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Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

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    Chris Johnson on his 2011 experiences in the “Narita Airport Gaijin Gulag”, a complement to Amnesty’s 2002 expose (Amended)

    Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2012

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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.  Last blog entry I talked about Amnesty International’s 2002 report on horrendous treatment and conditions of NJ detainees in Narita Airport. As a complement, here is Chris Johnson, photojournalist at venues such as CNNGo and The Japan Times, offering his unexpurgated experiences there last December.  Despite having a valid visa, he was denied entry, he believes, due to his critical press coverage of TEPCO and government responses to the Fukushima disasters.  He spent 30 hours in the Narita Airport “Gaijin Tank” (which he calls a gulag) before being forced to buy an overpriced one-way ticket and deported, and it changed his views dramatically on Japan’s legal and policing system.

    Excerpt follows.  Full report at http://globalite.posterous.com/inside-the-gaijin-tank-dungeon-at-narita-airp-91122

    This issue deserves more attention.  Extralegality may be the norm in Customs and Immigration Zones around the world, but extreme treatment is exactly what happens when policing is unfettered and unmonitored.  It is, to put it mildly, unbefitting a society such as Japan’s, with official pretensions towards respecting the rule of law. Especially when you read about Chris’s experience with the private security goons, who seem to have gone beyond any plausible mitigation (“just following orders”) by Milgram.  Were these the people who killed Abubakar Awadu Suraj in 2010 while deporting him, and to this day have not been charged with any crime?  Arudou Debito

    NB:  What follows is an updated version of Chris’s report as of January 18, 2011, amending allegations about a private security company called G4S.  Read on for disclaimers:

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

    Inside the Gaijin Tank dungeon at Narita Airport in Japan

    By Christopher Johnson, freelance photojournalist at CNNGo, The Japan Times, etc.

    Globalite Magazine

    News, photos and fiction from around the world

    Version updated January 18, 2012

    Full article at http://globalite.posterous.com/inside-the-gaijin-tank-dungeon-at-narita-airp-91122

    Detained for 30 hours and expelled from Japan, a veteran Tokyo-based journalist gets a harrowing glimpse into the trap door at Narita Airport leading into a secretive gulag of rights abuses against thousands of foreign visitors and expats, often by guards hired by airlines 

    (((This is a revised, tightened version of an earlier post. It includes a correction based on a comment from a spokesman for g4s, one of the world’s largest companies, which supplies security guards to more than 60 airports. A spokesman says g4s staff are NOT working at Narita. It is not clear who employs the guards accused of mistreating foreigners at Narita.

    It includes information about other Westerners wrongfully jailed and expelled from Japan. Also includes comments via Japan Times from former immigration chief, one of the most important critics of detention policy. As previously noted, it is a raw work in progress, unedited, unpolished. Please send comments, anecdotes and info for inclusion in this story.)))

    —-When you line up to get your passport stamped at Narita international airport outside Tokyo, look to your right toward a set of “special examination rooms.” That is where the trap door into Japan’s secretive gulag begins.

    Most travellers, who regard Japan as a safe country of civilized people, have no idea that thousands of foreign arrivals — just like them — have fallen down that trap door into windowless dungeons in the bowels of the airport. From there, foreigners of all nationalities — seeking a pleasant vacation or a better life in Japan — have vanished into a horrific network of “detention centres” imprisoning thousands of innocent foreigners in appalling conditions.

    Most red-eyed foreign arrivals also don’t realize that the immigration officers taking their fingerprints and scanning their passports are working with xenophobic colleagues who have deported on average about 20,000 foreigners every year since 2005, and who have been on trial for themurder of a longtime foreign resident of Japan last year at Narita.

    They also don’t realize that airlines, according to the Immigration Bureau, are technically responsible for providing nightmarish dungeons and hiring “security guards” accused of human rights abuses — everything from extortion to theft, torture and denial of rights to call embassies, lawyers or family.

    Instead of taking a public stand against the flagrant abuse of their valued customers over the last 15 years, airlines at Narita — knowingly or not — have been reaping windfalls from thousands of expelled passengers forced to purchase one-way tickets at exorbitant prices. Airline officials have not yet replied to requests over the past week for comments on the matter. 

    Whether you are a fresh-minded explorer or a jaded expat fluent in the language and culture, the numbers are shocking, and an embarrassing revelation into the darkest side of Japan, a country that prides itself on safety and rule of law.

    Amnesty International’s annual report for 2011 says Japan accepted 30 refugees out of about 1000 applicants this past year. It’s not clear what happened to the other 970 or so applicants. Many of them could still be incarcerated.

    According to the Immigration Bureau, Japan deports on average 20,000 foreigners every year, including  33,000 in 2005, and another 18,578 in 2010. In other words, Japan kicked out about one-fifth the number of people — 91,778 — who were, as of January 2010, “overstaying their visas”. In reality, “overstaying” means they were dedicating their lives to working for Japanese bosses or employing Japanese in their own businesses, in a country that desperately needs entrepreneurs and job creators. These people, who would normally become immigrants or refugees in other countries, often become prisoners and suicide cases in Japan. All of these people were customers of airlines at Narita. 

    That 2010 number — 18,578 individuals with names and families, often in Japan — is enough to fill about 100 jets flying out of Japan during the mass foreign exodus from aftershocks and radiation fears in March.

    That number — 18,578 — is similar to the official death toll from the March 11 tsunami, which triggered a wave of international sympathy for the plight of Japan.

    Yet other than Amnesty, the UNHCR and some courageous NGOs, few foreign organizations or celebrities have done anything about a system of abuses that ultimately damages Japan’s relations with its key trading partners, causes more than 100,000 people to bear grudges against Japan, andstains the image and balance sheets of airlines who have lost thousands of expelled foreigners as customers. 

    Many immigration officers are aware of these issues, and some are trying to reform from within. One of the bureau’s main critics is their former chief, Hidenori Sakanaka. “One year of confinement is mentally tough,” Hidenori Sakanaka, who headed the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau from April 2002 to March 2005, told the Japan Times in July, 2010. The JT noted reports of suicides by a Brazilian and South Korean earlier that year, and hunger strikes at detention centers. “The Immigration Bureau must stop suicides and hunger strikes.”

    He said detention centers and the Immigration Bureau must go public about the suicides and treatment of detainees, and also explain how a Ghanaian man, who had been working in Japan for 22 years, died in the custody of immigration officers at Narita airport in March 2010. “The incidents give the Immigration Bureau a chance to improve itself.”

    Sakanaka has also authored a book asking readers whether they want “a Bigger Japan” teeming with immigrants, or a “Smaller Japan” with few foreign faces.

    Japan’s Immigration Bureau declares on its website (http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/) that it’s motto is “internationalization in compliance with the rules.” It says the bureau makes “contributions to sound development of Japanese society” by “making efforts for smoother cross-border human mobility” and “deporting undesirable aliens”.

    The problem, activists say, is their view of who is “undesirable.” In fact, few of the 18,578 deportees in 2010 were hardcore criminals threatening Japanese society. The Japanese media stereotype of them as being poor, dirty, uneducated miscreants is completely wrong. Many deportees have Japanese wives, children, friends and pets. Many are fluent in Japanese, with college degrees and successful careers.

    “Jim” is a white male college professor from the United States, who began teaching in Japan about 30 years ago. I first met him in the airport’s “special examination room”. He was wearing a suit and tie like other middle-aged businessmen. He had just walked off a United Airlines flight from America. He wanted to spend Christmas with his 20-year old son, now living with his ex-wife in the Tokyo area. “I got a really cheap ticket, and decided to go for it to see my son,” he says. “The airline let me on, so there shouldn’t have been a problem.”

    Jim would spend Christmas in the dank, windowless dungeon, where for 72 hours he was a victim of extortion, theft, strip-searching, abuse, denial of rights and expulsion from Japan at a rip-off price. (I would later discover that he had given speeches supporting anti-nuke protesters in Japan.)

    ((But even Jim was fortunate compared with Danny Bloom, an American journalist who, after working for five years at the Daily Yomiuri, says he was arrested on charges of overstaying his visa, held in solitary confinement for 41 days in 1995, and deported from Japan. He says he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which affects an estimated 30 million Americans, due to a plane crash in Alaska, and couldn’t fly to Seoul to obtain a work permit. Now exiled in Taiwan, he says he can never return to “the police state” of Japan, even though he still loves Japanese people.)) 

    ((Other educated white males from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia, who have contacted me since this story first appeared, say privately that they were also victims of wrongful deportation and similar abuses.))

     

    x–x—x—x—x—x—x–x–x—x–x–x—x–x–x

     

    WHO IS WATCHING THE GUARDS?

     

    Jim’s ordeal, and my own experience during a 30-hour detention at Narita and expulsion on Christmas Eve from Japan, confirms Amnesty’s reports dating back to the year 2000, when they first discovered a secret gulag housing thousands of foreigners.

    As other victims have told Amnesty, it’s a scam, and a money-maker for the airlines and security guards. At Narita, they have arbitrary powers, and they use them. They can decide “Entry Denied”, and then find a rule or excuse to justify it. They don’t have to explain their reasons, and the appeal process is a sham.

    Since there aren’t many reports of these abuses at Haneda and other airports in Japan, victims suspect there is a criminal syndicate operating at Narita since at least 1996. One guy marks a paper “Entry Denied.” He hands you off to a guy who shakes you down for 30,000 yen, who then hands you off to another guy who takes away your rights in the dungeon, who then hands you off to another guy who forces you to buy a rip-off plane ticket. If Amnesty is correct in estimating 7 cases per day on average, this syndicate could earn 200,000 yen per day in extortion fees, and 300,000 to perhaps a million yen per day on marked up airline tickets. Where does the money go? Who can stop them from doing this?

    My own experience is consistent with several previous cases cited by Amnesty, and at least five other victims who have emailed me their stories. In my case, Asiana Airlines staff at the check-in counter in Seoul saw that I had a proper visa for Japan, and let me board a flight to Tokyo. The immigration officer at Narita, however, didn’t even look through my Canadian passport, where he would have found proper stamps, working visas, and multiple re-entry permits dating back years. While taking my fingerprints, he saw my name pop up on a list on his computer. (I have strong reason to believe that I have been blacklisted due to my critical coverage of TEPCO, Japan Tobacco, Olympus, JAL, the yakuza, fascists, and state neglect of tsunami survivors and nuclear refugees.) He marked a paper and gave my passport to another officer.

    After leading me to the “special examinations room”, hostile immigration officials at Narita falsified my statements, disregarded my proof, confiscated my passport and belongings, and arbitrarily denied me permission to enter Japan, where I have built up a career as a journalist covering Asia since 1987.  They gave no sensible explanation for their decision. An officer simply wrote “no proof, entry denied” on a document, and asked me to sign it. I refused.

    I was shocked that they could do that. But I shouldn’t have been. Thousands of foreigners arriving at Narita have been victimized by brutal thugs and racists — some of whom are not ethnically Japanese. According to Amnesty, airlines at Narita hire “security guards” to “escort” their passengers to the “detention facilities” — which are de facto maximum security jails. These guards also deny basic human rights, such as phone calls to lawyers, embassies or UNHCR. These guards harass, beat, or torture airline customers into paying “service fees”. In Jim’s case, they abused him until he finally coughed up 30,000 yen, about 400 US. They demanded the same from me, and also took money from my wallet. Gear was also stolen from my baggage.

    Then, after passengers have been deported or denied landing rights, they are forced to acquire an overpriced one-way ticket. Since nobody can stop them from stealing or confiscating your possessions, the guards can use your credit cards or cash to buy tickets against your will. Since nobody is overseeing their extra-legal actions, it’s possible that the guards are taking kickbacks from airline staff selling the outrageously priced tickets.

    In my case, employees at the airport said that I would have to pay as much as 400,000 yen ($5000) for a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Vancouver and Calgary. With a one-way ticket “purchased” against my will, they forced me onto a flight to Canada without much winter clothing for minus 40 temperatures in Alberta. They even called my longtime Japanese partner in Tokyo and threatened her, saying that if she didn’t pay for the ticket, her partner would face lengthy jail time.

     

    After nearly 25 years of life in Asia, I arrived in Canada with 3-days clothing, far away from my house in Tokyo.

     

    (((Who are these guards? Who is employing them? In my delirium during detention, I originally thought I saw “gas” written on their uniforms and van. After a rough draft of this story first appeared, several people wrote to say the guards are working for g4s, a UK-based company founded more than 100 years ago. A spokesman for g4s says this is not true. 

     

    Adam Mynott, director of media relations at g4s, has kindly requested a correction of this. After being contacted by a reporter with The Economist, Mr. Mynott told me in an email that g4s “does not have any security business whatsoever at Narita Airport, nor are there any g4s affiliated Japanese companies working as security guards at the airport.”

     

    I also have found no proof that g4s is operating at Narita. 

     

    This raises key questions: who are the guards escorting detainees at Narita? What company are they working for? Why is “gas” written on the side of their van? Since “gAs” and “g4s” look quite similar, is that company “pirating” the logo of g4s, a respected international company? Or is it simply a coincidence?

     

    A security company working behind the scenes in Japan might have good reason for wanting to somehow draw upon the global success of g4s. 

     

    According to links sent by readers after this story first appeared, g4s is indeed one of the world’s largest companies, with more than 600,000 employees in 125 countries. They reportedly supply security guards to more than 60 airports including Heathrow, Oslo and Vancouver, US military bases in South Korea, Immigration Removal Centers in the UK and detention centres in Australia, a state prison in Birmingham, England, the 2012 London Olympics, US nuclear power plants, oil tankers facing pirate attacks off Somalia, and Japanese embassies around the world. (Note the photo of an armed woman guarding a nuclear reactor: http://careers.g4s.com/2010/11/g4s-nuclear-security-services-corporation-nssc/

     

    It’s not clear where g4s operates in Japan. In South Korea, the US military on December 15 (only a week before I returned from Seoul), accused g4s of violating a contract to guard their bases there, according to Stars and Stripes. Former guards have refused to work for the new company for longer hours and lower wages.  These guards have protested outside U.S. Army bases, including Yongsan Garrison, Camp Red Cloud, Camp Casey, Camp Humphreys, Camp Henry and Camp Carroll. (http://www.stripes.com/news/gis-still-manning-gates-in-s-korea-as-contractor-struggles-to-fill-slots-1.163646)

     

    A company press release said they won a $400 million contract to screen passengers and baggage at 20 airports in Canada, beginning November 1, 2011. When I passed through airports in Vancouver and Calgary on December 24, I found the security staff to be exceptionally friendly and professional. 

     

    The company’s official website (www.g4s.com.) says they help ensure “the safety and welfare” of millions of people worldwide. “We secure airports and embassies, protect cash and valuables for banks and retailers across the globe, safeguard some of the most exciting events in the global sporting and entertainment calendar, and are a trusted partner to governments worldwide,keeping personnel and some of the world’s most important buildings safe and secure. What we do touches people’s lives in nearly every area you can imagine.”

     

    ((http://www.g4s.com) (info@jp-g4s.com, +81-42-519-9303) US media contact: Fiona Walters, Chief Communications Officer,+1 561 691 6459)

     

    (As of January 17, it remains unclear who hired the guards accused of extortion and abuses at Narita since at least 1996. It’s also unclear if the guards, speaking foreign languages during my detention, were Gurkhas from Nepal or nationals of other countries.) 

     

    The immigration bureau’s own documents confirm that airlines are responsible for hiring the security guards at Narita. “Concerning your expenses for being in Japan (meal, lodging, guard etc.) till your departure, the Immigration Bureau cannot take any responsibility,” said an officially stamped notice of the Ministry of Justice Tokyo Immigration Bureau, given to me a few hours before my expulsion. “This is a matter between you and your carrier (airline company).”

    Many airlines gained respect for flying passengers for free or reduced prices out of danger zones after the 2004 tsunami and 2011 nuclear disaster. ANA and JAL, which use Narita as a hub for their global operations, are among the most respected airlines in the world, and they are highly-regarded for their service and safety. Yet credit card and airline employees have stated that they would not normally reimburse payments in such cases, since their passengers had technically“authorized” purchase by signing forms. As one victim of this scam has noted, it’s the moral equivalent of an armed bank robber getting off because the victimized bank teller, fearing for her life, “signed” the withdrawal slip.

    ENDS

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

    UPDATE JANUARY 20, 2012 FROM DEBITO

    In related news regarding violence/homicide by private security companies towards their detainees, Private Eye (UK) Issue 1291 24 June – July 7, 2011 reported the following:

    =======================
    PRIVATE SECURITY
    G4S locks up the captive market

    Scan of the article at
    http://www.claresambrook.com/campaign-page/Images-campaign-page/Private-Eye-(21-June-Issue-1291).jpg

    CONGRATULATIONS to G4S, the gigantic “Securing Your World” security company that has made sales of GBP 4.2 billion to the Ministry of Justice [UK] alone. Justice secretary Ken Clarke, in reply to a parliamentary question, listed ten contracts with G4S, including running prisons, escorting prisoners and tagging offenders.

    This is in addition to its GBP 42 million in Foreign Office security deals (GBP million in Afghanistan alone) — although these are believed to represent the mere tip of an iceberg, because the FO said details of its numerous contracts around world “are not kept centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost”.

    Then there is the company’s Welfare to Work bonanza, which, as chief executive David Taylor-Smith told financial analysts last month, “when clocked in next year will be GBP 130 million”, not to mention to the “very strong pipeline”that he boasted was heading G4S’s way from the Department of Health.

    Evidently profiting from the public sector carve-up, G4S is the ideal lucrative refuge for former well-connected government ministers such as John Reid, former home secretary and minister of health, defence and transport. Reid, now a peer, went on the G4S payroll in 2008 when he was a backbench MP and is now a G4S non-executive director.

    Amid all this good news, only a party pooper would point out that G4S may face corporate manslaughter charges over the death last year of deportee Jimmy Mubenga, after use of “restraint” at Heathrow; or that the company is awaiting sentence in Australia in the case of an Aboriginal elder who was cooked to death (dying of heatstroke and suffer third-degree burns) as he was transported across the outback in the back of a badly maintained G4S van with no air conditioning, little water, and no way of alerting drivers in the front to his dreadful plight. The company has pleaded guilty to charges of failing to ensure the man’s health and wellbeing.

    But then, with a maximum penalty of a mere AU$ 400,000 (GBP 260,000), it won’t eat into the profits too much.

    ——-

    Last week it emerged that G4S received 773 complaints last year from removal centre detainees — an increase of 240 on the previous year.
    =======================

    ENDS

    COMMENT: Sorry to bring in an unrelated American political “talking point”, but if “corporations are people”, it seems that unlike people, corporations really CAN get away with murder. And even if G4S was uninvolved in the Narita Airport events discussed on Debito.org, the rot and unaccountability of the thuggish private security firms managing the post 9-11 bonanza seems to be systemwide. This must be known about and done away with.

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 91 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2, 2012

    Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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 JANUARY 2, 2012

    Happy New Year! Hope it’s a better one for Japan than 2011. Regarding that, have a read tomorrow of my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column #47, coming out Tuesday, January 3, with my fourth annual round-up of the top 10 human rights events that affected Japan’s NJ residents last year. I won’t spoil the surprise of what made the list, but let me say that I pull no punches. Here’s my concluding paragraph:

    =============================
    “2011 was the year the world realized Japan has peaked. Its aging and increasingly-conservative public is trapped in a downward spiral of economic stagnation and inept governance. It is further burdened by an ingrained mistrust of the outsider (JBC Oct. 7, 2008) as well as by blind faith in a mythology of uniqueness, powerlessness as a virtue, and perpetual victimhood. Japan has lost its attractiveness as a place for newcomers to live and settle, since they may be outright blamed for Japan’s troubles if not ostracized for daring to fix them. Now, thanks to the continuous slow-burn disaster of Fukushima, anyone (who bothers to listen anymore) can now hear the doors of Japan’s historically-cyclical insularity slowly creaking shut.”
    =============================

    Have a read tomorrow! And a Happy New Year, everyone!

    Table of Contents:

    //////////////////////////////////////////////
    END TIMES
    1) The System really is irredeemably broken: BBC: Tsunami relief funds diverted to GOJ whaling program
    2) Japan’s Broken System Pt 2: H-Japan cites AFP, Reuters, Yomiuri. NYT on how bad GOJ ineptness and obfuscation re Fukushima fiasco is getting

    WEIRD AND CAPRICIOUS J BUREAUCRACY
    3) Tokyo Reporter: Bust of Gas Panic bars in Roppongi due to “poorly behaving” foreigners allegedly breaking J laws against “dancing”
    4) Arbitrary bureaucratic hurdles for registering international marriages in Tokyo Edogawa-ku Ward office. Have things changed?
    5) J on how Japan’s Immigration Bureau uses unlegislated bureaucratic guidelines to trump the letter of the law, in this case re obtaining Permanent Residency
    6) Gaijinwife blog on her house check — is having authorities visit Permanent Residency applicant’s home and throughly photograph its interior now SOP?

    HOLIDAY DIVERSIONS:
    7) How “religious” treatment of things Japanese allows for Japan to be kid-gloved through international public debate
    8 ) Seidensticker in TIME/LIFE World Library book on Japan dated 1965. Compare and contrast with today’s assessments.
    9) End-year Irony #1: Japan cancels free flights for NJ tourists, claims it’s “insensitive”, while funding GOJ whaling expeditions
    10) End-year Irony #2: Japanese cast as Roman in “Thermae Romae” despite J complaints about Chinese cast as Japanese in “Memoirs of a Geisha”
    11) DEBITO.ORG POLL: Agree or disagree: “2011 was a good year for me.”

    … and finally…

    12) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec. 6, 2011, on the effects of a lack of “fairness” as a strong cultural value in Japan (full text)
    //////////////////////////////////////////////

    By ARUDOU Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter Feed arudoudebito (now at 900 followers, thanks!)
    Freely forwardable

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

    END TIMES

    1) The System really is irredeemably broken: BBC: Tsunami relief funds diverted to GOJ whaling program

    A bit of a tangent, but an important one, as it’s a watershed moment. I saw some news last December that made me say out loud, “That’s torn it. The System is irredeemable.” According to the BBC and the SMH below, we have relief efforts that should be going towards helping its own citizens recover from a tsunami and botched corrupt nuclear disaster going towards a GOJ pet project, a corrupt one that essentially exists to thumb its nose at the world: whaling. Yes, whaling.

    People might have excused the GOJ for botched relief efforts up to now because a) the scale of the disaster is unprecedented or facing too many unknowns, b) the infrastructure was too damaged for efficient cleanup and rescue, c) things just take time and money to fix. But there is NO excuse for diverting money away from relief efforts for this kind of vanity project. It’s porkbarrel at the expense of a slowly-poisoned public.

    And do you think the domestic media would have exposed this if activists and the foreign media hadn’t? The System is broken, and the Japanese public, cowed by a forever-fortified culture of submission to authority that punishes people for ever trying to do something about it, will not fix it. As I have argued before, Japan has never had a bottom-up revolution. And I don’t see it happening at this time no matter how corrupt and poisoned things get.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9745

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

    2) Japan’s Broken System Pt 2: H-Japan cites AFP, Reuters, Yomiuri. NYT on how bad GOJ ineptness and obfuscation re Fukushima fiasco is getting

    DS: Here is a review of the SDF (Self-Defense Forces) and their uneven and slow attempts to clear irradiated soil. It seems that they carry as little protection as many of the ad-hoc volunteer groups. Some of the work was outsourced to private companies, but all of the different groups mostly work with shovels and buckets. “‘There’s no magical way to decontaminate the areas instantly. Our job is to prove our technology, even though it’s low-tech,’ said an official of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which is jointly conducting the decontamination project with the central government.” And “A dosimeter briefly displayed radiation levels of seven to eight microsieverts per hour during the cleanup. The central government has set a goal of lowering the radiation level to 20 millisieverts per year and 3.8 microsieverts per hour in the contaminated zones.”

    Here is the New York Times article that gives a broader scope to the issues, and problems, of decontamination. Fackler writes, “So far, the government is following a pattern set since the nuclear accident, dismissing dangers, often prematurely, and laboring to minimize the scope of the catastrophe. Already, the trial cleanups have stalled: the government failed to anticipate communities’ reluctance to store tons of soil to be scraped from contaminated yards and fields.” This is midst continuing reports of opposition by local communities to allow radioactive soil to be relocated and dumped in their own area…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9756

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

    WEIRD AND CAPRICIOUS J BUREAUCRACY

    3) Tokyo Reporter: Bust of Gas Panic bars in Roppongi due to “poorly behaving” foreigners allegedly breaking J laws against “dancing”

    Sometimes it seems to me that rules in Japan are made just to keep people from having fun. For example, cultural conventions hinder swimming after Obon in the south (despite still being jolly hot outside — I’ve been in southern Shikoku in late August and found campsites closed and beaches deserted), and have seen police command the public get out of the ocean in Okinawa (I’m told there are some times of the year when ocean swimming in this semitropical climate is officially frowned upon) on New Year’s Day. We’ve been told we can’t play games (such as chess or euchre) at izakayas by barkeeps; similarly, in a Tokyo “Irish bar” during a JALT conference, we had Irish friends who brought out their pocket instruments to play Irish music, only to be told that it was causing discomfort to the customers (it wasn’t; people were clapping and tapping along), and they had to be quiet in favor of the canned Irish music being piped in. Japan’s frowning on outdoor screens during the World Cup 2002 (unlike in Korea, Japan’s fans had to watch the games within walls) due to alleged traffic control and crime prevention concerns. I’m sure Readers can come up with lots more examples — of anal-retentive people who use their power to summarily prevent public expressions of joy and release (that is, without the socially-accepted cloak of too much alcohol).

    Now we have this actually legally-established ban on “dancing without a license” after 1 a.m. I could understand late-night controls on noise etc., but dancing?? Not only that, the cause of dancing is deemed to be foreign in origin. Yeah right, Japanese don’t dance. And when does dancing begin and just tapping out a rhythm end? And when does the accusation, made below, of making the neighbors uncomfortable because foreigners are around end?

    Sounds like yet another NPA pretense to raid the “foreigner clubs”. And it isn’t the first time — try 2007’s raid on Hiroshima’s “El Barco” (which let anyone visibly Japanese go and targeted the NJ for Immigration checks) on the charge of dancing violations, and 2009’s Roppongi bar raids and NJ spot urine checks for drugs (which in this case are supposed to require a warrant). So I guess accusations of “dancing” are something that doesn’t involve racial profiling — unless, of course, you say that the foreigners in specific are committing them. As the article below basically does. Arbitrary and capricious.

    Tokyo Reporter: The weekend bust of two popular nightclubs within the Gas Panic chain was due to the presence of undesirable foreigners, reports Nikkan Gendai (Nov. 30)… A journalist who covers the adult entertainment industry says the chain of foreigner-frequented bars is popular for those on low budgets, but in recent times police have been taking notice of trouble. “Recently, poorly behaving foreigners from the Middle East and South-East Asia have started showing up,” says the source. “They make others not want to come around, and maybe some neighbors complained.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9706

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

    4) Arbitrary bureaucratic hurdles for registering international marriages in Tokyo Edogawa-ku Ward office. Have things changed?

    K: My fiance and I went to get married today, and from the second we walked in the door it was: “D’oh.” I understand that there have been many occasions of abuse of the system, but my fiance called the offices to ask what we needed to register. We took everything, but the second we walked in the door, it all changed.

    My fiance tried to convince me it was HIS fault that the office needed more “proof”. I told him to not give me a load of BS, and eventually he admitted that the staff even told him point blank: “Look, it’s different because you are marrying a foreigner. If she were Japanese you wouldn’t have this problem, but she’s a foreigner.”

    We brought every single document that they asked for. He called, made a checklist, and we brought it with us. Now they need everything from all of my “foreign proof and documentation” translated, extra stamps, his parents permission for him to marry me, etc. They told him none of that would be needed when he called, but when it came time to actually “seal the deal”, and we were standing in front of them, that is what we were told. We double checked with my embassy, etc, and we got told the same thing: “You don’t need any of that in your ward, just what you already have”. The items they ask for aren’t even on the ward’s website.

    What should I do, as I don’t feel this should be allowed. I looked at your site, but didn’t see it mentioned about what one should do if it is a governmental institution itself.

    I’ve dealt with so many sideways looks, been asked not to enter into establishments down south, etc, all because I am not good enough. I am “gaijin”. I’m not sure how you take it. My Japanese professor in college told me he left after 20 years, despite having a fiance, as he couldn’t take it. No matter what he did, he was still always “gaijin”. I understand, finally, what he means.

    COMMENT: So, what are experiences of others out there? I certainly didn’t have this rigmarole, but I got married all the way back in 1989. My impression from others has always been that it’s pretty easy to get married in Japan to a Japanese, period. Have things recently changed?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9731

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

    5) J on how Japan’s Immigration Bureau uses unlegislated bureaucratic guidelines to trump the letter of the law, in this case re obtaining Permanent Residency

    J: I think I have an undeniable open-and-shut appeal case in which the courts will most likely overturn an immigration officer’s illegal decline of Permanent Residency. What makes [my] PR decline obviously “illegal” is that the following Law was ignored:
    #1 reason for declination is: having committed a crime.
    #2 reason for declination is: being financially too poor.
    #3 reason for declination is: not being a profit to Japan.
    The Law then nicely goes on to state that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens. So, this means that if an immigration officer wants to legally decline Permanent Residency to a spouse of a Japanese citizen, he is REQUIRED to claim reason #3. My case is: I’m married to a Japanese citizen (7 years) and yet the immigration officer declined my Permanent Residence using reason #1, “previous conviction” [for a traffic accident].

    Followup from J: Whoever wrote the original Law saying that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens, their goal was clear: to let foreigners married to Japanese citizens become Permanent Residents, regardless of whether they were convicted criminals, or poor, or both. But then, some bureaucrats within immigration with the opposite goal (limiting PRs) decided to write some new “Guidelines” which say the exact opposite.

    These new “Guidelines” (which the Unelected bureaucrats proclaim “trumps” the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers) say that reason #3 includes convictions… Guidelines written by Unelected bureaucrats are REVERSING and TRUMPING the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers, plus let’s remember that these Guidelines are usually secret.

    Do the Elected Lawmakers know that their will has been reversed and trumped? Do the Elected Lawmakers know that these new guidelines are in direct conflict with national Laws?

    My conversation recently with an immigration official summed it up perfectly, when I read him the Law stating that reason #1 can’t be used against me, he said, “That’s just a law!”

    I couldn’t believe it, this officer actually said, in front of his co-workers, “Sore wa tada no houritsu dake!” His tone was perfectly clear, “WE make the decisions around here, not laws.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9650

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

    6) Gaijinwife blog on her house check — is having authorities visit Permanent Residency applicant’s home and throughly photograph its interior now SOP?

    Gaijinwife: Two men from the immigration office [were] waiting in their car across the street when I got home from shopping at about 3pm. They show me their ID badges and say they are here to do a checkup on my application for permanent residency that I submitted in August. They give me a piece of paper to sign saying that I give them permission to come into the house and have a look round. I have had no warning they would be coming so it is just pure luck I’m not still in my PJs squiffing wine and watching horny housewife porn on an illegal streaming site.

    The first thing they do is take a photo of the array of shoes in the genkan — focussing on the kids shoes. They ask me questions about the kids, where Granny K sleeps and then come into the lounge where they take a photo of the fire — the DVDs and the lego on the mantlepiece above it. We haven’t used the fire this season yet but when we do all the toys and shit will go and the big metal guard will come out — they asked about it. I offered to show them but that wasn’t necessary.

    Then they wanted to know where the kids clothes were — as if shoes, lego, DVDs, and a pile of unfolded kids laundry on the sofa wasn’t enough. He even took a picture of a pulled out drawer with kids clothes in it. I then got quizzed on the futon downstairs — was that the master bedroom? No, I said, it is where I am sleeping cause I’ve got a hacking cough and no point keeping hub up as well. Oh, so you and your hub aren’t sleeping in the same room? No, but we do usually. Would you like to see our bedroom — its upstairs. So up we go where more photos are taken of our bedroom (bed miraculously made) and kids bedrooms…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9623

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

    HOLIDAY DIVERSIONS:

    7) How “religious” treatment of things Japanese allows for Japan to be kid-gloved through international public debate

    As a special treat, allow me to connect some dots between terms of public discourse: How Japan gets kid-gloved in international debate because it gets treated, consciously or unconsciously, with religious reverence.

    It’s a theory I’ve been developing in my mind for several years now: How Japan has no religion except “Japaneseness” itself, and how adherence (or irreverence) towards it produces zealots and heretics who influence the shape and scope of Japan-connected debate.

    So let me type in two works — one journalistic, the other polemic — and let you connect the dots as I did when I discovered them last November. I hope you find the juxtaposition as insightful as I did.

    National Geographic May 1994, on world rice: “Next stop, Japan. At the Grand Shrines of Ise, 190 miles southwest of Tokyo, the most revered precinct of Japan’s Shinto religion, white-robed priests cook rice twice daily and present it to the sun goddess, Amaterasu, who, they say, is the ancestor of the imperial family.

    “The goddess brought a handful of rice from the heavens,” a senior priest tells me, “so that we may grow it and prosper.” He adds that in the first ceremony performed by each new emperor, he steps behind a screen to meet the goddess and emerges as the embodiment of Ninigi no Mikoto, the god of the ripened rice plant. Then every autumn the emperor sends to Ise the first stalks harvested from the rice field he himself has planted on the imperial palace gorunds. All Japanese, says the priest, owe their kokoro — their spiritual essence, their Japaneseness — to the goddess, “and they maintain it by eating rice, rice grown in Japan.”

    Japanese law, in fact, long restricted the importation of rice. “Rice is a very special case,” explained Koji Futada, then parliamentary vice minister for agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. “It is our staple food, and so we must have a reliable supply as a matter of national security. That is why we politicians favor sulf-sufficiency, the domestic growing of all the rice we eat.”

    Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion”: “A widespread assumption, which nearly everybody in our society accepts — the non-religious included — is that religious faith is especially vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect, in a different class from the respect that any human being should pay to any other… If the advocates of apartheid had their wits about them they would claim — for all I know truthfully — that allowing mixed races is against their religion. A good part of the opposition would respectfully tiptoe away.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9728

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

    8 ) Seidensticker in TIME/LIFE World Library book on Japan dated 1965. Compare and contrast with today’s assessments.

    Happy holidays. Today I offer you some historical perspective regarding overseas dialog on Japan, in this case policy towards Japan by the United States. The year is 1965 (first edition 1961), an excerpt from a book about my age offering Edward Seidensticker, famous translator and interpreter of things Japanese for the English-reading outsider. This is a “WORLD LIBRARY” monthly library book on Japan (published by Time Life Inc.). His conclusion, in part:

    Seidensticker: So many forces shaping the future of Japan are nevertheless out of Japanese hands, and therefore beyond the power of anyone to influence, that no country can afford to be unmindful of them. This can be said of any country, but it is particularly true of a country that remains divided.

    For the West, and particularly its most powerful nation, a pair of injunctions would seem to be an apt conclusion to what has been said: Be quiet, and be strong.

    Be quiet. If the troubles the United States had with Japan in 1960 taught a lesson, it was that the Japanese must not be pushed to a decision about their responsibilities in the world. They may eventually come to a decision by their own devices, but as things stand today, nothing should be done that might give the impression that the United States is applying pressure…

    Debito’s comment, in part: In sum, this is a thoughtful article, and in 2000 words Seidensticker acquits himself well when it comes to knowledge and sensitivity towards Japan. But it’s clearly dated (not just because of smug hindsight to see how many predictions he got wrong); it’s clearly in the Edwin Reischauer camp of “poor, poor, misunderstood Japan, let’s not be ignorant or mean towards it”, meaning protecting the status quo or else someday Japan will attack us.

    Yet now, fifty years later, Japan has essentially gotten everything it wanted from the West in order to develop and prosper. Yet I believe it’s heading back towards insularity today due to structures and habits that were NOT removed from Japan’s postwar bureaucracy and education system. Such as a weak investigative press, an economic system not geared beyond developmental capitalism, a lack of solid oversight systems that encourage rule of law rather than allow bureaucratic extralegal guidelines or political filibustering, a lackluster judiciary that cannot (or refuses to) hold powerful people and bureaucrats responsible, a public undereducated beyond a mythological and anti-scientific “uniqueness” mindset, able to understand equality and fairness towards people who are disenfranchised or who are not members of The Tribe, etc. These are all essential developments crucial to the development of an equitable society that were stalled or stymied (starting with the Reverse Course of 1947) under the very same name of maintaining the delicate balance of Japan’s anti-communist status quo. Well, the Cold War is long over, folks, yet Japan still seems locked into unhealthy dependency relationships (unless it is able to lord it over poorer countries in cynical and venal attempts to influence world politics in its own petty directions; also unhealthy). Only this time, for the past twenty years and counting, Japan simply isn’t getting rich from it any longer.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9523

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

    9) End-year Irony #1: Japan cancels free flights for NJ tourists, claims it’s “insensitive”, while funding GOJ whaling expeditions

    As the sands in the 2011 hourglass trickle away, here are a couple of posts to be filed away under Ironies. Today’s deals with how the GOJ sees “Tohoku disasters relief measures” — both in terms of funding foreign tourists and in funding ships killing whales.

    Looks like one ministry is more prone to feeling public shame than the other, so, according to the announcements below, the suddenly “insensitive” proposal to give free plane tickets to foreign visitors to visit Japan has been cancelled. The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry, however, is singularly shameless, so I doubt that will happen to whaling. Now, sooner or later, we’ll have to show sensitivity somehow to those afflicted by the Tohoku disasters. I wonder which ministry that falls under. Probably a lot of it under the former Construction Ministry arm of MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism), which has a long history of being even more shameless in ripping off the Japanese public than MAFF. Once again, evidence of just how out of touch Japanese bureaucrats are with the public they purportedly serve. I guess the next disaster, sadly, will have to happen in Tokyo.

    JNTO: This autumn there were many reports about the Japan Tourism Agency proposing to give away 10,000 free flights to Japan in 2012. After the proposal was reported, people from around the world sent messages to Japan National Tourism Organization saying they would like to participate in the programme to visit Japan and to help revitalize Japan’s tourism industry following the March 2011 earthquake. So it is with regret that the Japanese Government announced the budget for this proposal has been declined, so the flight give away will not be going ahead.

    Thanks to the support of the international community, Japan is making vigorous progress towards reconstruction in the earthquake and tsunami affected northeast of Japan, but recovery from the earthquake continues to be a pressing issue.

    “We realise that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people around the world, but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese Government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction. We also would not want people thinking that the generous donations given from around the world to aide [sic] those affected by the disaster was being spent on giving people free flights,” said Kylie Clark, Head of PR & Marketing, Japan National Tourism Organization.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9807

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

    10) End-year Irony #2: Japanese cast as Roman in “Thermae Romae” despite J complaints about Chinese cast as Japanese in “Memoirs of a Geisha”

    Here’s another bit of irony from Japanland. It’s quite petty, so I kept it as a year-end frivolous tangent: Japanese movies can cast Japanese as NJ, but NJ movies cannot cast NJ as Japanese. Works like this:

    JDG: [According to Japan Probe, live-action movie THERMAE ROMAE] casts a Japanese as a Roman]. I thought that it was a bit rich to cast a Japanese guy as an Italian, considering the outcry in Japan when when a Chinese actress starred in the film adaptation of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, the showing of which was even banned by some theaters in Japan on that basis! It’s a double standard.

    COMMENT: There is likewise a long history in Hollywood to cast Asians fungibly — Chinese cast as Japanese in WWII propagandistic movies, some quite odd ethnic Japanese cast as “real” Japanese or even other Orientals (e.g., Mako, Gedde Watanabe), etc., etc., and that’s before we get to the outright racial stereotyping done in period-piece embarrassments such as Mickey Rooney’s Mr Yunioshi in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S. Doesn’t take much to dig up the same phenomenon anywhere in world cinema.

    But this is becoming unforgivable in this time of greater globalization, migration, immigration, and general ability to research, travel, and understand different people. People in the media should be trying harder. And they certainly are not in the THERMAE example. Nor were they in SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (2010) — the live-adaptation of the manga and anime starring Kimura Takuya, in which the whole human galaxy is exclusively Japanese! (according to the IMDB full cast list) Even the STAR TREK crew casting did a bit better than that way back in the mid-1960’s! (Incidentally, I love how again-fungible-Asian Mr. Sulu is translated into “Mr. Katou” for the Japanese audience… But I digress. Then again, at least the cast is diverse enough to allow for that.)

    I’m no doubt opening a can of worms (I can hardly wait until someone brings up the deliberate cultural insensitivities of BORAT…), but let’s end the year on a relatively frivolous note, since 2011 was probably the worst year on record for Japan and its residents in my lifetime.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9704

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

    11) DEBITO.ORG POLL: Agree or disagree: “2011 was a good year for me.”

    Options are simply:

    Strongly agree
    Agree
    Neutral
    Disagree
    Strongly disagree

    Vote at any blog page at http://www.debito.org

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

    … and finally…

    12) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec. 6, 2011, on the effects of a lack of “fairness” as a strong cultural value in Japan 

    The Japan Times, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011
    JUST BE CAUSE column 46 for the Community Page
    For the sake of Japan’s future, foreigners deserve a fair shake
    By ARUDOU DEBITO
    Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111206ad.html
    Version with comments links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=9733

    Responses to this column published in the JT last week at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111227hs.html
    (They were so full of straw men and things I didn’t say that I didn’t bother to blog about them.)

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

    Thanks for reading! Here’s to a better year this year! Arudou Debito
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 2, 2012 ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    End-year Irony #1: Japan cancels free flights for NJ tourists, claims it’s “insensitive”, while funding GOJ whaling expeditions

    Posted on Friday, December 30th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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.  As the sands in the 2011 hourglass trickle away, here are a couple of posts to be filed away under Ironies.  Today’s deals with how the GOJ sees “Tohoku disasters relief measures” — both in terms of funding foreign tourists and in funding ships killing whales.

    Looks like one ministry is more prone to feeling public shame than the other, so, according to the announcements below, the suddenly “insensitive” proposal to give free plane tickets to foreign visitors to visit Japan has been cancelled.  The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry, however, is singularly shameless, so I doubt that will happen to whaling.

    Now, sooner or later, we’ll have to show sensitivity somehow to those afflicted by the Tohoku disasters.  I wonder which ministry that falls under.  Probably a lot of it under the former Construction Ministry arm of MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism), which has a long history of being even more shameless in ripping off the Japanese public than MAFF.

    Once again, evidence of just how out of touch Japanese bureaucrats are with the public they purportedly serve.  I guess the next disaster, sadly, will have to happen in Tokyo.  Arudou Debito

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

    Japan Flight Give Away Not to Go Ahead
    December 26, 2011, courtesy of CB
    http://www.seejapan.co.uk/JNTO_Consumer/media/press-releases/press-release-detail/11-12-26/Japan-Flight-Give-Away-Not-to-Go-Ahead

    This autumn there were many reports about the Japan Tourism Agency proposing to give away 10,000 free flights to Japan in 2012. After the proposal was reported, people from around the world sent messages to Japan National Tourism Organization saying they would like to participate in the programme to visit Japan and to help revitalize Japan’s tourism industry following the March 2011 earthquake. So it is with regret that the Japanese Government announced the budget for this proposal has been declined, so the flight give away will not be going ahead.

    Thanks to the support of the international community, Japan is making vigorous progress towards reconstruction in the earthquake and tsunami affected northeast of Japan, but recovery from the earthquake continues to be a pressing issue.

    “We realise that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people around the world, but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese Government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction. We also would not want people thinking that the generous donations given from around the world to aide [sic] those affected by the disaster was being spent on giving people free flights.

    [“]The places most popular with visitors to Japan – Tokyo, Kyoto, Hakone, Osaka, Hiroshima, Sapporo and Okinawa – were outside the earthquake and tsunami affected areas. Please do not let the fact that there will be no free flights put you off visiting Japan. There are lots of great deals available and Japan is ready and waiting to welcome back visitors more warmly than ever before,” said Kylie Clark, Head of PR & Marketing, Japan National Tourism Organization.

    To find out more about the deals available on flights and holidays to Japan, please visit www.seejapan.co.uk.

    For more information about this matter, please visit the Japan Tourism Agency website at www.visitjapan.jp and Japan National Tourism Organization’s global website at www.jnto.go.jp. The Japan Tourism Agency statement on this annoucement can be viewed here.

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

    Above link reproduced below:

    ”Fly to Japan! Project”(10,000 FREE FLIGHTS TO FOREIGNERS)
    http://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/en/page08_000020.html
    Last Update : 2011/12/26

    The project titled Fly to Japan! (to offer flight tickets to 10,000 foreigners with high potential to communicate Japan’s attractions), which had been covered in a number of media in autumn this year, was not approved as a governmental draft budget of FY 2012.

    We express our hearty gratitude to a multitude of people for offering inquiries and messages to support Japan after its coverage.

    As the recovery from the earthquake is an ongoing urgent task, Japan has been vigorously working towards its restoration with the support from the world. Almost all of Japan has been back to normal and ready to welcome visitors. We are sincerely looking forward to having you to see Japan with your own eyes.
    Japan Tourism Agency and Japan National Tourism Organization would like to inform you of the events and promotions in 2012. If you are interested, please register as a Visit Japan fan from the site below.
    http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/fb/index.html

    ENDS

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

    Referential site:

    You Won’t Believe How Japan Is Spending Extra Fukushima Relief Money
    Business Insider.com, By Dina Spector, December 08, 2011

    http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-12-08/news/30489430_1_moratorium-on-commercial-whaling-whale-hunting-fisheries-agency#ixzz1hnDrEjHW

    Of the $230 billion in government funds allocated to rebuilding Japan post-tsunami, $29 million is going toward the country’s annual whale hunt, an official from the nation’s Fisheries Agency told the AP.

    The yearly whale expeditions that take place in the Antarctic Ocean are extremely controversial, often sparking aggressive anti-whaling campaigns from environmental groups like Greenpeace and the Sea Shepard Conservation Society.

    But Japanese officials argue that the seasonal hunt is largely carried out for research purposes.

    This year, the commercial trip will also aid whaling communities still struggling to recover from the March tsunami.

    The AP reports:

    Tatsuya Nakaoku, a Fisheries Agency official in charge of whaling, defended the move, saying the funding helps support Japan’s whaling industry as a whole, including some whaling towns along the devastated northeastern coast. One ship on the hunt is based in Ishinomaki, a town hit badly by the March 11 tsunami, he said.

    A portion of the funds is also being funneled into efforts to protect the fleet from attacks by environmental groups. For the third year in a row, Coast Guard boats will be sent with the hunting convoy as a precautionary safety measure, reports Yoree Koh of The Wall Street Journal.

    Japan has long drawn criticism from the international community for its whaling practices, which the country considers an integral part of its culture. For decades, Japansese whaling fleets have wriggled their way around a 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling by insisting that whales are captured for scientific research.

    But according to Toko Sekiguchi of Time, “once a whale is killed, scientists collect data from the animal’s remains on its age, birthing rate and diet; the meat is then packaged and sold.”

    Despite outrage from marine activists, whaling ships left Japan on Tuesday on a five-month journey that will return some 900 whales.

    Now see what it’s actually like to go whale hunting >

    Read more: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-12-08/news/30489430_1_moratorium-on-commercial-whaling-whale-hunting-fisheries-agency#ixzz1hnDrEjHW

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents, Tourism | 2 Comments »

    Merry Xmas to those celebrating: How “religious” treatment of things Japanese allows for Japan to be kid-gloved through international public debate

    Posted on Saturday, December 24th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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.  Merry Xmas to those celebrating.  As a special treat, allow me to connect some dots between terms of public discourse:  How Japan gets kid-gloved in international debate because it gets treated, consciously or unconsciously, with religious reverence.

    It’s a theory I’ve been developing in my mind for several years now:  How Japan has no religion except “Japaneseness” itself, and how adherence (or irreverence) towards it produces zealots and heretics who influence the shape and scope of Japan-connected debate.

    So let me type in two works — one journalistic, the other polemic — and let you connect the dots as I did when I discovered them last November.  I hope you find the juxtaposition as insightful as I did.

    I’ll do a couple more of these thinking pieces for the holidays as Debito.org enters 2012, its fifteenth year of operation.  Thanks for reading, everyone.  Arudou Debito

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

    Excerpted from “Rice, the Essential Harvest”, from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (USA) Vol. 185, No. 5, May 1994, pp. 66-72.  By Freelancer Robb Kendrick of Austin, Texas.

    NB: This section comes after the author takes us on a journey of other rice-centered countries.  Watch the subcontextual treatment:  First photos from 1) India, where its caption portrays rice as a means of avoiding starvation; 2) Japan, whose caption immediately resorts to religious subtext: “Colossal strands of rice straw entwine over an entrance to the Izumo Shinto shrine, one of Japan’s oldest.  Denoting a sacred place, the rice-straw rope, — or shimenawa — is the world’s largest at six metric tons.  Grown in Japan for more than 2000 years [sic], rice is woven through culture, diet, even politics.  Small shimenawa often hang over doorways to ward off evil.  One evil the nation cannot stop:  skimpy harvests, which in 1993 forced Japan to ease its sacrosanct restrictions on rice imports.”; 3) Madagascar, seen as staving off hunger in the face of a dearth of harvesting technology; 4) The Philippines, where rice technology is supported under the International Rice Research Institute; and 5) China, where peasant children eat rice for breakfast in rice-growing Zhejiang Province.

    Then we get two paragraphs of text talking about the religious symbolism of rice in Bali.  Then the intercontinental versatility of rice growing and usage (as it’s even used in Budweiser beer), plus the research being done in The Philippines to make it even more so.  Then mentions of low-tech production in The Philippines, with photos of rice being used in a Hindu wedding in India and in religious ceremonies in India and Bali.  Further paragraphs depict how the Balinese meld both ritual and routine in perpetual harvests.  Then we get into the history of rice’s migration from India through to China, and how China has been working on rice hybrids at the Chinese National Rice Research Institute.  Thus the focus of this article has so far been more on the history and ubiquitousness of rice as a staple in many societies.

    Then we get to Japan, and the tone of the article shifts perceptibly:

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

    Next stop, Japan.  At the Grand Shrines of Ise, 190 miles southwest of Tokyo, the most revered precinct of Japan’s Shinto religion, white-robed priests cook rice twice daily and present it to the sun goddess, Amaterasu, who, they say, is the ancestor of the imperial family.

    “The goddess brought a handful of rice from the heavens,” a senior priest tells me, “so that we may grow it and prosper.”  He adds that in the first ceremony performed by each new emperor, he steps behind a screen to meet the goddess and emerges as the embodiment of Ninigi no Mikoto, the god of the ripened rice plant.  Then every autumn the emperor sends to Ise the first stalks harvested from the rice field he himself has planted on the imperial palace gorunds.  All Japanese, says the priest, owe their kokoro — their spiritual essence, their Japaneseness — to the goddess, “and they maintain it by eating rice, rice grown in Japan.”

    Japanese law, in fact, long restricted the importation of rice.  “Rice is a very special case,” explained Koji Futada, then parliamentary vice minister for agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.  “It is our staple food, and so we must have a reliable supply as a matter of national security.  That is why we politicians favor sulf-sufficiency, the domestic growing of all the rice we eat.”

    And also because the farmers exert disproportionate influence in elections?

    “Yes,” he said, “that is also true.”

    And so the government buys the rice from the farmers at about ten times international market prices. It also subsidizes part of the cost to consumers.  Still, Japanese consumers pay about four times as much as they would if they could buy rice in a California supermarket.  All this cost the government about 2.5 billion dollars in 1992.  One result is that land will stay in rice production that might otherwise be available for housing, which is in short supply.  About 5 percent of the city of Tokyo is classified as farmland, worked by 13,000 families.  That would be space enough for tens of thousands of new homes.  Does all this mean that Japanese rice farmers are rolling in money?

    Thirty miles north of the capital, in the Kanto Plain, I visit the Kimura family in the town of Kisai — typical of most of Japan’s 3.5 million rice-farming households:  Rice is not a major part of their working life.  Grandfather Shouichi, 83, along with his son Take and Take’s wife, Iwako, both in their 50s, look after a prosperous gardening-supply business; grandson Masao, 25, commutes to an office in central Tokyo.  Three out of four rice-growing families hereabouts have become “Sunday farmers,” relying on income from other sources, mainly jobs in factories that sprang up nearby in the past ten years.

    The Kimuras farm two and a half acres — this modest size is typical too — and they tell me the work is not arduous:  Excerpt for planting seeds in boxes in a shed, they do it all with machines — transplanter, tractor — in about ten working days for one person, plus a few hours for spraying fertilizer, insecticide, and herbicide.  “Harvesting is no work at all.  We hire a combine.”  What do the Kimuras get out of it?

    “Enough rice for us to eat for a year,” says Shoichi.  “But no profit.  Zero.”  Expenses go up, rice prices don’t.  It’s the same for most farmers around here.  “We do this only because we inherited the land.”

    But nature and international politics are forcing a change.  An unusually cold and rainy summer reduced Japan’s 1993 harvest by some 25 percent, so more than two million tons of rice will have to be imported before the end of this year.  And after that, a newly revised global treaty — the General Agreement on  Tariffs and Trade, or GATT — will oblige to allow annual imports of 4 to 8 percent of its rice requirement.  But will the domestic rice price drop?  Hardly.  The government still sets the wholesale price, and that’s likely to stay high.

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

    That’s it.  The rest of the article deals with a) liberalization of the rice markets in Vietnam, b) rice economies in Europe, c) in Africa, d) in the United States, and finally e) the future of rice technology and how production will have to accommodate growing populations.

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

    Here’s my point:  No other country is treated in this National Geographic article with such reverence and deference as Japan.  Look:  A parroted religious introduction citing an obscure deity is channeled into a discourse on national identity, and an alleged political need for self preservation by excluding outside influences (everyplace else mentioned is seen as increasingly cooperative in developing a reliable food supply).  If anything, many other countries are seen as somehow less able to cope with their future because of their technological or economic insularity.  Not Japan.  It gets a free pass on cultural grounds, with a deference being accorded to “Japaneseness” as a religion.  (There is, by the way, one more picture of Japan in the article — that of sumo wrestlers doing “ritual shiko exercise”, with attention paid to the dohyo rice ring in this “honored Japanese sport”.  Cue the banging of gongs and the occasional shakuhachi flute…)

    Granted, the article does offer up the hope of Japan’s rice market being liberalized, thanks to the disastrous 1993 rice harvest and pressure from GATT.  But now nearly twenty years later, how are those rice imports coming along?  Not so hot: According to the USDA in 2003, “Japan agreed to a quota on rice imports that now brings 682,000 tons of rice into the country annually. However, most of this rice is not released directly into Japan’s market. Instead, imported rice often remains in government stocks until it is released as food aid to developing countries or sold as an input to food processors.”  Meaning it didn’t work.  See a historical article I wrote on the misplaced propagandistic reverence (and GOJ dirty tricks) regarding rice imports here (and also apple imports, while I’m at it), so you can see how the discourse helps keep things closed.

    Why does this keep happening?  My theory is that it is due to the politics of religiosity.  For when you treat Japanese culture as a religion, the terms of debate change, putting rationality, logic, and overall fairness on their back foot.

    Consider this excerpt from Richard Dawkins, “The God Delusion”, between pp. 20 and 23:

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////
    A widespread assumption, which nearly everybody in our society accepts — the non-religious included — is that religious faith is especially vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect, in a different class from the respect that any human being should pay to any other.  Douglas Adams put it so well, in an impromptu speech made in Cambridge shortly before his death, that I never tire of sharing his words:

    “Religion… has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever.  What it means is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything bad about; you’re just not.  Why not?  — because you’re not!’  If somebody votes for a party that you don’t agree with, you’re free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it.  If somebody think taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it.  But on the other hand if somebody says ‘I mustn’t move a light switch on a Saturday’, you say, ‘I respect that’.

    “Why should it be that it’s perfectly legitimate to support the Labour party or the Conservative prty, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows — but to have an opinion about how the Universe… no, that’s holy? … We are used to not challenging religious ideas but it’s very interesting how much of a furore Richard creates when he does it!  Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you’re not allowed to say these things.  Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn’t be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn’t be.”…

    [Dawkins continues further down:]  If the advocates of apartheid had their wits about them they would claim — for all I know truthfully — that allowing mixed races is against their religion.  A good part of the opposition would respectfully tiptoe away.  And it is no use claiming that this is an unfair parallel because apartheid has no rational justification.  The whole point of religious faith, its strength and chief glory, is that it does not depend on rational justification.  The rest of us are expected to defend our prejudices.  But ask a religious person to justify their faith and you infringe “religious liberty”.

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

    This is why appeals to “Japaneseness” so many times take on a religious overtone.  Why does the National Geographic feel the need to interview a priest as some sort of source about world rice?  Allegedly, “because Japanese rice is as essential fundamental to the Japanese people as their kokoro“.  Presto!  It’s off the subject table for rational debate.  Because once you criticize Japan’s rice policy, apparently Japanese are hard-wired to take it as a personal affront.  After all, there IS so much pressure to somehow, somewhere, say something “nice” about Japan — especially if you’re being any way critical.  For balance, some might say, but I would say it is because we feel the pressure to treat Japan more kid-glovey than we would, say, China, Russia, or any other nation, really.  Why?  Out of reverence for how somehow “special” Japan is.

    I believe Japan is neither exceptional nor special (no more special than any other society), and it should be exposed to the same terms of critique and debate as anyone else.  Yet it gets a free pass, as I saw during the Otaru Onsens Case, where for example many bought into the “foreigners must be excluded” thanks in part in reverence to some arguments being made, in paraphrase, were “Japanese baths are a very special place for Japanese people, and if they want those kept pristine and exclusive only for those who really understand Japanese bathing culture, then so be it.”  No need to treat people equally just because they’re people anymore.  Only those born with the sacerdotal kokoro need apply to bathe in these now holy waters.

    This is my Xmas present to Debito.org Readers:  Look at Japan-related discourse now through the lens of religious discourse.  Watch the kid gloves come on.  It is a very careful and deliberate means to defang political debate and stymie change in this society which badly needs it.

    Again, “Japaneseness” as a religion with all the trappings — an analytical thought process in progress on Debito.org.  Arudou Debito

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Exclusionism, Food, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Tangents | 16 Comments »

    J on how Japan’s Immigration Bureau uses unlegislated bureaucratic guidelines to trump the letter of the law, in this case re obtaining Permanent Residency

    Posted on Sunday, December 18th, 2011

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    Hi Blog. Second in this series of arbitrary bureaucratic rule in Japan:  Debito.org Reader J sends me this post about the tribulations he’s had getting his Permanent Residency, and how Immigration Bureau bureaucrats feel they are within their mandate to ignore the letter of the law. According to J, even when you show them their guidelines are unlawful under the law, they have replied, “That’s just a law.” Which of course calls into question the rule of law in Japan, and bureaucrats’ attitudes towards being constrained by legislation meant to preserve the consent of the governed in a democracy.  Arudou Debito

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

    November 8, 2011

    Hi Debito, how’s it going? Who do you think is a good lawyer that has appealed a PR declination successfully before?

    I think I have an undeniable open-and-shut appeal case in which the courts will most likely overturn an immigration officer’s illegal decline of Permanent Residency.

    (Perhaps you remember, I had a car accident once 5 years ago in which I committed a crime – I received probation, since thankfully no people were hurt, only cars damaged.)

    What makes [my] PR decline obviously “illegal” is that the following Law was ignored:
    (1) 素行が善良であること
    (2) 独立の生計を営むに足りる資産又は技能を有すること
    (3) その者の永住が日本国の利益に合すると認められること
    (注)日本人,永住者又は特別永住者の配偶者又は子の場合は,(1)及び(2)に適合することを要しない。
    #1 reason for declination is: having committed a crime.
    #2 reason for declination is: being financially too poor.
    #3 reason for declination is: not being a profit to Japan.
    The Law then nicely goes on to state that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens.

    So, this means that if an immigration officer wants to legally decline Permanent Residency to a spouse of a Japanese citizen, he is REQUIRED to claim reason #3.

    My case is: I’m married to a Japanese citizen (7 years) and yet the immigration officer declined my Permanent Residence using reason #1, “previous conviction”.

    So again, who do you think is a good lawyer? I’m willing to pay his standard price, plus, a 500,000 yen bonus upon successfully overturning this illegal refusal of PR.
    Please let me know if you have any good ideas of who I should call. Sincerely, J 

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

    November 8, 2011

    Hi Debito. Turns out I don’t need a lawyer after all.

    Whoever wrote the original Law saying that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens, their goal was clear: to let foreigners married to Japanese citizens become Permanent Residents, regardless of whether they were convicted criminals, or poor, or both.

    But then, some bureaucrats within immigration with the opposite goal (limiting PRs) decided to write some new “Guidelines” which say the exact opposite.

    These new “Guidelines” (which the Unelected bureaucrats proclaim “trumps” the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers) say that reason #3 includes convictions.

    Any rational person looking at the original Law would say that reason #1 refers to crime (素行が善良であること = 法律を遵守) and reason #3 refers to profit:
    http://www.moj.go.jp/ONLINE/IMMIGRATION/16-4.html

    But now, check out this crafty Heisei 15/16 “update” to the immigration Guidelines (added by unelected immigration bureaucrats) look at the ア、イ、ウ、オ additions:
    (1) 素行が善良であること
    法律を遵守し日常生活においても住民として社会的に非難されることのない生活を営んでいること
    (2) 独立生計を営むに足りる資産又は技能を有すること
    日常生活において公共の負担にならず,その有する資産又は技能等から見て将来において安定した生活が見込まれること
    (3) その者の永住が日本国の利益に合すると認められること
    ア 原則として引き続き10年以上本邦に在留していること。ただし,この期間のうち,就労資格又は居住資格をもって引き続き5年以上在留していることを要する。
    イ 罰金刑や懲役刑などを受けていないこと。納税義務等公的義務を履行していること。
    ウ 現に有している在留資格について,出入国管理及び難民認定法施行規則別表第2に規定されている最長の在留期間をもって在留していること。
    エ 公衆衛生上の観点から有害となるおそれがないこと
    http://www.moj.go.jp/nyuukokukanri/kouhou/nyukan_nyukan50.html

    Cute. So since the door was opened “too wide” by the original Law, just type up some “Guidelines” that moves the “crime disqualification” from reason #1 into reason #3, et voila!

    Now, if I go to court, the court can simply say, “Well, according to this Heisei 15/16 update/addition to the immigration Guidelines (penned by Unelected bureaucrats) you lose. Boom.”

    But, your honor, “reason #1” means “didn’t follow the law” (and “reason #1” doesn’t apply to spouses of Japanese citizens) so how can “didn’t follow the law” be added to “reason #3”?

    Guidelines written by Unelected bureaucrats are REVERSING and TRUMPING the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers, plus let’s remember that these Guidelines are usually secret.

    For example: the LAW says that Passports only have to be shown to immigration officers, but new GUIDELINES say that every Gaikokujin (for example: your single foreigner cousin, living in your house, with a valid visa, NOT RECEIVING KODOMO TEATE [child allowance]) must come allow the Kodomo Teate Section to copy his Passport, or else the couple with kids are penalized.

    Perhaps your single foreigner cousin, living in your house, with a valid visa, NOT RECEIVING KODOMO TEATE, refuses to let some “Kodomo Teate city worker” to copy his Passport?

    According to the new Kodomo Teate Guidelines, if ANY Gaikokujin living in the house refuses to hand over his Passport, the Kodomo Teate will be taken away from the couple with kids.

    So now the couple with children must force any Gaikokujin roommates they are living with to submit to this unlawful new guideline, or else the couple with children will be penalized.

    The couple with children do NOT have to ask their Japanese roommates to submit anything, this unlawful new guideline doesn’t dare ask JAPANESE citizens to show their passport.

    The reasoning for this guideline is “foreigners spend Kodomo Teate money vacationing in Thailand, but Japanese citizens would never do that, so we don’t check Japanese passports.”

    Try asking the Kodomo Teate section for a copy of this new Guideline, they won’t give a copy of it, they won’t even show it to you, because, “Our Guidelines are secret.” Seriously. (!)

    Laws made by the Kokkaigin say that we DON’T have to show our Passport except to immigration officers and when getting our ARC, but: new Guidelines say Kodomo Teate as well.

    If you are a Japanese person receiving Kodomo Teate, with a non-Japanese living in your house, the new Guidelines say ALL Gaikokujin MUST come show their Passport – or else.

    Do the Elected Lawmakers know that their will has been reversed and trumped? Do the Elected Lawmakers know that these new guidelines are in direct conflict with national Laws?

    My conversation recently with an immigration official summed it up perfectly, when I read him the Law stating that reason #1 can’t be used against me, he said, “That’s just a law!”

    I couldn’t believe it, this officer actually said, in front of his co-workers, “それはただの法律だけ!” His tone was perfectly clear, “WE make the decisions around here, not laws.”

    So, nevermind my request for a lawyer, I can see that since the bureaucrats within immigration have craftily moved crime from reason #1 down to reason #3, I can’t get PR, oh well.

    Currently in Japan (in my opinion the best country relative to others) a sad state admittedly exists where Guidelines trump Laws: Unelected bureaucrats trump elected lawmakers.

    Thanks anyway for the good work you do. Sincerely, J :)

    PS – I wonder how the majority of Japanese citizens would feel about a Law that says,
    “From now, only Elected Lawmakers (and publicly-voted initiatives) can create Laws.
    And any Guidelines written by unelected bureaucrats CANNOT conflict with those Laws.
    Plus all Guidelines written by unelected bureaucrats must be Public: no Secret Guidelines.”

    ENDS

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    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, 日本語 | 31 Comments »

    Japan’s Broken System Pt 2: H-Japan cites AFP, Reuters, Yomiuri. NYT on how bad GOJ ineptness and obfuscation re Fukushima fiasco is getting

    Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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.  Dr. David Slater at Sophia U. once again delivers the goods (see his excellent post about how domestic activism is naturally stifled in Japan here).  This is how bad it’s getting in Post-Fukushima Japan, and believe it or not, it’s worse than I thought.

    This is why we have press cartels in Japan to keep it quiet, since the ineptness of and obfuscation by the GOJ (with little apparent hope for things being fixed) makes for depressing reading.  This in a domestic media that wants the public and the world to think “nice things about Japan”.  Too bad.  What’s happening is not nice at all, and without a full and frank public assessment, as I have argued before, people are going to get hurt in the afterglow.

    Might Japan be just a little too proud to ask for help with contamination and containment from outside?  Or isn’t the public’s safety the first priority in all this? The way public money earmarked for relief efforts is being spent, it seems not.  Arudou Debito

    (Referential articles at very bottom.)

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

    From: H-Japan Editor
    Date: 10 December, 2011
    To: H-JAPAN@H-NET.MSU.EDU
    Subject: H-Japan (E): More attempts at decontamination
    Reply-To: H-NET/KIAPS List for Japanese History

    H-JAPAN
    December 10, 2011

    Date: Sun, 11 Dec 2011
    From: David H. Slater
    Subject: More attempts at decontamination

    As decontamination continues, here are a few recent articles.

    “Residents exposed to high doses of radiation” in the Yomiuri:
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111209006244.htm
    Here is the goverment’s review of radiation exposure for residents. “A
    Fukushima prefectural government survey on residents’ external
    radiation exposure showed those in government-set evacuation zones
    were likely exposed to annualized radiation doses of up to 14
    millisieverts, government sources said Friday.” The government-set
    annual limit is 1 millisievert, which means relief workers must limit
    their digging time.

    “SDF battling with brooms, brushes”, the Yomiuri.
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111209006358.htm
    Here is a review of the SDF (Self-Defense Forces) and their uneven and
    slow attempts to clear irradiated soil. It seems that they carry as
    little protection as many of the ad-hoc volunteer groups. Some of the
    work was outsourced to private companies, but all of the different
    groups mostly work with shovels and buckets. “‘There’s no magical way
    to decontaminate the areas instantly. Our job is to prove our
    technology, even though it’s low-tech,’ said an official of the Japan
    Atomic Energy Agency, which is jointly conducting the decontamination
    project with the central government.” And “A dosimeter briefly
    displayed radiation levels of seven to eight microsieverts per hour
    during the cleanup. The central government has set a goal of lowering
    the radiation level to 20 millisieverts per year and 3.8 microsieverts
    per hour in the contaminated zones.”

    Here is the New York Times article that gives a broader scope to the
    issues, and problems, of decontamination. Fackler writes, “So far, the
    government is following a pattern set since the nuclear accident,
    dismissing dangers, often prematurely, and laboring to minimize the
    scope of the catastrophe. Already, the trial cleanups have stalled:
    the government failed to anticipate communities’ reluctance to store
    tons of soil to be scraped from contaminated yards and fields.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/world/asia/japans-huge-nuclear-cleanup-makes-returning-home-a-goal.html

    This is midst continuing reports of opposition by local communities to
    allow radioactive soil to be relocated and dumped in their own area
    .
    The latest ideas include a “giant washer”
    http://www.mysinchew.com/node/67283, or shipping it out sea
    http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL3E7N815V20111208


    David H. Slater, Ph.D.
    Faculty of Liberal Arts
    Sophia University, Tokyo

    ********************************************************
    TO POST A MESSAGE TO THE H-JAPAN LIST
    SEND MAIL TO
    h-japan@h-net.msu.edu
    ********************************************************

    SLATER POST ENDS

    REFERENTIAL ARTICLES

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

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111209006244.htm

    Residents exposed to high doses of radiation

    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 10, 2011)

    A Fukushima prefectural government survey on residents’ external radiation exposure showed those in government-set evacuation zones were likely exposed to annualized radiation doses of up to 14 millisieverts, government sources said Friday.

    This is the first statistical data indicating external radiation exposure among people living around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

    The prefectural government sent questionnaires to about 29,000 residents from Iitatemura, Namiemachi and the Yamakiya area in Kawamatamachi, which are designated as in either a no-entry zone or expanded evacuation zone, between late June and mid-July, ahead of those in other areas. The survey covered the four months after the crisis began.

    The figure is based on analysis of questionnaires from 1,730 people who responded early. The prefectural Fukushima Medical University and the National Institute of Radiological Sciences analyzed the results of the survey.

    About half of the surveyed residents from the three municipalities are believed to have been exposed to external radiation of at least the government-set annual limit of 1 millisievert, according to the sources.

    While the prefecture projected the annualized external radiation exposure would be up to 5 millisieverts for most residents, the figure was 10 millisieverts or higher for about 10 residents.

    Among those examined, a Fukushima plant worker was estimated to have been exposed to a maximum annualized dose of 37 millisieverts, while the highest dose among non-plant workers was 14 millisieverts. The resident is suspected to have gone through a highly contaminated area at the time of evacuation, according to the sources.

    The prefectural government has been conducting health surveys on those who lived in the prefecture when the crisis broke out at the plant.

    The prefectural government plans to release the survey results by the end of December.

    Meanwhile, the city government of Koriyama, also in the prefecture, announced Thursday four primary and middle school students’ cumulative radiation exposure exceeded 0.40 millisievert in the month from Oct. 5. The dose translates into an annualized dose of 4 millisieverts or more, city officials said.

    The data was obtained from measurements by dosimeters that gauge cumulative radiation exposure. The city government distributed the dosimeters to 25,551 primary and middle school students. The cumulative radiation exposure levels among the students ranged between 0.01 millisieverts and 0.45 millisieverts, the city said.

    “Experts told us the figures [for the four students] do not represent health problems, but we’d like to question the students to find out why their radiation exposure levels were high,” a city official said.

    The International Commission on Radiological Protection sets the annual limit for radiation exposure at 20 to 100 millisieverts at the time of an emergency and 1 to 20 millisieverts after the disaster has been contained.

    ends
    ////////////////////////////////////////////
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111209006358.htm

    SDF battling with brooms, brushes

    Dai Adachi and Setsuko Kitaguchi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers (Dec. 10, 2011)

    TOMIOKAMACHI, Fukushima–Self-Defense Forces members have begun decontamination work in the no-entry and expanded evacuation zones in Fukushima Prefecture, using only such low-tech implements as brooms, deck brushes and shovels.

    The central government has commissioned private companies to do decontamination work in some areas on a trial basis, but they, too, lack sophisticated resources, and some Environment Ministry officials involved with the decontamination work are frustrated by its slow pace.

    “The areas to be decontaminated are so wide. I wonder when the radiation levels will go down so residents can return home,” one official said.

    As cold rain fell Thursday, decontamination work by SDF personnel was shown to the media in Tomiokamachi, about nine kilometers from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

    Some SDF members used brooms to gather fallen leaves, while others trimmed weeds growing under trees or shoveled mud from ditches.

    At a first glance, it looked like a peaceful scene at a park. However, the about 300 SDF members were entirely covered by white protective suits, large surgical masks and green gloves.

    On the third-floor balcony of the town office, several personnel used buckets and rope to lower bags of gravel taken from the office’s roof.

    “We’ve no choice but to do this by hand,” an SDF official said.

    SDF personnel also dug up soil in a 3,400-square-meter plot of grassland contaminated with radioactive substances, and carefully cleansed asphalt-covered areas such as a parking lot with high-pressure water sprayers.

    A dosimeter briefly displayed radiation levels of seven to eight microsieverts per hour during the cleanup. The central government has set a goal of lowering the radiation level to 20 millisieverts per year and 3.8 microsieverts per hour in the contaminated zones.

    SDF members will be engaged in the work for about two weeks.

    “To attain the goal, we’ll have to make our personnel finish a substantial amount of work,” an SDF senior official said.

    The central government asked the SDF to do the decontamination work as an advance party, with the aim of securing rest areas for private decontamination companies and bases to store materials before the government starts a full-fledged decontamination project in 12 municipalities in the no-entry and expanded evacuation zones from January.

    About 900 SDF members currently are involved in that work at municipal offices in Tomiokamachi, Namiemachi, Narahamachi and Iitatemura of the prefecture.

    “If we commissioned private companies to do the preparations, it would take about 2-1/2 months because we have to make an official notice and hold a bid. We wanted to secure at least storage bases by the end of this year,” said Satoshi Takayama, parliamentary secretary of the Environment Ministry.

    At some places in the zones, the central government has commissioned private companies to do the decontamination, in model projects to find effective measures to rid the areas of radiation.

    However, these model projects also lack high-tech equipment.

    “There’s no magical way to decontaminate the areas instantly. Our job is to prove our technology, even though it’s low-tech,” said an official of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which is jointly conducting the decontamination project with the central government.

    Some local governments in the zones still cannot start decontamination at all.

    According to the agency, decontamination has begun at only five municipalities because it takes time to reach an agreement with local governments and residents over the establishment of temporary places to store removed soil and other matter.

    Futabamachi, which hosts the nuclear power plant, has not yet agreed to hold an explanatory meeting on the decontamination work.

    “It’s meaningless to hold [an explanatory meeting] at this stage as [decontamination] technology has yet to be established,” an official of the municipal government said.

    Decontamination activities also are affected by the weather. If work is conducted in heavy rain, for example, removed soil will be washed away, which could spread radioactive materials.

    Decontamination cannot be conducted if snow piles up because the snow will throw off radiation readings and workers might scrape away more soil than necessary.

    The decontamination of roads and highways will be given priority and start in January, followed by residential areas including private houses.

    However, a concrete operation schedule for the project has yet to be decided, as are specific instructions to private companies.

    It still is not certain how long it will be before residents can return home.

    “Not all the places have high radiation levels. There must be areas where people can return comparatively earlier. However, the targeted areas are large, so it will take a substantial time for some areas,” a ministry official said.

    ends

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

    Japan Split on Hope for Vast Radiation Cleanup
    By MARTIN FACKLER
    Published: December 6, 2011
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/world/asia/japans-huge-nuclear-cleanup-makes-returning-home-a-goal.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    FUTABA, Japan — Futaba is a modern-day ghost town — not a boomtown gone bust, not even entirely a victim of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that leveled other parts of Japan’s northeast coast.

    Its traditional wooden homes have begun to sag and collapse since they were abandoned in March by residents fleeing the nuclear plant on the edge of town that began spiraling toward disaster. Roofs possibly damaged by the earth’s shaking have let rain seep in, starting the rot that is eating at the houses from the inside.

    The roadway arch at the entrance to the empty town almost seems a taunt. It reads:

    “Nuclear energy: a correct understanding brings a prosperous lifestyle.”

    Those who fled Futaba are among the nearly 90,000 people evacuated from a 12-mile zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant and another area to the northwest contaminated when a plume from the plant scattered radioactive cesium and iodine.

    Now, Japan is drawing up plans for a cleanup that is both monumental and unprecedented, in the hopes that those displaced can go home.

    The debate over whether to repopulate the area, if trial cleanups prove effective, has become a proxy for a larger battle over the future of Japan. Supporters see rehabilitating the area as a chance to showcase the country’s formidable determination and superior technical skills — proof that Japan is still a great power.

    For them, the cleanup is a perfect metaphor for Japan’s rebirth.

    Critics counter that the effort to clean Fukushima Prefecture could end up as perhaps the biggest of Japan’s white-elephant public works projects — and yet another example of post-disaster Japan reverting to the wasteful ways that have crippled economic growth for two decades.

    So far, the government is following a pattern set since the nuclear accident, dismissing dangers, often prematurely, and laboring to minimize the scope of the catastrophe. Already, the trial cleanups have stalled: the government failed to anticipate communities’ reluctance to store tons of soil to be scraped from contaminated yards and fields.

    And a radiation specialist who tested the results of an extensive local cleanup in a nearby city found that exposure levels remained above international safety standards for long-term habitation.

    Even a vocal supporter of repatriation suggests that the government has not yet leveled with its people about the seriousness of their predicament.

    “I believe it is possible to save Fukushima,” said the supporter, Tatsuhiko Kodama, director of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo. “But many evacuated residents must accept that it won’t happen in their lifetimes.”

    To judge the huge scale of what Japan is contemplating, consider that experts say residents can return home safely only after thousands of buildings are scrubbed of radioactive particles and much of the topsoil from an area the size of Connecticut is replaced.

    Even forested mountains will probably need to be decontaminated, which might necessitate clear-cutting and literally scraping them clean.

    The Soviet Union did not attempt such a cleanup after the Chernobyl accident of 1986, the only nuclear disaster larger than that at Fukushima Daiichi. The government instead relocated about 300,000 people, abandoning vast tracts of farmland.

    Many Japanese officials believe that they do not have that luxury; the area contaminated above an international safety standard for the general public covers more than an estimated 3 percent of the landmass of this densely populated nation.

    “We are different from Chernobyl,” said Toshitsuna Watanabe, 64, the mayor of Okuma, one of the towns that was evacuated. “We are determined to go back. Japan has the will and the technology to do this.”

    Such resolve reflects, in part, a deep attachment to home for rural Japanese like Mr. Watanabe, whose family has lived in Okuma for 19 generations. Their heartfelt appeals to go back have won wide sympathy across Japan, making it hard for people to oppose their wishes.

    But quiet resistance has begun to grow, both among those who were displaced and those who fear the country will need to sacrifice too much without guarantees that a multibillion-dollar cleanup will provide enough protection.

    Soothing pronouncements by local governments and academics about the eventual ability to live safely near the ruined plant can seem to be based on little more than hope.

    No one knows how much exposure to low doses of radiation causes a significant risk of premature death. That means Japanese living in contaminated areas are likely to become the subjects of future studies — the second time in seven decades that Japanese have become a test case for the effects of radiation exposure, after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    The national government has declared itself responsible for cleaning up only the towns in the evacuation zone; local governments have already begun cleaning cities and towns outside that area.

    Inside the 12-mile ring, which includes Futaba, the Environmental Ministry has pledged to reduce radiation levels by half within two years — a relatively easy goal because short-lived isotopes will deteriorate. The bigger question is how long it will take to reach the ultimate goal of bringing levels down to about 1 millisievert per year, the annual limit for the general public from artificial sources of radiation that is recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. That is a much more daunting task given that it will require removing cesium 137, an isotope that will remain radioactive for decades.

    Trial cleanups have been delayed for months by the search for a storage site for enough contaminated dirt to fill 33 domed football stadiums. Even evacuated communities have refused to accept it.

    And Tomoya Yamauchi, the radiation expert from Kobe University who performed tests in Fukushima City after extensive remediation efforts, found that radiation levels inside homes had dropped by only about 25 percent. That left parts of the city with levels of radiation four times higher than the recommended maximum exposure.

    “We can only conclude that these efforts have so far been a failure,” he said.

    Minamisoma, a small city whose center sits about 15 miles from the nuclear plant, is a good place to get a sense of the likely limitations of decontamination efforts.

    The city has cleaned dozens of schools, parks and sports facilities in hopes of enticing back the 30,000 of its 70,000 residents who have yet to return since the accident. On a recent morning, a small army of bulldozers and dump trucks were resurfacing a high school soccer field and baseball diamond with a layer of reddish brown dirt. Workers buried the old topsoil in a deep hole in a corner of the soccer field. The crew’s overseer, Masahiro Sakura, said readings at the field had dropped substantially, but he remains anxious because many parts of the city were not expected to be decontaminated for at least two years.

    These days, he lets his three young daughters outdoors only to go to school and play in a resurfaced park. “Is it realistic to live like this?” he asked.

    The challenges are sure to be more intense inside the 12-mile zone, where radiation levels in some places have reached nearly 510 millisieverts a year, 25 times above the cutoff for evacuation.

    Already, the proposed repatriation has opened rifts among those who have been displaced. The 11,500 displaced residents of Okuma — many of whom now live in rows of prefabricated homes 60 miles inland — are enduring just such a divide.

    The mayor, Mr. Watanabe, has directed the town to draw up its own plan to return to its original location within three to five years by building a new town on farmland in Okuma’s less contaminated western edge.

    Although Mr. Watanabe won a recent election, his challenger found significant support among residents with small children for his plan to relocate to a different part of Japan. Mitsue Ikeda, one supporter, said she would never go home, especially after a medical exam showed that her 8-year-old son, Yuma, had ingested cesium.

    “It’s too dangerous,” Ms. Ikeda, 47, said. “How are we supposed to live, by wearing face masks all the time?”

    She, like many other evacuees, berated the government, saying it was fixated on cleaning up to avoid paying compensation.

    Many older residents, by contrast, said they should be allowed to return.

    “Smoking cigarettes is more dangerous than radiation,” said Eiichi Tsukamoto, 70, who worked at the Daiichi plant for 40 years as a repairman. “We can make Okuma a model to the world of how to restore a community after a nuclear accident.”

    But even Mr. Kodama, the radiation expert who supports a government cleanup, said such a victory would be hollow, and short-lived if young people did not return. He suggested that the government start rebuilding communities by rebuilding trust eroded over months of official evasion.

    “Saving Fukushima requires not just money and effort, but also faith,” he said. “There is no point if only older people go back.”

    This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

    Correction: December 9, 2011

    An earlier version of this article said the evacuation zone covered more than 3 percent of Japan’s landmass; in fact it is the area contaminated above an international safety standard for the general public that covers roughly 3 percent of the country’s landmass.

    ends

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

    Japan looks to giant washer to clean Fukushima debris

    http://www.mysinchew.com/node/67283

     2011-12-02 14:16

    TOKYO, December 2, 2011 (AFP) – Japan is looking to launder tsunami debris in a giant washing machine to get rid of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident, a researcher said Friday.

    In a scheme they hope will result in finally being able to dispose of contaminated waste left by the waves that crushed towns on the country’s northeast coast, a cleaning plant will be built near the Fukushima Daiichi power station.

    Shredded waste — including the remains of houses and cars destroyed by the tsunami — will be put inside a huge water-filled drum where steel attachments will scrub away radioactive particles, the researcher told AFP.

    The plan is a joint scheme between Tokyo-based construction company Toda Corp. and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

    “We, as a general contractor, have experience of cleaning soil and hope that we will eventually be able to decontaminate soil as well as debris,” said a research at Toda Corp, who asked not to be named.

    He said researchers will experiment with pure water and detergents to find the best way to decontaminate the waste and hope to be able to recycle the water using a series of filters.

    In an initial test they will use a tub 120 centimetres (four feet) long and plan to install multiple washing drums three times larger than that once the project fully launches, he said.

    Large areas around the Fukushima plant have been left contaminated with radiation since the tsunami of March 11 knocked out its cooling systems and sent reactors into meltdown.

    The world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl has not directly claimed any lives, but has left tens of thousands of people displaced and rendered whole towns uninhabitable, possibly for decades.

    The radiation that has leaked from the crippled reactors has contaminated the waste left behind by the tsunami, complicating the clean-up operation.

    The Japanese government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power have pledged to bring the reactors to a state of cold shutdown by the end of the year.

    Government planners have said radiation-contaminated debris could be stored in a facility in Fukushima prefecture for at least 30 years until its final destination is determined.

    ends

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

    Tepco may dump decontaminated water from Fukushima plant into sea

    Reuters Thu Dec 8, 2011 4:18am GMT

    By Shinichi Saoshiro

    TOKYO Dec 8 (Reuters) – The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant said on Thursday that it is considering dumping water it treated for radiation contamination into the ocean as early as March, prompting protests from fishing groups.

    Tokyo Electric Power, (Tepco) the utility operating Fukushima’s Daiichi plant hit by a powerful tsunami in March in the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years, said it was running out of space to store some of the water it treated at the plant due to an inflow of groundwater.

    “We would like to increase the number of tanks to accommodate the water but it will be difficult to do so indefinitely,” Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto told reporters, adding the plant was likely to reach its storage capacity around March.

    The admission is a setback for the utility which appeared to be making progress in its cleanup after building a cooling system that no longer required pumping in vast amounts of water. It also built a system, drawing on French, U.S. and Japanese technology, that decontaminates the vast pool of tainted runoff to supply the cooling system with water.

    The company said representatives of a nationwide federation of fishing cooperatives on Thursday visited its Tokyo headquarters to protest.

    Tepco said it is still assessing the potential environmental impact of releasing the accumulating water, but that if forced to do so it would discharge water expected to have the least effect the environment.

    Tens of thousands tons of water contaminated with radiation have accumulated at the plant, 240 kilometres (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo after early on in the crisis Tepco tried to cool reactors that suffered nuclear fuel meltdowns by pouring in water, much of it from the sea.

    “Our priority is also to look for ways to limit the inflow of groundwater into the buildings at the plant,” Matsumoto said.

    The operator estimates that due to the inflow the amount of water requiring storage is increasing by 200 to 500 tonnes every day.

    The utility released more than 10,000 tonnes of water tainted with low levels of radiation in April to free up space for water that had much higher levels of radioactivity, drawing sharp criticism from neighboring countries such as South Korea and China. (Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

    ends

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    Posted in Japanese Government, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 42 Comments »

    The System really is irredeemably broken: BBC: Tsunami relief funds diverted to GOJ whaling program

    Posted on Saturday, December 10th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

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    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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. A bit of a tangent, but an important one, as it’s a watershed moment. I saw some news three days ago that made me say out loud, “That’s torn it. The System is irredeemable.” According to the BBC and the SMH below, we have relief efforts that should be going towards helping its own citizens recover from a tsunami and botched corrupt nuclear disaster going towards a GOJ pet project, a corrupt one that essentially exists to thumb its nose at the world: whaling. Yes, whaling.

    People might have excused the GOJ for botched relief efforts up to now because a) the scale of the disaster is unprecedented or facing too many unknowns, b) the infrastructure was too damaged for efficient cleanup and rescue, c) things just take time and money to fix. But there is NO excuse for diverting money away from relief efforts for this kind of vanity project. It’s porkbarrel at the expense of a slowly-poisoned public.

    And do you think the domestic media would have exposed this if activists and the foreign media hadn’t? The System is broken, and the Japanese public, cowed by a forever-fortified culture of submission to authority that punishes people for ever trying to do something about it, will not fix it. As I have argued before, Japan has never had a bottom-up revolution. And I don’t see it happening at this time no matter how corrupt and poisoned things get.

    As coroner, I must aver: The GOJ has bankrupted Japan morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably. Arudou Debito

    UPDATE:  NB to Commenters:  Please avoid getting the discussion bogged down in the petty politics of whaling (this has been discussed on much better forums).  This is not a blog post about whaling per se, rather about GOJ corruption and money earmarked for disaster relief purposes being sunk into what is in this blogger’s opinion an unrelated industry.  If you wish to debate cogently whether or not this activity counts as corruption, go ahead.  But tangents and snipes about alleged ocean terrorism, Sea Shepherd tactics etc. will not be approved.

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

    BBC News 7 December 2011
    Japanese tsunami fund ‘used for whaling programme’
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16064002  Courtesy of JK

    Japan has used funds from its tsunami recovery budget to subsidise its controversial annual whaling programme, environmental activists say.

    Greenpeace says 2.3bn yen ($30m; £19m) is being used to fund extra security measures for the whaling fleet.

    Japanese officials argued when they applied for extra funding that whaling helped coastal communities.

    The whaling fleet reportedly headed for Antarctic waters this week, though Tokyo has not confirmed the reports.

    There has been a ban on commercial whaling for 25 years, but Japan catches about 1,000 whales each year in what it says is a scientific research programme.

    Critics say those claims are just a cover for a commercial operation, and accuse the Japanese of hunting the animals to the brink of extinction only for food.

    Activists from the Sea Shepherd group have attacked the fleet as part of their campaign against whaling.

    Last year Japanese abandoned its programme before it was completed, citing “harassment” from the group.

    Earlier this year, the Japanese Fisheries Agency applied to the government for extra funding for its programme from the emergency budget aimed at helping communities recover from the devastating tsunami and earthquake.

    The agency argued that some of the towns and villages affected relied on whaling for their livelihoods.

    Activists say the agency’s funding request was approved and it has spent the money on extra security and covering its debts.

    Junichi Sato, from Greenpeace Japan, told Australia’s ABC that there was no link between the whaling programme and the tsunami recovery.

    “It is simply used to cover the debts of the whaling programme, because the whaling programme itself has been suffering from big financial problems,” he said.

    The Australian and New Zealand governments have both criticised Japan’s decision to continue whaling.

    They are both considering sending vessels to monitor the whaling fleet.

    Sea Shepherd activists have promised to carry on their campaign against the whaling fleet.
    ENDS

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

    Japan uses $28.5m in disaster funds for whaling: claim
    Sydney Morning Herald
    Andrew Darby in Hobart December 07, 2011  Courtesy AJ
    http://m.smh.com.au/environment/whale-watch/japan-uses-285m-in-disaster-funds-for-whaling-claim-20111207-1ohzc.html

    A growing number of Japanese environmental and consumer groups are joining in protest against the use of disaster recovery funds to subsidise the loss-making whaling fleet.

    The government recently gave the whalers 2.28 billion yen ($28.5 million) as part of a special budget for recovery from the March 11 triple disaster. Mr Kaz Inadome from the Japanese Consulate said no money from the disaster relief funds collected in Australia had been used. All that money had gone to the Red Cross in Japan.

    Much of the extra funding will go towards security forces for the whaling fleet, which left Japan yesterday for the Antarctic, where conflict is expected with Sea Shepherd activists.

    A total of 18 Japanese non-government organisations, including the Environmental Lawyers Federation and Consumers Union have signed on to a protest letter to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

    “We demand the government not waste any more taxpayers’ money on the whaling program, but instead spend this money on projects that actually help the people, communities and region affected by the tragic March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis,” the letter said.

    “It is clear that the Japanese government’s stated goal of resuming commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean is unachievable. The whaling program cannot survive without taxpayer handouts.”

    Greenpeace Japan distributed the letter, because, according to executive director, Junichi Sato: “This is a new low for the shameful whaling industry and the callous politicians that support it.”

    However, the Fisheries Agency of Japan said the funding was necessary because some traditional whaling communities were devastated on March 11.

    Senior Agriculture and Fisheries vice-minister Nobutaka Tsutsui told a review committee recently the government was determined to continue its research program until it led to the resumption of commercial whaling.

    Mr Kaz Inadome from the Japanese Consulate said no money from the disaster relief fund had been used.
    ENDS

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

    JAPAN TSUNAMI FUNDS AID WHALING FLEET

    Kieran Mulvaney
    Analysis by Kieran Mulvaney 
    DISCOVERY NEWS Thu Dec 8, 2011 01:50 PM ET 

    http://news.discovery.com/earth/japan-uses-tsunami-funds-to-support-whaling-fleet-111208.html  Courtesy of CG

    Japan’s Antarctic whaling fleet has left port on its annual hunt, seeking to kill 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales for what it claims are ‘scientific research’ purposes. (The meat from the hunt is sold commercially.)

    The hunt, already controversial, has attracted greater ire from critics with an admission by the Japanese government that it is using funds earmarked for earthquake and tsunami reconstruction to subsidize the fleet’s operations.

    Greenpeace accused the government of diverting 2.28 billion yen (US$30m) from the earthquake recovery fund to help pay for this year’s hunt.

    “It is absolutely disgraceful for the Japanese government to pump yet more taxpayer money on an unneeded, unwanted and economically unviable whaling programme, when funds are desperately needed for recovery efforts,” said Junichi Sato, the executive director of Greenpeace Japan, to The Guardian newspaper.

    Japan’s Fisheries Agency stated that the money would be used for “stabilising whale research.” In the words of one official: “We will bolster measures against acts of sabotage by anti-whaling groups so as to stably carry out the Antarctic whaling research.”

    That was a reference to the fact that last year’s hunt was called off a month early, with the fleet having caught only 172 whales, which the Fisheries Agency blamed on the attentions of Sea Shepherd. Japan’s Coast Guard stated that it would be sending an unspecified number of vessels to escort the whaling fleet. Some domestic news reports indicated that there would be two escorts.

    Fisheries Agency official Tatsuya Nakaoku justified the use of funds by claiming that a successful whaling program would help ensure the recovery of some coastal towns devastated by this year’s tsunami. 

    “The government will support the reconstruction effort of a whaling town and nearby areas,” he told AFP. “This program can help it reconstruct food-processing plants there… Many people in the area eat whale meat, too. They are waiting for Japan’s commercial whaling to resume.”

    However, Greenpeace sources told Discovery News that as far as they could tell, 2 billion yen was being appropriated as a straight subsidy for the Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR), the body that runs Japan’s ‘research’ whaling program. This is on top of an existing 700 million yen subsidy. (Update: This Wall Street journal blog quotes a Fisheries Agency official as confirming that 1.8 billion yen is for “supporting whaling research.”)

    They also expressed confidence that the fleet would not come close to reaching its publicly-stated quota, pointing out that, two years ago, the number of ‘catchers’ – or harpoon-equipped hunting vessels – in the fleet dropped from three to two, and last year it dropped further, from two to one. This year, as last year, just one catcher will be used. Within official circles in Tokyo, the sources said, the target quota is much lower, largely due to a recognition that there is not enough demand for the meat.

    That view was supported by Patrick Ramage, Whale Program Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

    “As always, it’s important to pay attention, not to what is said but what actually happens,” he told Discovery News. “On the one hand, the Japanese government is finding the funds to continue with this money-losing enterprise. On the other hand, all the signals – for example, at the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission – are that this may well be the last hurrah for Japanese whaling in the Antarctic. The current Prime Minister is a long-time advocate for and supporter of the whaling industry. But the number of those supporters in the Diet, and particularly the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, is dwindling.”

    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Food, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tangents, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 34 Comments »

    The tug of war continues: Fukuoka High Court overrules Oita District Court that doubted, then affirmed, Oita Prefectural Govt’s denial of welfare benefits to superannuated NJ Permanent Resident

    Posted on Friday, November 18th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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. Last November I mentioned in my Debito.org Newsletter about this weird case of administrative exclusionism and atypical jurisprudence in Japan, thus:

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

    16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

    Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

    A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

    The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

    In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

    Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

    Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

    ”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

    BUT

    17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

    After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:

    Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…

    According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

    The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”

    COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

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

    Then, as the clock continues to run out for this superannuated NJ, we now have another flip, fortunately in the more inclusive direction:

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

    Court rules noncitizens are eligible for welfare
    The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2011), courtesy of lots of people
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111116006297.htm

    FUKUOKA–The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling.

    The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.

    Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.”

    The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits.

    According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.

    According to the ruling, the woman applied for the public welfare at the Oita city government in December 2008, but the city government rejected her request.

    The point at issue in the lawsuit was whether the Daily Life Protection Law can be applied to noncitizens.

    Article 1 of the law limits recipients to Japanese citizens. As for non-Japanese residents, each local government has made respective judgments based on a 1954 notice issued by the then Health and Welfare Ministry, which said the law would be applied with some modification.

    Though there are many foreign permanent residents in Japan who receive public welfare benefits, their eligibility has not been legally guaranteed.

    The high court ruling noted Diet deliberations in 1981 on ratifying the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which stipulates that countries “shall accord to refugees within their territories treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

    At the time, the Diet presented a view that Japan would not need to revise the Daily Life Protection Law to eliminate nationality clauses in it because the government has already been applying the law with necessary modifications.

    The high court judged that the Japanese government had at that moment become obliged under international law to provide public welfare assistance to foreign residents in the country.

    The high court also pointed out that the central government in 1990 limited the range of noncitizen recipients to those with permanent resident status in terms of management of the public welfare system.

    ENDS

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

    永住外国人に生活保護受給権認める、大分市逆転敗訴

    (2011年11月16日 読売新聞)

    http://kyushu.yomiuri.co.jp/news/national/20111116-OYS1T00215.htm

    大分市が生活保護申請を却下したのは違法として、永住資格を持つ中国籍の女性(79)が市を相手取り、却下取り消しなどを求めた訴訟の控訴審判決が15日、福岡高裁であった。古賀寛裁判長は「永住資格を持つ外国人は日本人と同様の待遇を受ける地位が法的に保護されている」として、原告敗訴の1審・大分地裁判決を覆し、市の却下処分を取り消した。原告弁護団によると、永住外国人に生活保護を受ける法的根拠を示した判決は全国で初めて。

    判決によると女性の両親は中国人で、1932年に京都市で生まれた。夫の親族から預金通帳などを取り上げられて生活資金に困り、2008年12月、大分市に生活保護を申請。市は「銀行に預金が相当額ある」として却下した。

    訴訟の争点は生活保護法が外国人に適用されるかどうかだった。同法1条では対象を国民に限定し、外国人については旧厚生省が54年に出した「法を準用する」との通知に基づき、各自治体が適否を判断してきた。自治体の裁量に任されており、外国人の権利は法的に保障されていない。

    今回の高裁判決は、政府が81年、「難民などに対し自国民と同一待遇を与える」とする国連難民条約への批准に伴う国会審議で、法が準用されているため国籍条項撤廃などの改正は必要ないとの見解を示した点を重視。この時点で、国は外国人への生活保護について国際法上などでの法的義務を負ったと認定した。

    ENDS

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

    大分・生活保護訴訟:永住外国人も対象 福岡高裁、法的根拠認める判決
    毎日新聞 2011年11月16日 東京朝刊
    http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20111116ddm041040099000c.html

    永住資格を持つ大分市の中国籍の女性(79)が、外国籍であることなどを理由に生活保護申請を却下した大分市の処分取り消しを求めた訴訟の控訴審判決が15日、福岡高裁であった。古賀寛裁判長は「一定範囲の外国人も生活保護法の準用による法的保護の対象になる」と述べ、1審判決を取り消し、市の却下処分を取り消した。原告側弁護団によると永住外国人について生活保護を受ける法的根拠を示した判決は初めて。弁護団は「外国人の保護申請や不服申し立てに影響する画期的判決」と評価している。

    判決によると、女性は日本で生まれ育ち母語も日本語。夫とともに不動産業で生活していたが夫は病気になり、親族から預金通帳を取り上げられ、生活に困窮。08年12月、市に生活保護を申請したが「女性名義の預金が相当額ある」として却下されたため提訴した。

    生活保護法は受給者を日本国民に限定しているが、旧厚生省は1954年、外国人に生活保護法を準用するよう都道府県に通知。更に81年の国連難民条約批准を受け、90年には対象を永住外国人に限定するよう通知し「贈与的性格の行政措置」として永住外国人には事実上、生活保護費を支給した。

    1審・大分地裁は昨年10月、生活保護法が国民に限定していることなどから女性の請求を却下した。

    控訴審判決で古賀裁判長は、政府が通知などで永住外国人に生活保護費を支給し続けてきた経緯に言及。「国が一定範囲の外国人に対し日本国民に準じた生活保護法上の待遇を与えることを認めた」と指摘し、原告女性を保護対象と判断した。【岸達也】

    ENDS
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    COMMENT: Okay, that’s good news and a good precedent. Glad they took it away from the denizens of Oita, who clearly started saying “Chotto…” to the petty bureaucrats, then backtracked within two weeks as the wagons encircled to rule against the alleged foreigner (I would like to hear more about her, i.e., if she is in fact a Zainichi or not — there is a difference between ippan eijuusha and tokubetsu eijuusha, after all, and that will be noted by any legal exceptionalists who want to stop further positive precedent building). But the fact that she’s born here, raised here, speaks Japanese as her native language, and is approaching eighty years of age, yet STILL was denied benefits by heartless bureaucrats, backed up by the judiciary, is more than a bit scary. If this gets appealed to the Supreme Court (after all, the GOJ is a sore loser in court), I hope the judges are in a good mood when they start deliberating. Maybe we should send them sweets. Arudou Debito

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Exclusionism, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Lawsuits, 日本語 | 10 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 30, 2011

    Posted on Sunday, October 30th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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 Debito.org Newsletter Readers. Before I start, a word about my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, out November 1, 2011.

    I’ll be talking about the well-established culture of lying in Japanese society, and how it ultimately led to the Fukushima disaster. Opening paragraphs:

    =========================================
    THE FALLOUT FROM SOCIALLY-ACCEPTED LYING (tentative title for now)
    By ARUDOU Debito
    JUST BE CAUSE Column 45 for the Japan Times Community Page
    To be published November 1, 2011

    There is an axiom in Japanese: uso mo houben — “lying is also a means to an end.” It sums up the general attitude in Japan of tolerance of — and even justification for — not telling the truth.

    First — defining “telling the truth” as divulging “the truth” (not a lie), “the whole truth” (full disclosure) and “nothing but the truth” (uncompounded with lies) — consider how lies are deployed in everyday personal interactions.

    Let’s start with good old tatemae (charitably translated as “pretense”).

    By basically saying something you think the listener wants to hear, tatemae is, essentially, lying.

    That becomes clearer when the term is contrasted with its antonym, honne, one’s “true feelings and intentions.”…
    =========================================

    That comes out in the Japan Times, November 1, 2011. Get a copy! Now for:

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 30, 2011

    Table of Contents:

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

    CRIMINALITY DEFENDED AS CULTURAL DIFFERENCE

    1) Reuters on Olympus Japan corruption issue: It takes a NJ whistleblowing CEO to uncover it, yet he gets sacked for “cultural reasons”
    2) Mainichi & Yomiuri: Japanese ex-wife arrested in Hawaii on suspicion of abducting child from custodial father
    3) GOJ wants seat on the UN Human Rights Council for 2013-2015. Here’s MOFA’s formal pledge of Japan’s commitments to human rights. Note what’s missing.
    4) History: Witness the GOJ’s negotiating tactics during WWII with its allies, according to W.L. Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of The Third Reich”. Not much different today.

    POST-FUKUSHIMA INDEFENSIBLES

    5) GOJ Ministry of Environment is dispersing Tohoku debris, including Fukushima nuclear debris, around Japan despite objections of prefectural govts
    6) Health and Education Ministries issue directive to place controls on research going on in Tohoku tsunami disaster zones
    7) From Yokoso Japan to Kawaisou Japan: GOJ to offer free roundtrip flights to NJ tourists to offset fallout fears
    8 ) More GOJ greenmailing: JET Alumni Assocs call on 20 ex-JETs for all-expenses paid trip to tsunami areas, to “let people know what they experienced when they return to their home countries”

    PLUS CA CHANGE AND MISCELLANY

    9) Korea Times: Naturalized Korean decries refusal of entry to sauna, parallels with Otaru Onsens Case
    10) Japan Times: Ichihashi trial bares translation woes: Courts refuse to admit that interpreters often lack the necessary skills
    11) BLOG BIZ: Welcome to the future of blog wars: Debito.org temporarily felled by DMCA notice against this site’s critique of Lance Braman’s Japan Times Letters to the Editor
    12) Weekend Tangent: Saturday Night Live skit on Japan-obsessed American youth; scarily accurate?

    … and finally …

    13) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column of October 4, 2011: “Japan needs less ganbatte, more genuine action”

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

    By ARUDOU Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
    Freely Forwardable
    Get Debito’s latest novel, “IN APPROPRIATE”, on the child abduction issue in Japan, at http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html

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

    CRIMINALITY DEFENDED AS CULTURAL DIFFERENCE

    1) Reuters on Olympus Japan corruption issue: It takes a NJ whistleblowing CEO to uncover it, yet he gets sacked for “cultural reasons”

    This is still a growing issue, and there’s an excellent Reuters article below to hang this blog post on. Consider the case of Michael Woodford, a Brit hired more than thirty years ago by Japanese firm Olympus, with the superhuman tenacity to work his way up to the post of CEO (not hired, as are many of the famous NJ executives in Japanese companies, as an international prestige appointment).

    The presumption is that his appointment was because Mr Woodford would be different — there are plenty of Japanese corporate drones who would have gladly not rocked the boat for a quiet life and comfortable salary. But when he actually does something different, such as uncover and question possible corporate malfeasance, he gets fired because “his style of management was incompatible with traditional Japanese practices”.

    This of course, as further investigations finally gather traction, calls into practice the cleanliness of those traditional Japanese corporate practices. And it looks like the only way to get them investigated properly in Japan is to take the issue to overseas regulators (this is, after all, an international company, if only in the sense that it has international holdings, but now beholden to international standards).

    Not to mention the Japanese media (which, as the article alludes to below, is once again asleep at its watchdog position). None of this is surprising to the Old Japan Hands, especially those let anywhere close to Japanese corporate boardrooms, who see this nest feathering as a normal, nay, an obvious part of Japanese corporate culture the higher and richer you go.

    But woe betide the NJ whistleblower — perpetually in a vulnerable position for being of the wrong race and for not doing what he’s told like a good little gaijin. After all, there’s peer pressure behind membership in “Team Japan”, and as soon as it’s convenient, the race/culture card gets pulled by the crooks to excuse themselves. I’m just glad Mr. Woodford had the guts to do what he did. I doubt it’ll result in a system-wide cleanup (the rot is too systemic and entrenched, and few watch the watchers in corporatist Japan). But you gotta start somewhere, since exposure of corruption must be seen to be becoming commonplace in post-Fukushima Japan. Bravo Mr. Woodford, and expose away.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9576

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

    2) Mainichi & Yomiuri: Japanese ex-wife arrested in Hawaii on suspicion of abducting child from custodial father

    Here’s some good news for Left-Behind Parents. The Americans are (unusually, according to the Mainichi and Yomiuri below) enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors. In this case, against a Japanese woman who reportedly absconded with the kid off to Japan and, despite a US court awarding the father custody, then used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap). Then she carelessly decided to have her cake and eat it too, by coming back to the US to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her, leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan.

    Not an unusual story (especially since the Japanese media once again refuses to use the word “abduction” in conjunction with any of this — just “taking without permission”; sounds much better), except that the Americans are now finally taking action regarding child abductions to Japan, honoring court decisions despite Japan’s vehemently guarding its safe-haven status for international child abduction.

    Let’s see how the Japanese media further spins this; I doubt it’ll run against Team-Japanism. But already the editorial slant in the articles below is that signing the Hague Treaty will (somehow) prevent this, in defiance of all the Japanese safe-haveners that want to either not sign it, or caveat it with DV provisions into meaninglessness. Anyway, throw the book at her. This sort of thing has gone on long enough.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9584

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

    3) GOJ wants seat on the UN Human Rights Council for 2013-2015. Here’s MOFA’s formal pledge of Japan’s commitments to human rights. Note what’s missing.

    Here we have Japan wanting a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, to help control the agenda and process of review (like any any applicant, especially the venal ones, which is why the HRC was revamped in 2006 after being occupied by some of the world’s most egregious human rights offenders). Applicant Japan promises to treat countries with mutual respect for their history and traditions (read: “I’m okay, you’re okay, so let’s just all get along and not worry about universal standards of human rights — especially as they would be applied to Japan”; there is a long history behind this attitude in the GOJ, see Peek, J. M. 1991. “Japan and the International Bill of Rights.” Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, Fall 1991 10(3): 3-16; and Peek, J. M. 1992, “Japan, The United Nations, and Human Rights.” Asian Survey 32(3): 217-229, read my writeup on Dr. Peek’s findings here).

    Note that the GOJ promises to follow the UN’s recommendations for improving domestic human rights (see some of those most recent recommendations here, and decide for yourself how well the GOJ is doing, then read on here to see the plus ca change. Also note what’s missing in their promises: Anything about the Hague Convention on Child Abductions (what with all the abductions after divorce), and of course, anything about passing a law or taking any measures against racial discrimination (despite saying in 2008 that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”) But that’s tough, you see: We don’t have any other races in Japan that would fall under the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination’s protection, remember; that standpoint remains fundamentally unchanged closing in on 20 years after signing the CERD. Here’s the transcript of how the UN review of Japan’s human rights record went back in February 2010, and what the UN subsequently recommended Japan do back in March 2010 regarding the CERD. Read on to see how they are being studiously ignored in Japan’s pledges below, as usual.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9534

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

    4) History: Witness the GOJ’s negotiating tactics during WWII with its allies, according to W.L. Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of The Third Reich”. Not much different today.

    I have just spent the past six months getting through one of perhaps the more weighty tomes in the English language: William L. Shirer’s THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH — about Nazi Germany and Hitler’s campaigns before and during WWII. This 1150-page tombstone/doorstop of a book will sit proudly on my shelf as something read cover-to-cover with as much information absorbed from it as possible. I of course wrote a book review in the back cover (if you’re interested in hearing it, readers, let me know, and I’ll append it to the Comments Section), but the thing that I’d like to focus this blog entry upon today is Japan’s historical actions and negotiating tactics (including the Japanese government’s penchant for vagueness, obfuscation, and completely masked intentions) mentioned within the book, and how remarkably similar they remain today.

    Conclusion: I’ve dealt with and witnessed the actions of the GOJ for decades now. Although now more than seventy years later, none of this seems out of sync with the way Japanese bureaucrats or politicians talk or act today. And once anyone overseas thinks they have a handle on and an avenue into the political situation, the cabinet changes and then you have to start again. Someday people are going to have to learn how the GOJ works internationally.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9525

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

    POST-FUKUSHIMA INDEFENSIBLES AND MISCELLANY

    5) GOJ Ministry of Environment is dispersing Tohoku debris, including Fukushima nuclear debris, around Japan despite objections of prefectural govts

    Here we have some more GOJ mischief in the works regarding the Fukushima debacle. What follows is a primary-source document from the Minister of the Environment, Division of Waste and Recycle Policy, dated October 7, 2011, addressed to all prefectural waste management department heads.

    It concerns disposing of debris from the Tohoku disaster areas in other prefectures, as a follow-up to their communication/”survey” of April 8, 2011, where they asked regional governments to pitch in in dispersing the rubble nationwide. The Education Ministry acknowledges that several prefectures expressed trepidation at spreading radioactive refuse all over the country. Nevertheless, as Tokyo has started undertaking the disposal of the debris, it’s clear the GOJ considers it high time that others did their part (as per the “close cooperation” (genmitsu ni rentai shi) between the Minstry and the regional environmental agencies) to match that effort. It is clear that by the fourth paragraph of the directive below, the Ministry will be moving forward with this policy full steam regardless of regional objections.

    The results of the abovementioned April communication/”survey” where local governments balked will not be made public. That is to say, those prefectures who balked at taking radiation into their area will not be named [after all, we don’t want NIMBY citizens rallying behind their local representatives that are clearly antipathetic towards GOJ policy].

    COMMENT: I had heard about this months ago (a rumor that toxic waste from Fukushima was being delivered to my nearby garbage incinerator in Hassamu, Sapporo), but lacked enough evidence to say much at the time. Now we have documented proof that the Japanese government (the Environment Ministry, no less) is taking steps to pressure local governments nationwide into swallowing their fair share of the radiation. Why does this debris have to be carted around the country? Not only could it contaminate the entire nation, it will also shield the nuclear power industry from criticism and responsibility — as it will make it harder to link radiation to the cause of any future sickness or death if casualties are not limited to the Fukushima area. Having the national government shove this down the local governments’ throats is one thing, but the sheer venality, nay, flat-out evil of this kind of policy is staggering.

    Just in case you think this may be a hoax, see the Chunichi Shinbun of October 15, 2011 (reprinted below) acknowledging this dispersal is exactly what’s happening, with the local governments (in this case, Aichi-ken) refusing to make public how much debris they’re disposing of.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9547

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

    6) Health and Education Ministries issue directive to place controls on research going on in Tohoku tsunami disaster zones

    The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare Ministry has issued a directive, written by the Education Ministry’s Department of Life Sciences, Bureau for the Promotion of Research, to all related research industries, universities, and tertiary-education associations regarding health surveys and research conducted within the Tohoku disaster area.

    Dated May 15, 2011, a little more than two months after the tsunami, the directive (full Japanese text below) essentially tells academic researchers 1) there are “ethical guidelines” (rinri shishin) for epidemiologists to follow, and that research guidelines must be passed by ethics committees and approved by their research institution’s head; 2) these health surveys and research must also sufficiently (juubun) be run by the local governments (jichitai) in the disaster areas beforehand, and afterwards the results of the research (if I’m reading this odd and rather vague sentence right) must “take into due consideration” (hairyo) the disaster victims and the appropriate systems providing them health and welfare (better translations welcome); 3) in order to not to cause any undue stress to the disaster victims, health surveys and research must avoid repetition by “not surveying and researching in more detail than necessary”, and with sufficient understanding of the situation on the ground.

    Well, it might sound sensible at first read. But given the history of lack of accurate and timely information being issued by the Japanese authorities concerning the whole Fukushima debacle, there is another way to read this ministerial directive: 1) All research must be tracked and approved by somebody above you in the research workplace, 2) All research must be tracked by the local governments and health departments before and after, and 3) All research must not ask too many questions.

    The point is, in the name of “ethics”, the government is inserting veto gates into what might become research independent of the GOJ, and making sure that information tracked before and afterwards stays under central control. Which means, in practice, that if there are research lines or inquiries or results unpalatable to the GOJ, they might not be seen by the public.

    My read of this document is that this is primary-source evidence of GOJ central control over the scientific method regarding a politically-sensitive issue. And this will control the information flow out to the world regarding the effects and aftermath of Fukushima.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9542

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

    7) From Yokoso Japan to Kawaisou Japan: GOJ to offer free roundtrip flights to NJ tourists to offset fallout fears

    In one of the more hare-brained schemes I’ve seen devised to stimulate Japan’s economy (it ranks among the bigger boondoggles spun together when you give a political elite too much power over public money, including the LDP’s public bribe/tax kickback coupon campaigns in 1999 and 2008, PM Obuchi’s creation of the 2000 yen note, and the many, many construction projects that take a generation or so to complete, examples here and here), we have the Tourism Agency bribing, excuse me, offering to pay the round-trip airfares of 10,000 NJ tourists to visit Japan — as long as they do a homework assignment presumably saying how nice a time they had here, and that the world should stop worrying and love Japan’s increasingly irradiated food chain.

    It takes about ten seconds before the obvious begins to sink in: Shouldn’t this money be going instead towards helping Japanese who are suffering from these disasters?

    Naw, that would be too selfish — (SARCASM ALERT!:) the whole country is suffering due to Fukushima, so everyone worldwide should realize that the troubles are confined to that one area and just come here and stay away from there.

    Yeah, that’ll fix things! Hope they don’t get turned away from too many xenophobic Japanese hotels (the costs of which are not covered under the bribe, of course), or if they do, they have the ‘nads to mention to the GOJ in their homework that inviting them over here, without protecting their rights as consumers and humans, puts a damper on the feelings of hospitality. But I digress.

    JT: The Japan Tourism Agency said Tuesday that 10,000 foreigners will be given free round-trip tickets to the country in the next fiscal year as part of a campaign to reverse the plunge in tourists since the March 11 disasters and amid a prohibitively high yen… The successful applicants will receive return air tickets but will have to pay for their accommodations and other expenses, said Shuichi Kameyama, head of the agency’s international tourism promotion division. The agency has requested JPY1.1 billion in the fiscal 2012 budget to cover the campaign, he said…

    “First and foremost, we will need to show (the world) that Japan is a good place to visit,” Kameyama said.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9504

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

    8 ) More GOJ greenmailing: JET Alumni Assocs call on 20 ex-JETs for all-expenses paid trip to tsunami areas, to “let people know what they experienced when they return to their home countries”

    In a continuation of yesterday’s theme of the GOJ greenmailing away Japan’s negative images, here we have a more overt use of public funds to turn a frown upside down over a disaster: The JET Programme calling on ex-JETs to come back and reprise their role as de facto cultural lobbyists overseas. Except this time there’s an update — the clear aim of sexing up Japan’s image abroad in the wake of the March 11 disasters by dangling an all-expenses-paid trip to the stricken areas.

    I have done research on the JET Programme’s role of producing cultural ambassadors before (and its role as a domestic educational force, which I came out in support of in this Japan Times column). But this is the most overt (and in my view, cynical) demonstration I’ve seen yet unmasking the JET Programme’s fundamental intention of burnishing Japan’s image abroad at all costs. As if this is a kind of aid package for the stricken areas: Let them eat good publicity. Kinda takes the air out of the argument of JET as a program first and foremost promoting domestic education.

    JET Alumni Assoc: The Japan Tourism Agency, MOFA, and other local governments in Japan want to sponsor 20 ex-JETs — who were placed in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima or Sendai — to go back to Japan for one week in order to see the damages in the afflicted areas, so that when they return to their home countries, they can let people know what they experienced there. All expenses are paid (food, travel, insurance, etc.), except personal expenses.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9512

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

    PLUS CA CHANGE

    9) Korea Times: Naturalized Korean decries refusal of entry to sauna, parallels with Otaru Onsens Case

    According to the Korea Times article below, we have a naturalized citizen getting turned away from a bathhouse. The management justifies it by saying that she, as a foreigner by appearance, is dirty or contagious. She calls the police, but it turns out there is no domestic law to prevent this from happening. The excluded person then claims racial discrimination, takes it up with the authorities, and we currently are at the point of seeing whether anything official will happen to stop this.

    Reminds me, of course, of the Otaru Onsens Case (1993-2005, my friends and I getting involved from 1999) in Japan. There we had exclusionary onsens in Otaru with signs up refusing all foreigners, refusing entry to not only foreign-looking people, but ultimately foreign-looking Japanese. We also take it up with the authorities, only to have them tell us there’s nothing they can do — Japan has no domestic law against racial discrimination. In Japan’s case, however, their MOJ’s Bureau of Human Rights not only tells us they have no enforcement power to stop this, but also interferes with the advancement of human rights — to the point of advising the Otaru City Government in writing (see my book JAPANESE ONLY, English version, pg. 347) that Otaru authorities legally need to do nothing to resolve the situation. Whether or not the Korean bureaucracy will be this negligent remains to be seen, so let’s keep an eye on this case. The parallels are that striking.

    Korea Times: An ethnic Uzbekistan woman has filed a petition with the National Human Rights Commission after she was denied entrance to a sauna here. A sauna employee refused to admit to the woman, a naturalized Korean, saying she was still a “foreigner” by appearance and foreign users may “make water in bathtub dirty” and “pass on AIDS.” Such an action was possible because there is no law on discrimination by race, according to a support center for immigrants…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9529

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

    10) Japan Times: Ichihashi trial bares translation woes: Courts refuse to admit that interpreters often lack the necessary skills

    Here’s an older article on how people who are not native speakers of Japanese are at a disadvantage in the Japanese judiciary due to things lost in translation. Yes, the killer of Lindsay Ann Hawker got his, thank goodness, but not without a degree of unprofessionality unbecoming a purportedly modern justice system, as the JT gets into below. This is not the first time this has been pointed out, yet we still hear of no particular movement to standardize training and certify translators. This lack of prioritization couldn’t be due to allegations that the Japanese judiciary thinks “foreigners”, like yakuza, “have no human rights” (despite, as I have argued, Japan’s clear double standard in criminal jurisprudence depending on nationality). Surely not.

    JT: The lay judge trial of accused rapist and murderer Tatsuya Ichihashi, whose verdict is expected Thursday, has captured a lot of media attention since it started July 4, but one element that has escaped notice is the quality of the language translation.

    Many errors by a court interpreter, from slight differences in nuance to the loss of a few details, have so far been observed during the high-profile case.

    This has prompted concerned legal professionals and linguistic experts to call on the courts to face up to the quality of interpretations when foreign nationals are involved in court cases and to improve the training and status of interpreters…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9269

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

    11) BLOG BIZ: Welcome to the future of blog wars: Debito.org temporarily felled by DMCA notice against this site’s critique of Lance Braman’s Japan Times Letters to the Editor

    Dateline October 7: Sorry Debito.org was offline for about a day and a half. Welcome to the future of cyberwarfare, not through spam guns or DNS attacks, but now through a pseudo-legal apparatus.

    On October 5, Lance Braman (see below), one the small but very vocal members of Tepido, a cyberstalking blog that obsesses over Debito.org, according to my ISP (i.e., server) filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) infringement claim against this blog (see email from ISP below).

    This was regarding two of Braman’s short Letters to the Editor published at the Japan Times all the way back in 2008. I cited them in full on Debito.org for critique (as they mentioned me and my actions specifically by name). You can see how those allegedly problematic Debito.org sites looked via the Wayback Machine, click here and here.

    SUMMARY: WHAT THIS MEANS

    The issue here is that procedures against making frivolous and nuisance DMCA claims about online materials will have to be tightened up, or else DMCA will be utilized for blog wars and cyber attacks. People who are not necessarily the actual copyright holder of cited works (masquerading as the copyright holder and filing the DMCA claim on their behalf) are claiming violations that aren’t there (because under the Fair Use Doctrine, things may be in fact cited, excerpted, and quoted without permission in many circumstances for the purposes of review, critique, etc.).

    ISPs, however, often get spooked by a simple email DMCA notice and, without further investigation of the veracity of the claims, unilaterally take the material offline. Although a quick-fix measure for the ISPs, this is in fact counterproductive, because it will encourage more frivolous DMCA claims and ultimately make the ISPs work harder (or just encourage further cybercensorship). All evidence for these claims follow below.

    Ironic, that. Cyberstalking site Tepido’s main minions (there are but a dozen or so) complain the most about allegations of “censorship” at Debito.org, i.e., that they can’t be heard on Debito.org because I delete their comments (now you can see why; they’re fundamentally unscrupulous people, and they have an odd and unhealthy fixation about this small, insignificant blog). So, in retaliation, the Tepidos themselves hypocritically try to censor — by deleting primary source materials on Debito.org, or by just trying to interfere with the operations of or take down the site altogether. Unvetted DMCA claims just further encourage and enable those people. It’s not going to stop here, so let’s get thinking about how this Act is being abused and plug the loopholes.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9480

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

    12) Weekend Tangent: Saturday Night Live skit on Japan-obsessed American youth; scarily accurate?

    As a Weekend Tangent, here’s Saturday Night Live poking fun at American kids obsessed with J-pop culture. I found it very funny, and from what I’ve heard it’s scarily accurate (although I wouldn’t know — been out of the US for too long). What do you think?

    Commentary at http://www.debito.org/?p=9555

    Found a Russian server playing the skit outside of the U.S. without proxies. Try here:

    http://rutube.ru/tracks/4914046.html?v=f07fb33ba9c6603f51cef4ffd7c1e09d

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

    … and finally …

    13) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column of October 4, 2011: “Japan needs less ganbatte, more genuine action”

    JT JBC: Ganbatte kudasai!

    You hear this expression every day in Japan. “Do your best!” “Try harder!” “Stick to it!” “Don’t give up!” are but a few of the positive messages conveyed. It offered succor 25 years ago when I was in university bushwhacking through the Japanese language: One “ganbatte!” from Sensei emboldened me for the rest of the week.

    However, recent events have exposed a problem with ganbatte.

    It’s gone beyond being a harmless old saw, platitude or banality. It’s become at best a sop, at worst a destructive mantra or shibboleth. It creates a downward cycle into apathy in the speaker, indifference in the afflicted…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9462

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

    That’s all for this month! I’ve been going on a diet of one post every two to three days, not daily, so these Newsletters will probably be monthly affairs from now on. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)

    Get Debito’s latest novel, “IN APPROPRIATE”, on the child abduction issue in Japan, at http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 30, 2011 ENDS

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    Posted in Newsletters | 7 Comments »

    From Yokoso Japan to Kawaisou Japan: GOJ to offer free roundtrip flights to NJ tourists to offset fallout fears

    Posted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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 one of the more hare-brained schemes I’ve seen devised to stimulate Japan’s economy (it ranks among the bigger boondoggles spun together when you give a political elite too much power over public money, including the LDP’s public bribe/tax kickback coupon campaigns in 1999 and 2008, PM Obuchi’s creation of the 2000 yen note, and the many, many construction projects that take a generation or so to complete, examples here and here), we have the Tourism Agency bribing, excuse me, offering to pay the round-trip airfares of 10,000 NJ tourists to visit Japan — as long as they do a homework assignment presumably saying how nice a time they had here, and that the world should stop worrying and love Japan’s increasingly irradiated food chain.

    It takes about ten seconds before the obvious begins to sink in:  Shouldn’t this money be going instead towards helping Japanese who are suffering from these disasters?

    Naw, that would be too selfish — (SARCASM ALERT!:) the whole country is suffering due to Fukushima, so everyone worldwide should realize that the troubles are confined to that one area and just come here and stay away from there.

    Yeah, that’ll fix things!  Hope they don’t get turned away from too many xenophobic Japanese hotels (the costs of which are not covered under the bribe, of course), or if they do, they have the ‘nads to mention to the GOJ in their homework that inviting them over here, without protecting their rights as consumers and humans, puts a damper on the feelings of hospitality.  But I digress.  Arudou Debito

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

    Japan offers 10,000 free trips to foreigners to boost tourism after earthquake

    AFP, October 10, 2011 4:10PM, courtesy GJ and http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/japan-offers-10000-free-trips-to-foreigners-to-boost-tourism-after-earthquake/story-e6freuy9-1226163181557?sv=823ccd18f75dd21ff748ae870ee4f4b

    The Japan Tourism Agency plans to ask would-be travellers to submit online applications for the free flights, detailing which areas of the country they would like to visit, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported.

    The agency will select the successful entrants and ask them to write a report about their trip which will be published on the internet.

    Tourism authorities hope that positive reports from travellers about their experiences in Japan will help ease international worries about visiting the country, the newspaper said.

    The programme, which will require travellers to cover other costs such as accommodation, is expected to start from next April, subject to government budgetary approval.

    The number of foreign tourists to Japan fell more than 50 per cent year-on-year during the three months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

    The sharp drop began to ease somewhat in the summer. In June and July, tourist figures were down 36 per cent from a year ago, easing to 32 per cent in August as the country worked to reassure foreign tourism markets.

    The government has said Japan is safe except for the immediate vicinity of the crippled plant, where work crews are still trying to bring the facility to a cold shutdown.

    ENDS

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

    10,000 Free Round-Trip Tickets to Japan

    By Akiko Fujita | ABC News Blogs – October 12m 2011, 

    Courtesy DR and http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/10-000-free-round-trip-tickets-japan-134142507.html

    If you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan, this may be your chance.

    In a desperate attempt to lure tourists back to a country plagued by radiation fears and constant earthquakes, the Japan Tourism Agency‘s proposed an unprecedented campaign – 10,000 free roundtrip tickets.

    The catch is, you need to publicize your trip on blogs and social media sites.

    The number of foreign visitors to Japan has dropped drastically, since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Power plant in March. Nearly 20,000 people have been confirmed dead, while more than 80,000 remain displaced because of radiation concerns. In the first three months following the triple disasters, the number of foreign visitors to Japan was cut in half, compared with the same time in 2010. The strong Japanese currency has made matters worse.

    The tourism agency says it plans to open a website to solicit applicants interested in the free tickets. Would- be visitors will have to detail in writing their travel plans in Japan, and explain what they hope to get out of the trip. Successful applicants would pay for their own accommodation and meals. They would also be required to write a review their travel experiences, and post it online.

    “We are hoping to get highly influential blogger-types, and others who can spread the word that Japan is a safe place to visit,” said Kazuyoshi Sato, with the agency.

    The agency has requested more than a billion yen to pay for the tourism blitz. If lawmakers approve the funding, Sato says visitors could begin signing up as early as next April.

    ENDS

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

    Tourism blitz: 10,000 to get free flights to Japan

    The Japan Times, Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Staff writer

    The Japan Tourism Agency said Tuesday that 10,000 foreigners will be given free round-trip tickets to the country in the next fiscal year as part of a campaign to reverse the plunge in tourists since the March 11 disasters and amid a prohibitively high yen.

    The agency said it will open a website to solicit applicants. They will be required to answer questions on postquake tourism in Japan and what their travel goals are in the country.

    The successful applicants will receive return air tickets but will have to pay for their accommodations and other expenses, said Shuichi Kameyama, head of the agency’s international tourism promotion division.

    The agency has requested ¥1.1 billion in the fiscal 2012 budget to cover the campaign, he said.

    During or after their visits, the agency will ask the recipients to post on blogs or other online social media about their stay in Japan, hoping positive feedback will lure more visitors.

    Officials said fear of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and the soaring yen are discouraging foreigners from visiting and it may take years before international tourism rebounds to the prequake level, let alone achieves the agency’s goal of drawing 30 million foreign travelers a year. Officials agree that promoting tourism is vital for Japan to help offset domestic demand and to revitalize regional economies.

    “First and foremost, we will need to show (the world) that Japan is a good place to visit,” Kameyama said.

    ENDS

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

    Japan offers free return flights to revive tourism after Fukishima disaster

    10,000 tickets on offer in attempt to bolster industry hit hard by March earthquake and tsunami, which killed up to 20,000

    By  in Tokyo
    guardian.co.uk,
    Courtesy http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/12/japan-bid-revive-tourism-fukushima
    Seven months after much of its north-east coast was destroyed by a tsunami, Japan is attempting to revive tourism by offering free return flights to 10,000 foreign visitors.

    Japan’s tourism agency said the programme, which will begin in April, is expected to cost more than 1bn yen (£10m), equivalent to about 10% of its budget request for next year.

    Applicants will be asked to outline their travel plans and answer questions about post-disaster tourism in Japan, recently named favourite long-haul country by readers of the Guardian and Observer in the newspapers’ annual travel awards. Tokyo won favourite city for the second year in a row.

    The successful applicants will receive free return air tickets, but must pay for their accommodation and other expenses.

    Tourism to Japan dropped dramatically after the 11 March disaster, which left almost 20,000 people dead or missing and triggered the worst nuclear accident in the country’s history.

    In April, international visitor numbers stood at 296,000, according to theJapan national tourism agency (JNTO), down 63% on 2010; by August they had recovered to 547,000, down 32% on last year.

    “The Asian market has been showing the fastest recovery, with visitors to Japan from south-east Asia having already bounced back into positive growth by month on 2010,” said Mamoru Kobori, the JNTO’s executive director of marketing and promotion. “Within Europe, the UK is leading the way in picking up the number of visitors to Japan.”

    Kobori said the agency had already invited more than 1,000 journalists and travel industry executives in an attempt to reassure the world Japan is a safe destination.

    “[We want them] not to just take our word for it, but to come and see for themselves how the Japan of today offers as memorable and diverse a travel experience as ever,” he said.

    The agency hopes the programme will boost spending, particularly in regional economies: spending by visitors dropped by 47% in the three months after the disaster compared with last year.

    Tourism officials concede many international visitors are still deterred by the continuing Fukushima nuclear crisis and the yen’s rise to a record high against the dollar. Before the disaster, officials had set a target of attracting 30 million foreign visitors a year, a goal that appears well out of reach, at least for the next few years.

    If its budget request is approved in March, the agency will start accepting online applications the following month, and select the candidates by early summer.

    ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tourism | 26 Comments »

    BAChome.org: Official correspondence re nonfeasance and negligence by US Consulate Osaka regarding the Mary Lake Child Abduction Case (allegations of USG refusing assistance to US citizen child)

    Posted on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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. Today’s entry is regards to the Mary Lake Case, which was covered on Debito.org some weeks ago, and caused some controversy (including trolling emails) regarding differing accounts of treatment of a US citizen minor who unsuccessfully asked for protection and sanctuary from US Consulate Osaka.  Here is a followup series of emails between concerned Left-Behind Parents at BAChome.org and the US State Department. Reproduced with permission. Arudou Debito

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

    From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@…]
    Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 8:04 AM
    To: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Jacobs, Janice L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
    Subject: Incident at Osaka Consulate

    Two days ago, a kidnapped child in one of the most high-profile Japan abduction cases (Mary Victoria Lake) showed up at a US Consulate in Japan asking to be rescued and sent home to her lawful parent in the United States. The consuate denied her request and sent her back to her kidnapper. This action was beyond incompetent. It was reprehensible, disgraceful,disgusting,and un-American.

    This is the third time State has failed this parent. Twice previously, State illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

    I am at a loss for words. I can only say that it is very clearly apparent now to all parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the State Department clearly places relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of American citizen children. Absolutely sickening.

    Paul Toland
    Commander, US Navy
    Only living parent of Erika Toland, Abducted to Japan 2003.

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

    From: Jacobs, Janice L
    Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate
    To: “Paul Toland” Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , “Payne, Beth A” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S”
    Date: Friday, August 26, 2011, 8:12 AM

    Dear Commander Toland:
    We have received your e-mail regarding the Lake case. The information you are reporting regarding recent events at Consulate Osaka is factually incorrect. While we cannot provide details to you due to statutory requirements in the Privacy Act, we have been in contact with the child’s father, who is aware of what actually transpired. I can assure you that U.S. Consulates in Japan, along with all other consular facilities around the world, stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from parental custody and do so on a regular basis.
    Sincerely,
    Janice L. Jacobs
    Assistant Secretary
    Bureau of Consular Affairs
    SBU
    This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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

    From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
    Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 1:02 PM
    To: Jacobs, Janice L
    Cc: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
    Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate

    Assistant Secretary Jacobs, My information comes from the father. I have emails from him and have spoken to him. I would tend to believe his story. While I was not actually at the Consulate, I tend to believe what William is telling me, because he has not lied to me before.

    Here is the email from Mr. Lake:

    Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning. Ms Vause said that the Osaka consulate had tried to call me. They called my land line instead of my cell. They didn’t leave a message because I only had a generic message on the machine and they were worried about so called privacy issues. So they sent Mary home. They also failed to send me an email.

    I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

    In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.

    Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.

    Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.

    Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

    Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

    Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

    This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

    ENDS

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

    From: Payne, Beth A Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
    To: “Paul Toland” , CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM
    Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S” , “Jacobs, Janice L” , Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov, bac-home@googlegroups.com, Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov, brianna.keilar@cnn.com, RoosJV@state.gov, Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com, Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov, JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us, dbergsan@gmail.com
    Date: Thursday, September 1, 2011, 5:25 AM

    Dear Mr. Lake and Cdr. Toland:

    Thank you for your emails of August 26 regarding your concerns about Mary Lake and the Department of State’s response to her request for assistance last week in Osaka. While our policy is to discuss case-specific questions and concerns only with the parent and his or her designated representatives, Mr. Lake’s most recent Privacy Act Waiver allows us to speak about his case with other people and we can, therefore, respond simultaneously to your inquiries in order to clarify the status of this case. We regret that Mr. Lake has misunderstood many of the facts concerning the events of last week, and we hope this email helps to clarify what took place, and reassures you both that consular staff in Osaka and in the Office of Children’s Issues responded to Mary’s requests and offered to provide her the assistance she initially requested.

    I reiterate that the Consular Officer in charge of American Services in Osaka and the Office of Children’s Issues together report a very different version of what happened. I have examined the steps and action taken since Mary first contacted the Consulate, and I can confirm that all action was proper, thorough, and responsive.

    To ensure that I address all of your stated concerns, I am responding below with interlinear comments to the email that Mr. Lake wrote ([formatted in bold and] in italics) and which Cdr. Toland forwarded to me on August 26:

    Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning.

    Mary called the Consulate at 5:00 p.m. on August 24 and requested that a consular officer contact her father to ask him to either fly her home or pay for long-term hotel accommodations in Japan. She did not visit the consulate. A consular officer in Osaka spoke with Mary at length and confirmed that she felt safe with her mother for the evening, that she was not in danger, and that she did not wish to leave her mother’s house that evening. Mary told the consular officer she would call again in the morning. The Consulate immediately notified the Office of Children’s Issues and began coordinating travel arrangements for the next day. The next morning, Mary called the consulate to report she would remain in Japan with her mother for the time being.

    I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

    As soon as Ms. Vause in the Office of Children’s Issues received word from the Consulate that Mary was trying to reach her father, she called Mr. Lake and relayed Mary’s message. At that point, Mr. Lake stated that he could not pay for her airline ticket and that he would soon depart the country for a six-week work assignment. In her phone call with Mr. Lake, Ms. Vause was focused on the primary objectives of passing Mary’s message, determining if someone would be available to receive her in Florida, and determining if Mr. Lake could purchase her ticket home. The question of hotel lodging and/or refuge was not her focus because Mary did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening. We are very concerned with Mary’s well-being and if there had been any indication that Mary’s welfare was in jeopardy, I assure you both that the Consulate would have taken immediate action to protect her. When necessary, consular officials will allow U.S. Citizen children in need of protection to stay at our facilities until appropriate lodging can be arranged.

    In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.
    Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.
    Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.
    Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

    Upon learning that Mr. Lake was unable to pay for his daughter’s travel home, both Consulate and Children’s Issues officers began searching for alternate funding sources, including funding from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a possible repatriation loan. While we were moving forward on this request in order to facilitate travel that day, Mary called the Consulate and reported that she wished to remain in Japan with her mother for the time being. Ms. Vause relayed this message to Mr. Lake immediately and continued to discuss funding options and procedures in case Mary did decide that she wished to travel to Florida.

    Please allow me to clarify how the repatriation loan program works. The cost of a child’s travel to the United States, even in abduction cases, is the responsibility of the parent. In the event that a parent cannot cover the cost of the airline ticket, the U.S. government is able to provide a repatriation loan through a program that includes certain criteria that must be met in order to demonstrate need and to ensure eventual repayment. I regret that a repatriation loan cannot be set up in advance. Ms. Vause suggested to Mr. Lake, after Mary decided not to travel, that she’d check in after a week, and that Mr. Lake proceed with the paperwork required for a repatriation loan so that it could be quickly issued if Mary changes her mind again, thus enabling us to act very quickly to provide a plane ticket. Please let me emphasize that a repatriation loan is intended to provide emergency financial assistance when no other funds are available. We did consider Mary’s desire to return home to be an emergency and were prepared to assist Mr. Lake with obtaining such funds. We would also be happy to facilitate a transfer of funds if Mr. Lake is able to cover the costs of a plane ticket.

    Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

    Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

    We feel we must reiterate at this point the fact that a repatriation loan was offered, and would have been available if Mr. Lake had been unable to pay for Mary’s return flight home.

    This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

    While we regret that Mr. Lake does not feel that he has been well-served by the Department of State, the U.S. Consulate in Osaka and Children’s Issues continue to have Mary’s well-being at the top of our priorities. At this point, the Consulate in Osaka strongly wishes to facilitate a phone call between Mary and Mr. Lake, as they have done in the past, to allow for further discussion about Mary’s future. As always, we stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from his or her home of habitual residence. I trust this information is useful to both of you.
    Sincerely,

    This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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

    From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
    Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 5:20 PM
    To: CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM; Beth APayne
    Cc: Kurt MCampbell; James LLoi; Patrick FKennedy; William JBurns; James BSteinberg; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Michael HPosner; Scott WBusby; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; Margaret GMacLeod; vvause@state.gov; Stefanie BEye; Susan SJacobs; Janice LJacobs; Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov; bac-home@googlegroups.com; Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov; brianna.keilar@cnn.com; RoosJV@state.gov; Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com; Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov; JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us; dbergsan@gmail.com
    Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor

    Ms. Payne, We are very disappointed with the answers provided in your email below and have prepared the attached response. We hope you and everyone else you included on this email string will read it. We look forward to your response. Sincerely, Commander Paul Toland, US Navy

    ATTACHED RESPONSE

    ===========================================
    September 15, 2011
    Beth Payne, Director Office of Children’s Issues U.S. Department of State, SA-29 2201 C Street NW, SA-29 4th floor Washington, DC 20520-2818

    Ms. Payne,
    Mr. Lake has indicated that he is willing to provide a sworn affidavit that Ms. Vause told him his daughter Mary appeared in person at the Osaka consulate. However, even taking you at your word that Mary Lake called the consulate, we are simply distraught that the consulate employees did not do more to facilitate her rescue and return to her lawful parent.

    Imagine that William Lake’s wife had abducted their daughter from Florida to Arizona instead of from Florida to Japan, and Mary Lake had called the authorities in Arizona asking them to “fly her home.” Those authorities would have kept Mary on the phone until they facilitated her rescue and brought the felon criminal abductor to justice. Now we understand that in an overseas environment, the State Department does not have the authority to physically go to the child in Japan to facilitate the rescue, but the State Department certainly had both the DUTY and OBLIGATION to obtain the same end result… to facilitate the rescue Mary Lake by asking the child victim of this felony crime to come to the consulate so they could then coordinate her rescue, yet this was never done.

    You state that Mary “did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening.” Are you seriously trying to place the burden and responsibility of having to request refuge upon a minor child who has been kidnapped and held in a foreign country for six years? She may not even understand such a concept. She called and reached out to the only American refuge she could find at the US Consulate, and they burdened her with an adult responsibility, eventually turning her away back to her captor?

    And how, exactly, did you “confirm that (Mary) felt safe” with her felon kidnapper, and that she “was not in danger”? Your own Foreign Affairs Manual, Chapter 7, states “children involved (in abduction) have almost always been subjected to a traumatic experience.” What mental health worker counseled Mary Lake to determine her mental and emotional well being following six years of being held captive as a kidnapped child in a foreign land? If no mental health worker was available, then it was the State Department’s duty and obligation to err on the side of caution for Mary’s protection and proceed as if she was subjected to severe mental and physical trauma until a professional could determine otherwise. The consular officer was in no position to act as a medical provider in determining Mary’s physical and emotional state over the phone.

    The State Department’s inability (or unwillingness) to try to talk Mary Lake into traveling to the consulate appears to be a failure of the State Department to acknowledge that the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) makes parental child abduction a felony crime and makes the perpetrator of that crime a felon criminal. The very fact that Mary is a child victim of a felony crime being held in a foreign land by a felon criminal is, in and of itself, enough to put Mary Lake “in danger.”

    The State Department’s failure to act during the brief window of time available to rescue Mary allowed her to disappear again into the black hole abyss of Japan, to join the other 374 children abducted to Japan since 1994, none of whom has ever been returned.

    We ask you to answer one simple question…if Mary Lake were kidnapped by a STRANGER and held in Japan for six years, and then contacted the US Consulate asking them to “fly her home”, would the consulate actions have been any different, and if so, why? The State Department’s DUTY to Mary Victoria Lake is no different than to any other victim of a felony crime, and for you to treat it otherwise is simply a flagrant disregard for the law.

    We notice you also cc’d some of the press on your email response, yet you did not address our concerns about the fact that the State Department illegally issued a passport to William’s felon criminal wife, without obtaining William’s signature in violation of Public Law 106-113, Section 236. This, at least, tells us that IPKCA is not the only law that the State Department is in the habit of ignoring when it suits your purposes.

    The State Department has conducted years of meetings, talks, meetings, talks, meetings and talks, but not a single parent has been able to even see their child as a result. This latest incident with William Lake’s daughter only further exacerbates the left-behind parent community’s total and complete loss of confidence in the State Department’s ability to protect our children. What happened to Mary Victoria Lake could have happened to any of our children, and this incident fills us with fear and anxiety that if a window of opportunity someday opens for the rescue of our children, State Department will simply shut that window, as they did with Mary Lake, rather than actually try to return our children.

    Sincerely,
    Paul Toland, National Coordinating Director
    Douglass Berg, Eastern Regional Director
    Randy Collins, Southwest Regional Director
    Jeffery Morehouse, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
    Brett Weed, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
    Dr. Christopher Savoie, Midwest, Regional Director
    P.O. Box 16254, Arlington, VA 22215 • www.BAChome.org • BAChome@BAChome.org
    ENDS

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

    UPDATE:

    From: Payne, Beth A (payneba @state.gov)
    Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
    To: “Paul Toland” (pptoland @)
    Date: Friday, September 30, 2011

    Dear Commander Toland:

    Thank you for your letter of September 15, on behalf of the BACHome organization, expressing your disappointment with the information I provided to you on September 1, regarding the Department of State’s actions in the active abduction case involving Mary Lake. I regret that our response left you unsatisfied.

    The Office of Children’s Issues, in coordination with U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, is committed to protecting the welfare of abducted children. Facilitating their return to the United States is one of our top priorities. We recognize the emotional pain that left-behind parents face while separated from their children, and we will be ready to discuss additional details of Mary’s case with her father, should he wish to resume contact with our office.

    For more information about the Department of State’s role in International Parental Child Abduction, please visit our website at http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html .

    Yours Sincerely,
    Beth Payne
    Director, Office of Children’s Issues

    ENDS

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    Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Child Abductions, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies | 6 Comments »

    “The Douzo Effect”: One case study of a sexless marriage in Japan, by SexyLass

    Posted on Saturday, September 10th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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    Hi Blog. In line with the current thread on sexuality in Japan, what follows is a testimony by a NJ female, Sexylass, about how she got into (and got out of) a sexless marriage. She also talks about “The Douzo Effect” — the chilling effect that forced sexuality has on a relationship. Have a read. Arudou Debito

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

    The Douzo Effect
    By SexyLass
    September 7, 2011

    I have always had a penchant for the exotic or the different. It is not the ordinary Australian girl that marries a Japanese man. There are a few of us but the most commonly-held scenario is Western men marrying Asian women (even if more Japanese men in fact marry foreign women). I love Asian faces and even though I am separated now from my Japanese husband something inside me still gets very excited when I see a good looking Asian man.

    I studied Japanese at university as a mature age student and then I moved to Japan when I was thirty so I could really immerse myself into the Japanese language. I was a very lonely Western woman shagging the local temple’s Japanese monk whenever he could ‘come over and see me’ type of thing.

    I met my (future) husband on a Japanese dating website for other lonely types. He spoke to me in Japanese. This was refreshing as the sexy monk who knew English never spoke to me in Japanese. This new man, lets call him Ken, charmed me by speaking to me slowly in Japanese, the way that every person in Japan expected me to speak to them in English so I could surreptitiously teach them English. Instead Ken did this for me in Japanese. Though we could probably have very well conversed in English as he had lived in America for a year of his life.

    I stopped shagging the local monk and Ken and I spoke on the phone every night for several months in Japanese. We developed a long distance relationship over the phone. We had a lot of phone sex. I really believed that he was into it and his libido seemed quite similar to mine, that is, that he needed to have sex a lot. I had more long distance phone sex with Ken than I could count. Things looked very promising though we hadn’t yet met.

    Ken began sending me gifts. It started with boxes of English versions of Japanese comic books. He sent me the English version of The Parasite and a few others because he wanted me to read what he read. He also sent me an orange wallet and said he had bought two so we could be like a ‘real Japanese couple’ with matching wallets. The gifts got bigger and more extravagant as time went on. There was an ice cream maker, boxes of chocolates and cartons of Lotte and Meiji chocolates, about as much as a convenience store would sell in a week perhaps. He also used to send me lots of chilled packages of meat. There was a lot of lamb, as Ken wanted me to experience the taste of his region. There were also a lot of sausages and beef and potatoes.

    After a few weeks Ken convinced me to delete my profile from the dating website where we had met. I wasn’t keen to do it, but I felt obliged to with all the gifts I was getting and accepting from him. The gifts seemed never ending. I deleted my profile from the dating website.

    I decided that I didn’t want to live in the same town as the monk anymore and that the only way to really emotionally leave the monk was to also physically leave the town where we both lived. So I got a better job in another prefecture. No longer was I going to be the English Conversation school slave catching trains all over Matsuyama all day from 6 in the morning till 10 at night with classes interspersed throughout train trips each day. I was going to be a different kind of English slave, an 8am to 4pm English slave. I had got a job as an ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) for a dispatching company. I was happy as I was going to be in Japanese schools hearing Japanese all day and although I was employed to teach English, at least I was going to be immersed in a more Japanese atmosphere. I had not come all the way to Japan to be told I could only speak English all day every day. I had studied Japanese as my university major so I wanted some kind of cultural immersion. I was happy to be going to work as an ALT.

    When I arrived in the new town there was one more phone call from the monk but I sent him an angry text saying not to contact me anymore as I could no longer provide him with the emotional support he needed. That is to talk to him on the phone every night when he would call me after he had drunk a bottle of whiskey. The monk had alcohol issues. He had drained me spiritually for too long.

    In the new town, the phone relationship and the phone sex continued with Ken. And so did the presents, as Ken sent me presents to settle in. These presents were too extravagant and really should have been a warning bell about Ken’s personality. I should have had them returned but I was poor and lonely and I was in love with him.

    So I accepted the brand new fridge, washing machine, TV, couch, bed, vacuum cleaner, and microwave. It was over the top but the presents kept arriving. I emailed my mum and my best friend in Australia and they suggested to me that it was a dubious situation and that I should suspect something was wrong with Ken. Really I should have, someone who I had never even met in person was furnishing my flat with brand new appliances. I had heard lots of outrageous stories of generosity in Japan from other non-Japanese and I thought it was just that, Japanese generosity. I didn’t have much money at the time and I welcomed the gifts.

    I enjoyed my new job as an ALT in Nagoya, I was hearing Japanese every day and some teachers in some staff rooms would speak to me in Japanese. Six months went by and Ken came down south to meet me. He was everything I hoped for, tall, dark and handsome and he took me out and he kissed me passionately on the first day. That night we slept together but that should have been a warning sign too. Although we had kissed lots of times that day I had to seduce him to sleep with me. He had got me excited through the day with lots of kissing and I thought he wanted the same thing as I did, wild hot sex. I thought he was really into me like I was into him. Though it seemed I did all the work and it was over within a minute. Oh well I thought, must have been the ‘first time excitement’ for Ken and he will probably take more time as he becomes more relaxed with me.

    The next day Ken surprised me with tickets to his hometown. I stayed a week in with him and also met his parents. The meeting with the parents went well. They were kind and accepting of me in the first instance. The rest of the time we drove around his prefecture exploring and staying in various Japanese inns. There was enough sex in that week of our meeting for me to be satisfied. Once per night, and though it was at my initiation it didn’t phase me as he seemed to enjoy it. I was so happy to have met such a lovely man like Ken. I felt I had found true love.

    Another thing that really makes sense to me now in hindsight is that I didn’t mind the lack of sex so much then, or lack of initiation by Ken as I had had some Australian boyfriends that wanted it all night every night. At that time I was relieved to have found someone that didn’t need sex three or four times a night. Though at the time Ken was probably wondering about this woman that had him ‘working’ every night. He was probably just being too polite and Japanese to talk about the fact that he didn’t want to do it so much.

    It was a gorgeous week spent in his part of Japan and I went back down south with love in my heart for Ken. Six months later I quit my ALT job and moved prefectures to be with Ken.

    I remember the day I arrived in Ken’s town; it was cold, wet, slushy and snowy. There was another warning sign when I turned up at the family noodle shop where Ken worked. I turned up and he didn’t seem too phased, he just kind of said “hi” and gave me the keys to his LDK (one room flat). His dad was in the shop and he wasn’t overly friendly either, though I had met him before. Perhaps Ken hadn’t even told his parents I was moving there. I mean it could be possible they had been quite shocked to see me actually turn up to live with their son.

    I got a job as an ALT on the JET Program and life began as a live-in couple. We weren’t even living together a few months and the affection from him began to noticeably diminish. I remember one occasion when he came home after work and took my pants off. Ken went down on me, but only for about a minute, it didn’t last long, and that was the only time Ken ever went down on me in the whole 10 years we stayed together. Just once for a minute. Could you imagine just having intimate oral sex only once in your defacto or married life?

    You might wonder why I stayed with him. I loved him and didn’t pay too much attention to the lack of sex at the beginning. Though I thought it was unusual I didn’t realise it was going to be a very serious problem in our marriage. But as he started to refuse my affections it became an enormous source of angst for me. It was a puzzle that I couldn’t solve, something he refused to talk about and something that I just hoped would get better and not worse as time went by. He wanted to be together all the time, just never sexually. I persisted to try and talk to him about the sexlessness but every time I would try to discuss it he refused to talk about it coming back each time with the same answer “nan no hanashi o shiteiru?” (what are you going on about?). We were both in denial that the marriage was not a normal marriage. I even suggested divorce back then but he refused to talk about that too.

    Despite the pain of continuous sexual rejection I believed he truly loved me and I loved him and wanted to marry him. He never agreed or proposed though I suggested it. One day he completely surprised me by taking me to his parents’ house and announced that we were going to get married. I was shocked. And his mother must have been too as she burst into tears and hugged me hard for ages. Such a great show of emotion from Ken’s Japanese parents was quite phenomenal. Twelve months later we went to Australia and got married in my hometown.

    The night before I flew out to Australia to get married I met a friend downtown for a coffee. I told her I didn’t really want to get married but my mother and his parents had gone to great expense and that I felt I had to go through with it. Really I shouldn’t have been so stupid, and so dishonest. I should have been assertive enough to cancel the wedding and at least pay my mum back for any money she had spent. I should have been a runaway bride but I was delusional. There is no excuse really, obviously I just needed to learn a very hard lesson.

    So we were married. After a short honeymoon in Australia we went back to Japan and we never had sex again unless I insisted on it or initiated it. It was demoralising. It was shameful. Even in the first week of marriage I found strange messages on his phone of meeting rendezvous arrangements between him and various people. I thought they were potential girlfriends but in hindsight I think they must have been prostitutes. I confronted him and said I wanted an annulment. I didn’t care anymore and even told his parents about it, his parents screamed at him and he never did it again. Looking back I should have relied on my instinct. If you feel something is wrong in your relationship, well it is. If you think your partner is playing up, they generally are, what you feel is not imaginary.

    It was like a prison sentence, not a marriage. I felt like I was in a sexual prison. The life sentence was that I would never have sex again with my husband but not with anyone else either because in the hope that things could get better I chose to be faithful to this man. I would get angry about it, then I would argue with him, then he would do something nice for me, take me out or buy me a present or tell me that he loved me. Each time he convinced me to stay in the marriage with him for love. This pattern continued for years. I would get angry and confront him and he’d convince me to stay, then I would calm down for a while always hoping for the best, thinking that one day our marriage might become slightly sexually normal. By normal I mean possibly we might have sex once a year or once every six months. I know now that if things don’t start out as you’d like they are not going to change into what you would like. I really seem to need to learn the hard way.

    ————————–

    After five years I was tired of teaching English in Japan. And there weren’t many employment opportunities for non-Japanese where we lived. I wanted to broaden my employment prospects. Ultimately I planned to return to Australia and I hoped to get a job as a Japanese translator or interpreter. I thought I would try and get into an Australian university that offered the best course in translation and interpreting. I had to pay an invigilator and that person needed to be a lecturer working at a university in Japan. I didn’t know anyone so I took a chance and emailed a fairly well known teacher and writer. I will call him John. I emailed him and asked him to come over to my place and proctor me for a fee. John agreed.

    And so John came over and invigilated me. I didn’t pass. My Japanese still wasn’t as good as I had hoped it was. Though John stayed for a cup of tea and a biscuit and we chatted. It was great to get to know John. He was divorced from a Japanese woman and as a matter of course we got talking about our Japanese marriages. I spilled over that I was in a sexless marriage with a great guy. How is that for an oxymoron, sexless marriage but great guy? “He doesn’t satisfy me or give me much affection, but he is a top guy, a good husband.” John identified too that his ex-wife had also given him years of sexless marriage. We made jokes about the ridiculousness of sexless marriages, and shared demoralising stories. Most importantly though I was given some comic relief to laugh at such a sad situation, being in a marriage when clearly one person didn’t want to be intimate with the other anymore. And possibly never had really wanted to.

    One of John’s stories really stood out. He coined it the ‘Douzo Effect’. John recalled to me that similarly to me he had hounded his wife a fair bit as to when they would have sex again. To appease him, he told me that one night she got in the shower, dried herself off, then with a towel around her laid on their bed and said ‘douzo’. John was horrified and completely turned off. It was as though she was offering herself, her body but she was not actually interested in any of the sex that would take place. Literally offering herself for him to do with what he wanted to do with her, but she wouldn’t be there emotionally, just physically. As demoralising as it was we still laughed a lot about this story. And so the Douzo Effect was born. I never thought I would experience the Douzo Effect. John said another thing to me that day that really made sense too, “if you don’t like who you yourself are when you are with a person, it is time to get out of the relationship”. I listened and understood those words but didn’t act on them. I just kept hoping things would get better.

    So life went on and I continued to check Ken’s phone. There was no sign of anything clandestine and in my denial I convinced myself Ken just wasn’t a sexual person. Ken got a spouse visa and came back to Australia with me and we moved in with my mother for 12 months. Later we moved into my townhouse which I had bought ten years previously. He got various jobs. He became mentally unstable. Countless times I tried to hug him and he would physically push me away. On the few occasions when I did initiate sex and we did it, his forehead would be all tight and frowning when we were in the act. It looked like he was physically repulsed by me. It was always with me on top and him on the bottom. He was too lazy to even make an effort to try any other positions. As long as he didn’t have to do anything and could just lay there he would ‘participate’.

    It was a couple of years later when it happened to me. After years of very little sex and fruitless discussions (initiated by me) with Ken about the marriage the Douzo Effect became reality. I had all but given up trying to resolve the problem of our sexless marriage with Ken but I still mentioned it as a joke sometimes. I think I had already forgotten about it by the time he got back from his shower and laid on his bed (as we were sleeping in separate beds by then). I went into his room to say goodnight and he said to me ‘douzo’ as he lay there naked on a towel on his single bed. I couldn’t believe it, years later exactly the same thing that John had shared with me was happening to me. Needless to say I was completely turned off and didn’t take up the offer.

    That was the last time I even talked about sex with him again. The Douzo Effect had turned me off so much I stopped even mentioning anything about our sexlessness. I began to completely give up on the marriage. I gave up trying to communicate with him about it and in my mind wondered how I could continue in a marriage with a man that never wanted to have sex with me ever again. I often wondered if I would experience mutual affection or sex again in this lifetime, before I died. I knew that my marriage was not a real marriage. By then I had even talked about my sexless situation with my family. My mother, my brothers and my sister-in-law knew about my sexless marriage. It was all so shameful for me. Before I had met Ken I had never spoken to my family about my sex life, that kind of thing did not feel right. But I had become so desperate and my self image was so distorted I couldn’t help sharing the details of my stupid situation with family and even workmates. In hindsight I think the sharing about it was the beginning of me emotionally leaving the marriage. By verbalising the situation I was beginning to clear a pathway out of the marriage. Though getting out was a long process.

    Eventually there was no sex at all and by this point I no longer tried to have sex with him. After years of trying I no longer WANTED to have sex with him. We had not kissed for years. If he held my hand or sat next to me I would push him away, the same way he had physically pushed me off him for years. He had hurt me so much that I would not let him back in. I got fatter and ate more and more.

    Despite Ken not wanting to have sex with me he desperately wanted a child and wanted me to go through the IVF process. He wanted an incubator. Thank goodness I was barren. I entertained this stupid thought and to cure my infertility I had an operation to get fibroids removed from my uterus. At the time I thought it would be my last chance at having a child. Funnily enough Ken’s grandmother had had the same operation. Her operation was so successful that she had produced four children after, one being Ken’s father.

    After my operation when I was full of stitches and could barely walk Ken became mentally unstable and was in the end committed to a mental hospital for a few weeks. His family rang me and abused me and said that it was my fault that he had had his breakdown. That was interspersed with phone calls asking me to call the mental hospital and to interpret for them. After one too many abusive phone calls, I said to his mother that they would need to come to Australia to get him out and that they would need to do it through the Japanese consulate. They did, I didn’t hear from them much after that. They came and picked up Ken and took him back to Japan for lots of promised therapy.

    Ken phoned me and mailed me from Japan as though nothing was wrong. In no uncertain terms I told him to stop calling me and in the emails I said I definitely didn’t want him in my life anymore. Ken was either angry or depressed before he finally broke down. He exhibited behaviours that didn’t correspond with friendship let alone marriage. He needed professional help. I did not like the person I had become in the marriage either. I had to begin to look after myself.

    Unannounced, Ken turned up on my doorstep three months later. He said he was sleeping in his car. I felt sorry for him and took him back. He lived with me again for another twelve months. We never had sex again. We continued to sleep in separate rooms for those 12 months. I had become a mother figure to him. He wanted to stay in this mother-son marriage but again I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt that he was just using me for a place to live by then. He was also planning to set up a business despite being mentally unstable and having severe health problems related to his diabetes.

    I suggested he find a share-house and so instead of calmly looking for a place online or in the paper he left in a wild rage. I did not throw him out, he chose to leave the way he did.

    I heard from my sister-in-law who he had gone to visit and complain about me to, that he was sleeping in his car again. I was worried about him so I checked his mail. I know that is wrong but I was genuinely worried about him. I learnt that he had been sleeping in his car and emailing prostitutes and arranging meetings.

    He had emailed a woman and arranged to buy her used knickers for the sum of $60 in a car park at night. Strangely though he had been coming back to my house during the day when I was at work and doing the dishes and putting the rubbish out. Buying used knickers at night and house chores by day.

    After I discovered what he was up to, the proof that Ken still had sexual desires just not with me, I sent him a text asking for my key back. I also let him know that he wasn’t welcome in my house anymore. He returned my key and took the last of his things. I didn’t tell him I knew about the prostitutes, knickers or other strange mails. It was not going to resolve anything by this stage.

    I have not seen him since and I don’t wish to. I still miss him, but I realise I am probably missing the Ken that I want him to be and not the Ken that he really is. I would rather be single and a bit lonely than to live in that lonely prison of a marriage. A marriage where I couldn’t have sex with my partner but I couldn’t have sex with anyone else either. I plan to have sex again with someone who mutually wants to have sex with me before I die at least. Now I have the freedom I should have granted myself long ago. I should have ended the relationship and not married but hindsight is only valuable if we treat it as a learning experience.

    Basically Ken is a good person and despite everything that happened between us I wish him all the best. I hope he is ok but we don’t need to be married anymore, that is for sure. I think we are just two people that were getting older and got married for all the wrong reasons. We certainly aren’t the first and wont be the last.

    —————————–

    You might wonder why I stayed for so long, ten years with this man. I took my marriage vows seriously and tried to make the best of the marriage. I continuously hoped for the best, that things would get better. I even convinced myself at times that things could be worse and that I would be able to stay in a sexless marriage. Clearly the truth is that Ken didn’t desire me, he wanted a wife who played his mother. He is still interested in sex, just not with me.

    It is really important that a couple agree about sex before they get married. No one is going to change and it is really important that your idea of marriage is the same idea of your partner’s idea of marriage, before you sign up. People get married for the wrong reasons. I did. I was lonely and I was worried about my age and finding someone. I also thought I had met the most wonderful man. He was kind, hardworking, funny, cooked well and always wanted to be with me. I ignorantly thought everything would work out for the best.

    Being single now is great. I don’t plan on getting married again. I have a pretty good job and have interesting hobbies. I wouldn’t mind a sex friend or two but that’s all. I don’t want to live with anyone again. I am not holding out for Mr Right or even Mr Fantastic. I am not even searching for anyone. I am enjoying my life, my friends, my work and my hobbies. I like who I am and I will not stay in a relationship again because I think I have to.

    EPILOGUE

    Recently I took a risk and asked an acquaintance on a date. I didn’t expect anything to come of it but since I wrote my story I have had sex with this lovely man. He worships my body with his. Sleeping with him in the last few weeks has boosted my self-image and self-esteem more than thousands of dollars worth of therapy ever could. I don’t know where this relationship will go and am not worried either. I am enjoying the intimacy. The new man never directly or indirectly criticises my body. He accepts me and loves me for who I am. I did not realise how much the sexless marriage had damaged my self esteem until I finally had mutually desired sex again. The sex I am having now has done more for me than any therapy would ever do. I cannot emphasise that enough for anyone who is coming out of a sexless marriage. Hallelujah I am a woman again, a desirable beautiful woman.

    ENDS

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    Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Practical advice, Tangents | 26 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, August 2, 2011, “The loneliness of the long-distance foreigner”, about the difficulty for NJ to make long-term J friends

    Posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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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    justbecauseicon.jpg

    The Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011
    JUST BE CAUSE

    The loneliness of the long-distance foreigner

    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110802ad.html

    A few months ago I had beers with several old Japan-hand guys (combined we have more than a century of Japan experiences), and one of them asked an interesting question:

    News photo

    “After all our years here, how many close Japanese male friends do you have?” (Excluding Debito, of course.)

    We glanced amongst ourselves and realized that none of us hadany. Not one we would count on as a “friend.” Nobody to whom we could talk openly, unreservedly, and in depth with, about what’s on our minds. Or contact for a place to stay because our spouse was on the warpath. Or call at 3 a.m. to announce the birth of our latest baby. Or ring up on the spur of the moment because we didn’t want to drink alone that evening. Or who would care enough to check on us in the event of a natural disaster. Not one.

    This occasioned much discussion and theorizing, both at the table and on my blog later (see www.debito.org/?p=8933)

    (A quick note to readers already poised to strike with poison pens: None of the following theories are necessarily mine, nor do I necessarily agree with them. They are just to stimulate further discussion.)

    One theory was that Japanese salarymen of our age group are generally boring people. Too busy or work-oriented to cultivate outside interests or hobbies, these one-note-Taros generally “talk shop” or resort to shaggy-dog stories about food. We contrasted them with Japanese women, who, thanks to more varied lifestyles and interests (including travel, language and culture), are more engaging and make better conversation partners (even if, my friends hastily added, the relationship had not become physical).

    Another idea was that for many Japanese men, their hobby was you. By this, the speaker meant the culture vultures craving the “gaijin shiriaiexperience” or honing their language skills. This was OK in the beginning (especially when we first got here) but it got old quickly, as they realized we wanted to learn Japanese too, and when they weren’t willing to reciprocate. Not to mention that we eventually got tired of hearing blanket cultural explanations for individual issues (which is how culture vultures are hard-wired to see the world, anyway).

    Another theory was that after a certain age, Japanese men don’t make “friends” with anyone. The few lifelong friends they would ever make were in school; once they entered the job market, all other males were treated as rivals or steps to promotion — meaning you put up a mask and didn’t reveal potentially compromising personal information. Thus if Japanese men were going to make friends at all, they were going to make them permanently, spending enormous time and energy imprinting themselves on precious few people. This meant they had to choose wisely, and non-Japanese — generally seen as in Japan only temporarily and with unclear loyalties — weren’t worth the emotional investment.

    Related to this were issues of Japan’s hierarchical society. Everyone was either subordinate or superior — kōhai or senpai — which interfered with friendships as the years marched on: Few non-Japanese (NJ) wanted to languish as kōhai, and few Japanese wanted to deal with a foreign senpai. Besides, went the theory, this relationship wasn’t something we’d classify as a “friendship” anyway. Conclusion: Japanese men, as opposed to Japanese women with their lifetime coffee klatches, were some of the most lonely people on the planet.

    Another suggestion was that this was just part of how life shakes down. Sure, when you’re young and carefree you can hang out willy-nilly, spend money with abandon and enjoy the beer-induced bonhomie (which Japan’s watering holes are very good at creating) with everyone all night. But as time goes on and people get married, have kids, take on a mortgage and a nagging spouse (who doesn’t necessarily want you spending their money on your own personal fun, especially if it involves friends of the opposite sex), you prioritize, regardless of nationality.

    Fine, our group countered, but we’ve all been married and had kids, and yet we’re still meeting regularly — because NJ priorities include beers with friends from time to time. In fact, for us the older the relationship gets, the more we want to maintain it — especially given all we’ve been through together. “New friends are silver, but old friends are gold.”

    Still another, intriguing theory was the utilitarian nature of Japanese relationships, i.e. Japanese make friends not as a matter of course but with a specific purpose in mind: shared lifestyles, interests, sports-team fandom, what have you. But once that purpose had run its course — because you’ve exhausted all conversation or lost the commonality — you should expect to lose contact. The logic runs that in Japan it is awkward, untoward, even rude to extend a relationship beyond its “natural shelf life.” This goes even just for moving to another city in Japan: Consider it normal to lose touch with everyone you leave behind. The thread of camaraderie is that thin in Japan.

    However, one naturalized Japanese friend of mine (who just turned 70) pooh-poohed all these theories and took me out to meet his drinking buddies (of both genders, mostly in their 60s and 70s themselves). At this stage in their lives things were less complicated. There were no love triangles, no senpai-kōhai conceits, no “shop talk,” because they were all retired. Moreover they were more outgoing and interesting, not only because they were cultivating pastimes to keep from going senile, but also because the almighty social lubricant of alcohol was omnipresent (they drank like there was no tomorrow; for some of them, after all, there might not be!). For my friend, getting Japanese to lower their masks was pretty easy.

    Fine, but I asked if it weren’t a bit unreasonable for us middle-aged blokes to wait for this life stage just to make some Japanese friends. These things may take time, and we may indeed have to spend years collecting shards of short interactions from the local greengrocer before we put together a more revealing relationship. But in the meantime, human interaction with at least one person of the same gender that goes beyond platitudes, and hopefully does not require libation and liver damage, is necessary now for sanity’s sake, no?

    There were other, less-developed theories, but the general conclusion was: Whatever expectation one had of “friends” — either between Japanese and NJ, or between Japanese themselves — there was little room over time for overlap. Ultimately NJ-NJ relationships wound up being more friendly, supportive and long-lasting.

    Now it’s time for disclaimers: No doubt the regular suspects will vent their spleen to our Have Your Say section and decry this essay as overgeneralizing, bashing, even discriminating against Japanese men.

    Fire away, but you’d be missing the point of this column. When you have a good number of NJ long-termers saying they have few to no long-term Japanese friends, this is a very serious issue — with a direct connection to issues of immigration and assimilation of outsiders. It may be a crude barometer regarding life in Japan, but let’s carry on the discussion anyway and see how sophisticated we can make it.

    So let’s narrow this debate down to one simple question: As a long-term NJ resident in Japan, how many Japanese friends do you have, as defined in the introduction above? (You might say that you have no relationship with anyone of any nationality with that much depth, but that’s awfully lonely — I dare say even unhealthy — and I hope you can remedy that.) Respondents who can address the other sides of the question (i.e. NJ women befriending Japanese women/men, and same-sex relationships) are especially welcome, as this essay has a shortage of insight on those angles.

    Be honest. And by “honest”, I mean giving this question due consideration and experience: People who haven’t been living in Japan for, say, about 10 years, seeing how things shake down over a significant portion of a lifetime’s arc, should refrain from commentary and let their senpai speak. “I’ve been here one year and have oodles of Japanese friends, you twerpski!” just isn’t a valid sample yet. And please come clean about your backgrounds when you write in, since age, gender, occupation, etc. all have as much bearing on the discussion as your duration of time in Japan.

    Above all, remember what my job as a columnist is: to stimulate public discussion. Respondents are welcome to disagree (I actually consider agreement from readers to be an unexpected luxury), but if this column can at least get you to think, even start clacking keyboards to The Japan Times, I’ve done my job. Go to it. Consider yourself duly stimulated, and please offer us some friendly advice.

    ———————

    Debito Arudou’s new novel “In Appropriate” is on sale (www.debito.org/inappropriate.html) Twitter arudoudebito. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp

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    Posted in Articles & Publications, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation | 65 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 18, 2011

    Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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 JULY 18, 2011

    Table of Contents:

    ///////////////////////////////////////////
    DEEP THOUGHTS FROM DEEP THINKERS
    1) M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall academic paper on “Shattered Gods” and the dying mythology of “Japaneseness”
    2) Peter Tasker in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Japan will rebuild, but not how you think”.
    Takes opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to re-advance outmoded Chrysanthemum Club-ism.
    3) Terrie’s Take on how Japanese companies are too “addicted” to cheap Chinese “Trainee” labor to hire unemployed Japanese
    4) Donald Keene prattles on about why he’s naturalizing in SAPIO, even takes a cheap shot at NJ
    5) Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government

    THE MONTHLY MODICUM OF BAD SOCIAL SCIENCE
    6) Bad social paradigms encouraging bad social science: UC Berkeley prof idiotically counts “flyjin” for H-Japan listserv
    7) Reuters Expose: Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers, including NJ “temporary temps”
    8 ) 2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ

    LET’S NOT LEAVE OUT EXCLUSIONISM
    9) Zaitokukai Neonazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective
    10) BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho
    11) Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”
    12) Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner
    13) Joel Legendre-Koizumi on the J media’s blackout on PM Kan’s proposals

    PORTENTS OF THE FUTURE
    14) Adidas assesses the “history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan”, now monitoring JITCO in conjunction with other major overseas outsourcers
    15) US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”
    16) Asahi: NJ Nurse trainees leave Japan despite 1-year extension to taking qualifying test
    17) Quoted in Asia Weekly: “Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan”
    18 ) Child Abductions Issue: How Japan’s debate on defining “Domestic Violence”, the loophole in enforcing the Hague Treaty, is heading in the wrong direction
    19) Weekend Tangent: The euphoria of collective attack and parental alienation syndrome

    PODCASTS
    20) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 14 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing in Japan (part 1 of 3)
    21) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 21 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on J naturalization process (part 2 of 3)
    22) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 28 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing and name changes in Japan (part 3 of 3)
    23) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Arudou Debito’s naturalization July 3, 2003
    24) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Brooklynite Anthony Bianchi’s election to Inuyama City Council, April 30, 2003
    25) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011

    … and finally…
    26) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column July 5, 2011: “Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages”
    ///////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
    Podcast subscription available on iTunes (search term Debito.org), RSS feed at debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito.
    Freely Forwardable

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

    DEEP THOUGHTS FROM DEEP THINKERS

    1) M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall academic paper on “Shattered Gods” and the dying mythology of “Japaneseness”

    What follows is an academic paper that changed my world view about Japan earlier this year. Written by friend M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall, and presented at the Association of Asian Studies annual convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, on April 3, 2011, it talks about how Japan’s culture is dysfunctional and, put more metaphysically, unable to fill the need of a people to “deny death”. This will on the surface be difficult to wrap one’s head around, so read on, open the mind wide, and take it all in. Reprinted here with permission of the author and revised specially for Debito.org. Concentrate. It’s like a dense episode of the X-Files. And it will raise fundamental questions in your mind about whether it’s worth one’s lifetime doing service to and learning about a dying system, which is ascriptive and exclusionary in nature, yet essentially serving nobody.

    Sheftall: In a single paragraph of brutal candor, Richie verbalized a certain metaphysical malaise in the Japanese condition that I had been vaguely aware of since arriving in the country in 1987. Outside of the jeremiads and diatribes of right-wing pundits, this metaphysical malaise (or lacuna, as I have referred to it above) is generally kept politely hidden — like an embarrassing family secret jealously protected — although I had caught many glimpses and snippets of it here and there during my long years in Japan, most often and vividly in the sake-lubricated lamentations of older Japanese men (especially those old enough to remember life when the Meiji cosmology was still vibrant and functional). Moreover, it explained the grievously conflicted belief systems (i.e., torn between lingering loyalty to the Meiji cosmology vs. necessary adjustments to the undeniable realities of the postwar present) I had observed to more or less of a degree among virtually all of the Japanese war veteran subjects of my ethnographic project. My subjects had gradually revealed their lingering emotional turmoil over the collapse of the Meiji cosmology to me over our months and years of acquaintance with displays ranging from self-deprecating humor and passive resignation on some occasions, to painful and unrestrained expressions of profound grief, humiliation, and snarling hinekuri resentment on others. But it was not until I encountered Richie’s passage — which is worth quoting at length here — that I could really grasp the “pathology”, if you will, of this “metaphysical malaise”:

    Richie: “In the decades following the war Japan has vastly improved in all ways but one. No substitute has ever been discovered for the certainty that this people enjoyed until the summer of 1945 … Japan suffered a trauma that might be compared to that of the individual believer who suddenly finds himself an atheist. Japan lost its god, and the hole left by a vanished deity remains. The loss was not the emperor, a deity suddenly lost through his precipitate humanization. It was, however, everything for which he and his whole ordered, pre-war empire had stood. It was certainty itself that was lost. And this is something that the new post-war world could not replace”(120-121).

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9147

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

    2) Peter Tasker in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Japan will rebuild, but not how you think”.
    Takes opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to re-advance outmoded Chrysanthemum Club-ism.

    To take us through the holiday weekend (and shortly before I vacation this blog for the summer), let’s have a discussion about this article by Peter Tasker which achieved a prominent spot in a prominent policymaker’s magazine.

    The article offers hope that Japan will rebuild. But it also cherry-picks economic statistics to show that Japan isn’t as bad economically as all that (he even dismisses the “Lost Decade(s)”; does Mr. Tasker get out of Tokyo much?). And, more oddly, he takes the opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to swipe at the “Revisionists” (the contrapose to the “Chrysanthemum Club”), particularly the late Chalmers Johnson. The C-Club, a group of scholars with great sway in US-Japan Relations for just about the entire Postwar Era, generally tends to explain away most of Japan’s disinclination to follow international rules and norms by citing their own conjured-up sacerdotal cultural oddities and esoterica (or, less charitably, “intellectual chicanery” and “uncritical apolog[ism] for Japan”). It preys on the fact that it knows more Japanese words and concepts than most Western readers do, and cites them even if they aren’t grounded in much. And woe betide any competing point of view to come in and spoil the US-Japan Relationship love-in.

    True to form, in the best rewarmed Reishauer, Mr. Tasker acclaims the country’s “extraordinary social cohesion and stoicism” in the name of “social stability” and “national self-respect”, thanks to “mutual respect, not victory in competition”, and of course, “gaman” and “shimaguni konjo”. This overseas school of thought once again portrays poor, poor Japan as perpetually misunderstood by the West, not as a corporatist state that serves its citizenry at times pretty poorly and seeks little consent from its governed. As Japan’s per capita incomes keep dropping, people (particularly new employment market entrants) find themselves less able to advance or improve their lives, the flaws of the state have come ever more into stark relief thanks to Fukushima.

    For this time, Fukushima’s increasing radiation exposure is not something that can wait like a regular disaster (such as the slow recovery efforts after the Kobe Earthquake of 1995). Meanwhile, the ineffectual state keeps covering up information, shifting safety standards for radioactivity, and exposes more people and the international food chain to accumulating toxin. Yet it’s this much-vaunted public “stoicism” (as opposed to feelings of powerlessness and futility) that is precisely what will do people in. Mr. Tasker’s citing of the alleged common belief that “the janitor in your apartment building is not a representative of ‘the other’. He is you.” may be something the Japanese are being told to tell themselves (although I can’t find any sources for that), but I don’t believe this attitude will going to be a constructive source for recovery this time. Fukushima will, however, eventually become a source of “grand-mal victimization”, as a substitute for solution and revolution, as the malcontents who might do something will give up and/or just flee. We will quite possibly see an exodus (if there isn’t an unreported one going on already) of Japanese (which has happened periodically before during the other times Japan’s economic system broke down; hence the immigrant Japanese communities in places like South America, Hawaii, and California) from this system which quite simply cannot fix itself, and the people feel powerless to demand better even as they get slowly poisoned.

    The difference this time is that the breakdown in the state is spreading toxins beyond its own borders, unabated four months later, with no end in sight. I wonder if Mr. Tasker would offer any revisions to his article now. But I doubt it. His politics come through pretty clearly below.

    Finally, in contrapose to the media’s much vaunted “Japanese earthquake without looting” canard, I enclose at the very bottom two articles for the record substantiating ATM machine and convenience store theft in the earthquake areas. A friend also noted a Kyodo wire entitled “684 million yen stolen from ATMs in hardest-hit prefectures” that made the July 16 Japan Times but he says can’t be found archived anywhere. “Stoicism and social cohesion”? People are people. Shit happens and people react. Let’s not obfuscate this with cultural canards aiming at advancing the outdated politics and analytical rubric of the Chrysanthemum Club.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9248

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

    3) Terrie’s Take on how Japanese companies are too “addicted” to cheap Chinese “Trainee” labor to hire unemployed Japanese

    Received this this morning from Terrie Lloyd. Very much worth reading, as it shows the damage done by the market aberration (if you believe in free markets as the final arbiter of fairness) of holding labor costs artificially low — you get resistance to ever raising them again once business gets used to those costs as being “normal”. As wages and working conditions in Japan continue their race to the bottom, it seems that two decades of NJ “Trainee” near-slave and slave labor will come back to haunt the Japanese economy after all.

    Terrie Lloyd: According to an article in the Japan Times on Thursday, quoting numbers from a Labor Ministry report released earlier in the week, there are now 2.02m people in Japan receiving welfare checks, more than any time since 1952. “Welfare” in Japan is apparently defined as financial assistance offered by the government to a household when its total income falls below the national minimum.

    Presumably a big contributor to this record number of needy people has been the Great East Japan earthquake in March. The level of joblessness has soared to around 90% of employable survivors in the worst hit areas, and by the end of May about 110,000 were out of work and applying for the dole at various Hello Work offices in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures.

    So, one would think that with this excess capacity of workers, many of whom are from the agricultural, fisheries, and manufacturing industries, juxtaposed with the phenomenon of disappearing Chinese trainee workers from factories around the same regions, less than half of whom are yet to return, that there would be a slew of local hirings to make up the shortfall. Certainly after the Chinese trainees fled the disaster areas, there were plenty of news reports of employers grumpily saying, “We can’t trust Chinese employees, next time we’ll hire locals.”

    But are they following through with local hiring offers? Our guess is “not”.

    The reason is because a Japanese breadwinner from Iwate on unemployment, or even welfare, can still receive 2-5 times more than the Chinese trainees do for the same jobs. The factory and farm operators may grizzle about their “unreliable” Chinese employees, but without this source of ultra-cheap labor, they have no way of being able to compete with the flood of goods and produce coming in from China itself. The fact is that thousands of small companies all over Japan are addicted to cheap trainee labor from China and elsewhere, and to go local they would soon go out of business…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9108

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

    4) Donald Keene prattles on about why he’s naturalizing in SAPIO, even takes a cheap shot at NJ

    Here we have Donald Keene, our newest future Japanese naturalized citizen at age 88, prattling on in Sapio about how nice and wonderful Japanese society and culture is (citing things that happened a generation or two ago), and how he’s happy to become part of a culture so rich and able to regenerate itself after the tsunami (despite, he laments, the lack of domestic interest in Japanese culture by Japanese people; clearly in Donald’s world, culture makes the man).

    This is all excusable as harmless personal preference and geriatric navel-gazing except, at the bottom of the first page, his cheap and ignorant swipe at non-Japanese (who, allegedly after coming here to make money, flee in the face of danger). Perhaps if he had had the same stake as younger people who live here full-time and languish in less elite jobs, he might understand better why some people didn’t stay in Japan, as I argued in this Japan Times column. No matter. (Oh, and we won’t deal with ongoing events and lies from Fukushima; criticism of Japan would annoy Donald’s hosts and spoil the Sapio article.)

    I guess it just goes to show you that grumpy old men regardless of nationality have to latch onto the “good old days” somewhere; fortunately our Donald feels like he has a culture and a circle of friends here that encourage that. Enjoy yourself here, Donald. Just don’t bad-mouth other people who are also coming here and trying to make a life, even if eventually they decide that there are greener pastures and fairer opportunities elsewhere. At 88, you won’t have to endure Japan’s non-academic workplace culture, let alone be on this mortal coil long enough, for any denouement.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8999

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

    5) Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government

    Okay, Tokyo, you asked for this when you revoted in this creep for a fourth term last April. Now not only is racist xenophobe and Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro using the Tohoku Earthquake (which he originally called “divine retribution for Japan’s egoism”) as sympathy fodder for a renewed Olympic bid, but also, according to ANN News, he is calling for Japan to have nuclear weapons (in order to be taken seriously on the world stage, comparing it to a Mah-Jong game), military conscription, and even a military government!

    Well, in my view this was only a matter of time, especially since Ishihara, if he’s not just flat-out senile, is of a generation (the Showa Hitoketa) which venerates Japan’s military past without actually serving in the military and experiencing the horrors of the Pacific War. He’s basically a warrior of words. And, again, the Tokyo electorate keeps putting him in a place where he can use those words for great effect and audience. Including advocating siphoning off funds from disaster reconstruction for the purpose of circus.

    Yomiuri: Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has expressed his intention to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics… The message that Tokyo wants to host the 2020 Games as proof of Japan’s recovery from the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis — just as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were symbolic of the nation’s rebuilding from the ashes of World War II … will likely be able to obtain empathy from many countries…

    Nation must be united…

    We realize the government must currently place top priority on securing funds to finance restoration and reconstruction projects from the March 11 disaster. But sooner or later the government will need to clarify its stance toward hosting the Olympics in this country.

    The government should proactively study the feasibility of hosting the 2020 Games in tandem with such bodies as the Tokyo metropolitan government and Japanese Olympic Committee.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9132

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

    THE MONTHLY MODICUM OF BAD SOCIAL SCIENCE

    6) Bad social paradigms encouraging bad social science: UC Berkeley prof idiotically counts “flyjin” for H-Japan listserv

    I have a real rib-tickler for you today. Here we have an academic employed at UC Berkeley trying to squeeze flawed data into an already flawed paradigm — not just that of “gaijin” [sic], but also of “flyjin” — as she goes around Tokyo counting NJ as if they were rare birds (or, rather, rarer birds, according to her presumptions under the rubric).

    I raise this on Debito.org because it’s amazing how stupid concepts from Planet Japan somehow manage to entice apparently educated people elsewhere to follow suit, and… I’ll just stop commenting and let you read the rest:

    ==========================
    H-JAPAN (E)
    June 19, 2011
    From: Dana Buntrock, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

    For those of you who have not yet returned to Japan since 3/11, it may be helpful to understand how significant the absence of “gaijin” is in the capital, a point noted more than once on this list.

    I am using the term “gaijin” here to refer to racially differentiated (non-Asian) individuals, including those who appear to be from the Indian subcontinent. If mixed-race children were with a non-Asian parent, I counted them. I also counted one woman in a version of the headscarf worn by Moslem women, seen from behind, and her child (in a stroller), because the attire was clearly non-Japanese in nature. That is, I tended to err on the side of counting individuals as being foreign…
    ==========================

    OKAY, ONE MORE COMMENT FROM DEBITO: It’s also disappointing to see the racial term “gaijin” thusly being picked up unproblematized in academic circles, but that’s a long-standing terminology that people just seem to laugh off as grounded in general use. But see how it feeds into a general idiocracy and flawed paradigms vis-a-vis scholarship on Japan?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9123

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    7) Reuters Expose: Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers, including NJ “temporary temps”

    Here is a deep article from Reuters this month on how deep the rot goes in Japan’s labor market and safety practices regarding nuclear power. It’s germane to Debito.org because even NJ workers have been hired and exposed to radiation in Japan — without proper recordkeeping. Guess that’s one of the advantages of utilizing NJ laborers — they are the “temp temps” (my term) that escape any official scrutiny because imported labor “sent home” after use is somebody else’s problem.

    Reuters: [I]n 1997, the effort to save the 21-year-old [Fukushima] reactor from being scrapped at a large loss to its operator, Tokyo Electric, also included a quiet effort to skirt Japan’s safety rules: foreign workers were brought in for the most dangerous jobs, a manager of the project said.

    “It’s not well known, but I know what happened,” Kazunori Fujii, who managed part of the shroud replacement in 1997, told Reuters. “What we did would not have been allowed under Japanese safety standards.”

    The previously undisclosed hiring of welders from the United States and Southeast Asia underscores the way Tokyo Electric, a powerful monopoly with deep political connections in Japan, outsourced its riskiest work and developed a lax safety culture in the years leading to the Fukushima disaster, experts say…

    At Fukushima in 1997, Japanese safety rules were applied in a way that set very low radiation exposure limits on a daily basis, Fujii said. That was a prudent step, safety experts say, but it severely limited what Japanese workers could do on a single shift and increased costs.

    The workaround was to bring in foreign workers who would absorb a full-year’s allowable dose of radiation of between 20 millisieverts and 25 millisieverts in just a few days…

    It is not clear if the radiation doses for the foreign workers were recorded on an individual basis or if they have faced any heath problems. Tepco said it had no access to the worker records kept by its subcontractors. IHI said it had no record of the hiring of the foreign workers. Toshiba, another major contractor, also said it could not confirm that foreign workers were hired.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9162

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    8 ) 2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ

    It’s that time of the year again, when the GOJ has its monthlong campaign to enlist the general public in spotting illegal aliens. Just to make sure that anyone can feel empowered to do Immigration’s job to spot check a NJ’s Gaijin Card (when, according to the Gaitouhou, only officials given policing powers by the MOJ are empowered to demand this form of ID), here we have a poster in a public place, issued by Tokyo Metro, with all sorts of cutesy NJ happily complying with the rigmarole. After all, the small print notes that that these NJ are causing “all kinds of problems” (well, at least they’re being less demonized this time; making them well dressed and cute was a nice touch). And also after all, the slogan is “ru-ru o mamotte kokusaika” (internationalization done by the rules); which is fine, except it would be nice if the police followed their own rules regarding enforcement of Gaijin Card checks. Poster follows, received June 23, 2011.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9156

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    LET’S NOT LEAVE OUT EXCLUSIONISM

    9) Zaitokukai Neonazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective

    Once again we have the Zaitokukai demonstrating in Shibuya last Saturday, once again blurring the line between freedom of speech and the expression of racist hate speech. As hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity (and a debate with our Resident Gaijin Handler last April had him making contrary yet ultimately unsubstantiated claims; let me head him off at the pass here), this will continue, and quite possibly continue to legitimize and foment, public expressions of xenophobia in Japan, and the perpetual unappreciation of NJ as residents, taxpayers, and mere human beings. Here’s the video, and here’s another video with them getting violent towards somebody, date and more details unclear. Very ugly stuff. And it will continue, if not get worse, until hate speech and the concomitant violence is made illegal.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9224

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    10) BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho

    BV’s crie du coeur: A few weeks ago my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Not a “half” (I am British, my wife is Japanese) but a “full” person we hope will have a wonderful bicultural future. I felt encouraged when my Japanese father-in -law, who is in his 70s, beamed at her and me and said “nice mikksu!” …

    But when my wife broached the subject of [our daughter’s] dual nationality with the [Shibuya Ward Office] official, the tone turned hard.

    “No, she can only be registered in your name.” What about her dual nationality “No, she has no dual nationality. She is Japanese.”

    Until this point, I could understand the position of the official. Not support it, but I could see the point of view. We need as many new kids as possible. This is Japan. We think she is Japanese. But it was the following elements that really angered my wife:

    But as the father is English, doesn’t she get a choice? she asked.

    “No, she is Japanese. This is not like America, you know, where anyone can get nationality just by being born there,” the bureaucrat spat out, obviously scornfully.

    “This is JAPAN. She has Japanese blood. She is Japanese.” (My emphasis, but I could hear the horrible little person on the other end of the phone…)

    Wife: But can’t she choose later?

    “No, she is Japanese!”

    My wife shouted down the phone to the effect of: “How dare you tell me my daughter’s business? She can be Japanese or English, or both if she wants, because she can keep both passports.”

    She cut the phone and looked at me. She said: “The Japanese system is broken.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9201

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    11) Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”

    Mark Austin: On Monday evening, after I’d visited the onsen at the Dormy Inn, where I was staying, I asked a receptionist at the hotel if she could recommend a pub or bar where I could have a beer and something to eat. She pointed me in the direction of the area west of the railway. I walked there and found loads of “snack” bars, which I didn’t want to enter. Then I found Monika and was told by a Mr. XXXXX that I wasn’t welcome there.

    I pointed out to Mr. XXXXX (in Japanese) that his refusal to serve me constituted racial discrimination (I used the phrase “jinshu sabetsu”) and he agreed that it was, and defended this by merely saying, “Ma, sho ga nai.”

    After about 10 minutes, I gave up (politely) arguing with Mr. XXXXX and left…

    As an employee of the Otaru Tourism Association, I’m sure you’ll agree that your job description is to try to boost the local economy as much as possible by advertising the many attractions of Otaru, a beautiful city with a rich history in which foreigners played an important part from the late 19th century, to Japanese and non-Japanese people alike. In Otaru, foreigners (residents and tourists) and Japanese spend the same currency — yen. Is it asking too much that we be treated the same, as far as possible?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9187

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    12) Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner

    We have some proactive treatment against discrimination towards a NJ coach in Japan’s soccer leagues. Witness the reaction of other fans towards a nasty fan banner singling him out by his nationality, attributing to him behavior that is unrelated and unwarranted: criticism and the taking of responsibility. Good. Regardless of whether one might argue this actually constitutes “racism” or not, it is still indicative of the zero tolerance of discrimination that should be (and is, under FIFA) a hallmark of world sport leagues worldwide, including Japan’s.

    I am, however, of two minds about manager Ghotbi meeting the nasty fans to somehow enlighten them. It on one hand seems a good PR strategy — engage and convince the nasties that their targets are humans with feelings after all. On the other hand, it may encourage other trolls who want attention (not to mention get a meeting with a famous NJ — just insult them and you get an audience) to do the same thing — and enough of these banners and people may start claiming “cultural misunderstandings” as justification (you get that with nasty slogans against NJ in Japanese baseball, e.g., the racist banners against Warren Cromartie). In my experience it doesn’t always work to talk to discriminators (sometimes their names exposed to social opprobrium is enough), but sometimes it does, and at least there is social opprobrium and media attention this time. Let’s keep an eye on this and see how it flies. Hopefully buds get nipped.

    Kyodo: Shimizu S-Pulse manager Afshin Ghotbi has turned the other cheek toward two Jubilo fans who have been indefinitely banished from Iwata games for hoisting a racially motivated banner in the Shizuoka derby two weeks ago, wanting to meet them to try to raise international awareness throughout the J-League.

    The two teenage Jubilo supporters were outlawed by their club on Monday after writing a banner that read, ”Ghotbi, stop making nuclear weapons,” in the May 28 J-League contest between Shimizu and Iwata at Outsourcing Stadium… Ghotbi, the ex-Iran national coach who is in his first season in Japan at Shimizu, is Iranian-American…

    Yet rather than further fry the two fans amid arguably the nastiest controversy between the Shizuoka-based clubs, [Ghotbi] wants a clear-the-air meeting with the pair to stamp out racism in the J-League for good…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9085

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

    13) Joel Legendre-Koizumi on the J media’s blackout on PM Kan’s proposals

    JLK, on PM Kan June 28, 2011 press conference: Unbelievable! Most questions were mere bullying and nothing concrete. Except the Mainichi and two free lance reporters the rest was on a hunt on the chief of the government. Media played themselves the Nagatacho’s game. I was shocked to see that the only of the 2 good questions asked to PM Kan was by Mr. Shimada, a free lance reporter. A good validated comment and question about actions since and after the triple catastrophes (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear contamination) and how Japan’s social aspect has changed since 3/11 and the implications in actions and behaviors of the society. Kan started to answer on his philosophy and his expectation regarding Japanese population and I really noticed he was continuing explaining and elaborating his ruling concrete plan. Fabulous. But then NHK TV suddenly cut the answers of Prime Minister Kan — very articulated ones. He offered a vision of the present and the future after these exceptional disaster circumstances, I was astonished by Kan’s words.

    So now, it’s clear. One knows one cannot truly rely on kisha clubs press releases. Luckily but minor impact, Kan’s comment is available on the web page of the Kantei. Now !! Why on earth do the media shut up the prime minister when he is presenting the most important policy speech of reconstruction after Japan chaos of March 11? Would the US cut B. Obama at a major speech? Would France cut N. Sarkozy live talks on such issues? During a press conf?…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9167

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

    PORTENTS OF THE FUTURE

    14) Adidas assesses the “history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan”, now monitoring JITCO in conjunction with other major overseas outsourcers

    Supplementing yesterday’s report from Terrie Lloyd, concerning the aberrations from Japan’s addiction to underpaid NJ labor, Adidas (yes, the sports goods maker) suggests, as submitter Crustpunker says, “It is more or less common knowledge what goes on here regarding migrant workers I mean, ‘trainees’.”

    Talk about an open secret. It only took about two decades for the GOJ to amend the laws, of course so Japan’s industry (not to mention overseas sourcers) got away with plenty while the going was good. Nevertheless, no doubt we’ll soon have laments in the Japanese media about how our industry must now suffer since either a) Japanese are underemployed, or b) Japanese industry is being hurt by NJ labor refusing to be exploited anymore. Sob away.

    Adidas concludes: There is, regrettably, a history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan and it is not a situation which will change overnight, even with this new legislation. So we recognise that we have a role to play in improving the system for migrant workers. In collaboration with several other brands including Nike, Gap and Disney, the adidas Group has set up quarterly meetings with Japanese vendors, suppliers, government representatives and JITCO. Working together the brands are helping to bring more transparency to the Intern Training Programme and establish a standard for acceptable recruitment fees as well as offer capacity building and training on applying the immigration and labour laws.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9116

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

    15) US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”

    Yomiuri: Regarding conditions for foreign trainees in Japan, the [US State Department] noted “the media and NGOs continued to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages, overtime, fraud and contracting workers out to different employers — elements which contribute to situations of trafficking.” The Japanese government has not officially recognized the existence of such problems, the report said. It also said Japan “did not identify or provide protection to any victims of forced labor.”

    Asahi: The report said, “Japan is a destination, source, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking… The State Department recommended the Japanese government strengthen efforts to investigate, prosecute and punish acts of forced labor, including those that fall within the foreign trainee program.

    COMMENT: The U.S. State Department report text in full included in this blog entry.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9171

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

    16) Asahi: NJ Nurse trainees leave Japan despite 1-year extension to taking qualifying test

    The GOJ is trying to plug the leak of NJ trainee nurses leaving Japan despite their best efforts on the qualifying exam. But after all these years of insufficient institutional support, it’s too little, too late, and disorganized at that; according to the Asahi article below, morale is clearly low for them. Mayhaps the jig is up, and word is getting round at last that the NJ nurse training program was after all just another guise for a revolving-door labor force?

    Asahi: Many Indonesian nurse trainees who failed their exams have returned home amid confusion over who would be allowed to stay for another year to retake the test.

    The government decided to allow 68 of the 78 Indonesians who failed this year’s nursing exam to stay and take another exam next year. But 25 of the 91 Indonesians who took the exam in March have already left.

    “I first heard about an extended stay some time ago, but I was not given any details,” said a woman in her 30s who failed the exam and left in April. “After all, I think we are not needed.”…

    [Another] woman, who failed in the exam by a slight margin, knew she could be allowed to stay. But she said she has lost her enthusiasm to work in Japan because of a lack of support from the government.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9095

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    17) Quoted in Asia Weekly: “Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan”

    China Daily/Asia Weekly: An obvious concern is whether fewer tax-paying workers will be able to support more benefit-claiming retirees. Japan’s healthy personal savings may help in that regard. A more human question is, “Who will provide the daily care the elderly require?”…

    In 2010, of the 257 Filipinos who took the [qualifying exam to become a healthcare worker in Japan], only one passed. The success rate for Filipinos and Indonesians over the first two years of the program was also less than 1 percent, prompting some to regard the exam as a contrivance designed to restrict foreign professionals’ period of stay.

    “Japan has long maintained a tacit revolving-door policy for migrant labor,” says Arudou Debito, a naturalized- Japanese human-rights activist and researcher on internationalization.

    “The Japanese government imports cheap young workers during their most productive labor years, but under short-term work visa regimes to ensure they don’t settle here. In that sense, what is happening to the caregivers and nurses is completely within character.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9176

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    18 ) Child Abductions Issue: How Japan’s debate on defining “Domestic Violence”, the loophole in enforcing the Hague Treaty, is heading in the wrong direction

    Here is a report from a Debito.org reader who translates how the debate on Domestic Violence in Japan (being cited as a reason to create loopholes in Japan’s enforcement of the upcoming signatory status with the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions) is being stretched to justify just about any negative behavior (including non-tactile acts) as “violent”. And note how the checklist of “violent” acts below approaches the issue with the woman as perpetual victim and the man as perpetrator. If accepted as the standard definition, imagine just how much further this will weaken the fathers’ position in any Japanese divorce negotiation.

    NGO Sayasaya: Checklist for Women
    Please check any of these if you have experienced them:

    He sulks if I deviate in any way from what he has requested of me.
    He quickly blames me whenever something goes wrong.
    When I go out alone, he calls my cell phone regularly.
    He is reluctant to associate with my friends and parents.
    He is angry if I come home late…

    Checklist for Men
    Please check any of these if you have experienced them:

    I have yelled at her.
    I wish that she would only have eyes for me.
    Sometimes I don’t answer her when she wants to talk to me.
    While speaking with her, I have stood up and got close to her.
    She has thought that I made fun of her…

    Source: Dr. Numazaki Ichirou “Why Do men choose violence?”

    According to Professor Numazaki, the producer of this list, a check mark next to even ONE item indicates a DV event. (For women who checked off one item, they have been a victim of DV and, for men, any checks indicate that that man was a perpetrator of DV.)

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9099

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    19) Weekend Tangent: The euphoria of collective attack and parental alienation syndrome

    As a Weekend Tangent, and a corollary to yesterday’s blog post about the debate on definitions of Domestic Violence in Japan, here is a discussion from a psychologist on what sort of person will probably be most likely to take advantage of “violence” that is not physically violent in nature: a bully, who uses collective attack and parental alienation as a means to extract revenge on a spouse. Under Japan’s increasingly blurry definitions of serious matters of violent behavior, this means that bullies will also be able to enlist the authorities’ help in carrying out their bullying.

    Psychologist: The emotionally abusive bully who engages in mobbing (or parental alienation) revels in the excitement produced by their animosity. It produces a pleasurable buzz or rush in them. Westhues (2002) refers to this as “the euphoria of collective attack.”

    Parental Alienation and Personality Disorders…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9103

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    PODCASTS

    20) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 14 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing in Japan (part 1 of 3)

    ARUDOU DEBITO ON JAPANESE NATURALIZATION PROCESS. Writeup from KQED-FM, San Francisco NPR:

    “Pacific Time correspondent Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan, gives the first of three talks on the why and how of the process he underwent as a Caucasian American to become a naturalized Japanese citizen.”

    Duration four minutes, broadcast on KQED-FM’s Pacific Time weekly radio segment December 14, 2000.

    This is a time capsule of attitudes a decade ago, mere weeks after becoming a Japanese citizen, part one of three. Enjoy.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9208

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    21) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 21 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on J naturalization process (part 2 of 3)

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9210

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

    22) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 28 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing and name changes in Japan (part 3 of 3)

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9212

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

    23) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Arudou Debito’s naturalization July 3, 2003

    ARUDOU DEBITO ON JAPANESE NATURALIZATION. Writeup from NPR’s “All Things Considered” program:

    “NPR’s Eric Weiner tells the story of David Aldwinckle, a New York native who has taken the rare step of becoming a citizen of Japan. An outspoken man, David Aldwinckle rejects the notion that there’s one Japanese way of doing anything — an attitude that gets him into trouble sometimes. Yet he was able to get through the rigorous process of securing Japanese citizenship.”

    Duration 4 minutes 45 seconds, broadcast on National Public Radio July 3, 2003. Enjoy!

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9214

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

    24) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Brooklynite Anthony Bianchi’s election to Inuyama City Council, April 30, 2003

    NPR ON BROOKLYNITE ANTHONY BIANCHI’S ELECTION TO INUYAMA CITY COUNCIL, broadcast on National Public Radio April 30, 2003. Writeup from NPR:

    “NPR’s Melissa Block talks with Tony Bianchi, a Brooklyn native who was elected to the Inuyama city council in Japan last Sunday, about his campaign and its outcome. Bianchi is a naturalized Japanese citizen and the first person of North American origin ever to be elected to public office in Japan.”

    Duration 4 minutes 15 seconds. Enjoy!

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9219

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    25) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011

    In this podcast: Book Break at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on my new book “IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan”. June 28, 2011, Tokyo Yurakucho, with a large discussion on child abductions after divorce in Japan.

    The presentation and Q&A in its entirety. 1 hour 20 minutes. No cuts. Enjoy!

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9197

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    … and finally…

    26) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column July 5, 2011: “Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages”

    JUST BE CAUSE
    Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages
    By DEBITO ARUDOU
    The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110705ad.html

    Photo of Daniel at the blog. Excerpt:

    One problem with our NJ brethren who leave us — through returning to their native countries, finding opportunities elsewhere, or, in Daniel’s case, death — is the disappearance of institutional memory. With a constant recycling of people, we as a community often know little of what happened before us, and have to start again from scratch.

    That is the ultimate disempowerment: the ability to erase someone’s life work by not recognizing it.

    This is why, at least in the case of death, we have an obligation to honor and remember NJ lives and efforts. Otherwise what is the point of making those efforts in the first place?

    So let me propose a corrective measure: obituaries in The Japan Times. We should offer, say, a “Legacy Corner,” where someone who knew a recently deceased NJ of note well can submit a eulogy for possible publication. This way a print record remains of what they contributed to Japan and to us.

    Many overseas newspapers, including The Guardian, already have this system in place. So should the JT…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9184

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    All for today. Should be taking a break for the summer, meaning back by September or so so stop by Debito.org in the interim!

    Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
    Podcast subscription available on iTunes (search term Debito.org), RSS feed at debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito.
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 18, 2011 ENDS

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    Peter Tasker in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Japan will rebuild, but not how you think”. Takes opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to re-advance outmoded Chrysanthemum Club-ism.

    Posted on Sunday, July 17th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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.  To take us through the holiday weekend (and shortly before I vacation this blog for the summer), let’s have a discussion about this article by Peter Tasker which achieved a prominent spot in a prominent policymakers’ magazine.

    The article offers hope that Japan will rebuild.  But it also cherry-picks economic statistics to show that Japan isn’t as bad economically as all that (he even dismisses the “Lost Decade(s)”; does Mr. Tasker get out of Tokyo much?).  And, more oddly, he takes the opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to swipe at the “Revisionists” (the contrapose to the “Chrysanthemum Club”), particularly the late Chalmers Johnson.  The C-Club, a group of scholars with great sway in US-Japan Relations for just about the entire Postwar Era, generally tends to explain away most of Japan’s disinclination to follow international rules and norms by citing their own conjured-up sacerdotal cultural oddities and esoterica (or, less charitably, “intellectual chicanery” and “uncritical apolog[ism] for Japan”).  It preys on the fact that it knows more Japanese words and concepts than most Western readers do, and cites them even if they aren’t grounded in much.  And woe betide any competing point of view to come in and spoil the US-Japan Relationship love-in.

    True to form, in the best rewarmed Reishauer, Mr. Tasker acclaims the country’s “extraordinary social cohesion and stoicism” in the name of “social stability” and “national self-respect”, thanks to “mutual respect, not victory in competition”, and of course, “gaman” and “shimaguni konjo“.  This overseas school of thought once again portrays poor, poor Japan as perpetually misunderstood by the West, not as a corporatist state that serves its citizenry at times pretty poorly and seeks little consent from its governed.  As Japan’s per capita incomes keep dropping, people (particularly new employment market entrants) find themselves less able to advance or improve their lives, while the flaws of the state have come ever more into stark relief thanks to Fukushima.

    For this time, Fukushima’s increasing radiation exposure is not something that can wait like a regular disaster (such as the slow recovery efforts after the Kobe Earthquake of 1995).  Meanwhile, the ineffectual state keeps covering up information, shifting safety standards for radioactivity, and exposing more people and the international food chain to accumulating toxin.  Yet it’s this much-vaunted public “stoicism” (as opposed to feelings of powerlessness and futility) that is precisely what will do people in.  Mr. Tasker’s citing of the alleged common belief that “the janitor in your apartment building is not a representative of ‘the other’. He is you.” may be something the Japanese are being told to tell themselves (although I can’t find any sources for that), but I don’t believe this attitude is going to be a constructive source for recovery this time.  Fukushima will, however, eventually become a source of “grand-mal victimization”, as a substitute for solution and revolution, as the malcontents who might do something will give up and/or just flee.  We will quite possibly see an exodus (if there isn’t an unreported one going on already) of Japanese (which has happened periodically before during the other times Japan’s economic system broke down; hence the immigrant Japanese communities in places like South America, Hawaii, and California) from this system which quite simply cannot fix itself, and the people feel powerless to demand better even as they get slowly poisoned.

    The difference this time is that the breakdown in the state is spreading toxins beyond its own borders, unabated four months later, with no end in sight.  I wonder if Mr. Tasker would offer any revisions to his article now.  But I doubt it.  His politics come through pretty clearly below.

    Finally, in contrapose to the media’s much vaunted “Japanese earthquake without looting” canard, I enclose at the very bottom two articles for the record substantiating ATM machine and convenience store theft in the earthquake areas.  A friend also noted a Kyodo wire entitled “684 million yen stolen from ATMs in hardest-hit prefectures” that made the July 16 Japan Times but he says can’t be found archived anywhere.  “Stoicism and social cohesion”?  People are people.  Shit happens and people react.  Let’s not obfuscate this with cultural canards aiming at advancing the outdated politics and analytical rubric of the Chrysanthemum Club.  Arudou Debito

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

    The Island Nation
    Japan will rebuild, but not how you think. And 20 years of misread history holds the clues.

    BY PETER TASKER | Foreign Policy MARCH 24, 2011
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/03/24/the_island_nation

    “When my mother was 10, she was evacuated to Sendai and saw the whole town get bombed flat. My father experienced the big air-raids on Yokohama. Their generation started out when there was nothing left of Japan but smoking ruins. Don’t worry about us — we’ll definitely recover this time too.”

    So read an email I received a few days ago from a family friend, a professor of literature at a prestigious Japanese university. It served as further confirmation that the earthquake that hit Japan on March 11 may have shifted the land mass of the main island by six feet, but the country’s extraordinary social cohesion and stoicism haven’t budged an inch.

    In a sense, Japan has been waiting for a crisis just such as this to show its inherent strengths. The foreign media have been hyperventilating over the question of whether Japan can rebuild (and improve upon) its economy. This misconceived idea stems from the frenzy of the 1980s, when foreign writers and academics lauded and feared Japanese industrial might. But when the Japanese economy stagnated, the praise and warnings turned to lectures and self-congratulation, as the West patted itself on the back for having bested the Japanese threat. But this analysis of the rise and fall of Japan’s economy misses the point. In my three decades of residence here, Japan’s underlying reality has changed a lot less than volatile foreign perceptions.

    The Japanese economic miracle had nothing to do with competitiveness or the supposed omniscience of Tokyo’s elite bureaucrats; it had everything to do with the resilience of ordinary Japanese people and the country’s deep reservoir of social capital. And when Japan’s economy faltered during the “lost decades,” this likewise had nothing to do with a stodgy growth model or Tokyo’s elite bureaucrats having dug their heads into the sand. Japan was urged to make radical economic reforms by many foreign observers, who were then disappointed by Tokyo’s glacial progress in making them. But economic efficiency was never the end goal, whether Japan’s economy was rising or falling. It was social stability. And this foundation has survived two tough decades and is now a national insurance policy being paid out in the aftermath of the recent disaster.

    Japan will rebuild its economy, probably with impressive speed. But don’t expect to see a plethora of Japanese billionaires emerging, along the U.S. or Chinese model, or the adoption of hostile takeovers, Reagan-Thatcher-style supply-side reforms, and the rest of the neoliberal agenda. Instead Japan will dig deep into its own values to forge a 21st-century version of the “rise from the smoking ruins.”

    If modern Japan has a common ethic, it’s based on mutual respect, not victory in competition. The most potent symbols of this Japanese sense of social cohesion are the dowdy blue overalls worn by Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his ministers at news conferences and other public appearances since the earthquake. The idea is to express solidarity with the workers at the front line and reduce the sense of separation between rulers and ruled. This was a strategy also employed by the legendary business leaders of Japan’s 1960s golden era. Soichiro Honda, for example, attended meetings with bankers in his overalls.

    Indeed, the Japanese public looks back on the 1960s not primarily as a time of rapid growth, but as one of shared purpose and real equality. The 1980s, on the other hand, when Japan became a huge player on the world stage, is viewed with ambivalence. Justifiably so, as it led to the inflation of the “bubble economy,” a period of manic speculation that makes America’s subprime housing disaster look tame by comparison. Japan does gaman (endurance) superbly. It copes with the challenges of success less well.

    This point was deeply misunderstood in the 1980s, when Japan inspired a mixture of respect and dread on the global stage, particularly in the United States. A group of academics and writers, most prominently the late Chalmers Johnson of the University of California, came up with the idea that the Japanese industrial challenge was so formidable that it required “containment,” just as Soviet communism had.

    Almost everything these experts said turned out to be spectacularly wrong. They had misread the causes of Japan’s postwar success. The supposedly farsighted technocrats praised by Johnson in his 1982 book, MITI and the Japanese Miracle, were the same people who tried to stop Honda from getting into the auto market, poured public money into sunset industries, and built nuclear power plants on a tsunami-prone coast at sea level.

    The biggest mistake was to overlook the Japanese social consensus that interpreted international economic competitiveness not as an end in itself, but as an indication of national self-respect.

    The generation of Japanese brought up amid the postwar devastation was driven by a hunger to reconstruct everything — their lives, their society, their country’s standing in the world. Once Japan was strong enough to be left alone, the target had been achieved.

    After the collapse of the bubble economy in 1990, Japan did indeed descend into stagnation and banking crisis. At the time it seemed as if Japan’s policymakers and bankers were uniquely incompetent in their fumbling attempts to tackle the problems. With the hindsight offered by the global financial crisis, it is clear that there are no easy fixes to the damage caused by the implosion of a large-scale bubble. And the United States is not one to judge: Washington has refused to make Wall Street take the harsh medicine it urged on Japan a decade earlier.

    By the early years of this century, however, Japan had largely worked through its post-bubble malaise, and its economic performance started to improve. The Japanese corporate sector returned to record margins. The percentage of Japanese exports going to the emerging world soared to much higher levels than those from the United States and Europe. And corporate Japan’s spending on research and development was 50 percent higher (as a percentage of sales) than U.S. and European competitors.

    There are two reasons that this went largely unremarked. First, economists usually discuss GDP without reference to currency markets, but this can obscure what’s really going on. Japan’s tight monetary policy has caused the yen to strengthen significantly against the dollar and dollar-linked currencies — which raises the global purchasing power of Japanese households and corporations. In comparison, U.S. growth looks impressive when denominated in dollars, but not so much when taking into account the weak dollar policy followed by Messrs. Greenspan and Bernanke. If denominated in Japanese yen, U.S. GDP has been stagnant for the past 10 years.

    Second, Japanese economic output per worker actually ran ahead of U.S. levels in the 2003-2008 period. Sure, U.S. GDP growth has been boosted — but largely by the rising total number of workers, itself a result of population increase, mainly caused by immigration. This obscures what’s really happening to living standards. If the well-being of the mass of citizens is the goal of policy, Japan’s performance this century does not justify the “lost decade” sound bite.

    Foreign observers often see mass immigration as a cure-all for Japan’s demographic problem. It hasn’t happened and it isn’t likely to: In the Japanese hierarchy of needs, social cohesion ranks higher than top-line growth. Japanese opinion tends to focus on the potential downsides of large-scale immigration: Inequality would probably rise; the wages of low-earning native workers would likely be deflated by the new competition, while the upper-middle class would benefit from the services of inexpensive cleaners, handymen, and baby sitters. The Japanese also fear a dilution of shimaguni konjo, the “island nation spirit” that has helped them cope with a series of disasters of apocalyptic proportions.

    The quiet strength of today’s Japan is that the janitor in your apartment building is not a representative of “the other.” He is you. In fact, there are thousands of janitors in apartment buildings across Japan who cut the same rumpled figure as Kan in his blue overalls. It is this Japanese narrative of a shared suffering and renewal against all odds that will drive Japan’s post-quake development. We may wish the Japanese to become more like us, but that isn’t going to happen. As they set about the task of recovery, they will become more like themselves.

    ===========================
    Peter Tasker is a Tokyo-based investor and commentator.
    ENDS

    SUPPLEMENTAL ARTICLES:

    700 M. Yen Stolen from ATMs in 3 Prefs Hardest Hit by March Disaster
    http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2011071500046

    Tokyo, July 14 (Jiji Press)–Some 684.4 million yen in total was stolen from automated teller machines between March 11, the day of the major earthquake and tsunami, and the end of June in three prefectures hardest hit by the disaster, Japan’s National Police Agency reported Thursday.

    The number of thefts targeting ATMs at financial institutions and convenience stores reached 56, while the number of attempted such thefts stood at seven in the northeastern Japan prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, the agency said.

    Fukushima Prefecture accounted for 60 pct of the number of cases and the amount stolen, with the impact of the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant being blamed for the high figure.

    No similar cases were reported in March-June 2010. ATM thefts rose sharply after the disaster, but the situation in the prefecture is now under control, the police said.

    Some 750 police officers are patrolling areas around the nuclear power plant.
    (2011/07/15-05:01)

    No. of crimes in 1st half down for 9th straight year

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/archive/news/2011/07/15/20110715p2g00m0dm003000c.html

    TOKYO (Kyodo) — The number of criminal cases reported to or detected by police in Japan in the January-June period fell 7.1 percent from a year earlier to 711,837, the ninth straight year of decline for the first half of the year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

    The number of crimes for which suspects were questioned totaled 223,662, down 7.2 percent, involving 146,585 suspects, down 5.2 percent. The ratio of the number of crimes in which suspects were questioned remained unchanged at 31.4 percent.

    In the wake of the March 11 earthquake-tsunami and nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, many thefts and property crimes were reported in the hardest hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, the NPA said.

    Some 684 million yen was stolen from March to June at convenience stores and automated teller machines in evacuated areas.

    The number of burglaries also increased, jumping 109.1 percent to 481 cases in Fukushima Prefecture alone. Burglaries at empty stores rose 35.7 percent to 19 cases in Iwate, by 75.8 percent to 225 cases in Miyagi, and by 57.4 percent to 107 cases in Fukushima.

    However, the overall number of offenses violating the Penal Code in the three prefectures dropped in the March-June period. Overall the number dropped by 16.3 percent to 6,895 in Miyagi, by 15.1 percent to 2,135 in Iwate and by 21.4 percent to 5,058 in Fukushima.

    Throughout Japan, a total of 51 cases of fraud and criminal business scams involving donations for the March disaster victims were also registered, with damage amounting to about 12.6 million yen, the police said.

    (Mainichi Japan) July 15, 2011

    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Gaiatsu, History, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 5 Comments »

    Reuters Expose: Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers, including NJ “temporary temps”

    Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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 is a deep article from Reuters this month on how deep the rot goes in Japan’s labor market and safety practices regarding nuclear power.  It’s germane to Debito.org because even NJ workers have been hired and exposed to radiation in Japan — without proper recordkeeping.  Guess that’s one of the advantages of utilizing NJ laborers — they are the “temp temps” (my term) that escape any official scrutiny because imported labor “sent home” after use is somebody else’s problem.  Courtesy JV. Arudou Debito

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

    Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers
    REUTERS/IAEA/Handout
    http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/AS/pdf/jpnuclear_2506mv.pdf
    Incomplete article online at
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/06/27/japan-nuclear-re-idUKL3E7HR05220110627

    The March 11 earthquake and tsunami revealed the heroism of Japanese workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. But it also exposed something else — a legacy of lax safety standards for nuclear workers.

    Reuters, June 2011,special report
    By Kevin Krolicki & Chisa Fujioka
    FUKUSHIMA, Japan, June 24, 2011

    A DECADE and a half before it blew apart in a hydrogen blast that punctuated the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was the scene of an earlier safety crisis.

    Then, as now, a small army of transient workers was put to work to try to stem the damage at the oldest nuclear reactor run by Japan’s largest utility.

    At the time, workers were racing to finish an unprecedented repair to address a dangerous defect: cracks in the drum-like steel assembly known as the “shroud” surrounding the radioactive core of the reactor.

    But in 1997, the effort to save the 21-year-old reactor from being scrapped at a large loss to its operator, Tokyo Electric, also included a quiet effort to skirt Japan’s safety rules: foreign workers were brought in for the most dangerous jobs, a manager of the project said.

    “It’s not well known, but I know what happened,” Kazunori Fujii, who managed part of the shroud replacement in 1997, told Reuters. “What we did would not have been allowed under Japanese safety standards.”

    The previously undisclosed hiring of welders from the United States and Southeast Asia underscores the way Tokyo Electric, a powerful monopoly with deep political connections in Japan, outsourced its riskiest work and developed a lax safety culture in the years leading to the Fukushima disaster, experts say.

    A 9.0 earthquake on March 11 triggered a 15-metre tsunami that smashed into the seaside Fukushima Daiichi plant and set off a series of events that caused its reactors to start melting down.

    Hydrogen explosions scattered debris across the complex and sent up a plume of radioactive steam that forced the evacuation of more than 80,000 residents near the plant, about 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo. Enough radioactive water to fill 40 Olympic swimming pools has also been collected at the plant and threatens to leak into the groundwater.

    The repeated failures that have dogged Tokyo Electric in the three months the Fukushima plant has been in crisis have undercut confidence in the response to the disaster and dismayed outside experts, given corporate Japan’s reputation for relentless organization.

    Hastily hired workers were sent into the plant without radiation meters. Two splashed into radioactive water wearing street shoes because rubber boots were not available. Even now, few have been given training on radiation risks that meets international standards, according to their accounts and the evaluation of experts.

    The workers who stayed on to try to stabilize the plant in the darkest hours after March 11 were lauded as the “Fukushima 50” for their selflessness. But behind the heroism is a legacy of Japanese nuclear workers facing hazards with little oversight, according to interviews with more than two dozen current and former nuclear workers, doctors and others.

    Since the start of the nuclear boom in the 1970s, Japan’s utilities have relied on temporary workers for maintenance and plant repair jobs, the experts said. They were often paid in cash with little training and no follow-up health screening.

    This practice has eroded the ability of nuclear plant operators to manage the massive risks workers now face and prompted calls for the Japanese government to take over the Fukushima clean-up effort.

    Although almost 9,000 workers have been involved in work around the mangled reactors, Tokyo Electric did not have a Japan-made robot capable of monitoring radiation inside the reactors until this week.

    That job was left to workers, reflecting the industry’s reliance on cheap labor, critics say.

    “I can only think that to the power companies, contract workers are just disposable pieces of equipment,” said Kunio Horie, who worked at nuclear plants, including Fukushima Daiichi, in the late 1970s and wrote about his experience in a book “Nuclear Gypsy”.

    Tokyo Electric said this week it cannot find 69 of the more than 3,600 workers who were brought in to Fukushima just after the disaster because their names were never recorded.

    Others were identified by Tepco in accident reports only by initials: “A-san” or “B-san.” Makoto Akashi, executive director at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences near Tokyo, said he was shocked to learn Tokyo Electric had not screened some of the earliest workers for radiation inside their bodies until June while others had to share monitors to measure external radiation.

    That means health risks for workers – and future costs – will be difficult to estimate.

    “We have to admit that we didn’t have an adequate system for checking radiation exposure,” said Goshi Hosono, an official appointed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan to coordinate the response to the crisis.

    BROAD ROAD TO DESTRUCTION

    Fujii, who devoted his career to building Japanese nuclear power plants as a manager with IHI Corporation, was troubled by what he saw at Fukushima in 1997.

    Now 72, he remembers falling for “the romance of nuclear power” as a student at Tokyo’s Rikkyo University in the 1960s. “The idea that you could take a substance small enough to fit into a tea cup and produce almost infinite power seemed almost like a dream” he said.

    He had asked to oversee part of the job at Fukushima as the last big assignment of his career. He threw himself into the work, heading into the reactor for inspections. “I had a sense of mission,” he said.

    As he watched a group of Americans at work in the reactor one day, Fujii jotted down a Bible verse in his diary that captured his angst: “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it.”

    The basis for nuclear safety regulation is the assumption that cancers, including leukemia, can be caused years later by exposure to relatively small amounts of radiation, far below the level that would cause immediate sickness. In normal operations, international nuclear workers are limited to an average exposure of 20 millisieverts per year, about 10 times natural background radiation levels.

    At Fukushima in 1997, Japanese safety rules were applied in a way that set very low radiation exposure limits on a daily basis, Fujii said. That was a prudent step, safety experts say, but it severely limited what Japanese workers could do on a single shift and increased costs.

    The workaround was to bring in foreign workers who would absorb a full-year’s allowable dose of radiation of between 20 millisieverts and 25 millisieverts in just a few days.

    “We brought in workers from Southeast Asia and Saudi Arabia who had experience building oil tankers. They took a heavier dose of radiation than Japanese workers could have,” said Fujii, adding that American workers were also hired.

    Tokyo Electric would admit five years later it had hid evidence of the extent of the defect in the shroud from regulators. That may have added to the pressure to finish the job quickly. When new cracks were found, they were fixed without a report to regulators, according to disclosures made in 2002.

    It is not clear if the radiation doses for the foreign workers were recorded on an individual basis or if they have faced any heath problems. Tepco said it had no access to the worker records kept by its subcontractors. IHI said it had no record of the hiring of the foreign workers. Toshiba, another major contractor, also said it could not confirm that foreign workers were hired.

    Hosono, the government official overseeing the response to the disaster, said he was not aware of foreign workers being brought in to do repair work in the past and they would not be sent in now.

    Now retired outside Tokyo, Fujii said he has come to see nuclear power as an “imperfect technology.”

    “This is an unfortunate thing to say, but the nuclear industry has long relied on people at the lowest level of Japanese society,” he said.

    PAY-BY-THE-DAY

    Since the late 1960s, the Kamagasaki neighborhood of Osaka has been a dumping ground for men battling drug and alcohol addiction, ex-convicts, and men looking for a construction job with few questions. It has also been a hiring spot for Japan’s nuclear industry for decades.

    “Kamagasaki is a place that companies have always come for workers that they can use and then throw away,” said Hiroshi Inagaki, a labor activist.

    The nearby Lawson’s store has a sign on its bathroom door warning that anyone trying to flush a used syringe down the toilet will be prosecuted. Peddlers sell scavenged trash, including used shoes and rice cookers. A pair of yakuza enforcers in black shirts and jeans walks the street to collect loans.

    The center of Kamagasaki is an office that connects day laborers with the small construction firms that roll up before dawn in vans and minibuses.

    Within a week after the Fukushima disaster, Tepco had engaged Japan’s biggest construction and engineering companies to run the job of trying to bring the plant under control. They in turned hired smaller firms, over 600 of them. That cascade brought the first job offers to Kamagasaki by mid-March.

    One hiring notice sought a truck driver for Miyagi, one of the prefectures hit hard by the tsunami. But when an Osaka day laborer in his 60s accepted the job, he was sent instead to Fukushima where he was put to work handling water to cool the No. 5 reactor.

    The man, who did not want to be identified, was paid the equivalent of about $300 a day, twice what he was first promised. But he was only issued a radiation meter on his fourth day. Inagaki said the man was seeking a financial settlement from Tokyo Electric. “We think what happened here is illegal,” he said.

    Nearby, several men waiting to be hired in Kamagasaki said they had experience working at nuclear plants.

    A 58-year-old former member of Japan’s Self Defense Forces from southern Japan who asked to be identified only by his nickname, Jumbo, said he had worked at Tokyo Electric’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant for a two-month job. He knows others who have gone to Fukushima from are starting to come back as workers far from home seek the company of bar girls.

    “It’s becoming like an army base,” said Shukuko Kuzumi, 63, who runs a cake shop across from the main rail station. “There are workers who come here knowing what the work is like, but I think there are many who don’t.”

    Each morning, hired workers pile into buses and beat-up vans and set out from the nearly abandoned resort. More men in the standard-issue white work pajamas pour out of the shipping containers turned into temporary housing at the Hirono highway exit where residents have fled and weeds have overgrown the sidewalks.

    They gather at a now abandoned soccer complex where Argentina’s soccer team trained during the 2002 World Cup to get briefed on the tasks for the shifts ahead. They then change into the gear many have come to dread: two or three pairs of gloves, full face masks, goggles and white protective the hiring line at Kamagasaki, he said.

    THE ABANDONED SPA

    In Iwaki, a town south of the Fukushima plant once known for a splashy Hawaiianthemed resort, the souvenir stands and coffee shops are closed or losing money. The drinking spots known as “snacks” are starting to come back as workers far from home seek the company of bar girls.

    “It’s becoming like an army base,” said Shukuko Kuzumi, 63, who runs a cake shop across from the main rail station. “There are workers who come here knowing what the work is like, but I think there are many who don’t.”

    Each morning, hired workers pile into buses and beat-up vans and set out from the nearly abandoned resort. More men in the standard-issue white work pajamas pour out of the shipping containers turned into temporary housing at the Hirono highway exit where residents have fled and weeds have overgrown the sidewalks.

    They gather at a now abandoned soccer complex where Argentina’s soccer team trained during the 2002 World Cup to get briefed on the tasks for the shifts ahead.

    They then change into the gear many have come to dread: two or three pairs of gloves, full face masks, goggles and white protective suits. More than a dozen Fukushima workers have collapsed of heat stroke, and the rising heat weighs more heavily on the minds of workers than threat of radiation.

    “I don’t know how I’m going to make it if it gets much hotter than this,” a heavyset, 36-year-old Tokyo man said as he stretched out at Hirono after a day of spraying a green resin around the plant to keep radioactive dust from spreading.

    The risks from the radiation hotspots at Fukushima remain considerable. A vent of steam in the No. 1 reactor was found earlier this month to be radioactive enough to kill anyone standing near it for more than an hour.

    Tokyo Electric has been given a sanctionfree reprimand for its handling of radiation exposure at Fukushima. Nine workers have exceeded the emergency exposure limit of 250 millisieverts. Another 115 have exceeded 100 millisieverts of exposure. The two workers with the highest radiation readings topped 600 millisieverts of exposure.

    For context, the largest study of nuclear workers to date by the International Agency for Research on Cancer found a risk of roughly two additional fatal cancers for every 100 people exposed to 100 millisieverts of radiation.

    But several Fukushima workers say they have been told not to worry about health risks unless they top 100 or near 200 millisieverts of exposure in training by contractors.

    Experts say that runs counter to international standards. The International Atomic Energy Agency requires workers in a nuclear emergency to give “informed consent” to the risks they face and that they understand danger exists at even low doses.

    Tokyo Electric spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said the utility could not confirm what kind of training smaller firms were providing. “The subcontractors have a responsibility as well,” he said. “I don’t know what kind of briefing they are getting.”

    Kim Kearfott, a nuclear engineer and radiation health expert from the University of Michigan who toured Japan in May, said authorities needed to ensure that safety training was handled independently by outside experts.

    “The potential for coercion and undue influence over a day laborer audience is high, especially when the training and consent are administered by those who control hiring and firing of workers,” she said.

    Tokyo Electric has been challenged before on its training. Mitsuaki Nagao, a plumber who had worked at three plants including Fukushima, said he was never briefed on radiation dangers, and would routinely use another worker’s dosimeter to finish jobs. Some doctors worry that the same under-reporting of radiation could happen at Fukushima as well.

    Nagao sued Tokyo Electric when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of bone marrow cancer, in 2004. His lawsuit, one of two known worker cases against a Japanese utility, was rejected by a Tokyo court, which ruled no links had been proven between his radiation and his illness. He died in 2007.

    Some doctors are urging Japan’s government to set up a system of health monitoring for the thousands of workers streaming through Fukushima. Some also want to see a standard of care guaranteed.

    “This is also a problem of economics,” said Kristin Schrader-Frechette, a Notre Dame University professor and nuclear safety expert. “If Japan wants to know the true costs of nuclear power versus the alternatives, it needs to know what these health care costs are.” (Editing by Bill Tarrant)

    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 9 Comments »

    Donald Keene prattles on about why he’s naturalizing in SAPIO, even takes a cheap shot at NJ

    Posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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 we have Donald Keene, our newest future Japanese naturalized citizen at age 88, prattling on in Sapio about how nice and wonderful Japanese society and culture is (citing things that happened a generation or two ago), and how he’s happy to become part of a culture so rich and able to regenerate itself after the tsunami (despite, he laments, the lack of domestic interest in Japanese culture by Japanese people; clearly in Donald’s world, culture makes the man).

    This is all excusable as harmless personal preference and geriatric navel-gazing except, at the bottom of the first page, his cheap and ignorant swipe at non-Japanese (who, allegedly after coming here to make money, flee in the face of danger).  Perhaps if he had had the same stake as younger people who live here full-time and languish in less elite jobs, he might understand better why some people didn’t stay in Japan, as I argued in this Japan Times column.  No matter.  (Oh, and we won’t deal with ongoing events and lies from Fukushima; criticism of Japan would annoy Donald’s hosts and spoil the Sapio article.)

    I guess it just goes to show you that grumpy old men regardless of nationality have to latch onto the “good old days” somewhere; fortunately our Donald feels like he has a culture and a circle of friends here that encourage that.  Enjoy yourself here, Donald.  Just don’t bad-mouth other people who are also coming here and trying to make a life, even if eventually they decide that there are greener pastures and fairer opportunities elsewhere.  At 88, you won’t have to endure Japan’s non-academic workplace culture, let alone be on this mortal coil long enough, for any denouement.  Arudou Debito

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    Posted in Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 27 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2011

    Posted on Saturday, June 11th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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

    Hello Debito.org Newsletter Readers. It’s been awhile (about two months), and a lot of blog entries have piled up over the past two months. Sorry. Let me send you two Newsletters in quick succession over the next few days. Arudou Debito

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2011

    Table of Contents:
    //////////////////////////////////////////
    TOPICS OF PERSONAL INTEREST
    1) Warning to Debito.org Commenters about being cyber-stalked; don’t use your real name as moniker anymore
    2) Post #2000! Special Discussion: Making “friends” in Japan, successfully?
    3) FCCJ Book Break evening June 28 for my book IN APPROPRIATE in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Let me know if you want to go.
    4) Review of IN APPROPRIATE and interview at JETAA-NY’s Examiner.com
    5) IN APPROPRIATE now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble
    6) Donald Keene to naturalize, in a show of solidarity with the Japanese people, at age 88
    7) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MAY 7, 2011: Speech at Otaru Shoudai Dec 5, 2011: “The Otaru Onsens Case, Ten Years On”
    8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2011

    AFTERSHOCKS OF 3/11
    9) Columnist Dan Gardner: “Why Japan took the nuclear risk”: Quick-fix energy during 1973-4 Oil Shocks
    10) Kansai Time Out Feb ’08 on “Power and the People: Masaki Hisane keeps watch on Japan’s nuclear industry”
    11) AFP: Japan tells tourists says ‘it’s safe’ to come back, with budgets to dispel “public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster”
    12) Ekonomisuto gives better articles on effects of both NJ leaving Japan and tourists avoiding Japan
    13) Nikkei reports on the effect of “nihon saru gaikokujin”, aka Fly-jin, with some pretty shaky journalistic practices
    14) Mainichi: “Industries left short-handed after NJ workers flee Japan following nuke accident”
    15) Zakzak headlines that NJ part-time staff flee Yoshinoya restaurant chain, and somehow threaten its profitability
    16) JT/Kyodo: NJ key to Japan’s recovery, says Iokibe Makoto, chair of GOJ Reconstruction Design Council. Well, fancy that.
    17) Nikkei Business magazine special (May 2, 2011) on the future and necessity of NJ labor to Japan
    18) Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights
    19) Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, on earthquake insurance in Japan
    20) Mainichi: “American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts”
    21) Mainichi: “Many foreign residents wish to stay in Japan despite disaster: survey”
    22) Tangent: “Foreigners Looking to Adopt Japanese Earthquake Orphans Need Not Apply”

    … and finally …
    23) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)
    (This is a culmination of all the articles cited above.)
    //////////////////////////////////////////

    By Arudou Debito
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito
    Freely Forwardable

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

    TOPICS OF PERSONAL INTEREST

    1) Warning to Debito.org Commenters about being cyber-stalked; don’t use your real name as moniker anymore

    Anonymous Debito.org Reader: Hi Debito, I just wanted to let you know that last week on ‘tepido naruhodos’ page, I saw a thread that included a large amount of communication between some posters about the posters on debito.org. They were discussing that of that date they had collectively identified 63 debito posters through e-mail addresses and social media sites.

    I don’t know if you were aware of this, or if it was brought to your attention. The posts on that subject disappeared at some point around the weekend. Quite frankly, I think that they are a strange bunch. I think tepido naruhodo/Ken YN/LB lives in my area, but I can’t identify and confront him on this issue.

    I don’t know if you might want to warn your readers that they might be stalked, or if you have ideas for other action.

    COMMENT: I have been cyberstalked by these creeps (and others; there is even a site devoted to the possibility of my being Jewish merely because I’m an activist) for many years now. And I am sorry that these creeps are now trying to use the same tactics towards other posters on this site. How vicious. And hypocritical. These creeps decry their lack of freedom of speech on this blog (I no longer approve their posts here; one look at the tone and commentary on the Tepido et.al sites will give you an indication why), yet are taking action not only against me, but also against others who express themselves here, just because they don’t agree with Debito.org Readers or with me personally.

    I’m no certified mental health specialist, but I would say that these anonymous creeps (who remain mostly anonymous, of course, to evade any semblance of responsibility or maturity) have an unhealthy obsession with me personally and the issues on this site. Makes one wonder if they devote any time to having a real life away from the keyboard.

    I suggest that Debito.org Readers, when you post, from now on avoid using your real name. Choose a unique moniker and stick with it. Protect yourself from the shite I have to deal with on a daily basis.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8979

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    2) Post #2000! Special Discussion: Making “friends” in Japan, successfully?

    To commemorate May 15, Debito.org’s 2000th blog post since 2006 (yes, it’s been almost five years since Debito.org went daily as a blog), I would like to devote the next day or two to an important discussion regarding assimilation.

    I got together with some old friends for beers some time ago (we do this whenever I’m in town), who all together have a combined tenure of more than a century of experiences living in Japan. We’re all English-native Caucasian males, for what it’s worth.

    Our conversation suddenly took an interesting turn when one of our group asked a poignant question:

    “How many of us have any Japanese friends with whom we can get together like this and talk as much in depth?”

    There was a long pause, and we all realized, when it came to Japanese males, the answer was zero. Yes, zero.

    We all said we had made Japanese female friends (we are guys, after all), finding J-women more curious and open-minded than their male counterparts (and that included relationships that weren’t all physical).

    But not Japanese men.

    Several theories abounded…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8933

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    3) FCCJ Book Break evening June 28 for my book IN APPROPRIATE in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Let me know if you want to go.

    FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS CLUB OF JAPAN (FCCJ)
    Book Break

    “IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan”
    By ARUDOU Debito

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 from 6.15 pm to 8.30 pm
    FCCJ, Yurakucho, Tokyo (directions via www.fccj.or.jp)
    (The speech and Q & A will be in English)

    If you would like to attend and are not a FCCJ member, please let me know via debito@debito.org (please put “Invitation to FCCJ Book Break” in subject line) and I will add you to the guest list. (Please be absolutely sure you can attend, because I have to pay for any no-shows out of my own pocket). Thanks.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9072

    More on IN APPROPRIATE at http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html

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    4) Review of IN APPROPRIATE and interview at JETAA-NY’s Examiner.com

    Examiner.com: Divorce is tough, but divorce in Japan — especially if you’re a foreigner with kids — is a nightmare, explains Sapporo-based author Arudou Debito in his new book, “In Appropriate: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan”.

    Originally raised in rural upstate New York as David Aldwinckle, Debito is a 23-year resident of Japan who obtained Japanese citizenship (and a name change) in 2000. As the Just Be Cause columnist at The Japan Times newspaper, his nonfiction books include Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants, and Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan.

    A longtime watchdog for foreigners’ rights in Japan, Debito’s first English-language novel takes a scalpel to the polite, friendly facade that tourists typically experience. In Appropriate examines the downright ugly aspects of Japanese life when a father is cut from all ties with his children post-divorce, which is not only common in Japan, but upheld by 19th century law. In this exclusive interview, Debito discusses his personal experiences that inspired the book, his history as an activist, and his thoughts on the future of Japan.

    Q: You’ve been known as an activist for over a decade and have published non-fiction works on the subject. What inspired you to write about child abduction in Japan, and what were your goals?

    DEBITO: My goal with In Appropriate was to expose a dire social problem, as usual. But this time I thought fiction would be the better medium. Doing what I do, I hear a lot of stories about broken marriages in Japan, and having gone through a nasty divorce myself (seeing my children only about six times since 2003), I know a little bit about child abduction. What goes on in Japan beggars belief, but it’s hard to zero in on one non-fiction case and expect it to cover the scope of the problem.

    Although international child abductions in other countries have gotten some press, the situation in Japan is much, much worse. Child abductions and parental alienation in Japan are, in a word, systematic — meaning they are hardly uncommon between Japanese, too (former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi is a famous example; he never saw one of his sons for nearly two decades). One parent after a divorce is generally expected to disappear, and have little to no contact with the children anymore. In Appropriate was meant as a primer to the issue.

    Japan has no system of joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights, and under this system I cannot recommend anyone, Japanese or non-Japanese (NJ), get married under it and consider having children. The risk is too great. We need fundamental reform of the Family Registry System and the laws governing divorce and child custody first.

    Q: Give us a basic overview on the phenomenon of kidnapping and left-behind parents in Japan…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8865

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    5) IN APPROPRIATE now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

    http://www.amazon.com/Appropriate-culture-kidnapping-revenge-modern/dp/1257026402/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1307193366&sr=8-2

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-appropriate-arudou-debito/1031214600?ean=9781257026401&itm=1&usri=arudou%2bdebito

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    6) Donald Keene to naturalize, in a show of solidarity with the Japanese people, at age 88

    Octogenarian scholar and Japan specialist Donald Keene has announced his intention to become a Japanese citizen, and move to Japan in light of the Tohoku Disasters. Well, good for him.

    Submitter JK notes, “While I respect Keene’s accomplishments as an academic, I can’t help but feel that his writings are a reflection of a person inhabiting a self-constructed bubble Japan whose universe is made up of haiku masters, poets, and scholars.” There are also a few comments on Japan Probe that make light of his (in)decision given his advanced age.

    A bit harsh, but I do find the logic — of linking a show of solidarity in the face of a crisis with a decision as personal as changing one’s nationality (and in Japan’s case, abrogating one’s former nationality) — a bit discomfiting. As per Keene’s comments below, he’s basically falling into the ancient bad habit (a la Lafcadio Hearn’s day) of treating the Japanese people as monolithic. Plus he won’t have to live quite as long with his (last-minute) decision compared to younger people who really plighted their troth here and naturalized. A nice, but oddly-reasoned, gesture on Keene’s part.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8824

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    7) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MAY 7, 2011: Speech at Otaru Shoudai Dec 5, 2011: “The Otaru Onsens Case, Ten Years On”

    This month’s offering is a recording of one of my speeches given in English last December at Otaru University of Commerce, Hokkaido, Japan, sponsored by Dr. Shawn Clankie. Q&A included. It’s my standard presentation on the Otaru Onsens Case with some updates (especially given that the site of the famous standoffs with “Japanese Only” bathhouses took place in this very town) on how things have or have not changed.

    Two hours 20 minutes (yes, I can speak for that long, and people seem to listen). No cuts. Enjoy. You can also watch it as a youtube video with my powerpoint presentation from here.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8884

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    8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2011

    In this podcast:

    1. Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 20, “Savoie Case shines spotlight on Japan’s ‘disappeared dads'”. (October 6, 2009)
    2. Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 21, “Demography vs. Demagoguery”, on how politics has pervaded Japanese demographic science, making the topic of “immigration” taboo for discussion as an option. (November 3, 2009)

    Plus interim excerpts from Tangerine Dream “White Eagle” and an excerpt of another song from Duran Duran’s most recent album, “All You Need is Now”. Title: “Before The Rain”.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9041

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    AFTERSHOCKS OF 3/11

    9) Columnist Dan Gardner: “Why Japan took the nuclear risk”: Quick-fix energy during 1973-4 Oil Shocks

    Gardner: The Japanese government undertook a rapid expansion of nuclear power after the oil shocks of the early 1970s to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy, despite the high earthquake risk in the region…

    Why risk it? Why should we build and operate nuclear power plants knowing that they do pose real dangers, whatever the magnitude of those dangers may be? And why, in particular, would Japan build nuclear power plants on land that so often buckles and heaves?…

    The Japanese miracle was built on a foundation of cheap energy -mostly oil, mostly from the Middle East. The oil embargo of late 1973 plunged the world into the frightening recession of 1974, and no one suffered worse than Japan.

    “The recent period of Japanese glory, from 1969 to 1973, when it seemed a small, distant country would overtake the giants of the West, lasted longer than a dream, but it has ended with dramatic suddenness,” wrote Donald Keene, an American professor of Japanese culture, in the New York Times. It was March 3, 1974. “The same people who only a few months ago were talking and acting as if the future held unlimited possibilities of economic expansion now gloomily announce, not without a touch of masochism, that they live in a country completely at the mercy of others for survival.”

    Many Japanese were sure their country would sink back into poverty. The old fears of mass starvation and environmental ruin returned. “Prophecies of disaster abound,” Keene noted.

    The Japanese government responded with a sweeping, multi-pronged campaign to reduce Japan’s dependency on Middle Eastern oil. Conservation and energy-efficiency was a major component. So was a rapid expansion of nuclear power.

    Of course the Japanese knew their seismological reality. Indeed, Japanese earthquake science and engineering is the best in the world. But the Japanese also knew the danger of the status quo. It was a trade-off…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8708

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    10) Kansai Time Out Feb ’08 on “Power and the People: Masaki Hisane keeps watch on Japan’s nuclear industry”

    Masaki Hisane offers this sobering report in the now-defunct Kansai Time Out, February 2008, in an article on the horrible safety record of Japan’s nuclear power industry. Reprinted here as a matter of record only, since it the KTO archives seem to have disappeared. FYI

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8853

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    11) AFP: Japan tells tourists says ‘it’s safe’ to come back, with budgets to dispel “public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster”

    AFP May 19: Japanese business leaders launched a campaign Thursday to woo tourists back to Japan after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that sent foreigners fleeing the country.

    “I would like to say: Japan is safe,” said Atsutoshi Nishida, the chairman of Toshiba, told a high-powered gathering of travel and tourism executives and officials from around the world.

    Accepting the group’s invitation to host the next Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Tokyo in April 2012, Nishida said he hoped to welcome participants to a Japan at “full strength” by then.

    International travel to and from Japan plunged after the 9.0 magnitude quake March 11 off Sendai, Japan that sent a tsunami surging through nuclear power complexes along the coast, magnifying a disaster that killed 15,000 people. While tourism represents only a small part of economy impacted, it is an important bellwether of confidence in Japan.

    In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the number of tourists arriving in the country dropped by more than 50 percent, and leisure travel collapsed by 90 percent, according to the Japanese Tourism Agency…

    Japanese officials said their campaign to bring back tourism will begin with education campaigns to dispell what they say are public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster. Only later will they proceed to ad campaigns and the like to get tourists to come back, they said…

    Nishida contended it was misleading to put the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex on a par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, telling reporters the release of radiation in that meltdown “dwarfed” the amounts released in Japan.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8974

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    12) Ekonomisuto gives better articles on effects of both NJ leaving Japan and tourists avoiding Japan

    The Ekonomisuto Weekly of March 26, 2011, devotes three pages to the effects of the Fukushima Disasters on both Japan’s tourism/export and NJ labor markets. In the vein of how Japanese media coverage has been unsympathetic, even critical, of NJ leaving Japan, page three is of particular note. It offers harder numbers of NJ departures (although again with no comparison with Japanese movement), does not stoop to a tone of blame, and even accepts that NJ have a choice to work in other countries, so Japan had better take some measures to make itself more attractive to NJ labor or else. That’s more like it.

    I have long found the policymaking attitude of “working in Japan should be its own reward, so we needn’t try to make things more hospitable for foreign labor” puzzling, so this article is refreshing. I’ll be dealing with that attitude in part in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, to be published in the Tuesday, May 3 edition of the JT. Enjoy.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8836

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    13) Nikkei reports on the effect of “nihon saru gaikokujin”, aka Fly-jin, with some pretty shaky journalistic practices

    Here’s yet another article from a more reputable source, the Nihon Keizai Shinbun, talking about the phenomenon of NJ allegedly leaving Japan behind and having an adverse effect on Japan’s economy.

    For the record, I don’t doubt that NJ have left Japan due to the Tohoku Disasters. I just have my doubts that a) it’s any more significant than the Japanese who also left, yet get less nasty media coverage (I have yet to see an article comparing both J and NJ “flight” in terms of numbers), b) it’s worth blaming NJ for leaving, since Japanese overseas would probably do much the same if advised to do so by their government in the face of a disaster, and c) the media is actually doing their job investigating sources to nail down the exact statistics. Let’s see how the Nikkei does below: Some bogus journalistic practices unbecoming of something as trusted as the Nikkei, to wit:

    Providing a generic photo of people drinking at a Tokyo izakaya and claiming that they’re talking about repatriating NJ (that’s quite simply yarase).

    Providing a chart of annual numbers (where the total numbers of NJ dropped in 2009 in part due to the GOJ bribing unemployed Brazilian workers to leave), which is unrelated to the Tohoku Disasters.

    Relying on piecemeal sources (cobbling numbers together from Xinhua, some part-timer food chains, an eikaiwa, a prefectural employment agency for “Trainee” slave labor, and other pinpoint sources) that do not necessarily add up to a trend or a total.

    Finishing their sentences with the great linguistic hedgers, extrapolators, and speculators (in place of harder sources), including “…to mirareru”, “…sou da”, “there are cases of…” etc. All are great indicators that the article is running on fumes in terms of data.

    Portraying Japanese companies as victimized by deserting NJ workers, rather than observing that NJ thus far, to say the least, have helped Japan avoid its labor shortage (how about a more positive, grateful tone towards NJ labor?, is what I’m asking for).

    And as always, not comparing their numbers with numbers of Japanese exiting. Although the article avoids the more hectoring tone of other sources I’ve listed on Debito.org, it still makes it seems like the putative Great Flyjin Exodus is leaving Japan high and dry. No mention of course in the article of how many of these NJ might also be leaving Japan because they have no stake in it, i.e. are stuck in a dead-end or part-time job with no hope of promotion, advancement, or leadership within their corporate sector.

    Once again, it’s pretty flawed social science. The Nikkei could, and should, do better, and if even the Nikkei of all media venues can’t, that says something bad about Japanese journalism when dealing with ethnic issues. Read the article for yourself.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8806

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    14) Mainichi: “Industries left short-handed after NJ workers flee Japan following nuke accident”

    Here’s another article tying together more pinpoint data of NJ leaving Japan, with a focus on Chinese. Spare a tear for those poor, poor Japanese industries who took advantage of so many cheap temporary NJ workers, and are now crying because the NJ aren’t sticking around to be potentially irradiated as well as exploited:

    Mainichi: Tens of thousands of worried foreign workers left Japan shortly after a crisis at the nuclear power plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, causing serious labor shortages in some industries.

    After foreign governments lifted their temporary evacuation advisories issued in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, many Americans and Europeans started coming back to Japan, albeit gradually. But workers from neighboring countries such as China have yet to do so.

    Chinese people in particular — mostly students and trainees — had occupied key parts of the workforce in many Japanese industries, and therefore if they continue to stay out of Japan for an extended period of time, they could have a grave impact on the industries and force firms to review their business strategies or cut production.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8830

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    15) Zakzak headlines that NJ part-time staff flee Yoshinoya restaurant chain, and somehow threaten its profitability

    More on the Open Season on NJ. Here is Internet news site Zakzak headlining that Yoshinoya, famous beef bowl chain restaurant, is being affected by the “big-volume escaping of NJ part-timers”. It apparently has lost a quarter of its NJ staff (over 800 souls) fleeing from the fears of radiation from the Tohoku Disasters. Then Zakzak gives us the mixed news that Yoshinoya is still profitable compared to its losses the same period a year ago, but is expected to take a hit to its profits from the Disasters.

    Not sure how that relates, but again, the headline is that NJ are fleeing and that it’s raising doubts about whether the company is still “okay”. Even though Zakzak notes that the company is filling in the gaps with Japanese employees (er, so no worries, right? The Disasters, not the alleged NJ flight, are the bigger threat to solvency, no?). So… journalistically, we’ll hang the newsworthiness of a company’s profitability on the peg of “escaping NJ”?

    If we’re going to have this much NJ bashing, how about an acknowledgement of how much NJ labor has meant to Japan and how we’re thankful for it, so please don’t leave?

    Nah, easier to bash them. Takes the heat off the company for their own variably profitable business practices, and creates more attractive headlines for the media. It’s a win-win situation against the bullied and disenfranchised minority.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8804

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    16) JT/Kyodo: NJ key to Japan’s recovery, says Iokibe Makoto, chair of GOJ Reconstruction Design Council. Well, fancy that.

    Get a load of this:

    Kyodo:  Large numbers of foreigners will be needed to help revive the farming and fishery industries in areas damaged by the March 11 mega-quake and tsunami, the head of a reconstruction panel said Friday.

    “It is important to draw human resources, including permanent foreign residents” to the hard-hit Tohoku region, Makoto Iokibe, chair of the Reconstruction Design Council, said at the Japan National Press Club.”

    COMMENT: As submitter CJ commented: “What foreigner WOULDN’T leap at the opportunity to perform manual labor all day bathed in background radiation while being treated like a potential criminal and expected to leave when no longer needed, sacrificing pension contributions in the course of doing so?”

    Touche. Especially since day laborers are now a hot commodity for hot radioactive reactor cleanups, see below. Get freshly-imported foreign workers doing this instead and you’ll have no family in Japan complaining…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8930

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    17) Nikkei Business magazine special (May 2, 2011) on the future and necessity of NJ labor to Japan

    here is an excellent series of articles on how important NJ labor has been and will be to Japan’s future. Eighteen pages on the whos, whats, and why-you-should-cares in the Nikkei Business magazine dated May 2, 2011.

    After the cover (Title: Kieta Gaikokujin Roudou Ryoku: Nihonjin dake de shokuba o mamoreru ka, or “Disappeared NJ Labor Force: Can Japanese maintain the workplaces by themselves?”) and table of contents, we open with a splash page showing Chinese waiting for their bags at the airport carousel after returning to China.

    Pages 20 through 23 give us an assessment of NJ labor in several business sectors: Restaurants, Textiles, Finance, Convenience Stores, Agriculture, IT, Education, Tourism, and Airflight, headlining that the NJ labor force has “evaporated”.

    Pages 24 and 25 give us the raw data, noting that the majority of NJ (55%) work in small companies of less than 100 employees, and that the near majority of NJ laborers (44%) are Chinese. The point is that “a closed Japanese labor market is impossible”.

    Pages 26 and 27 give us a close up about a farm that lost none of its workers, and even asked (for a change, given the Japanese media) what NJ thought. It was all part of the magazine’s suggestions about what should be done to improve things and give NJ a stake: Accountability, Bonds, Careers, and recognizing Diversity. Even offered suggestions about how to simplify Japanese.

    Pages 27 and 28 are the “money shot”, where the article says most of the things that we have said all along here on Debito.org and in my Japan Times articles: You can’t keep on using people as simple throwaway labor and expect them to stay, and you can’t keep doing things like bribe people to go back (as was done with the Nikkei in 2009) or make hurdles too high to get over (as is being done with NJ nurses) and expect a sustainable labor force.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8945

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    18) Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights

    The Sankei reports on May 25 that the Ministry of Justice will be loosening some of its strictures on NJ visas (the Sankei uses the word nohouzu in its headline; I’m not 100% sure of the nuance but it sounds like “a wild and endless expansion of favorable treatment regarding NJ entry visas”; rather snotty, but that’s the Sankei for ya).

    The new Immigration policy is directed at NJ with very high skills (koudo jinzai — a good idea) and their families (who will also be allowed to work; wow, that’s a change!), will have a points system for evaluation (another good idea), will offer longer visa periods (5 years), and will loosen the specificity between work visas. It’s being touted as a means to make Japan more appealing to NJ labor (you had better!).

    Sounds like a step in the right direction. But it’s still … What’s missing is GOJ guaranteeing some degree of protection of labor and civil rights after NJ get here. And what about qualifications? Just try practicing law, medicine, or most other licensed skills in Japan now without going through the rigmarole of domestic certification, with walls so high (cf. the NJ nurses from Indonesia and The Philippines over the past few years) that almost all NJ applicants fail (and, magically, have to return home as usual after three years, just like any other revolving-door “Trainee” or “Researcher” NJ laborer).

    This isn’t the first time a points system etc. has been floated (only to die the death of a thousand meddling bureaucrats) either. I guess the mandarins are realizing what a fix Japan is in without NJ labor. But if this kind of policy is going to happen at all, the almighty MOJ has to be the one proposing it. Then perhaps the waters will part for Moses. Let’s wait and see.

    But this is on balance “good” news. But not “great” news unless the GOJ also does something to force domestic actors to treat NJ nicely. Which is doubtful.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=9004

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    19) Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, on earthquake insurance in Japan

    Forwarding from Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, which Debito.org recommended a year ago:

    “Hi Debito, If your readers are interested in learning about the Japanese earthquake insurance system, I’ve put the insurance chapter of my book on-line here: http://dilloncommunications.com/blog/?p=2113

    I’ve also included links to related information in English and Japanese. Stay safe, and congratulations on book IN APPROPRIATE.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8665

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    20) Mainichi: “American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts”

    Mainichi: With the nuclear plant crisis and continuing aftershocks, many foreign assistant English teachers have left Japan to return to their home countries, but one assistant language teacher (ALT) here chose to stay behind and do what he could for volunteer efforts.

    Greg Lekich, 31, is an American ALT who teaches English at a high school in Sendai. Together with around 10 others, he has been doing volunteer work such as shoveling mud and helping clean people’s debris-filled houses. He says that he has many friends and students he has taught in Japan, and has grown used to where he lives now. He says he does not have plans to leave the country any time soon.

    Lekich was born in Philadelphia. He spent a year of college learning Japanese and came to the country in 2004. After teaching English in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, and other locations, he started work as an ALT at Miyagi Hirose High School and Miyagiken Technical High School from 2007.

    When the earthquake struck on March 11, Lekich was in the teacher’s room at Miyagi Hirose High School. It was his first experience of a large earthquake. Following the instructions of the school staff, he evacuated to the athletic field outside. After walking for three hours to return home, he used the Internet to check on the safety of his foreign friends.

    As the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant was added to the list of disasters, many foreigners in Japan began leaving the country. However, Lekich stayed in Sendai. His father, a former nuclear plant safety engineer, told him that under the circumstances, he didn’t think his son needed to worry so much about the radiation. His mother said she was worried, but asked him to do what he thought was right.

    Lekich decided to volunteer. Together with other teachers in the prefecture, he made the website “Teachers for Japan,” through which he and the others have posted English videos of the disaster-hit areas and collected money for those orphaned by the quake or tsunami. He also helps with relief work such as cleaning debris in houses three or four days a week in Wakabayashi Ward in Sendai and the cities of Ishinomaki and Tagajo…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8890

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    21) Mainichi: “Many foreign residents wish to stay in Japan despite disaster: survey”

    Related to the debunkable claims of “Fly-jin” NJ deserting Japan in its time of need, here is an article in the media with a survey of how NJ are actually by-and-large NOT wanting to be “Fly-jin”. Good.

    The problem is, it seems (after a short search) that this article has come out in English only — there is no link to the “original Japanese story” like many Mainichi articles have. So this may sadly may not be for domestic consumption. Or it may be available on Kyodo wire services (but again, not in Japanese for Mainichi readers). Sigh.

    Mainichi: More than 90 percent of foreigners studying or working in Japan expressed willingness to continue staying in the country despite the March 11 disaster, according to a recent online survey by a supporting group for them.

    The International Foreign Students Association conducted the survey between March 22 and 26, to which 392 people responded. Of the respondents, 60 percent were students and the remaining 40 percent were graduates, while more than 90 percent of them were from China, Taiwan and South Korea.

    Those who are willing to stay in Japan said, “Because I like Japan,” or “At a time like this, I think I want to work together (with Japanese) to help the recovery,” according to the Tokyo-based nonprofit organization.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8889

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

    22) Tangent: “Foreigners Looking to Adopt Japanese Earthquake Orphans Need Not Apply”

    Faux News: Foreigners looking to adopt a Japanese child orphaned by the recent earthquake may be surprised to know their help, in that respect, is not wanted at the moment.

    “I have been receiving many strange emails, from mostly U.S., and was asked, ‘I want girl, less than 6 months old, healthy child,’ Tazuru Ogaway, director of the Japanese adoption agency Across Japan, told FoxNews.com. “I honestly tell you such a kind of emails makes Japanese people very uncomfortable, because for us, sound like someone who are looking for ‘what I want’ from our terrible disaster.”

    In the wake of the massive January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, countries around the world almost immediately began fast-tracking adoptions from the troubled country. The United States alone took in 1,090 Haitian children as part of a Special Humanitarian Parole granted immediately following the disaster, according to the State Department’s 2010 Annual Report in Intercountry Adoptions.

    But Martha Osborne, spokeswoman for the adoption advocacy website RainbowKids.com, said Japan and Haiti couldn’t be more different when it comes to adoption.

    “You see that in developing nations, there’s no outlet for these children and the people left in the wake of the disaster are completely impoverished and unable to care for them, and in that case even extended relatives often say that the best case for the child is to be adopted because there are no resources,” Osborne told FoxNews.com. “But in Japan that’s just not the case, it’s a fully developed nation that’s capable of caring for its own children.”

    Osborne said a dwindling population, as well as strong family ties in the country, makes adoption fairly unnecessary, because children who can’t be cared for by their parents are usually taken in by other relatives.

    “I don’t believe there’s going to be a true orphan situation in Japan in the wake of this disaster. I do not believe that there are going to be children without any ties to relatives — that extended family system is going to consider that child their child,” she said.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8706

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

    … and finally …

    23) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)

    This is a culmination of all the articles cited above:

    JBC: The past two months have been uncomfortable for Japan, and for the country’s foreign residents. Non-Japanese (NJ) have been bashed in the media, unreservedly and undeservedly, as deserters in the face of disaster.

    Consider the birth of the epithet “fly-jin.” A corruption of the racist word gaijin for foreigners, it appeared in English-language media as a label for NJ who apparently flew the coop in Japan’s time of need. The Japanese media soon developed its own variants (e.g., Nihon o saru gaikokujin), and suddenly it was open season for denigrating NJ…

    I saw no articles putting things into perspective, comparing numbers of AWOL NJ with AWOL Japanese. Cowardice and desertion were linked with extranationality.

    Don’t get me wrong: I don’t doubt that many NJ did move due to the Tohoku disasters. But my question is: So what if they did?… Why should Japan care if NJ are leaving? Japan hasn’t exactly encouraged them to stay…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8870
    //////////////////////////////////////////

    Another Newsletter will be up here tomorrow, and then we should be all caught up. Thanks as always for reading!
    Arudou Debito
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2011 ENDS

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    Mainichi: “American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts”

    Posted on Sunday, June 5th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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.  Here’s one that got lost in the shuffle between debates; was going to put it up around May 10.  My commentary is a bit old, but might as well put it up for the record:

    In apposite to the debunkable claims of “Fly-jin” NJ, here is an article in the media with a survey of how NJ are actually by-and-large NOT being “Fly-jin”.  Good.  Hope these cases have sunk in with the Japanese public by now.  Arudou Debito

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

    American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts
    (Mainichi Japan) April 25, 2011

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20110425p2a00m0na011000c.html

    PHOTO CAPTION:  Greg Lekich, far left, and other volunteers are pictured in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Greg Lekich)

    SENDAI — With the nuclear plant crisis and continuing aftershocks, many foreign assistant English teachers have left Japan to return to their home countries, but one assistant language teacher (ALT) here chose to stay behind and do what he could for volunteer efforts.

    Greg Lekich, 31, is an American ALT who teaches English at a high school in Sendai. Together with around 10 others, he has been doing volunteer work such as shoveling mud and helping clean people’s debris-filled houses. He says that he has many friends and students he has taught in Japan, and has grown used to where he lives now. He says he does not have plans to leave the country any time soon.

    Lekich was born in Philadelphia. He spent a year of college learning Japanese and came to the country in 2004. After teaching English in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, and other locations, he started work as an ALT at Miyagi Hirose High School and Miyagiken Technical High School from 2007.

    When the earthquake struck on March 11, Lekich was in the teacher’s room at Miyagi Hirose High School. It was his first experience of a large earthquake. Following the instructions of the school staff, he evacuated to the athletic field outside. After walking for three hours to return home, he used the Internet to check on the safety of his foreign friends.

    As the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant was added to the list of disasters, many foreigners in Japan began leaving the country. However, Lekich stayed in Sendai. His father, a former nuclear plant safety engineer, told him that under the circumstances, he didn’t think his son needed to worry so much about the radiation. His mother said she was worried, but asked him to do what he thought was right.

    Lekich decided to volunteer. Together with other teachers in the prefecture, he made the website “Teachers for Japan,” through which he and the others have posted English videos of the disaster-hit areas and collected money for those orphaned by the quake or tsunami. He also helps with relief work such as cleaning debris in houses three or four days a week in Wakabayashi Ward in Sendai and the cities of Ishinomaki and Tagajo.

    He says that on the night of the earthquake, his Japanese girlfriend and her mother brought him food and water because they were worried. He says it made him feel strongly how people should help each other out in trying times.

    Class at the high schools will start again at the end of the “Golden Week” break at the start of May. Lekich says that having class as always will help people return to their normal lives. He says he hopes the fact that he, an American, stayed where he was will bring courage to his students.

    However, many ALTs have not stayed behind. According to the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), which every year mediates the contracts of around 4,000 ALTs at local authorities around the country, 44 ALTs quit their jobs after the earthquake. Over half of them were at schools outside of the hardest hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. At least one had been working in Kyushu.

    From this spring, English will be a mandatory subject for fifth- and sixth-graders at elementary schools. Minato Ward in Tokyo, which employs ALTs at all of its schools, has been unable to secure a complete number of ALTs in April, which delayed the start of English class by a week.

    At one ALT dispatching company in Tokyo, over 100 ALTs have returned to their home countries and not come back to Japan.

    “We are searching for substitutes (for those teachers who left) 24 hours a day. Among teachers who have left Japan but want to come back, many seem to have been held back by family,” said a company spokesperson.

    ENDS

    Original Japanese story

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

    東日本大震災:仙台を離れず 米国人ALT、支援に奮闘
    毎日新聞 2011年4月23日 11時01分(最終更新 4月23日 12時39分)
    http://mainichi.jp/photo/news/20110423k0000e040021000c.html

    外国人の仲間たちとボランティアをするレキチさん(左端)=宮城県多賀城市で、本人提供
    仙台市の県立高校で英語を教える米国人ALT(外国語指導助手)のグレッグ・レキチさん(31)は、被災地で英語教師ら約10人の仲間と一緒に家の片づけや泥かきのボランティア活動を続けている。「日本にはたくさんの友達や教え子がいる。住み慣れた街を離れようとは思いません」と話す。

    レキチさんはフィラデルフィアの出身。大学4年で1年間日本語を学び、04年に来日した。静岡県沼津市などで英語教師をした後、07年から仙台市の県立宮城広瀬高と県工業高で指導助手を務めている。

    3月11日の地震発生時は宮城広瀬高の職員室にいた。初めて体験する大きな揺れだったが、同僚が落ち着いて誘導してくれて、校庭に避難。3時間かけて歩いて自宅アパートに帰り、インターネットで外国人仲間の安否情報を集め始めた。

    福島第1原発の事故も起き、日本に住む外国人は続々と脱出。しかしレキチさんは仙台にとどまった。原発の安全対策のエンジニアだった父から「今の状況なら、放射能のことはそれほど心配しなくていいと思う」、母親からも「心配だけれど、あなたが正しいと思うことをやりなさい」と言われ、被災者の支援に乗り出した。

    県内の教師仲間と一緒にインターネットサイト「ティーチャーズ・フォー・ジャパン」(http://www.teachersforjapan.org/Japanese.php)を作り、震災遺児への寄付を募ったり、動画サイト「ユーチューブ」に、被災地の様子を撮影した動画を投稿して、英語で状況を伝えている。また、週3~4日間、同市若林区や石巻市、多賀城市で被災した家の片づけなどをしている。

    地震の日の夜、日本人のガールフレンドと母親が心配して食べ物と水を持ってきてくれた。「彼女たちが落ち着いていたので、私もパニックにならずに済んだ。困った時に人間は助け合うものだという思いを強くした」

    5月の大型連休明けには授業が始まる。レキチさんは「いつも通り授業をすることが、日常を取り戻す手助けになるはず。アメリカ人の私がここに残ったという事実が、生徒を勇気づけられるといいと思います」と語った。【中嶋真希】

    ◇帰国者多いALT 対応に追われる派遣元
    ALTは英語の授業などで日本人の教員をサポートする。今春から小学5、6年生で外国語活動(英語)が必修化され、ALTの必要性が高まっている。一方で原発事故や余震を恐れて帰国するALTも多く、派遣元の企業や団体は対応に追われている。

    全国の自治体に年間約4000人のALTをあっせんする財団法人「自治体国際化協会」(東京都千代田区)によると、震災以降44人が学校を辞めた。半数以上は東北3県以外の学校で働いていた人だ。勤務先が九州だった人もいる。補充を急ぐよう各地の教育委員会から要請があり、この夏からの就労予定者に前倒しでの来日を交渉しているという。

    すべての区立小にALTを配置している東京都港区は、4月に必要な人数を確保できなかったため、新学期の英語の授業開始が1週間遅れた。

    100人以上が帰国したまま戻らなかった都内のALT派遣会社は「24時間態勢で代わりを探しているが、本人が再来日したいと思っても、家族が引き留めるケースが多いようだ」と話している。【望月麻紀】

    ENDS

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    Posted in Good News, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, NJ legacies | 13 Comments »

    Nikkei Business magazine special (May 2, 2011) on the future and necessity of NJ labor to Japan

    Posted on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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.  Getting back to business, here is an excellent series of articles on how important NJ labor has been and will be to Japan’s future.  Eighteen pages on the whos, whats, and why-you-should-cares in the Nikkei Business magazine dated May 2, 2011 (thanks to MS).

    After the cover (Title: Kieta Gaikokujin Roudou Ryoku:  Nihonjin dake de shokuba o mamoreru ka, or “Disappeared NJ Labor Force:  Can Japanese maintain the workplaces by themselves?”) and table of contents, we open with a splash page showing Chinese waiting for their bags at the airport carousel after returning to China.

    Pages 20 through 23 give us an assessment of NJ labor in several business sectors:  Restaurants, Textiles, Finance, Convenience Stores, Agriculture, IT, Education, Tourism, and Airflight, headlining that the NJ labor force has “evaporated”.

    Pages 24 and 25 give us the raw data, noting that the majority of NJ (55%) work in small companies of less than 100 employees, and that the near majority of NJ laborers (44%) are Chinese.  The point is that “a closed Japanese labor market is impossible”.

    Pages 26 and 27 give us a close up about a farm that lost none of its workers, and even asked (for a change, given the Japanese media) what NJ thought.  It was all part of the magazine’s suggestions about what should be done to improve things and give NJ a stake:  Accountability, Bonds, Careers, and recognizing Diversity.  Even offered suggestions about how to simplify Japanese.

    Pages 27 and 28 are the “money shot”, where the article says most of the things that we have said all along here on Debito.org and in my Japan Times articles:  You can’t keep on using people as simple throwaway labor and expect them to stay, and you can’t keep doing things like bribe people to go back (as was done with the Nikkei in 2009) or make hurdles too high to get over (as is being done with NJ nurses) and expect a sustainable labor force.

    Good stuff.  And about bloody time.  Scans of pages in gallery form below.  Arudou Debito

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Practical advice, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 7 Comments »

    YouTube and Facebook on Nathanael Teutli Retamoza, Mexican national, detained in Niigata Prison since November 2010 on suspicion of “domestic abuse, forced entry, and kidnapping his child”

    Posted on Thursday, May 19th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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. Got this recently from submitter SL who wrote:

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

    hello debito. we have never met but i wanted to make you aware of a friend of mine who has been imprisoned in japan for the last 5 months without being charged. it’s a bit of a long story, but i met nathan about 4 years ago when he first came to japan from the states to pursue his photography. to make a long story short, he met a japanese woman, got her pregnant, they got married then all hell broke loose. he has been in prison for apparently trying to abduct his child and take her back to the states. until recently i had had no contact with him except a letter in which he asked me to donate money to japan’s relief effort, then i saw this video…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rWJgfnoOdo&feature=related

    i am leaving japan at the end of may, so until then i will try to get his case some more attention. i hope that this message does not fall on deaf ears nor blind eyes. any suggestions are welcome, but this is more to make you aware of his situation.

    all i ask is that you watch the video and perhaps forward it to anyone you think might be able to help him. thanks! sl

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

    Also, according to a Facebook site devoted to his case:

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002323963541

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

    “Nathan was arrested in Nov,2010 and is being held in a prison in Niigata charged with kidnapping his daughter Yukari. We are a group of his friends in Niigata who are trying to get the word about the injustice Nathan is suffering everyday as he awaits his fate in Niigata Prison. Please look at the Youtube video titled Free Nathan. Also as Nathan has no internet or telephone access if anyone would like to send Nathan any words of encouragement a letters can be sent c/o

    Nathanael Teutle Retamoza
    Niigata Prison 381-4-A Yamafutatsu,
    Konanku,Niigata City
    Niigata, Japan
    950-8721

    Nathan’s next hearing is May 31st ,2011, 09:30-12:00 at the Niigata District Court . In this hearing the closing arguements from both sides will be heard.

    Hearings are open to the public and if anyone is interested in attending there will be transportation provided from Niigata Station to the court house. Let’s show Nathan our support!!

    The courthouse address is
    Niigata District Court Gakko-cho dori 1-1 Chuo-ku, Niigata City
    phone number 025-222-4175
    This is the website for the court house with the address in Japanese and a very limited web site in English.

    http://www.courts.go.jp/niigata/

    For the people who have promised to come to Nathan’s hearing on May 31st Nathan will be so grateful and overwelmed by your kindness. Thank-you in advance.

    It is extremely important to remember that if someone decides to attend Nathan’s hearing on May31st, it goes without saying that you must respect the courtroom and the process because if not the judges have the right to clear the courtroom. We definitely don’t want that. So let’s support Nathan respectfully and quietly. If you have never attended a Japanese hearing or have any questions what so ever I will answer and/or try to find the answer asap. Attending the hearing is an anonymous in that your name is not registered anywhere and no one will ask why you are there. There are many random people in the courtroom; law students, professors, retired individuals who are interested in the law etc. Obviously if you are not Japanese you will stand out but because there is no conversation among the spectators what so ever, there is no worry that you will be singled and questioned. I have been asked about this many times so I hope that it will put some people at ease.”

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

    COMMENT: I know no more about this case than what is on YouTube and Facebook. Those who wish to make enquiries can do so there or at freenathan@ymail.com. FYI. Arudou Debito

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    Posted in Child Abductions, Human Rights, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 22 Comments »

    Chris Savoie wins US court award of $6.1 million against ex-wife for breach of contract, emotional distress, and false imprisonment of his children in Japan

    Posted on Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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. Congratulations to Chris Savoie on his massive U.S. court victory against his ex-wife for, inter alia, false imprisonment of his children in Japan.

    Debito.org has talked about the Savoie Case for quite some time now (do a search), but I devoted a Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to it back in October 2009. I’m personally glad he’s staying the course, and seeking judicial recourse that is amounting to legally-binding agreement. This is setting an important precedent regarding the issue of international child abduction, and drawing attention to a long-neglected problem. Arudou Debito

    PS: Note the lame (if not just plain inaccurate) headline by the Japan Times/Kyodo News on this, “Wife fined for taking children to Japan“; makes it sound like she got punished for being a tourist. Get on the ball. Call it what it is: Child abduction.

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

    Order for ex-wife to pay millions doesn’t make up for time lost with kids, says Franklin father
    Court rules mom who took kids to Japan owes $6.1M
    The Tennesseean, May 10, 2011
    http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110510/NEWS03/305100033/Dad-whose-ex-wife-moved-kids-to-Japan-says-6M-win-bittersweet-

    A mother who left Middle Tennessee with her two young children to live permanently in her native Japan — leaving behind an ex-husband with joint custody rights — has been ordered to pay the father $6.1 million in damages.

    But Christopher J. Savoie of Franklin said the money alone is a hollow victory. He hopes the ruling will help end a battle he has waged since 2009 to bring the children home.

    “Anything about this just reopens a lot of wounds. It’s bittersweet,” said Christopher Savoie, who said he hasn’t been allowed even to speak to Isaac, 10, and Rebecca, 8, in more than a year. “At the end of the day, I’d much rather have one afternoon in the park with my kids than one penny of this judgment.”

    Shortly after Noriko Esaki Savoie permanently moved with the children to Japan, a Williamson County court gave Christopher Savoie full custody, and the Franklin Police Department issued an arrest warrant for Noriko Savoie charging her with custodial interference. But because of domestic laws pertaining to custody and divorce, Japan will not help the United States resolve parental abductions to the country. The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues reports that it “does not have a record of any cases resolved through a favorable Japanese court order or through the assistance of the Japanese government.”

    In March, Noriko Savoie was charged in federal court with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and an arrest warrant was issued. That effort also has failed so far.

    “My understanding is we don’t have an extradition agreement with Japan as it relates to parental kidnapping,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Daughtrey said. “As far as I know, nothing has been done.”

    Christopher Savoie believes Monday’s ruling may open a door. His attorney, Joseph A. “Woody” Woodruff of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, said that while Japan won’t enforce U.S. judgments that pertain to custody or otherwise order Japanese citizens to “do the right thing,” they will enforce money judgments.

    “They will enforce orders that assess damages for breach of contract and civil wrongs,” Woodruff said. “This is a tool we’re going to try to use to convince Noriko Savoie she needs to do the right thing.”

    Williamson County Chancery Court Judge Tim Easter announced the damages Monday, having previously found Noriko Savoie guilty of three crimes in September. Easter ordered Noriko Savoie to pay Christopher Savoie more than $1 million for breach of contract and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. She was ordered to pay Christopher Savoie $1.1 million, to be held for the benefit of the children, for falsely imprisoning them since August 2009. Easter ordered Noriko Savoie to pay additional damages for each day she continues to falsely imprison the children up to a maximum of $4 million.

    “Every day, she has another chance to lower the amount of damages,” Christopher Savoie said. “Noriko is not an enemy here. She’s just got to do the right thing here.”

    Noriko Savoie was not represented at the hearing. Marlene Moses, an attorney who represented Noriko Savoie in 2009, said she no longer represents her and is unfamiliar with the latest developments.

    “She chose to ignore these proceedings,” Woodruff said. “She was served in person in Japan.”

    In a related proceeding, Savoie is suing Williamson County Judge James G. Martin III for negligence and violations of his constitutional rights. Martin was the judge who lifted a restraining order on the children’s passports so that Noriko Savoie could take them on a six-week trip to Japan. He did so after Noriko Savoie promised at a hearing that she would not permanently move there. She returned from the trip as scheduled, but left again shortly thereafter and has remained in Japan since.

    U.S. District Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger dismissed the case in December after ruling that Martin has judicial immunity. Savoie has taken the case to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Woodruff said Christopher Savoie’s lawyers in Japan are working to “domesticate” Easter’s orders. Christopher Savoie said he is frustrated the laws of Japan have left him with no other choice than to seek a large money judgment against his ex-wife, but hopes it will compel her to at least talk to him.

    “I would much rather her return the kids than see 1 cent of this money,” he said. “I feel disappointed that the only thing we can do is ask for money. Even God can’t buy me back the year and a half I’ve missed. I feel bad for the judge even having to put a number on it.”

    Contact Brandon Gee at bgee@tennessean.com

    ENDS

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

    Ex-R.I. man wins $6.1 million in custody case
    The Providence Journal, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
    By Richard C. Dujardin, Journal Staff Writer
    http://www.projo.com/news/content/JAPAN_CUSTODY_05-10-11_3JO0LTA_v14.348c536.html

    Christopher Savoie, a former Rhode Islander who drew international attention when he was thrown into a Japanese prison in 2009 for trying to recover his two children from his Japanese ex-wife by grabbing them as they walked to school, has won a $6.1-million judgment against his former wife.

    But in an interview from his home in Franklin, Tenn., the University of Rhode Island and Bishop Hendricken High School graduate called the award issued by Franklin Chancellor Timothy Easter a “two-edged sword” in that it gives his ex-wife a strong financial incentive “to do the right thing” and allow him to see his two children, but there is no guarantee that he’ll see his 10-year-old son, Isaac, and 8-year-old daughter, Rebecca, before they reach 20, the age of majority in Japan.

    “It’s bittersweet, because rather than getting any money, I’d much rather be in the park playing with my kids. No amount of money can compensate for that time with the kids,” said Savoie.

    Along with his second wife, Amy, another former Rhode Islander who began a career in immunology at URI, Savoie, 40, became enmeshed in an international custody battle that unfolded two years after Christopher, who had achieved international stature as an innovator in biotechnology, returned to the United States with his children and Japanese wife, Noriko, in the hope of starting another business.

    Not long after the couple arrived, Christopher sued for a divorce, and two months after being granted the divorce decree in January 2009, married Amy, whom he had known since his days at URI. Savoie says that, as part of the settlement, his ex-wife agreed to provide him custody of the children in exchange for a monthly payment of $5,500 along with other payments for their education.

    Then, just days after Christopher and Amy gathered with friends and relatives and their two young children at a waterside restaurant in East Greenwich to celebrate their six-month wedding anniversary, Noriko told Savoie and the judge in Tennessee that she wanted to take the children on a brief vacation in Japan before they resumed school in the United States. It was only when the Savoies saw that there was no planned trip back that they began to suspect that their children had been abducted.

    Savoie says that contrary to some reports in the media, his two children had always been brought up in an English-speaking environment. Isaac, who was born in California and went to preschool in the United Kingdom, scored in the 98th percentile on the standardized English test in Tennessee, and Rebecca was doing well, also.

    In fact, he says, when he came upon their children on the street in Japan, their mother was walking closely behind because she needed to interpret for them because they were not fluent in Japanese. Savoie thought he could whisk them off the street, carry them off to the U.S. Consulate and bring them back to the U.S., only to see his plan foiled when officials at the consulate did not open the door and allowed him to be arrested by Japanese police.

    Despite the exposure provided by his nearly three-week imprisonment, Savoie said he has not seen his children again. Every time he attempts to reach the children by phone, their grandparents hang up on him.

    Savoie said his anxieties increased significantly after the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster. He said that while he was told the children are safe, by his calculations, “they are within the nuclear fallout zone.”

    Savoie said the events of the last few days have given him some new hope. The judgement issued by a Tennessee court on Monday is designed to get his ex-wife’s cooperation by cutting off any future financial payments by her as soon as she agrees to return the children.

    Although the court system in Japan recognizes that he has been awarded custody of the children by a Tennessee court, the problem is that Japan has no way of enforcing the custody settlement, Savoie said, but it does have a method of enforcing the financial penalties. “We have a set of lawyers waiting in the wings” to put in the mechanism to see the judgment implemented.

    Savoie said he has also been buoyed by what he says is a recent announcement by Japan that it plans to sign the Hague Convention on international child abduction, a move that would make it easier for international parents to recover their children who have been taken in custody disputes.

    In the meantime, Savoie said the international custody battle has caused him and Amy to reconsider their calling. Instead of immunology, both are now students at Nashville School of Law in the hope that they may be able to help parents of other children — including some 300 in Japan alone — who have been abducted by spouses and are being held in Japan.

    rdujardi@projo.com
    ENDS

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    Posted in Child Abductions, Gaiatsu, Good News, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 25 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)

    Posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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
    Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple’
    By ARUDOU Debito

    The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 3, 2011
    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110503ad.html

    The past two months have been uncomfortable for Japan, and for the country’s foreign residents. Non-Japanese (NJ) have been bashed in the media, unreservedly and undeservedly, as deserters in the face of disaster.

    Consider the birth of the epithet “fly-jin.” A corruption of the racist word gaijin for foreigners, it appeared in English-language media as a label for NJ who apparently flew the coop in Japan’s time of need. The Japanese media soon developed its own variants (e.g., Nihon o saru gaikokujin), and suddenly it was open season for denigrating NJ.

    For example, the Wall Street Journal (March 23) announced in English and Japanese articles an apparent “fly-jin exodus,” portraying NJ as fleeing, then sheepishly crawling back to their Japanese workplaces to face hazing. Tokyo Sports Shimbun (April 14) ran the headline “Tokyo Disneyland’s biggest reason for closing: repatriating NJ dancers” (oddly, Disneyland reopened days later).

    Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=8796

    Tabloids reported that “all foreigners have fled Japan” (Nikkan Gendai, April 11), or that a wave of migrating “bad foreigners” would render Tokyo’s Ueno a lawless zone (SPA!, April 12). The NJ-bashing got so bad that the government — unusually — intervened, quashing Internet rumors that foreign gangs were roaming the rubble, raping and pillaging, or that foreign terrorists had caused the earthquakes.

    Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=8796

    More moderate media still reported that escaping NJ labor was hurting Japan’s economy, citing farms and factories employing NJ “trainees,” fast food outlets, convenience stores, the IT sector and language education. Mainichi Shimbun (April 25) shed crocodile tears over the possible death of Japan’s textile industry due to the lack of cheap Chinese workers.

    Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=8806 and http://www.debito.org/?p=8830

    I saw no articles putting things into perspective, comparing numbers of AWOL NJ with AWOL Japanese. Cowardice and desertion were linked with extranationality.

    Don’t get me wrong: I don’t doubt that many NJ did move due to the Tohoku disasters. But my question is: So what if they did?

    I have my doubts that a) it’s any more significant than the fact Japanese did, or that b) it’s worth blaming NJ anyway. Japanese overseas, if advised by their government to leave a trouble spot, would probably do the same. I also doubt overseas media would criticize the departing Japanese so harshly.

    So here’s what I don’t get: Why should Japan care if NJ are leaving? Japan hasn’t exactly encouraged them to stay.

    Consider some common attitudes towards NJ: Larkers and freeloaders, they’re here just to make money, enjoying our rich, safe society before going “home.” NJ also get accused of threatening our safety and stability, as criminal gang members, terrorists or illegal workers. NJ are such a threat that the National Police Agency created a Policymaking Committee Against Internationalization (sic) in 1999, deputizing the nation’s hotels, employers and general public to join in their racial profiling and help ferret out “bad foreigners committing heinous crimes.”

    Sources: http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#refusedhotelhttp://www.debito.org/japantimes062904.html, and http://www.debito.org/?p=8324

    Moreover, NJ are publicly portrayed as people to be viewed with suspicion, justifying Japan’s first neighborhood surveillance cameras in alleged “hotbeds of foreign crime.” They are even denounced by the likes of Tokyo’s governor, Shintaro Ishihara (recently re-elected to a fourth term), for infiltrating and subverting Japan’s very democracy (JBC, May 4, 2010).

    Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=3673 and http://www.debito.org/?p=6634

    On the other hand, NJ human rights remain unprotected. They are sometimes subjected to “Japanese Only” exclusionary rules and hate speech, neither of which are (or look likely to become) illegal activities in Japan. Meanwhile, local governments asking for kinder national policies for their NJ residents (e.g., 2001’s Hamamatsu Sengen, a set of proposals put forward in Shizuoka Prefecture to help foreign residents integrate) continue to be ignored by the central government. Indicatively, we still have no official policy to support and assimilate immigrants.

    Rarely are NJ residents praised for the good they do for Japan, such as increasing our taxpayer base, contributing to the labor force, even sticking around to raise funds and deliver supplies to the Tohoku disaster areas. Instead, we get sentiments like “Japan must be rebuilt by us Japanese only” from the Asahi Shimbun (March 20) and Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s speeches.

    All this might change, if NJ were ever given a stake in Japan. But rarely do they get the same opportunities as Japanese.

    I speak from personal experience. We were promised, during Japan’s Bubble Era and “internationalization” push in the 1980s, that if we immigrants learned the language, worked hard and waited our turn on the corporate ladder, we would be treated equitably and promoted just like our native Japanese colleagues.

    A quarter-century later, how’s that going? Pretty piddling. Few NJ have advanced to the top echelons of Japanese corporations in Japan. Few NJ “trainees” can ever hope to graduate beyond temp-worker status, picking strawberries for slave wages. Few NJ have become deans of universities, let alone gotten beyond basic contract work in education. Few NJ graduates of Japanese universities, despite years of corporate promises, have gotten genuine, promotable jobs in Japanese corporations here. And even after two decades of sweetheart visa status, few nikkei South Americans who lost their jobs in the recession were considered re-employable, unlike fellow laid-off Japanese: Only 1 percent of the former were offered any government retraining, with the rest tossed bribes to give up their pensions and “go home.” (ZG April 7, 2009)

    And the Wall Street Journal reports that NJ are being questioned about “where their allegiances lie“? Allegiance to what? If they are constantly bashed for staying and now for leaving, is it any wonder that some NJ might not stick around to be potentially irradiated as well as exploited?

    Look, Japan decided in the 1970s that it wanted a quick-fix energy source to power its high-speed growth. It neither wanted to pursue available (and potentially safer) sources (such as geothermal), nor rely on foreign oil. So it built one of the world’s highest concentrations of nuclear power plants on some of the world’s most seismically active land. Did people really expect that someday this atomic house of cards would not come crashing down? Come on — it was the classic case of accidents waiting to happen.

    Then, when they did happen, and people (regardless of nationality) began to look out for themselves and leave potentially dangerous areas, they got blamed for either overreacting or deserting? That’s rubbing salt in the wounds.

    But it’s the NJ who got it particularly bad, since the worst critics were from within their own ranks. The word “fly-jin,” remember, was coined by a foreigner, so this meanness isn’t just a byproduct of systematic exclusion from society. This is sociopathy within the excluded people themselves — eating their own, egging on domestic bullies, somehow proving themselves as “more dedicated than thou” to Japan. What did these self-loathers ultimately succeed in doing? Making NJ, including themselves, look bad.

    The point is that Japan made a mistake with its nuclear policy, and will pay for it in land, lives and reputation. Yet the past two months have demonstrated that NJ — ever weaker and disenfranchised — are being scapegoated to draw attention away from those truly responsible for this mess: the inept, cosseted Japanese nuclear industry, perpetually in bed with a bureaucracy that turns a blind eye to safety standards and abets coverups.

    So let me counterbalance “fly-jin” by coining a word too: “sheeple.” By this, I mean people who timidly follow the herd even when it hurts them as a whole. They are unwilling to impinge upon their comfortable, convenient middle-class existences, or threaten their upward social mobility, by demanding a safer or more accountable system. Worse, they decry those who do.

    If these sheeple had had their way, Japan’s nuclear industry’s standard operating procedure of disinformation and coverup would have continued after Fukushima, as it did after previous nuclear accidents in Tokai and Kashiwazaki. But this time the accident was big enough to potentially irradiate the international community. Ironically, it sometimes falls upon the dread foreigners to save the sheeple from themselves.

    But again, the situation is particularly pathetic for NJ (and the opportunistic NJ rents-seekers) because, given their permanent “guest status” in Japanese society, they are expected to act like sheeple without ever being a full member of the herd. They neither have the same opportunity to speak their minds as residents, nor defend themselves from unfair bashing in public.

    So bully for the fly-jin, or anyone, for protecting themselves and getting out. Why stay and be a sheep or a scapegoat?

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

    Debito Arudou’s new novel “In Appropriate” is now on sale (see www.debito.org/inappropriate.html) Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp
    The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 3, 2011
    ENDS

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    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 35 Comments »

    Mainichi: “Industries left short-handed after NJ workers flee Japan following nuke accident”

    Posted on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「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 another article tying together more pinpoint data of NJ leaving Japan, with a focus on Chinese.  Spare a tear for those poor, poor Japanese industries who took advantage of so many cheap temporary NJ workers, and are now crying because the NJ aren’t sticking around to be potentially irradiated as well as exploited.  Arudou Debito

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

    Industries left short-handed after foreign workers flee Japan following nuke accident
    (Mainichi Japan) April 25, 2011, courtesy of MS
    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110425p2a00m0na022000c.html

    Tens of thousands of worried foreign workers left Japan shortly after a crisis at the nuclear power plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, causing serious labor shortages in some industries.

    After foreign governments lifted their temporary evacuation advisories issued in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, many Americans and Europeans started coming back to Japan, albeit gradually. But workers from neighboring countries such as China have yet to do so.

    Chinese people in particular — mostly students and trainees — had occupied key parts of the workforce in many Japanese industries, and therefore if they continue to stay out of Japan for an extended period of time, they could have a grave impact on the industries and force firms to review their business strategies or cut production.

    “We are closed for a while,” said a notice written in rather awkward Japanese pasted on the shutter door of a Chinese restaurant slightly away form the main street of Yokohama Chinatown, the biggest Chinese quarter in Japan.

    According to the cooperative association of shop owners in Chinatown, of the total of 2,500 people working there, about 300 of them, mainly part-time workers and students from China, returned to their country. As a result, about 10 out of some 320 stores, including souvenir shops, had to suspend their business operations.

    The number of visitors to Chinatown at present accounts for about 80 percent of figures before the disaster, according to Kensei Hayashi, head of the cooperative association. There are shops that have enough labor to conduct business now, but they are stretched. While Chinatown hopes to see more people visiting the quarter the way they used to, there are growing concerns that an acute labor shortage could hit the town hard.

    At Yoshinoya, a major beef bowl restaurant chain in Japan, about 200 foreign part-time workers including Chinese students, or about one-fourth of the total number of such workers in the Tokyo metropolitan area, quit their jobs in the first week after the March 11 disaster. The restaurant chain has managed to continue to operate by sending its employees to the shops from stores in other areas and hiring new workers.

    Lawson, a major convenience store chain in Japan, also saw a number of foreign students quitting their part-time jobs at its stores in central Tokyo, but it has managed to keep its stores open by dispatching employees from headquarters. One Chinese person who had been set to work for Lawson from spring turned down the job offer.

    A large number of foreign companies operating in Japan urged their employees to evacuate to areas outside Tokyo or abroad in the wake of the nuclear disaster. But some signs are emerging now that the situation is subsiding. Those companies that moved their offices to the Kansai region or elsewhere temporarily have started moving their offices back to Tokyo.

    At Berlitz, a major English conversation school in Japan, the number of foreign instructors dropped by 30 to 40 percent immediately after the earthquake, but it has come back to about 90 percent of the total workforce it had before the disaster.

    In the case of Chinese workers, many of them are students or trainees, and therefore it is often difficult for them to secure enough money to return to Japan. There are cases of “worrisome parents not letting them return to the country,” said a Chinese resident of Japan. Such being the case, it is unlikely that they will return to their workplaces in Japan anytime soon.

    Japan’s sewing industry, which had accepted more than 40,000 trainees from China, saw them returning to their country in droves in the wake of the nuclear crisis. The Japan Textile Federation says about 30,000 Chinese trainees remain in their home country. Each company in the industry is required to keep the number of Chinese trainees below about 20 percent of its total workforce, but if the current situation were to continue, the industry as a whole would likely be forced to cut production drastically.

    If the sewing industry were to fall into stagnation, the entire textile industry, including clothing, yarn and dyeing sectors, would suffer serious damage. “While production is being shifted abroad, the domestic industry in Japan has been able to survive by making high-quality and high-value-added products. But the industry could fall apart due to the earthquake disaster and the nuclear accident,” says the Japan Textile Federation.
    ENDS

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

    Original Japanese story
    原発事故:戻らぬ中国人労働者 縫製業は減産も
    http://mainichi.jp/select/photo/news/20110425k0000m040086000c.html

    東日本大震災と東京電力・福島第1原子力発電所事故の影響で、日本国内で働いていた外国人労働者が大量に国外流出した影響が深刻化している。原発事故後に一時、東日本や日本からの避難勧告を出した国々は勧告を解除し、欧米系の外国人は徐々に戻りつつあるが、中国など近隣のアジア系外国人の戻りは鈍いままだ。特に中国人は、留学生や実習生を貴重な戦力として活用していた業界が多く、長期化すれば営業体制の見直しや生産の停滞など大きな影響を与えかねない事態になっている。【小倉祥徳】

    「しばらく休みしていたたきと申します」--。日本最大の中華街である横浜中華街(横浜市)。大通りから少し外れた場所にある中華料理店では22日、シャッターが閉じられ、不慣れな日本語で営業停止を告げる張り紙がしてあった。

    中華街に出店する店舗経営者らで作る横浜中華街発展会協同組合によると、震災と原発事故の後、地域で働く中国人2500人のうち、アルバイトの留学生など約300人が帰国。その影響で、土産店などを含む約320店舗中、10店舗程度が営業停止を余儀なくされた。

    来客数は「震災前の8割程度しか戻っていない」(同組合の林兼正理事長)ため、営業を続けている店も今は人繰りがついているが、綱渡りの状態だ。中華街としては来客数の早期回復を願うものの、人手不足が一気に問題化することへの懸念も広がっている。

    大手牛丼チェーンの吉野家では震災後1週間で、中国人留学生など首都圏の店舗で働く外国人アルバイトの4分の1にあたる約200人が辞めた。同社は近隣店舗からの応援を出す一方、新たに募集を行い、何とか営業を維持している。コンビニエンスストア大手のローソンでも、東京都心部の店舗で一時、アルバイト留学生の帰国が相次ぎ、本部から応援要員を派遣して、営業を維持した。同社では今春入社予定の中国人正社員1人が入社を辞退している。

    外資系企業でも原発事故後、首都圏外や日本国外へ社員を避難させる動きが相次いだが、一時関西などに移転していたオフィスを東京に戻すなど、沈静化の動きもみられる。英会話教室大手のベルリッツも、震災直後は外国人講師が3~4割減ったが、現在は9割程度まで戻っているという。一方で中国人の場合、留学生や実習生など若年層が多く、再渡航の費用確保が難しかったり、「親が心配して日本に戻さない」(在日中国人)ケースが多いとみられ、職場復帰の動きは鈍い。

    4万人強の中国人実習生を受け入れていた縫製業界は、原発事故後に帰国ラッシュが起き、いまだに「約3万人が帰国したまま」(日本繊維産業連盟)の状態だという。各事業者の受け入れ人数は全従業員の約2割以下と上限はあるが、現状のまま推移すれば、業界全体として大幅な生産減は避けられない見通しだ。

    縫製業が滞れば、生地や糸の製造、染色など繊維業界全体が大きな打撃を受けかねず、同連盟は「海外への生産移転が進む中、高級・高付加価値製品の生産で生き残ってきたのに、今回の震災と原発事故でまたガタガタになりかねない」と危機感を強めている。
    ENDS

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    Posted in Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Media, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 17 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 15, 2011

    Posted on Saturday, April 16th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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 JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 15, 2011
    SPECIAL ON THE DISASTERS IN TOHOKU

    Hi Blog. Here is a sampling of some of the articles that appeared on Debito.org (which took a break from hiatus briefly) regarding the March earthquake and the aftermath, particularly how it affected NJ in Japan.

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

    NJ PORTRAYED AS PART OF THE PROBLEM

    1) Asahi Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi) Mar 20 offers ponderous column with gratuitous alienation of NJ
    2) Wall Street Journal joins in bashing alleged NJ “fly-jin exodus”: “Expatriates tiptoe back to the office”
    3) Tokyo Sports Shinbun blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ!
    4) Rumors of “Foreign Crime Gangs”; rapes and muggings, while tabloids headline “all NJ have flown Japan” etc.
    5) SNA: “GOJ targets harmful internet rumors”, including the earthquake being caused by foreign terrorism
    6) Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate, gets over 6000 votes

    NJ AS PART OF THE SOLUTION

    7) NJ helping Japan during this crisis: James Gibbs on his Miyagi Rescue Efforts
    8 ) John Harris on how Coca Cola could help Japan save a nuclear power plant’s worth of power: Switch off their 5.5 million vending machines
    9) Thinking of donating blood in Japan? Mutantfrog translates the regulations on who can’t.

    RELATED ARTICLES OF NOTE

    9) Tokyo Gov Ishihara calls the tsunami “divine punishment” to wipe out the “egoism” of Japan. Yet wins reelection.
    10) The Nation.com on Tohoku Earthquake has shaken Japan Inc.
    11) AOL News: WikiLeaks: Cables Show Japan Was Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety
    12) Weekend Tangent: NYT: “Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job” in Japan’s nuclear industry
    13) Japanese cartoon for kids depicting Fukushima nuclear issue as power plants with constipation!

    … and finally…

    14) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011 on Tohoku: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////
    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

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

    NJ PORTRAYED AS PART OF THE PROBLEM

    1) Asahi Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi) Mar 20 offers ponderous column with gratuitous alienation of NJ

    Check out this Asahi Shinbun editorial (Japanese, then English), which offers an assessment of the victimization of Japan by 3/11, and insinuates that NJ in Japan are deserting us in our time of need:

    Asahi Shinbun column Mar 20, 2011: This past weekend, there were fewer foreigners than usual to be seen in Tokyo’s typically busy Ginza and Omotesando districts. Not just tourists from abroad scrambled to leave Japan, but also business travelers, students and reportedly even diplomats.

    While I am deeply grateful to people around the world for their moral and material support, I understand too well that rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but the Japanese…

    Let us all believe that, and let us stand by our fellow citizens who survived the catastrophe. We have nowhere to go back to, except this country of ours, which we must rebuild again out of the rubble.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8713

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

    2) Wall Street Journal joins in bashing alleged NJ “fly-jin exodus”: “Expatriates tiptoe back to the office”

    Here we have the Wall Street Journal joining in the NJ bashfest, publicizing the word “flyjin” for the Japanese market too (making one question the claim that the pejorative is restricted to the English-language market). Gotta love the Narita airport photo within that is deftly timed to make it seem as if it’s mostly NJ fleeing. “Good-natured hazing” is how one investment banker puts it below, making one wonder if he knows what hazing means. Anyway, here’s another non-good-natured article about how the aftershocks of the earthquake are affecting NJ.

    WSJ: The flight of the foreigners — known as gaijin in Japanese — has polarized some offices in Tokyo. Last week, departures from Japan reached a fever pitch after the U.S. Embassy unveiled a voluntary evacuation notice and sent in planes to ferry Americans to safe havens. In the exodus, a new term was coined for foreigners fleeing Japan: flyjin.

    The expat employees’ decision to leave is a sensitive cultural issue in a country known for its legions of “salarymen”: loyal Japanese employees whose lives revolve around the office, who regularly work overtime and who have strong, emotional ties to their corporations and their colleagues.

    “There is a split between [the Japanese and foreigners] on where their allegiances lie. In Japan, the company and family are almost one and the same, whereas foreigners place family first and company second,” said Mark Pink, the founder of financial recruitment firm TopMoneyJobs.com, based in Tokyo.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8738

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

    3) Tokyo Sports Shinbun blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ!

    Debito.org is pleased to announce another Japan Official(TM) Open Season on NJ. We get these fads occasionally, like “NJ have AIDS” (1986), “NJ have SARS” (2003), “NJ are criminals” (2000-4).

    Now, with the advent of “Fly-jin” (or the variant “Bye-jin” — which is better, some might retort, than being “Die-jin”), it’s now “NJ are deserters”. And they can be conveniently blamed for various social ills. Here, I’ll anticipate a couple:

    1) “Fly-jin” are responsible for Japan’s lack of English ability because they fled their posts as English teachers. (Not so far-fetched, since they have been blamed in the past for the same thing because conversely “NJ have been in Japan too long”)…

    2) “Fly-jin” are responsible for our fruits and vegetables becoming more expensive, since NJ “Trainees” deserted their posts as slaves on Japanese farms and left things rotting on the vine…

    3) “Fly-jin” are responsible for a further decrease in Japan’s population, since some of them took Japanese citizens with them when they deserted Japan…

    4) “Fly-jin” are responsible for a downtick in Japan’s shipping industry, since NJ accounted for 90% of Japan’s maritime crews…

    5) “Fly-jin” are responsible for diplomatic snafus, since our NJ proofreaders at national government agencies did a runner…

    Okay, that’s still fiction. But who says people in Japan aren’t creative? I never anticipated NJ being blamed for the closure of Tokyo Disneyland, as the Tokyo Sports Shinbun does on April 14, 2011:

    No, it’s not due to power outages or rolling blackouts or anything like that. They have to have NJ faces as dancers and people in parades, therefore no parade, no Tokyo Disneyland. We’re closed, and it’s your fault, NJ. Makes perfect sense, right? Enjoy the Open Season on you, NJ, while it lasts. I anticipate it’ll dissipate with the radiation levels someday.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8775

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

    4) Rumors of “Foreign Crime Gangs”; rapes and muggings, while tabloids headline “all NJ have flown Japan” etc.

    As promised, here we have a record of how domestic media is either reporting on nasty rumors denigrating NJ, or circulating those nasty rumors themselves. The GOJ is taking measures to quell the clacking keyboards, but the tabloids (roundly decried for spreading exaggerated information overseas about the state of radioactivity from Fukushima) are still selling papers by targeting NJ regardless. (There’s a lot of text in Japanese below; keep paging down. Brief comments in English sandwiched between.)

    First, the Asahi and Sankei report “dema” swirling about saying that foreigners are forming criminal gangs (echoes of 1923’s rumored Korean well poisonings, which lead to massacres) and carrying out muggings and rapes. Yet Sankei (yes, even the Sankei) publishes that there hasn’t been a single reported case (glad they’re setting the record straight):

    The GOJ is also playing a part in quelling and deleting internet rumors, thank goodness: Still, that doesn’t stop other media from headlining other (and still nasty) rumors about how (bad) NJ are heading south towards Tokyo (soon rendering Ueno into a lawless zone). Or that NJ are all just getting the hell out:

    Fellow Blogger Hoofin has made an attempt to mathematically debunk this alleged phenomenon of “Fly-Jin”, noting that the person to coin this phrase has since commented with a bit of regret at being the butterfly flapping his wings and setting this rhetorical shitstorm in motion (much like GOJ shill Robert Angel regretting ever coining the word “Japan bashing”). We have enough anti-NJ rhetorical tendencies in Japan without the NJ community contributing, thank you very much.

    Besides (as other Debito.org Readers have pointed out), if the shoe was on the other foot, do you think Japanese citizens living overseas would refuse to consider repatriating themselves out of a stricken disaster area (and do you think the media of that stricken country would zero in on them with the same nasty verve?).

    Meanwhile, xenophobic websites continue to rail and rant against NJ, since hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity: Here’s but one example (which has escaped the notice of the GOJ as yet, calling for the execution of foreign criminals and throwing their bodies into the sea); I’m sure readers can find more and post them in the Comments Section below:

    People always need someone to blame or speak ill of, I guess. I’ll talk more soon about how Japanese from Fukushima are also being targeted for exclusion. However, it seems that hate speech directed towards NJ is less “discriminate”, so to speak — in that it doesn’t matter where you came from, how long you’ve been here, or what you’re doing or have done for Japan; as long as you’re foreign in Japan, you’re suspect and potentially subversive. Just as long as one can anonymously bad-mouth other people in billets and online, one can get away with it. Again, this is why we have laws against hate speech in other countries — to stem these nasty tendencies found in every society.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8711

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

    5) SNA: “GOJ targets harmful internet rumors”, including the earthquake being caused by foreign terrorism

    SNA: A new project team has been created by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, the National Police Agency, and METI to combat “rumors” deemed harmful to Japanese security in the wake of the March 11 disaster.

    Specifically, these government organizations asserted in a press release that the damage caused by earthquakes and by the nuclear accident are being magnified by irresponsible rumors, and that the government must take steps against this trend for the sake of the public good…

    The Telecom Services Association reveals that the following requests have thus far come from the government:

    March 17: Erase descriptions of the earthquake as a man-made event
    March 24: Erase descriptions about the manufacturers of the troubled nuclear reactors
    March 28: Erase claim that the earthquake was caused by foreign terrorism…

    COMMENT: Here we have GOJ agencies working to stem malicious rumors from proliferating online, including those targeting NJ. Good. It’s also presented (by a news blog) as a debate between those who feel they have a right to know (and feel betrayed by the official media as an information source) and those who feel they can say anything they like about anybody thanks to freedom of speech. It’s a fine line, to be sure, but I’m glad to see somebody official trying to tackle (or, rather, at least thinking about tackling) the issue of hate speech against NJ. But without clear legal guidelines about what constitutes “hate speech” (or for that matter, “immoral information”) in Japan, those who don’t trust the government will no doubt foresee a wave of official censorship.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8785

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

    6) Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate, gets over 6000 votes

    Let’s now start looking at some aspects of what appears to be a Post 3-11 Backlash against NJ. Let’s start with the Tokyo Governor’s Election, due April 10.

    We already have one overtly racist incumbent, Ishihara Shintaro, whom I’ve heard is alas the favorite to win, again. But also on the bill is this noticeably nasty candidate Furukawa Keigo, who advocates by his very slogan the expulsion of foreigners from his jurisdictions (pedants might counter that he’s only referring to Chinese and Koreans, but a) that doesn’t make it any better, and b) you think he’s only stopping there?).

    Here’s Furukawa’s public campaign announcement:

    Safeguard the capital. Safeguard Japan. Japan belongs to the Japanese people.

    Now more than ever, we should resolutely expel the foreign barbarians

    Eject foreigners from Tokyo.
    (By foreigners, I mean mainly Chinese (the pejorative “Shinajin” used for this) and north and south Koreans. In other words, the foreigners who are thought to be causing harm to Japan.

    1. Change the law so that foreigners cannot purchase land in Tokyo-to.
    2. Absolutely opposed to voting rights for foreigners!!
    3. Ban the the use of officially recognized Japanese aliases used by so-called “Zainichi” Koreans.
    4. Make conversion of pachinko shop premiums into cash illegal…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8726

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

    NJ AS PART OF THE SOLUTION

    7) NJ helping Japan during this crisis: James Gibbs on his Miyagi Rescue Efforts

    As I shift the focus of Debito.org to how NJ residents are being bashed in Japan post 3-11 despite their best efforts, it’s first prudent to start giving an example or two of how NJ are actually trying to help. Others who are similarly helping out are welcome to submit their stories here either by email (debito@debito.org) or as a comment below. Well done, James. Debito

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

    Report on the Miyagi trip this past Sunday after our Saturday fundraising efforts.
    By James Gibbs. April 1, 2011

    After holding a fundraising event on Mar.26, the following day we delivered donated items along with a fully-loaded van of food and clothes to Onagawa next to Ishinomaki City, which is just north of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. I’ve made the following brief report on the trip along with first-hand observations on the situation and suggestions for future assistance as I know everyone is wanting to do something to help…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8721

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

    8 ) John Harris on how Coca Cola could help Japan save a nuclear power plant’s worth of power: Switch off their 5.5 million vending machines

    John Harris writes: Across eastern Japan we are experiencing rolling power cuts and train service cuts to compensate for the nuclear plant outages. This interruption of normal life hugely ramps up public anxiety.

    In the midst of all this, the 5,510,000 vending machines across Japan* are still operating. According to a report I read years ago, these machines require electricity equivalent to the output of an entire nuclear power plant.

    The most power-hungry are the soft-drink machines that have both refrigeration and heating (for hot canned coffee). Coca-Cola has perhaps the largest network of beverage machines across Japan. Unlike domestic rivals, as a global company Coca-Cola must listen to consumers around the world. So if concerned Americans, Canadians, Europeans and everyone else speak up forcefully, Coke must act. And Japanese domestic operators will be forced to follow suit.

    So, please, spread this message via email, Twitter and Facebook to everyone you know. And please email Coca-Cola’s CEO asking him to pull the plug on his vending machines in Japan.

    Coca-Cola knows they have a problem, as you can tell by the message on their corporate website:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8659

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

    9) Thinking of donating blood in Japan? Mutantfrog translates the regulations on who can’t.

    Roy Berman at Mutantfrog translates the Japanese Red Cross’s regulations on who cannot donate blood in Japan. I can’t. So if you want to help bloodwise, check here first to make sure you don’t get disqualified for your trouble.

    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2011/03/13/who-can-and-can-not-donate-blood-in-japan/

    Debito.org Comments at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=8636

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

    RELATED ARTICLES OF NOTE

    9) Tokyo Gov Ishihara calls the tsunami “divine punishment” to wipe out the “egoism” of Japan. Yet wins reelection.

    Kyodo: Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara apologized Tuesday for his remark that the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami last week represented “divine punishment” of the Japanese people who have been tainted with egoism.

    COMMENT: This from a man who claimed in public a decade ago that foreigners in Japan would riot in the event of a natural disaster (er, such as this one?) and that the SDF should be deployed to round them up — and also questioned the kokutai loyalties of citizens who have foreign roots. It seems this time, by issuing an unusual retraction (you think he’ll ever retract the foreigner riots claim now that it hasn’t happened?), he realized that this particular Senior Moment was going too far.

    But this old fool has long lost the mental software governing prudence befitting a person in high office. For a milder (but concrete) example, check out this video, where Ishihara gets all snitty because he was trying to make another speech about how the world was not going the way he wants it (when asked to offer a few seconds of encouragement to runners in this year’s Tokyo Marathon on February 27). Watch to the very end where you hear him characteristically grumbling about being cut off mid-rant:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8648

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

    10) The Nation.com on Tohoku Earthquake has shaken Japan Inc.

    The Nation.com: But even as Japan was reeling from the disaster’s death toll — which is expected to surpass 20,000 — and growing increasingly frightened by the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s nuclear reactor complex, there was growing unease at the lack of straight information from both the government and Tepco, a utility with a troubled history of lies, cover-ups and obfuscation dating back to the late 1960s.

    The information gap became an international issue on March 16, when US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Gregory Jaczko openly contradicted the Japanese government by declaring that water in one of Tepco’s reactors had boiled away, raising radiation in the area to “extremely high levels.” He recommended evacuation to any Americans within fifty miles of the site — nearly double the evacuation zone announced by the Japanese government (which immediately denied Jaczko’s assertions). TheNew York Times piled on the next day with a major article that pilloried the Kan government. “Never has postwar Japan needed strong, assertive leadership more — and never has its weak, rudderless system of governing been so clearly exposed,” the reporters declared.

    To be sure, Tokyo’s response to the disaster has been erratic, and the paucity of information about Fukushima was one of the first complaints I heard about the situation from my friends in Japan. But much of the criticism poured on Japan has obscured the many ways its political system has shifted since a 2009 political earthquake, when the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was swept out of power for the first time in fifty years. The changes, particularly to people who remember the government’s pathetic response to the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, which killed nearly 6,500, have been striking.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8732

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

    11) AOL News: WikiLeaks: Cables Show Japan Was Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety

    AOL News: The Japanese government has said it is doing all it can to contain the crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which was critically damaged in last week’s earthquake. But according to U.S. diplomatic papers released by WikiLeaks, that atomic disaster might have been avoided if only the government had acted on earlier safety warnings.

    An unnamed official from the International Atomic Energy Agency is quotedin a 2008 cable from the American embassy in Tokyo as saying that a strong earthquake would pose a “serious problem” for Japan’s nuclear power stations. The official added that the country’s nuclear safety guidelines were dangerously out of date, as they had only been “revised three times in the last 35 years.”

    Following that warning, Japan’s government pledged to raise security at all of its nuclear facilities,reports The Daily Telegraph, which published the cable. But questions are now being asked about whether authorities really took the nuclear watchdog’s worries seriously…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8689

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

    12) Weekend Tangent: NYT: “Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job” in Japan’s nuclear industry

    NYT: Mr. Ishizawa, who was finally allowed to leave, is not a nuclear specialist; he is not even an employee of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the crippled plant. He is one of thousands of untrained, itinerant, temporary laborers who handle the bulk of the dangerous work at nuclear power plants here and in other countries, lured by the higher wages offered for working with radiation. Collectively, these contractors were exposed to levels of radiation about 16 times as high as the levels faced by Tokyo Electric employees last year, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which regulates the industry. These workers remain vital to efforts to contain the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plants.

    They are emblematic of Japan’s two-tiered work force, with an elite class of highly paid employees at top companies and a subclass of laborers who work for less pay, have less job security and receive fewer benefits. Such labor practices have both endangered the health of these workers and undermined safety at Japan’s 55 nuclear reactors, critics charge.

    “This is the hidden world of nuclear power,” said Yuko Fujita, a former physics professor at Keio University in Tokyo and a longtime campaigner for improved labor conditions in the nuclear industry. “Wherever there are hazardous conditions, these laborers are told to go. It is dangerous for them, and it is dangerous for nuclear safety.”

    Of roughly 83,000 workers at Japan’s 18 commercial nuclear power plants, 88 percent were contract workers in the year that ended in March 2010, the nuclear agency said. At the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 89 percent of the 10,303 workers during that period were contractors. In Japan’s nuclear industry, the elite are operators like Tokyo Electric and the manufacturers that build and help maintain the plants like Toshiba and Hitachi. But under those companies are contractors, subcontractors and sub-subcontractors — with wages, benefits and protection against radiation dwindling with each step down the ladder…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8755

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

    13) Japanese cartoon for kids depicting Fukushima nuclear issue as power plants with constipation!

    Here’s a novel way to explain away the entire Fukushima debacle — as a problem of nuclear waste. See video below for kids depicting Fukushima as a constipated patient who can be cured by “doctors” and “medicine”. Note how radiation is depicted as “farts”, merely amounting to “a bad smell”. English subtitles included.

    If only the diagnosis and cure were so simple. Or the metaphor more accurate.

    Anyway, this is part of the process of lulling the Japanese public into complacency (keeping public calm and order as people in the path of the disaster merely wait for it to play itself out). How much more distortion and deception can an educated people take?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8679

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

    … and finally…

    14) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011 on Tohoku: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”

    The Japan Times Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    JUST BE CAUSE Column 38
    Letting radiation leak, but never information
    By ARUDOU DEBITO
    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110405ad.html
    Debito.org Comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=8740

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

    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito

    ====================
    Debito’s new novel “IN APPROPRIATE: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan”, now on sale.
    Information site with reviews and ordering details at
    http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html
    If you like the information the Debito.org Newsletter brings you, please consider supporting Debito.org by buying a book.

    ====================
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 15, 2011 ENDS

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    Wall Street Journal joins in bashing alleged NJ “fly-jin exodus”: “Expatriates tiptoe back to the office”

    Posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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 JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog.  Here we have the Wall Street Journal joining in the NJ bashfest, publicizing the word “flyjin” for the Japanese market too (making one question the claim that the pejorative is restricted to the English-language market).  Gotta love the Narita airport photo within that is deftly timed to make it seem as if it’s mostly NJ fleeing.   “Good-natured hazing” is how one investment banker puts it below, making one wonder if he knows what hazing means.  Anyway, here’s another non-good-natured article about how the aftershocks of the earthquake are affecting NJ.  Arudou Debito

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

    Wall Street Journal March 23, 2011
    REPORTER’S JOURNAL

    Expatriates Tiptoe Back to the Office

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704461304576216301249128570.html

    By MARIKO SANCHANTA

    TOKYO—Life in Japan is showing tentative signs of returning to normal, but a fresh challenge may be facing the expatriates and Japanese who left and are now trickling back to their offices: how to cope with ostracism and anger from their colleagues who have worked through the crisis.

    One foreigner, a fluent Japanese speaker at a large Japanese company, said that his Japanese manager and colleagues were “furious” with him for moving to Osaka for three days last week and that he felt he was going to have to be very careful to avoid being ostracized upon returning to work in Tokyo.

    Survivors’ Stories

    Japan Quake’s Effects

    See a map of post-earthquake and tsunami events in Japan, Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast.

    The flight of the foreigners—known as gaijin in Japanese—has polarized some offices in Tokyo. Last week, departures from Japan reached a fever pitch after the U.S. Embassy unveiled a voluntary evacuation notice and sent in planes to ferry Americans to safe havens. In the exodus, a new term was coined for foreigners fleeing Japan: flyjin.

    The expat employees’ decision to leave is a sensitive cultural issue in a country known for its legions of “salarymen”: loyal Japanese employees whose lives revolve around the office, who regularly work overtime and who have strong, emotional ties to their corporations and their colleagues.

    “There is a split between [the Japanese and foreigners] on where their allegiances lie. In Japan, the company and family are almost one and the same, whereas foreigners place family first and company second,” said Mark Pink, the founder of financial recruitment firm TopMoneyJobs.com, based in Tokyo.

    The head of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, at a news conference Tuesday, expressed his disappointment that so many foreigners—from the U.S., France, the U.K., China and Hong Kong, among others—had been urged to leave the country by their governments and by worried families. Their flight was at least in part due to the more alarmist tones the foreign media took in coverage of the disaster, compared with the local news that emphasized how problems were being addressed.

    “Many countries arranged for planes to bring their people back home. In some embassies, they sent messages to their nationals in Japan that the situation is very dangerous, while at some companies, top executives have come to Japan to provide reassurance,” said Atsushi Saito, head of the TSE. “It may be part of TSE’s role to put down rumors and to transmit to foreign nations what a great country Japan is.”

    One expat in Tokyo, who runs his own small business, decided to go to London last week with a business partner. “It has been the right thing to do from a work-productivity point of view, as we have a big deadline to meet at the end of the month,” he said. “That said, I don’t feel very good about leaving and I’m sure people will perceive it as cowardly, and I won’t object to that.”

    European Pressphoto AgencyPassengers, among them foreign nationals, checking in for flights departing from Narita International Airport, near Tokyo, on Sunday.

    JTENSION

    JTENSION

    Those foreigners who return will find life in Tokyo is largely back to normal, with trains crowded during rush hour and men in suits packing restaurants during lunchtime in the city’s main financial district. But signs of disruption linger: Many shops close at 6 p.m. to conserve electricity and many stores are still out of basics such as milk and toilet paper.

    One foreign investment banker in Tokyo says he wasn’t surprised that so many employees left. “We don’t hire people into the financial industry to risk their lives—this is investment banking and we hire investment-banker types,” he said. “We are trying to avoid ostracism for those who come back—there is no upside in that—but there is good-natured hazing.”

    To be sure, most foreign senior-level managers leading teams in Tokyo stayed in the capital or relocated their entire offices to other locations in Japan, according to several managers interviewed Tuesday. In most cases, the expats who left are stay-at-home mothers, their children and those workers who don’t have staff reporting to them and can work remotely from Hong Kong and Singapore. Some Japanese, of course, also left Tokyo, though mainly women and children going home to their families in other parts of Japan, while their husbands stay in behind to work.

    “If I had left as the president, my role as a leader would have been diminished,” said Gerry Dorizas, the president of Volkswagen AG’s operations in Japan, who has been in that role four years. “We’ve been very transparent.”

    VW Japan has moved all its staff, including 12 expats and 130 Japanese staff and their families, to Toyohashi in Aichi prefecture.

    Boeing Co., which has operated in Japan for more than 50 years, says the majority of its 30-strong staff in Tokyo have remained, despite an offer to work in Nagoya, or for expats to take a home leave.

    Christine Wright, managing director of Hays in Tokyo, one of the country’s leading recruitment firms, said: “I saw no reason to leave; if you have a commitment to your staff, you stay there.”

    Some said the expats would likely find local colleagues to be more understanding than expected. They say a decade of deflation and economic hardship has changed the Japanese mindset. “I think the Japanese had more of the group mentality decades ago, but not so much now,” said Shin Tanaka, head of PR firm Fleishman Hillard’s operations in Japan. “I think most [Japanese] people are staying because they think there is little risk.”

    A Japanese employee at a foreign investment bank said he wasn’t bothered by the fact that some of his colleagues left last week. He felt the gap was narrowed by technology, anyway, allowing some who left to do their share. “It hasn’t really been a problem,” he said. “They’re working remotely out of other countries in Asia.”

    Still, the return of the “flyjin” to Tokyo and other areas of Japan will likely be an issue for management to grapple with one way or another in the coming weeks.

    “Most companies are trying to give some space to people on both sides to adjust: the people who feel they were abandoned and the foreigners who are coming back and feeling some initial tension,” said Mr. Pink. “Within a week or so that may resolve itself.”

    —Alison Tudor and Kana Inagaki contributed to this article.

    東京の職場に復帰する外国人の不安-同僚の視線

    • 2011年 3月 23日  10:45 JST

    【東京】恐る恐る日常を取り戻しつつある当地で、いったん離れた職場に復帰する外国人や日本人を新たな問題が待ち構えている―自分が避難していた間も働き続けていた同僚の怒りを買っていたり、仲間外れにされたりしたらどうしよう。

    日本の大手企業で働くある外国人は、先週3日間大阪に移動したことについて、上司や同僚が怒り心頭であり、東京の職場に戻る際には仲間外れにならないよう細心の注意を払わなくてはならないと語った。

    Bloomberg News成田空港でチェックインを待つ人たち(17日)

    避難する外国人(「外人」)が目立ったのは東京のオフィスだ。先週、米国大使館が自国民間人を他の安全なアジア地域に航空機で退避させるための準備を進めていると発表した後、日本出国が最高潮に達した。出国する外国人を表す”flyjin”(fly + gaijin)なる言葉まで登場した。

    生活が会社中心の「サラリーマン」集団で知られる国での避難は文化的に微妙な決断だ。

    金融業界の求人情報を提供するトップ・マネー・ジョブス(TopMoneyJobs.com)のマーク・ピンク氏は「何に忠誠であるかについて、(日本人と外国人の間に)差がある。日本では、会社と家族はほぼ一つで同じだが、外国人はまず家族、次が会社だ」と述べた。

    東京証券取引所の斉藤惇社長は、22日の会見で、外国人の大量出国を残念に思う気持ちを表明すると同時に、「大丈夫だと言ってわざわざヘッドが東京に人を連れて入ってきたような参加者の会社もある」と強調。「日本はすばらしい国だとしっかり外国に伝え、あまり風評が出ないようにするのも東証の役割かもしれない」と訴えた。

    小さな会社を経営する東京のある外国人は先週、事業パートナーとともにロンドンに行くことを決めた。「労働生産性の点からみてこうするのが正しい。月末に大きな期限を控えている」ためだという。「ただ、出国に大満足というわけではない。臆病だと思われるのは確かだし、反論はしない」

    職場に戻った外国人は、東京の生活がおおむね通常に戻ったと感じるだろう。ラッシュ時の電車は満員、昼時の飲食店はサラリーマンでいっぱいだ。ただ、混乱が完全には収まっていないことが所々に表れている。節電のため午後6時で閉店する店が多いほか、牛乳やトイレットペーパーといった必需品が品切れの店も多い。

    投資銀行に勤めるある外国人は、これほど多くの会社員が出国しても意外ではないと語る。「命を危険にさらさせるために人を雇っている訳ではない。ここは投資銀行であり、われわれは投資銀行家タイプを雇う」という。「復帰した従業員を仲間外れにしないよう心がけている。そんなことをしてもいいことはない。ただ、善意のいじめもある」

    確かに、22日にマネジャー数人にインタビューしたところ、東京でチームを率いる外国人マネジャーの大半は東京にとどまるか、国内の別の場所に職場ごと移動している。出国したのは専業主婦、その子ども、部下がおらず香港やシンガポールなど遠隔地で働ける従業員が大半だ。東京を離れた中には日本人もいるが、実家に帰った女性や子供が中心で、夫は東京にとどまっている。

    フォルクスワーゲン・グループ・ジャパンの代表取締役社長に就任して4年のゲラシモス・ドリザス氏は「社長の自分が(東京を)離れていたら、リーダーとしてのわたしの役割が損なわれていただろう」と述べた。同社は外国人12人、日本人130人の全従業員と家族を愛知県豊橋市に移した。

    一方、ボーイングは、名古屋での勤務、外国人には帰国も提案したが、30人のスタッフの過半数が東京にとどまっているとしている。

    日本人の同僚は外国人が予想している以上に理解を示すだろうとの見方もある。長年のデフレと景気低迷で日本人の考えは変わったという。フライシュマン・ヒラード・ジャパン代表取締役社長の田中慎一氏は「数十年前の日本人はもっと集団主義的だったが、いまはそうでもない」と説明。「リスクがほとんどないと思っているから避難しない日本人が大半」との考えを示した。

    ある外資系投資銀行の日本人従業員は同僚数人の避難について、迷惑ではないと語った。技術の進歩のため遠隔地とのギャップが狭まり、自分の分担をこなせる者もいる。避難した同僚はアジアのほかの国で働いているという。

    それでも、経営陣は今後数週間何かにつけflyjinの東京その他地域復帰に対応しなくてはならなくなりそうだ。

    ピンク氏は「大半の企業が、見捨てられたと感じる人と、戻ってきた当初に緊張を感じる外国人の双方に調整の余地を与えようとしている」と語った。ただ、「1週間ほどで自然に解決するかもしれない」という。

    記者: Mariko Sanchanta

     

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 18 Comments »

    Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate

    Posted on Friday, April 8th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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 JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog. Let’s now start looking at some aspects of what appears to be a Post 3-11 Backlash against NJ. Let’s start with the Tokyo Governor’s Election, due April 10.

    We already have one overtly racist incumbent, Ishihara Shintaro, whom I’ve heard is alas the favorite to win, again. But also on the bill is this noticeably nasty candidate Furukawa Keigo, who advocates by his very slogan the expulsion of foreigners from his jurisdictions (pedants might counter that he’s only referring to Chinese and Koreans, but a) that doesn’t make it any better, and b) you think he’s only stopping there?).

    Here’s Furukawa’s public campaign announcement, put in every Tokyoite’s mailbox through public monies:

    Furukawa’s Campaign Video here:

    http://tokyo2011.cswiki.jp/index.php?古川圭吾

    His profile page:

    http://profile.ameba.jp/yasukuni-de-aou/

    Platform (from Campaign Video page, translation courtesy MS):
    Safeguard the capital. Safeguard Japan. Japan belongs to the Japanese people.

    Now more than ever, we should resolutely expel the foreign barbarians

    Eject foreigners from Tokyo.
    (By foreigners, I mean mainly Chinese (the pejorative “Shinajin” used for this) and north and south Koreans. In other words, the foreigners who are thought to be causing harm to Japan.)

    1. Change the law so that foreigners cannot purchase land in Tokyo-to.
    2. Absolutely opposed to voting rights for foreigners!!
    3. Ban the the use of officially recognized Japanese aliases used by so-called “Zainichi” Koreans.
    4. Make conversion of pachinko shop premiums into cash illegal
    5. Do not relocate the Tsukiji fish market
    6. Permit opening of casinos in Toyosu
    7. Continue with tuition-free high schooling. Abolish the school district system.
    8. No need for Tokyo to host the Olympic Games
    9. Merge Tokyo’s two subway corporations. Run the trains round the clock.
    10. Revize Metropolitan Tokyo’s Ordinance No. 128 (law controlling public morals)
    11. Provide more public housing
    12. Revise construction safety regulations in Tokyo.

    首都を守る。日本を守る。日本国は日本人のものです。
    今まさに、攘夷を決行すべきである。
    東京から外国人排除する。
    【外国人といっても主に支那人、南北朝鮮人。つまり日本国に害を及ぼすと思われる外国人。】
    1.東京都の土地を、外国人は買えないように法整備をする。
    2.外国人参政権 絶対反対!!
    3.所謂『在日』の通名の使用禁止
    4.パチンコ店の景品換金禁止
    5.築地市場は移転しない
    6.豊洲にカジノを
    7.高校無償化継続。学区制の廃止。
    8.東京オリンピックはいらない
    9.東京メトロと都営地下鉄の合併。そして24時間運行
    10.都条例第128号(風俗営業等の規制及び業務の適正化等に関する法律施行条例)の見直し
    11.都営住宅の充実化
    12.東京都建築安全条例の見直し

    COMMENT:  Although diverse elections will always contain crank candidates (after all, they have to represent their portion of the crank public), a question to be raised is what kind of people (and electoral system) would allow a campaign advocating the expulsion of taxpayers who have lived here for generations? Submitter MS says poignantly, “I’m royally pissed at having my tax money used on a document published and distributed by Met Tokyo that bears a prominent advertisement by a right-wing wacko candidate that advocates my expulsion.”

    MS provides the mailing address of the office that oversees the gubernatorial election, FYI.

    Secretariat to Election Administration Commission
    (Senkyo Kanri Iinkai Jimukyoku)
    39th Floor, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building No. 1
    8-1, Nishi Shinjuku 2-chome
    Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 163-8001

    This issue is admittedly a bit tangental; these campaign stumps were probably written and submitted before 3-11, so they are but riding sentiments that were already lying latent before they could surf the current wave of public opinion. How well Furukawa does on April 10 is quite possibly a bellwether of how sentiment is turning anti-NJ (or not) in the face of the “Fly-Jin” or “Bye-Jin” pejoratives.

    More on how the J media has been bashing NJ as pseudo-deserters tomorrow. Arudou Debito

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    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Japanese Politics, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 30 Comments »

    NJ helping Japan during this crisis: James Gibbs on his Miyagi Rescue Efforts

    Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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 JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog.  As I shift the focus of Debito.org to how NJ residents are being bashed in Japan post 3-11 despite their best efforts, it’s first prudent to start giving an example or two of how NJ are actually trying to help.  Others who are similarly helping out are welcome to submit their stories here either by email (debito@debito.org) or as a comment below.  Well done, James.  Debito

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

    Report on the Miyagi trip this past Sunday after our Saturday fundraising efforts.
    By James Gibbs. April 1, 2011

    After holding a fundraising event on Mar.26, the following day we delivered donated items along with a fully-loaded van of food and clothes to Onagawa next to Ishinomaki City, which is just north of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture. I’ve made the following brief report on the trip along with first-hand observations on the situation and suggestions for future assistance as I know everyone is wanting to do something to help.

    We collected three boxes or donated items from guests. The food preparer, Paul, had stayed in the kitchen Saturday night rather than come to event and prepared 30kg of shephard’s pie meat/vegetable mix for the trip. We spent about Y60,000 on food, which was mostly crates of fresh vegetables, fruits, 10 cases of canned coffee, and 20kg of ready to eat meat including spiral hams along with other items and another Y15,000 on accessories like paper plates, bowls, chopsticks, plastic glasses, soap, cleaning alcohol, paper towels, toilet paper, plastic bags, etc.

    Early Sunday morning I drove to Maple English School in Shinurayasu where the students had gathered about ten large boxes of clothes, diapers and other supplies. With the van loaded front to back all the way to the ceiling and riding low on the back tires from the weight, I set out for Miyagi with a long-time friend, Ian Cunnold, who runs Maple English School. Our destination was Onagawa Houiku Senta (Onagawa Public Health Center) in Onagawa, which is next to Ishinomaki City, in Miyagi Prefecture. This is a small fishing village that had been mostly destroyed. A Maple student, who was the main organizer of the school’s boxes, had a relative in that particular facility and had requested us to visit there. Thus, it was selected among the hundred or so evacuation facilities. Depending on their needs we were going to unload there or move on to another facility.

    Upon arrival at about 5:00p.m., the administrators, who did not know we were coming, were very happy to see us and receive the supplies. They very warmly invited us in for dinner, which was very simple but sufficient and satisfying. They also asked us to stay the night before returning to Tokyo. Roads were a little bumpy and maybe lacking street lights so we were quite happy to accept their offer. It was very cold but we had brought sleeping bags and managed to get some sleep. Our Plan B had been to sleep in the van if necessary.

    At 7:30 the following morning I was awakened by a rather rough earthquake and another tsunami warning. It was an eerie feeling while lying horizontal in a sleeping bag in an evacuation center on a hill overlooking total devastation in Onagawa on one side and Ishinomaki on the other side. Later I learned that there was a nuclear power plant almost around the corner, but it was not the one having trouble. Another irony occurred when I also later learned that Onagawa/Ishinomaki was home port to some whaling ships. Driving back it was a comforting thought that we were able to make a good impression of foreigners with these people. Personally I’m not a big fan of whaling, but I stop short of militantly telling people they have to stop their livelihood. I just hope for a more moderate gradual solution to that issue.

    There were about 1,500 people in three buildings at that evacuation facility. All things considered the mood among the people we met was upbeat and cheerful, but we heard that some people were starting to get irritable as the situation would tax anyone’s spirits. One young lady we spoke with described having water rushing into her car and barely escaping with her life. Her family was all safe, but two of her friends were missing and two other friends had family members missing. At one point another lady in the office was having an emotional break down, crying and retelling her ordeal as an administrator held her in her arms.

    About the supplies and the need for things: There was already plenty of food, water and clothes at this shelter along with lots of cooking equipment and several large human-size gas tanks. But the food was mostly rice, dried and canned items. The kitchen staff was very excited about every other box we opened. Some things were needed and others were not needed. They were particularly happy to see the fresh fruit and vegetables, hams, shepherd’s pie mix, orange juice, paper plates, chopsticks, etc. while they said they had plenty of rice, canned foods and most of the clothes they needed. We asked them to distribute the unneeded items to the other shelters and they said they would.

    My overall impression of the situation was that very basic things were needed the first week, while at the two-week mark (when we arrived), those things were in supply while more fresh items like fruits, vegetables, meat, juices, milk, eggs, etc. were needed. With the roads open and gas shortages ending, supply lines should start flowing with no real shortage of things at the three-week mark. Therefore if you are thinking about sending anything by takyubin, please do so only after contacting one of the honbu centers and after confirming their specific requests. It seems that a surplus of things is starting to accumulate and cash donations to the Red Cross might be more useful as they can probably better manage distribution.

    People were just barely starting to clean up with the removal of debris. Probably the next several months will involve clean up followed by the start of rebuilding this summer. Therefore my advice to people who want to help is to send cash donations (rather than items) to the Japan Red Cross and specifically to their fund for cash payments for survivors.

    Volunteers will likely be needed for debris removal and rebuilding but please find an established group for such participation before going down there to volunteer. I am still looking for a proper organization that can introduce evacuees with people who can offer their apartments as I think this would be a very effective way for individuals to help. If anyone can recommend such a bulletin board or organization please let me know.

    I would also like to add that I think the government deserves an A or an A- for their handling of the tsunami relief. There was about a 50km section of road around Fukushima that had been ripped apart in 30 or 40 places with quick spot paving done, which were minor speed bumps. The fast repair of these roads was short of a miracle. Gasoline was supplied and available on the highway with only moderate lines and in the tsunami area albeit with longer lines. The police and self-defense forces were everywhere and blocking people without proper business from entering. Without any documentation the police gave us a permit and let us enter after we said we were bringing supplies. There was no bureaucratic interference at all. There was no highway charge for the Tokyo to Sanriku trip when we exited the highway. On the way back we showed our permit from the police and again there was no highway charge. This was a very pleasant surprise as we had spent considerably more on the food than the money we collected. The roads were open, and even the neighborhood grids in the tsunami area had been cleared. The shelters had food, water and blankets, and people were being taken care of. It was very clear that a lot of people had been working very hard. Everything went as it should have. All of this was no small accomplishment for the government to manage, and it should receive some credit.

    Please note that these are personal observations from the area we visited and the Onagawa shelter complex. The actual situation in different areas may vary.

    There were four or five people who contributed extra money and a lot of supplies, which helped make the delivery possible. It really was a group effort with a lot of people coming together. The needs up north are massive, and our delivery on Sunday was only a drop in the bucket. But there tens of millions of people in Japan who are doing things and hundreds of millions, including overseas assistance. With everyone doing a little it will surely add up to make a big difference and help the people in Tohoku recover.

    I know there are so many people out there who want to do something to help. I hope these personal first hand observations will help people in better directing their donations and assistance.

    ENDS

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    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, NJ legacies | 11 Comments »

    The Nation.com on Tohoku Earthquake has shaken Japan Inc.

    Posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign 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 JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog.  As Debito.org starts to emerge from vacation mode, I think the focus will be on something very much within this blog’s purview:  How the events since 3/11 have affected NJ residents of Japan.  But before that, here is an interesting piece on a topic that I take up in part in my most recent Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (out today, read it here):  How the quakes and the aftermath have exposed the flaws of Japan’s corporatist governance.  Arudou Debito

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

    Naoto Kan and the End of ‘Japan Inc.’

    By Tim Shorrock, Courtesy of TTB

    http://www.thenation.com/article/159596/naoto-kan-and-end-japan-inc

    On March 13, forty-eight hours after Japan’s Tohoku region was rocked by a catastrophic earthquake, a ferocious tsunami and partial meltdowns at several nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked his citizens to unite in the face of “the toughest crisis in Japan’s sixty-five years of postwar history.” Emperor Akihito underscored the gravity of the situation by announcing his “deep concern” for the nation in his first public speech since ascending the throne in 1990. His address brought back sharp memories of his father, Emperor Hirohito, who ended World War II in a famous radio address in August 1945 that asked Japan to “endure the unendurable.”

    But even as Japan was reeling from the disaster’s death toll—which is expected to surpass 20,000—and growing increasingly frightened by the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s nuclear reactor complex, there was growing unease at the lack of straight information from both the government and Tepco, a utility with a troubled history of lies, cover-ups and obfuscation dating back to the late 1960s.

    The information gap became an international issue on March 16, when US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Gregory Jaczko openly contradicted the Japanese government by declaring that water in one of Tepco’s reactors had boiled away, raising radiation in the area to “extremely high levels.” He recommended evacuation to any Americans within fifty miles of the site—nearly double the evacuation zone announced by the Japanese government (which immediately denied Jaczko’s assertions). TheNew York Times piled on the next day with a major article that pilloried the Kan government. “Never has postwar Japan needed strong, assertive leadership more—and never has its weak, rudderless system of governing been so clearly exposed,” the reporters declared.

    To be sure, Tokyo’s response to the disaster has been erratic, and the paucity of information about Fukushima was one of the first complaints I heard about the situation from my friends in Japan. But much of the criticism poured on Japan has obscured the many ways its political system has shifted since a 2009 political earthquake, when the ruling  Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was swept out of power for the first time in fifty years. The changes, particularly to people who remember the government’s pathetic response to the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, which killed nearly 6,500, have been striking.

    Back then, “the central government was paralyzed, and the city, prefectural, and national police, fire brigades, water authorities, highway authorities, and Self-Defense Forces were shown to be unreliable,” the Australian historian Gavan McCormack wrote in his seminal 1996 book  The Emptiness of Japanese Affluence. McCormack, who has lived in Japan for decades, documented that only twenty of sixty-two offers of foreign assistance were accepted; a US offer to dispatch an aircraft carrier as a floating refugee camp was refused; foreign doctors were initially rejected because they lacked proper registration; and “sniffer” dogs that could have been searching for victims were held for days in airport quarantine. Japan’s bureaucratic response was “cold and more concerned with the preservation of its own control” than with humanitarian relief, McCormack concluded.

    Kan, who rose to fame as an opponent of Japan’s turgid bureaucracy, has been far more decisive. After a few days of delay and confusion—not surprising, given the magnitude 9.0 quake, the largest in Japanese history—his government moved swiftly on many fronts. Military relief helicopters and ships were dispatched to the worst-hit areas. A US Navy armada was welcomed to the coastal areas hit by the tsunami (although the ships have since moved far away to avoid fallout from the radiation). Foreign offers of resources, including medical and relief teams, were welcomed and teams dispatched within days. Kan’s spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, has constantly been on the air, briefing reporters and the public (including on  Twitter). Kan himself flew by helicopter to view the stricken reactors and took personal charge of the nuclear crisis.

    As the situation at the reactors deteriorated and Tepco’s explanations became increasingly opaque, Kan quickly lost patience. “What the hell is going on?” he was overheard asking on the phone to Tepco after one frustrating briefing. On March 16 Kan shifted responsibility for the crisis from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and Tepco to Japan’s Self-Defense Forces. Tepco “has almost no sense of urgency whatsoever,” he complained. By this time, too, many Japanese had grown weary of the alarmist warnings of foreign governments and journalists. One group even posted an online “Wall of Shame” to document the “sensationalist, overly speculative, and just plain bad reporting” from foreign journalists.

    * * *

    That reporting, and the fact that so many media organizations had to fly journalists to Japan, underscores how much that country has disappeared from our political discourse since the early 1990s, when Japan’s economic juggernaut was halted by a financial and banking crisis that led to two decades of stagnation. At the same time, some of the US criticism of Kan seems to stem from nostalgia for the years when the LDP ruled supreme through a system in which—in the Times reporters’ words—“political leaders left much of the nation’s foreign policy to the United States and domestic affairs to powerful bureaucrats.”

    That is extremely misleading. Beginning in the early 1950s, the LDP was financed heavily by the CIA as a bulwark against the once-powerful Japanese left, and successive LDP governments acted as a junior partner to the United States in the cold war. While Washington provided the weapons (and the soldiers) to fight communism, the Japanese elite provided military bases and profited by funneling economic aid and investments to US allies in South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and elsewhere.

    At home, the LDP and its corporate backers fought ferociously to suppress labor unions and civic groups that organized to protect workers, human rights and the environment. The end result was an LDP-created “Japan Inc.”—an undemocratic, corporatist state in which bureaucrats blessed and promoted nuclear power and other industries they were supposed to regulate, and then received lucrative jobs in those industries upon retirement—a system known as  amakudari.

    But during the ’90s the LDP-style of governing came crashing down. A key turning point—and the one that brought Naoto Kan to prominence—came in 1996 over a notorious scandal over tainted blood. The scandal began in the early ’80s, when the US government, warning that blood supplies were corrupted by HIV, licensed the production of heat-treated blood (which killed the virus) for use in transfusions. The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare learned of the contamination problem as early as 1983 but publicly dismissed the threat to the public. As a result, hundreds of people, primarily hemophiliacs, received transfusions of unheated, corrupted blood; more than 500 died. The Japanese public later learned that the Health Ministry deliberately refused to license heated blood for several years, not out of health concerns but because it was available only from foreign companies (“To have licensed its use before domestic firms had set up production would have significantly affected market share,” the London Independent reported at the time). Worse, the ministry’s chief adviser on blood transfusions and HIV received large sums of money from Green Cross, one of the companies that supplied unheated blood. And, in a classic form of amakudari, Green Cross hired several former high-ranking ministry officials in senior positions while the tainted blood was still an issue.

    These facts were unearthed in 1996 by Naoto Kan when he was minister of health and welfare in a brief coalition government of the LDP and several small parties. Outraged by the scandal, Kan forced ministry officials to release documents showing that they had allowed public use of HIV-tainted blood, and he publicly apologized to the victims. As a result, Kan became wildly popular and at one point was dubbed “the most honest man in Japanese politics.” I was working as a journalist in Tokyo at the time and vividly recall how his embrace of accountability and sharp critique of the bureaucracy surprised and delighted the Japanese public.

    But Kan, who became prime minister in June 2010, is also unusual because he isn’t part of a political dynasty. Unlike many Japanese politicians, he emerged from a middle-class family and (like President Obama) first made his mark as a civic activist for progressive causes. In 1997 he was elected to lead the Democratic Party, an amalgam of disillusioned LDP members, trade unionists and the remnants of the left-wing Social Democratic Party. As the party leader in 2003, he took on LDP Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for sending military forces to back up President Bush in Iraq, at one point calling Bush’s war “mass murder.”

    Kan’s Democratic Party finally took control of Japan when it scored a landslide victory over the LDP in the August 2009 parliamentary elections. That contest was won by then–party leader Yukio Hatoyama, who campaigned on a plan to strike a line in foreign policy more independent of the United States. His first order of business was to scrap a 2006 agreement with the Bush administration to relocate Futenma, a US Marine Corps air base in Okinawa, to another site on the crowded island, and to send a large contingent of the Marines to Guam. By a wide majority, the people of Okinawa, home to about 75 percent of US bases in Japan, backed Hatoyama’s counterproposal to Washington, which involved removing the Marine base from Japan altogether.

    To the Pentagon, however, Hatoyama’s initiative was a nonstarter. As soon as Obama took power, US officials launched a full-court press to dissuade Japan’s new ruling party from scrapping the 2006 agreement. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates argued relentlessly that the Marine presence in Okinawa (which has been continuously occupied by US forces since 1945) was critical, not only to Japan’s security but to US global strategy as well, and insisted it was particularly important in repelling threats from North Korea and China. Last May, Hatoyama gave in. He withdrew the proposal, reaffirmed the agreement with slight modifications and apologized to Okinawa for failing to remove the base. That cost him the leadership of his party and allowed Kan—who’d resigned as party leader in 2004—to take his place.

    Kan has taken a softer line on the US bases, declaring that security agreements with the United States will remain a cornerstone of Japanese policy. But the difficulties of the US–Japan relationship were underscored a few days before the Tohoku earthquake when Kevin Maher, head of the State Department’s Japan desk, was quoted in a speech denouncing the people of Okinawa as “masters of manipulation and extortion”—apparently for their strong opposition to US bases. Maher was quickly removed from his post (he remains at State). But the incident is a sad illustration of America’s Big Brother approach to Japan and symbolizes a bilateral relationship that the lateChalmers Johnson once compared to the servile ties between the Soviet Union and East Germany. With the formerly compliant LDP out of power, US policy-makers are still trying to understand that they’re in a whole new ballgame.

    But it’s unclear how Kan and his party will pull through. Just before the quake, Kan’s popularity had sunk to below 20 percent, largely as a result of a scandal involving illegal campaign donations from foreigners and stalled parliamentary negotiations over Japan’s budget; there had even been talk of new elections. In a poll published on March 27, however, Kan’s numbers rose to 28 percent, while a hefty 58 percent approved of his government’s handling of the disaster (but the same percentage disapproved of Kan’s handling of the nuclear crisis, and an astonishing 47 percent urged that atomic power plants be immediately abolished).

    Meanwhile, the triple disaster continued to unfold as the smoldering reactors spewed high amounts of radioactivity into the environment and Japan began a rebuilding process that will continue for years. Despite the suffering, the Japanese press on, just as they did after World War II. A week after the earthquake and tsunami struck, my Japanese stepmother, Yasuko, who lived in Tokyo during the war, reminded me that her parents had met as Christian relief workers after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, which almost wiped Tokyo off the map. “If it wasn’t for that earthquake, I wouldn’t be here today,” she told me. “Out of darkness, you know, there’s always hope.”

    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 7 Comments »

    Foreign Minister Maehara resigns due to donations from a “foreigner” (a Zainichi, that is)

    Posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

    Hi Blog. Debito.org is currently on vacation while I am getting my next novel published, but this recent issue is germane enough to this blog that I’ll at least put the issue up and let people comment.

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

    From the Japan Times (excerpt):
    Monday, March 7, 2011
    Maehara quits Cabinet over donations
    Foreign minister leaves Kan in lurch before Group of Eight meet
    By Masami Ito

    Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara announced his resignation Sunday to take responsibility for illegally accepting donations from a foreign national, further damaging the already shaky Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan…

    Last Friday, Maehara admitted receiving ¥50,000 in donations from a South Korean permanent resident of Japan who lives in Kyoto. But according to the Liberal Democratic Party, which brought up the issue during a Diet committee last Friday, the donations total ¥200,000 over the past four years.

    Maehara said at the press conference that total donations from the person came to at least ¥250,000 over five years.

    The Political Funds Control Law stipulates that it is illegal for politicians to accept contributions from non-Japanese residents and foreign companies. If found guilty, the politician could potentially face up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to ¥500,000, and also have his or her voting rights suspended.

    According to Maehara, the donor owns a Korean barbecue restaurant in the neighborhood where he moved to while in junior high school in Yamashina, Kyoto Prefecture.
    //////////////////////////////////////

    Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110307a1.html
    Other articles with new angles and information are welcome. Please enclose entire text in Comments Section for the record.

    COMMENT: As we’ve discussed on The Community:

    A writes: Does anyone else get the impression from the media coverage of (now ex-) foreign minister Maehara’s dealings that the crime was not accepting money, but accepting money from foreigners?

    D writes: Don’t most countries forbid donations from foreigners to politicians and political campaigns? Which, on the surface, seems pretty reasonable, given the danger of having foreign countries influence internal politics. That the woman in question was probably zainichi(?) raises the usual criticisms of why Koreans born in Japan are still considered “foreign”. But that seems like a separate issue this time. Yes, maybe she should be Japanese. Whether she is or isn’t, though, a law forbidding foreign investment into local politics seems pretty bog standard.

    M writes: As a comparison, it is *illegal* to do this in America:
    http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/foreign.shtml

    J writes: Not sure exactly what point you are trying to make, the page lists all sorts of activities, but specifically states that green card holders are exempt, which seems to be the closest analogue of the current case. FWIW, I think that in order for an individual to make a donation in the UK, they have to be on the electoral roll (which eg would rule me out, though I might also be ineligible due to non-residency).

    B writes:  [to Debito] I know you’re busy with your book, but I would love to read your thoughts about the situation with Foreign Minister Maehara and this rule/law about not allowing politicians to receive foreigners (even a Zainichi Korean). For one, it clearly demonstrates that foreigners with special status are STILL considered foreigners regardless, and two should draw attention to the fact that this rule is meant to prevent foreigners living in Japan from gaining political power through an activity like political (and in Maehara’s case possibly even a personal) donations–something that every politician relies on, no matter the country. I hope you’ll put up something on your site.

    There you go. Does not Mindan also financially contribute to Japan’s political process?  Arudou Debito

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 13 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Charisma Men, unite against the identity enforcers”

    Posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

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    JUST BE  CAUSE

    Charisma Men, unite against the identity enforcers

    By ARUDOU DEBITO
    The Japan Times March 1, 2011

    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110301ad.html

    English teachers in Japan get a bum rap. Not always taken seriously as professionals, and often denied advancement opportunities in the workplace, they are seen as people over here on a lark. They get accused of taking advantage of Japanese society to earn easy money, canoodle with the locals, then go home. They even get blamed (JBC, Sept. 7, 2010) for the low level of English in Japan.

    They are also often derided as “losers,” as evidenced by the comic strip “Charisma Man.”

    First featured in a Nagoya newsmagazine and later collated into a book, “Charisma Man” tells the story of a scrawny Caucasian nebbish who escapes his job serving fast food in Canada, comes to Japan, and instantly transforms into a buff, lantern-jawed lothario, able to seduce Japanese women in a single bound.

    He can defy all Japanese rules, coming out on top of any situation through charisma alone. His nemesis is Western Woman, who sees through the facade and reduces him back to nebbish status with a single glare.

    To be sure, “Charisma Man” is a hilarious series, offering home truths for people frustrated by the lack of professionalism in their colleagues, or by the disparate ways in which men and women are treated in Japanese society.

    The problem is, like many comic strips about an employment sector, it stereotypes dangerously: It makes anyone in eikaiwa look like frauds, as if they’re “faking it” as unqualified professionals. Unable to get a job “back home” in anything meaningful, they’re merely marking time in Japan. I know several professional educators who hate the strip, because their students read it and ignorantly point at them as an example.

    But there is one aspect of the “Charisma Man” phenomenon that is little talked about: what I will call “Immigrant vs. Identity Police.” Let’s take Charisma Man’s side in this column, and suggest why he too might have been given a bum rap.

    Charisma Man is initially a tragic figure. He’s stuck in a dead-end job “back home” and derided for being a dud. His predicament might be his fault (due to a lack of education or motivation) or might not be (due to a lack of economic opportunity in his neighborhood). But either way, he’s depicted as a loser.

    So he comes to Japan and is again stuck in a dead-end job. But this time he winds up being a “winner” in some respects. He is finally getting something always denied: a modicum of respect. Earned or not, respect can be transformational in a person’s development. Charisma Man remakes his identity.

    However, then come the Identity Police, be it the reader or the (rather offensive stereotype of) Western Woman. They’re trying to force Charisma Man back to the predestination of failure.

    That’s unfortunate. One of the problems with the world is the lack of social mobility — the lack of opportunity for people to realize their potential, to decide their own fate, to redesign themselves as they please.

    Either by bad luck or poor guidance, many people get slotted from an early age into social roles that are disadvantageous, e.g., “geek,” “loner,” “fat chick,” “spaz,” “slacker,” “weirdo,” “psycho” . . .

    This leads to broken dreams and embittered souls. Witness the phenomenon of the hikikomori (social dropouts who can’t even leave their bedrooms), or the Akihabara knifings of 2008 (where the killer was expressly sick of being part of the make-gumi, or loser class). As some people disparagingly say, these people need to go out and get laid.

    Well, that’s exactly what Charisma Man did. He got out of his “burger-flipping class” and found himself on the sweeter side of society here.

    Point is, why should anyone be stuck somewhere they’re not able to make a better life for themselves?

    That is the very essence of the immigrant: Someone who was dealt a bad hand in their birthplace emigrates and gets a fresh cut of the cards. If they move and provide a valued, profitable service to their new society, bully for them.

    Now, of course, Charisma Man is not a template. He’s a humorous stereotype about someone who gets what he really doesn’t deserve.

    But he must be viewed in the proper perspective — not as an indictment of English teaching or of teachers in general. Charisma Man is a bubble-era social parasite. He will probably not remain in Japan for good, because he has little incentive to learn about the society that is treating him so well.

    So what I’m speaking out against here is the Identity Police. Why should they be given carte blanche to force people back into the inferior positions they managed to escape from?

    Whenever somebody insinuates “You don’t really belong in Japan” or “You’re really a loser back home,” that person should be told: “Japan is my home and I belong here just fine. I’m not just coasting along on charisma.” A decent job and a secure income is sufficient proof of socially acceptable services rendered.

    In other words, tell the Identity Police to go police somebody else’s identity. All you readers out there being derided as Charisma Men — unite. Be proud that you’re making a better way for yourself. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a second chance at life.

    Arudou Debito has completed a new novel entitled “In Appropriate,” on child abductions in Japan. On sale in March. 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, Cultural Issue, Education, Humor, Immigration & Assimilation, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 14 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 29, 2011

    Posted on Saturday, January 29th, 2011

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    Hello Readers. This will be my second-to-last Newsletter for a couple of months, as I will be vacationing Debito.org for a bit while I write another book (it’s nigh time).

    But I’ll still put out another podcast on February 1, the same day my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column comes out, examining how some long-termers (even naturalized) still call themselves “foreigners” in public and the damage this rubric does. Have a read. Meanwhile:

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 29, 2011

    Table of Contents:

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

    ECCENTRIC

    1) Japan Times Community Page on long-termer coping strategies in Japan,
    where even Dietmember Tsurunen seems to advocate accepting your foreign status and working with it
    2) Dietmember Tsurunen offers clarification and apology for calling himself a foreigner in Japan Times article
    3) Japan Times publishes reactions to their Dec. 28 article on Old Japan Hands accepting their foreigner status
    4) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1 critiques the “naturalized but still foreign” rubric
    5) AP video: Sting talks to Ric O’Barry on “The Cove” and dolphin slaughters
    6) Weekend Tangent: The future of Eikaiwa: AFP: Robots replace english teachers in SK

    ODD AND STRANGE

    7) QB House Tameike Sannou, Tokyo, requires Japanese language ability for a haircut (UPDATE: Sign has been replaced)
    8 ) “To De-Sign or Not to De-Sign”: A debate about what to do re exclusionary signs
    9) Tangent: End of an era: Asahi Evening News presses to close
    10) TMC reports on TV Asahi “Super Morning” rupo re Shibuya Center Gai citizen patrols harassing buskers, NJ
    11) AFP: Otemon Gakuin Univ finally apologizes for Indian student suicide in 2007, still refuses to comment if racially-motivated bullying
    12) Tangent: BBC show QI gets scolded by J media and embassy for insensitivity re atomic bombings

    SIMPLY WRONG-HEADED

    13) Suspected murderer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, Ichihashi Tatsuya, publishes book about his experiences. Ick.
    14) Caroline Pover on protesting Gentosha Inc’s publication of Ichihashi’s book after Lindsay Ann Hawker’s murder
    15) DEBITO.ORG POLL: What’s your take on suspected murderer Ichihashi Tatsuya’s book on his experiences
    evading arrest for the homicide of Lindsay Ann Hawker? (Multiple responses OK)
    16) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: A killing separation: Two French fathers suicide 2010 after marital separation and child abduction
    17) Yomiuri on “Lehman Shock” and Japan’s foreign crime: Concludes with quote that “living in harmony with foreign residents might be just a dream”
    18) AP: Japan population shrinks by record numbers in 2010. NYT: Its workers aging, Japan turns away immigrants.
    19) NY Consulate Japan’s Kawamura Yasuhisa offers more rosy picture of immigration to Japan in NYT Letter to the Editor
    20) Economist.com offers microcosm of Nagasaki as example of Japan’s urban decline

    THIS IS MORE LIKE IT

    21) Kyodo: Tourism to Japan hits new record high in 2010
    22) Japan Times: Otaru Beer, with NJ braumeister, revolutionizing microbrews and beerdrinking styles in Japan
    23) JT on Rita Taketsuru, Scottish mother of Japan’s whisky industry, and her connections to Nikka’s factory in Yoichi, Hokkaido
    24) MOFA now requiring consent of both parents for their child’s J passport renewal
    25) Hollywood Reporter: JT “Richard Cory” child abduction story optioned as possible movie/TV production
    26) Tangent: Elderly J activists sue GOJ to allow different last names after marriage
    27) Japan Times et.al: Suraj Case of death during deportation sent to prosecutors

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

    By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
    Freely Forwardable

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

    ECCENTRIC

    1) Japan Times Community Page on long-termer coping strategies in Japan,
    where even Dietmember Tsurunen seems to advocate accepting your foreign status and working with it

    Japan Times: The Japan Times talked to three well-known, popular foreigners who have made it to the top of their fields in Japan about their views on surviving and thriving as a foreigner in Japanese society.

    Peter Barakan is a British musicologist and commentator who arrived in 1974. Konishiki is a Hawaiian former sumo great who has spent 27 years in Japan. Tsurunen Marutei is the first foreign-born member of the Diet’s House of Councilors of European descent. Originally from Finland, he has lived here for 42 years.

    So how do these three Japan hands — who have racked up over a century in the country between them — stay sane under the barrage of compliments that can push even the greenest, most mild-mannered gaijin over the edge from time to time? What witty retorts do they have in their armory for when they are told they use chopsticks well?

    Tsurunen: “I say thank you.”

    It seems that while coming up against and confounding stereotypes — e.g. the awkward, Japanese-mangling foreigner — can make some foreigners feel they aren’t being taken seriously, seasoned veterans have learned to blow this off — or even revel in it….

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8288

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

    2) Dietmember Tsurunen offers clarification and apology for calling himself a foreigner in Japan Times article

    In response to the feedback regarding his statements to the Japan Times last December 28, where in an article he calls himself a foreigner despite his Japanese citizenship, Dietmember Tsurunen Marutei sends this public statement through his office (not an official translation):

    ============================
    “I wish to thank everyone for their comments. As people have pointed out, my use of the English word ‘foreigner’ was inappropriate. I was trying to express that I am not a ‘Japan-born Japanese’ and used ‘foreigner’, but strictly speaking I should have said ‘foreign-born person’, or as I said in the article ‘Finn-born Japanese’.

    “I regret using expressions that gave rise to misunderstandings, and I would like to offer my apologies.”
    ============================

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8407

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

    3) Japan Times publishes reactions to their Dec. 28 article on Old Japan Hands accepting their foreigner status

    The Japan Times yesterday published letters to the editor regarding Charles Lewis’s December 28 article in the Japan Times, on old Japan hands Konishiki, Peter Barakan, and Tsurunen Marutei, and their coping strategies for living in Japan long-term.

    The letters remind me of the parable of the blind men feeling up the elephant and describing what it looks like: One feels the trunk and thinks an elephant is like a snake or a tree branch, one feels the legs and thinks an elephant is like a pillar, one feels the tail and think it’s like a rope, one feels the ears and thinks it’s like a fan, one feels the tusk and thinks it’s like a pipe, one feels the belly and thinks it’s like a wall, etc. It’s a great metaphor for not getting the big picture.

    As for the letters, each author gives the article a feel and offers their take, and it’s a bit of a mess…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8411

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

    4) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1 critiques the “naturalized but still foreign” rubric

    In the Japan Times Community Page last December 28, long-termer Charles Lewis wrote a respectful column asking three fellow wise men (sumo wrestler Konishiki, musicologist Peter Barakan, and Diet member Marutei Tsurunen) about their lives as successful “outsiders” in Japan. Despite a combined century of experiences here, the article pointed out how they are still addressed at times as if they were still foreigners fresh off the boat.

    Mr. Lewis’s article depicted these veterans’ coping strategy as, essentially: Accept that you are a foreigner in Japan and work with it.

    That is fine advice for some. But not for us all. I asked three other wise men, also with Japanese citizenship and a combined tenure of more than 50 years in Japan, who offered a significantly different take.

    Read the rest on February 1 in The Japan Times!

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

    5) AP video: Sting talks to Ric O’Barry on “The Cove” and dolphin slaughters

    For a Weekend Tangent, we have rock star Sting being asked for an opinion of documentary “The Cove” and dolphin slaughters by activist Ric O’Barry. Sting gives an intelligent opinion without alienating his Japanese market (something he’s had a history of doing in the past).

    If you want to see Sting more in character vis-a-vis his outspokenness, have a listen to him playing “Murder By Numbers” with Frank Zappa some years ago.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8425

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

    6) Tangent: The future of Eikaiwa: AFP: Robots replace english teachers in SK

    AFP: Almost 30 robots have started teaching English to youngsters in a South Korean city, education officials said Tuesday, in a pilot project designed to nurture the nascent robot industry.

    The machines can be an efficient tool to hone language skills for many people who feel nervous about conversing with flesh-and-blood foreigners, he said.

    “Plus, they won’t complain about health insurance, sick leave and severance package, or leave in three months for a better-paying job in Japan… all you need is a repair and upgrade every once in a while.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8245

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

    ODD AND STRANGE

    7) QB House Tameike Sannou, Tokyo, requires Japanese language ability for a haircut (UPDATE: Sign has been replaced)

    Here is the latest permutation of the “Japanese Only” signs nationwide. Instead of saying they refuse all foreigners, QB House, an international bargain barbershop chain since 1995, has a sign up in one of their Tokyo outlets saying they may refuse anyone who doesn’t speak sufficient Japanese. While some may see this as an improvement (i.e. it’s not a blanket refusal of NJ), I just see it as another excuse to differentiate between customers by claiming a language barrier (which has been the SOP at exclusionary businesses in Japan for years now). Who’s to judge whether or not someone is “able to communicate” sufficiently? Some panicky manager? I’ve seen it in practice (in places like Wakkanai), where a barber sees any white face, assumes he cannot communicate, and reflexively arms the X-sign at you. This time, however, QB House has managed to make an exclusionary sign in perfect English in one of the more international areas of Tokyo. How about catering to the customers instead of finding ways of snippily enforcing a “culture of no”? Photo of the sign and note from submitter follows:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8336

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

    8 ) “To De-Sign or Not to De-Sign”: A debate about what to do re exclusionary signs

    There’s a debate going on between Debito.org Reader OG Steve and myself that is too good to leave buried in a Comments Section. It was occasioned by a recent blog entry about a sign, up at an outlet of bargain haircutter QB House in Tameike Sannou, Tokyo, requiring Japanese language ability for service. OG Steve made the point that he was happy to see an exclusionary sign up that proclaimed clear and present exclusionism (as opposed to the hedging wording of “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”), which in his view actually made discriminatory policies harder to stamp out. I disagreed, as in my view clear and present exclusionary policies, especially in the form of signs like these, encourages proliferation and copycatting, institutionalizes the discrimination, and further weakens civil society’s ability to take action against exclusionism. OG Steve replied that it makes the evidence and case clearer, and thus strengthens the hand of people who wish to take judicial action. I replied… well, read on. Then we’ll open the floor to discussion. It’s a worthy topic, so let’s have at it, and see if we can get some conclusive arguments from other Debito.org Readers as well.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8360

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

    9) Tangent: End of an era: Asahi Evening News presses to close

    It’s the end of an era: the demise of the Asahi Evening News. This means one less daily media outlet covering domestic Japanese news in English. And one less voice coming from and covering the NJ community in Japan.

    Consider what happened to the alternatives this past decade: the Mainichi Daily News went the way of the dodo some time ago. The Daily Yomiuri still exists, but essentially offers translations of its articles of right-wing bent, mostly avoiding criticism of Japan — and they have severely cut back on their full-time NJ staff anyway (they have more translators than actual NJ reporters, and they are being steadily replaced by mere proofreaders).

    Now it’s the Asahi’s turn. You might say that this is the natural outcome of the drop in print media revenues. But I think the Asahi had this in mind all along. Not only did they engage in union-busting activities this past decade (successfully — they axed lots of full-time NJ journalists), but they also isolated (I tried more than once to contact a few NJ reporters who had bylines in the paper through the Asahi switchboard; switchboard said they had no actual AEN division to connect to) and bled their English division so dry that someday there would be no other alternative but to get rid of it. And next month that’s what they’ll be doing.

    Last man standing (in English) is the Japan Times. And Kyodo News (as if there’s any comparison, as they also have few, if any, full-time NJ reporters). Long may they run.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8334

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

    10) TMC reports on TV Asahi “Super Morning” rupo re Shibuya Center Gai citizen patrols harassing buskers, NJ

    TMC reports: I was watching television on Friday morning (January 7th) and caught a segment featured on TV Asahi’s Super Morning about a citizen patrol operating in Shibuya’s Center Gai district that acts in an aggressive and belligerent manner. First, this group is shown breaking up a live music performance by young Japanese. Unlike what you would expect from such patrols, their manner of enforcing ward bylaws was extremely rude and invited escalation of the situation. Instead of simply telling the musicians to discontinue and wait for their response, the oyaji in charge of this band of bullies screamed at the kids like a yakusa to stop playing and continued haranguing them as they were dispersing. In contrast, the young musicians were not shown being argumentative at all.

    The other disturbing scene occurred when this gang spotted an African male leaning on a guard rail. From a fair distance away, the patrol (composed of about six Japanese males dressed in their citizens patrol jackets) immediately went over, surrounded the guy and demanded that he pick up some cans that were on the ground next to him. Despite the fact that the African was doing nothing but leaning against a guard rail, they started barking at him (given their close distance to the African, their posture, numbers and tone, it could be perceived as very threatening). The African quite rightly took umbrage at the unprovoked intrusion and got into an argument that escalated into some pushing and shoving, with the African kicking some objects in the street. Eventually the police were called in to settle the dispute. Had it been some oyaji doing the same thing, I highly doubt the patrol would have done anything. In addition, I have so far never seen the police get that aggressive right off the bat in public…

    This use of aggressive vigilante groups that take liberties the cops generally don’t or can’t is disturbing. I think citizen patrols are great but strutting around like brownshirts targeting certain groups and causing trouble is definitely outside of their mandate.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8352

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

    11) AFP: Otemon Gakuin Univ finally apologizes for Indian student suicide in 2007, still refuses to comment if racially-motivated bullying

    Here’s another reason why people ought to think carefully before attending Japanese schools as a student of diversity, and it’s not just because funding to being them over without sufficient institutional support afterwards is being cut. Bullying. Here we have a Japanese university apologizing for the suicide of one of their ethnic students (raised in Japan with Japanese citizenship, no less). It only took them three years. And yet, like the recent Uemura Akiko suicide, the possibility of it being racially-motivated is not dealt with by the authorities. Thanks for the apology, I guess, but this will hardly fix the problem for others. Hence think carefully.

    Hindustan Times: A Japanese university on Monday apologised to the family of an Indian student who committed suicide in 2007, after leaving a note saying he would kill himself because of bullying at school.

    The male student, then aged 20, at Otemon Gakuin University in Osaka prefecture, jumped from a building three years ago, leaving a note saying: “The bullying I keep getting at school… Cannot take it any more.”…

    The university refused to comment on whether the abuse was racially motivated saying the specific nature of the bullying was not known…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8310

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

    12) Tangent: BBC show QI gets scolded by J media and embassy for insensitivity re atomic bombings

    As a Weekend Tangent (for the record, I have no particular stance on this issue), here’s another bit following yesterday’s about official GOJ reactions to overseas media: The BBC One show QI and its segment on the “unluckiest (or luckiest, depending on how you look at it) man in the world”: a survivor of two atomic bombings who died recently at the age of 93. It has engendered much criticism from the J media and cyberspace. Here’s a comment from Debito.org Reader JS:

    “For the record, QI is a general knowledge quiz show with liberal doses of humour (points are awarded not for being correct, but for being “quite interesting”). They were actually quite complimentary about Yamaguchi and the Japanese resolve in the face of adversity, but apparently it was enough to merit a formal complaint and prime-time news coverage. Oh, and apparently Yamaguchi used to call himself “the unluckiest man in the world”, and he and his family laughed about it. I would say, as a Brit, that they’re laughing at the irony of the situation, not at Yamaguchi personally.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8427

    Yet, as we shall see below. something offensive gets released in the media and puts the shoe on the other foot, and look what happens:

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

    SIMPLY WRONG-HEADED

    13) Suspected murderer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, Ichihashi Tatsuya, publishes book about his experiences. Ick.

    Here’s the next installment in the circus that is the Ichihashi Tatsuya manhunt and arrest for homicide. First the police royally bungle their dragnet, enabling Ichihashi to live on the lam for years. Then now that he’s finally been arrested, he’s able to come out with a book about his hardships (with the apparently reassuring disclaimer that he’ll donate the proceeds elsewhere — what would he do with the money anyway?) without coming clean about why he allegedly did it. Why do I feel we’ve got the beginnings of hero worship, with pilgrimages following his path, and future fans harping on the adversities this man suffered while evading arrest? Hey, if Ichihashi had eaten his victim in another country, he might have become a writer and traveling gourmet celebrity in Japan. Reactions get weird when things get morbid — and that goes for anywhere (cf. Texas Chainsaw Massacre).

    Again, I understand that the accused has the freedom to speak out about his case while in prison (a privilege you hear few people being granted while in Japanese incarceration), but somehow I get a sinking feeling about this. Deeply troubling. Let’s get a court verdict on this case, already. It’s been more than a year since his arrest.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8455

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

    14) Caroline Pover on protesting Gentosha Inc’s publication of Ichihashi’s book after Lindsay Ann Hawker’s murder

    Caroline Pover: For anyone inclined to contact Gentosha (the publishers of Ichihashi’s book), you can do so by using the following:
    Phone from within Japan: 03-5411-6211
    Phone from outside of Japan: +81-3-5411-6211
    Email (general enquiries): keieikikaku@gentosha.co.jp
    Email (comments on their books): comment@gentosha.co.jp

    There is a woman there who speaks perfect English, and one of the men responsible for making the decision to approach Ichihashi’s representatives has been reachable, but both these people have refused to give their names. And yes, just to clarify, the publishing house initiated the publication of this book. Their website is http://www.gentosha.co.jp.

    Now I understand that there is human interest in this “story” and this book. I understand that human nature means that we are often interested in the sinister and the macabre, often for reasons we cannot explain and perhaps in a way we may not be particularly comfortable with. I understand that people are fascinated by how Ichihashi escaped and how he survived for so long on the run. I fully expected there to be a book at some point, and I don’t really blame the general public for wanting to read it.

    What I don’t understand is how this book has been allowed to be released now. BEFORE the trial. Only in the past few days have tentative dates for the trial even been set — surely the publishers must have approached Ichihashi’s representatives knowing that they could produce the book before the trial, and Ichihashi’s representatives possibly thought to seize the opportunity to gain public sympathy.

    Ichihashi has several defence lawyers, all of whom are working pro bono. A book like this will become a bestseller (and it will, make no mistake — and some scumbag is probably already on the phone right now asking for the movie rights). The Hawker family has repeatedly refused to accept any money from an individual claiming to be an Ichihashi supporter, and the family also refuses to accept any monies from the publication of this book. Ichihashi and his defence team may or not receive any money themselves, but the publisher certainly will. Ichihashi has been given the opportunity to tell his story, but shouldn’t that story be told in court?

    What will be told in court however is the REAL story of what happened to Lindsay Ann Hawker. The real story of what he did to her, with details that her parents and sisters will have to listen to and live with forever. And when THAT story is told, the Gentosha staff who worked on Until I was arrested: Record of a two-year and seven-month blank will feel utterly ashamed of themselves.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8477

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

    15) DEBITO.ORG POLL: What’s your take on suspected murderer Ichihashi Tatsuya’s book on his experiences
    evading arrest for the homicide of Lindsay Ann Hawker? (Multiple responses OK)

    The available options, in no particular order:

    It’s an attempt to make judges/a jury more sympathetic for his trial.
    It will only encourage hero worship and make Japanese society look morbid.
    It’s a cynical marketing ploy by the publisher.
    It’s amazing he could get this published while in detention.
    Like it or not, freedom of speech.
    It’s the work of a monster and should not be on the market.
    I want to read it and make a decision then.
    I fear for the safety of other NJ women now.
    It’s a useful piece of evidence — he’s owning up to the crime.
    It’s a window into the mind of a killer for criminal science.
    It’s a catharsis for all.
    Something else.
    Don’t know / Can’t say / Don’t care etc.

    Vote as you like at any blog page at http://www.debito.org

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

    16) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: A killing separation: Two French fathers suicide 2010 after marital separation and child abduction

    Amid rumblings that Japan will sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions this year (the Yomiuri says it’s currently being “mulled”), here’s another reason why it should be signed — child abductions after separation or divorce are driving parents to suicide. Read on. The Yomiuri articles follow.

    FCCJ: The life and career of Arnaud Simon once could have exemplified the excellent relationship between Japan and France. A young French historian teaching in Tokyo, Simon was preparing a thesis on the history of thought during the Edo Period. He was married to a Japanese woman. They had one son.

    But on Nov. 20, Arnaud Simon took his own life. He hanged himself. He did not need to leave an explanatory note; his closest friends knew he had lost the appetite for living because his wife would not allow Simon to see his son after their marriage broke up. Simon apparently tried on multiple occasions to take his boy home from school, but the police blocked the young father each time.

    “The lawyers he met were trying to appease him, not help him,” one of his former colleagues remembers.

    Another Frenchman in the same situation, Christophe Guillermin, committed suicide in June. These two deaths are terrible reminders of the hell some foreign parents inhabit in Japan — and because of Japan. When a couple separates here, custody of any children is traditionally awarded to the mother. After that, the children rarely have contact with the “other side”; they are supposed to delete the losing parent from their lives…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8307

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

    17) Yomiuri on “Lehman Shock” and Japan’s foreign crime: Concludes with quote that “living in harmony with foreign residents might be just a dream”

    The Yomiuri is in full trumpet about foreign crime again — this time concluding (in an article that does develop the causes of some severe NJ suffering) with a quote from an elderly somebody about coexistence with foreigners being perhaps but a dream. A friend of mine offlist was quite critical of yesterday’s NYT article as an “anecdote-laden piece of fluff”. Okay, but check this one out: Nothing but anecdotes and nary a reliable stat in sight.

    One thing I’m not quite getting is the connection between Lehman and foreign crime. Is Japan’s economy so fragile that one event could ruin it? Don’t businesses make their own decisions, or sovereign countries have responsibility over their own fiscal and monetary policies? Or is this another way of pinning Japan’s woes on foreigners?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8319

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

    18) AP: Japan population shrinks by record numbers in 2010. NYT: Its workers aging, Japan turns away immigrants.

    AP: Japan’s population fell by a record amount last year as the number of deaths climbed to an all-time high in the quickly aging country, the government said Saturday.

    Japan faces a looming demographic squeeze. Baby boomers are moving toward retirement, with fewer workers and taxpayers to replace them. The Japanese boast among the highest life expectancies in the world but have extremely low birth rates.

    Japan logged 1.19 million deaths in 2010 — the biggest number since 1947 when the health ministry’s annual records began. The number of births was nearly flat at 1.07 million.

    As a result, Japan contracted by 123,000 people, which was the most ever and represents the fourth consecutive year of population decline. The top causes of death were cancer, heart disease and stroke, the ministry said…

    Saturday’s report showed 706,000 marriages registered last year — the fewest since 1954 and a sign that birth rates are unlikely to jump dramatically anytime soon.

    NYT: Despite facing an imminent labor shortage as its population ages, Japan has done little to open itself up to immigration. In fact, as Ms. Fransiska and many others have discovered, the government is doing the opposite, actively encouraging both foreign workers and foreign graduates of its universities and professional schools to return home while protecting tiny interest groups– in the case of Ms. Fransiska, a local nursing association afraid that an influx of foreign nurses would lower industry salaries.

    In 2009, the number of registered foreigners here fell for the first time since the government started to track annual records almost a half-century ago, shrinking 1.4 percent from a year earlier to 2.19 million people — or just 1.71 percent of Japan’s overall population of 127.5 million.

    Experts say increased immigration provides one obvious remedy to Japan’s two decades of lethargic economic growth. Instead of accepting young workers, however — and along with them, fresh ideas — Tokyo seems to have resigned itself to a demographic crisis that threatens to stunt the country’s economic growth, hamper efforts to deal with its chronic budget deficits and bankrupt its social security system…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8300

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

    19) NY Consulate Japan’s Kawamura Yasuhisa offers more rosy picture of immigration to Japan in NYT Letter to the Editor

    GOJ NY Consulate director Kawamura: “Despite Shortage, Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor” (“The Great Deflation” series, front page, Jan. 3) oversimplifies a complex situation and seems to present foreign labor as a cure-all for Japan’s aging and declining population.

    The article also appears to embrace cliches about Japanese homogeneity without pointing out recent policy changes. Japan is not walling itself off; quite the opposite is true.

    In its new growth strategy, the Japanese government recognized the value of skilled foreign workers and their contributions to economic growth. Japan aims to double its skilled foreign work force by 2020 and to double the number of students from abroad that it welcomes, up to 300,000.

    This policy reinforces the encouraging growth in the number of registered foreign residents. Despite a recent drop noted in your article, over the past 10 years registered foreigners in Japan have increased by almost 40 percent (from 1.6 million to 2.2 million). Japan faces tough economic and demographic challenges. But Japan will continue to find the policy mix that works best for our society and our economy.

    COMMENT: Have a beer, Mr. Kawamura. You’ve discharged your duty well. As is good gaiatsu media policy, when we have somebody saying something discomfiting about Japan in overseas media, the GOJ’s Gaijin Handlers will step in to present the “Official View” (would be interesting if, say, the USG did more of that in Japan’s media). Here’s the Japan Consulate in New York doing just that…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8420

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

    20) Economist.com offers microcosm of Nagasaki as example of Japan’s urban decline

    The Economist last week had quite a bleak article about Nagasaki, and used it as an example of Japan’s urban decline. Of course, it hints at the possibility of urban renewal through influxes of people (using the oft-cited policy panacea of “foreign students”). But again, not immigration. As far as Debito.org is concerned, the best bit of the article is:

    ====================================
    Can Nagasaki pull out of the spiral? Historically, after all, the city is Japan’s most open, allowing in Dutch and Chinese merchants in the 17th-19th centuries when foreign trade with the rest of the country was banned. Nagasaki is one of the closest cities to China and South Korea, with opportunities for tourism and trade. The museum to the atom bomb and its victims is world famous. Nagasaki is the birthplace of Japanese Christianity. It was a cradle of insurrection against the last shogunate, helping to shove Japan into the modern age with the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

    To reverse the decline, Mr Sato has drawn up a plan with local officials that looks for overseas revenues to make up for falling domestic ones. That is hardly revolutionary. Among the goals are doubling numbers of foreign students, to 3,000; turning the shipyard into a tourist site; and bolstering sales of kamaboko, a rubbery fishcake. But asked about bolder measures such as encouraging foreign investment and skilled immigrants, Mr Sato says there is “not the right environment” for that yet.
    ====================================

    Still wondering if the “yet” ever expires, even as things go down and down.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8438

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

    THIS IS MORE LIKE IT

    21) Kyodo: Tourism to Japan hits new record high in 2010

    I’m busy working on my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (out February 1, addressing concerns I have, and other naturalized Japanese citizens have, when other long-term and naturalized residents called themselves “foreigners” in the Japan Times December 28). So for today, a short entry, and it’s good news. Record numbers of tourists coming in last year and pumping money into our economy:

    Kyodo: “The number of foreign nationals arriving in Japan last year rose 24.6% from a year earlier to a record-high 9,443,671 due to the economic recovery in Asia and the relaxation by Tokyo of visa regulations for Chinese tourists, government data shows.”

    I may have had some cross words here in the past about how NJ tourists are being treated once they get here, but why speak ill of this development? Bring them in and show them a good time — everyone wins. Let’s just hope that people will see sense and not decide to exclude NJ from their business just because there’s nothing legally stopping them from doing so.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8404

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

    22) Japan Times: Otaru Beer, with NJ braumeister, revolutionizing microbrews and beerdrinking styles in Japan

    An article of personal import to me. The Japan Times reports on Johannes Braun, braumeister of Otaru Beer, who has come here and made the German-style brewing process a success. I drink with friends at Otaru Beer in Sapporo at least once a month (three to four times a month in summer), and think this development is good both for us as a local economy and for Japan as a place to do business.

    Japan Times: Otaru Beer in the port city of Otaru has continued to flourish since its inception 15 years ago, with output growing at an annual average of 10 percent. At its head is a man who hails from a village near Frankfurt with a population of just 500 people.

    Braumeister Johannes Braun, one of just two German nationals residing in Otaru, attributes the microbrewery’s success to a surprisingly simple recipe. “I brew beer — real beer, using only natural ingredients,” he says. “Many breweries in Germany still abide by a law governing beer production that dates back almost 500 years. I follow that law to the letter.”…

    “The taste gap (between ‘third sector’ beverages and mass-produced malt beers) has closed dramatically, to the degree that consumers can’t tell the difference and therefore naturally choose the cheaper option,” he says. “That’s the ideology of the big makers and that’s why the output of beer is dropping in recent years.”

    This is not such a big issue for most consumers in Japan who, Braun says, see beer as “little more than something to clear the throat” before moving on to something else.

    Indeed, “nodogoshi ga ii” — a phrase used to describe the smooth sensation of beer passing down the throat — is a quality that Japan’s major breweries frequently stress in promoting their products, while taste or body are given short shrift…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8445

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

    23) JT on Rita Taketsuru, Scottish mother of Japan’s whisky industry, and her connections to Nikka’s factory in Yoichi, Hokkaido

    What follows is a great story, of Rita Taketsuru nee Cowan, a NJ who comes to Japan, supports her husband on the quest for a great Japanese-made Scotch whisky, naturalizes, and lives out her life in a very different Hokkaido than I’ve ever experienced, gaining fans that salute her to this day. Have a read of the excerpt below. We should all be so lucky to leave a legacy such as this.

    Japan Times: The men stood up and explained that this week was the 40th anniversary of Rita’s death and they were going to her grave to pay their respects. The owner of the locket opened his briefcase and showed me a foil-wrapped haggis he’d ordered especially from his butcher. Another of the men took out a packet of oatcakes and a jar of heather honey.

    They invited me to join them but the wind had returned with a vengeance and their drink had pasted me squarely to my seat. As they climbed out of the train, I asked them who they were. The three seemed sheepish for the first time since we’d met. Finally, the owner of the flask spoke up, “We’re the Rita Taketsuru Fan Club.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8448

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

    24) MOFA now requiring consent of both parents for their child’s J passport renewal

    It looks like the GOJ has pinched one of the essential avenues for Japanese overseas looking to abduct their children back to Japan after separation or divorce — the ability for a Japanese citizen to get their child’s J-passport renewed at any Japanese embassy or consulate without the consent of both parents. Somewhat good news, although commenter Getchan below points out that there are still loopholes in this development.

    MOFA: To Parents with Children of Japanese Nationality:
    Notice: Passport Application for Japanese Minors

    Under Japanese civil law, those under the age of 20 are regarded as minors. When a Japanese minor applies for a Japanese passport, one parent/guardian must sign the “Legal Representative Signature” section on the back of the passport application. An application signed by one parent will be accepted under the assumption that the signature is a representation of consent from both parent(s)/guardian(s)…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8109

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

    25) Hollywood Reporter: JT “Richard Cory” child abduction story optioned as possible movie/TV production

    Hollywood Reporter said last month that the story of Richard Cory will be optioned for development into a media event (movie or TV). This is a pseudonymous story of a NJ father in an international marriage in Japan, who reported in a series of articles for the Japan Times Community Page about his hardships getting access to his children — after his wife went AWOL, then nuts. His case particularly highlights the systematic barriers that fathers and NJ face trying to get a fair shake in custody hearings, even when the J spouse is certifiable.

    The optioning is good news, in the sense that the issue of “Left-Behind Parents” (LBP, to those of us who are) deserves plenty of exposure. Systematic Child Abduction and Parental Alienation after separation and divorce in Japan affects not only NJ, but LBPs who are Japanese as well.

    A reality check at this juncture, however. Something being optioned does not necessarily mean something gets made. Especially when the market concerns the darker aspects of Japan: Robert Whiting’s best book, TOKYO UNDERWORLD, has languished for many years in production hell. SOUR STRAWBERRIES got made in part thanks to German government funding. FROM THE SHADOWS is still looking for investors. And even the goofy airy-fairy movies about NJ in Japan, such as Oguri Saori’s MY DARLING IS A FOREIGNER, was a flop — grossing less than $7 million bucks to become only the 71st-grossing movie in Japan last year. The more successful yet serious-in-tone movies about foreign treatment in Japan, like LOST IN TRANSLATION, are anomalous. Good luck to Richard Cory.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8121

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

    26) Tangent: Elderly J activists sue GOJ to allow different last names after marriage

    Reuters: Tsukamoto is one of five people planning to file a lawsuit against the government and local authorities as early as February, saying the civil code that requires married couples to register under the same surname violates equal rights among married couples, as well as personal rights.

    Men are allowed to take their spouses’ name, but it is rare.

    The group will seek compensation for what it says is the legislature’s failure to enact change, the first such case to be debated in open court in Japan, the only country in the Group of Eight major industrialised nations with such a surname rule.

    Hopes grew that the government would submit a bill to amend the civil code after the Democratic Party of Japan, which has advocated letting married couples keep separate names if they wish, took power in 2009. But opposition from a coalition ally caused the plan to stall.

    “There were expectations that it could be enacted but unfortunately this did not take place. They do not want to wait any longer,” said Fujiko Sakakibara, lead lawyer for the group.

    Grauniad: The movement for change gathered pace in the 1980s when more women entered the workplace. Many complained that changing their names after marriage was detrimental to their career prospects and affected relationships with colleagues.

    Yet the Japanese are divided over the issue: in a 2009 survey 49% said they supported a change in the law, while 48% were opposed.

    Women still have to use their registered surnames on official documents such as passports and health insurance cards.

    Many companies allow married women to retain their maiden names at work, but for Tsukamoto, who married in 1960, unofficial acceptance is not enough.

    “Now I am 75, and I was shocked to realise that I can no longer do the things I was able to do even last year,” she said. “That’s when I thought, I am Kyoko Tsukamoto — and I want to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8367

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    27) Japan Times et.al: Suraj Case of death during deportation sent to prosecutors

    Japan Times: Chiba police have turned over to prosecutors their case against 10 immigration officers suspected of being involved in the death of a Ghanaian deportee they had restrained and physically placed aboard a jetliner last March at Narita International Airport.

    The action Monday came six months after the man’s Japanese widow and her lawyers filed a criminal complaint demanding that prosecutors take action against the airport immigration officers who overpowered Abubakar Awudu Suraj to get him on the jet, where he subsequently died of unknown causes while handcuffed in his seat.

    The police turned their case against the 10 men, aged 24 to 48, who are still working, over to the Chiba District Public Prosecutor’s Office. They could face charges of violence and cruelty by special public officers resulting in death, a Chiba police officer said… Handcuffed and his mouth covered with a towel, Suraj was found unconscious in the aircraft and confirmed dead at a hospital, Yoshida had quoted the officer as saying. The police were unable to pinpoint the cause of death…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8239

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

    That’s all for a few days. One more with a couple of Japan Times columns, and then I’ll be back after an extended hiatus. Enjoy the advent of spring!

    Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 29, 2011 ENDS

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    Caroline Pover on protesting Gentosha Inc’s publication of Ichihashi’s book after Lindsay Ann Hawker’s murder

    Posted on Friday, January 28th, 2011

    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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    CONTACT INFORMATION FOR ICHIHASHI’S BOOK PUBLISHER
    By Caroline Pover, Author, Being A Broad in Japan, courtesy of the author

    http://www.carolinepover.info/2011/01/information-for-anyone-wanting-to-contact-the-publisher-of-ichihashis-book/

    Posted in: Foreign women in Japan-Jan 28, 2011

    For anyone inclined to contact Gentosha (the publishers of Ichihashi’s book), you can do so by using the following:
    Phone from within Japan: 03-5411-6211
    Phone from outside of Japan: +81-3-5411-6211
    Email (general enquiries): keieikikaku@gentosha.co.jp
    Email (comments on their books): comment@gentosha.co.jp

    There is a woman there who speaks perfect English, and one of the men responsible for making the decision to approach Ichihashi’s representatives has been reachable, but both these people have refused to give their names. And yes, just to clarify, the publishing house initiated the publication of this book. Their website is http://www.gentosha.co.jp.

    Now I understand that there is human interest in this “story” and this book. I understand that human nature means that we are often interested in the sinister and the macabre, often for reasons we cannot explain and perhaps in a way we may not be particularly comfortable with. I understand that people are fascinated by how Ichihashi escaped and how he survived for so long on the run. I fully expected there to be a book at some point, and I don’t really blame the general public for wanting to read it.

    What I don’t understand is how this book has been allowed to be released now. BEFORE the trial. Only in the past few days have tentative dates for the trial even been set — surely the publishers must have approached Ichihashi’s representatives knowing that they could produce the book before the trial, and Ichihashi’s representatives possibly thought to seize the opportunity to gain public sympathy.

    Ichihashi has several defence lawyers, all of whom are working pro bono. A book like this will become a bestseller (and it will, make no mistake — and some scumbag is probably already on the phone right now asking for the movie rights). The Hawker family has repeatedly refused to accept any money from an individual claiming to be an Ichihashi supporter, and the family also refuses to accept any monies from the publication of this book. Ichihashi and his defence team may or not receive any money themselves, but the publisher certainly will. Ichihashi has been given the opportunity to tell his story, but shouldn’t that story be told in court?

    What will be told in court however is the REAL story of what happened to Lindsay Ann Hawker. The real story of what he did to her, with details that her parents and sisters will have to listen to and live with forever. And when THAT story is told, the Gentosha staff who worked on Until I was arrested: Record of a two-year and seven-month blank will feel utterly ashamed of themselves.

    ENDS

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    Suspected murderer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, Ichihashi Tatsuya, publishes book about his experiences. Ick.

    Posted on Thursday, January 27th, 2011

    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 next installment in the circus that is the Ichihashi Tatsuya manhunt and arrest for homicide. First the police royally bungle their dragnet, enabling Ichihashi to live on the lam for years. Then now that he’s finally been arrested, he’s able to come out with a book about his hardships (with the apparently reassuring disclaimer that he’ll donate the proceeds elsewhere — what would he do with the money anyway?) without coming clean about why he allegedly did it. Why do I feel we’ve got the beginnings of hero worship, with pilgrimages following his path, and future fans harping on the adversities this man suffered while evading arrest? Hey, if Ichihashi had eaten his victim in another country, he might have become a writer and traveling gourmet celebrity in Japan. Reactions get weird when things get morbid — and that goes for anywhere (cf. Texas Chainsaw Massacre).

    Again, I understand that the accused has the freedom to speak out about his case while in prison (a privilege you hear few people being granted while in Japanese incarceration), but somehow I get a sinking feeling about this. Deeply troubling.  Let’s get a court verdict on this case, already.  It’s been more than a year since his arrest.  Arudou Debito

    UPDATE:
    The Japan Times reports (excerpt):

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110126a2.html
    The editor in charge of the book said she contacted Ichihashi’s lawyer last June to offer to publish the fugitive’s story, whereupon she received a positive response. At present there are no plans for an English translation, she told The Japan Times.

    In other words, the publisher approached him for the story. I smell less attempt at contrition, more corporate profit motive. What ghouls.

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

    Tatsuya Ichihashi wishes murdered Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker would ‘come back to life’
    The Japanese man accused of killing and raping British teacher Lindsay Hawker in 2007 has claimed in a book that he wished his victim “could come back to life.”

    The Telegraph (UK) 7:00AM GMT 26 Jan 2011
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8282651/Tatsuya-Ichihashi-wishes-murdered-Briton-Lindsay-Ann-Hawker-would-come-back-to-life.html

    Tatsuya Ichihashi, 32, wrote the book in the 14 months after he was apprehended after two years and seven months on the run.

    Titled “Until I Was Arrested,” the book details his journeys by train and ferry the length and breadth of Japan, his repeated efforts to change his appearance by using knives and scissors on his face and his feelings of “contrition” for Hawker’s death.

    The naked body of Hawker, 22, from the village of Brandon near Coventry, was found by police in March 2007 buried in sand in a bath tub on the balcony of Ichihashi’s apartment in the Gyotoku district of western Tokyo.

    Barefoot, Mr Ichihashi managed to evade the eight officers searching the property. Immediately after making his escape, Mr Ichihashi’s 240-page book reveals that he spent some weeks in Tokyo while the police tried to trace him. He then travelled to the northerly prefecture of Aomori, where he lived rough during the summer, before deciding to go on a pilgrimage of some of the 88 temples that make up the sacred Buddhist route through the mountains of the island of Shikoku.

    During this journey, Mr Ichihashi said he wished that Hawker could “come back to life.”

    He subsequently spent time on the tiny island of Oha, which has a circumference of less than two miles and is home to just four families.

    Mr Ichihashi wrote that he lived in a concrete bunker, living on wild fruit, fish that he was able to catch and cook over an open fire and even eating snakes.

    Terrified that he was going to be identified he tried to change his looks by removing two distinctive moles from his cheek with a box cutter, slicing off part of his lower lip with a pair of scissors to make it appear thinner and changing the shape of his nose by sewing it with a needle and thread.

    As his money ran short, he picked up labouring jobs on construction sites in Osaka and Kobe, but never staying at one place very long before moving on. He was, however, able to earn close to Y1 million (£7,705) over a period of two years, which he spent on cosmetic surgery.

    Mr Ichihashi described the work he carried out, which was mostly the demolition of old buildings, as “tough,” but wrote “this is the price I have to pay. Hawker had to suffer more pain. I took Lindsay’s life and that fact does not change.”

    The book reveals that Mr Ichihashi was careful to avoid closed-circuit security cameras in shops and would not look people in the eye. He also usually wore a hat and the white face masks that Japanese people frequently wear during the winter or at the height of the hay-fever season.

    During his 31 months on the run, he read the Harry Potter series of books, “The Catcher in the Rye” and “Kafka on the Shore,” by Haruki Murakami.

    He was eventually caught in Nov 2009 while waiting to board a ferry to return to Okinawa.

    Mr Ichihashi does not comment on the killing of Hawker in the book or his motives, but it does include an apology.

    He said the book was “a gesture of contrition for the crime I committed” and that royalties from the book would be given from Ms Hawker’s family.

    Bill and Linda Hawker, in a statement issued through their legal representative in London, say they have no intention of accepting the money and only want to see justice for their daughter in a Japanese court.
    ENDS
    RELATED ARTICLES
    Lindsay Hawker ‘killer’ wants to donate book proceeds to family 25 Jan 2011
    Lindsay Hawker murder: timeline 25 Jan 2011

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

    The Japan Times, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011
    Ichihashi recalls manhunt stress
    By JUN HONGO Staff writer

    Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110127a1.html

    Accused killer Tatsuya Ichihashi’s book released Wednesday offers anecdotal accounts of his 31-month life on the run, from fears of being caught and listening to radio updates on the manhunt, to moments of awe over nature, to how he abstained from sex because of what he had done, and how it may feel to be hanged.

    He writes about his determination to alter his appearance to keep one step ahead of the law, and how he even dared a visit to Tokyo Disneyland, but offers no insights into why Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker was slain in his Chiba apartment.

    As reported earlier, Ichihashi said he wrote the 283-page book “as part of an act of contrition” for Hawker’s slaying and added he is “aware of the criticism it may bring on me.”…

    Confessing he had “no courage to commit suicide,” he eventually decided to take shelter on Ohajima, a tiny island off Kumejima in Okinawa that he learned about in a library book.

    There, he gathered fish, crabs, snakes and sea cucumbers for food but had a hard time finding fresh water. During the daytime he kept to a cavelike shelter on the island to avoid being spotted by locals and tourists, he wrote…

    The book, “Taiho Sarerumade — Kuuhaku no Ninen Nanakagetsu no Kiroku” (“Before I Was Arrested — Records of the Blank Two Years and Seven Months”), published by Gentosha Inc., spans the time between Ichihashi’s flight from police at his Chiba apartment in March 2007 to the moment of his arrest at an Osaka terminal for an Okinawa-bound ferry in November 2009.

    Ichihashi’s trial is expected to start later this year, and it may be one involving lay judges.
    ENDS

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

    市橋被告、自分で下唇切る整形手術…ハサミで
    (2011年1月26日12時40分 読売新聞)
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20110126-OYT1T00459.htm

    千葉県市川市で2007年3月、英国人女性リンゼイ・アン・ホーカーさん(当時22歳)が遺体で見つかった事件で殺人などの罪で起訴された市橋達也被告(32)の逃亡中の行動が、26日に出版された市橋被告の手記で明らかになった。

    手記「逮捕されるまで 空白の2年7カ月の記録」(幻冬舎)によると、市橋被告が市川市の自宅マンションから捜査員を振り切って裸足で逃げ、09年11月に逮捕されるまで、行動は青森から沖縄まで二十数都府県に及んだ。途中、大阪などで土木作業などで金を稼ぎ、身の危険を感じると、沖縄の離島に潜伏し、魚やヘビを取って食べるなどしたほか、「リンゼイさんが生き返ると思った」と四国で遍路道を歩いたことも。また、市橋被告が自らハサミで下唇を切るなどして整形を試みたことも記されている。

    捜査関係者の話では、市橋被告は千葉県警の調べに対し、事件の詳細や逃亡生活についてほとんど語ることはなく、出版を知った県警が最近になって離島に捜査員を派遣するなどしたという。

    手記では、印税をリンゼイさん遺族に渡すか公益のために使うとしているが、リンゼイさんの父ウィリアムさんは代理人を通じ、「まだ法廷に立ってもいない市橋被告が、手記の執筆、出版を許されたことに嫌悪感を感じる。手記は家族をさらに傷つけるだけで、私たちが望むのは公正な裁きだけだ」とコメントした。
    ENDS

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

    市橋被告、離島の小屋でヘビ食べた 逃亡生活を手記に
    朝日新聞 2011年1月26日3時1分
    http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0125/TKY201101250487.html

    千葉県市川市で2007年3月、英会話講師の英国人女性リンゼイ・アン・ホーカーさん(当時22)が遺体で見つかった事件で、殺人などの罪で起訴された住所不定、無職市橋達也被告(32)が、一昨年11月に大阪市内で逮捕されるまで、沖縄の離島に長期間潜伏するなどの逃亡生活を送っていたことがわかった。

    市橋被告が26日に幻冬舎から発売する「逮捕されるまで 空白の2年7カ月の記録」で明らかにした。

    手記などによると、潜伏先の一つは、沖縄本島から西に約100キロの久米島沖合にあるオーハ島。周囲約2.7キロの島は、4世帯6人が住民登録をしているだけだ。

    島東部の密林地帯。沖縄に自生するヤシの木をかき分けて進むと、市橋被告が潜伏していたという小屋が姿を現した。コンクリートがむきだしの室内には、床に釣り具やペットボトルなどがあり、火をおこしたような跡もあった。

    弁護士によると、市橋被告は逃走中にこの島を少なくとも3回は訪れた。持ち込んだ食料や海で釣った魚、捕獲したヘビなどを食べながら、1回の訪問につき数カ月間、この小屋に滞在したという。

    手記では、事件発生直後から日本中を逃避行した足取りを記している。発生直後は東京・秋葉原から埼玉、静岡へ。新潟や青森にも行き、お遍路回りで四国全県を回った。大阪や兵庫、沖縄では、土木建築作業員として合計2年以上働いていたという。名古屋の病院で整形手術をしたことにも触れている。

    千葉県警は、逃亡生活の実態は市橋被告が話さなかったため、把握していなかった。出版社側から発売の連絡を受けて、情報を確認するため、オーハ島に捜査員十数人を派遣。23日、市橋被告の潜伏先とされる小屋を確認した。

    市橋被告が手記をまとめたのは昨年末。市橋被告の意向を受けて、弁護団が出版社と連絡を取ったという。弁護団は「被告が被害者のご遺族に対し、自分がなし得ることはないかと真摯(しんし)に考えてとった行動」と書面で説明しているが、現時点ではホーカーさんの遺族側と賠償金の交渉は行われていないという。
    ENDS

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    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, 日本語 | 43 Comments »

    Kyodo: Tourism to Japan hits new record high in 2010

    Posted on Monday, January 17th, 2011

    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 busy working on my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (out February 1, addressing concerns I have, and other naturalized Japanese citizens have, when other long-term and naturalized residents called themselves “foreigners” in the Japan Times December 28).  So for today, a short entry:

    It’s good news.  Record numbers of tourists coming in last year and pumping money into our economy.  I may have had some cross words here in the past about how NJ tourists are being treated once they get here, but why speak ill of this development?  Bring them in and show them a good time — everyone wins.  Let’s just hope that people will see sense and not decide to exclude NJ from their business just because there’s nothing legally stopping them from doing so.  Arudou Debito

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

    Foreign visitors to Japan hit record-high 9.44 mil in 2010
    Kyodo News/Japan Today January 17, 2011

    http://japantoday.com/category/travel/view/foreign-visitors-to-japan-hit-record-high-9-44-mil-in-2010

    TOKYO — The number of foreign nationals arriving in Japan last year rose 24.6% from a year earlier to a record-high 9,443,671 due to the economic recovery in Asia and the relaxation by Tokyo of visa regulations for Chinese tourists, government data shows.

    First-time travelers to Japan also reached an all-time high of 7,919,678, up 29.4% from 2009, the Immigration Bureau of the Justice Ministry said in a preliminary report.

    The number of foreign visitors topped 9 million for the first time in 2007 at about 9.15 million, but dived to around 7.58 million in 2009 amid the global economic downturn triggered by the financial crisis from autumn 2008.

    Among the 2010 total, South Korean visitors accounted for the highest number at around 2.69 million, up 46.4%, followed by Chinese at 1.66 million, up 34.4%, visitors from Taiwan at 1.31 million, up 22.9%, and Americans at 760,000, up 4%.

    The monthly breakdown showed, however, that visitors from China and Hong Kong declined to between 110,000 to 160,000 in the final quarter of the year from about 190,000 in September, apparently reflecting political tension between Japan and China following collisions in early September involving a Chinese trawler and Japanese patrol vessels near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

    The number of Japanese traveling abroad increased 7.7% to 16,636,999 last year, the first rise in four years.

    Japanese travelers departing from Haneda airport for foreign destinations exceeded 190,000 in both November and December, up from around 90,000 in October, as the airport resumed full-fledged international flight services in late October.

    ends

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    Posted in Good News, Tourism | 4 Comments »

    “To De-Sign or Not to De-Sign”: A debate about what to do re exclusionary signs

    Posted on Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

    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. There’s a debate going on between Debito.org Reader OG Steve and myself that is too good to leave buried in a Comments Section. It was occasioned by a recent blog entry about a sign, up at an outlet of bargain haircutter QB House in Tameike Sannou, Tokyo, requiring Japanese language ability for service. OG Steve made the point that he was happy to see an exclusionary sign up that proclaimed clear and present exclusionism (as opposed to the hedging wording of “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”), which in his view actually made discriminatory policies harder to stamp out. I disagreed, as in my view clear and present exclusionary policies, especially in the form of signs like these, encourages proliferation and copycatting, institutionalizes the discrimination, and further weakens civil society’s ability to take action against exclusionism. OG Steve replied that it makes the evidence and case clearer, and thus strengthens the hand of people who wish to take judicial action. I replied… well, read on. Then we’ll open the floor to discussion. It’s a worthy topic, so let’s have at it, and see if we can get some conclusive arguments from other Debito.org Readers as well.

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

    OG STEVE WRITES:
    2011/01/11 at 5:13 pm

    Let’s remember that ironically, American businesses DO often have signs which say “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”. D’oh!

    http://www.google.com/images?q=“We+reserve+the+right+to+refuse+service+to+anyone”

    So when business owners write a sign which gives a reason they are going to refuse service to you (whether it be race, language, whatever) we of course, rightly, get upset about the fact the company is openly announcing their discriminatory practice, but… when business owners write a VAGUE sign which doesn’t give an exact reason they are going to refuse service to you (like “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”) we strangely DON’T complain about these vague signs.

    Why don’t we complain about those vague signs? Are we so naive to believe that business owners who put up those vague signs are only going to use their self-proclaimed “right to refuse” strictly in “the appropriate, right, correct” situations?

    Of course not, business owners who put up those vague “right to refuse” signs can and do successfully play the ugly game of discrimination like this:

    “Yeah, Mr. Lawyer, I hear what you said, you’ve come here to ask me why I kicked your client out of my shop. Well as you can plainly read the sign on the wall says ‘We have the right to refuse service to ANYONE’, it doesn’t specifically say ‘Anyone who does something dangerous’ or ‘Anyone who does something bad’ (which is what you perhaps are naively assuming it to mean) nope, it simply says ‘ANYONE’.

    “Now, it seems to me that you are trying to claim that I kicked out your client based on his race, now that’s a serious claim there partner, and furthermore you want me to admit this crime right now to you verbally, so that you can take me to court and easily win a discrimination lawsuit against me.

    “Well, my answer is simple: our business never, ever, ever, would do anything illegal, we never have, never do, and never will. Whenever we utilize our god-given supreme-court-upheld Right to Refuse ANYONE from standing on our property and doing business with us, we always refuse for one of the LEGAL reasons, of course, whatever they may happen to be, and finally Mr. Lawyer: we don’t have to answer your questions about the DETAILS of what we we’re thinking during any particular refusal, neither to you nor to a police officer. And even if the police officer, without any admitting testimony from us, were somehow legally able to arrest us on the charge of suspected racial discrimination based on someone’s sob-story, when court time comes around we’ll simply answer “Not guilty”. We don’t have to prove our innocence. This isn’t some country with Napoleonic justice like Japan. This is America. (And worst case, if the judge really wanted to hear a denial, I can claim that the customer’s eyes were darting back and forth suspiciously like someone about to commit a crime or something, and that’s why we kicked him out.) Good luck PROVING that I was thinking racist thoughts, you don’t know what goes on in my mind. That’s why I chose this vague sign. That’s why clubs in America use bouncers who are given secret orders to discriminate about who gets in and who doesn’t get in. See, we have learned how to continue discrimination while simply pretending the discrimination doesn’t exist. You just need a vague sign, or a bouncer who will hide the owners orders about which races are allowed, and which races aren’t.

    “Now Mr. Lawyer, you too, it’s your turn to see my utilize my Right to Refusal. Get off my property immediately. And have a nice day!” :-)

    OK, I’ll relate that rant back to the blog post in question by concluding as follows:

    At least that branch manager is ADMITTING that he or she discriminates, and that the discrimination is specifically against non-speakers of Japanese.

    That’s much more honest than the places in America with those vague refusal signs that DON’T admit the real reason they are going to kick you out, and that’s much more honest than the places who DON’T post the discrimination reality at all: by using Bouncers who refuse entry to certain races using phrases like “club capacity”, “guest list”, and “dress code”.

    If the truth of the matter happens to be that that manager of that branch has decided to ban foreigners simply because he doesn’t like them, and the “language” reason on his sign is simply tatemae instead of honne, then forcing him to take down the sign isn’t going to solve the real problem, he’s simply going to throw up the “batsu” sign whenever a “whitey” or “darkey” tries to walk in.

    Problem solved for him, he can simply take down the legally dangerous sign while covertly continuing the discriminatory practice. Great. We won, we stopped discrimination! Or will se simply take down the signs and make the discriminators become more covert as in America? :-)

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

    DEBITO REPLIES:
    2011/01/11 at 7:24 pm

    — It’s not clear what you are advocating here.

    Are you extolling the virtues of having clearly exclusionary signs up because the exclusionary attitudes are clearly more “honest”… therefore more honorable? And a therefore a good thing?

    OR

    Are you decrying the fundamental “dishonesty” of people who really have to work much harder in other societies (“we reserve the right… to refuse service … to anyone”) in order to discriminate — wording their signs or rules more carefully, so as to avoid the mechanisms of societies where anti-discrimination legislation and enforcement authorities are in place?

    It’s not as easy as you make out in the second case (i.e. just put up a vague sign and presto, covert and unfettered discrimination). There are plenty of means to make sure the exclusionism is not for reasons related to race (“no shoes, no shirt, no service” — put those on and there’s no excuse; “not on the guest list” — if you can gather enough evidence to make the case that guests are being selected by race, then you’ve got a case for court or for local anti-discrimination authorities to investigate), not to mention entire societies sensitized to the issue to the degree where other extralegal means of applying pressure (boycotts, pickets, bad press, and anti-defamation leagues) are also present. There are plenty of means to investigate and tamp down on discrimination once alleged, and it’s not as much an uphill battle when society clearly frowns upon exclusionary activity — keeping a beady eye on potential transgressors.

    But if you prefer the first case just because it’s somehow more “honest” (and you seem to be advocating that the exclusionary sign should stay up — for forcing it to come down merely drives discrimination underground and makes the rules covert), then all those knock-on anti-discrimination means go out the window, since inaction (or action by a tiny vocal minority) makes any protest seem ineffectual, and clear and present exclusionary signs become “the acceptable thing to do”. As history shows, discrimination left untouched merely grows, mutates, and ultimately assumes a self-justifying dynamic of “everyone else is doing it; hey, it’s so widespread that it’s a cultural thing now; it’s just how we do things, and what keeps our society running smoothly and orderly…”

    So let’s be clear. You want exclusionary signs to stay up?

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

    OG STEVE REPLIES:
    2011/01/12 at 1:12 am

    I want the victims to be able to make the discriminators PAY, via successful lawsuits.

    When a discriminator puts up a sign announcing that he is discriminating against “all foreigners”, a photo of this sign becomes easily admissible evidence of his discriminatory POLICY.

    Of course, unfortunately, one needs to be a naturalized Japanese citizen to successfully sue (because the Japanese constitution translators changed “people” to “citizens”) but the main point is this: AT LEAST, with the signs up, a naturalized Japanese citizen can successfully make the discriminators pay, as you did.

    If the bathhouse HADN’T stupidly post that sign stating their company policy, if they simply had quietly refused service one-by-one to “gaikoku-DNA-people” that tried to enter, by throwing up the “batsu” sign with their hands WITHOUT explaining why, it would have been MUCH harder for you to have received that 111 man yen.

    WITHOUT the sign, if you took them to court, the company could reply, “No no, it’s not our company policy to discriminate against foreigners, not at all. There are a million and one legal reasons why one of our staff might have refused entry to you. And we don’t have to prove which one it was. Just for conversation, here are 2 examples: It’s company policy to follow fire safety rules, and on that day perhaps we simply might have been at capacity. Who knows. And no, we don’t have to prove that we were. Did you happen to collect any proof that we WEREN’T at capacity on that day? No? Then you don’t have proof of a discriminatory policy, you simply have a sob-story and speculation about our inner thoughts. Case closed. It’s also company policy to protect our staff from anyone who “appears” or “seems” to be possibly dangerous, regardless of race, gender, age, etc., and on that day perhaps one of our staff simply might have made a case-by-case judgment call, which is both his right as an employee, and our right as a company. (As they say in America, “We have the right to reserve service to ANYONE, we don’t have to prove the reason each time, we simply can no longer post those explicit ‘No Coloreds’ signs like we used to.) So, did you collect any proof that the staff member who refused you DIDN’T feel you looked dangerous? Of course not. To re-iterate, our company does NOT discriminate against foreigners, and we don’t have to prove our innocence, the onus is on YOU the PLAINTIFF to prove that we have a racially discriminatory policy, and without any sign on the wall… it’s going to be very hard for you to prove. And worst case, even if you prove that the staff member was racist, even if you recorded a verbal conversation with that staff member telling you to get out because you don’t look Japanese, you STILL can’t prove that it was company policy unless you have a photo of a sign or a company manual, so we’ll just quietly “fire” the isolated racist staff member for his “disobeying” our official company policy of “non-discrimination” (and perhaps we’ll rehire him a few months later, after he has been “counseled” and “reformed”, but the main point is, you lose the lawsuit, because you have no proof of a racially discriminatory COMPANY POLICY.”

    Debito brother,

    I want the naturalized Japanese citizens to take photos of signs which stupidly admit the policy of discrimination, so that the judges will be more likely to rule that the business with the policy of discrimination has to pay the plaintiff.

    After we naturalized Japanese citizens get properly paid for the stress of these businesses with openly posted policies of discrimination (say, 7 successful lawsuits per naturalized Japanese citizen = 777 man yen, ka-ching), THEN those racist loser company owners will take down their stupidly-honest signs and start using the clever-hidden legally-unprovable discrimination-techniques: by putting up signs that say “ANYONE” without ever admitting the reason, or by foregoing the signs all together and simply refusing folks one-by-one, case-by-case, without ever admitting the reason.

    PS – As I recall, the Japanese constitution doesn’t even forbid PRIVATE COMPANIES from discriminating against Japanese citizens, it simply forbids GOVERNMENTS from discriminating against Japanese citizens. Oops, thanks a lot for that limiting qualification, American writer of Japanese Constitution.

    And as I recall, even the American constitution itself doesn’t forbid PRIVATE COMPANIES from discriminating against customers, there simply are STATUTES that forbid discriminatory HIRING practices, which is why companies throughout America openly post signs that say, “Right to refuse ANYONE.”

    Final Re-cap:

    If the sign says “We refuse Foreigners”, the racist policy is thus posted, it is easy for naturalized citizen victims to get compensation for feelings hurt due to being refused.

    If there is no sign, if the racist policy is thus hidden, it becomes almost impossible for victims to get compensation for feelings hurt due to being refused.

    And if the sign cleverly says “Right to refuse Anyone”, the racist policy is thus hidden, it becomes almost impossible for victims to get compensation for feelings hurt due to being refused.

    I hope you feel me, I’m not trying to be argumentative at all, I’m simply pointing out some facts are ironic, embarrassing, surprising, unjust, often unnoticed, and painful to admit. :-)

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

    DEBITO REPLIES
    January 12, 2010, 8AM JST

    Thanks for the reply. Some answers:

    1) You don’t need to be a naturalized citizen to win against these exclusionary establishments. Ana Bortz (a NJ) won against her exclusionary store without J citizenship. I believe we would have won against Otaru Onsen Yunohana even if I had not naturalized. My being a citizen closed one potential loophole, but it could go either way depending on the judge. And that leads me to my point:

    2) Leaving it up to the Japanese judiciary to resolve this situation is extremely risky. We have had at least one other case (Steve McGowan) where we had the manager of a business saying on tape that he doesn’t like black people and he refused Steve because he is black. The judge still refused to rule in Steve’s favor, discovering a technicality he could exploit (which was later fortunately overturned in High Court). Build up enough of these precedents, and you’ll actually arm the defense. I’d prefer not to leave it up to Japanese judges, rather to law enforcement authorities and a clear legal code (hence my need for a law).

    3) Leaving it up to naturalized citizens to play “Japanese Only Sign Whack-a-Mole” is untenable, since court cases take years, cost money and great amounts of mental energy, and incur great social opprobrium (given the general distaste for lawsuits in Japanese society). Clear and present evidence is one thing. Advocating that signs stay up as lawsuit bait or legal entrapment is a losing strategy.

    4) As I said earlier, exclusionary signs beget more of the same, through copycatting and clear institutionalization of an action. Exclusionary signs must come down, and a legal framework of protections against racial discrimination must be enshrined. That’s asking for a lot at this juncture, so I’ll accept the half-measure having the signs forced down for now, even if that allegedly deprives people of evidence to sue (it doesn’t: you get refused, threaten to sue, the sign comes down and you still sue, you still win, since you were still refused regardless of the present circumstances; the damage is done, as this is what happened in the Otaru Onsens Case).

    If you haven’t read book JAPANESE ONLY yet Steve, I really suggest you do. It’ll also ground you in the dynamic of why your suggestions won’t stop the discrimination. Nothing will, short of a law backed up by sanctions. That’s why the UN CERD strongly advises one.

    I’ll let the legal scholars out there comment more authoritatively on the “kokumin” aspects of the constitution and law enforcement, but my lawyers have told me repeatedly that Japanese Constitutional protections apply to non-citizens too, despite the wording, if you’d dare to push the issue in official mediating bodies.

    Now let’s open the floor up for discussion. Pile on. Arudou Debito

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    Posted in Discussions, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Lawsuits | 14 Comments »

    Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010” (Director’s Cut)

    Posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

    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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    THE TOP TENS FOR 2010 AND THE DECADE
    ZEIT GIST 54 / JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 35 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES

    justbecauseicon.jpg

    The Japan Times, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
    DRAFT NINE, VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO EDITOR (Director’s Cut, including text cut out of published article)
    WORD COUNT FOR DECADE COLUMN #5-#2: 988 WORDS
    WORD COUNT FOR 2010 COLUMN #5-#2: 820 WORDS

    Download Top Ten for 2010 at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110104ad.html
    Download Top Ten for 2000-2010 at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2011/01/04/general/arudous-alien-almanac-2000-2010/
    Download entire newsprint page as PDF with excellent Chris Mackenzie illustrations (recommended) at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/images/community/0104p13.PDF

    It’s that time again, when the JUST BE CAUSE column ranks the notable events of last year that affected Non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This time it’s a double feature, also ranking the top events of the past decade.

    A TOP TEN FOR THE DECADE 2000-2010

    5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)

    This lawsuit followed the landmark Ana Bortz case of 1999, where a Brazilian plaintiff sued and won against a jewelry store in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, that denied her entry for looking foreign. Since Japan has no national law against racial discrimination, the Bortz case found that United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination (CERD), which Japan signed in 1995, has the force of law instead. The Otaru case (Just Be Cause, Jun. 3, 2008) (in which, full disclosure, your correspondent was one plaintiff) attempted to apply penalties not only to an exclusionary bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, but also to the Otaru city government for negligence. Results: Sapporo’s district and high courts both ruled the bathhouse must pay damages to multiple excluded patrons. The city government, however, was exonerated.

    WHY THIS MATTERS: Although our government has repeatedly said to the U.N. that “racial discrimination” does not exist in Japan (“discrimination against foreigners” exists, but bureaucrats insist this is not covered by the CERD (JBC, Jun. 2, 2009)), the Otaru case proved it does, establishing a cornerstone for any counterargument. However, the Supreme Court in 2005 ruled the Otaru case was “not a constitutional issue,” thereby exposing the judiciary’s unwillingness to penalize discrimination expressly forbidden by Japan’s Constitution. Regardless, the case built on the Bortz precedent, setting standards for NJ seeking court redress for discrimination (providing you don’t try to sue the government). It also helped stem a tide of “Japanese Only” signs spreading nationwide, put up by people who felt justified by events like:

    4) ISHIHARA’S SANGOKUJIN RANT (April 9, 2000)

    Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara set the tone this decade with a calamitous diatribe to the Nerima Ground Self Defense Forces (ZG, Dec. 18, 2007), claiming that NJ (including “sangokujin,” a derogatory term for former citizens of the Japanese Empire) were in Japan “repeatedly committing heinous crimes.” Ishihara called on the SDF to round foreigners up during natural disasters in case they rioted (something, incidentally, that has never happened).

    WHY THIS MATTERS: A leader of a world city pinned a putative crime wave on NJ (even though most criminal activity in Japan, both numerically and proportionately, has been homegrown (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007)) and even offered discretionary policing power to the military, yet he has kept his office to this day. This speech made it undisputedly clear that Ishihara’s governorship would be a bully pulpit, and Tokyo would be his turf to campaign against crime — meaning against foreigners. This event emboldened other Japanese politicians to vilify NJ for votes, and influenced government policy at the highest levels with the mantra “heinous crimes by bad foreigners.” Case in point:

    3) THE SECOND KOIZUMI CABINET (2003-2005)

    Once re-elected to his second term, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi got right down to business targeting NJ. No fewer than three Cabinet members in their opening policy statements mentioned foreign crime, one stressing that his goal was “making Japan the world’s safest country again” — meaning, again, safe from foreigners (ZG, Oct. 7, 2003).

    WHY THIS MATTERS: Despite being one of Japan’s most acclaimed prime ministers, Koizumi’s record toward NJ residents was dismal. Policies promulgated “for the recovery of public safety” explicitly increased the peace for kokumin (Japanese nationals) at the expense of NJ residents. In 2005, the “Action Plan for Pre-Empting Terrorism” (ZG, May 24, 2005) portrayed tero as an international phenomenon (ignoring homegrown examples), officially upgrading NJ from mere criminals to terrorists. Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of this bunker mentality were the police, who found their powers enhanced thusly:

    2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)

    After May 1999, when their “Policy Committee Against Internationalization” (sic) was launched, the National Police Agency found ample funding for policies targeting NJ expressly as criminals, terrorists and “carriers of infectious diseases.” From NPA posters depicting NJ as illegal laborers, members of international criminal organizations and violent, heinous crooks, campaigns soon escalated to ID checks for cycling while foreign (ZG, Jun. 20, 2002), public “snitch sites” (where even today anyone can anonymously rat on any NJ for alleged visa violations (ZG, Mar. 30, 2004)), increased racial profiling on the street and on public transportation, security cameras in “hotbeds of foreign crime” and unscientific “foreigner indexes” applied to forensic crime scene evidence (ZG, Jan. 13, 2004).

    Not only were crackdowns on visa overstayers (i.e., on crimes Japanese cannot by definition commit) officially linked to rises in overall crime, but also mandates reserved for the Immigration Bureau were privatized: Hotels were told by police to ignore the actual letter of the law (which required only tourists be checked) and review every NJ’s ID at check-in (ZG, Mar. 8, 2005). Employers were required to check their NJ employees’ visa status and declare their wages to government agencies (ZG, Nov. 13, 2007). SDF members with foreign spouses were “removed from sensitive posts” (ZG, Aug. 28, 2007). Muslims and their friends automatically became al-Qaida suspects, spied on and infiltrated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (ZG, Nov. 9).

    There were also orgiastic spending frenzies in the name of international security, e.g., World Cup 2002 and the 2008 Toyako G-8 Summit (JBC, Jul. 1, 2008). Meanwhile, NJ fingerprinting, abolished by the government in 1999 as a “violation of human rights,” was reinstated with a vengeance at the border in 2007. Ultimately, however, the NPA found itself falsifying its data to keep its budgets justified — claiming increases even when NJ crime and overstaying went down (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007). Hence, power based upon fear of the foreigner had become an addiction for officialdom, and few Japanese were making a fuss because they thought it didn’t affect them. They were wrong.

    WHY THIS MATTERS: The NPA already has strong powers of search, seizure, interrogation and incarceration granted them by established practice. However, denying human rights to a segment of the population has a habit of then affecting everyone else (ZG, Jul. 8, 2008). Japanese too are now being stopped for bicycle ID checks and bag searches under the same justifications proffered to NJ. Police security cameras — once limited to Tokyo “foreigner zones” suchas Kabukicho, Ikebukuro and Roppongi — are proliferating nationwide. Policing powers are growing stronger because human rights protections have been undermined by precedents set by anti-foreigner policies. Next up: Laws preventing NJ from owning certain kinds of properties for “security reasons,” further tracking of international money transfers, and IC-chipped “gaijin cards” readable from a distance (ZG, May 19, 2009).

    1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009

    For the first time in 48 years, the number of foreigners living in Japan went down. This could be a temporary blip due to the Nikkei repatriation bribe of 2009-2010 (ZG, Apr. 7, 2009), when the government offered goodbye money only to foreigners with Japanese blood. Since 1990, more than a million Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry have come here on special visas to help keep Japan’s industries humming cheaply. Now tens of thousands are pocketing the bribe and going back, giving up their pensions and becoming somebody else’s unemployment statistic.

    WHY THIS MATTERS: NJ numbers will eventually rise again, but the fact that they are going down for the first time in generations is disastrous. For this doesn’t just affect NJ – it affects everyone in Japan. A decade ago, both the U.N. and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi stated that Japan needs 600,000 NJ a year net influx just to maintain its taxpayer base and current standard of living. Yet a decade later, things are going in exactly the opposite way.

    It should be no surprise: Japan has become markedly unfriendly these past ten years. Rampant and unbalanced NJ-bashing have shifted Japanese society’s image of foreigner from “misunderstood guest and outsider” to “social bane and criminal.” Why would anyone want to move here and make a life under these conditions?

    Despite this, everyone knows that public debt is rising while the Japanese population is aging and dropping. Japan’s very economic vitality depends on demographics. Yet the only thing that can save Japan – a clear and fair policy towards immigration – is taboo for discussion (JBC, Nov. 3, 2009). Even after two decades of economic doldrums, it is still unclear whether Japan has either the sense or the mettle to pull itself up from its nosedive.

    The facts of life: NJ will ultimately come to Japan, even if it means that all they find is an elderly society hanging on by its fingernails, or just an empty island. Let’s hope Japan next decade comes to its senses, figuring out not only how to make life here more attractive for NJ, but also how to make foreigners into Japanese.

    ENDS

    Bubbling under for the decade: U.N. Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s 2005 and 2006 visits to Japan, where he called discrimination in Japan “deep and profound” (ZG, Jun. 27, 2006); Japan’s unsuccessful 2006 bid for a U.N. Security Council seat—the only leverage the U.N. has over Japan to follow international treaty; the demise of the racist “Gaijin Hanzai” magazine and its publisher thanks to NJ grassroots protests (ZG, Mar. 20, 2007); the “Hamamatsu Sengen” and other statements by local governments calling for nicer policies towards NJ (ZG, Jun. 3, 2008); the domination of NJ wrestlers in sumo; the withering of fundamental employers of NJ, including Japan’s export factories and the eikaiwa industry (ZG, Dec. 11, 2007).

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

    A TOP TEN FOR 2010

    5) RENHO BECOMES FIRST MULTIETHNIC CABINET MEMBER (June 8 )

    Japanese politicians with international roots are few but not unprecedented. But Taiwanese-Japanese Diet member Renho’s ascension to the Cabinet as minister for administrative reforms has been historic. Requiring the bureaucrats to justify their budgets (famously asking last January, “Why must we aim to develop the world’s number one supercomputer? What’s wrong with being number two?”), she has been Japan’s most vocal policy reformer.

    WHY THIS MATTERS: Few reformers are brave enough to withstand the national sport of politician-bashing, especially when exceptionally cruel criticism began targeting Renho’s ethnic background. Far-rightist Diet member Takeo Hiranuma questioned her very loyalty by saying, “She’s not originally Japanese.” (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2) Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara expanded the focus by claiming people in the ruling coalition had foreign backgrounds, therefore were selling Japan out as a “duty to their ancestors” (JBC, May 4). Fortunately, it did not matter. In last July’s elections, Renho garnered a record 1.7 million votes in her constituency, and retained her Cabinet post regardless of her beliefs, or roots.

    4) P.M. KAN APOLOGIZES TO KOREA FOR 1910 ANNEXATION (August 10)

    After all the bad blood between these strikingly similar societies, Japan’s motion to be nice to South Korea was remarkably easy. No exploitable technicalities about the apology being unofficial, or merely the statements of an individual leader (as was seen in Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s apologies for war misdeeds, or Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s “statement” about “comfort women” – itself a euphemism for war crimes) — just a prime minister using the opportunity of a centennial to formally apologize for Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, backed up by a good-faith return of war spoils.

    WHY THIS MATTERS: At a time when crime, terrorism and other social ills in Japan are hastily pinned on the outside world, these honest and earnest reckonings with history are essential for Japan to move on from a fascist past and strengthen ties with the neighbors. Every country has events in its history to be sorry for. Continuous downplaying — if not outright denial by nationalistic elites — of Japan’s conduct within its former empire will not foster improved relations and economic integration. This applies especially as Asia gets richer and needs Japan less, as witnessed through:

    3) TOURIST VISAS EASED FOR CHINA (July 1)

    Despite a year of bashing Chinese, the government brought in planeloads of them to revitalize our retail economy. Aiming for 10 million visitors this year, Japan lowered visa thresholds for individual Chinese to the point where they came in record numbers, spending, according to the People’s Daily, 160,000 yen per person in August.

    WHY THIS MATTERS: Wealthy Chinese gadding about while Japan faced decreasing salaries caused some bellyaching. Our media (displaying amnesia about Bubble Japan’s behavior) kvetched that Chinese were patronizing Chinese businesses in Japan and keeping the money in-house (Yomiuri, May 25), Chinese weren’t spending enough on tourist destinations (Asahi, Jun. 16), Chinese were buying out Japanese companies and creating “Chapan” (Nikkei Business, Jun. 21), or that Chinese were snapping up land and threatening Japan’s security (The Japan Times, Dec. 18). The tone changed this autumn, however, when regional tensions flared, so along with the jingoism we had Japanese politicians and boosters flying to China to smooth things over and keep the consumers coming.

    Let’s face it: Japan was once bigger than all the other Asian economies combined. But that was then — 2010 was also the year China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. Japan can no longer ignore Asian investment. No nationalistic whining is going to change that. Next up: longer-duration visas for India.

    2) NJ PR SUFFRAGE BILL GOES DOWN IN FLAMES (February 27)

    The ruling coalition sponsored a bill last year granting suffrage in local elections to NJ with permanent residency (ZG, Feb. 23) — an uncharacteristically xenophilic move for Japan. True to form, however, nationalists came out of the rice paddies to deafen the public with scare tactics (e.g., Japan would be invaded by Chinese, who would migrate to sparsely-populated Japanese islands and vote to secede, etc.). They then linked NJ suffrage with other “fin-de-Japon” pet peeves, such as foreign crime, North Korean abductions of Japanese, dual nationality, separate surnames after marriage, and even sex education.

    WHY THIS MATTERS: The campaign resonated. Months after PR suffrage was moribund, xenophobes were still getting city and prefectural governments to pass resolutions in opposition. Far-rightists used it as a political football in election campaigns to attract votes and portray the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as inept.

    They had a point: How could the DPJ sponsor such a controversial bill and not rally behind it as criticisms arose? Where were the potential supporters and spokespeople for the bill, such as naturalized Diet member Marutei Tsurunen? Why were the xenophobes basically the only voice heard during the debate, setting the agenda and talking points? This policy blunder will be a huge setback for future efforts to promote human rights for and integration of NJ residents.

    Bubbling under for the year: Oita High Court rules that NJ have no automatic right to welfare benefits; international pressure builds on Japan to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; Tokyo Metropolitan Police spy on Muslims and fumble their secret files to publishers; America’s geopolitical bullying of Japan over Okinawa’s Futenma military base undermines the Hatoyama administration (JBC, Jun. 1); Ibaraki Detention Center hunger strikers, and the Suraj Case of a person dying during deportation, raise questions about Immigration Bureau procedure and accountability.
    ENDS

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    AP: Japan population shrinks by record numbers in 2010. NYT: Its workers aging, Japan turns away immigrants.

    Posted on Monday, January 3rd, 2011

    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.  Double feature today.  First up, the cold hard statistics as Japan’s population drop accelerate.  Second, the New York Times with an excellent article on how and why immigration to Japan is not being allowed to fill the gap.

    This will funnel into my Japan Times column coming out tomorrow, where I do my annual recount of the Top Ten events that influenced NJ in Japan not only for 2010, but also for 2000-2010.  These phenomena make my Top Ten for both lists.  See where tomorrow!  Arudou Debito

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    Japan population shrinks by record in 2010
    Associated Press Sat Jan 1, 2011, courtesy of TJL

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110101/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_population

    TOKYO – Japan’s population fell by a record amount last year as the number of deaths climbed to an all-time high in the quickly aging country, the government said Saturday.

    Japan faces a looming demographic squeeze. Baby boomers are moving toward retirement, with fewer workers and taxpayers to replace them. The Japanese boast among the highest life expectancies in the world but have extremely low birth rates.

    Japan logged 1.19 million deaths in 2010 — the biggest number since 1947 when the health ministry’s annual records began. The number of births was nearly flat at 1.07 million.

    As a result, Japan contracted by 123,000 people, which was the most ever and represents the fourth consecutive year of population decline. The top causes of death were cancer, heart disease and stroke, the ministry said.

    Japanese aged 65 and older make up about a quarter of Japan’s current population. The government projects that by 2050, that figure will climb to 40 percent.

    Like in other advanced countries, young people are waiting to get married and choosing to have fewer children because of careers and lifestyle issues.

    Saturday’s report showed 706,000 marriages registered last year — the fewest since 1954 and a sign that birth rates are unlikely to jump dramatically anytime soon.

    Japan’s total population stood at 125.77 million as of October, according to the ministry.
    ENDS

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

    The Great Deflation
    This series of articles examines the effects on Japanese society of two decades of economic stagnation and declining prices.

    Its Workers Aging, Japan Turns Away Immigrants [original title]
    [Current title: Despite Shortage, Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor]
    The New York Times
    By HIROKO TABUCHI
    Published: January 2, 2011, courtesy of The Club

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/03/world/asia/03japan.html

    KASHIWA, Japan — Maria Fransiska, a young, hard-working nurse from Indonesia, is just the kind of worker Japan would seem to need to replenish its aging work force.

    But Ms. Fransiska, 26, is having to fight to stay. To extend her three-year stint at a hospital outside Tokyo, she must pass a standardized nursing exam administered in Japanese, a test so difficult that only 3 of the 600 nurses brought here from Indonesia and the Philippines since 2007 have passed.

    So Ms. Fransiska spends eight hours in Japanese language drills, on top of her day job at the hospital. Her dictionary is dog-eared from countless queries, but she is determined: her starting salary of $2,400 a month was 10 times what she could earn back home, and if she fails, she will never be allowed to return to Japan on the same program again.

    “I think I have something to contribute here,” Ms. Fransiska said during a recent visit, spooning mouthfuls of rice and vegetables into the mouth of Heiichi Matsumaru, a 80-year-old patient recovering from a stroke. “If I could, I would stay here long-term, but it is not so easy.”

    Despite facing an imminent labor shortage as its population ages, Japan has done little to open itself up to immigration. In fact, as Ms. Fransiska and many others have discovered, the government is doing the opposite, actively encouraging both foreign workers and foreign graduates of its universities and professional schools to return home while protecting tiny interest groups — in the case of Ms. Fransiska, a local nursing association afraid that an influx of foreign nurses would lower industry salaries.

    In 2009, the number of registered foreigners here fell for the first time since the government started to track annual records almost a half-century ago, shrinking 1.4 percent from a year earlier to 2.19 million people — or just 1.71 percent of Japan’s overall population of 127.5 million.

    Experts say increased immigration provides one obvious remedy to Japan’s two decades of lethargic economic growth. Instead of accepting young workers, however — and along with them, fresh ideas — Tokyo seems to have resigned itself to a demographic crisis that threatens to stunt the country’s economic growth, hamper efforts to deal with its chronic budget deficits and bankrupt its social security system.

    “If you’re in the medical field, it’s obvious that Japan needs workers from overseas to survive. But there’s still resistance,” said Yukiyoshi Shintani, chairman of Aoikai Group, the medical services company that is sponsoring Ms. Fransiska and three other nurses to work at a hospital outside Tokyo. “The exam,” he said, “is to make sure the foreigners will fail.”

    Tan Soon Keong, a student, speaks five languages — English, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese and Hokkien — has an engineering degree, and three years of work experience in his native Malaysia, a track record that would seem to be invaluable to Japanese companies seeking to globalize their business.

    Still, he says he is not confident about landing a job in Japan when he completes his two-year technical program at a college in Tokyo’s suburbs next spring. For one, many companies here set an upper age limit for fresh graduate hires; at 26, most consider him too old to apply. Others have told him they are not hiring foreigners.

    Mr. Tan is not alone. In 2008, only 11,000 of the 130,000 foreign students at Japan’s universities and technical colleges found jobs here, according to the recruitment firm, Mainichi Communications. While some Japanese companies have publicly said they will hire more foreigners in a bid to globalize their work forces, they remain a minority.

    “I’m preparing for the possibility that I may have to return to Malaysia,” Mr. Tan said at a recent job fair for foreign students in Tokyo. “I’d ideally work at a company like Toyota,” he said. “But that’s looking very difficult.”

    Japan is losing skilled talent across industries, experts say. Investment banks, for example, are moving more staff to hubs like Hong Kong and Singapore, which have more foreigner-friendly immigration and taxation regimes, lower costs of living and a local population that speaks better English.

    Foreigners who submitted new applications for residential status — an important indicator of highly skilled labor because the status requires a specialized profession — slumped 49 percent in 2009 from a year earlier to just 8,905 people.

    The barriers to more immigration to Japan are many. Restrictive immigration laws bar the country’s struggling farms or workshops from access to foreign labor, driving some to abuse trainee programs for workers from developing countries, or hire illegal immigrants. Stringent qualification requirements shut out skilled foreign professionals, while a web of complex rules and procedures discourages entrepreneurs from setting up in Japan.

    Given the dim job prospects, universities here have been less than successful at raising foreign student enrollment numbers. And in the current harsh economic climate, as local incomes fall and new college graduates struggle to land jobs, there has been scant political will to broach what has been a delicate topic.

    But Japan’s demographic time clock is ticking: its population will fall by almost a third to 90 million within 50 years, according to government forecasts. By 2055, more than one in three Japanese will be over 65, as the working-age population falls by over a third to 52 million.

    Still, when a heavyweight of the defeated Liberal Democratic Party unveiled a plan in 2008 calling for Japan to accept at least 10 million immigrants, opinion polls showed that a majority of Japanese were opposed. A survey of roughly 2,400 voters earlier this year by the daily Asahi Shimbun showed that 65 percent of respondents opposed a more open immigration policy.

    “The shrinking population is the biggest problem. The country is fighting for its survival,” said Hidenori Sakanaka, director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, an independent research organization. “Despite everything, America manages to stay vibrant because it attracts people from all over the world,” he said. “On the other hand, Japan is content to all but shut out people from overseas.”

    Now, in a vicious cycle, Japan’s economic woes, coupled with a lack of progress in immigration policy and lack of support for immigrants, are sparking an exodus of the precious few immigrants who have settled here.

    Akira Saito, 37, a Brazilian of Japanese descent who traveled to Toyota City 20 years ago from São Paolo, is one foreign worker ready to leave. The small auto maintenance outfit that Mr. Saito opened after a string of factory jobs is struggling, and the clothing store that employs his Brazilian wife, Tiemi, will soon close. Their three young children are among the local Brazilian school’s few remaining pupils.

    For many of Mr. Saito’s compatriots who lost their jobs in the fallout from the global economic crisis, there has been scant government support. Some in the community have taken money from a controversial government-sponsored program designed to encourage jobless migrant workers to go home.

    “I came to Japan for the opportunities,” Mr. Saito said. “Lately, I feel there will be more opportunity back home.”

    Though Japan had experienced a significant amount of migration in the decades after World War II, it was not until the dawn of Japan’s “bubble economy” of the 1980s that real pressure built on the government to relax immigration restrictions as a way to supply workers to industries like manufacturing and construction.

    What ensued was a revision of the immigration laws in a way that policy makers believed would keep the country’s ethnic homogeneity intact. In 1990, Japan started to issue visas to foreign citizens exclusively of Japanese descent, like the descendants of Japanese who immigrated to Brazil in search of opportunities in the last century. In the 1990s, the number of Japanese Brazilians who came to Japan in search of work, like Mr. Saito, surged.

    But the government did little to integrate its migrant populations. Children of foreigners are exempt from compulsory education, for example, while local schools that accept non-Japanese speaking children receive almost no help in caring for their needs. Many immigrant children drop out, supporters say, and most foreign workers here in Homi say they plan to return to Brazil.

    “Japan does not build strong links between immigrants and the local community,” said Hiroyuki Nomoto, who runs a school for immigrant children in Toyota.

    The country is losing its allure even for wide-eyed fans of its cutting-edge technology, pop culture and the seemingly endless business opportunities its developed consumer society appears to offer.

    “Visitors come to Tokyo and see such a high-tech, colorful city. They get this gleam in their eye, they say they want to move here,” said Takara Swoopes Bullock, an American entrepreneur who has lived in Japan since 2005. “But setting up shop here is a completely different thing. Often, it just doesn’t make sense, so people move on.”
    ENDS

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    Posted in Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Labor issues, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 8 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 18, 2010

    Posted on Saturday, December 18th, 2010

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    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 18, 2010
    Table of Contents:

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    IMMIGRATION AND HEADS IN THE SAND
    1) Latest numbers on Japan’s registered NJ population from MOJ (November 2010)
    2) Economist.com special report on Japan: How it all comes back down to demographics
    3) Economist.com podcast on costs and benefits of immigration
    4) WSJ: Domestic Group Appeals for Overhaul of Japanese Immigration
    5) Japan Times Community Page on issues of dual citizenship: “Japan loses, rest of the world gains from ‘one citizenship fits all’ policy”
    6) CNNGo.com: “Will there ever be a rainbow Japan?”
    7) Tangent: LA Times: PRC Census also measures for ethnicity, unlike Japan’s Census

    WORKPLACE ISSUES
    8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST SPECIAL: Speech by Neo Yamashita of EWA Osaka union on your contract labor rights
    9) Japan Times Community Page on NJ “Trainee Visa” slavery program and how crooked it still is, according to NGOs
    10) McNeill in Mainichi on how Japan Inc. needs to loosen up to women and NJ executives
    11) Tangent: NHK: GOJ enshrining more rights for handicapped. Hope for same for NJ?

    SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY
    12) Japan Times: “Darling foreigner” Tony Laszlo is “less passionate today” about discrimination against foreigners
    13) “Black Melon Pan” Afros as food: Insensitive marketing by Mini-Stop Konbini
    14) YouTube video showing NPA Bicycle Instant Checkpoint supersedes attention to car accident
    15) Yomiuri: ‘Leaked MPD data’ out as book / Documents published as is; names of police, NJ informants revealed

    … and finally …

    16) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE, Dec 7, 2010: “MOFA gets E for effort in ‘with or without U’ farce” (full text)

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

    By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org)
    Daily blog updates, discussions, and RSS feeds at www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

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

    IMMIGRATION AND HEADS IN THE SAND

    1) Latest numbers on Japan’s registered NJ population from MOJ (November 2010)

    I gave two lectures a couple of weeks ago at Hokudai’s International Student Center on Japan’s multicultural future (a prognostication I find a bit weaker in recent years, what with the drop in NJ numbers in 2009 in all honesty, especially after the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe). So I went on a dig for the most recent GOJ stats on NJ residents, and think it appropriate for this weekend’s blog entry. Have a look. Six screen captures with commentary. For example:

    COMMENT: Here we have the number of resident NJ by nationality. As of 2007, the Chinese residents overtook the Koreans (North and South and Zainichi) for the first time in history, and are significantly more numerous than before. Their numbers are not abating, whereas the Koreans and Brazilians are going down significantly. Up also are people from The Philippines. Peruvians and Americans down slightly, while people from “sono ta” other countries are increasing their percentage of the population by a few fractions of a percent every year. Vietnamese, Thais, Subcontinental Indians, and Nepalese are the most significant gainers in this categories, growing by more than 10,000 souls over the past decade.

    COMMENT: Here we have registered NJ by Status of Residence again, showing us how the numbers have changed over time. Permanent Residents have increased significantly unabated, except that the Special PRs (Zainichis) keep dropping significantly, while the Regular (immigrants) keep increasing significantly both in number and percentage (8.4%) over 2009 (they crossed lines in 2007; there are now significantly more “Newcomer” immigrants than “Oldcomer” Zainichis). Meanwhile, the non-Permanents have dropped by nearly 5% over the past year. The largest drop percentages are the “Trainees” (generally Chinese working in factories, allegedly receiving training but often being used as slave laborers) by nearly a quarter, and the Long-Term Residents (Nikkei workers, again being offered bribes to go “home” and be somebody else’s unemployment statistic). Also significantly dropping are the “Entertainers” (often people working in the sex trades, again slavery except this time sexual), at 15.8% which to me is good news.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8032

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    2) Economist.com special report on Japan: How it all comes back down to demographics

    Interesting podcasts from The Economist London (November 20, 2010) on how Japan’s economic future all comes down to demographics. Links to podcasts:

    Eight minutes:
    Economist Editor: “Unless Japan takes dramatic steps to reenergize its shrinking, greying workforce, its economy will suffer.”

    Henry Tricks: “When I set about writing this report, I didn’t start out by looking at population decline. I looked at all the other problems… but everything seemed to come back down to demographics.”

    My interpretation: There is no getting around immigration. NJ will come. Whether they find a weakened elderly population in the near future, or an empty island in the far future, they will come. They had better be made into Japanese or there will be no more Japanese.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8064

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    3) Economist.com podcast on costs and benefits of immigration

    Economist: What can you tell us as far as what you know about the fiscal burden of immigration, and the fiscal benefits of immigrants?

    Robert Shapiro, former Prez. Clinton advisor: Particularly in five or six states, where immigrants are highly concentrated, there’s a fiscal deficit. Much of that has to do with educating children of immigrants. That’s the single largest cost. But if you look at it more dynamically, immigrants tend to be aggressive about improving their conditions. Aggressive enough to leave their homeland. These are not the kinds of people who take life as it’s been given to them. They try to make the best of their lives, and so you would expect to see some income gains — whether they start out as a day laborer or as an entrepreneur. The whole issue of entrepreneurship is interesting, because we find that not only do you see a lot of entrepreneurship among educated immigrants, particularly from Asia — and this has been commented on: the large volume of Silicon Valley startups that were started by immigrants, particularly from India. You see this also among undocumented immigrants, who are generally low-skilled people. Now they’re different kinds of businesses they’re starting. But that’s entrepreneurship, whether it’s a software startup, or a small corner business…

    [There is] another benefit of immigration — and a fiscal benefit. And that is, immigrants — and they generally come in early working age — they work their whole lives, if they stay here their whole lives, and then they retire. That’s the same as an American, except that the American working young worker has parents. Who claim social security and medicare. Immigrants come without their elderly parents, and in that sense we get a contribution to the labor force without having to pay out the benefits to the parent. When you’re talking about millions of people, that’s big money…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8059

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    4) WSJ: Domestic Group Appeals for Overhaul of Japanese Immigration

    WSJ: A powerful group of politicians, academics and business leaders is set to launch an unusual campaign to urge Japan to pry open its doors to foreigners, saying the country’s survival hinges on revamping its immigration policy.

    Japan has one of the most restrictive immigration policies in the world, and the debate over whether to allow more foreigners to settle in the country has long been a contentious, politically charged issue for the nation. But recently, calls to allow more foreign workers to enter Japan have become louder, as the aging population continues to shrink and the country’s competitiveness and economic growth pales in comparison with its neighbor to the west: China. A minuscule 1.7% of the overall Japanese population are foreigners, compared with 6.8% in the United Kingdom and 21.4% in Switzerland, according to the OECD.

    The 87-member policy council of the Japan Forum of International Relations, a powerful nonprofit research foundation, will on Thursday launch a half-page advertisement in the country’s leading newspapers, urging Japan to rethink its immigration policy. They also submitted their policy recommendations to Naoto Kan, the country’s prime minister.

    “If Japan wants to survive in a globalized world economy and to advance her integration with the burgeoning East Asian economy, she essentially has no other choice but to accept foreign migrants,” the advertisement says.

    The policy council has issued several recommendations, including allowing more skilled workers to enter the labor market, particularly in industries where there are shortages of domestic workers, such as construction and the auto industry. Under economic-partnership agreements with Indonesia and the Philippines, Tokyo has allowed nurses and nursing-care specialists from these countries to enter Japan, but applicants are subjected to a grueling test in Japanese that only three people have passed. The council says these tests have to be made easier…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7929

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    5) Japan Times Community Page on issues of dual citizenship: “Japan loses, rest of the world gains from ‘one citizenship fits all’ policy”

    Japan Times: What does Japan gain by, in effect, rejecting my children and thousands of other young dual citizens living in Japan and around the world, at the very moment when they come of age and are at last able to become productive members of society?

    Best as I can figure, the only virtue of the “one citizenship fits all” rule is simplicity.

    What does Japan lose by rejecting dual citizenship? … One wonders if the existing policy of denying permanent dual citizenship to people who possessed the status as children is motivated by a concern that altering it would lead to dual citizenship demands by others, such as ethnic Korean residents of Japan or Brazilians of Japanese descent. Rather than risk facing such demands, government officials might have concluded that it is “better to leave well enough alone.” However, allowing people who already have Japanese citizenship to keep it will not inevitably lead to more far-reaching changes to Japan’s Nationality Law.

    Given its dire demographic outlook, perhaps Japan should open a dialogue on radical changes to its Nationality Law, such as a U.S.-style “birthright” giving citizenship to all people born on Japanese soil, an Israeli-style “Law of Return” allowing the ingathering of all ethnic Japanese everywhere in their ancestral homeland, or an Irish-style “Grandparent Rule” granting citizenship to anyone who can document having one Japanese grandparent. But even if Japan is not willing to open its door that widely, it should at least stop slamming the door on some of its own citizens shortly after they reach adulthood…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8019

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    6) CNNGo.com: “Will there ever be a rainbow Japan?”

    CNNGo: Japan: The new melting pot?

    Japan’s national government recently announced it is turning to travelers in a foreigner-friendly mission to boost diversity — at least in tourist spots — by paying them to provide feedback on how to increase accessibility for non-Japanese speakers.

    David Askew, associate professor of law at Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University, identifies more profound changes.

    In 1965, a mere 1 in 250 of all marriages in Japan were international, he notes. By 2004, the number had climbed to 1 in 15 across the nation and 1 in 10 in Tokyo.

    According to Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government, by 2005, foreign residents in the city numbered 248,363, up from 159,073 in 1990.

    According to Askew, the upswing in diverse residents and mixed marriages has led to another phenomenon: between 1987 and 2004, more than 500,000 children were born in Japan with at least one foreign parent…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7995

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    7) Tangent: LA Times: PRC Census also measures for ethnicity, unlike Japan’s Census

    LAT: “Similar to the census process in the United States, most people [in China] are given a standard [census] form with a few basic questions: 18 of them centering on names, ages, occupation. Ethnicity is also asked, but not religion, that being a sensitive subject in a communist country that is officially atheist. One-tenth of the population, meanwhile, was selected for a longer, 45-question form that includes queries about income, savings, the type of water one drinks (tap or boiled) and the number of bathrooms in the house…”

    COMMENT: What’s interesting as far as Debito.org goes is that, despite some claims of Chinese homogeneity thanks to the Han majority, the PRC apparently DOES survey for ethnicity. Unlike the GOJ. Again, that’s the hegemony of homogeneity in Japan.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7920

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    WORKPLACE ISSUES

    8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST SPECIAL: Speech by Neo Yamashita of EWA Osaka union on your contract labor rights

    DEBITO.ORG PODCAST DECEMBER 1, 2010
    PALE SIG Forum: Labor relations in Japan

    Language: English
    From recruitment through retirement (or dismissal), labor laws, court precedents, and labor unions affect educational workers. Educational workers, especially non-Japanese, however, are not well informed or even misled about this. For example, though Westerners want written contracts, Japanese labor advocates recommend not signing contracts in some cases to protect employment rights. This recommendation is based on labor law and court precedents. Accordingly, labor unions play a more crucial role in protecting worker rights than some think.

    Neo Yamashita, Vice Chair of the Education Workers and Amalgamated Union Osaka (EWA), gives us his decades of expertise on November 20, 2010. Podcast listenable from here. 87 minutes. No cuts.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7968

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    9) Japan Times Community Page on NJ “Trainee Visa” slavery program and how crooked it still is, according to NGOs

    JT: In October 1999, 19 Chinese trainees came to the Takefu city office pleading for help. In their first year in Japan as interns, the women had been promised JPY50,000 a month, but scraped by on JPY10,000. The next year, as technical trainees, they should have received JPY115,000 a month. After health insurance, pension, rent, forced “savings” and administrative fees for the staffing agency in China were deducted, what they got was JPY15,000. The women walked for five hours from their workshop in the mountains of Fukui Prefecture to talk with the director of their placement organization at his home. Instead of receiving answers, they were turned away with harsh words — and even blows.

    The incident was discussed in the Diet and became a symbol of the profound problems with the trainee system. Shortly afterwards, citizens’ groups formed to protect the rights of trainees and organizations already working to protect foreigners’ rights found a new focus. More than 10 years later, leaders of these groups say they have seen some positive changes, but abuses of the system are still endemic…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8006

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    10) McNeill in Mainichi on how Japan Inc. needs to loosen up to women and NJ executives

    McNeill: I’ve talked about Japan’s reluctance to embrace mass immigration in this column before. Here’s something else to consider: Japan’s boardrooms are still almost completely devoid of foreigners — and females.

    Women make up just 1.2 percent of top Japanese executives, according to business publisher Toyo Keizai; gaijin board members on Japan’s roughly 4,000 listed companies are as rare as hens’ teeth.

    The exception is a handful of troubled giants, notably Sony Corp., which made Welshman Howard Stringer its chairman and CEO in 2005, and Nissan Motor Co., where Brazilian Carlos Ghosn has been in charge for over a decade.

    That lack of diversity worries some bosses. Last year the Japan Association of Corporate Executives published the results of a two-year survey that called on its members to revolutionize boardroom practices.

    “Japanese firms are terribly behind in accepting diversity,” said association vice chairman Hasegawa Yasuchika. “They should radically transform their corporate culture to provide the same opportunities to employees all around the world.”

    Easier said than done, perhaps. Ever since Japan’s corporations began moving overseas in the 1970s, they have followed a tried and tested formula: Whatever happens in transplants and local operations abroad, control stays in the iron grip of the all-Japanese boardroom back home…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7948

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    11) Tangent: NHK: GOJ enshrining more rights for handicapped. Hope for same for NJ?

    We might have the image of the DPJ being too bogged down in politics to get much done. But as NHK reports below (be sure to watch video too from the link), we have some pretty impressive lawmaking being done by a more liberal government for one underprivileged segment of Japanese society — the handicapped.

    The committee’s deliberations are saying the things we want guaranteed vis-a-vis human rights for human beings — including protections enshrined in law. With this precedent and degree of enlightenment, can we but hope that they could someday stretch it to include non-citizens? The linkage, however tenuous, is there. Have a read:

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7936

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    SOMETHING SMELLS FISHY

    12) Japan Times: “Darling foreigner” Tony Laszlo is “less passionate today” about discrimination against foreigners

    Japan Times: Apart from writing, Laszlo taught for a few years at Japanese universities, and has also set up an nongovernmental organization, Issho Kikaku, in 1992. Through this NGO, he put on theatrical shows related to multicultural issues, and later, dealt with social issues such as discrimination against foreigners.

    “In those days, personally, I felt a strong desire to avoid a simple dichotomy between Japanese and non-Japanese, male and female, family and friends, handicapped and nonhandicapped,” he said. Today, he said he is less passionate about the issues, and that the group’s activities have become more low-key…

    COMMENT: Low key? I’ll say. This “issho kikaku” has a one-page website which hasn’t changed for years — moreover has done away with hundreds of pages of works from other NJ and Japanese activists that were a priceless archive of domestic activism from the late 1990’s-early 2000’s. In fact, this “issho kikaku” was never an NGO at all. Never registered as one, in fact, yet still reported as extant by a too-trusting reporter. So “low-key” is an understatement: how about “no-key” or “delete-key”?…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8071

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    13) “Black Melon Pan” Afros as food: Insensitive marketing by Mini-Stop Konbini

    Here’s a letter from cyberspace on another potentially offensive marketing campaign portraying African features as black-bread Afros to sell food.

    No doubt we’ll get the defenders of this sort of marketing, e.g. “Japan has so few black people it has no sensitivity to this sort of thing”, “it’s not racist, at least not intentionally”, “lighten up guys, and stop foisting your cultural values on the Japanese”, or “it’s a Japanese character, not a real black character, so it’s not a problem”. Any other naysaying? Oh wait, yeah, “you just don’t get Japan”. Anyway, check this out:

    XY: My name is XY, Founder and Director of [….] a marketing consultancy in [Japan] that researches Japanese consumer behavior on behalf of our international clients like Coca-Cola, VISA credit cards etc. As such, I often peruse the shelves of convenience stores to see what the latest trends are. I was shocked to find in my local Mini-Stop the all-new campaign for “black melon pan”, a bread that parodies a black man’s afro on the package. This is no small thing. Mini-Stop is a very large and growing combini chain and this is a signature campaign prominently advertised and displayed on their shelves…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8045

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    14) YouTube video showing NPA Bicycle Instant Checkpoint supersedes attention to car accident

    AT: Hey Debito, you gotta check out this YouTube video showing a prime example of the incompetence of the Japanese police. A guy riding a bicycle gets stopped by a police officer for no reason, which happens a lot in Japan. As the officer is asking him questions (which the guy is under no obligation to answer), we can hear an obvious traffic accident take place in the background just around the corner, and both the police officer and the bicyclist hear it. A reasonable police officer would realize that that was a traffic accident and that people may be injured and need first aid, etc. But no, this cop continues to question the bicyclist as if nothing happened. At one point he even denies that it may be a traffic accident. After the bicyclist convinces him to do so, he notifies dispatch of the traffic accident, and then continues to question the bicyclist rather than tending to the possibly injured! This cop neglected to tend to a possibly serious and fatal traffic accident, all so he can perform shokumu shitsumon (voluntary questioning) on a bicyclist!

    http://www.debito.org/?p=8050

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    15) Yomiuri: ‘Leaked MPD data’ out as book / Documents published as is; names of police, NJ informants revealed

    This breaking news from the weekend compounds just how sinister the activities of the Japanese police can be. First spying on people in the name of combating terrorism because they’re Muslims or connected to Muslims, then losing control of the information to the point where it becomes a book on sale to the public. Shame on you, Metropolitan Police Department. Imagine how big a scandal this would have been if Japanese people had been treated similarly.

    Now, of course, since this is embarrassing to the police, the book (as per checks with Amazon.co.jp and an in-person check at Kinokuniya Sapporo yesterday) is no longer being sold. Good. But that sure was quick, compared to how much comparative time and effort it took for the Gaijin Hanzai Ura Files Mook in 2007 (which I believe the police contributed information to) to go off-market. Seems to me less the need to protect individual NJ than for the police to cover their collective ketsu. Whatever. The book is off the market. The materials for it shouldn’t have been collected in the first place.

    Yomiuri: A Tokyo publishing house has released a book containing what are believed to be Metropolitan Police Department antiterrorism documents that were leaked onto the Internet last month.

    Released by Dai-San Shokan Thursday, the book contains the personal information of Muslim residents in this country, such as their names and addresses.

    Akira Kitagawa, president of the publisher, said he decided to put out the book “to raise questions about the laxity of the police’s information control system.”…

    The 469-page book, titled “Ryushutsu ‘Koan Tero Joho’ Zen Deta” (Leaked police terrorism info: all data), is on sale at some bookstores, but several major publishing agents have refused to distribute it.

    If the documents are authentic, the book contains the names and photos of foreign residents being monitored by the 3rd Foreign Affairs Division at the Public Security Bureau of the MPD, the names of people who have cooperated with the police, and the photos and addresses of police officers involved in terrorism investigations.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7961

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    … and finally …

    16) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE, Dec 7, 2010: “MOFA gets E for effort in ‘with or without U’ farce”

    JUST BE CAUSE
    The Japan Times: Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010
    MOFA gets E for effort in ‘with or without U’ farce [not my title]
    By ARUDOU DEBITO
    Column 34 for Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE

    Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101207ad.html
    Version with links to sources and discussion at http://www.debito.org/?p=8010

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

    All before the holidays start. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org)
    Daily blog updates, discussions, and RSS feeds at www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 18, 2010 ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Economist.com podcast on costs and benefits of immigration

    Posted on Wednesday, December 15th, 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 now on iTunes, subscribe free
    Hi Blog. Here is what Robert Shapiro, former economic adviser to President Clinton, says about the positive financial impact of new waves of immigration, in this case to the United States:

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

    (Courtesy Economist.com Podcast June 23, 2010, from minute 1:44; typos mine)

    Economist: Even in the best of economic times, there are concerns about the fiscal impact of immigration: How they’re using services, what they’re contributing in taxation… that’s obviously become more of a concern given the recession. What can you tell us as far as what you know about the fiscal burden of immigration, and the fiscal benefits of immigrants?

    Shapiro: Particularly in five or six states, where immigrants are highly concentrated, there’s a fiscal deficit. Much of that has to do with educating children of immigrants. That’s the single largest cost. But if you look at it more dynamically, immigrants tend to be aggressive about improving their conditions. Aggressive enough to leave their homeland. These are not the kinds of people who take life as it’s been given to them. They try to make the best of their lives, and so you would expect to see some income gains — whether they start out as a day laborer or as an entrepreneur. The whole issue of entrepreneurship is interesting, because we find that not only do you see a lot of entrepreneurship among educated immigrants, particularly from Asia — and this has been commented on: the large volume of Silicon Valley startups that were started by immigrants, particularly from India. You see this also among undocumented immigrants, who are generally low-skilled people. Now they’re different kinds of businesses they’re starting. But that’s entrepreneurship, whether it’s a software startup, or a small corner business…

    [There is] another benefit of immigration — and a fiscal benefit. And that is, immigrants — and they generally come in early working age — they work their whole lives, if they stay here their whole lives, and then they retire. That’s the same as an American, except that the American working young worker has parents. Who claim social security and medicare. Immigrants come without their elderly parents, and in that sense we get a contribution to the labor force without having to pay out the benefits to the parent. When you’re talking about millions of people, that’s big money…

    Economist…Is immigration responsible for holding down wages in the US, or for slow wage growth?

    Shapiro: If you look at the aggregate, there is no evidence that shows that immigrants have had any depressive effect on the average wage in the United States.  However, there are winners and losers. Immigration actually appears to be responsible for gains in wages for higher-skilled Americans.  The reason for this is that you have large numbers of relatively low-skilled immigrants that allow the expansion of organizations — because they can hire more people because they are less expensive.  That expansion requires more higher-skilled people to manage it, for all the ancillary services, advance services associated with a large organization. And so it seems be associated with putting upward pressure on the wages of highly-skilled people.  It also puts downward pressure on the wages of low-skilled Americans.

    EXCERPT ENDS

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    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues, Tangents | 7 Comments »

    ELT News and Daily Yomiuri columnist Mike Guest misrepresents not only the record, but also his own academic credentials

    Posted on Wednesday, November 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
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog.  There is a person out there (one of many, no doubt) who takes a dim view of what we do here at Debito.org.  To the point of saying things in a published column we did not say.  Have a read of this.  Comment from me follows.

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

    EFL News, October 29, 2010

    The Uni-Files
    A candid look at EFL life and lessons from a university teacher’s perspective.
    By Mike Guest, Miyazaki University

    http://www.eltnews.com/columns/uni_files/2010/10/today_a_unifiles_interview_wit.html

    An “interview” with controversial human rights activist Orudo Debiru
    Categories:  Amusement/Fiction foreigners in Japan

    Today- a Uni-files interview with the controversial activist and newspaper columnist Orudo Debiru

    (For those who don’t know, Orudo Debiru is a naturalized Japanese citizen, originally from the U.S. His main claim to fame is his activism for human rights, especially the rights of non-Japanese in Japan. He is also wholly fictional and if he happens to resemble some actual person from say, Hokkaido, that’s because you, dear reader, made an unwarranted connection. Today he joins us with one of his most ardent, and equally fictional, supporters- Jay Newbie).

    Uni-files: Debiru, in a recent newspaper article you argued that even non-Japanese living outside Japan, including those who have never set foot in Japan, should have the right to vote in Japanese elections. You also argued that they should be eligible for all the public and social services offered by the Japanese government, including pensions and welfare benefits. This seems to be a bit radical don’t you think?

    Debiru: No. Otherwise you’re discriminating between Japanese people and non-residents. Why should only Japanese have access to the benefits of ‘Team Japan’?

    Newbie: Japan owes something to the world. It can’t just always be take, take, take. Japan has to give in return.

    Debiru: Japan is the only ‘developed’ county that doesn’t provide the vote for it’s non-citizens who live elsewhere.

    Uni-files: Really? No country in the EU does that, nor do Canada, U.S., or Australia.

    Debiru: What other countries do is irrelevant! What’s right is right! Are you saying that it is right for Japan to be discriminatory?

    Uni-files: Debiru, you and your supporters often mention that some attitudes, policies, or states of affairs occur ‘only in Japan’ among developed countries. It seems that you buy into notions of Japanese uniqueness or exclusivity. Do you?

    Debiru: Not at all! The notion of Japanese uniqueness is a nationalist myth!

    Newbie: Of all developed countries, only the Japanese think of themselves as being unique. It seems to be part of the Japanese mentality. They believe whatever the government tells them. You won’t find this type of belief in Western countries anymore, only in Japan.

    Uni-files: Ok. Let’s move on. You’ve also blogged about “how the Japanese authorities plan to incarcerate all foreign residents as a precaution against the foreign criminals”. I haven’t come across any such policy statements. Can you ground this?

    Debiru: Well, I was scouring the internet looking for anything that might prove my preconceptions about the ulterior motives of the Japanese authorities when I came across another blogger who talked about how his upholsterer in Inaka Prefecture thought he had overheard a conversation at a vegetable stand about the local district council becoming more vigilant about registering foreigners for social services and helping them with securing housing. And I can substantiate it too- with a link to the blog. Anyway, to me, being told to ‘stay in your house’ in this manner is equivalent to incarceration. And the registration is clearly a way of rounding up the foreigners- just like a crminal [sic] dragnet.

    Newbie: In any civilized country this would cause mass rioting in the streets. But because the Japanese are such compliant sheep, not to mention the blatant racism here, no one will stand up for us. The Japanese just pretend that foreigners don’t exist. They stare at us like we’re from another planet.

    Uni-files: That must be tough for them to do, both ignoring your existence and staring at you at the same time!

    Debiru: This is just the start of the whole racist process. Next thing you know, your pension is declared null and void and your ‘ha-fu’ kids are kicked out of school for not being Japanese enough.

    Newbie: Wow, Debiru. That was your best answer yet!

    Uni-files: Let me ask about these racism charges a bit. For example, I know that you oppose the fingerprinting of non-Japanese at airports but can this really be called racist? After all, it is based upon citizenship, right? For example, Debiru, you are racially Caucasian but, as a Japanese citizen, you don’t have to be fingerprinted. And someone who is racially ‘Japanese’- although Japanese isn’t even a racial category- but doesn’t hold a Japanese passport still has to be fingerprinted. So while it may be other things, how can you say it is ‘racist’?

    Debiru: Don’t feed the troll, Newbie. Don’t feed the troll.

    Uni-files: Ok, nect [sic] question. Regarding a specific recent blog entry of yours… You recently criticized the city of Sonzainashi for exploiting non-Japanese. Apparently, the city authorities had developed a ‘Welcome Foreign Guests’ plan in which selected hotels, hot springs, eateries, bars and so on offered English information and services and had started a promotional campaign that actively encouraged non-Japanese to visit. So, what was the thrust of your criticism?

    Debiru: When they carry out this facile, deceitful put-on for non-Japanese they’re only doing it because they want their business. “Let’s take the foreigner’s money away from them” is the real motivation. ‘Yohkoso Japan!’- Yeah, right!

    Newbie: I consider it a form of robbery; another way of victimizing us, the weakest members of this society.

    Uni-files: You guys seem to be very negative about anything to do with Japan, even when Japan scores an apparent success.

    Newbie: That’s because Japan places everyone into an us and them paradigm. They do it all the time. They have institutionalized the formula. They use it to justify oppressive policies. We would never do that in the U.S. We have laws that forbid it and an education system that teaches us not to do so.

    Uni-files:So, given that Debiru is Japanese, would you put him among that number?

    Newbie: Well, I mean, he’s not really a Japanese in the same way they are. (Debiru stares at Newbie). Well I mean, like, he’s not exactly Japanese like them. So to speak. He’s a different Japanese from all the other Japanese. (Debiru continues staring at him). Well, of course he’s just the same as them in that he’s a Japanese citizen. But Debiru is more…ummm… progressive. (Debiru smiles).

    Uni-files: OK. Back to the point. Wouldn’t you at least agree that public order and efficiency here is quite excellent?

    Debiru: Japanese public order is maintained by coercion and implicit threat. It’s fifty years behind most other countries in this regard.

    Uni-files: OK. How about robotics? Or even toilet technology?

    Newbie: Robotics here is 36 years behind every other country in the world. And Japan is 23 years behind as far as toilets go.

    Uni-files: On what basis can you make such bold claims?

    Newbie: Three months ago in the U.S., before I came to Japan, I visited another state for the first time. And their toilets were better than here. Not as xenophobic.

    Uni-files: Ok. How about manga and animation? Surely Japan’s ranking in these…

    Newbie: You sound like a Japan apologist, acting as if racism never occurs here. Like nothing ever happened in Nanjing!

    Debiru: Speaking of which, China has overtaken Japan as the world’s #2 power so Japan can’t possibly be leaders in those fields and therefore must be on the decline in all catgories.[sic] And it is this frustration at being a washed up, has-been society that it causing Japanese to lash out at foreigners.

    Uni-files: Really? How so?

    Debiru: It happens all the time. Read my blog.

    Uni-files: I don’t doubt that there are individual cases but I don’t see it as systemic.

    Debiru: If it isn’t systemic, why would I have so many blog posts? That’s all the proof you need! Anyway, just on our way over to this interview the taxi driver spat at us, called us ‘Dirty foreigners’ and told us to ‘Get out!”.

    Uni-files: Wow! In twenty years in Japan I have never even come close to experiencing anything remotely like that. Can you elaborate? He spat at you?!

    Debiru: Well, he was making disgusting sucking sounds with his teeth so that you could hear the saliva washing around. To me that’s spitting.

    Uni-files: I wouldn’t call that spitting…

    Debiru: Stay on topic! The point is he would never have done that if the passenger was visibly Japanese.

    Uni-files: I see. And he called you a ‘dirty foreigner’?

    Debiru: Well he called us “gaikokujin no kata”.

    Uni-files: But that’s a very polite way of just saying ‘foreigner’! Where’s the ‘dirty’ part?

    Newbie: Well we already know that the Japanese are racist and xenophobic so we can safely assume what he must have been thinking.

    Uni-files: And the ‘Get out!’ part?

    Newbie: He asked us where we wanted to “get out”. (awkward silence). It’s semantics.

    Debiru: Not only that but I am not a foreigner. I’m a Japanese citizen. (starts sniffling) I was… racially profiled!

    Newbie: (patting Debiru’s slumping shoulders) There, there. Now you are a racial profiling survivor!

    Debiru (brightening up): If Japan had an anti-discrimination law with any teeth he’d have his ass hauled off to jail.

    Newbie: Exactly. And you know what, you’ll never see the weak-kneed Japanese media or the history textbooks pick up on stories like this either. They don’t want to hear about these high-octane truths.

    Debiru: This is precisely why we need laws against racism, xenophobia, being opposed to immigration, questioning multiculturalism, and other wrong and hateful thoughts.

    Uni-files: So you’re in favor of more state authority and policing over what people think?

    Debiru: Are you kidding? The police and judiciary here are totally inept and corrupt. They should stay out of people’s lives… ummm…except for the lives of those people who hold unhealthy views.

    Uni-files: One more thing about this case. You say that you were racially profiled because the taxi driver believed that you were a foreigner, which by the way, is a mistake that most non-Japanese would probably make as well. But how do you know that the driver was in fact Japanese. Couldn’t he have been ethnically Korean or Chinese? In other words, didn’t you profile him equally?

    Debiru: (closes his eyes) Don’t feed the troll, don’t feed the troll.

    Uni-files: Ok. Last question. I’m wondering how you chose your Japanese name.

    Debiru: It’s the closest phonetic approximation to my previous name. In fact, I asked to have a different, more suitable name first but was refused by the [iyami deleted] Japanese authorities.

    Uni-files: And what name was that?

    Debiru: Martin Luther King.

    Leave a comment (47)

    http://www.eltnews.com/columns/uni_files/2010/10/today_a_unifiles_interview_wit.html

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

    Author’s Profile at ELT News
    Mike Guest is Associate Professor of English in the School of Medicine at the University of Miyazaki. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, he has been living, working, and researching in Japan (not to mention lounging in the professors-jacuzzi and taking lengthy, fully-funded research trips to 5-star beach resorts in Bora-Bora) for almost twenty years.

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

    COMMENT:  What a card.  Well, for those unfamiliar with Mr Guest, he is a columnist at ELT News and the Daily Yomiuri (I even wrote about one of his DY columns here at Debito.org, favorably).  However, what inspired a column of this caliber and tone in the ELT News (under the heading of “a candid look at EFL life and lessons from a university teacher’s perspective”) is a bit beyond me.  Its fallacious attributions (these statements are not quotes from me; if Mr Guest had critiqued actual quotes — and lordy knows there are years of my words online he could have referred to — that would have been better, no?  Better yet, why not just interview me?), the presumption that people who support or comment at Debito.org must be malinformed Newbies, the general mean-spiritedness of it all, et cetera — are quite unbecoming for a person aiming to be a respected opinionist by taking puerile pot-shots at people on professional educational fora.

    Especially in the Comments section where, amongst other obnoxious ripostes, he had this to say:

    Alright, since Mr Guest decided to compare academic credentials, I decided to research his.  Here’s what I found at his university website, where he has a one-year contract as an English teacher:

    This looks okay, until you do some research.  Aston University is a distance learning school in Birmingham UK that does indeed offer his degree (probably this one here).  Fine.

    However, Regent College is NOT the University of British Columbia, one of Canada’s top universities.  Regent College is a Christian Studies school next door to UBC.  As was confirmed with Regent College the other day:

    =========================
    Subject: RE: Degree
    Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010
    From: Regent College Admissions

    Thanks for your email. Regent College is a completely separate institution from UBC. We have some partnerships/affiliations with UBC, but a degree awarded from Regent College is solely from Regent and unrelated to UBC entirely. [emphasis added]

    I hope this helps – please don’t hesitate to ask if you have further questions! If you are interested in receiving information about our MDiv degree, I’d be happy to send you our MDiv materials.

    Blessings,
    Amy Petroelje, Inquiries and Housing Coordinator
    Regent College
    5800 University Blvd Vancouver, BC V6T 2E4

    phone 604.224.3245 toll.free 800.663.8664 fax 604.224.3097
    www.regent-college.edu
    www.facebook.com/regentcollege
    www.twitter.com/regentcollege

    =========================
    email ends

    So when I asked Mr Guest about his qualifications last week after his presentation at JALT Nagoya, here’s what he claimed:

    SOUND FILE:  mikeguestUBC112010

    Reconfirmed.  No possible misunderstanding about (putting UBC in parentheses) on his school katagaki.  He says UBC only, no mention of Regent College.  He has misrepresented his educational background.

    Now, some might say that this might just be a form of shorthand, for an audience that might not know what Regent College is — as Mr Guest argued shortly afterwards:

    SOUND FILE:  doctorguest112010

    but as even his alma mater acknowledges, a degree from Regent College is not a degree from UBC.  It’s like saying somebody who graduated from Ithaca College, or Cornell College for that matter, graduated from Cornell University.  Not an ethical thing for an educational professional to do, especially when he wishes to establish himself as a credible critiquer of educational matters.

    So if Mr Guest wants to scrutinize others, I hope he will accept the same public scrutiny.  Sadly, I’m not sure he will.  The following, written shortly after our first meeting at JALT Nagoya on a site called “Tepido.org” (an interesting choice of venue; it’s a website devoted *solely* to trashing me personally and people who contribute to Debito.org, run by blogger Mr Ken Yasumoto-Nicolson and toy store employee Mr Lance Braman), indicates that Mr Guest’s antagonism, dismissiveness, defensiveness, and blame-shifting continue unabated:

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

    Mike Guest Says:
    November 21st, 2010 at 7:51 am

    http://tepido.org/heterogeneous-responses/182#comment-1204

    It’s funny that this discussion about credentials should come up here now. Yesterday, Debito attended my presentation at the JALT Conference in Nagoya and confronted me afterwards. I wasn’t really surprised. First, during the Q and A session, he asked what my credentials were. A left-field question to be sure and I knew that he was up to something. Later he came to the front as I was packing up, with a bit of a manic gleam in his eye, a voice recorder in his hand, looking like an intrepid young reporter who’s ‘gonna take yer ass downtown’, and began a prepared spiel, trying very hard to be intimidating (but looking me to me a bit more like a caricature).

    He said (among other things) that I was a fraud because I had misrepresented my academic credentials (I imagine this will be up on his site soon if not already). For the record, the crux was this: I have a BA from Simon Fraser Univ. (Canada) in Philosophy, an MSc in Applied Linguistics from Aston U. (U.K.) and a Masters in Theology from the graduate theological seminary on the UBC campus, Regent College. Regent issues its own independent degrees because of its religious affiliation, despite sharing the UBC campus and facilities, some teaching staff, plus several credits and classes (many of which I took for classical languages and linguistics). I also did an ESL teaching certificate course at UBC but whatever….

    Anyway, when I mentioned a ‘Master’s from UBC’ in answer to his credentials question, Debito reacted like he had just found a photo of me in a compromising situation with a goat, thererafter harping upon my misrepresenting myself as having graduated from UBC.

    Of course, way back when the personnel at my current university wanted to know my academic background I naturally went into detail about the relationship between Regent (the theological seminary) and UBC. Why hide anything? But when some guy asks you this from a crowd at an ESL presentation you’re not going to go into great detail. People don’t know what the theological school at UBC’s name is. It’s like if someone abroad asks where you live in Japan- you live in Chiba but you work in Tokyo. So you say Tokyo. No one expects the interlocutor to start suddenly playing prosecutor.

    Debito also added that “we” (who?) had contacted Regent in Canada to find out about its relation to UBC and had also checked out my U of Miyazaki database in advance. So this underscores what I wrote in my parody, about his habit of scouring about in search of ways to find any potential striking point in any perceived adversary and then blowing the results out of proportion as if this credentials quibble constituted a weighty riposte to my earlier criticisms of him.

    The upshot of this seems to be that Debito took umbrage at a comment I made here on Tepido about us having the same credentials. My comment had been in response to someone on his site saying that Mike Guest is in an isolated university bubble (or words to that effect), arguing that if someone wants to devalue my opinion based upon the claim of being an out-of-touch egghead, the same must apply to Debito. Instead, Debito seemed to take this as an invitation to an academic pissing match, and when confronting me in Nagoya, duly informed of his Ivy League school pedigree, which apparently trumps all: “So, we don’t have the same credentials do we, Mike?”

    Well, I guess that’s true in a sense. For example I have two masters degrees whereas… oh, wait a second. None of this has any bearing on the validity or non-validity of my original criticisms of Debito does it? It’s just a sad attempt at rank pulling- arguing from assumed authority. I don’t know where Regent ranks in terms of thological seminaries, but even if my education was limited to Uncle Peter showing me how to bait a hook, my criticisms of Debito remain. Fishing for quibbles in how I answer an awkward question on-the-spot from the audience at an ESL presentation is rather pathetic But you know he’s going to do stuff like this.

    I tried to talk with him after this, seeing if he might pull out of Debito mode but what followed was basically stonewalling on his behalf (plus a few choice words aimed in my direction) and eventually I gave up. I just look at it this way- it’s Debito being Debito. I expected a reaction from him at some point- after all, I took a shot at him and he’s trying to take one back- but the fact is that I just lose interest in these kind of one-dimensional people. I’ve already spent too much time writing about him…

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

    (NB:  I might add that Mr Guest suggested I “switch to decaf” during those four allegedly unantagonistic and disinterested attempts to talk with me.  Again, what a card.)

    Clearly, Mr Guest doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of what he’s done.  I have no truck with someone’s right to hold opinions about someone and express them in public.  But there are limits, of course — as in, are those opinions accurate?  If not, there should be scrutiny to make those inaccuracies clear.  However, it’s hard to scrutinize someone hiding behind “parody” to claim somebody said something he never said (it absolves Mr Guest of the responsibility of providing evidence or doing verifiable research). Makes one question the professionality of the ELT editors, who should be offering better safeguards to preserve the integrity of their forum.

    However, scrutinizing someone’s alleged professional background is much simpler.  You don’t say you graduated from a place you did not graduate from and expect to be treated as an honest professional.

    And you don’t pick on people like this (misrepresentation of the record is definitely a pattern in Mr Guest’s world) without expecting some scrutiny yourself.  Now face the scrutiny.  Like an adult.

    That’s why I decided to go ahead with this expose on Debito.org.  People can make their own decisions about what kind of future relationship they wish to maintain with Mr Guest as a columnist, scholar, and professional.  Arudou Debito

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

    UPDATE NOVEMBER 27

    The deceptions continue.  Mr Guest writes:

    “Regent is a Theology School located on the UBC Endowment Lands. Many facilities are shared. If you want to do a Master’s degree in Theology you go to Regent, because UBC can’t offer Theology courses. Several credits I took as part of this Master’s I took at regular UBC classes (mostly linguistics) since some courses are cross-transferable. I also did an EFL teacher training course at UBC.”

    http://www.eltnews.com/columns/uni_files/2010/10/today_a_unifiles_interview_wit.html#comment-1447

    “Regardless, if you want to do a Graduate degree in Theology at UBC you have to attend Regent or Vancouver School of Theology. Both are on the campus but are required to issue their own degrees as religious institutions. At both you can take classes and get cross credits from the standard UBC curricula and have full access to all UBC facilities. I used this to take linguistics courses- which were not offered at Regent. I also did a further ESL certification course at UBC.”

    http://tepido.org/more-handbags/187#comment-1288

    COMMENT:  Let’s cut through the fog.  Nowhere on your degree from Regent College, the one you cite as part of your academic credentials, does it say “University of British Columbia”.  They are not the same institution.  Claiming UBC on your employer’s website and at JALT, and insinuating as such online, does not change that.

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Education, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tangents | 53 Comments »

    TV America’s Most Wanted on unsolved questionable death of an American in Shinjuku Aug 2010. Any press in Japan?

    Posted on Thursday, November 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
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
    DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

    Hi Blog. In line with yesterday’s theme of foreign crime (in this case, crimes perpetrated against the foreign), has anyone heard of this case of a questionable death (ruled by police as an accident) of an American in Shinjuku last August in the domestic media? If the reverse were true (a US tourist killing a Japanese), you bet we’d hear about it, and have all manner of people screaming about how tourists are now part of the alleged foreign crime wave we must protect Japanese from.

    I hope I don’t have to make the argument again that there is a double standard of justice and attention depending on whether the perp or the victim is Japanese or not, like I did in the Japan Times March 2009. Arudou Debito

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    FUGITIVES
    AMW CASE FILE
    Unknown Hoon Scott Kang Killer
    Hoon Kang was in a coma for several days after cops say he accidentally fell.
    America’s Most Wanted Website, courtesy of BG
    http://www.amw.com/fugitives/case.cfm?id=75251

    The Call

    Like any concerned parent, Sung Won Kang was a little worried about his teenage son who would be vacationing in Japan, especially since his son’s cell phone didn’t have international service to call home.

    Nineteen-year-old Hoon “Scott” Kang of Buford, Ga., was teaching English in South Korea. He told his father that he and two fellow teachers had exciting vacation plans in Tokyo. As the trio prepared to leave for their trip, Hoon called his dad from the airport in Seoul and reassured his father that everything would be fine. He would call home if he needed anything.

    A few days later, Sung Won did get a phone call: His son was missing.

    Police say that the next time anyone saw Scott, he was found lying in an emergency stairwell of 15 Collins Building, a high rise that houses several clubs.

    Big Plans, Bright Future

    Sung Won Kang and his wife, Geyeon, immigrated from Seoul in 1993. Like many other Korean immigrants, they gave their kids American names: Scott and Rebecca. Sung Won and Geyeon worked hard to give their kids a wonderful life. They were all proud to be living as Americans, but Scott was exceptionally patriotic. In high school, he joined ROTC and wanted to enlist in the Army one day to help serve his country.

    In 2009, Scott graduated from North Gwinnett High School and was on track to realize his dream of becoming a lawyer and politician. Scott received a scholarship from ROTC that allowed him to enter the international business program at Fordham University in New York. Since his scholarship only covered his tuition, Scott still needed money for his food and lodging, and times were tight. That’s when his father suggested that Scott apply for an English teaching job in South Korea, where instructors from the United States were in high demand. Scott decided it was a great idea – not only would he be able to earn money for school, he could better learn his parents’ native tongue. He decided to take a year off from college and to be sure he saved his money, Scott would send his checks home to his dad. Everything was going well, and Sung Won couldn’t be prouder of his eldest son. In August, when Scott decided to take some time off, it was supposed to be a week of fun and exploration.

    The Vacation

    On Aug. 24, Scott and his friends spent their first day in Tokyo taking in the scenery. That night, they went to the Shinjuku District, a place known for its rowdy nightlife. Scott broke off from the group around 10:30 p.m. to wander on his own. When Scott’s dad got the phone call from Japan, his son was missing, after he didn’t return to his friends.

    Later that same day, Minsook Lee, a guardian of one of the men who was with Scott that night, called Sung Won to report that they found Scott — he was in a local hospital, fighting for his life. Police say he was hospitalized after someone discovered Scott, lying in an emergency stairwell of 15 Collins Building, a high-rise that houses several clubs. He was unconscious and blood was trickling from his left ear.

    While Scott’s parents rushed to Tokyo, Minsook instinctively took photos and video of Scott in the hospital. By the time Scott’s parents arrived, he had been in a coma for several days. He passed away the following day.

    When Scott’s father met with Japanese police, he says investigators showed him surveillance video taken inside an elevator, in the same building where Scott was found. According to Scott’s dad, the video shows Kang in the elevator shortly after 11 p.m. with a man in a black hat. Scott apparently made a gesture with both hands out, as if to say “I don’t have anything,” and the man appeared to punch Kang in the stomach, his father told AMW. Scott was found around 1:30 a.m. in the stairwell between the sixth and seventh floors. Sung Won believed his son was the victim of an attempted robbery, but Japanese police reached a different conclusion.

    Sung Won tells AMW that Japanese police ruled it was an accidental death — that Scott had too much to drink that night and fell down two flights of stairs. Scott’s family and friends didn’t accept that explanation and called the U.S. Embassy, pressing for more solid answers. Eventually, investigators reopened the case.

    AMW decided to take the case as well, and John Walsh and his team traveled to Tokyo to shoot the story. Members of the Kang family’s church raised money to send Sung Won to Japan, and he participated in the shoot. During that visit, Sung Won was able to meet with Japanese police again, and this time, they had a different assessment. Cops apparently believe that the two men were shaking hands in the elevator. They recently identified the man from the surveillance video as an employee of a bar in the same building, but cops haven’t charged him with any crime.

    The Kang family is aching for answers half a world away. Family and friends are now trying to help garner support, encouraging people to reach out to their state representatives about the suspicious death of Hoon “Scott” Kang. With America’s Most Wanted and its global reach, they’re hoping to get some justice. If you can help, call our Hotline 1-800-CRIME-TV. Remember, you can remain anonymous.

    Television Airings:
    »November 6, 2010
    ENDS

    Read the rest of this post...

    Posted in Gaiatsu, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism | 12 Comments »

    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 1, 2010

    Posted on Sunday, November 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 NOVEMBER 1, 2010

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

    NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT…
    1) Economist London on corrupt public prosecutors in Japan
    2) Not only China, Japan eyes India for tourist influx, eases visas
    3) CRNJapan’s checklist for avoiding J child abductions during marital problems
    4) Weekend Tangent: What Canada does about racial slurs and abuse in public: jail time
    5) Weekend Tangent: Discovering how cheap, yes cheap, parts of Japan are becoming
    6) Yomiuri: Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure NJ visitors. My, how the worm turns. Why couldn’t they have done this ten years ago?
    7) Referential website of note: Asia Pacific Memo at UBC

    CHOTTO MATTA…!
    8 ) Allegations that GOJ’s Hello Work refuses NJ applicants, as evidenced by “Japanese Only” employer Zeus Enterprise of Tokyo Ginza
    9) JT’s Philip Brasor analyzes J media claims of bias towards Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s sports records
    10) Mainichi & Asahi: “4 arrested for helping Cambodian men work illegally”. Odd, given shysterism of Trainee Visa program
    11) NYT on Japan’s deflation: “Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline”
    12) CJFF: Immigration raids Filipino family home, husband has heart attack
    13) New Book: “In Defense of Japan: From the Market to the Military in Space Policy” by Pekkanen and Kallender-Umezu
    14) CNNGo.com does odd article on “Controversial Activist David Schofill” and NJ refusals at hotels and onsens
    15) NHK 7AM this morning: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

    BASTA!
    16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits
    BUT
    17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.
    18) Hate crimes in Fukui: Car burned, “Gaijin GET OUT” message left at local mosque; flagburning at Indian restaurant
    19) Japan Times: Eikaiwa Gaba: “NJ instructors independent contractors w/o labor law coverage”, could become template for entire industry
    20) Fukuoka General Union info site on how BOEs are outsourcing ALTs through dispatch companies, not through JET Programme

    … and finally …

    21) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 2: How the “Cult of Japan’s Uniqueness and Homogeneity” interferes with good scholarship on Japan

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

    By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, RSS and daily updates at www.debito.org
    Freely Forwardable

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

    NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT…

    1) Economist London on corrupt public prosecutors in Japan

    Economist: A run of recent legal scandals, including wrongful convictions and brutal incarcerations, has tested respect for Japan’s criminal-justice system. The latest example, alleged evidence-tampering by a high-flying prosecutor and a cover-up by his bosses, has rallied many who want to see more regard for individual rights and greater checks on state power. The prosecutor in question, Tsunehiko Maeda, allegedly changed the date of a file on a computer disk that was being used as evidence against a woman accused of involvement in a massive benefit fraud. When Mr Maeda admitted this to his superiors, they are said to have ordered him to produce a report explaining how it happened “unintentionally”. On October 11th the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office dismissed Mr Maeda, the chief prosecutor in Osaka’s special investigative unit, and pressed charges against him…

    The scandal has hit a nerve. Japan takes pride in one of the world’s lowest crime rates. But it also has a fishily high conviction rate, at 99.9%. That matches China’s and is far above rates in the West (see chart). In their defence, Japanese lawyers say that the country’s under-resourced state prosecution service is only able to bring the strongest cases to trial. Fear of failure, with which all Japan’s bureaucrats are imbued, reinforces a reticence to test weaker cases in court. According to a former Tokyo district court judge, a single courtroom loss can badly damage a prosecutor’s career. A second can end it.

    Yet the recent scandals suggest that miscarriages of justice are all too common. So do several quirks of the justice system, which weigh the scales against the accused. Suspects can be held for up to 23 days without charge, for example. They often have little access to a lawyer and none during questioning. Police interrogations commonly last up to ten hours and are rife with mental and verbal abuse. On October 7th a businessman in Osaka produced a surreptitious recording of his seven-hour “voluntary” questioning, in which the police threaten to hit him and destroy his life…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7693

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

    2) Not only China, Japan eyes India for tourist influx, eases visas

    As another move by the GOJ to stimulate our economy through tourism (first big move was the Chinese back in July), we have the easing of visa restrictions for subcontinental Indians too. Good idea.

    Indian Express: Visiting Japan for business or holiday will be easier after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official tour to the country starting Sunday. After negotiating for four years, the two countries are set to sign a memorandum that will provide longer duration visas to Indians.

    The new visa deal will benefit businesspersons the most who — on receipt of a request letter from “a duly recognized company” or from chambers of commerce or industry or trade groups — will be eligible for a five-year multiple-entry visa instead of the current “short-term” 90-day visa. Their dependents will automatically be eligible for three-year multiple entry visas. These applicants will also be exempt from submitting a host of supporting documents.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7676

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

    3) CRNJapan’s checklist for avoiding J child abductions during marital problems

    Just In Case: A Parental Abduction Preparedness Checklist

    The Japan Children’s Rights Network in response to the ever increasing number of International Parental Abductions to Japan has released a preparation guide for all of those in intimate relationships / Marriage with a Japanese citizen. This guide is the “get your affairs in order” guide to making sure that when and if your Japanese significant other abducts your child you are prepared. Please email webmaster@crnjapan.net with any questions / additions.

    Here is a checklist of things to do if you are about to get a divorce, or if you are worried that the Japanese parent might try to take your children at some time in the future. (Some of this applies generally to all kinds of child abduction and is advisable to do anyways, even if you are not worried right now.) Some applies only if you are in Japan, and some applies only if you are not.

    Make sure to store all information in a safe place where the child’s other parent cannot get to it, such as a safe deposit box that only you can enter, or a friend or relative’s home. Also, to help ensure that others do not misuse this information, you as the parent should be the only person to keep this information about your child. You should be wary of gadgets and gimmicks that purport to protect your child or any sort of data-collection or registration services that store information about your child. There is no substitute to collecting and storing this information yourself.

    The List (a pre-divorce checklist)

    1. Make sure that your marriage is registered on your Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki).

    2. Make sure that you are registered on the Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki) as the parent of each of your children. (You can order these from outside Japan with forms from here.)

    3. Get copies of Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki) and a current Residency Registration (juminhyou) from the appropriate local government office. Note that foreign spouses are never listed on the actual juuminhyou, but if you ask, they may list you in the remarks section. Make sure to request this so that you have proof that you were living together. (Some government offices still wont do it, but many will.)…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7651

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

    4) Weekend Tangent: What Canada does about racial slurs and abuse in public: jail time

    Here’s what a place like Canada does when you have a thing like racially-motivated slurs and abuse: They give the abuser jail time. Fancy that. In fact, more than the prosecution was seeking. Fancy that. I’ve been told on more than one occasion to “go back to my own country” (even after naturalization, and once by a professor in my own university), and nobody has ever anything about it. Sad, innit?

    Calgary Herald: A Calgary man who made racial slurs and spit in the face of a woman waiting to catch a bus has received a six-month jail sentence — twice the punishment the Crown was seeking…

    Juzwiak said Richardson told the woman she was an immigrant and should go back to her own country. He spat on her, then threatened her and a man came to her rescue…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7697

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

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

    I finished earlier this month 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…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7619

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

    6) Yomiuri: Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure NJ visitors. My, how the worm turns. Why couldn’t they have done this ten years ago?

    My, my, how the worm turns. Check out how the International Terminal at Haneda Airport has gotten Tokyo bathhouses all abuzz about profit. All those customary fears about foreigners and their troublemaking ways (cf. the Otaru Onsens Case) simply evaporate when there’s the whiff of a tidal wave of tourist money to be had.

    Come back foreigners, all is forgiven! Never mind about all the hand-wringing ten plus years ago, or about actually protecting them with any laws against potential refusals nationwide. This at places with owners who aren’t quite so magnanimous (or open-minded) at restaurants, hotels, etc. No doubt if there are any problems or outright xenophobia, it’ll be depicted as the foreigners’ fault all over again.

    Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure visitors (Yomiuri Shinbun, Oct. 22, 2010)

    Public bathhouses in Ota Ward, Tokyo, are bubbling with excitement at the prospect of a flood of foreign visitors the new-look Haneda Airport will bring.

    Thursday’s opening of a new runway and terminal at Haneda make the airport an international hub, an opportunity the bathhouses hope will stop their business going down the drain.

    The Ota public bathhouse association has made posters in four foreign languages, which explain local bathing manners, such as entering the bathtub after washing your body. It also plans to visit local public baths with foreign residents on Oct. 31 — the day when regular international flights go operational at Haneda…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7654

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    7) Referential website of note: Asia Pacific Memo at UBC

    One of my hosts at the University of British Columbia turned me on to a website I thought deserved a bit more attention: their “Asia-Pacific Memo”. Although not all about Japan (Japan in overseas academia is losing out big time these days to China, (sadly) understandably), it has a lot of food for thought about how to interpret current events in Asia. Have a look:
    http://www.asiapacificmemo.ca/

    Japan-specific topics here:
    http://www.asiapacificmemo.ca/category/japan

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

    CHOTTO MATTA…!

    8 ) Allegations that GOJ’s Hello Work refuses NJ applicants, as evidenced by “Japanese Only” employer Zeus Enterprise of Tokyo Ginza

    Yoshikawa: Hello Debito, I’m a Chinese-Canadian living in Japan and I am very supportive of your effort on anti-racism in Japan.

    You mentioned in your website that you welcome people to submit “Japanese only” signs if they see one. So I decided to do so although this is from a company website on recruiting, not an actual shop sign.

    I’m currently in the middle of looking for a job. I’ve been living in Japan for 10 years and because of my Asian look, Japanese language skill, and my adopted Japanese last name (from my wife), I have been facing less discrimination when applying a job, compared to many other foreigners. However every time when I visit the hellowork’s foreigner section, I can always hear some employers routinely refusing applications from foreign residents, especially those from regions such as Africa, Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The foreign residents section itself is a discriminatory practice too as foreign residents have no other choice but are required to visit a segregated “foreigner section”, even though in my case I do not need any language interpretation or counselling on Japanese life.

    When I visited hellowork last week, as usual I have the staff phoning hiring businesses to introduce me as an applicant. Because all the jobs I apply require high level of trilingual (English, Japanese, Chinese) skill, most companies do not mind my background as a foreigner, however Zeus Enterprise, upon hearing that I’m a foreigner from the hellowork staff, rejected me as a valid applicant, saying that this position is for “Japanese only”…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7661

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    9) JT’s Philip Brasor analyzes J media claims of bias towards Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s sports records

    Japan Times: Local favoritism is built into organized sports. At the macro level you have whole countries rooting for national teams at the Olympics or the World Cup. At the micro level you have fans cheering a hometown boy who plays for a team far away. By the same token, nationalistic fans denigrate opposing countries’ players in international tournaments, while athletes from outside a locality may not receive the same level of local enthusiasm as those who grew up there.

    In its Sept. 30 issue, Shukan Shincho attempted to build a story on two recent events: Hakuho’s breaking of Chiyonofuji’s record for consecutive sumo victories, and Ichiro Suzuki’s milestone 3,500th hit as a professional baseball player. That these events occurred within 24 hours of each other was irresistible, and Shincho wanted to connect them in a way that was guaranteed to attract attention. The headline of the article was, “Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s racism problem.”

    Both athletes are strangers in foreign lands; or, at least, they started that way. Ichiro has been an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners in the United States since he entered the Major Leagues in 2001 after nine years playing in Japan’s Pacific League, and he has consistently been one of the game’s best hitters in both countries. Hakuho was born and raised in Mongolia, and is now the sole yokozuna (grand champion) in what is an ancient and traditional Japanese sport. Shincho’s point is that because both are “foreigners,” they do not receive the same attention and respect from the media and the public in their respective countries as native athletes, despite the enormity of their achievements.

    Shincho claims that Ichiro’s 3,500th hit, a landmark that very few players in the history of the major leagues have reached, was virtually ignored by the American press. The reason, according to the magazine, is that Ichiro compiled this record in two countries, and Americans don’t take Japanese baseball seriously. To support this theory, the reporter quotes Japanese sports writers and baseball players who make the case that Ichiro’s talent is superior to that of the vast majority of currently active American baseball players.

    As proof that Americans don’t evaluate Japanese players equally, the opinion of retired major leaguer Pete Rose is cited…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7571

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    10) Mainichi & Asahi: “4 arrested for helping Cambodian men work illegally”. Odd, given shysterism of Trainee Visa program

    Three articles here describing police actually arresting people (Japanese employers, too) for NJ employment visa violations. Interesting, given all the shysterism that goes on under the Trainee Visa etc. programs that necessitate civil (not criminal) court cases for redress, and involve few arrests. I guess it’s more important to employ people on proper visas than to employ them humanely. Get the visa right, and you can do whatever you want to your NJ workers. Perhaps that’s precisely what the Trainee Visa was designed to enable: Cheap exploitable NJ labor for companies in trouble.

    Mainichi: The president of an information technology (IT)-related company and three others were arrested on Oct. 18 for helping three Cambodian men come to Japan under the guise of IT engineers and illegally work at a supermarket, police said.

    Arrested for violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law were Lim Wee Yee, 39, president of the IT company in Iizuka who is a Malaysian national; Takashi Miyazaki, 40, president of the Kurume Chimakiya supermarket chain; his younger brother and board member Yoji Miyazaki, 36; and Masaru Sakai, 30, the operator of another supermarket.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7647

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

    NYT: 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.”

    COMMENT: This passage resonated with me because…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7626

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    12) CJFF: Immigration raids Filipino family home, husband has heart attack

    CJFF: Afternoon of October 13, 2010 immigration officers questioned Victor de la Cruz in his work site at Gako Ishikaya located at the basement of Tokyo’s Shimbashi station of JR line. The immigration officer is asking if he and his wife, Susan Lubos de la Cruz who is an employee of an African embassy and Victor as her dependent are real husband and wife. There is no established case and Victor went home afterwards.

    Today, October 20, 2010 at around 11:30 a.m. the immigration officers went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. de la Cruz in Meguro-ku and Victor was alone in the house. Later an immigration officer who gave his name as Mr. Kato of Shinjuku immigration with telephone number 03 5155 0496 called Susan, the wife of Victor, informing that they, the immigration officers, sent Victor to the National Organization Tokyo Medical Center at around 1:00 p.m. Victor suffered heart attack and in comatose given a 10-20 % chance to live by the doctor as of this writing (October 20, 2010, 11:50 pm).

    Susan learned that her husband heart have stopped beating for an hour before Victor was sent to the hospital. Upon arriving home, Susan found all of their things and belonging are scattered and she also learned from the immigration officers that they went to their house to look for evidence if their marriage is real or not…

    Susan, a member of Gabriela-Japan, a chapter of the Philippine national women organization Gabriela with 2 seats in the Philippine House of Representatives, is asking her organization for legal assistance and possibly to question the Immigration Bureau about the legality of their actions. Nobody knows what transpired and what kind of treatment, pressure, or intimidation or whatever the immigration officer employed to make Victor to suffer from heart attack. Susan is also doubtful about the legality of the immigration officers’ action in raiding her house…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7664

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    13) New Book: “In Defense of Japan: From the Market to the Military in Space Policy” by Pekkanen and Kallender-Umezu

    Here are some excepts of a new book out from Stanford University Press on Japan’s space policy. “In Defense of Japan: From the Market to the Military in Space Policy” by Pekkanen and Kallender-Umezu. A complete tangent to what we do here at Debito.org, the book deserves an audience (reviewers have been a bit chary) given the subject matter: how easy it would be for Japan to become not only a nuclear power, but a military superpower in space should the situation in Asian geopolitics grow ugly. I happen to know one author (Paul, who gave me a copy) and the spouse of the other (Saadia, whose husband hosted me for a speech at UW years ago), and am happy to do them a favor and offer a little exposure here.

    I haven’t read the book yet (received it Saturday, only gave it a thumb-through), but others might want to. Cover, ISBN, blurbs, and scans of the first three pages follow.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7600

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    14) CNNGo.com does odd article on “Controversial Activist David Schofill” and NJ refusals at hotels and onsens

    Friend Curzon alerted me to this odd little article on CNNGo.com:

    Japan invites tourists — but there may be no room at the inn for foreigners
    Controversial activist claims dodgy non-Japanese policies blight Japan’s hotel industry despite relaxed VISA laws
    By Robert Michael Poole, CNNGo.com, 6 July, 2010

    Encouraged by the boost to the economy that Chinese tourists have been giving, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada announced only last week that VISA restrictions will be eased to allow mid-level income earners from China to make the grade. Previously only wealthy Chinese could make it through immigration, but the necessary income level of VISA applicants is being cut from 250,000 yuan (36,000 U.S. dollars) per year to just 60,000, which the government believes makes a further 16 million Chinese eligible.

    The problem though, as highlighted in a column in today’s Japan Times, is that Japanese hotels are not only legally entitled to discriminate and bar non-Japanese, but many make false excuses to avoid foriegners [sic] of any sort staying in their premises. “Japanese only” signs appear not just in hotels, but at onsens (hot springs), bars, restaurants and entertainment venues too.

    Despite this sometimes leading to (successful) lawsuits, including a famous case against Yunohana onsen in Otaru, Hokkaido by activist David Schofill in 2001, a government survey in 2008 found 27% of hotels did not want any non-Japanese staying with them. Schofield — better known today by his Japanese name Debito Arudou and renowned for being an outspoken and sometimes controversial activist — found excuses from hotel staff ranging from “In case of an emergency, how can we communicate with non-Japanse effectively to get them out of a burning building?” to not having western-style beds…

    Er, activist David Who…?

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7629

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    15) NHK 7AM October 17: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

    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?…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7635

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    BASTA!

    16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

    Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

    A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

    The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

    In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

    Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

    Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

    ”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

    BUT

    17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

    After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:

    Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…

    According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

    The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”

    COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

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    18) Hate crimes in Fukui: Car burned, “Gaijin GET OUT” message left at local mosque; flagburning at Indian restaurant

    Kyodo: A car in front of a mosque in the city of Fukui was found on fire early Wednesday and sign saying “Foreign people [gaijin] GET OUT” written in a mix of Japanese characters and English letters was found posted at the two-story building, police said Thursday.

    The possible arson case follows an incident at an Indian restaurant 1.5 km away last month, when a flag was burned and a similar sign posted, they said.

    The burning station wagon, owned by a Malaysian student, was discovered at around 1:15 a.m. in the parking lot of the mosque, according to police. There were no injuries.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7668

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    19) Japan Times: Eikaiwa Gaba: “NJ instructors independent contractors w/o labor law coverage”, could become template for entire industry

    Dovetailing with post above on NJ’s treatment at unemployment agency Hello Work, here’s more on how weak their position can be when they ARE hired, in this case by Eikaiwa company Gaba, who says their NJ staff aren’t covered by Japanese labor laws:

    JT: Instructors first formed a union in September 2007 and, according to union members, met with company representatives for talks. However, managers always refused to enter into serious negotiations, arguing the instructors were not employees and, as itaku — independent contractors — weren’t covered by Japanese labor laws.

    Determining who qualifies as an employee and who can be classed as an independent contractor isn’t always clear. However, the method in which workers are scheduled and their place of work are important considerations…

    In its financial report, the company argues that because it doesn’t designate working time or location and doesn’t give specific instructions for lesson content, it considers its instructors to be independent contractors…

    Japan’s Statistics Bureau’s annual Labor Force Survey shows the number of nonregular workers has increased steadily since 1999, after the Japanese government started relaxing regulations to make it easier for companies to hire workers outside their regular employment system. In 1999, 25.6 percent of Japan’s labor force was classified as nonregular. By 2009 the figure had increased to 33.7 percent.

    Employing instructors as independent contractors allows Gaba to reduce labor costs… Combs warns that instructors at other schools may also face being shifted to independent contractor status in the future.

    “Gaba lowers the bar on the entire industry, and it will tempt other companies to try the same thing,” he says.

    Ringin agrees that the stakes are high in the union’s battle with Gaba over the individual contractor issue.

    “If Gaba gets away with using the itaku system, Berlitz and the other chains would be crazy not to follow.”

    http://www.debito.org/?p=7678

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

    FGU: 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” (gyomu)…

    http://www.debito.org/?p=6537

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    … and finally …

    21) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 2: How the “Cult of Japan’s Uniqueness and Homogeneity” interferes with good scholarship on Japan

    This coming Tuesday, November 2 (in print Wednesday November 3 in the Boonies), my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column will be coming out.

    Topic: I attended an international conference last month, where a senior scholar of some renown gave a lecture on Japan’s uniqueness, saying that Japan is still the most homogeneous society in the world. Homogeneity he defined as the number of foreigners in Japanese society.

    Armed with Google (we had Internet access in the lecture hall), I raised my hand and an issue with the claim…

    And that starts the column. Have a read on Tuesday…

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    All for now. Thanks for reading!
    Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org, RSS and daily updates at www.debito.org
    DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 1, 2010 ENDS

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    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »

    Yomiuri: Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure NJ visitors. My, how the worm turns. Why couldn’t they have done this ten years ago?

    Posted on Saturday, October 23rd, 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. My, my, how the worm turns. Check out how the International Terminal at Haneda Airport has gotten Tokyo bathhouses all abuzz about profit. All those customary fears about foreigners and their troublemaking ways (cf. the Otaru Onsens Case) simply evaporate when there’s the whiff of a tidal wave of tourist money to be had.

    Come back foreigners, all is forgiven! Never mind about all the hand-wringing ten plus years ago, or about actually protecting them with any laws against potential refusals nationwide.  This at places with owners who aren’t quite so magnanimous (or open-minded) at restaurants, hotels, etc. No doubt if there are any problems or outright xenophobia, it’ll be depicted as the foreigners’ fault all over again. Arudou Debito

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

    Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure visitors
    Yomiuri Shinbun, Oct. 22, 2010 Shinji Hijikata / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer, Courtesy of JK

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T101021004174.htm

    Public bathhouses in Ota Ward, Tokyo, are bubbling with excitement at the prospect of a flood of foreign visitors the new-look Haneda Airport will bring.

    Thursday’s opening of a new runway and terminal at Haneda make the airport an international hub, an opportunity the bathhouses hope will stop their business going down the drain.

    The Ota public bathhouse association has made posters in four foreign languages, which explain local bathing manners, such as entering the bathtub after washing your body. It also plans to visit local public baths with foreign residents on Oct. 31–the day when regular international flights go operational at Haneda.

    Factories and public bathhouses mushroomed in the ward during the postwar economic growth period. Although the number of public baths has declined to less than one-third of its peak, Ota Ward is home to 57 bathhouses–the most among Tokyo’s 23 wards.

    Ota and its neighboring area have been known for the “kuroyu” hot spring, which has distinctive brown-black or topaz water. Ota also boasts of the most hot springs of the capital’s 23 wards, the majority of which are being tapped by public bathhouses.

    Ota’s abundance of public baths and proximity to Haneda have given the association plenty of scope to target foreign customers. The illustrated posters will be put up at bathhouses in the ward to help foreign customers who are not familiar with Japanese bathing manners. Its member bathhouses have upgraded their Web sites to offer information in four foreign languages.

    This month, the association started a stamp rally in which people who visit 20 of the ward’s bathhouses receive special furoshiki cloths with an illustration of Haneda and other gifts. On Oct. 31, 30 foreign residents of Ota Ward will join a walking tour that will take in public baths and other noted locations in the ward. The associatio