Tsukuba City’s resolution against NJ suffrage passed in 2010, a retrospective in the wake of alarmism

I’ve sat on this for more than a year. Now that the whole debate on “granting foreigners suffrage will mean the end of Japan” has probably died down a bit, it’s time that we look back on what happened then, and on the aftermath wrought by people losing their heads.

After the Democratic Party of Japan came to power in 2009, after decades of mostly unbroken and corrupt Liberal Democratic Party rule, there was hope for some new inclusive paradigms vis-a-vis NJ in Japan, one of their smaller party planks was granting NJ (undecided whether NJ would be Permanent Resident or Zainichi Special Permanent Resident) the right to vote in local elections (like other countries do). This, alas, occasioned much protest and alarmist doomsaying about how Japanese society would be ruined by ever enfranchising potentially disloyal foreigners (“They’d concentrate in parts of Japan and secede to China!”, “Kim Jong-Il will now have influence over Japan!”), and suddenly we had regional governments and prefectures passing petitions (seigan) stating that they formally oppose ever giving suffrage to foreigners.

The Tsukuba City Council was no exception, even though Tsukuba in itself is an exceptional city. It has a major international university, a higher-than-average concentration of NJ researchers and academics, a centrally-planned modern showcase living grid with advanced communication networks, and one of Japan’s two foreign-born naturalized citizens (Jon Heese; the other city is Inuyama’s Anthony Bianchi) elected to its city council. Yet Tsukuba, a city designed to be one of those international communities within Japan, was given in December 2010 a petition of NJ suffrage opposition to consider signing and sending off to the DPJ Cabinet. Here’s the draft:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed

For some people, anything is an excuse for a party. Especially if it’s a Political Party. For the Far-Right xenophobes in Japan, it’s their party and they’ll decry if they want to — as they continue their anti-NJ rantings, even when they’ve effectively shouted down the NJ Suffrage Bill the DPJ proposed after they came to power last August. Everyone has to have a hobby, it seems. Pity theirs is based upon hatred of NJ, particularly our geopolitical neighbors. Two submissions of primary source materials and posters enclosed below, one from Debito.org Reader AS, one from me that I picked up when I was in Tokyo last March, which led to a rally reported on in the Japan Times and Kyodo the other day. Drink in the invective and see how naked and bold Japan’s xenophobia is getting.

DPJ backs down from suffrage bill for NJ Permanent Residents, as “postponement”. Hah.

Mainichi: The government has abandoned proposing a bill to grant local voting rights to permanent foreign residents in Japan during the current Diet session, in the face of intense opposition from coalition partner People’s New Party (PNP).

“It’s extremely difficult for the government to sponsor such a bill due to differences over the issue between the ruling coalition partners,” said Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi…

PNP leader and Minister of State for Financial Services Shizuka Kamei stressed his strong opposition against the measure, saying his party would not allow the enactment of the suffrage bill.

Moreover, the DPJ itself seems to be split over the issue. Although the foreign suffrage bill is an “important bill” that DPJ Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa has been promoting, a forceful submission of the bill could cause a rift within the party, and the discussion over the matter has stalled.

Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.

Here’s something I received the other day from Debito.org Reader XY. It’s a flyer he found in his mailbox from the Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP, advising people to “protect Japan and vote their conscience” (although they can’t legally use the word “vote” since it’s not an official election period). It talks about how “dangerous” it would be to grant NJ PR local suffrage.

I’ve given some of the con arguments here before (from radical rightists loons like Hiranuma and co.), but this time it’s seventeen more mainstreamers (from a party which would otherwise be in power but for people voting their conscience last August) offering a number of questionable claims…

My favorite bit is the illustration at the bottom. “JAPAN, LET’S PROTECT OURSELVES!!” Love how it’s an angry-looking alien ship with its sights on our archipelago. NJ as invading alien!! And I remember back in the day when we had a UFO Party waiting to cart us all away! How times change when there’s a real policy up for debate.

But seriously folks, this isn’t some podunk backwater like Dejima Award Winner Setaka Town in Fukuoka. This is Edogawa-ku, the easternmost ku of Tokyo proper, right across the river from Chiba, with more than half a million registered residents. It’s not the type of place for xenophobic alarmist politicians to immaturely paint the spectre of an alien invasion in a serious debate.

Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

Kyodo: Local assemblies in 14 of Japan’s 47 prefectures have adopted statements in opposition to giving permanent foreign residents in Japan the right to vote in local elections since the Democratic Party of Japan took power last year, a Kyodo News tally showed Monday.

Before the launch last September of the new government under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama who supports granting local suffrage, 31 prefectural assemblies took an affirmative stance, but six of them have turned against it since then.

(Those open-minded prefectures are: Akita, Yamagata, Chiba, Ibaraki, Toyama, Ishikawa, Shimane, Kagawa, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki and Kumamoto, plus Saitama and Niigata)

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 2, 2010: “NJ suffrage and the racist element”

Excerpt: It is probably no surprise that this columnist supports PR suffrage. There are close to half a million Special Permanent Residents (the zainichi ethnic Koreans, Chinese, etc.), born and raised here, who have been paying Japanese taxes their entire lives. Moreover, their relatives were former citizens of the Japanese empire (brought here both by force and by the war economy), contributing to and even dying for our country. In just about any other developed nation, they would be citizens already; they once were.

Then there are close to a half-million more Regular Permanent Residents (the “newcomer” immigrants) who have taken the long and winding road (for some, two decades) to qualify for PR. They got it despite the discretionary and often obstructionist efforts of Japan’s mandarins (Zeit Gist May 28, 2008).

Anyone who puts in the years and effort to meet PR assimilation requirements has earned the right to participate in their local community — including voting in their elections. At least three dozen other countries allow foreigners to vote in theirs, and the sky hasn’t fallen on them.

But that’s not what antisuffrage demonstrators, with Hiranuma their poster boy, would have you believe. Although public policy debate in Japan is generally pretty milquetoast, nothing brings out apocalyptic visions quite like the right wing’s dry-throated appeals to Japanese-style xenophobia. Granting foreigners suffrage, they say, will carve up Japan like a tuna…

Anti-NJ suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!”

One of the more interesting proposals from the new DPJ-run Administration is suffrage for Permanent Residents. The Cabinet is ready to send a bill to the Diet so that Permanent Residents (in American terms, essentially “Green Card holders”) obtain the right to vote in local elections.

Regardless of whether you support or disapprove (Debito.org is in support, given how difficult it can be to get PR in Japan, not to mention how arbitrary the naturalization procedures are), what is interesting is the invective in the debate by people who oppose it. Numerous and very visible demonstrations by right-wing fringe elements (who also seem to get all xenophobic at, say, Hallowe’en being celebrated in Japan) are resorting to daft arguments that defy calm and common sense. Here are some photos and flyers, received from a witness of one demonstration in Shibuya November 28, 2009, courtesy of ER. Drink in the alarmism and panic by people who are probably going to lose the debate.

Japan Today: DPJ at odds with itself over PR Suffrage

Oh well, never mind the DPJ trying to split New Komeito off from the LDP. Seems the Suffrage for Permanent Residents issue has set the DPJ against itself as well, according to Japan Today. This issue is not settled by any means (the DPJ is all over the map ideologically anyway, so this degree of dissent is quite normal, actually), so let’s see where the kerfuffle goes. But for all the people that say that Japan’s NJ demographics and labor issues are politically insignificant, we may in fact be seeing quite a few fault lines between old and new Japan after all…

Asahi Dec 1 06: Osaka High Court rules Juki Net unconstitutional. OK, how about Gaijin Cards, then? (with update)

Osaka High Court ruled that the “Juki Net” residence registration network infringes on people’s constitutional right to privacy if they oppose the system. Great. Now how about Gaijin Cards? What the plaintiffs probably fear happening to them happens on a daily basis to foreigners in this country, who are also covered by the constitution. UPDATE–The judge who ruled on this case committed suicide days later.

A Top Ten for 2017: Debito’s Japan Times JBC 110: “In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination”

As is tradition, here is JBC’s annual countdown of the top 10 human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan over the past year. In ascending order:

10) As Japan’s population falls, NJ residents hit record
Figures released in 2017 indicated that Japan’s society is not just continuing to age and depopulate, but that the trends are accelerating. Annual births fell under 1 million — a record low — while deaths reached a record high. The segment of the population aged 65 or older also accounted for a record 27 percent of the total. In contrast, after four years (2010-2013) of net outflow, the NJ resident influx set new records. A registered 2.38 million now make up 1.86 percent of Japan’s total population, somewhat offsetting the overall decline. Alas, that didn’t matter. Japanese media as usual tended to report “Japan’s population” not in terms of people living in Japan, but rather Nihonjin (Japanese citizens), indicating once again that NJ residents simply don’t count.

9) ‘Hair police’ issue attracts attention with lawsuit…
Entire article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/03/issues/2017-japan-woke-issue-discrimination/
Version with links to sources now on Debito.org.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 66: “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ”, Aug 5, 2013

Japan Times: Spare a thought for Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first European-born naturalized immigrant parliamentarian. He was voted out in last month’s House of Councilors election.

You might think I’d call it tragic. No. It was a comeuppance.

It needn’t have turned out this way. Squeaking into a seat by default in 2001, Tsurunen was later reelected in 2007 with a reaffirming mandate of 242,740 proportional representation votes, sixth in his party. Last month, however, he lost badly, coming in 12th with only 82,858.

For a man who could have demonstrated what immigrants (particularly our visible minorities) can do in Japan, it was an ignominious exit — so unremarkable that the Asahi Shimbun didn’t even report it among 63 “noteworthy” campaigns.

However, Tsurunen offers lessons in microcosm for his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and on why Japan’s left wing was so spectacularly trounced in the last two elections…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 31, 2013

Table of Contents:
THE UGLY SIDE OF JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SHIFT (1): BIGOTRY AND HATRED

1) Feb 9 2013 Tokyo Shin-Ohkubo Anti-Korean demonstrator slogans: “Good or Bad, Kill All Koreans” etc.
2) Letters from J human rights groups to the visiting Olympic Committee re Tokyo 2020: Discrimination in Japan violates IOC Charter
3) My latest academic paper on Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: “Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance”

4) Interesting cases: naturalized Japanese sues city councilor fiance who jilted her for Korean ethnicity, Pakistani parents file criminal complaint for injurious school bullying, Hatoyama Yukio officially called “traitor” for not toeing official party line on Senkaku/Nanjing issues

THE UGLY SIDE OF JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SHIFT (2): ELITE DOMINANCE AND INSULARITY

5) Prof. Kashiwazaki Chikako: Japan’s Nationality Law and immigration policy deviates from current international legal norm
6) SITYS: GOJ’s new “Points System” to attract “higher-skilled” NJ being reviewed due to dearth of applications, impossibly high hurdles
7) JT/Kyodo: Record high applicants for J refugee status. Why media fixation on refugees? Because they are a bellwether of Japan’s “legitimacy as a competent, advanced, Western democracy”
8 ) Asahi: Business leaders call for law to allow firing of workers without justification: i.e., the gaijinization of all workplaces
9) JT on “Kyakkan Setsu vs. Nibun Setsu”: Grey zones in compensation for “work hours” in Japan

… and finally…
10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 61 March 5, 2013: “Child’s quibble with U.S. ‘poverty superpower’ propaganda unravels a sobering story about insular Japan”

PLUS bonus follow-up:
11) Tangent: Tsutsumi Mika’s crooked Jewish character “Goldberg” in her “USA Poverty Superpower” manga.

My latest academic paper on Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: “Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance”

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 9, No. 3, March 4, 2013.
Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance
日本の右傾化と鳥取県人権条例
By Arudou Debito
ABSTRACT
Japan’s swing to the right in the December 2012 Lower House election placed three-quarters of the seats in the hands of conservative parties. The result should come as no surprise. This political movement not only capitalized on a putative external threat generated by recent international territorial disputes (with China/Taiwan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and with South Korea over Takeshima/Dokdo islands). It also rode a xenophobic wave during the 2000s, strengthened by fringe opposition to reformers seeking to give non-Japanese more rights in Japanese politics and society.

This article traces the arc of that xenophobic trajectory by focusing on three significant events: The defeat in the mid-2000s of a national “Protection of Human Rights” bill (jinken yōgo hōan); Tottori Prefecture’s Human Rights Ordinance of 2005 that was passed on a local level and then rescinded; and the resounding defeat of proponents of local suffrage for non-citizens (gaikokujin sanseiken) between 2009-11. The article concludes that these developments have perpetuated the unconstitutional status quo of a nation with no laws against racial discrimination in Japan.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 60, Feb 4, 2013: “Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer”

Japan Times JBC: On Jan. 1, The Japan Times’ lead story was “Summer poll to keep Abe in check.” It made the argument that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party alliance falls short of a majority in the Upper House, so until elections happen this summer he lacks a “full-fledged administration” to carry out a conservative agenda.

I believe this is over-optimistic. The LDP alliance already has 325 seats in Japan’s overwhelmingly powerful Lower House — safely more than the 320 necessary to override Upper House vetoes. Moreover, as Japan’s left was decimated in December’s elections, about three-quarters of the Lower House is in the hands of avowed hard-right conservatives. Thus Abe already has his mandate.

So this column will focus on what Abe, only the second person in postwar Japanese history given another chance at PM, is up to this time…

Although LDP leaders were once reticent about public displays of affection towards Japan’s hard right, Abe has been more unabashed. Within the past six months he has made two visits to controversial Yasukuni Shrine (once just before becoming LDP head, and once, officially, afterwards). Scholar Gavan McCormack unreservedly calls Abe “the most radical of all Japanese post-1945 leaders.”

Now Abe and his minions are back in power with possibly the most right-wing Cabinet in history. Academic journal Japan Focus last week published a translation of an NGO report (japanfocus.org/events/view/170) outlining the ultraconservative interest groups that Abe’s 19 Cabinet members participate in. Three-quarters are members of groups favoring the political re-enfranchisement of “Shinto values” and Yasukuni visits, two-thirds are in groups for remilitarizing Japan and denying wartime atrocities, and half are in groups seeking sanitation of school textbooks, adoption of a new “unimposed” Constitution, and protection of Japan from modernizing reforms (such as separate surnames for married couples) and outside influences (such as local suffrage for foreign permanent residents)…

The current Abe administration is in pole position to drive Japan back to a xenophobic, ultra-rightist, militaristic Japan that we thought the world had seen the last of after two world wars. Abe can (and will, if left to his own devices) undo all the liberal reforms that postwar social engineers thought would forever overwrite the imperialist elements of Japanese society. In fact, it is now clear that Japan’s conservative elite were just biding their time all along, waiting for their rehabilitation. It has come.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes: “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place”

Japan Times: No doubt you’ve seen the news about the Takeshima and Senkaku disputes: Japan is sparring with China, South Korea and Taiwan over some specks in the ocean.

Why is this happening? Theories include pre-election political posturing and securing borders to exploit resources. But it’s gotten to the point where even respected academics (such as Stanford’s Harumi Befu and Harvard’s Ted Bestor) are worriedly writing, “current developments are counterproductive to the lasting peace in East Asia and are dangerously degenerating into belligerent diplomacy.”

My take on these scraps is pretty simple: They are merely a way to distract the Japanese public from a larger malaise, the symptoms of which include Japan’s loss of clout as Asia’s leading economy, perpetual economic funk, ineffectual political leadership and an irradiated food chain.

But the larger question remains: How could these far-flung rocks get so much domestic political traction? …

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 30, 2012

Table of Contents:

CAUSES TO CHEER
1) Debito writes the Hokkaido Section in FODOR’S Guidebook on Japan, 20th Edition, out now
2) Japan Times Community Page 10th Anniversary: Vote for your favorite article at JT by May 5
3) JT Community Page 10th Anniversary: Write a Haiku, win a copy of Debito’s HANDBOOK

WEIRD OUTCOMES UNDER JAPAN’S RACIALIZATION PARADIGMS
4) JDG on self-appointed Hanami Vigilantes in Osaka harassing NJ
5) Tsukuba City’s resolution against NJ suffrage passed in 2010, a retrospective in the wake of alarmism
6) Mainichi: JHS teacher arrested for defrauding insurance companies by repeatedly claiming his luggage was stolen by foreigners!
7) Bryant in UCLA Law Review on oppressiveness of Family Registry (koseki) and Household Registry (juuminhyou)
8 ) Cracked.com: Racialized characters in Japanese video games
9) Yomiuri: J population falls record 259,000 in 2011 (as does NJ pop.); Keidanren think tank sees ROK surpassing J GDP by 2030

… and finally…
10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 50, April 3, 2012: Donald Keene should engage brain before fueling ‘flyjin,’ foreign crime myths

Weekend Tangent: Historical comparison between contemporary social attitudes justifying racial discrimination in Japan and pre-Civil-War slavery in America

Today I’d like to write about something that came to mind when I was listening to National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” podcast of February 21, 2011, which interviewed author and Columbia University professor Eric Foner for his book “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery”. (NPR information site on this show, excerpt from the book, and link to audio recording here.)

It was an excellent interview, shedding insights on just how entrenched unequal treatment towards people was in a system that on paper and in its very declaration of independence proclaimed that all men are created equal. I found similarities in the attitudes that people have towards foreigners in Japan, based not only on recent confessions by a public prosecutor that criminal jurisprudence training seeks to systematically deny human rights to foreigners, but also consequent twitter comments that justified the status quo of unequal treatment for foreigners. It shows just how far Japan as a society (not to mention the GOJ’s Bureau of Human Rights, which itself misunderstands the very concept of human rights in its surveys and awareness raising efforts; see my Japan Times article, “Human Rights Survey Stinks: Government effort riddled with bias, bad science”, of October 23, 2007) has to go before it understands that concepts of human rights are universal, not based upon citizenship.

Now for the disclaimers: I am aware that apparently linking the treatment of NJ in Japan to slaves in America is not an apt comparison (although Japan’s “Trainee/Researcher” system for importing cheap NJ labor has encouraged widespread labor abuses, child labor, and, yes, even slavery). I am aware that most NJ are in Japan of their own free will (if one ignores the forced labor of many Zainichi ancestors), whereas slaves were brought to the US by force. Et cetera. But the two concepts are related if not co-joined, as racial discrimination and justified unequal treatment is common to them both. What I want you to think about as you read the interview is how the contemporary debate arena and concepts of fundamental equality were blurred in both Pre-Civil-War USA and are still being blurred in contemporary Japan, tying the hands of even someone as able and firm in his convictions as Abraham Lincoln.

Excerpt of the interview follows. Quick comment from me below.

Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010” (Director’s Cut)

Director’s Cut with excised text from published version and links to sources:

Top Five for 2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) RENHO BECOMES FIRST MULTIETHNIC CABINET MEMBER (June 8 )
4) P.M. KAN APOLOGIZES TO KOREA FOR 1910 ANNEXATION (August 10)
3) TOURIST VISAS EASED FOR CHINA (July 1)
2) NJ PR SUFFRAGE BILL GOES DOWN IN FLAMES (February 27)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009

Top Five for 2000-2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)
4) ISHIHARA’S SANGOKUJIN RANT (April 9, 2000)
3) THE SECOND KOIZUMI CABINET (2003-2005)
2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 1, 2011

Table of Contents:
1) DEBITO.ORG END-YEAR POLL: “What do you think are the top issues in 2010 that affected NJ in Japan?”

Holiday Tangents:
2) Happy Boxing Day: From deep within the archives: “Fred Fish” comic book, 1973, drawn by me aged eight
3) Holiday Tangent: “Steve Seed”, all drawed by me 1973, aged eight. C’mon, it’s kinda cute.
4) From even farther back: “Penny the Hamster”, drawn in Second Grade when I was seven
5) Tangent: Comic “The Flight’, drawn by me Christmas 1975 aged ten
6) Tangent: “The Meat Eaters”: My first try at a movie storyboard, circa 1975, Fifth Grade, aged ten
7) Last End-Year Tangent: “Lile Lizard”, written Second Grade aged seven, includes procreation!

Business as usual:
8 ) Kyodo: Stats for inflows & outflows: J exch students down, NJ up; NJ tourists also up, but none reaching GOJ goals
9) Mainichi: Global 30 strategy for bringing in more foreign exchange students to be axed, while fewer J students go overseas than Singapore
10) Japan Times: Paranoia over NJ purchases of land in Niseko etc: GOJ expresses “security” concerns
11) Fukui City now requiring J language ability for NJ taxpayer access to public housing. Despite being ruled impermissible by Shiga Guv in 2002
12) Discussion: As a person with NJ roots, is your future in Japan? An essay making the case for “No”

… and finally …
13) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 4, 2011
Double feature: The top ten events that affected NJ in Japan both for 2010 and for the entire last decade!

Discussion: As a person with NJ roots, is your future in Japan? An essay making the case for “No”.

I’m hearing increasing discontent from the NJ Community (assuming quite presumptuously there is one able to speak with a reasonably unified voice) about living in Japan.

Many are saying that they’re on their way outta here. They’ve had enough of being treated badly by a society that takes their taxes yet does not respect or protect their rights.

To stimulate debate, let me posit with some flourish the negative case for continuing life in Japan, and let others give their own arguments pro and con:

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to expect people to want to immigrate to Japan, given the way they are treated once they get here.

We have racial profiling by the Japanese police, where both law allows and policy sanctions the stopping of people based upon having a “foreign appearance”, such as it is, where probable cause for ID checks anywhere is the mere suspicion of foreigners having expired visas.

We have rampant refusals of NJ by landlords and rental agencies (sanctioned to the point where at least one realtor advertises “Gaijin OK” apartments), with the occasional private enterprise putting up “Japanese Only” signs, and nothing exists to stop these acts that are expressly forbidden by the Japanese Constitution. Yet now fifteen years after effecting the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no law against it either on the books or in the pipeline…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2010

Table of Contents:

THE CHINESE ARE COMING
1) Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly
2) Toyoko Inn opens “exclusively Chinese” hotel in Susukino Sapporo, refuses Japanese and other NJ; media ignores questionable legality
3) Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it
4) Debito.org Reader asks for advice regarding Chinese “Trainees” exploitation, stolen wallet, and local police

THE IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT
5) Asahi poll: Japan would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigration
6) Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson
7) Kansai Scene June 2010 article on issue of refugees and J Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”)
8 ) Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!

TANGENTS
9) Reuters: Showings of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove cancelled in Japan due to threat of protest
10) Support and preview FROM THE SHADOWS documentary on Japan’s Child Abductions: Tokyo Shibuya Thurs Jun 24 7PM, admission free
11) Kyodo: GOJ survey indicates 70% of J disabled feel discriminated against. Nice they, unlike NJ, even got asked.
12) Fun Facts #15: Percentages of J high school grads matriculating into college by prefecture
13) Excellent Mark Schreiber article on history of crime terms in J media

… and finally …

14) Kansai Scene June 2010 interview re NJ PR suffrage issue (full text)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 8, 2010

Table of Contents:

MIXED OPINIONS
1) Newsweek and NBER on how immigration helps societies, vs separate Newsweek column doubting it
2) Savoie Child Abduction Case: Father sues judge and lawyer that enabled ex-wife to abduct
3) US House of Reps Resolution submission regarding Japan’s Child Abductions Issue
4) How the mighty have fallen: Forbes ranks world’s leading companies, Japan with only 3 in top 100, Toyota drops from 3rd to 360th
5) Swiss woman acquitted of crimes yet denied bail due to being NJ, then barred as “visa overstayer” anyway
6) Japan Times editorial calling for the removal of its own Berlin Walls
7) DEBITO.ORG Podcast May 1, 2010

INFORMATION YOU JUST MIGHT NEED
8 ) GEOS Bankruptcy and G-Education takeover: Internal document forwarded to Debito.org stating staff not getting back wages
9) Mainichi: First GOJ guidelines for teaching NJ the Japanese language so they can live here
10) Debito.org Recommends: “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, By Christopher Dillon; Tokyo book tour next week

TANGENTS
11) Racial profiling of immigrants becomes legal in Arizona. However, controversy ensues.
12) Holiday Tangent: “Lifer” cartoon on “Things to do in a Wintry Hokkaido”, Happy May

… and finally …
13) JUST BE CAUSE Japan Times column May 4, 2010, on “Last gasps of Japan’s dying demagogues ” (full text)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010
SOME ODDS AND ENDS OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS
Table of Contents:

ODDS
1) MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids for child allowances. What spongers?
2) More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.
3) Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)
4) Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain auto recall issues
5) More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion
6) List of countries with voting rights for non-citizens, with Japan of the group the absolutist outlier

ENDS
7) A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60
8 ) Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ
9) Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility
10) Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa
11) Fun Facts #14: JK provides budgetary stats to show why current immigration-resistant regime is unsustainable

AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE FIZZLED OUT
12) Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike
13) Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san
14) UPDATE: Ibaraki Detention Center Hunger Strikers pause strike, arrange meetings
15) Japan Times on Ibaraki Detention Ctr hunger strikers: GOJ meeting because of UN visit?
… then, kerplunk, the issue dies…?

… and finally …

16) Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the J archipelago

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column April 6, 2010 prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants

CONCLUSION

In light of all the above, the Japanese government’s stance towards the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is easily summarized: The Ainu, Ryukyuans and burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t fall under the CERD because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution. However, the zainichis and newcomers are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD either. Thus, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.

Well, what about me? Or our children? Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?

In conclusion, I would like to thank the U.N. for investigating our cases. On March 16, the CERD Committee issued some very welcome recommendations in its review. However, may I point out that the U.N. still made a glaring oversight.

During the committee’s questioning of Japan last Feb. 24 and 25, very little mention was made of the CERD’s “unenforcement” in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code. Furthermore, almost no mention was made of “Japanese only” signs, the most indefensible violations of the CERD.

Both Japan and the U.N. have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s minorities. Newcomers are never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants.” The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) foreign migrants have a temporary status in Japan, and 2) Japan has few ethnically diverse Japanese citizens.

Time for an update. Look at me. I am a Japanese. The government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization, and I passed it. People like me are part of Japan’s future. When the U.N. makes their recommendations, please have them reflect how Japan must face up to its multicultural society. Please recognize us newcomers as a permanent part of the debate.

The Japanese government will not. It says little positive about us, and allows very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers and police. It’s about time we all recognized the good that newcomers are doing for our home, Japan. Please help us.

Rough draft text of my speech to UN Rep Bustamante Mar 23 in Tokyo

Excerpt: I wish to focus on the situation of peoples of “foreign” origin and appearance, such as White and non-Asian peoples like me, and how we tend to be treated in Japanese society. Put simply, we are not officially registered or even counted sometimes as genuine residents. We are not treated as taxpayers, not protected as consumers, not seen as ethnicities even in the national census. We not even regarded as deserving of the same human rights as Japanese, according to government-sponsored opinion polls and human rights surveys (blue folder items I-1, I-6 and III-6). This view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I’ll get that later.

Here is a blue 500-page information folder I will give you after my talk, with primary source materials, articles, reference papers, and testimonials from other people in Japan who would like their voice heard. It will substantiate what I will be saying in summary below.

[…] [I]t is we “Newcomers” who really need the protections of a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners” in Japan, are often singled out and targeted for our own special variety of discriminatory treatment.

Here are examples I will talk briefly about now:
1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation
2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police, through policies officially depicting Non-Japanese as criminals, terrorists, and carriers of infectious disease
3) Refusal to be registered or counted as residents by the Japanese Government
4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public
5) Objects of unfettered hate speech…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 11, 2010

UNITED NATIONS REVIEWS JAPAN

1) Kyodo: GOJ criticized by UN CERD (once again) for inaction towards racial discrim;
GOJ stresses “discrim not rampant”
2) UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva.
Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.
3) UNHCR CERD Recommendation 30 (2004): UN says non-citizens equally protected under treaty and domestic law as citizens
4) UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante visiting Japan 3/21 – 4/1

SOME ODD DEVELOPMENTS

5) DPJ backs down from suffrage bill for NJ Permanent Residents, as “postponement”. Hah.
6) Emily Homma on Filipina nurses in Japan being abused by GOJ EPA visa program
7) MOJ removes “health insurance” as guideline for visa renewals

SOME ODDER TANGENTS

8 ) Newsweek column: “Toyota and the End of Japan”
9) 2-Channel BBS downed by Korean cyberhackers
10) China Daily publishes snotty anti-laowai article

DEBITO’S MARCH TOUR:

11) Tokyo-Sendai-Shiga Schedule March 19 to April 3

… and finally …

12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column March 2, 2010 on Racist Sumo Kyoukai (full text)

UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva. Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.

What follows is the full text of the GOJ’s meeting Feb 24-25, 2010, with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, something it faces for review every two years.

Media-digested highlights of this meeting already up on Debito.org here.

Although it was noteworthy for having 14 Japanese delegates from five different ministries (something the UN delegates remarked upon repeatedly), quite frankly, the 2010 session wasn’t much different from the previous two reviews. In that: The CERD Committee tells the GOJ to do something, and the GOJ gives reasons why things can’t change (or offers cosmetic changes as evidence that things are changing; it even cites numerous times the new Hatoyama Government as evidence of change, and as a reason why we can’t say anything conclusive yet about where human rights improvements will happen). The 2008 review was particularly laughable, as it said that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”. I guess an actual law against racial discrimination isn’t a conceivable measure. As the GOJ delegates say below, it still isn’t. But it is according to the CERD Committee below.

In sum, the biannual to-and-fro has become Grand Kabuki. And while things got bogged down in the standard “minority” questions (Ainu, Ryukyuans, Burakumin, and Zainichis — all worthy causes in themselves, of course), very little time was spent on “Newcomer” minorities, as in, the NJ (or former-NJ) immigrants who are now here long-term. People like me, as in racially-diverse Japanese, aren’t seen as a minority yet, even though we very definitely are by any UN definition. Plus, hardly any time was devoted at all to discussing the “Japanese Only” signs extant throughout Japan for many UN sessions now, the most simple and glaring violation of the CERD yet.

I haven’t the time to critique the whole session text below, but you can look at the 2008 session here (which I did critique) and get much the same idea. I have put certain items of interest to Debito.org in boldface, and here are some pencil-dropping excerpted quotes:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 28, 2010

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010
Table of Contents:

WHY THINGS DON’T CHANGE
1) Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”
(this will be the subject of my next JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE column, due out March 2, 2010)
2) Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce
3) SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record
4) Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

WHY THINGS ARE CHANGING
5) International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010
6) Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty
7) Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China
8 ) Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win Y17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”
9) DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign
10) Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal
11) Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

THEN THERE IS OUTRIGHT NASTINESS
12) Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.
13) Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document
14) Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops
15) Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets
16) Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall
17) Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.

TANGENTS
18) Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality
19) UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.
20) Debito.org Poll: “Are you rooting for Team Japan in the Vancouver Olympics?” Vote on any blog page http://www.debito.org
21) LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”
22) Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport
23) Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!

… and finally …
24) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age (full text)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 15, 2008

TWO STEPS FORWARD
GOJ Panel: Japan should welcome skilled foreign workers, also create Immigration Agency,
and increase the NJ population to 10 million!
Japan Immigration Policy Institute’s Sakanaka-san on Japan’s new immigration policy (Japanese)
AFP: Once “homogeneous” Japan will finally recognize Ainu as distinct ethnic minority

ONE STEP BACK
Hokkaido Police G8 anti-terrorism measures: deputizing coke machines with scare posters, police checkpoints in Chitose Airport…
NYT on free land in Hokkaido (yes, you read that right)–but in one place only to NJ with PR

INTERESTING TOPICS AND TANGENTS
Akihabara stabbing incident June 8, 2008–yet Akihabara knife shop with “Japanese Only” sign up
Japan Times FYI on voting rights in Japan (including Zainichi & Newcomer NJ)
LA Times: US giving liver transplants to Yakuza with FBI assistance
Excellent Japan Times FYI column on the sex industry in Japan
China bans terrorists during Olympics (Shanghai Daily)

GATHERINGS OF INTEREST
Speech June 20, 2008, Arudou and Goetz speak on G8 Summit and Sapporo’s internationalization
Amnesty Int’l Public Seminar Shinjuku Sat June 21 on Beijing Olympics & crackdown on Journalists and Writers in China
July 13 Tokyo Organizational meeting for Oyako Net, a nationwide network for realizing child visitation for both parents in Japan
…and finally…

Otaru Onsens Lawsuit 2002 Sapporo District Court decision translated into English

Japan Times FYI on voting rights in Japan (including Zainichi & Newcomer NJ)

Yet another excellent FYI Column from the Japan Times. Along with information on issues of absentee balloting in Japan (and how the GOJ once denied this fundamental constitutional right to Japanese living overseas, until the Supreme Court finally ruled this action unconstitutional in 2005), something of concern to Debito.org:

“Foreign nationals currently do not have the right to vote in Japan and the issue of giving foreign permanent residents that right for local-level elections is controversial.

Permanent residents, mainly Korean descendants of those who lived in Japan before the war and were forced to take Japanese nationality at that time, have been fighting for local-level suffrage.

Newcomers with permanent resident status from other countries and regions, including China, Brazil and the Philippines, are also part of this movement.

Recently, DPJ members started work on a bill to grant them suffrage. New Komeito has also been active in this area.

However, conservative lawmakers oppose granting foreigners suffrage, arguing such residents must become naturalized Japanese first. This is because the Constitution stipulates that sovereignty rests with the people, and people are defined as those who hold Japanese nationality, they say.”

Yomiuri: DPJ pushing bill for NJ voting rights in local elections

Yomiuri: “Lawmakers in the Democratic Party of Japan are stepping up efforts to resubmit a bill that would grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections, according to sources. With New Komeito also strongly demanding local suffrage for permanent foreign residents, DPJ lawmakers hope in the upcoming Diet session “to split the ruling camp by submitting the bill to the House of Councillors and call on New Komeito to endorse it,” according to one of the sources…” Wouldn’t it be interesting if what finally toppled the LDP from power was issues of immigration and assimilation?

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OF SEPT 10, 2006

1) PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS
2) YOU TUBE: “JAPAN DOESN’T LIKE YOU!” VIDEO ON EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS
3) NEWSWEEK JAPAN ON NATURALIZATION IN JAPAN
4) METROPOLIS: DIETMEMBER TSURUNEN MARUTEI
5) ASAHI: RACIALLY-MOTIVATED BULLYING FUKUOKA COURT CASE RULES FOR VICTIM
6) SF CHRONICLE: CHILD CUSTODY IN JAPAN IS NOT BASED ON RULES
7) KYODO: NEW “FOREIGN CRIME” CAMPAIGN HITS SNAG: DISSENT
8) CALLING ALL NATURALIZED CITIZENS: NEW BOOK FORTHCOMING
… and finally… NEW DEBITO.ORG BLOG