Yomiuri: Language hurdle trips up Indonesian nurses in 4-year-old GOJ EPA program, and they’re leaving. By design, methinks.

Speaking of GOJ visa statuses with high to insurmountable hurdles, here’s how the years-long (started in 2008) bilateral program to bring over nurses from The Philippines and Indonesia to work in Japan’s medical system is doing: As predicted. Precisely due to “language barriers”, NJ are being relegated to lower-skilled labor and then sent home (or else, as you can also see below, going home by themselves after having enough of it all). Again, this is the point of Japan’s visa regimes — make sure migrants never become immigrants, siphon off the best working years of their lives, send them back for whatever excuse or shortcoming you can come up with, then bring in a new batch of dupes filled with false hopes. That way you keep the revolving-door labor market revolving, and never let NJ settle down here and get their due for their tax and pension payments. How nice. But as I’ve written before, it’s been the perpetual SOP for the GOJ.

Yomiuri: More than half of 104 Indonesian nurses who came to Japan in 2008 through a bilateral economic partnership agreement to obtain nursing licenses have returned home, due mainly to difficulties meeting Japanese language requirements, it has been learned.

Through the EPA program, Indonesian nurses have been allowed to work in Japanese hospitals for three years as assistant nurses who take care of inpatients. They are all licensed nurses in Indonesia. The program requires they pass an annual national nursing certification test during their three-year stay.

However, only 15 of the first group of 104 nurses who came to Japan from Indonesia passed the national exam. Among the 89 who failed the exam, 27 were granted special permission to extend their stay if they wished to because they managed to score a certain number of points on the previous exam. These nurses will take the national exam again in February.

The remaining 62 returned to Indonesia by the end of August, though they were still eligible to take the national exam. Only four of them will return to Japan to take the February exam, meaning the remaining 58 have likely given up working in Japan.

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.

Yomiuri, Terrie’s Take offer thoughtful essays on easing language hurdles for NJ on a tight deadline, such as Filipine or Indonesian nurses

Here is a slew of articles regarding the Japan-Asian countries’ EPA program to import health care workers to Japan, which we have discussed on Debito.org before.

First up, some background FYI on the issue from the Japan Times, then an article by the Yomiuri on the language barrier faced by NJ nurses over here on the nursing visa program — once just Filipinos/Filipinas and Indonesians, perhaps being expanded to Thais and Vietnamese. Then a thoughtful essay by Terrie Lloyd on the prospects of overcoming the language barrier in a decent amount of time. And finally, a Japan Times article calling for a serious revision of the program to give people more time to come up to speed in the Japanese language.

Unsaid (so I’ll say it) is the quite possible goal of setting a hurdle too high in the first place, so that few NJ will qualify to stay longer than three years, and the visa status remains a revolving-door employment program. It wouldn’t be the first time the GOJ has acted in such bad faith towards NJ labor.

Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)

Success at last, for some. For less than one percent of all the NJ nurses brought over on a special trilateral visa program, to help care for Japan’s aging society, we have some overcoming quite difficult hurdles to stay — including passing a difficult Japanese nursing exam within three years that challenges even native speakers. For the overwhelming majority of NJ, however, it’s bye bye and thanks for your three years of unsupported toil, and we look forward to replacing you with more dupes on yet another GOJ revolving-door work visa plan. More on the difficulties of the nursing program in the words of the nurses themselves on Debito.org here.

Yomiuri: Two Indonesians and one Filipina have become the first foreign nurses to pass Japan’s national nursing qualification test after work experience at Japanese hospitals under economic partnership agreements, the health ministry said Friday.

The three are among the 370 foreign nurses who have visited this country under an EPA-related project launched in fiscal 2008, hoping to pass the nursing exam after receiving Japanese-language training and gaining working experience under the supervision of Japanese nurses.

In 2009, 82 foreign nurses took the exam, but all failed. This year, 254 such nurses applied for the test, with the two Indonesians and one Filipina passing it, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Emily Homma on Filipina nurses in Japan being abused by GOJ EPA visa program

Emily Homma reports: “EPA Foreign Nurses and Caregivers Working in Japan Urgently Need Help

The Economic Partnership Agreement of Japan (EPA) with other countries, especially with the Philippines (JPEPA), has placed many Filipino nurses and caregivers working in Japan in a miserable situation where they are subjected to unfair labor practices, extreme pressure to study kanji, and poor salaries.

When they arrived in Japan in May 2009, the Filipino nurses and caregivers were glad to be finally given the opportunity to serve Japanese society as hospital workers. However, after only six months of Nihongo study and three months of hospital work in hospital, the Filipino nurses along with their Indonesian counterparts have been suffering from various hardships not only from unfair work policies, low salaries, and local workers’ rejection but also from strong pressure to master medical-nursing kanji and the Japan nursing system. It is a system that, unfortunately for the foreign workers, only those with high level-Grade 12 Japanese training or nursing graduates could understand.

Specifically, the Filipino nurses find themselves in the following extremely frustrating situations that leave them no choice but contemplate leaving Japan soon:…

Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ

Here’s a brief overview of what happened to me the past few days during my most recent Tokyo trip, including speaking in front of the Diet building against the IC Chips in Gaijin Cards and helping Trans-Pacific Radio out with their live podcast at the Pink Cow Shibuya. But it’s not all personal stuff. There is also a summary of two talks on international migration I found informative. Excerpt:

International migration has produced 195 million migrants. They now number as a proportion of population 1 in 10 in industrialized countries, and 1 in 35 of the world labor force. There are now 195 million migrants, 50% of them now women. When it comes to the proposed import of nurses and caregivers from Indonesia and the Philippines, as per bilateral agreements with Japan under “Economic Partnership Agreements”, the goal is, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, of 1.5 million NJ caregivers in Japan by 2040. But the program has gotten off to an inauspicious start.

Only in its second year, the EPAs have had goals of only 1000 total NJ health care workers imported. They would be trained in Japanese for six months (at the hiring company’s expense, of around 600,000 yen, then work the remaining four and a half years in the health sector getting their skills and standards up to speed. The course is harsh, as it is a “tenure system”, as in “up or out”. If they don’t pass the same caregiver and nurse tests that Japanese natives pass within five years, they lose their visas and get sent back home. This test, by the way, has a 50% fail rate for native Japanese. And salaries are not all that great for anyone working the severe hours required in this business sector (which may account for why there is a shortage of nurses and caregivers in Japan in the first place)…

Yomiuri: 80% of hospitals interested in employing foreign nurses

Yomiuri: “More than 80 percent of medium- or large-sized hospitals have indicated an interest in accepting foreign nurses, while about 40 percent are actually considering hiring such nurses, according to a survey by a research team at the Kyushu University Asia Center. Following bilateral economic partnership agreements signed between Japan and the Philippines and Indonesia, Japan likely will start accepting nurses and caregivers from those countries as early as this summer. “There were more hospitals that showed interest in accepting foreign nurses than we’d expected,” said Sadachika Kawaguchi, professor at University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan, who also was involved in the survey.”

Kyoto City Govt. subway advert has Visible Minority as poster girl for free AIDS/STDs testing. Wrong on many levels, especially statistically.

The Kyoto Government is advertising via subway posters free AIDS and STD testing.  Good.  But check out what image they’re using for the face of sexually-transmitted diseases:

Submitter XY: Please see the attached photo, snapped on a Kyoto metro yesterday afternoon. The only non-Japanese face visible in the metro car (other than mine) is on an advert for AIDS and STD testing by Kyoto City Government. I guess they could not imagine asking a Yamato nadeshiko to be the poster-girl for AIDS testing.

COMMENT: Why are we targeting a Visible-Minority demographic with this ad?  As XY says, that’s the embedded racism of this campaign.  My suspicion is that they are targeting Japan’s sex workers, and a frequent association is that any foreigner imported for this task has diseases.  This poster merely fortifies that.  

And it’s wrong.  According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, in 2015, non-Japanese people accounted for the minority of 108 (88 male; 20 female) out of 1,006 AIDS cases in Japan (and homosexual men, not women, remain the largest affected demographic). Plus don’t forget that historically, a significant number of AIDS cases in Japan were the result not of sexual contact, but of HIV-tainted blood recklessly given to hemophiliacs *by the Japanese government* in the late 1980s. That’s why this poster is visually misrepresenting the issue on many levels.

Reuters: Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1 million; but fine print overlooked, e.g., conflating “Trainees” with “Workers”

The resurgence of Japan’s import labor regime has resumed in earnest, reaching a record at least in the Postwar Era. (Remember that during WWII, Japan’s internal colonial population, as in workers imported from its colonies, was very high; people from the Korean peninsula alone in 1945 were more than two million.) Now as of 2016, the NJ worker total has hit 1 million, according to Reuters below.

There is some fine print this article should have noted. This “record one million” is of workers, not registered residents alone (which is in fact more than twice the number, at 2.23 million as of 2015), since they have dependents (i.e., spouses with non-work visas and children). But within this one million are people who are not technically “workers” (roudousha), but “Trainees” (kenkyuusei or jisshuusei), who aren’t officially protected by Japan labor laws and are exposed to all manner of abuses, including slavery.

So calling them all “workers” is misleading both in terms of terminology and legal status. Especially since, as the article does rightly note, they are making up 20% of the total, or around 200,000 unprotected NJ laborers. Now that their numbers have shot up by 25% over one year alone, we can expect that 70% of all their employers will likely expose them to labor abuses.

These are not happy statistics, and for the article to lack this degree of nuance (especially since Reuters itself has done marvelous exposes in the past, even calling “Trainee” employers “sweatshops in disguise”) is at this point an institutional memory problem.

Another problem is the article implying that there is any actual attempt to, quote, “open gates to immigrants”. Immigration (imin) has never been part of Japan’s policy calculations (and I challenge the journalists researching this article to find that exact word in any of the cited policy directives; their citing a construction company manager, in the unlikely event that he actually used the word imin, is still indicative of nothing) — only temporary stopgap laborers who will give their best working lives and then be sent home at the first economic downturn. As has happened before, most cruelly.

As much as the article might be trying to attract eyeballs by putting a superlative “record number of” in the headline (and once again sneaking in an angle of hope of actual “immigration” happening), the only change that has happened here is that more NJ are being processed by an exploitative system — one that has by design remained relatively unchanged for nearly three decades, and moreover has been expanded to exploit even more. So many misdirected angles here.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 4, 2016

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
1) Japan Times: Celebrating Japan’s multiethnic Rio 2016 Olympians: Meet the athletes challenging traditional views of what it is to be Japanese
2) “Deep in Japan” Podcast interviews Debito on Racism in Japan and book “Embedded Racism” (UPDATED: Goes viral in Poland, more than 8000 listens)
3) Finger Lakes Times: Former Genevan, now a Japanese citizen and author, details his experiences in book on racism in Japan
SAME OLD SHAME OLD
4) Asahi: Japan’s Supreme Court approves police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion: Next up, surveilling NJ residents due to their extranationality?
5) Japan Center for Michigan Universities: Report and video interview of Muslim Lawyer Hayashi Junko on issues faced by Muslims in Japan (surveillance by police, including of Japanese kith and kin)
6) Nikkei: Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers. Really? Let’s analyze the proposals.
7) Nikkei Asian Review wrongly reports “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports”. Corrected after protest, but misreported text still proliferates
8 ) TIME Magazine and Japan Times on how online trolls (particularly Reddit) are ruining the Internet and media in general
… and finally…
9) Japan Times JBC column 99, “For Abe, it will always be about the Constitution”, Aug 1, 2016

Nikkei: Japan begins clearing path for foreign workers. Really? Let’s analyze the proposals.

The Economist (London) recently has had a couple of articles on immigration to and even naturalization into Japan (here and here), so it looks like PM Abe’s alleged pushes to liberalize Japan’s NJ labor market (despite these other countering trends here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) are gaining traction in the overseas media. Let’s take a representative sample of the narrative being spun by the Japanese media (in this case the Nikkei, Japan’s WSJ) for overseas consumption, and see if it holds up to scrutiny. For example:

Nikkei: The government looks to ease residency requirements for guest workers. The Justice Ministry will recognize certified foreign care workers as specialists worthy of the corresponding visa status. Japan currently admits care workers through economic partnership agreements, but those are limited to countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. The number of guest workers is expected to increase by allowing care givers who learn Japanese or professional skill sets at educational institutions to work in Japan.

Necessary legislation is to be enacted during the extraordinary Diet session this fall, with the measures taking effect next fiscal year. The government also seeks quick passage of legislation to add the care worker category to Japan’s Technical Intern Training Program, which provides support to developing nations.

COMMENT: They tried that before. Until the Indonesians and Filipinas realized they were being exploited by a revolving-door visa system that deliberately set the bar too high for passing, and decided to pass on Japan altogether. So Japan’s policymakers are moving on to the next sucker societies: Cambodia and Vietnam. Which, note, are also not kanji-literate societies; if the GOJ really wanted to get people to pass the nurse literacy test, they would get nurses from China or Chinese-diaspora countries. The fact that they won’t speaks volumes about true policy intentions. As does the final sentence, where they admit that it’s just an expansion of the”Trainee” slave-labor program, exempt from Japan’s labor laws protection.

There is nothing in this policy trial-balloon article that constitutes actual immigration, i.e., bringing in people and making them into Japanese citizens with equal protection guaranteed under the law. Until that happens, there is no discussion here worthy of headlining this as a “cleared path” for foreign workers. It’s merely more of the same exploitation of imported laborers in a weakened position by government design.

Reuters: Death toll mounts in Japanese Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) as NJ seek asylum and are indefinitely detained and drugged

Reuters : Niculas Fernando died at a Tokyo immigration detention center sometime between 9:33 a.m. and 10:44 a.m. on November 22, 2014, according to the coroner. But it wasn’t until shortly after 1 p.m. that day that guards realized something was badly wrong – even though Fernando had been moved to an observation cell monitored via closed-circuit television after complaining of sharp chest pain. An inmate had to alert the guards before they rushed into Fernando’s cell and tried to revive him. […] He was the fourth person to die in Japan’s immigration detention system in 13 months. In total, 12 people have died in immigration detention since 2006, including four suicides. In 2015, 14 detainees tried to kill or harm themselves at the detention center where Fernando died, according to data from the facility.

A Reuters investigation into the circumstances surrounding Fernando’s death, including dozens of interviews with detainees, immigration officials and doctors, revealed serious deficiencies in the medical treatment and monitoring of Japan’s immigration detention centers. Guards with scant medical training make critical decisions about detainees’ health. Doctors visit some of the country’s main detention centers as infrequently as twice a week. And on weekends there are no medical professionals on duty at any of the immigration detention facilities, which held more than 13,600 people in 2014. Three of the four deaths in detention between October 2013 and November 2014, including Fernando’s, occurred when there were no doctors on duty. Like Fernando, another one of the detainees died while in an observation cell.

Japan’s immigration system is under increasing strain. As a torrent of refugees pours into Europe, Japan also has record numbers of people landing on its shores in search of refuge. As of June last year, it had 10,830 asylum applications under review – small by Europe’s standards, but a new high for Japan, a nation that has long been reluctant to take in outsiders. In February, more than 40 detainees went on hunger strike at a facility in Osaka to protest their conditions [As they did in 2010, to little change — Ed.]. Their main complaint: Poor medical care. […]

The Justice Ministry has not made public the findings of the investigation into the case nor released them to Fernando’s family. In response to a public disclosure request, Reuters received a copy of the national Immigration Bureau’s report from March last year. It was heavily redacted. Under a section titled “Problems,” every line had been blacked out.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2, 2015

Table of Contents:
1) Japan Times JBC 93 Nov 2, 2015: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book out this week
2) Asahi TV: Police training drill in Tokyo on how to deal with jewelry thieves brandishing knives. Oh, and they’re “foreign” thieves.
3) “Foreign Driver” stickers appearing on Okinawan rental cars
4) Japan Times: Japan sanctioning mass ‘slave labor’ by duping foreign trainees, observers say
5) Japan moving on to the next sucker societies for cheap or slave labor: Cambodia and Vietnam
6) Paul Toland Case Update: Japan as a “black hole” for parental child abductions — Family Court lawsuit & press conference to raise awareness of issue
7) “Onsen-Ken Shinfuro Video”: Japan Synchro Swim Team promotes Oita Pref. Onsens — and breaks most bathhouse rules doing so. Historically insensitive.
8 ) My Japan Times JBC 92 Oct. 5, 2015: “Conveyor belt of death shudders back to live”, on how Abe’s new security policy will revive Prewar martial Japan
… and in case you thought I was being alarmist with JBC 92…
9) CSM: Reviving Shinto: Prime Minister Abe tends special place in Japan’s soul for mythology

Japan Times: Japan sanctioning mass ‘slave labor’ by duping foreign trainees, observers say

Japan Times: The [Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program], however, has not been without its critics. Japan’s top ally, the U.S., has even singled it out, with the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report for years slamming the program’s “deceptive recruitment practices.” “The (Japanese) government did not prosecute or convict forced labor perpetrators despite allegations of labor trafficking in the TTIP,” it said this year, using the program’s acronym.

Past allegations include unpaid overtime work, karoshi (death from overwork), and all kinds of harassment, including company managers restricting the use of toilets or demanding sexual services. The government rejects claims the program is abusive, yet acknowledges there have been some upstream problems. “It is true that some involved in the system have exploited it, but the government has acted against that,” an immigration official said. “It is not a system of slave labor.” The official insisted it was not in authorities’ power to control the behavior of middlemen but insisted they were not allowed to charge deposit fees. “It is also banned for employers to take away trainees’ passports,” he added.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has unveiled a plan to expand the program that would allow foreign trainees to stay in Japan for five years instead of three, and says such labor will increasingly be needed, particularly in the construction boom ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Abe is also aware that the nation’s health care sector must increasingly look abroad to fill the shortage of workers. “It has been said that we will need 1 million caregivers for the elderly by 2025, which would be impossible to handle only with the Japanese population,” said Tatsumi Kenmochi, a manager at a care home near Tokyo that employs Indonesian nurses. For Kenmochi, foreign staff are a precious commodity and the sector must do as much as it can to make them feel welcome. “It must be hard to leave home and work overseas,” he said. “We make sure that they don’t get homesick, listening to them and sometimes going out to have a warm bowl of noodles with them.”

Torii of Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan said this is just the kind of attitude Japan needs to learn: “The issue is not whether we accept immigrants or not. They are already here, playing a vital role in our society.”

NYT Opinion: Mindy Kotler on “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth”, an excellent primer on the issue

Kotler: We know of Lieutenant Nakasone’s role in setting up a comfort station thanks to his 1978 memoir, “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23.” At that time, such accounts were relatively commonplace and uncontroversial — and no obstacle to a political career. From 1982 to 1987, Mr. Nakasone was the prime minister of Japan. Today, however, the Japanese military’s involvement in comfort stations is bitterly contested. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is engaged in an all-out effort to portray the historical record as a tissue of lies designed to discredit the nation. Mr. Abe’s administration denies that imperial Japan ran a system of human trafficking and coerced prostitution, implying that comfort women were simply camp-following prostitutes.

The latest move came at the end of October when, with no intended irony, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party appointed Mr. Nakasone’s own son, former Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, to chair a commission established to “consider concrete measures to restore Japan’s honor with regard to the comfort women issue.” The official narrative in Japan is fast becoming detached from reality, as it seeks to cast the Japanese people — rather than the comfort women of the Asia-Pacific theater — as the victims of this story. The Abe administration sees this historical revision as integral to restoring Japan’s imperial wartime honor and modern-day national pride. But the broader effect of the campaign has been to cause Japan to back away from international efforts against human rights abuses and to weaken its desire to be seen as a responsible partner in prosecuting possible war crimes.

Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers

An excellent round-up article by Mark Schreiber in the Japan Times featured some analysis of the media ripples following Sono Ayako’s column advocating a Japan version of South African Apartheid. He has a good look at not only the domestic reaction to this xenophobic proposal for state-enfranchised segregation (surprisingly favorable towards it, especially in a younger-age group!), but also the battle for Japan’s soul through control of the historical narrative. He also gives us some statistics on how the most common denominator for fanning xenophobia though the media — profit motive — doesn’t seem to be working: Sales of the scandalous Weeklies are significantly down across the board. Then it concludes with Japan’s rapidly declining press freedoms as measured worldwide, and offers the lack of trust in the media as a possible cause for people not buying it because they don’t buy into it. It’s an insightful piece into how Japan’s media-manufactured national mentalities are descending into a Pravda-style official groupthink.

JT: Remarks on the [Sano] article appeared in Shukan Post (March 6), Asahi Geino (March 5), Flash (March 10) and Weekly Playboy (March 9). Sono also defended her column in the Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 26). While the general tone of the responses was supportive of Sono’s right to express her opinions, Weekly Playboy went the extra mile and surveyed 100 adults between the ages of 20 and 79. When asked about her stance, 42.3 percent of respondents replied, “I can understand what she’s saying, in part.” This exceeded the 36.6 percent who responded, “It’s understandable for her to be criticized” and 21 percent who saw no problem with the column’s contents.

My Japan Times JBC Column 82: “Time to Burst your Bubble and Face Reality”, December 4, 2014

OPENING: I want to open by saying: Look, I get it. I get why many people (particularly the native speakers of English, who are probably the majority of readers here) come to Japan and stay on. After all, the incentives are so clear at the beginning.

Right away, you were bedazzled by all the novelty, the differences, the services, the cleanliness, the safety and relative calm of a society so predicated on order. Maybe even governed by quaint and long-lamented things like “honor” and “duty.”

Not that the duties and sacrifices necessary to maintain this order necessarily applied to you as a non-Japanese (NJ). As an honored guest, you were excepted. If you went through the motions at work like everyone else, and clowned around for bonus points (after all, injecting genki into stuffy surroundings often seemed to be expected of you), you got paid enough to make rent plus party hearty (not to mention find many curious groupies to bed, if you happened to be male).

Admit it: The majority of you stayed on because you were anesthetized by sex, booze, easy money, and the freedom to live outside both the boxes you were brought up in and the boxes Japanese people slot themselves in.

But these incentives are front-loaded. For as a young, genki, even geeky person finding more fun here than anywhere ever, you basked in the flattery. For example, you only needed to say a few words in Japanese to be bathed in praise for your astounding language abilities! People treated you like some kind of celebrity, and you got away with so much.

Mind you, this does not last forever. Japan is a land of bubbles, be it the famous economic one that burst back in 1991 and led two generations into disillusionment, or the bubble world that you eventually constructed to delude yourself that you control your life in Japan…

Read the rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/12/03/issues/time-burst-bubble-face-reality/

SAPIO Mag features special on Immigration to Japan: Note odd media narratives microaggressing NJ (particularly the Visible Minorities) into voiceless role

As noted in the Japan Today article cited below, SAPIO debate magazine (June 2014) devoted an issue specifically to the issue of immigration (imin) to Japan (what with the Abe Administration’s renewed plan to import 200,000 NJ per year). Good. But then SAPIO fumbles the issue with narratives that microaggress the NJ immigrant back into a position of being powerless and voiceless. First, let’s start with SAPIO’s cover. Notice anything funny? Look at the sub-headline in yellow talking about having a vigorous debate from “each world” (kyaku kai). Each? Look at the debaters pictured. See any Visible Minorities there? Nope, they’re left out of the debate once again. All we get are the typical powerful pundits (probably all Wajin, with “Papa Bear” Wajin Ishihara second in line). Where is the voice of the immigrant?

And by “immigrant”, I mean people who have immigrated to Japan as NJ and made a life here as long-term resident if not actual Permanent-Resident holder. The people who have indefinite leave to remain. The “Newcomers”, who work in Japan and work for Japan. As depicted in the picture of the labor-union demonstrators in the inset photo in the top right.

Now look at the larger photo. It’s a xenophobic public demonstration about issues between Japan and Korea (and no doubt China). That’s not a debate about immigration. It’s a hate rally airing historical grievances between Japan and it’s neighbors, gussied up as a jerry-rigged issue about “Zainichis having special privileges as NJ”. The point is that the cover does not convey the issue of “immigration in Japan” accurately. Zainichi issues dominate and suck the oxygen out of the arena.

Lastly about this photo, note how all the Wajin demonstrators have their faces blocked out in the photo. Clearly Wajin have privacies to protect. Not so the NJ protesting in the photo inset. Hence NJ once again have fewer rights to privacy in the Japanese media. Just like this photo from the racist Gaijin Hanzai Magazine of yore (remember that?). Comparative powerlessness in visual form. Now let’s look at some arguments within the magazine itself:

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 72: “Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad”, Jan 25, 2014, “Director’s Cut”

Only a few days into the case of racialized advertisement from ANA, I got tapped by the Japan Times to cover it. Debito.org Readers and Facebook Friends certainly gave me plenty of food for thought, so thank you all very much. Here’s my more polished opinion on it, which stayed the number one article on the JT Online for two full days! What follows is the “Director’s Cut” with excised paragraphs and links to sources. Conclusion:

Look, Japan, if you want to host international events (such as an Olympics), or to have increased contact with the outside world, you’ll face increased international scrutiny of your attitudes under global standards. For one of Japan’s most international companies to reaffirm a narrative that Japanese must change their race to become more “global” is a horrible misstep. ANA showed a distinct disregard for their Non-Japanese customers—those who are “Western,” yes, but especially those who are “Asian.”

Only when Japan’s business leaders (and feudalistic advertisers) see NJ as a credible customer base they could lose due to inconsiderate behavior, there will be no change in marketing strategies. NJ should vote with their feet and not encourage this with passive silence, or by double-guessing the true intentions behind racially-grounded messages. This is a prime opportunity. Don’t let ANA off the hook on this. Otherwise the narrative of foreigner = “big-nosed blonde that can be made fun of” without turnabout, will ensure that Japan’s racialized commodification will be a perpetual game of “whack-a-mole.”

Quoted in Die Zeit newspaper: “Japan: Old and Xenophobic” (German with machine translation)

Sometimes I wish the Star Trek Universal Translators were already here. But we’re getting closer. Here’s a Google Translate version of an article that came out in Die Zeit newspaper a couple of months ago that cites me and others about Japan’s political problems with creating an immigration policy. Not a lot here that frequent readers of Debito.org don’t already know, but here’s a German media take on the issue:

DIE ZEIT: For decades, Japan has been in a shaky position. The once-booming industrial nation barely registered economic growth. The national debt – in terms of economic power – is higher than that of Greece.

Even today, every fourth Japanese is over 65 years old . The birth rate is so low that the population will decline by 2050 from 127 million today to below 90 million. Several governments have tried to counter by more kindergartens, child care allowance and the like, but little has borne fruit. In 100 years, there might be only 40 million Japanese.

Now there is a lack of skilled labor, falling tax revenues, and no one knows who is going to pay in the future the growing pension claims. According to calculations by the United Nations, by 2050 only 17 million workers will be found to fund the pensions.

But there is a solution: Immigrants like Ezekiel Ramat. Japan’s foreign population is currently 1.3 percent, extremely low for a highly developed country: Germany has at about 8.5 percent foreigners. In Japan, the number of immigrants in recent years even went down. But strange: no one in politics seems to care about immigration policy. Neither the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) nor the main opposition parties mention the subject at all in their campaigns. When asked, all assert that they want to promote more immigration. But they make no specific proposals…

Beate Sirota Gordon, one architect of the Postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89, her goals uncompleted if not currently being undone

Let me devote this blog entry to the passing of a historical figure whose importance within Japanese history cannot be overstated. Beate Sirota Gordon, a woman in a committee of men drafting the Japanese Postwar Constitution, wrote articles that remain fundamental to the rights Debito.org has devoted decades to upholding: Article 14, which guarantees that “All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.” The other, Article 24, states (excerpt), “Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and it shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis. With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes;” this guarantees fundamental human and civil rights to women that weren’t present under the horrible Prewar Ie Seido (which among other things made people into property). A hearty Debito.org salute to Gordon for a life well lived and opportunities to improve Japanese society well taken. NYT obituary enclosed below.

A few Debito.org-esque comments: One is that the NYT’s claim below of “Ms. Gordon was the last living member of the American team that wrote Japan’s postwar Constitution” is probably erroneous. That honor probably belongs to an old teacher of mine when I was at Cornell, Milton J. Esman, who was born in 1918 and is apparently still alive (see his resume page two here). (Wikipedia also notes that Gordon was not the only woman assigned to the group either, as economist Eleanor Hadley was also present.)

Second, reflecting upon Gordon’s life when eulogizing, it is important to note a number of fundamental rights enshrined in the Japanese Constitution that have remained unenforced. One is of course the lack of a law against racial discrimination (which is unconstitutional under Article 14 but not illegal in the Civil or Criminal Code), meaning racial discrimination can be (and is) “practiced undisturbed”, as the UN has noted in the past, in a “deep and profound” manner (despite Japan effecting the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination in 1996; we’re now approaching seventeen years of unkept promises).

The other I will just mention is the clause of “essential equality of the sexes” mentioned above in Article 24. Despite the Equal Employment Opportunities Law of 1986, Japan still maintains an immense gender-wage gap. (ILO data here.) Japan ranks at the very bottom (basically on par with ROK and Malaysia), and although the research notes that comprehensive comparisons cannot be made, the point still remains that women in Japan earn less than half of what men in Japan make for comparative work. Wage differentials may be true in all societies (I know of no society where gender-pay equality is systemwide), but this egregious a gap is unbecoming of a developed country, and shows the lack of good-faith drafting or enforcement of constitutionally-grounded laws in Japanese society.

Finally, we have seen how much trouble the Japanese elite has gone to circumvent and undermine the Postwar “Peace Constitution”. We can start with the translation into Japanese (that Gordon’s group missed despite their fluency) that limited Article 14’s interpretation of constitutional protections for “all of the people” to Japanese citizens only. We can go on to talk about the unconstitutional standing military that is the JSDF and the right of education limited to citizens only in the Fundamental Law of Education. Plenty more, if people wish to point that out in Comments. And now, with the new PM Abe government, we can look forward to proposals for constitutional revisions to restore Japan’s military in name and allow for a remilitarization of Japan.

I wonder what Gordon would say now about Japan’s December 2012 rightward swing. My guess is that she would lament her work remaining unaddressed if not being undone.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10

Debito’s Top Ten human rights issues in Japan for NJ residents in 2012:
10. DONALD KEENE’S NATURALIZATION
9. OSAKA CITY DEFUNDS LIBERTY OSAKA
8. COURTS RULE THAT MIXED-BLOOD CHILDREN MAY NOT BE “JAPANESE”
7. DIET DOES NOT PASS HAGUE CONVENTION
6. GOVERNMENT CONVENES MEETINGS ON IMMIGRATION
5. MAINALI CASE VICTORY, SURAJ CASE DEFEAT
4. JAPAN’S VISA REGIMES CLOSE THEIR LOOP
3. NEW NJ REGISTRY SYSTEM
2. POST-FUKUSHIMA JAPAN IS IRREDEEMABLY BROKEN
1. JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SWING
Links to sources included

BBC: Japan’s pseudoscience linking personality traits to blood types. I say it dumbs society down.

Here’s something that’s been on my mind for years, and probably on other Readers’ minds too: The emphasis on blood in Japan in determining one’s status in society.

The BBC below talks about the hegemony of discourse in Japan linking personality traits to blood types. Most of the developed world with any social science training has debunked this. There is of course other quackery of the same ilk (horoscopes/palmistry etc.), but they are hardly taken seriously (they don’t matter in, for example, job interviews). But “blood”-based conceits encourage much more dangerous habits. As noted below, they have historical connections with eugenics, Master-Race theories and Social Darwinism (i.e. that people can be sorted into personality “types” based upon birth-determined genotypical markers) which, in extreme cases, have led to pogroms and genocide.

Yet in Japan, blood-based theories of social behavior hold significant sway. In my opinion (based upon my current research), a conceit with “blood” not only legitimizes a lot of bad science (both physical and social), but also converts a lot of latent racializing tendencies into “old-school racism” (I say “old school” because most social scientists nowadays acknowledge that racism is a social construct, not a biological one). In some cases, for example, one has to be “pure-blooded” in order to be, for example, a “real” Japanese. Thus it doesn’t just allegedly determine personality — it determines one’s legal standing in society. More on that from me some other time.

In any case, in society such as Japan’s that has this amount of weight put on hierarchy, having a quack science like this (so normalized that people can profit handsomely from it) avails people with poor analytical skills of one more factor to “sort, categorize, typify, and even stigmatize” people for things that are simply not their fault. It’s one more way of taking the individual out of the equation for personal behavior.

Simply put, this pseudoscience fosters horrendously bad habits. For in Japan, once the “blood type” equation is expanded beyond the allegedly “uniform and homogeneous society” trope, people become more susceptible to engaging in racial profiling towards “foreigners” — once the invisible genetic markers get expressed as visible phenotypical ones.

In sum, dumb ideas with common currency dumb down an entire society. And personality typing by blood is one of the dumbest.

BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children

Guest author “Bitter Valley” is back again with another thing he wants to get off his chest. I think he should, so here it is. One of my pet theories about Japan’s swing towards insularity and conservatism is that as people get older (and Japan as a society is doing just that demographically), they get more politically conservative and resistant to change — or at least change that is not in their best interests. And as “Bitter Valley” points out, it means an inordinate weighting of political power and economic resources in favor of the old at the expense of the young (especially since the very young have no vote, ever fewer numbers, and few political and civil rights to begin with). This is manifesting itself in ways that BV thinks are worth mentioning in Japan’s most cosmopolitan city. Given how centralized political power is in Japan, what happens here will set precedents for the rest of the nation.

BV: Hi Debito, this is “Bitter Valley” again. We’ve just had some terrible news that the second major children’s facility we have access to in Shibuya, the Kodomo no Shiro (Kiddies Castle) is closing down in 2015. It’s a bit of a hammer blow for us, as we have already just lost the Jidokaikan (Tokyo Children’s Center), which is going to be demolished for another old people’s home. Regardless of what might really behind the closures (more on this later) it’s going to lower the quality of life for kids and mums and dads in Shibuya (and wider afield) considerably.

Both children’s facilities are/were two of the only major educational/ fun/ accessible/ cheap (no or low cost) play centers. Both, incidentally, were/are tremendous resources for Shibuya’s large ratio of multinational kids. Parents of older children say that there are schools with most classes not only have one but several multiracial or foreign or Japanese but of NJ parentage in classes. Increasingly it’s seen as no big deal. That’s great, at least to non-knuckleheads and/or racists. But the closures suck. First of all the Tokyo Children’s Hall (Jidokaikan) was shut down last year and this spring….

Kyodo: “Foreign caregiver program faces tightening”: Death knell of program as J media finds ways to blame the gaijin?

Let’s have a look at what’s becoming of Japan’s latest “revolving door” labor visa regime scam (after the “Trainees”, the “Nikkei Returnees”, and the “Points System”): the “foreign caregivers”, which has ground to a halt due to the (otherwise fully-qualified) NJ health professionals themselves realizing that the systematic barriers were creating an exploitative regime. So now according to Kyodo News it looks like it’s being scaled back. But not without kicking someone in the ribs first. As submitter JDG notes:

“The foreign caregiver program was launched because there was a realization that the looming shortage of caregivers to meet Japan’s aging population had already arrived. However, as you have documented, from it’s inception it has been riddled with unrealistic expectations, low pay, harsh conditions, few incentives, and subject to some strange accounting.

“Well, here is the logical conclusion: foreign caregivers are ‘gaijin criminals taking advantage of the system’. Rather than examining what is wrong with the system, the (of course) natural response by officials is to make the program even tougher to live with for caregivers. Only a Kyoto University Prof. seems to have any sense about him. I would say that this development will mark the end (in real terms) of the program. Of course, it’s all the NJ’s fault…”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 5, 2012

Table of Contents:
SOME PROGRESS
1) Hurrah, the separate Alien Registration System is abolished after 60 years. Now let’s consider the GOJ give & take regarding tracking NJ under this policy
2) Japan Times on reaffirmed J workers’ “right to strike”, thanks to judicial precedent set by defeated 2012 nuisance lawsuit from eikaiwa Berlitz Inc.
3) Yomiuri: Iwate town sponsors Vietnamese future doctor — and people reportedly react with trepidation
4) Tangent: Louis Vuitton Journeys Award shortlisted J movie short has multicultural couple
NO PROGRESS
5) Suraj Case: Chiba prosecutors decide not to indict 10 Immigration officers in whose custody he died
6) H-Japan on “Apartheid or Academic Accuracy: Japan’s Birth Rate”, Tohoku U Prof Yoshida’s demographic research methodologically excludes “foreigner births”
7) Japan Times: “Ninjin-san ga Akai Wake” Book is behind bullying of mixed-race children; contrast with “Little Yellow Jap”
MEDIA SKULLDUGGERY
8 ) Tangent: Parliamentary Independent Investigation Commission Report on Fukushima Disaster “Made in Japan”: MD notes ironies of different Japanese and English versions
9) Tangent: Newsweek column on “rising ugly nationalism towards foreign residents” in China. Hm, how about an eye on Japan?
10) Resurrecting Gregory Clark’s embarrassingly xenophobic Japan Times column on “Global Standards” Nov 1, 1999, quietly deleted without retraction from JT Online archives
… and finally…
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 53 July 3, 2012: “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for NJ”

Yomiuri: Iwate town sponsors Vietnamese future doctor — and people reportedly react with trepidation

In light of how NJ nurses under a national visa program have been treated in the face of a chronic careworkers shortage, here we have a case where even local sponsorship of a NJ doctor is also viewed (according to the Yomiuri, which may indeed in the interest of “balance” be conjuring up a tempest in a teapot) with suspicion because she is a foreigner. After all, she might not stay! Then again, so might not anyone else being trained on that scholarship program regardless of nationality. Ah, but foreigners are different, you see. They always represent a flight risk… Anyhoo, good news tainted with an editorial bias of caution and trepidation just because the subject is NJ.

Yomiuri: Facing a serious and chronic shortage of doctors, the town of Ichinohe felt it necessary to look overseas to find medical staff willing to live and work in the rural area. The town plans to spend more than 10 million yen on school and living expenses for a Vietnamese woman on the condition that she will practice medicine in the town for at least seven years after obtaining her license.

The unusual plan raised eyebrows when the town ran it by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, and some residents have questioned why the town is sponsoring a foreigner. However, Ichinohe Mayor Akira Inaba believes the unprecedented plan is just what the town needs. “The scholarship program for Japanese medical students hasn’t attracted enough applicants to meet its quota,” he said. “We have no other choice but to secure our doctors on our own.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 2, 2012

TABLE OF CONTENTS
REOPENING THE IMMIGRATION POLICY DEBATE
1) GOJ embryonic policymaking reboot for “co-existence with foreigners”: Some good stuff, but once again, policy about NJ without any input from them
2) GOJ Cabinet “Coexistence with NJ” Pt. 2: Critique of June 15, 2012 meeting — a very positive Third Act to this Political Theatre
3) Asia Pacific Bulletin: “Accepting Immigrants: Japan’s Last Opportunity for Economic Revival”; a little out of date

WHY ANY IMMIGRATION POLICY MIGHT NOT WORK
4) NYT: A Western Outpost Shrinks on a Remote Island Now in Japanese Hands; the overwriting of NJ legacies in Ogasawaras
5) Kyodo: Foreign caregiver exits put program in doubt, complete with editorial slant blaming NJ for being fickle
6) The Govinda (Mainali) miscarriage of justice murder case ruled for retrial after 15 years, so Immigration deports him. But there’s more intrigue.
7) Japan Times LIFELINES guest columnist Dr Berger on “Dealing with isolation and exclusion in Japan”. Seems grounded in stereotypes.
8 ) China’s crackdown on foreigners called “xenophobic” by CNN columnist. Yet Japan’s been overtly doing the same to its NJ for generations without similar criticism.
… and finally…
9) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column June 5, 2012: Guestists, Haters, the Vested: Apologists take many forms

Kyodo: Foreign caregiver exits put program in doubt, complete with editorial slant blaming NJ for being fickle

The Kyodo article below, on how Indonesian and Filipina nurses and caregivers (even those who have passed the arduous qualifying exam) are leaving Japan anyway, has been featured within the comments section of another Debito.org blog entry (here). It seems to be gathering steam there, so let me post the article here as a stand-alone, and repost below it the subsequent replies from Debito.org Readers (the really good ones start doing the math, revealing there’s something fishy going on at the administrative level, beyond just blaming the NJ caregivers for not doing what they’re told after all the GOJ bullshit they’ve put up with).

My take on this Kyodo article is about the nasty little editorial slants and needles within. Particularly nasty is how all otherwise qualified NJ caregivers are suddenly unworthy of emptying Japanese bedpans just because some decide they have a life outside Japan. Quoth one professor with a PhD in nastiness at Todai (Kiyoshi Kitamura, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s International Research Center for Medical Education): “To what extent would it be considered appropriate for the foreign caregivers’ lives to be bound by the program? We must contemplate this, along with the question of whether the Japanese people are really up for nursing care provided by foreigners.”

Moreover, Kyodo, is this news, or editorializing? “Yet as of June, five of them had quit and returned to Indonesia ‘for personal reasons,’ bringing great disappointment to the facilities that spent tens of millions of yen training them.” Awww, diddums!

GOJ embryonic policymaking reboot for “co-existence with foreigners”: Some good stuff, but once again, policy about NJ without any input from them

John Morris at H-JAPAN: A committee has been set up within the Cabinet Office of Japan, composed of the vice-ministers of the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministiry of Law, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education etc, Health etc, Agricutlure etc, Industry etc, Land etc, Police to investigate and recommend policy on “co-existence with foreigners”. Information on the committee can be found at the following URL:
http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/kyousei/index.html
The documentation provided here gives a very succinct summary of what the government (national level bureaucrats?) of Japan think about “foreigners” here, and how they formulate their perceptions of what the “problems” are, and very vaguely hint at where they see future solutions.

SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS: This is not the first time the organs of the Japanese government have talked about “coexistence with foreigners” (gaikokujin to no kyousei shakai jitsugen), but more likely than not these happen at the local level (cf. the Hamamatsu Sengen, which happened repeatedly from over a decade ago yet was studiously ignored at the national level). Now that discussion on this is taking place at the national, Cabinet level, this is a positive development. However, these meetings (two so far, the first one was less than an hour) at the outset show the hallmarks of so much Japanese policymaking: a biased agenda (with all the normalized invective of “wagakuni” (our country) semantically offsetting those foreigners (who have to “co-exist” with Japanese, not merge into one polity)) regarding the policy treatment of people without any input from the people being treated. Inevitable blind spots, such as an overemphasis on Nikkei and children’s education, are already latent in the materials below. In any case, this is a very interesting and rare view into the dialogs and mindsets behind the creation of public policy re NJ in Japan. More detailed summaries and analysis follow below.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 49: “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail”

Japan Times: Last December, the Japanese government announced that a new visa regime with a “points system” would be introduced this spring.

It is designed to attract 2,000 non-Japanese (NJ) with a “high degree of capability” (kōdo jinzai), meaning people with high salaries, impeccable educational and vocational pedigrees, specialized technical knowledge and excellent managerial/administrative skills.

Those lucky foreign millionaire Ph.Ds beating a path to this land of opportunity would get preferential visa treatment: five-year visas, fast-tracking to permanent residency, work status for spouses — even visas to bring their parents and “hired housekeepers” along.

Sweet. But then comes the fine print: You must get 70 points on the Justice Ministry’s qualifying scale (see www.moj.go.jp/content/000083223.pdf) And it’s tough, really tough. Take the test and see if you qualify (I don’t). Symptomatic of decisions by committee, it’s a salad of idealized preferences without regard for real-world application. There’s even a funny sliding scale where you get more points the longer you’ve worked, yet fewer points the older you get.

Interesting is how low Japanese language ability is weighted: only 10 points — in a “bonus” category. One would have assumed that people communicative in Japan’s lingua franca would be highly prized (especially when the call for kōdo jinzai is in Japanese only).

However, I would argue the opposite: Crowds of NJ completely fluent in Japanese are exactly what the government does not want. Visa regimes with illiterate foreigners facing insurmountable hurdles are what maintain Japan’s revolving-door labor market.

For example, consider 2008’s visa program to import elderly-care nurses from the Philippines and Indonesia…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 5, 2012

Table of Contents:
HISTORICAL WRONGS, ABERRATIONS, AND AMNESIA
1) Levin: J citizens of empire stripped of Japanese nationality in 1952, made into Zainichi by bureaucratic fiat — by a simple MOJ office circular (kairan)!
2) Mainichi and JT: Nagoya mayor Kawamura repeatedly denies Nanjing Massacre, joins ranks of revisionist J politicians
3) Mainichi/Kyodo: NJ crime down again, but once again only reported in English and apparently not in J Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei
4) Mainichi: NHK Press publishes book about NJ “underground reality” (e.g., prostitution, fake marriages and citizenships, profiteering). Contrast with interview with freewheeling cannibal Sagawa Issei.

BLOWBACK
5) Yomiuri: Language hurdle trips up Indonesian nurses in 4-year-old GOJ EPA program, and they’re leaving. By design, methinks.
6) Asahi: Registered NJ population drops again in 2010, GOJ to institute policy of “points system” for future NJ visas this Spring
7) Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules
8 ) Jeff Smith on Yahoo Japan auctioneer denying foreign bidders, and what he did about it

… and finally…
9) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column #48: “These are a few of my favorite things about Japan”, Feb. 7, 2012

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”

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.”

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.”

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.)

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 中途半端. 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.

Nikkei Business magazine special (May 2, 2011) on the future and necessity of NJ labor to Japan

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.

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.

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.

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

Weekend 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.”

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…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 18, 2010

Table of Contents:

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”

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…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 24, 2010

Table of Contents:
INTERESTING VIEWS
1) Singapore Straits Times: Lee Kwan Yew advises Japan not to accept immigrants who don’t look Japanese
2) David McNeill interviews ultranationalist Sakurai Makoto, lays bare his illogical invective
3) Former J employees sue Prada for sexual and power harassment, TV claims “racial discrimination”
4) Yomiuri, Terrie’s Take offer thoughtful essays on easing language hurdles for NJ on a tight deadline, such as Filipine or Indonesian nurses
5) Further reading: Indonesian “care givers” and those pesky qualifying exams: a means to maintain “revolving door” NJ job market?
6) Times London on “Peter Rabbit Tax”: Optional 5GBP surcharge for Japanese tourists in England derided as “discriminatory”
7) Meat67 on “City of Urayasu Globalization Guidelines” Survey
8 ) Suraj Case of death during deportation makes The Economist (London)
9) JALT PALE NEWSLETTER May 2010 (pdf file)

NEWS YOU CAN USE
10) Terumi Club refuses NJ for travel fares and tours, has cheaper fares for Japanese Only. Like H.I.S. and No.1 Travel.
11) Takasago Hotel, Fukushima-ken, has “rooms all full” if lodger is NJ
12) Japan Times: Housing glut resulting in more assistance for NJ renters, e.g., Japan Property Management Association
13) Matthew Apple on how to take child care leave in Japan. Yes, even in Japan. Sanctioned by the GOJ.
14) Sunday Tangent: Cato Institute on dealing with police racial profiling in general
15) MOJ: Numbers of people naturalizing into Japan 1999-2008
16) NYT: More American Expatriates Give Up US Citizenship

… and finally …
17) DEBITO.ORG BLOG POLL: “What do you think about the whole Okinawa Futenma Issue?”

Further reading: Indonesian “care givers” and those pesky qualifying exams: a means to maintain “revolving door” NJ job market?

Here are a few articles that have sat in my “Drafts” section for months, waiting for the right time to be posted on Debito.org (it happens sometimes, sorry). Their point is that we have plenty of voices saying that the NJ nurses brought under the special visa program ought to be given a bit more of a break when it comes to language training (again, these people are qualified nurses — it’s only a language barrier), and yet the GOJ intransigently says that these people don’t deserve one — they should pass the same exam that only about 50% of native Japanese speakers pass anyway. Can’t you at least simplify the language and add furigana? Noooo, that would be unfair! As if it’s not unfair already.

I understand the argument that in emergency situations, people should be able to be communicated with without error, but surely there’s some grey in there. My belief, as I said yesterday and numerous times before, is that this is just taking advantage of fear to mask the program’s true intention, of keeping NJ on a short-term revolving door visa program so they don’t come here to stay permanently. These articles below are further evidence I believe of the subterfuge. Sorry to have taken so long to get to them. One-two punch for this week.

Newsweek and NBER on how immigration helps societies, vs separate Newsweek column doubting it

We had two articles come out in Newsweek over the past two months on the effects of immigration. One from last March cites an academic saying how influxes of foreign workers boost economies, raising average incomes (based upon 50 years of data) 0.5% for every percent increase in the workforce that is foreign-born. The other guest column that came out late April cites other academics suggesting the opposite.

My take: I feel that we’ve got some posturing going on. I’m reminded of the movie THE RIGHT STUFF, where we have the character of Werner Von Braun saying that the Americans are going to win the space race against the Soviets because “our German [scientists] are better than their German [scientists]”. Same here, where the April article brandishes its scientists vigorously, throwing in undeveloped citations like rocks (some aimed at “activists” and “multicuturalists” shrouding the debate in phony “half-truths”), and name-dropping academics with insufficient development of the science involved.

Myself, I’ll trust a half-century of data collated in the March Newsweek article, and believe that countries are enriched by immigration. Would anyone argue that places like the United States have NOT benefited through labor migration to its shores? The only issue is of quantifying how much, which the April column in my view hardly accomplishes.

And if proper attraction and assimilation of immigrants is key (which the April article hints at but won’t come out and say plainly), then the argument once again supports those half-truthy “multiculturalists” and their purportedly phony solutions.

Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites Debito.org’s parody “Little Yellow Jap”

The Japan Times this week published a very nicely-considered article on something brought up on Debito.org in February: The Little Black Sambo controversy, and how it was being taught without any racial sensitivity or historical/cultural context, to Japanese pre-schoolers, regardless of concerns raised about its appropriateness.

For the record, I believe LBS is a work of history and as such should not be “banned”. It should, however, whenever used always be placed in historical context, and seen as materiel to enlighten people about the prejudices of the day. I have never seen it done so in Japan. In fact, the republisher Zuiunsha — which appears to have just appropriated the book from the previous Japanese publisher and republished it for fun and profit — doesn’t even offer a disclaimer or a foreword in the book explaining why this book has been problematic; existentially, it’s just a book they can get rich off of. Who cares if some people might be adversely affected by it?

Hence my attempt, mentioned below, of providing not historical context, but through parody putting the shoe on the other foot for empathy, as “Little Yellow Jap”. That has occasioned cries of “racism” by the noncognizant. But the Japan Times essayist below gets it. Excerpt of article follows.