with the cemetery in Hodogaya.

    Also, the British commonwealth cemetery, in Yokohama. Very interesting place, maintained by the British I guess. Some Americans in a urn are there as well, killed by the Japanese. CF

    ================

    Thanks.  Here are some photos, thanks CF.  Click on an image to expand in browser.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ENDS

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    Posted in Cultural Issue, History, Tangents | 4 Comments »

    Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns

    Posted on Saturday, April 17th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  As a natural extension of the strengthened policing of NJ by the GOJ (for we can only anticipate what scams NJ might get up to, untrustworthy lot), starting with fingerprinting them at the border every time as potential terrorists, criminals, and disease carriers, then tracking their money wherever they earn it, we now have the Tax Bureau doing the Immigration Bureau’s job of checking visa status if NJ were so good as to file their own tax forms.  How dare they engage in such suspicious activities!  It’s all part of expanding Gaijin Card Checks to unrelated agencies nationwide.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    //////////////////////////////////////////

    From: KYA
    Subject: [Community] Gaijin card required for tax return now?
    Date: April 13, 2010
    To: communityinjapan@yahoogroups.com

    Can someone help me shed some light on this situation? I’ve filed my taxes in Japan every year for the past 8 years. I can’t swear that I ws never asked for a gaijin card or other form of ID before, but I KNOW that last year I wasn’t, wasn’t even asked to fill out that form asking how many days you spent in and out of the country, etc (I was asked to do that one two or three times, definitely not every year). And I know that my refund has NEVER been delayed, I’ve always filed early and got my money back early.

    But this year, I filed my return in early March, and until today had heard nothing. Today, I got this in the mail: http://s161.photobucket.com/albums/t223/babyhayate/?action=view&current=tax.jpg

    (Click to expand in your browser)

    I called immediately, asked why they needed it and if it was necessary, and got a big variety of non-answers in response. The first time I called, the person whose name was on the letter wasn’t there, so the guy who answered the phone said he’d answer my questions… I probably got more honest answers from him, although he was a bit of a jerk. He said that it’s always been like this, it’s not starting from this year, and that if I never had to do it before, it was because the person reviewing my return in the past decided that my name sounded Japanese enough, but that whoever did it this year thought it sounded foreign. I did challenge this, and asked him if it was okay to just judge people and choose who to question ad delay based on their NAME, would he have done the same to one of the many Japanese people who don’t have any NJ heritgage, but just have parents who gave them a katakana name? He basically said it just depended on the judgement of whoever got the return to review.

    I asked why this NEVER popped up when I was preparing my tax return on the tax department’s homepage. There were all kinds of lists of necessary documents, including some things that said “(when applicable)” etc beside them. Nowhere did it say Gaiijn card (for those who have one) or something similar. He said “Well, the homepage is written with Japanese people in mind. If you’d asked for help at city hall they would have told you to submit it.” So… you are delaying my tax return BECAUSE I can read Japanese, look at the homepage and prepare my own tax return WITHOUT wasting the time of someone at city hall or at the tax office? That seems very counterprductive, and when I pointed out as much, again he had no reply.

    Then I told him I wanted to Google the law that made this necessary and asked him to tell me the name of the law requiring a gaijin card to get a tax refund. He said there was no law. So I said, well then I won’t provide it if the law doesn’t require it, and he said that they wouldn’t process my return until I provided it. So I said, so that means the law DOES require it? This time he said yes, but still couldn’t actually come up with a specific law. He then wanted my name and phone number so that he could “get back to me” about it… but he was pissed off by this point, I didn’t want him to make a note on my file or something that would delay my refund any further so I said I’d call back when the person in charge had returned.

    The person in charge said, it was for the purpose of confirming my address, because I don’t have a juminhyo… but again, I didn’t have a juminhyo LAST year either. And if they are really checking everyone at city hall, there is a record of my address there as well, it’s a different deprtment but they could still check. He then said it was to confirm the spelling of my name in English… again, doesn’t make sense to me as all of the documents issued by all of the companies I freelance for list my name in kanji-katakana (which I requested them to do BECAUSE it’s the way I’ve always filed my tax return and silly me, I thought the names should match?)

    I did get this second guy to tell me that I could submit a copy of my driver’s license instead or copy the gaijin card and black out everything except name, address, and date of birth, when I said that it wasn’t the tax office’s job OR right to check my birthplace or status of residence etc.

    But… what is the deal here? Has anyone else has this experience? This year only, or have I just lucked out seven years running? Does anyone know what the law DOES say about this? Do I have to submit it? Can they really withhold my tax refund, for taxes that I paid but never owed in the first place, if I don’t submit it?

    I never know what to do in this situation… if it’s a hotel or another business, in the end, they want my money and the money of all the people I’m going to tell about my lousy experience… in this case, it’s the government and they’ve got 48,000 yen that I want and need, and in the end they KNOW that I’m not going to throw away that money on principle… I considered throwing the teigakukyuufukin paperwork in their faces when the woman had the nerve to refer to my “husband’s household” as something separate from ME… but that was a free handout, this money is MINE, I knew I was going to get it back and planned for it in my budget, so I feel like there’s not a lot I can do… I’d at least like to know what they are really checking, whether it’s for everyone or just people picked at random, and whether I can legally say no and still get my money (much as I’d like to make a stand, that’s a whole month’s pay coming back… they know they’ve got me up against a wall here)

    Anyone else having problems? KYA

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    MTJ replies:

    A few things came to mind when I read your story, Kimberly.  First, that the form they sent seems to cover a lot of the new ‘procedures’ linked to the new family allowance program being implemented this month, specifically the brouhaha in the media over NJ who has children living abroad needing to jump through all sorts of hoops to qualify.  More tellingly, the part at the bottom confirms what I suspected was the case, it’s a piece of gyousei shidou;, or ‘administrative guidance.’  That’s why the official may have had trouble supplying you with an actual law, as it doesn’t actually exist.  However, in the minds of the local bureaucrats it’s just as good, especially if it “came from above.”

    Wiki has a good stub on the subject here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Administrative_guidance

    ENDS

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    Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 19 Comments »

    Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions (seriously, that’s what they say!). Come again?

    Posted on Monday, April 12th, 2010

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    Here’s something that goes against common experience and common sense:  The Asahi claiming that more major Japanese companies are hiring NJ more equitably.  As in, they’ll be leaders in a quarter-century or so.  Yeah, I heard that back in the Eighties during the “Kokusaika Boom”, when I too was hired at Japanese companies to help with companies “internationalization”, and got out real quick when I realized it was fallacious.  What do others think?  Have things changed?  I have included some posts below from The Community talking about this, and they seem to disagree with the Asahi.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    Japanese firms adopt a global appearance
    BY SOICHI FURUYA AND MAKOTO ODA THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
    2010/04/06, Courtesy of JH.

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201004050360.html

    With overseas markets increasingly seen as the key to their survival, Japanese companies are adopting a more “international” look at home involving changes that would have been unheard of years ago.

    Long-held practices in hiring have been scrapped, as have limits on positions available to non-Japanese at the companies’ head offices in Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

    Methods of communication have shifted as foreigners take on increasingly important roles in devising strategy for overseas sales.

    The employment of Lee Guanglin Samson, a 29-year-old Singaporean, is one example of how electronic appliance maker Toshiba Corp. is evolving.

    “Judging that a more global use of human personnel is necessary, we decided not to use Japanese-language abilities as a requirement for employment,” said Seiichiro Suzuki, head of Toshiba’s personnel center. “Those whom we want are people who will be able to become leaders of business divisions 25 years later.”

    During his days at the National University of Singapore, Lee became so interested in Japanese culture that he read the English version of “The Tale of Genji,” an ancient and voluminous novel that no doubt took time away from his studies of his major: electrical engineering.

    A job at Toshiba would have been impossible for Lee during his undergraduate years because of the company’s policy at the time to only employ foreigners who had studied at Japanese universities.

    But in fiscal 2006, Toshiba began hiring graduates of universities in Thailand, Singapore and other countries where it has key offices.

    After graduation, Lee in October 2006 joined Toshiba and was later assigned to its Corporate Software Engineering Center in Kawasaki.

    “Toshiba is a global company. If I have a chance, I want to work at its overseas research center to expand my experience and knowledge,” he said.

    Currently, nearly 140,000 foreign nationals work at businesses in Japan.

    According to a labor minitry-commissioned survey conducted by the Fujitsu Research Institute on about 800 companies from September through October last year, nearly 40 percent of those companies have hired foreigners with high-level knowledge and skills, including engineers, in recent years.

    But 58 companies have suspended their employment of foreigners, showing that language barrier and corporate culture clashes remain a potential problem.

    In a country where company loyalty remains relatively strong, 25 percent of those companies said they stopped hiring foreigners because previous hires had left for other companies offering better working conditions.

    In addition, 20 percent said they lacked supervisors who could work effectively with the foreign employees.

    But the trend has been to expand hiring of non-Japanese as the domestic market shrinks and the declining birthrate is expected to lead to a huge shortage in demand in future years.

    For Panasonic Electric Works Co., a maker of kitchen systems and other home-related products, a key economic statistic was 2009 housing starts, which stood at about 800,000, less than half of their peak.

    “We cannot help but put more emphasis on overseas businesses. First of all, we will promote internationalization in our own company,” said Masayasu Yukioka, head of employment at Panasonic Electric’s personnel division.

    As part of that process, the company hired Musaeva Feruza, from Uzbekistan, in 2008 at its personnel division.

    “By using senses of values that are different from those of Japanese, we will be able to manufacture products that are suitable for each region (of the world),” Feruza said in a seminar in March for foreigners studying in Japan and hoping to land jobs at the company.

    Meanwhile, Internet shopping site operator Rakuten Inc. regards 2010 as the year to develop into a truly global company.

    In February, Rakuten began distributing papers written in English instead of Japanese at its Monday morning executive meetings, a policy that soon covered meetings attended by all employees.

    And in March, the dozens of participants at the executive meetings were required to speak in English.

    Rakuten assigns graduates of overseas universities to technological divisions in which they are required to improve their Japanese-language skills and learn in-house culture.

    Those non-Japanese are expected to eventually play key roles in Rakuten’s offices overseas.
    ENDS

    /////////////////////////////////
    Original Japanese follows:

    求人、舞台は世界へ 日本企業に外国人採用広がる
    2010年4月5日 朝日新聞
    http://www.asahi.com/business/topics/economy/TKY201004040360.html

    国境を越えた人材獲得が日本企業に広がっている。日本への留学生だけでなく、海外の大学を卒業した外国人を本社スタッフとして採用する例も増えた。少子高齢化で国内市場が急速に縮む中、海外ビジネスを広げるために「グローバル採用」のアクセルを踏んでいる。

    ■海外の大学卒に注目、「よりグローバルな人材を」

    「東芝はグローバルな会社。チャンスがあれば海外の研究拠点で働き、経験、知識を広げたい」。川崎市にある東芝のソフトウェア技術センターで働くリー・クァンリン・サムソンさん(29)は、シンガポール国立大学で電気工学を専攻。源氏物語の英語版を読破するなど日本文化に興味があり、卒業後の2006年10月に入社した。

    東芝は06年度から、拠点があるタイやシンガポールなどの大学の卒業生を採用し始めた。リーさんは「1期生」。それまでは日本留学の経験者を採っていた。人事部の鈴木誠一郎・人材採用センター長は「よりグローバルな人材活用が必要と判断し、日本語を採用条件にはしないことにした。欲しいのは25年後に事業部のリーダーになれる人材だ」という。

    「(海外の売上高を増やすには)とがった製品を作ることが必要。日本人とは違った価値観を生かすことで、現地に適したものづくりができると思う」。システムキッチンなどの住宅関連メーカー、パナソニック電工のムサエワ・フェルザさん(ウズベキスタン出身)は3月、外国人留学生を対象にした入社セミナーで、こう話した。人事部採用グループで08年に入社した。

    09年の国内の新設住宅着工戸数はピーク時の半分以下の約80万戸。人事部の行岡正恭・採用グループ長は「海外展開に力を入れるしかない。まず『内なる国際化』を進める」という。異文化の人材を受け入れて組織を活性化させようと狙う。

    企業も変わろうとしている。楽天は、毎週月曜午前7時から執行役員ら数十人が出席して開かれる幹部会議の発表資料を2月から英語とし、3月からは発表言語も英語にした。全社員が出る朝の会議の資料も2月後半から英語になった。同社は今年を「真の世界企業への脱皮の年」と位置づける。

    一方で、海外の新卒者はまず、日本の技術部門で勤務。日本語の習熟度を高め、「楽天主義」と呼ばれる社内文化や、報告、連絡、相談を徹底させる「報連相」などのビジネスマナーを学んだ後、将来は出身国で活躍してもらうことを視野に入れる。

    ■国内に14万人、言葉の壁も

    人事コンサルティング会社、ジェイエーエスの小平達也社長によると、日本企業によるグローバル採用の「一波」は80年代後半から90年代初頭のバブル経済のころ。大手が欧米の文系スペシャリストを採ったが、バブル崩壊とともに下火になった。

    第2期は90年代後半。IT企業や外資系が即戦力のインドや中国のエンジニアの採用を増やした。第3期は04年以降。アジアなど新興国への進出を迫られ、日本語を話せる留学生を中心にエンジニアの採用を増やした。

    「いまは新たな波の前の端境期。ポスト3.0(第3期の後)だ」と小平社長。ここ数年、外国人採用による「組織の多様化」を期待する声が多いという。

    日本人技術者の不足傾向も背景にある。法務省によると、「技術」資格で新規入国した外国人は98年は3293人だったが、08年には1万626人に拡大した。

    いま日本には14万人近くの「外国人社員」がいる。厚生労働省が富士通総研に委託して昨年9〜10月、上場企業を対象に実施したアンケート(約800社が回答)によると、4割弱が技術者など高度な知識を持つ外国人を採用していたが、そのうち4割以上が「受け入れ部署が限られる」との悩みを抱えていた。「言語・コミュニケーション上の壁」との回答も4割近くを占めた。

    また、一度は外国人を雇用しながら中止した58社に理由を聞くと、4社に1社が「処遇条件が良好な他社への転職が多かった」、2割が「雇用管理できる管理者が不足していた」と答えた。

    外国人採用に熱心な富士通。言葉や異文化の壁で離職に至るケースを減らすため、生活や仕事に関する情報を入手できる英文サイトの立ち上げや異文化交流のセミナーを開くなど、孤立化を避ける取り組みを進めている。(古屋聡一、編集委員・織田一)
    ENDS

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    COMMENTS FROM THE COMMUNITY:

    April 7, 2010

    From AB:

    Had two interviews at two major Japanese companies about two months ago
    (Nitori, the “home fashion” store found throughout Japan, and Zensho, the
    company behind Sukiya and family restaurants, 3rd largest food company
    behind McDonalds and Skylark).  I got “we don’t think a foreigner can handle
    the intense Japanese work environment” from both, Nitori in particular
    narrowed it down from “foreigner” to “Americans,” saying that it’s not
    likely I’d be able to keep up, and even if I did, I would just get burned
    out, because that’s just how Americans are.  The ultimate rejection was
    mutual, I probably would have turned down their offer anyway after that.
    The guy was extremely rude, addressing me in horrible Japanese, no manners,
    etc.  It was so bizarre that I thought it might be a test, so I just slapped
    a smile on and went with it, but I guess they were legit in their
    discrimination after all.

    This article just sounds like another case of “look at what an
    internationally minded country we are, har har!” fluff that I hear all the
    time when someone Japanese does something positive in the world.  If only
    the country could see things through our eyes for one day, they’d shut up
    with all of that さすが日本 (sasuga nihon) crap that I hear all the time,
    particularly in the division of international affairs.

    ==================

    April 7, 2010

    From CD:

    AB, thank you for writing about your experience.  Although I’m in a different field (TESOL), when I lived in Japan, my hobby was interviewing.  I liked practicing interviewing for jobs in  Japanese (and thought it was good to show that non-Japanese people could), or if they wanted English, fine.  But my main point was to show, even show myself, really, that interviews are not the same as begging, and that they should be a 2-way street.  Not everyone who’s interviewing is desperate to get that job.  The prospective employer needs to get down on bended knee and thank lucky stars when the right candidate appears…and it is incredible how many instead maintain some sort of weird “objective” distance, even when they want you to acccept the job… that always made me really want not to work there!!  Now that I’m in the hiring seat myself, I’ve found this to make a huge difference… we get the candidates we want, and their transition is smooth, because I try to make sure they know from the first interview that we’d like them to come join us, and that we need and want them and would be nice co-workers.

    Anyway, so I spent a lot of time turning down jobs, and almost always the reactions was SHOCK!!  But I’m offering you a JOB!!!  The funniest one was the time I applied to the [insert name of Japan, Inc.corporation] major competitor to the company my husband works for. First, it was just very interesting to see the differences between the 2 companies, because they both fit their corporate “branded” images to a “T”. Obviously someone had spent time making sure that interviews were part indoctrination from the get-go!  Don’t want any riff-raff sneaking in.

    And second, it was amazing what a massive issue it seemed to be that I was related to someone who worked for the competitor.  Lots and lots of hemming and hawing and bizarre-seeming questions (would I be willing to tape over my cellphone’s camera while on site to prevent corporate espionage???…um, yes, but wouldn’t it just be easier not to hire someone who’s going to spy on you?)

    Finally, the offer was made…ta-dah!!  I had the right to accept a 2-year, term-contract position, for a generous salary that was about 1/3 of what I was making teaching English to kids 3-4 hours a day.

    My duties:  write and revise all PR releases and be essentially available to do whatever else they wanted me to do…everything from “helping” teach company classes to checking people’s emails to having “conversation lunches” with the secretaries was mentioned.

    The schedule? 9-6, Mon-Fri.

    I said (somewhere must have the tape I sneakily took), “although in the United States, that would be considered full-time work, essentially this is a part-time position, isn’t it?” (it was, of course, with no benefits).

    They thought that was hilarious!!  How clever I was!!  I smiled and thanked them and went home, and they were going to call the next day, “after you have a chance to consult your husband about our offer.”

    Tomorrow rolled around, and I said that I’d be happy to accept the position under the same working conditions as any average Japanese freshman employee…ie, lifetime employment, no special treatment.

    But what???  I’m not Japanese!!  Why would I want that?  I would never be able to adjust!!  I told them that I had a pretty good idea, from watching my husband’s job, just what would be required, and felt confident in my ability.

    No, I had to take the term-limited part-time job or nothing.  They did point out that the salary they were offering was higher than the starting salary for freshmen workers.

    Needless to say, I decided not to take it.  It would have been interesting, though.

    Their final reaction?  “But you don’t understand…this is [insert name of Japan, Inc. multinational corporation].  No one turns us down.”

    Japan…gotta keep yourself entertained!!

    Oh, and the best advice I ever got on job hunting, courtesy of my brother-in-law:  “Never even pretend to change yourself to get a job.  If you do, they just hired someone they don’t want, and you just ended up with a job that doesn’t fit you.  If they hire the real you, you’ll both be happier.”

    ==================

    April 7, 2010

    From:  NM

    The big companies have been hiring non-Japanese since the late 1980s, including technical staff. For view of what it’s like to be a permanent foreign employee in Japan Inc. see this book:

    http://tinyurl.com/yk8u7lw
    or
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1861977891/qid=1149169815/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-7532168-7028949?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

    ==================
    April 8, 2010

    From: AB

    That’s a good story, CD.  I can imagine that if I DID make it through
    that last interview at Nitori, I would have at least made it an issue once I
    was inside, if I didn’t just turn the position down all together.

    That’s also good advice.  The best advice I’ve gotten otherwise from fellow
    foreign people working in Japan was, “just don’t even apply to Japanese
    companies,” lol.  Seriously, that was the “common” advice from multiple
    people who don’t know each other, “just stick to foreign companies that
    aren’t going to treat you like an idiot.” One person suggested just going
    back to your home country, apply to a major company, and request a post in
    Japan or in their Tokyo office.  And when I take a step back and look at the
    whole picture, only one of my friends works for a major Japanese company,
    and that was only because he applied from the American office as an American
    who just requested to work in Japan.  Everyone else works for foreign
    companies that just happen to have offices/locations in Japan.

    You say you’re in the hiring position now.  In Japan?  What company?  How do
    I apply?  :)  My current job is going to end soon and although I’ve got my
    applications out to several companies in Tokyo, nothing is set in stone yet.

    And [another author], I would LOVE to know about how to go about suing Nitori.  Not
    to get money or anything, but just so they get a lesson in, “look at what
    happens when you treat people different based on nationality/race.”
    Unfortunately, for that incident, I have no proof.  If I spoke up now, I
    would just look like a disgruntled reject who is trying to strike back for
    being rejected.  Even though I know there is no mistake, they would just
    easily write it off as, “oh, he must have misunderstood us, as Japanese
    isn’t his native language.”  The best I can do is just not shop at Nitori,
    but admittedly, that’s not very satisfying.  I’ll never forget him just
    saying, “the Japanese work environment is much more intense than your own
    country, we’re not confident an American would be able to handle it.”  And
    then he topped off the end of the interview with, “well, I think you should
    just stick to education.”

    Lol, just coincidence, and unrelated, but as I’m typing this in my Japanese
    office, I’m listening to a conversation about how they changed out everyones
    old-school ball mouses for lasers because the ball mouses kept sticking and
    wouldn’t drag properly.  Guess who’s computer is the only one that remains
    unchanged, and who will never get a proper notification of “we have laser
    mouses” outside of overhearing a conversation.

    ======================

    April 8, 2010

    From: CD

    I direct a university intensive English program here in the US…but when I was in Tokyo, yeah, I’d interview for anything.  I remember a shady-seeming “foreign ladies to introduce art exhibitions to potential investors” gig towards the end of the bubble years.  The salary was supposedly 600,000 yen/ month, and there were at least 50 people interviewing the day I was.  It seemed pretty close to selling jeans at the Gap, but I only made it to Round 2, so maybe at some point art knowledge was required.

    Rather than boycott the whole system, if it’s not going to upset your life, I’d recommend getting out there into the job market and sharing your honest perspective.  After all, if things just stay the same all the time, why would they change?  But it sounds like you need work, so forget the crusading and just be creative and positive in your search.  There is something good out there for you; it’s just a matter of finding it.

    And for those talking about suing, I am curious just what we might sue these companies for, considering that in Japan it’s not illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity, right? They can do as they please, and they do.  In fact, the former Dean of the longest-existing US branch campus in Tokyo instructed me to take the non-discriminatory policy statement out of the university’s Chronicle ad…because the school is a Japanese private corporation, and so he had no need to follow the Equal Opportunity policy in hiring.  Students assumed that all of the American faculty came from the US, but of course we were mainly local hires.  So even Americans can learn to practice discriminatory hiring in Japan.

    ========================

    April 8, 2010

    From EF

    I’m sure we all have been turned down for one thing or another, however I
    look at as a blessing.  Mid last year I was turned down, because a Japanese
    person was a requirement.  My wife said to me, at least you don’t have to
    worry about always playing on the visiting team if you got that job…  You
    know what, she was right.

    ========================

    ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Practical advice, 日本語 | 19 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010

    Posted on Saturday, April 10th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010
    SOME ODDS AND ENDS OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS

    Table of Contents:

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    ODDS
    1) MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids for child allowances. What spongers?
    2) More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.
    3) Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)
    4) Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain auto recall issues
    5) More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion
    6) List of countries with voting rights for non-citizens, with Japan of the group the absolutist outlier

    ENDS
    7) A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60
    8 ) Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ
    9) Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility
    10) Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa
    11) Fun Facts #14: JK provides budgetary stats to show why current immigration-resistant regime is unsustainable

    AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE FIZZLED OUT
    12) Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike
    13) Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san
    14) UPDATE: Ibaraki Detention Center Hunger Strikers pause strike, arrange meetings
    15) Japan Times on Ibaraki Detention Ctr hunger strikers: GOJ meeting because of UN visit?
    … then, kerplunk, the issue dies…?

    … and finally …

    16) Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the J archipelago
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, Daily Blog Updates at www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    ODDS

    1) MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids for child allowances. What spongers?

    In mid-March we had a storm in a teacup about DPJ policy re child allowances: If NJ also qualified for child support, politicians argued, some hypothetical Arab prince in Japan would claim all 50 of his kids back in Saudi Arabia. Well, thanks to that storm, we have the Health Ministry creating policy within weeks to prevent NJ from potentially sponging off the system. As submitter JK notes, “What follows is article on why MHLW feels the need to clamp down on those untrustworthy foreigners; never mind about the lack of data.”

    Well, that’s proactive policymaking in Japan. In the same way that anti-terrorism policy that targets foreigners only was proactive (although it took a few years to draft and enact). Here, the bureaucrats could just do it with a few penstrokes and call it a “clarification”, without having to go through the pesky political process.

    But the assumption is, once again, that a) foreigners are untrustworthy and need extra background checks, and b) any policy that might do something nice for the Japanese public needs to be carefully considered by viewing it through the “foreigner prism”, for who knows what those people might do to take advantage of our rich system? “What-if” panicky hypotheticals without any data win the debate and govern policymaking towards NJ again.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6443

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    2) More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.

    Debito.org Reader KC just submitted two articles (I had heard about this, but was busy with other stuff and neglected to blog it, sorry) about Tokyo Itabashi-ku giving Residency Certificates (juuminhyou) to dogs. Fine, but how about foreigners? They are still not allowed to get their own.

    For those who came in late, brief background on the issue: NJ get a different registry certificate, are not automatically listed on their families’ Residency Certificates unless they request it and only if the bureaucrat in charge believes they are “effective head of household”, and are not counted as “residents” anyway in some population tallies despite paying residency taxes). Japan is the only country I know of (and definitely the only developed country) requiring citizenship for residency. This is said to be changing by 2012. But I won’t cheer this legal “vaporware” until after it happens, and it still comes after the humiliation of long allowing sea mammals and cartoon characters their own residency certificates overnight. To wit: Tamachan (sealion, Yokohama 2003), Tetsuwan Atomu (cartoon character, Niiza City, 2003), Crayon Shinchan (cartoon character, Kusakabe City, 2004), Ku-chan (seal, Kushiro City, 2009), etc. More on the issue here.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6419

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    3) Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)

    Success at last, for some. For less than one percent of all the NJ nurses brought over on a special trilateral visa program, to help care for Japan’s aging society, we have some overcoming quite difficult hurdles to stay — including passing a difficult Japanese nursing exam within three years that challenges even native speakers. For the overwhelming majority of NJ, however, it’s bye bye and thanks for your three years of unsupported toil, and we look forward to replacing you with more dupes on yet another GOJ revolving-door work visa plan. More on the difficulties of the nursing program in the words of the nurses themselves on Debito.org here.

    Yomiuri: Two Indonesians and one Filipina have become the first foreign nurses to pass Japan’s national nursing qualification test after work experience at Japanese hospitals under economic partnership agreements, the health ministry said Friday.

    The three are among the 370 foreign nurses who have visited this country under an EPA-related project launched in fiscal 2008, hoping to pass the nursing exam after receiving Japanese-language training and gaining working experience under the supervision of Japanese nurses.

    In 2009, 82 foreign nurses took the exam, but all failed. This year, 254 such nurses applied for the test, with the two Indonesians and one Filipina passing it, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6322

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    4) Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain auto recall issues

    Debito.org Reader BT commenting about culture once again being invoked as a defense:

    Here’s an interview about Toyota recalls in the US, with “Hideo Kobayashi, a visiting professor at Yokohama National University’s Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences”. I’m talking specifically about these two quotes:

    “Q: Wasn’t Toyota’s confidence in product quality one of the factors that led to its sloppy handling of the situation?

    A: Can what people in Japan consider “good quality” be also considered good in the United States, which has a more diversified population?

    Japanese people generally have high driving skills and similar physical features. But the United States, whose society was more or less built by immigrants, has people with various physical features and behavioral patterns. To get a driver’s license, you don’t need the sort of skills that are required in Japan..”

    (The “we’re superior” routine)

    And,

    “Q: Some say the reaction to Toyota’s problems has an aspect of “Japan bashing” about it. What is your view?

    A: With American companies such as General Motors Corp. going under and Toyota doing well in sales, there naturally is an aspect of Japan bashing. But this is something that has to be overcome.”

    (The “poor, poor Japan” routine)…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6064

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    5) More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion

    Following up on some previous Debito.org posts (here and here) on how the debate on NJ PR suffrage has devolved into hate speech, here is how bad it’s getting. We have anonymous flyers appearing in people’s snailmailboxes accusing NJ of being criminals (and linking it to not granting suffrage), fomenting anti-Chinese sentiment with threats of invasion and takeover, and even a book capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan disappear. Read on to see scans:

    This is why we need laws against hate speech in Japan — to prevent the knock-on effects of fear by anonymous bullies being further fanned by the profit motive and marketing sharks.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6182

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    6) List of countries with voting rights for non-citizens, with Japan of the group the absolutist outlier

    Although the issue may be moot due to the DPJ suspending the submission of PR NJ suffrage “for the time being”, here’s an essential fact of the case — what other countries allow non-citizens to vote, and at what level, as of 2006. As you can see, of the select countries (even the US has some local rights for non-citizens), only Japan is absolutist in terms of this sector of civil rights. And the fact that the Japan-born Zainichi “generational foreigners” are also excluded makes Japan a further outlier.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6209

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    ENDS

    7) A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60

    I’d like to salute a personal hero of mine, former nurse Chong Hyang Gyun, a Zainichi Korean who, like any other qualified civil servant in Japan, expected to be promoted commensurate with her experience and dedication.

    But not in Japan. She in 1994 was denied even the opportunity to sit the administrative civil service exam because, despite her being born in Japan, raised in Japan, a native speaker of Japanese, and a taxpayer in and contributor to Japan like any other, she was still, in the eyes of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, a “foreigner”, therefore not to be trusted with administrative power over Japanese (the old “Nationality Clause”, kokuseki joukou, struck again).

    So she sued for the right to sit the exam nearly twenty years ago. Over more than ten years she lost, won, then ultimately lost in the Supreme Court, which, in a landmark setback for civil rights and assimilation, ruled there was nothing unconstitutional in denying her the right to chose her occupation and employment opportunities.

    Now she’s retired as of April 1 (although rehired and working fewer hours). I’m just grateful that she tried. Some occupations are completely denied to NJ, including public-sector food preparation (for fear that NJ might poison our bureaucrats) and firefighting (for fear that NJ entering Japanese houses and perhaps damaging Japanese property might cause an international incident), that it becomes ludicrous for NJ to even consider a public-service job in Japan. Especially if the “glass ceiling” (in fact, an iron barrier, thanks to the Supreme Court) means you can never reach your potential. The Chong-san Case made that clear, to Japan’s shame.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6384

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    8 ) Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ

    The following Japan Times article wouldn’t normally be put up on Debito.org yet because the negotiation is ongoing (covering much the same argumentative ground as already reported here), and nothing necessarily decisive has been decided. However, a new development in the USG’s constant-looking pressure on the GOJ to sign the Hague, and do something about its citizens using Japan as a haven for child abductions after divorce, is the fact that somebody official is bothering to answer the GOJ claim that obeying the Hague would mean sending back J children to be endangered by an abusive NJ parent (I’ll take that as a slur, thank you). Excerpts from the JT article below.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6238

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    9) Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility

    Take this, 2-Channel:

    Mainichi:  Just because a piece of information is published on the Internet, viewers do not necessarily deem it to be of low credibility. So ruled the Supreme Court recently in a defamation suit in which a man was accused of slandering a restaurant operator on his own Web site, saying that the company was affiliated with a cult.

    The top’s court’s ruling secures a guilty verdict that ordered the man to pay 300,000 yen in compensation. It was the first ruling to confirm that the conditions for establishing defamation were not relaxed on the Internet.

    Considering that people are often slandered, have their privacy violated, and sometimes even suffer human rights violations on the Internet — where users can post comments anonymously — the Supreme Court’s decision can be deemed appropriate.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6258

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    10) Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa

    I had heard numerous reports about a place down in Okinawa that turned away Japanese customers (or, rather, charged them an exorbitant fee for membership) in favor of NJ. It made print today in the Japan Times Zeit Gist Column. Excerpted here.

    Now, while I can’t personally condone this activity, I will admit I have been waiting for somebody to come along and do this just to put the shoe on the other foot. Let’s see how people who defended the exclusionism of “troublemakers” who just happened to be foreign-looking (hiya Gregory Clark) in the Otaru Onsens Case et.al., react to somebody excluding “troublemakers” who just happen to be Japanese. And watch the hypocrisy and “Japanese as perpetual victim” arguments blossom.

    If this winds up getting “Japanese Only” signs down everywhere, this will have been a useful exercise. Somehow, I don’t think it will, however. Japanese in Japan are never supposed to be on the losing end of a debate on NJ issues.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6402

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    11) Fun Facts #14: JK provides budgetary stats to show why current immigration-resistant regime is unsustainable

    Frequent commenter and contributor to Debito.org JK offers a follow-up about a recent article featured here on Debito.org, about the NJ nurse import program (one that as of this time is doomed to become yet another revolving-door visa program). He offers some “Fun Facts”, as in budgetary statistics, about why the current visa regime discouraging labor imports but not immigration is unsustainable. Read on.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6366

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE FIZZLED OUT

    12) Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike

    Let me forward something to you about conditions in Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (better known as “Gaijin Tanks”) — an activist named Sano-san who wants to draw long-overdue attention to widespread abuse of NJ in these notorious extralegal prisons. Link to Japan Times article substantiating Sano-san’s claims follows her email. Reporters, be in touch with her (or me at debito@debito.org) if you want more information.

    The extralegal powers of Japan’s police forces are atrocious, and they are especially bad when people fall completely outside the legal system (as in, NJ detainees not tried and convicted criminals, with a term-limited sentence and minimum prison conditions as stipulated by law; these are people who can be held indefinitely in crowded conditions, without oversight, access to exercise, medical care, hygiene, etc.) They just happen to be NJ (because Gaijin Tanks cannot hold Japanese) and thus remain shrouded in even more secrecy than usual (as people assume they’re full of riffraff trying to come in and take advantage of Rich Citadel Japan) and operate under the media radar. Trying to remedy that.

    Sano-san: Ibaraki Detention Center is a very brutal and abusive place to be. Since March 8th, about 80 male detainees are doing hunger strike.

    Japan Times: Detainees allege abuse at Kansai holding center
    Guards meting out harsh treatment behind the walls of Ibaraki immigration facility, say inmates

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6166

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    13) Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san

    Japan Times: At least 70 detainees at the West Japan Immigration Control Center, which has long been criticized by human rights groups and Diet members, have been on a hunger strike since Monday, center officials and volunteers helping them confirmed Thursday.

    Activist Sano-san reports: Our group decided not to use [name deleted's] name on articles that goes to public from now on. He has hepatitis B and has fever since December. Obviously bad health condition. But the center is not taking to him to the hospital, and also did I mention that they share the same razor to shave? We talked to Nishimura at the center, but they denied it , and said that each razor has the number so that the detainee will know which one is his. Detainees said there is no number on the razor. Nishimura also said that razors are sterilized after detainees use them.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6171

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    14) UPDATE: Ibaraki Detention Center Hunger Strikers pause strike, arrange meetings

    Sano-san: The detainees decided to suspend their hunger strike temporarily.
    They had dinner on Friday, the 19th.
    They have decided two things 1) volunteers and detainees are going to negotiate with the center starting from Tuesday on March, 23rd.
    2) if their demands are turned down, they will re-start the hunger strike.

    In the background of this, a member of a House of Councilors, Konno Azuma, questioned about the hunger strike to the Minister of Justice (Keiko Chiba) at a national assembly.
    He also referred to factual investigation.
    Media has picked up the story of the hunger strike, and it strongly influenced the center…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6241

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    15) Japan Times on Ibaraki Detention Ctr hunger strikers: GOJ meeting because of UN visit?

    Addendum to yesterday’s post on the Ibaraki Gaijin Tank Hunger Strikers and the upcoming meetings with the government. The Japan Times has put out another article, which I will excerpt from. It also hints at the timing of it, wondering whether it’s due to Special Rapporteur Bustamante (to whom I will be talking tomorrow, wish me luck) visiting Japan. Which means, once he leaves, things go back to the ignored normal? Fortunately, according to the article below, we have some traction within the ruling party on this issue as well, so let’s hope in the end we see progress. Although, as noted before, Japan’s police forces have quite extreme (and unaccountable) powers, especially as regards treatment of NJ, so unless some legal changes are made to this largely extralegal system itself, the amount of oversight necessary in an already abusive system is pretty demanding.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6245

    … then, kerplunk, the issue dies…?

    I have received no word since on what’s going on. Rumor has it there was a turf battle between the NGOs covering this issue and they shut down their links to the media. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen plenty of times before. Sad, given how important this issue is. I’ll blog any news I get in future.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    … and finally …

    16) Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the J archipelago

    Japan Times: A Japan Tourism Agency panel headed by Vice Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Kiyomi Tsujimoto is currently discussing ways to divide the nation into five different zones whose Golden Week holidays would be staggered by zone. The panel is also calling for the creation of a five-day holiday in the autumn — a so-called Silver Week — that would again be staggered by region and spread over five different periods.

    In one of the two proposals on the table, Golden Week and Silver Week would be spread over five weeks, instead of one week; while the other proposal would, more confusingly, see the five zonal Golden Week and Silver Week periods overlapping each other a little to occupy a total span of 2 1/2 weeks each.

    The agency’s logic goes like this. If people travel at different times, the yawning gap in travel costs between the peak and off-peak seasons would become smaller, making tourism affordable for more people. Tourists would also likely enjoy their vacations more, as they would experience less frustrating congestion, and so they would feel more inclined to travel more frequently and thus end up pumping more money into the tourism-related sectors of the economy. This would also help to stabilize the employment of people working in these sectors.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6309

    COMMENT: For the record, I think it’s a great idea (I am so fed up of having crappy weather during the GW holidays in Hokkaido; can’t do much outside yet, don’t want to go anywhere and face the crowds; and little money to do so even if I did), and would like to see it put into practice.

    I don’t see how anyone would object (except for perhaps the tourist industry itself, which might oddly enough prefer to keep charging peak rates.) That said, when it was first floated on TV’s Toku Da Ne a couple of weeks ago, the (old fart) panel was almost uniformly against it! Some said they don’t take any holiday during that time period anyway (oh, that’s thinking outside of your lifestyle!), and head anchor Ogura even woodenheadedly said, “What would the media call the holiday? I can’t think of a name. So I oppose it.” That’s one reason I don’t bother watching the self-indulgent and intellectually incestuous Toku Da Ne much anymore.

    That said, a Debito.org Poll on this (http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1851) had me in the vast minority. As did blog commenters (http://www.debito.org/?p=6309#comments), who supported instead the (even less attainable, in my view) notion that people should be allowed to take their holidays when they want. The poll is still open, feel free to vote on it.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    That’s all for today. That should get us caught up on past news for the next couple of weeks or so. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, Daily Blog Updates at www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010 ENDS

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    Posted in Newsletters | 2 Comments »

    MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids. What spongers?

    Posted on Friday, April 9th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.   In mid-March we had a storm in a teacup about DPJ policy re child allowances:  If NJ also qualified for child support, politicians argued, some hypothetical Arab prince in Japan would claim all 50 of his kids back in Saudi Arabia.  Well, thanks to that storm, we have the Health Ministry creating policy within weeks to prevent NJ from potentially sponging off the system.  As submitter JK notes, “What follows is article on why 厚生労働省 feels the need to clamp down on those untrustworthy foreigners; never mind about the lack of data.”

    Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries
    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100407p2a00m0na008000c.html

    子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件
    http://mainichi.jp/life/edu/child/archive/news/2010/04/20100407ddm002010042000c.html

    Well, that’s proactive policymaking in Japan.  In the same way that anti-terrorism policy that targets foreigners only was proactive (although it took a few years to draft and enact).  Here, the bureaucrats could just do it with a few penstrokes and call it a “clarification”, without having to go through the pesky political process.

    But the assumption is, once again, that a) foreigners are untrustworthy and need extra background checks, and b) any policy that might do something nice for the Japanese public needs to be carefully considered by viewing it through the “foreigner prism”, for who knows what those people might do to take advantage of our rich system?  “What-if” panicky hypotheticals without any data win the debate and govern policymaking towards NJ again.

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////////

    Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries
    (Mainichi Japan) April 7, 2010

    The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has tightened conditions for paying child-care allowances to foreigners who reside in Japan and claim to have children in their home countries, ministry officials said.

    The move is aimed at preventing foreign residents from illicitly receiving expensive allowances by falsely adopting children in their home countries or using other tricks to deceive Japanese authorities. The ministry has notified local governments across the country of its decision.

    Before providing child-care allowances, local governments are required by the ministry to confirm that such recipients meet their children in their home countries at least twice a year by checking their passports, and make sure that they send money to their children at least once every four months.

    The ministry took the measure out of fear that a large number of foreigners would falsely adopt children in their home countries for the sole purpose of illegally receiving child-care allowances in Japan.

    The number of foreign residents’ children who receive child allowances while living in their home countries remains unclear, according to the ministry.

    Some local governments have expressed concern that the measure would increase their workload.

    Original Japanese story

    子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件
    毎日新聞 2010年4月7日 東京朝刊

    厚生労働省は、国内に住み母国に子供がいる外国人に対する子ども手当の支給要件を厳格化する通知を各自治体に出した。年2回以上面会していることをパスポートで確認することなどが柱。児童手当は比較的緩やかな条件下で支給されてきたが、高額の子ども手当で不正受給を防ぐことを狙った。

    児童手当は、子を養育する権限があり、生計を維持する保護者に支給。母国に子がいる外国人については、出生証明書と送金証明書があり、面会などしていれば支給してきた。だが面会の立証は困難で、手紙の提示だけでよかったり、証明を求めない自治体もあった。証明書の偽造も可能と指摘されており、不正受給目的の養子縁組の横行などが危惧(きぐ)されていた。

    このため厚労省は、少なくとも年2回以上の面会をパスポートで確認▽約4カ月に1回以上の送金を銀行の送金通知などで確認--などを支給要件と定め通知した。

    厚労省によると、母国で児童手当を受給する子どもの数は把握されていない。年度末に子ども手当の駆け込み申請があった自治体もあり、今回の通知に対し、自治体側からは「事務負担がどのくらい増えるか未知数」と懸念する声も上がっている。【野倉恵】
    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 14 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column April 6, 2010 prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants

    Posted on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    justbecauseicon.jpg
    JUST BE CAUSE
    Japan, U.N. share blind spot on ‘migrants’
    By DEBITO ARUDOU
    The Japan Times: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100406ad.html
    Original Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=6233

    On March 23, I gave a speech to Jorge Bustamante, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, for NGO FRANCA regarding racial discrimination in Japan. Text follows:

    I wish to speak about the treatment of those of “foreign” origin and appearance in Japan, such as white and non-Asian people. Simply put, we are not officially registered — or even counted sometimes — as genuine residents. We are not treated as taxpayers, not protected as consumers, not seen as ethnicities even in the national census. According to government polls and surveys, we do not even deserve the same human rights as Japanese. The view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I will get to that later.

    First, an overview: The number of non-Japanese (NJ) on visas of three months or longer has increased since 1990 from about 1 million to over two. Permanent residents (PR) number over 1 million, meaning about half of all registered NJ can stay here forever. Given how hard PR is to get — about five years if married to a Japanese, 10 years if not — a million NJ permanent residents are clearly not a temporary part of Japanese society.

    Moreover, this does not count the estimated half-million or so naturalized Japanese citizens (I am one of them). Nor does this count children of international marriages, about 40,000 annually. Mathematically, if each couple has two children, eventually that will mean 80,000 more ethnically diverse Japanese children; over a decade, 800,000 — almost a million again. Not all of these children of diverse backgrounds will “look Japanese.”

    What’s more, we don’t know Japan’s true diversity because the Census Bureau only surveys for nationality. This means when I fill out the census, I write down “Japanese” for my nationality, but I cannot indicate my ethnicity as a “white Japanese,” or a “Japanese of American extraction” (amerikakei nihonjin). I believe this is by design — because the politics of identity in Japan are all about “monoculturality and monoethnicity.” Given modern Japan’s emerging immigration and assimilation, this is a fiction. The official conflation of Japanese nationality and ethnicity is incorrect, yet our government refuses to collect data that would correct that.

    The point is we cannot tell who is “Japanese” just by looking at them. This means that whenever distinctions are made between “foreigner” and “Japanese,” be it police racial profiling or “Japanese only” signs, some Japanese citizens will also be affected. Thus we need a law against racial discrimination in Japan — not only because it will help noncitizens assimilate into Japan, but also because it will protect Japanese against xenophobia, bigotry and exclusionism, against the discrimination that is “deep and profound” and “practiced undisturbed in Japan,” according to U.N. Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006.

    There are some differences in viewpoint between my esteemed colleagues here today and the people I am trying to speak for. Japan’s minorities as definable under the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), including Ainu, Ryukyuans, zainichi special-permanent- resident ethnic Koreans and Chinese, and burakumin, will speak to you as people who have been here for a long time — much longer than people like me, of course. Their claims are based upon time-honored and genuine grievances that have never been properly redressed. For ease of understanding, I will call them the “oldcomers.”

    I will try to speak on behalf of the “newcomers,” i.e., people who came here relatively recently to make a life in Japan. Of course both oldcomers and newcomers contribute to Japanese society, in terms of taxes, service and culture, for example. But it is we newcomers who really need a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners,” are often singled out for our own variant of discriminatory treatment. Examples in brief:

    1. HOUSING, ACCOMMODATION

    One barrier many newcomers face is finding an apartment. According to the Mainichi Shimbun (Jan. 8), on average in Tokyo it takes 15 visits to realtors for an NJ to find an apartment. Common experience — this is all we have because there is no government study of the problem — dictates that agents generally phrase the issue to landlords as, “The renter is a foreigner, is that OK?” This overt discrimination happens with impunity in Japan. One Osaka realtor even advertises apartments as “gaijin allowed,” a sales point at odds with the status quo. People who face discriminatory landlords can only take them to court. This means years, money for lawyers and court fees, and an uncertain outcome — when all you need is a place to live, now.

    Another barrier is hotels. Lodgings are expressly forbidden by Hotel Management Law Article 5 to refuse customers unless rooms are full, there is a clear threat of contagious disease, or an issue of “public morals.” However, government surveys indicate that 27 percent of all Japanese hotels do not want foreign guests, period. Not to be outdone, Fukushima Prefecture Tourist Information advertised the fact that 318 of their member hotels refuse NJ. Thus even when a law technically forbids exclusionism, the government will not enforce it. On the contrary, official bodies will even promote excluders.

    2. RACIAL PROFILING BY POLICE

    Another rude awakening happens when NJ walk down the street. All NJ (but not citizens) must carry ID cards at all times or face possible criminal charges and incarceration. So Japanese police will target and stop people who “look foreign” in public, sometimes forcefully and rudely, and demand personal identification. This very alienating process of “carding” can happen when walking while white, cycling while foreign-looking, using public transportation while multiethnic, or waiting for arrivals at airports while colored. One person has apparently been “carded,” sometimes through physical force, more than 50 times in one year, and 125 times over 10 years.

    Police justify this as a hunt for foreign criminals and visa over-stayers, or cite special security measures or campaigns. However, these “campaigns” are products of government policies depicting NJ as “terrorists, criminals and carriers of infectious diseases.” None of these things, of course, is contingent upon nationality. Moreover, since 2007, all noncitizens are fingerprinted every time they re-enter Japan. This includes newcomer PRs, going further than the US-VISIT program, which does not refingerprint Green Card holders. However, the worst example of bad social science is the National Research Institute of Police Science, which spends taxpayer money on researching “foreign DNA” for racial profiling at crime scenes.

    In sum, Japan’s police see NJ as “foreign agents” in both senses of the word. They are systematically taking measures to deal with NJ as a social problem, not as fellow residents or immigrants.

    3. EXCLUSION AS ‘RESIDENTS’

    Japan’s registration system, meaning the current koseki family registry and juminhyo residency certificate systems, refuse to list NJ as “spouse” or “family member” because they are not citizens. Officially, NJ residing here are not registered as “residents” (jumin), even though they pay residency taxes (juminzei) like anyone else. Worse, some local governments (such as Tokyo’s Nerima Ward) do not even count NJ in their population tallies. This is the ultimate in invisibility, and it is government-sanctioned.

    4. ‘JAPANESE ONLY’ EXCLUSION

    With no law against racial discrimination, “No foreigners allowed” signs have appeared nationwide, at places such as stores, restaurants, hotels, public bathhouses, bars, discos, an eyeglass outlet, a ballet school, an Internet cafe, a billiards hall, a women’s boutique — even in publicity for a newspaper subscription service. Regardless, the government has said repeatedly to the U.N. that Japan does not need a racial discrimination law because of our effective judicial system. That is untrue.

    For example, in the Otaru onsen case (1999-2005), where two NJ and one naturalized Japanese (myself) were excluded from a public bathhouse, judges refused to rule these exclusions were illegal due to racial discrimination. They called it “unrational discrimination.” Moreover, the judiciary refused to enforce relevant international treaty as law, or punish the negligent Otaru City government for ineffective measures against racial discrimination. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

    Furthermore, in 2006, an openly racist shopkeeper refused an African-American customer entry, yet the Osaka District Court ruled in favor of the owner! Japan needs a criminal law, with enforceable punishments, because the present judicial system will not fix this.

    5. UNFETTERED HATE SPEECH

    There is also the matter of the cyberbullying of minorities and prejudiced statements made by our politicians over the years. Other NGOs will talk more about the anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech during the current debate about granting local suffrage rights to permanent residents.

    I would instead like to briefly mention some media, such as the magazine “Underground Files of Crimes by Gaijin” (Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu (2007)) and “PR Suffrage will make Japan Disappear” (Gaikokujin Sanseiken de Nihon ga Nakunaru Hi (2010)). Both these books stretch their case to talk about an innate criminality or deviousness in the foreign element, and “Underground Files” even cites things that are not crimes, such as dating Japanese women. It also includes epithets like “nigger,” racist caricatures and ponderings on whether Korean pudenda smell like kimchi. This is hate speech. And it is not illegal in Japan. You could even find it on sale in convenience stores.

    CONCLUSION

    In light of all the above, the Japanese government’s stance towards the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is easily summarized: The Ainu, Ryukyuans and burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t fall under the CERD because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution. However, the zainichis and newcomers are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD either. Thus, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.

    Well, what about me? Or our children? Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?

    In conclusion, I would like to thank the U.N. for investigating our cases. On March 16, the CERD Committee issued some very welcome recommendations in its review. However, may I point out that the U.N. still made a glaring oversight.

    During the committee’s questioning of Japan last Feb. 24 and 25, very little mention was made of the CERD’s “unenforcement” in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code. Furthermore, almost no mention was made of “Japanese only” signs, the most indefensible violations of the CERD.

    Both Japan and the U.N. have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s minorities. Newcomers are never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants.” The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) foreign migrants have a temporary status in Japan, and 2) Japan has few ethnically diverse Japanese citizens.

    Time for an update. Look at me. I am a Japanese. The government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization, and I passed it. People like me are part of Japan’s future. When the U.N. makes their recommendations, please have them reflect how Japan must face up to its multicultural society. Please recognize us newcomers as a permanent part of the debate.

    The Japanese government will not. It says little positive about us, and allows very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers and police. It’s about time we all recognized the good that newcomers are doing for our home, Japan. Please help us.

    =====================

    Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. More on this meeting and photos at http://www.debito.org/?p=6256. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

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    Posted in Articles & Publications, Speech materials, United Nations | 5 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Japanese porkbarrel airports as “infrastructure in a vacuum”, and how JR duped me into buying a train ticket to nowhere

    Posted on Sunday, April 4th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Had an interesting experience yesterday on the way home to Sapporo yesterday, so I thought I’d make that today’s blog entry.

    We’ve had some media buzz last month about Japan’s regional airports (with the opening of Ibaraki’s airport, that makes a total of 98 international, national, and municipal airports around Japan — close to two per prefecture, and that apparently does not count the ones inside of JSDF military bases).  A full list of them here.  The buzz from the Japan Times, Editorial, March 23, 2010:

    EDITORIAL
    When airports eat each other
    Japan has 98 airports. The transport ministry’s recent survey of 72 of them indicates that the economic viability of many airports is low. Unless local governments and concerned businesses make serious efforts to attract more passengers, some airports may be forced to close.

    The survey compared the actual number of passengers who used the 72 airports in fiscal 2008 with passenger-number forecasts. The actual number exceeded the forecast at only eight airports — Naha, Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Okayama, Nagoya, Haneda, Shonai (Yamagata Prefecture) and Asahikawa (Hokkaido). At about half of the 72 airports, actual use was less than 50 percent of what was forecast.

    On March 11, Ibaraki airport opened as the nation’s 98th airport. Some ¥22 billion was spent to build the airport, which has a 2,700-meter runway. The chance of the actual passenger total of the airport exceeding the forecast amount is almost nil, as it connects only to Seoul, with one round-trip service a day. From April 16, it will also offer a once-daily round-trip service to Kobe.

    Major airlines have shied away from Ibaraki, fearing a lack of passengers. The airport, about 80 km from Tokyo, is touted as the third for the capital, but access to it is hardly convenient.
    Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100323a1.html

    I personally have used a lot of Japan’s airports on my domestic travels, usually for business:  Sapporo Chitose, Sapporo Okadama, Hakodate, Misawa, Akita, Higashine Yamagata, Hanamaki Morioka, Niigata, Sendai, Chubu Nagoya, Mihara Hiroshima, Izumo Shimane, Fukuoka, Kitakyushu, the former Kokura Fukuoka, Oita, Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Naha Okinawa, and of course Itami, KIX, Narita and Haneda.  I also will state that I have no problem with regional airports being built as long as they are used.  As the Japan Times editorial mentions above, if access is convenient.

    However, I thought Hanamaki Morioka defied that assumption pretty badly yesterday, so let me narrate the adventure:

    As regular Debito.org readers know, I have been on a two-week tour of Tokyo and environs doing UN and NGO FRANCA stuff.  But as my JAL mileage seems to accumulate less and less every year, I found that I could only get as far as Hanamaki Airport this year (the next band of free return flights starts at Sendai and stretches to Osaka, I was about 2000 miles short).  So I made arrangements to meet friends in Morioka, gave a speech in Sendai, and did my business further south.  Fine.  The problem was I had to get back up to Hanamaki from Tokyo to go home (no problem again, I thought; my flight back was from 6:10PM), and that’s at least 3 hours from Tokyo (it still worked out cheaper than a RT flight to Haneda, and I can spend time productively watching episodes of Survivor on my iPod).

    Here’s where it got interesting.  I bought my ticket via JR all the way from Tokyo to “JR Hanamaki Kuukou Eki”, logically thinking that a JR station with the name of the destination would actually take me to that destination.  I got a print-out from JR Tokyo:  get off at Shinkansen Eki Shin-Hanamaki, change trains for JR Hanamaki Station, and finally arrive at JR Hanamaki Kuukou Eki.

    It wasn’t to be.  I arrived at Shin-Hanamaki only to find the stationmaster advising me to get a cab from there to the airport.  I said I had a ticket all the way to Hanamaki Airport Station but he still made the same recommendation.  I asked for a refund of the remaining two-station portion but he refused to give it.  So I followed my ticket to see where it would take me.  It took me outside, a five-minute walk, to a completely separate teeny station that was JR Shin-Hanamaki regular-train station.

    With changes, it took me another half hour to get to JR Hanamaki Station, where I changed to another station which after another twenty minutes or so got me to the Holy Land.

    But JR “Hanamaki Airport Station” was a tiny place, where even the office was closed despite arriving a little after 4PM.  It was 4kms from the airport, a sign said.  As was advised, no way to get there but again by cab.

    Here are some pictures to illustrate how idiotic the situation is (click on any photo to expand in browser):

    Caption:  This is a JR station servicing an international airport?

    Caption:  Yes it is.

    Caption:  Note the distance to the airport:  4kms.  Used to be two.  Still, this JR station was never connected to the airport, is the point.

    Caption:  Station office is closed.  Note time on clock.  You have to hand in your ticket into a little mailbox as you enter the station doors.  Honor system.

    Caption:  Business is done for the day.  Nice to have bureaucrats go home so early.  If they even come to work here at all.

    On the way to the airport, I talked to the cabdriver about this situation.  He said that Hanamaki Airport was indeed four kms away, and 5 kms from JR Hanamaki Station.  It was in fact 6 kms from Shin-Hanamaki Station, meaning I had just gone one great ellipse to get to the airport.  “JR Hanamaki Airport Station is the closest to the airport, therefore it became the station.”  But it’s still only accessible by taxi. “Or bus.  From Morioka Station.”  Which was the way I went when arriving from Sapporo two weeks ago, but it’s a half-hour bus ride away.

    The taxi driver continued, “The JR station used to be only two kms away, not the four that it is now.  But they decided to spend even more money to build another terminal closer to the auto expressway.”  Even though they have cars so they don’t have that much farther to drive, while we foot travelers have to shell out for a taxi?  “Yep.  It’s good for us taxi drivers.”

    All told, I wasted close to an hour between arriving by shinkansen and arriving at the airport; good thing I allowed enough time to get there.  I was also 1240 yen cab ride poorer for the experience, but sometimes one has to pay to get interesting blog entries.

    But what kind of a government and infrastructure builds an airport, and then makes it nearly impossible for basic public transport to service it?  Even dupes the consumer into believing the JR station goes to the airport?

    “Ozawa and his porkbarrel,” said the cabdriver.

    This is why the regional airports attracted so much controversy last month.  And why, every now and again, we get annoyed articles about bureaucrats building public buildings, staffing them with retired bureaucrats, then making it as complicated or expensive as possible for the public to actually use them.

    As we should.  Guess what airport I won’t be using again.  Thanks for the memories, Hanamaki.  Arudou Debito back in Sapporo.

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents | 10 Comments »

    Japan Times: Arudou Debito gives up on activism due to poverty

    Posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    DEBITO SELLS OUT:  CITES DIRE POVERTY FROM ACTIVISM

    The Japan Times, April 1, 2010

    (Sapporo)  April 1:  Activist Debito Arudou announced in a press conference today that he will be hanging up his gloves and quitting activism.

    “It sucks to support the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Debito was quoted as saying.  “I’m tired of being a poor, huddling mass breathing for free.”

    Debito claimed dire poverty.  “Money (that’s what I want),” he said, citing the Beatles.

    “From now on, I’m going to be a Japanese government shill, representing our incorruptible, self-sacrificing, and endearing bureaucrats as a bridge to explain our country’s noble and altruistic motives to the rest of the world.  We are unique, after all. That line pays better.”

    Clutching two burlap bags with dollar signs on them, he said, “Pay me in yen next time.”

    When asked if this was not a departure from the standard Debito Doctrine, Debito said, “I’m a Japanese citizen now, so call me by my last name with a -san attached!  Or I’ll sue you.”

    Debito refrained from further comment, except to say, “Kora!  I thought I just told you to call me ‘Arudou-san’!”

    ENDS

    =====================

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Humor, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 24 Comments »

    Sunday Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the archipelago

    Posted on Sunday, March 28th, 2010

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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    Hi Blog.  Here’s a neat (in the American sense) proposal bouncing around to stagger Golden Week so that the holidays essentially follow the seasons as they progress up the archipelago.  For the record, I think it’s a great idea (I am so fed up of having crappy weather during the GW holidays in Hokkaido; can’t do much outside yet, don’t want to go anywhere and face the crowds; and little money to do so even if I did), and would like to see it put into practice.

    I don’t see how anyone would object (except for perhaps the tourist industry itself, which might oddly enough prefer to keep charging peak rates.)  That said, when it was first floated on TV’s Toku Da Ne a couple of weeks ago, the (old fart) panel was almost uniformly against it!  Some said they don’t take any holiday during that time period anyway (oh, that’s thinking outside of your lifestyle!), and head anchor Ogura even woodenheadedly said, “What would the media call the holiday?  I can’t think of a name.  So I oppose it.”  That’s one reason I don’t bother watching the self-indulgent and intellectually incestuous Toku Da Ne much anymore.

    Excerpt follows from the Japan Times on how the plan would work.  What do others think?  Arudou Debito in Tokyo

    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    Japan Times Sunday, March 21, 2010
    Moves afoot to make Japanese holidays a pleasure not a pain

    By TOMOKO OTAKE Staff writer

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100321x3.html

    A Japan Tourism Agency panel headed by Vice Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Kiyomi Tsujimoto is currently discussing ways to divide the nation into five different zones whose Golden Week holidays would be staggered by zone. The panel is also calling for the creation of a five-day holiday in the autumn — a so-called Silver Week — that would again be staggered by region and spread over five different periods.

    In one of the two proposals on the table, Golden Week and Silver Week would be spread over five weeks, instead of one week; while the other proposal would, more confusingly, see the five zonal Golden Week and Silver Week periods overlapping each other a little to occupy a total span of 2 1/2 weeks each.

    However, the changes — which would require legal amendments to national holiday laws, but which could be introduced as early as 2012 — do not mean Japan’s salaried workers will get more holidays. Instead, some of the existing national holidays would simply be moved to different dates, while keeping the original ones — such as Constitution Day on May 3, Green Day on May 4 and Children’s Day on May 5 — as non-holiday “memorial days.”

    The agency’s logic goes like this. If people travel at different times, the yawning gap in travel costs between the peak and off-peak seasons would become smaller, making tourism affordable for more people. Tourists would also likely enjoy their vacations more, as they would experience less frustrating congestion, and so they would feel more inclined to travel more frequently and thus end up pumping more money into the tourism-related sectors of the economy. This would also help to stabilize the employment of people working in these sectors.

    Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100321x3.html

    ENDS

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    Posted in Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Media, Tangents | 15 Comments »

    FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas

    Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  We had a NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) meeting last Sunday in Sendai.  We’ll be having another one this coming Saturday evening in Tokyo, so if you like what you read below, please consider coming to our meeting and joining our group.

    FRANCA Chair Arudou Debito gave a presentation on what FRANCA is and what it’s doing.  (You can download that presentation at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt)

    Attendees were
    FRANCA Sendai Chair Ben Shearon
    Riji Ryan Hagglund
    Guest and new FRANCA Member Shaun Dyer
    and Chair Arudou Debito

    We had a very productive meeting, talking for more than three hours on various aspects of making life better in Japan for NJ and NNJ (Non Native Japanese — an abbreviation I doubt will catch on).  We came up with the following ideas for projects:

    PROPOSED FRANCA PROJECTS

    • Having all family members of household listed on jūminhyō Residency Certificate regardless of nationality (currently under GOJ revision, proposed changes by July 2012).
    • Having koseki Family Registry forms include NJ under spouse column.
    • Eliminating requirements for jōji keitai, 24/7 carrying of the “Gaijin Card”, must present to authorities within set time period (3 days?).
    • Other letter writing campaigns (e.g. Sumo Association) as issues come up.
    • Stop border fingerprinting for all visa holders, esp. Permanent Residents.
    • Allow dual nationality even after naturalization.
    • Stop street “Gaijin Card” checkpoints by police, bring into line with Police Execution of Duties Law for questioning J citizens.
    • Send positive stories of NNJ doing community activities to media (local papers), hope they take the story (we need more positive engagement with J society, not just “whining”).
    • Allow for flexibility in registration and naming systems to reflect ethnic diversity (spellings, order, middle names for Double children).  Let us decide our official identity.
    • Include optional question about ethnicity (not just nationality) in National Census.
    • A Law against Racial Discrimination.
    • Survey on rental refusals (us or GOJ?)
    • List of small issues you can say in passing to GOJ bureaucrats, as “pinprick protests”?

    The last item, “pinprick protests”, was the most inspiring to me.  It’s a list of little ways that we all can just register small protests orally and/or in writing, on the spot when we encounter an inconvenience or a targeting.  For example, when you get border fingerprinted, say a little something, or hand over a small piece of paper in Japanese, registering your displeasure with the process.  Or when a bank calls you for ask what your most recent overseas money transfer is for (because the presumption is that NJ bank accounts receiving money from overseas must be doing money laundering), say this or that in Japanese.  Or police racial profiling, or Gaijin Card checks by hotels or video stores, or anything else that systematically treats us as somehow less trustworthy or equal compared with the rest of the Japanese population.  We can register a little “I don’t really like this treatment” in comfortable Japanese.

    Enough of these little “pinprick” protests and it becomes mendoukusai for the enforcers to have to deal with us.  It’s already showing when you see apologetic border control bureaucrats (yes!), and hotel clerks who check us less and less frequently.  We should stand up for ourselves more, and encourage others to do so.  I will create an artery site a la debito.org/whattodoif.html called debito.org/pinprickprotests.html, offer downloadable bilingual text, and devote a blog entry to each category, linking them all together over time.  Contributions welcome.

    As for the suggestions for projects above, please come and comment at this coming Saturday’s Tokyo FRANCA meeting, and let’s get a good lot of ideas circulating.

    Thanks for reading!  Arudou Debito, FRANCA Chair, in Tokyo, speaking to the UN today.

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    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, FRANCA, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation | 4 Comments »