(meaning information for people concerned with social issues who want to help make life better for everyone in Japan)
(NB: If you're looking for something lighter, including info for longer-term Japan residents, click for the Residents' Page. Also click for the Otaru Lawsuit Information Site. If you have no idea what I'm talking about here, click for the Index Page, where you can read an intro about what this site is trying to accomplish)
FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO
(Akashi Shoten Inc, English and furigana Japanese, on sale from March 15, 2008)
Table of Contents, advance reviews, and March 2008 nationwide book tour schedule here.
"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle... If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will..."
Douglass, Abolitionist and former American slave, 1857
From Howard Zinn, "A People's History of the United States", page 179
"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy of daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
From Brian MacArthur, The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Speeches, introduction
Originally, I started this website in 1996 as a collection of mailing-list essays I thought might be interesting to others. Now, with over 2000 writings and materials, it has grown into something I never anticipated--a backlog of issues I helped raise and put into action. What follows are reports I wrote about problems that I thought deserve attention--if Japan truly is to broach the subject of its own imminent internationalization.
(One Plaintiff Arudou Debito in front of Defendant Onsen Yunohana. Photo courtesy Shouya Grigg, www.kookan.com. More on the Otaru Onsens Case here.)
Speaking of networks, if
you are interested in joining people like us to raise awareness of
some of the topics below, see The
Community Website (a network for budding local activists) and
sister organization United for a
Multicultural Japan (UMJ--which deals with more serious,
national-level problems). Help us help out.
Search Tips: I don't have a search function on this site, although Google might be of some assistance. Google has consistently provided the most hits on this site of any search engine. For a speedier search, I recommend you insert the word "debito" all in lower case, then a comma, then your key word or topic. That works for me. I try to have "www.debito.org" at the very top of all my new and revised sites. If it's something I wrote that has been published, I keep an up-to-date archive at my PUBLICATIONS PAGE so stop by there too.
(If you are looking for information about THE NEW LAWSUIT AGAINST THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT (October 2005) CLICK HERE)
Or how about Japan's version of "Little Black Sambo", republished April 2005? Click on the picture for the full text in Japanese.
Or see a parody of it by clicking on the icon above next to Sambo.
A quick commercial:
Only--The Otaru Onsen Refusals and Racial Discrimination in Japan"
By Arudou Debito
(Click here-- or on the Book Cover above --to visit a special site with news, book reviews, and more!)
"A reasoned and spirited denunciation of national prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry. It's not that the Japanese have all that much more of it than anyone else, but that they lack an interface to fight it. This lively accounting will help them find it." ---Donald Richie
"An important, trailblazing work that will go down in the annals of civil activist journals... Will be the book of reference on the subject for decades to come and should be required reading for anyone studying social protest." --Robert Whiting, author, The Meaning of Ichiro, You've Gotta have Wa, and Tokyo Underworld.
"A powerful, poignant, and path-breaking docu-narrative." ---Ivan Hall, author, Cartels of the Mind and Bamboozled.
(More reviews and ordering details at http://www.debito.org/ japaneseonly.html)
Now back to this site. Click on a link in the Headings Section immediately following to page down to a teaser summary on the issue. If you prefer only published works, click here. If you want more information in real time, check out my BLOG.
(click on any targeted word below
to page down to an essay summary)
issues which are forever fresh, worth having a look at no matter
In a pickle? WHAT TO DO IF... -- Japan's Record in the United Nations regarding Domestic Human Rights -- "Treatment of Japan's International Residents--Problems and Solutions" Handout -- Website on Otaru and Hokkaido Onsens etc. issue (where customers, including international children, are excluded merely because they are "foreign") at the Otaru Lawsuit Website -- Blacklist and Greenlist of Japanese Universities -- Advice to Academics bout employment in Japanese Universities -- What to do if the Japanese police target you for an Arbitrary Gaijin Card Check -- JALT PALE Journals on employment issues -- Juuminhyou Mondai (How to stop the government from continuing to make foreigners legally into nonresidents) -- Catalog of Activism and Discrimination in Japan at The Community Website -- Arrest and Detention periods under Japanese law --
NEW TOPICS -- HIS Travel admits different airline ticket pricing systems for foreigners and Japanese -- "Slavedrive your gaijin staff!" Eikaiwa school in Tokyo -- Lawsuit against "2-Channel" BBS for libel results in victory for Plaintiff Arudou Debito (Jan 2006) -- Academic Apartheid Update Oct 2005 --Japan Times (Oct 13, 2005) on detentions and extralegal powers of police -- UN CERD Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene visits Japan (July 2005) --"Little Black Sambo" republished in Japan 2005 -- "The Community" successfully protests Mandom Rasta Chimp ad campaign -- "JAPANESE ONLY" Nonfiction book English version and updated Japanese versions out 2006 -- Recent publications and citations in newspaper articles -- UPDATES IN REAL TIME AT MY BLOG
ISSUES OF NATIONALITY AND DISCRIMINATION-- Dave Aldwinckle granted Japanese citizenship, becomes Arudou Debito in Oct 2000, featured in The New York Times -- Yet still subsequently denied admission to Otaru's Yunohana Onsen due to his race -- and now he and two other friends have filed a LAWSUIT against Yunohana Onsen and Otaru City -- --Sealion Tama-chan's Odd "Residency" -- Japan Times article on Foreign Crime Statistics in Japan (Oct 4, 2002) -- Thoughts on World Cup 2002 -- Japan Times article on Tokyo Police Bike Checkpoints -- The Community and UMJ take action against NTT Docomo's 30,000 yen tariff on cellphones for foreigners -- "JAPANESE ONLY" signs outside Misawa Air Base -- Otaru Onsen Lawsuit Court Decision Nov 11, 2002 -- J Police targeting foreigners for Instant ID Checkpoints and what you can do to stop them -- Juuminhyou Mondai (how non-Japanese are legally made into nonresidents, and how you can ameliorate it) --- Fingerprinting Foreigners in Japan: the laws change, thanks to others'activism -- The Kume Hiroshi Gaffe (one of the first issues I wrote about, with my case for "Gaijin" as a Racist Epithet) -- Japan's future as a multinational society: Glossy Articles on Assimilation and Naturalization in the NKK News: April and May 1999 -- AIR-DO (Hokkaido International Airlines) and its odd policy of steering "foreigners" from emergency exit seats -- What to do if you experience racial discrimination -- HTB TV tries to recreate Stepin Fetchit program with Sapporo Gaijin -- Dietmember Tsurunen Marutei 2003 interview -- Koizumi's 2003 Foreign Crime Policy Putsch -- Political Opportunism and Foreign Crime in Japan -- How to get elected in Japan -- Recent publications and citations in newspaper articles -- Nichibenren Miyazaki Annual Conference 2004 report -- RAT ON FOREIGNERS! Immigration's "Snitch Site -- Comparatively lenient treatment of Japanese Hooliganism -- National Police Agency's flawed "Genetic Racial Profiling" Policy Putsch -- "Japanese Only" signs in Monbetsu, Hokkaido proliferate (Nov 2003 Report) -- Surprisingly quick govt reaction to Kumamoto onsen Hansen exclusions --
ISSUES OF ACADEMIA AND EDUCATION -- Ninkisei (Tenure Elimination for Academics in Japan), with specific discrimination cases (such as the Gwen Gallagher Dismissal) listed in back issues of the JALT PALE Journals -- Blacklist and Greenlist of Japanese Universities -- Advice to Foreign Academics Looking for a Japan University Job -- Ten Questions to Ask a University Employer Before Taking a Job -- Irresponsible Journal of Japanese Studies book review of Ivan Hall's CARTELS OF THE MIND and my rebuke -- JALT SCOEP Recommendation 2000 -- JALT Hokkaido Ninkisei Presentation May 20 2001 -- JALT 2001 Academic Apartheid Update (Japanese academics now gaijinized through Ministry of Education funding) -- Academic Apartheid Update Oct 2005
POLITICS AND CONSEQUENT TRAGEDIES --Apr 16 2001 Lobbying the Major Political Parties for Anti-Discrimination Legislation in Hokkaido -- Corrupt Mayor in my Hokkaido hometown and how we unseated him -- The Dai-San Sector (Third Sector), engine for corruption in my little town -- Closed Japanese Apple Markets and the Dr Tanii Suicide -- Kobe Earthquake (Eyewitness Account, with Updates) -- Furubira Tunnel Collapse -- Hokkaido's Enforced Dependency on Tokyo-- Thoughts on Japanese Hostages in Iraq issue April 2004 -- Some thoughts on Athens Olympics 2004 and Japan's performance -- SUBMISSION OF ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ORDINANCE to local Hokkaido Governments, including Sapporo City Assembly (May-June 2004)
LIST OF PUBLICATIONS
This site is the one updated most frequently, so stop by here if you want my most recent writings and speeches...
SMALL REQUEST: If anyone uses something I wrote as a source in a publication, I would humbly request the author to notify me and, if it would not be too much trouble, to send me a photocopy of the publication by snail mail later. I would also request that the author remain as faithful as possible to the context of the original in their quotation. Much obliged.
WHAT TO DO IF...
Are you in a tight
situation? No time to navigate the entire debito.org site? Here is an
easy FAQ site of important topics:
WHAT TO DO IF... (click on a link to go directly to that heading on the site)
...you are asked for your "Gaijin Card".
..you are stopped by the Japanese police.
..you are arrested by the Japanese police.
..you overstay your visa.
..you see a "Japanese Only" sign.
..you are refused service at a business catering to the general public.
..you are turned away at a hotel.
..you want to protest something you see as discriminatory.
..you want to take somebody to court.
..you want to get a job (or a better job) in Japanese academia.
..you are having a labor dispute in the workplace.
..you are swindled in a business deal.
..you need a lawyer.
..you want to get Permanent Residency (eijuuken).
..you want to become a Japanese citizen.
..you want to run for office.
..you want to build a house.
..you want to get a divorce.
..you want to do some awareness raising.
And more. Updated and added to frequently. Don't see exactly what you're looking for? Start at the very top of the "What to do if" site and see what new headings are on offer.
HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD
Correspondence between the Government of Japan and
The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), 1999-2003
Reports and Counter-Reports on how Japan deals (or doesn't deal) with domestic issues of discrimination.
Japan has a very
mixed record on human rights, especially towards ethnic minorities,
non-citizens, and other people born of distinction within its
society. When signing the UN's International
Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
(CERD) in 1995, Japan
promised to take measures (including legislation) at all levels of
government to eliminate racial discrimination "without delay".
Despite this, Japan to this day remains the only developed country
without any form of a law at any level outlawing discrimination by
Japan officially maintains that its legal system provides adequate protection against and redress for racial discrimination, therefore a specific law against it is unnecessary. But as demonstrated in
1) the Otaru Onsens Case (where "foreigners", including naturalized Japanese citizens and their international children, were refused entry to a series of public baths in Otaru between 1993 and 2001, while the Otaru City Government was exonerated in court for refusing to take any effective measures to stop it; case is still on appeal),
2) statements by Tokyo Governor ISHIHARA Shintarou (who wrote in May 2001 that Chinese have criminal tendencies due to their "ethnic DNA", and called upon Japan's Self Defense Forces in April 2000 to round up all "illegal foreigners" on sight in the event of a natural disaster), and
3) The Community Website (where an archive of domestic discrimination against non-citizens by race or appearance has been compiled over several years),
government's claims of sufficient protection from and redress for
racial discrimination are simply not true.
The UN is aware of this situation. This information site, focussing on the interaction between the GOJ and the CERD Committee, will demonstrate how Japan's government wilfully abdicates its international responsibilities, and lay bare what ideology is used to justify it. The website author has compiled three reports in one place for ease of reference and readability, with notes and links added by the author to highlight contentious points. The author hopes a wider knowledge of the situation may persuade a recalcitrant Japanese government to keep its international promises, and enshrine in law the fundamentals of a society with more opportunities for all its members and residents--regardless of race, color, historical or national origin, or other criteria socially preordained by birth.
UPDATE (JULY 2005)
"As a world power in an era of globalization, Japan has to expand to the outside world. But its society is still closed, spiritually and intellectually centered."
--Doudou Diene of Senegal, special rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, who will arrive in Japan this weekend to assess the situation of minorities and foreigners in Japanese society. (Kyodo News, Friday, July 1, 2005)
CLICK HERE TO SEE FULL REPORT AND EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF THIS UNPRECEDENTED ON-SITE SURVEY OF JAPAN'S HUMAN RIGHTS BY THE UNITED NATIONS:
RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA IN JAPAN
Click here to read Report to UN Special Rapporteur Mr Doudou Diene, delivered July 6, 2005, Tokyo, Japan
Treatment of Japan's International Residents
Problems and Solutions for a 21st-Century Japan
The world has now entered the 21st Century, with the promises and problems of global and "borderless" societies. Japan too has itself found itself in the throes of an inevitable internationalization, with record numbers of resident foreigners, registered and unregistered, year on year. Yet even though international residents pay taxes and contribute to Japanese society the same as citizens, there are several societal and legal barriers to them enjoying equal rights and social treatment. In fact, overt exclusionism remains largely unremedied, often by Japanese Government (GOJ) design. This info site, the text of a handout I distribute at all of my speeches, will describe several social and structural problems that warrantattention, and in the end propose some m odest solutions to make Japanese society easier for everyone regardless of nationality to live in.
BUSINESSES WHICH EXCLUDE "FOREIGN" CUSTOMERS
(THE OTARU LAWSUIT PAGE)
It may come as a
surprise to hear that Japan, hospitable enough to guests and foreign
tourists, have some establishments which simply state, "You're a
foreigner, so you can't come in and be our customer." No, we are
not talking about prurient establishments like telephone clubs or
soaplands. As far back as 1994 and to the present day, some private
businesses (because public-sector businesses legally cannot exclude
foreign taxpayers) including "onsen" hot springs in Otaru,
Nemuro, and Wakkanai, Hokkaido, as well as some family-oriented
restaurants and bars in places like Naha, Okinawa, Hamamatsu,
Shizuoka, and Okhotsk Monbetsu, Hokkaido, continue to refuse entry
and service to all people the management deems "foreign".
Managers cite as justification their past difficulties with foreign
clientele and the tyranny of their xenophobic customer base. This
policy, however, excludes innocents--barring acculturated
Japanese-speaking foreign spouses of international marriages and
foreign-looking Japanese citizens. Although this practice is at least
in violation of the UN Convention Against Racial Discrimination
(which Japan ratified in 1996), the Japanese authorities at local,
regional, or national levels have taken no legal action against these
establishments to get them to open their doors, stating that there
are no Japanese laws which specifically outlaw discrimination on the
basis of race or national origin. The story on this issue broke on in
the Japanese press on September 21, 1999, and even today most of the
primary excluders continue to deny foreigners the right to spend
their money like any other consumer in Japan. In fact, the situation
has gotten worse--more seaport towns or places with a high confluence
of foreigners are excluding--one (Monbetsu) with the cooperation of a
local restaurateur's group (inshokuten kumiai), making up common
signs for over 100 places which reserve entry for Japanese only!
Now for the big news. It became clear that race, not merely nationality, is indeed the crux of the discrimination. After Caucasian Dave Aldwinckle became Arudou Debito with Japanese citizenship, he was still excluded from entry at Yunohana Onsen in Otaru (despite showing acknowledged proof via his driver licence) on October 31, 2000. Why? Because, the management claimed, he would drive away customers due to his foreign appearance. This bodes ill for other fellow foreign-looking Japanese citizens, such as children of international marriages in Japan, and is a clear violation of Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution. More briefing below,but this is why some excluded friends and I filed a LAWSUIT against not only the excluding onsen, but also Otaru City for negligence.
The actual Lawsuit Decision was handed down on Nov 11, 2002, with the Sapporo District Court ruling that Yunohana's policy constituted both racial discrimination and illegal behavior. The Decision, however, split hairs on why the practice was illegal, and exonerated Otaru City from any obligation to legislate against discrimination--in clear violation of the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination. The High Court affirmed this decision on Sept 16, 2004. The case is now on appeal to the Supreme Court. More information here.
OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES
Changes in the Japanese laws (the Sentaku Ninkisei Hou of 1997) now clearly permit Japanese educational institutions--including those that are technically "part of the civil service" (the National and Public Universities)--to hire non-citizens as tenured faculty. Still, too many schools, including most of the National Universities, continue on their old paths, segregating foreigners from regular faculty through a contract system, hiring them as either gaikokujin kyoushi (one-year renewable) or gaikokujin kyouin (three-year renewable), or some permutation thereof. Contracts not only create a perpetual "temp" status for foreigners (since these contracts, for the most part, preclude the possibility of tenure review, or participation in regular communication channels like the kyouin kaigi), but also provide an escape clause, in the finest of ninkisei traditions, for the school to use to axe foreigners who get too expensive or uppity. As this system generally only applies to gaikokujin, it is by definition discriminatory--on the basis of nationality, not qualification. On the other hand, systematic segregation of overseas Japanese academics hardly happens to the same degree as this in any other OECD country. Only in Japan. This must stop, and those Japanese universities which refuse to stop should be known about.
The universities which continue to discriminate are listed on the BLACKLIST here.
The universities which have stopped are listed on the GREENLIST here.
All substantiation and references are listed on each list respectively.
LETTER WITH ADVICE TO ACADEMICS
CONSIDERING TAKING A LONG-TERM JOB IN JAPAN'S UNIVERSITIES:
DON'T DO IT
The Japanese academic job market, never very open to overseas educators, is becoming even more abusable, as demonstrated by court cases which have created legal loopholes exclusively for foreigners. In addition, recent moves by the Ministry of Education are making it so universities (perennially made financial alcoholics by government grants) get a taste for contracting full-time Japanese as well (once forbidden by Civil Servant and Labor Standards laws) by providing full-time contracted "researchers", salaries and more paid for by the taxpayer. This establishes precedents for "gaijinizing" all Japanese educatiors as well, and eliminating tenure from the academic job market. I suggest to those who are considering a post at a Japanese university to reconsider. I suggest to those non-Japanese already working in Japan to stay here and watch out for their rights.
Why such polarized advice? Read these URLs and see why:
If you really must come to Japan or are in between jobs here: TEN QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR EMPLOYER BEFORE TAKING A JOB IN A JAPANESE UNIVERSITY ARE HERE
Don't be fleeced and sent home. Know how to tell the difference between the stable and the temp jobs. Basic criteria for judgment are here. An abridged version which appeared in Tokyo Classified, May 15, 1999, pg. 25, is here as a jpeg, as well as a full-blown academic essay published in JALT's The Language Teacher magazine, July, 1999, pp. 14-16.
NINKISEI UPDATE AND ROUNDUP, co-authored with Fox and Shiozawa, published in JALT's The Language Teacher, issue dated August, 1999.
ACADEMIC APARTHEID UPDATE OCT 2005: This essay outlines the loopholes within the labor laws provided by contract employment, which employers are increasingly learning to exploit. It also tells you what you can do about it--join a labor union, as that is the only option left.
(NOTE: To save bandwidth by avoiding duplication, note that some of these letters are linked within a larger JALT publication called the PALE Journal, which catalogs employment abuses. Click here to scroll down to past PALE issues.)
JAPAN'S POLICE TARGETING FOREIGNERS FOR SPOT IDENTITY CHECKS
In November 1998, I got stopped for an ID check by Tokyo Metropolitan Police in Haneda Airport for no apparent reason. Lodging a harassment complaint, I entered into personal negotiations with Haneda authorities and the police themselves. Their express reason for being stopping me? Because I am a foreigner, they said, and therefore suspicious. Also because they can--in the line of duty. I then hit the Japanese law books to find out our legal rights. Turns out what they did was illegal under UN treaties that Japan is signatory to, and not entirely legal under domestic Japanese law either. And it is something they would hardly ever do to a Japanese because, legally, they cannot.
This is an information site which describes the mindset the police have towards people they see as foreigners, and provides detailed quotations of the law and observations on your legal rights. I suggest you print up and carry the letter of the law around with you to display whenever the police get obstructionist.
Parts Three through Six: What to do if the police overdo it (see also the following section)
BRIEF: CLIP & KEEP: Your rights if stopped by J cops for an ID Check
DETENTION, AND INTERROGATION OF CRIMINAL SUSPECTS
UNDER JAPANESE LAW
If the Japanese
police decide to detain and interrogate you, you can be in big
trouble. There is no 24-hour period of Habeas Corpus in Japan. You
can legally be denied legal counsel and Consular assistance, as well
as contact with the outside world and the mass media, for 48 hours.
Moreover, the police themselves are managing the complaints. For what
it's worth. Do your best not to get arrested in this company, or else
legally you truly are at the mercy of the Japanese police.
Also, here is an account of what can go on in detention centers when one is called in for questioning. This is not an example of "non-Japanese" specifically being discriminated against per se, since most people "detained for questioning" may have to endure this regardless of nationality. But given the fact that non-Japanese are being singled out in recent years by Japanese police for criminal suspicion, chances are that this kind of detention will happen to you sooner than it will happen to a regular-looking Japanese.
REPORT: "TWELVE DAYS OF DETENTION" and other reports from detainees about police interrogations in Japan.
REPORT: "23 DAYS OF DETENTION", about a German resident's experience of being arrested, interrogated, then released, merely for being a foreign neighbor of a suspected foreign drug dealer.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU LODGE COMPLAINTS about police treatment with both the police and the Ministry of Justice, for what it's worth. (The answer: nothing.)
YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS before and during incarceration in Japan:
Other helpful outside contacts here
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE ARRESTED, according to the Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren), in English: http:// www.nichibenren.or.jp/en/index.html
Site of particular interest: The TOUBAN BENGOSHI system (duty attorneys, which you can ask for when you need legal representation during incarceration) In English. http:// www.nichibenren.or.jp/en/legal/arrest_01.html
CONDITIONS IN JAPANESE PRISONS: Deaths and abuses of power. Although things like these can (and do) occur in prisons all over the world, for the record, this site is to make sure you are aware that Japan is not exceptional. And abuses have occurred to a degree where even the Ministry of Justice has begun pushes for reform and greater accountability. Be advised. Stay out of a Japanese prison. Japan Times (March-April 2003) articles here.
JAPAN TIMES (Oct 13, 2005) ON DETENTIONS AND EXTRALEGAL POWERS OF THE JAPANESE POLICE FORCES. This article is an excellent summary on what's wrong with Japan's criminal justice system. To wit: presumption of guilt, extreme police powers of detention, jurisprudential incentives for using them, lack of transparency, records or accountability during investigation, and a successful outcome of a case hinging on arrest and conviction, not necessarily on proving guilt or innocence. This has long since reached an extreme: Almost anything that goes to trial in a Japanese criminal court results in a conviction.
I have discussed this in the past (see http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#arrested and http://www.debito.org/arrestperiods.html ), but the lesson to take home is: You get detained by police in Japan, you will get grilled. And if during the weeks of grilling you give the police what they want (a signed confession), you will go to jail--regardless of how much duress they put you under to extract it. This is especially necessary for you to know as Japan's police continue to use racial profiling and foreigner targeting as public policy. The chances of you being put under the desk lamp have never been higher.
"JAPANESE ONLY" My first books (not including textbooks), on the Otaru Onsen Racial Discrimination Case, are currently on sale in Japanese (English version on sale from Nov 2004). Published by human rights specialists Akashi Shoten KK. More information, reviews, and ordering details here.
H.I.S. TRAVEL AGENCY ADMITS SEPARATE AIRLINE TICKET PRICING STRUCTURES FOR FOREIGNERS AND JAPANESE
In March 2006, I received a mail claiming that two of Japan's largest travel agencies catering to the foreign community, H.I.S. and No. 1 Travel, charge foreigners substantially more than Japanese for the same seat--to the tune of NRT to LAX RT 57,000 yen for Japanese, 70,000 yen for foreigners! A call to the appropriate government ministry indicates this practice is not permitted. A customer service rep for H.I.S. later sends me an email saying that management has decided to stop this practice, which means it existed. However, their website (available here in screen captures) still indicates that they do in fact require Japanese citizenship for certain tickets. This can't be permitted by the IATA. Be careful when doing business with travel agents in Japan. Information site here.
"LEARN ENGLISH TO SLAVEDRIVE YOUR GAIJIN STAFF"
"Rock Bay" Eikaiwa school "For Executives" in Tokyo offers a unique experience: How to "slavedrive" (koki tsukau) and take advantage of "gaijin" underlings before they take advantage of you. "Don't let them diss you--diss them back!", runs the course's tag line. A sample lesson we received describes how to refuse a pay raise to your gaijin despite him doubling your company's sales and nearly tripling your profits! Follow-up emails from the person who runs the place indicate how foreigners are not welcome to join the class, because they might find it "boring", and how the class will be conducted "99% in Japanese", yet claims to teach you the basis of exploitation in English in a mere two hours! Subsequent protest from the public had them amending and softening the site's adversarial attitude in a mere couple of days (losing the word "gaijin", and changing "slavedrive" into "cross swords with" etc.), calling into question just how effective their assertiveness training must be. Information site, reproduced emails, sample lesson, and printouts of the "before" and "after" Rock Bay sites are available here. One month after this issue was brought up, by the way, protests were so widespread that the owner, while claiming he never had any prejudice towards foreigners, took the site down.
LIBEL LAWSUIT AGAINST "2-CHANNEL" BBS
RESULTS IN VICTORY FOR PLAINTIFF ARUDOU DEBITO
From early 2004 onwards, anonymous poster(s) began systematically copying and pasting statements on a Japanese Internet Bulletin Board System (BBS) called "2-Channel", accessed by hundreds of thousands of people daily, about Plaintiff Arudou Debito. Calling him inter alia a "White Supremacist", the posts, which were added to just about any BBS thread regarding foreigners in Japan, attributed to him by name several fabricated statements, such as "he said he supports massacres of Iraqis", "he said he supports discrimination against non-Whites, as he believes the Japanese are an inferior race", with the clear aim of impugning his character and damaging his credibility in his campaign for racial equality in Japan. Repeated requests both by electronic and registered mail were made by Plaintiff and his lawyers to remove these materials from the online archive, but were completely ignored by the Administrator of 2-Channel, a Mr Nishimura Hiroyuki. The posts in question to this day have been left up to spread further across the Internet. After Plaintiff sued for defamation of character, Defendant also ignored all court communiques and never appeared in before the judge to offer any explanation or defense. On January 20, 2006, Hokkaido's Iwamizawa District Court ruled in favor of Plaintiff, awarding him 1,100,000 yen in damages for negligence in the face of libel.
This case has been fully archived (with documents submitted to court and court decision in Japanese, my reports and kansoubun in Japanese, and related newspaper articles) at http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html
ACADEMIC APARTHEID UPDATE OCT 2005
EMPLOYERS BECOME MORE SOPHISTICATED IN FINDING LOOPHOLES
TO UNDERMINE JOB SECURITY
Japan's employment system, which is discovering the advantages (legal loopholes, an ineffectual administrative system, an indolent judiciary) of hiring contracted workers (Japanese as well as foreign), has become dire. Employees are increasingly disposable at the whim of the employer, with no effective recourse for labor abuses. The only legally-protected status remaining is labor unions, and the author advises readers to lose their negative preconceptions about organized labor and join one if they wish to have any job security in Japan.
THE REBIRTH OF STEPIN FETCHIT, IN JAPAN
Hokkaido Terebi (HTB)
puts out a casting call: "Macho Black and White Males, Beautiful
Blonde Female, wanted to make prank telephone calls in English"
for a TV show. After protests from all over, HTB very conscientiously
withdraws the program.
See? It pays to speak out! Read report on what happened here.
NICHIBENREN ANNUAL MEETING IN MIYAZAKI
OCT 7 AND 8, 2004, SEAGAIA, MIYAZAKI, KYUSHU
These are my thoughts on the annual meeting of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren), with its main plenary session discussing legislating human rights for foreign residents of Japan. Conclusion: It started off well, but then it foundered: Presentations meandered, Nichibenren seemed to revert to type (i.e. establishmentarianism), and the media focused on a different session entirely in its reportage. Not a great morale-booster for the NGOs. See what I mean by clicking here.
MINISTRY OF JUSTICE'S IMMIGRATION "SNITCH SITE"
On February 16, 2004, the Ministry of Justice's Department of Immigration unveiled a website (http:// www.immi-moj.go.jp/zyouhou/index.html) for the public to notify authorities of the whereabouts of foreign "illegal overstayers". While at first glance this measure may seem sensible, further inspection of the site reveals three flaws: 1) There are no clear criteria delineated for what constitutes an "illegal" foreigner, 2) Preset reasons for informing on foreigners include "hatred", "fear", and "no reason at all", and 3) Informants need not give any verifiable details about themselves, alleviating them of the burden of responsibility for their comments. More than a dozen domestic human rights groups, including Amnesty International, decried this site as "racist", "xenophobic", and "discriminatory". After over a thousand complaints, the site was amended at the end of March to remove the preset reasons and tone down the rhetoric. Given that the National Police Agency and related organs of law enforcement are surprisingly unaccountable to public opinion and press scrutiny, and have been shamelessly discriminatory when dealing with issues of internationalization and foreign residents, this backpedaling is quite remarkable--and demonstrates that activism can bring about positive results. The site, however, as of this writing, remains up. Looking forward to a similar site where you can rat on people for more serious crimes, such as drug dealing, domestic violence, child abuse, motorcycle ganging, etc. Not just for being here and causing "public anxiety" by looking foreign. Articles substantiating these events follow (cartoon at right drawn by me from Japan Times article dated March 30, 2004, link below).
1) Downloadable discrimination:
The Immigration Bureau's new snitching Web site is both short-sighted and wide open to all manner of abuses
By Arudou Debito, The Japan Times: March 30, 2004
2) Groups demand end to cyber-informing on foreigners via email
Kyodo News, March 18, 2004
3) Human Rights Groups protest Immigration site as "cyber xenophobia"
Reuters, March 19, 2004
4) Suspicious minds: Japan is hoping to boost foreign investment and tourism by promoting the country as a land of hospitality. However, institutional racism and the media's tendency to blame foreigners for rising crime means many visitors find themselves less than welcome
THE GUARDIAN, March 10, 2004
5) Labor-Japan: Rights activists rap tougher immigration measures
Inter Press Service, 10 March 2004
6) PROGRESS: Ministry of Justice plugs gaps in 'racist' telltale site
Mainichi Shimbun, April 1, 2004
7) PROGRESS AGAIN: KOBE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT FORMALLY PROTESTS
Kobe protests e-snitching on immigrants
Yomiuri Shimbun, April 15, 2004
Amnesty International also renews calls for site's abolition
Japan Today, April 14, 2004
8) Hyogo Governor calls for Snitch Site's Abolition
Japan Times, April 18, 2004
More articles and updates at the site...
OF ORDINANCE CALLING FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION TO
LOCAL HOKKAIDO GOVERNMENTS.
(Wakkanai, Monbetsu, Otaru, Sapporo, and Hokkaido Pref Gov.)
As evidenced by the
businesses in certain places around Japan have put up "No
Foreigners" exclusionary signs, for nearly ten years in places.
Yet the local authorities have turned a blind eye--despite
constitutional and international treaty obligations expressly
forbidding this practice. So as concerned citizens and residents,
Olaf Karthaus and Arudou Debito et al. have decided to submit a
petition (chinjou) of our own to the negligent city and prefectural
assemblies calling for the establishment of an ordinance (jourei)
which will outlaw this practice (with penalties for offenders) . Read
the text of the Ordinance here in English and Japanese.
NEWS FLASH: IN RESPONSE TO THIS ACTION, JAPANESE NEWSPAPER ARTICLES FROM OKHOTSK SHINBUN (Jan 10, 2004) AND HOKKAIDO SHINBUN (Jan 30, 2004) ANNOUNCE IMPENDING CHINJOU SUBMISSIONS, AND MONBETSU'S DAI-SAN SECTOR "Yukemuri Monbetsu Tokkari no Yu" BATHHOUSE ANNOUNCES ITS INTENTION TO TAKE DOWN ITS EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS. SUCCESS!
ON OLAF KARTHAUS AND ARUDOU DEBITO LOBBYING THE SAPPORO CITY ASSEMBLY
FOR AN ANTI-DISCRIMINATION ORDINANCE (CHINJOU)
May and June 2004
(includes article from Hokkaido Shinbun on our visit, dated June 27, 2004)
UPDATE: TOTTORI PREFECTURE BECOMES THE FIRST ORGAN OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT (or of any level of government period, for that matter) IN JAPAN TO PASS AN ORDINANCE AGAINST RACIAL DISCRIMINATION. (Japan Times article October 13, 2005)
We're making headway!
ENFORCEMENT OF LAWS:
HOW ADULT "HOOLIGANS" ARE TREATED IN JAPAN
AS LONG AS THEY ARE NOT FOREIGN
Japan is seen nowadays as a land of societal peace--except for those foreign criminals coming in and spoiling things (an attitude seen most starkly during the anti-"hooligan" putsches for World Cup 2002.) This is why it is so ironic how lenient the police are towards Japanese "hooligans", who act up predictably and violently during an annual event known as Seijin no Hi ("Coming of Age Day") every January. Ceremonies are held by local governments nationwide for people turned twenty, Japan's legal age for adulthood. Twenty, however, is also Japan's legal age for drinking, and in recent years this has fomented a volatile cocktail of drunken disruptions. Yet, as newspaper articles contained in this essay show, so long as they are not foreigners causing a ruckus, police tend to turn a blind eye. Read on and see what I mean.
KUMAMOTO ONSEN HOTEL HANSEN REJECTIONS
WHY DIDN'T THIS HAPPEN IN THE OTARU ONSENS CASE?
It's odd how governments work sometimes. Several former Hansen's Disease patients got refused entry to a private-sector onsen in Kumamoto in mid-November, 2003. Fortunately (given Japan'sshameful history as the last country in the world with leper concentration camps!), the government came down on them like a ton of bricks and forced the hotel to apologize within days. Well and good. Yet with the Otaru Onsens Case, in which foreigners (and foreign-looking Japanese) have suffered signposted exclusion for well over a decade, the onsens have yet to apologize, or even be forced to take their "JAPANESE ONLY" signs down (short of taking them to court for years of litigation)--precisely because the baths are "private sector". Although being a foreigner and being a former Hansen's Disease victim is incomparable in terms of degree of pain and suffering, one would hope the Japanese government would be a bit more enlightened about keeping all forms of discrimination at bay as per its international treaty promises. But no. Read a quick essay about this issue here. Meanwhile, thanks to government negligence, the problem mutates further in Monbetsu, Hokkaido. Read on:
ONLY" SIGNS IN MONBETSU CITY, HOKKAIDO
STATUS REPORT, NOVEMBER 18, 2003
EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS ARE STILL UP
(Sign in Russian: "Japanese Only Establishment".
In front of "Monbetsu Onsen Bijin no Yu", Nov 15, 2003. Photo by Arudou Debito)
Monbetsu, a seaport city on the northeast Okhotsk Seacoast of Hokkaido, Japan, has since 1995 had "JAPANESE ONLY STORE" signs displayed on as many as 100 bar and restaurant doors. Produced by the local Restaurateurs' Association, these signs, rendered in Russian only, have been used to exclude all "foreign" clientele, regardless of connection either to Russia or to Japan. Although the Ministry of Justice's Bureau of Human Rights demanded in July 2000 that this signposted discrimination cease immediately, a fact-finding mission, carried out Nov 15, 2003 by Olaf Karthaus and Arudou Debito, revealed that signs are still up more than three years later. In fact, other businesses, such as a restaurant, a karaoke parlor, and a public bath funded by tax monies (a "Dai-San Sector" enterprise), have put up new exclusionary signs of their own. However, enforcement is haphazard--foreigners (and foreign-looking Japanese) can be admitted if they speak Japanese, or are accompanied by a Japanese speaker. Nevertheless, our requests to have the signs taken down were rejected for the time being. Karthaus and Arudou will be returning in the winter months to resubmit a Petition (chinjou) to the Monbetsu City Government asking for the establishment of an anti-discrimination Ordinance (jourei), which if passed will make this activity, currently not unlawful in Japan, illegal in this municipality. INFORMATION SITE WITH NAMES, DATES, PLACES, PHOTOS AND ARTICLES HERE.
POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM AND FOREIGN CRIME IN JAPAN
July 2003 was a busy
month for the bigots in Japan. Statements from the uppermost levels
of Japan's political arenas demonstrated that any opportunity is a
good one for painting dire pictures of foreign crime. Especially if
they might get some new public policy out of it.
On July 12, Dietmember Etoh Takami claimed that "one million foreigners" in Japan are "murderers and thieves". Then on July 11, the Koizumi Cabinet linked a heinous killing of a Nagasaki child by another (Japanese) preteen with "Brazilian youth crime". On July 28, after appointing a cop as vice-governor, Tokyo Governor Ishihara went on a tour and bashed Ikebukuro as a hotbed of foreign crime. All this has caused immense social damage in Japan--to the point where a government survey reveals that only about half (and markedly dropping) of Japanese respondents believe that foreigners deserve their human rights protected!
Yet what happens when Japanese go abroad? On July 17, the Japanese Government announced that crimes by Japanese abroad are rising,too! By September, however, even the Europoean Union reported that after seventeen commissioned studies, there was no evidence that increased immigration led to an increase in the crime rate. Read all about it in this essay.
2003 PRIME MINISTER KOIZUMI CABINET'S ANTI-FOREIGN-CRIME PUTSCH
GETS OVERLOOKED BY THE FOREIGN PRESS
For those who read
and watch the Japanese press, these are scary times. Foreign crime is
allegedly on the rise, members of the new Koizumi Cabinet are making
clear policy statements against it, and the National Police Agency is
ready for a new push. This despite incontrovertible evidence that
foreign crime both as an absolute and a rate is miniscule compared to
that of Japanese crime. However, the English-language media is
ignoring this impending policy putsch (which may dramatically affect
their readership's civil liberties in Japan), instead focussing on
economic reform (probably to avoid scaring away foreign investors).
What is going on? That is what this
discuss. With things on the move in the highest levels of government,
now is the time to woolgather before things become entrenched as law,
and I hope that the journalists out there will see the issues
involved as worthy of overseas attention.
Speaking of policy initiatives:
NATIONAL POLICE AGENCY'S
"NATIONAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF POLICE SCIENCE"
AND ITS "GENETIC RACIAL PROFILING" CRIME PREVENTION RESEARCH
The National Research
Institute of Police Science (NRIPS), a branch of Japan's National
Police Agency, has on its website (http://www.nrips.go.jp)
a policy proposal to create a crime "index" of
"foreignness" in its forensic science. An attempt to foil
allegedly rampant foreign crime, NRIPS claims that it can test minute
samples of blood and semen from crime scenes to determine the
nationality of the perpetrator. However, their science is faulty by
assuming that "Japaneseness" is a matter of race--expressly
stating that Japanese DNA is racially and biologically "different".
In fact, Japan's gene pool has historical traces of Korean, Chinese,
Ainu, Ryukyuan, Brazilian, Peruvian etc. in it, not including the
children of 40,000 international marriages per annum and 300,000
naturalized citizens since 1968. Therefore, this test may say
something about the "racial background" of the suspect, but
it cannot determine the presence or absence of Japanese nationality.
While snake-oil science like this should amount to no more than snickers for putting one over on the taxpayer yet again (Japan already has DNA tests, making the 21 million yen requested for this policy an utter waste), this proposal is not a harmless white elephant. It may misconstrue data, at the expense of Japan's international minorities. "False positives" (i.e. test results indicating that racially-diverse Japanese suspects are "foreign") could erroneously inflate the "foreign crime rate", further fueling Japan's current scapegoating of foreigners as criminals. The social irresponsibility of the National Police Agency must be pointed out for what it is--racism--by proposing social policy, using race as an analytical paradigm, based on faulty concepts and fallacious attributions.
THE TEXT OF THIS POLICY, WITH CRITIQUE AND INFORMATION LINKS, IS HERE
Okay, time for the hard data:
FOREIGN CRIME STATS IN JAPAN 1993-2003 according to the official National Police Agency's "Office for Policy Taken Against Foreign Crime" (警察庁来日外国人犯罪等対策室), with some comparison with Japanese crime rates and a critique of the flaws in the NPA's data collection method. Have a look.
HOW TO GET ELECTED IN JAPAN
Yes, this is an essay
from experience. My wife got elected to the town council in Nanporo,
Hokkaido, in April 2003. Advice on how to run a grass-roots campaign
is available at http://
www.debito.org/nanporo2003elections.html, with links to other
elected candidates who also have strong international
On that note:
WITH TSURUNEN MARUTEI
Tsurunen Marutei, 63, a naturalized Japanese citizen, is the first non-Asian, non-native-born member of the Japanese Diet. Tsurunen consented to an interview by Arudou Debito, a fellow naturalized Japanese, in a rare example of two non-natives talking about Japan's future from a "outsiders'" point of view, on March 4, 2002. Full text in Japanese and English translation here.
Click on the picture to for a link the Sealion Tama-Chan Site, celebrating his of newfound Residency Status (as opposed to taxpaying foreigners, perpetually unrecognized on "Juuminhyou" Residency Certificates in Japan). Joining his ranks is fictional character "Tetsuwan Atomu" (Astro Boy), in Saitama, April 7, 2003. But not generations of ethnic Koreans and Chinese, not to mention every other foreigner in Japan, who cannot technically be "residents" unless they have citizenship.
MEDIA UPDATE March 10, 2003 (On Sealion Tama-Chan's Residency Status, Appeal against Otaru City, Kokutai and Takamado Community Projects, Instant Checkpoints Pt 5)
CITATIONS IN RECENT MEDIA
Japanese hostage crisis 2004 in Iraq
and "Little Lindberghing"
Here are some thoughts I had on Japan's society and government reaction to the whole Iraq hostage mess (where three Japanese were held prisoner in Iraq, threatened with death if Japan didn't withdraw its Self Defense Forces, and then released after (the media says) Muslim clerics appealed for clemency, or (the domestic internet bulletin boards reckon) a hefty backdoor ransom was paid. I dashed these thoughts out first to my Japanese lists, about what I commonly call the "Little Lindbergh Effect" (where a society, in the aftermath of a national shock, passes a preemptive law which ultimately oversteps its intentions--in Lindbergh's case, a near-automatic death penalty if a kidnapped child hostage dies; in the present day, hastily passing the PATRIOT Act after Sept 11 only 45 days after the event). In Japan's case, politicians are proposing to make hostages pay their rescue costs, but it has greater potential for policy overreach--not only to control the movements of its citizens abroad, but also to curtail the activities of volunteer organizations at home... See what I mean by clicking here.
(Click here to see the Japan Times article of May 11, 2004, which resulted from these essays)
THOUGHTS ON THE 2004 ATHENS OLYMPICS:
PATRIOTISM AND THE JAPANESE MEDIA
PUTTING UNDUE PRESSURE ON OUR ATHLETES
ISSUES OF NATIONALITY AND DISCRIMINATION
ALDWINCKLE GRANTED JAPANESE CITIZENSHIP ON OCT 10, 2000, BECOMES
We all know Japan is full of surprises. This one's a doozy. After all I've been up to over here with the onsens issue and speaking out in public, the Japanese government actually granted my request to naturalize--and this after only an eleven-month wait! So now here we are, jubilant with a new Japanese name, Arudou Debito, and pondering how it will change the future both for me and for residents who look like me. Here is a report (Naturalization Part Five--click here to see the other Four parts) on the immediate impacts of the decision vis-a-vis Japanese officialdom, with some rumination on potential intellectual fault lines and speculation on what's to come.
ARUDOU DEBITO REFUSED ADMISSION TO YUNOHANA ONSEN, OTARU, HOKKAIDO, ON THE BASIS OF RACE
And here's one of the surprise harbingers. On Oct 31, 2000, Dave Aldwinckle, now a newly-minted Japanese citizen named Arudou Debito, dropped by Yunohana Onsen (Otaru-shi, Temiya), one of the many establishments in Hokkaido which refuse service to people ostensibly on the basis of extranationality. Even though this was no longer an issue, the person on duty at Yunohana refused Arudou Debito entry, even after the latter showed his new driver licence (which has his proof of honseki) and was acknowledged by the person on duty as a Japanese citizen. The reason given? In paraphrase: "We staff understand that you are a Japanese, but our customers would not just by looking at you. There is a danger that our customers might stay away if you come in, so we have to refuse you admission." Hence their "Japanese Only" rules draw lines on the basis of race, not nationality, calling into question the ability of the Japanese Constitution to protect not only its residents, but also its citizens, including children of international families, who look foreign.
Nov 6, 2000 Hokkaido Shinbun article verifying this event (English translation and Japanese jpeg)
Nov 8, 2000 Japan Times and Oct 27, 2000 Otaru Doshin on recent developments in general in English (Otaru Doshin Japanese jpeg)
A website with information and background on exclusion of foreigners all around Japan.
And if that isn't enough, we happened to bring a tape recorder along with us to record the event and the conversation at Yunohana on October 31.
For the original Japanese transcript of these taped proceedings, see http:// www.debito.org/yunohanakyakuhon103100.html
For an English translation and Romajinized Japanese version, see http://www.debito.org/ yunohanatranscript103100.html
Finally, a New York Times article on Debito's recent naturalization mentions the refusal incident inter alia at http:// www.nytimes.com/2000/11/29/world/29JAPA.html (You will need to register, but as far as I know registration is free. Or if you trust me, you can see the text of the article here at http://www.debito.org/nyt112900. html)
This is one reason why on February 1, 2001, we filed A LAWSUIT AGAINST YUNOHANA ONSEN AND OTARU CITY. Too much to tell you right here. Just click on the link to go to a special page.
ARUDOU DEBITO FEATURED IN NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE, DATED NOV 29, 2000, page 4.
Titled, "Turning Japanese--it takes more than a passport" and giving details on my naturalization, it may be seen on the NYT website at http:// www.nytimes.com/2000/11/29/world/29JAPA.html (You will need to register, but registration is free.) Or else click here to see the text of the article.
But it doesn't have to be this way...
REPORT ON THE TOMAKOMAI SEAMEN'S CLUB
Despite all the alleged international friction in port towns up here, Hokkaido's biggest port, Tomakomai, stands out as a beacon of international exchange without exclusion. This is in no small part due to The Missions to Seamen, Tomakomai, a haven and information center for people employed in the most transient of occupations--the waterborne trades. This report analyzes the life of a sailor, the workings of the organization, and the prospects for applicability in other troubled seaport towns throughout Japan.
HOKKAIDO INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES (AIR-DO) AND ITS ODD POLICIES TOWARDS "FOREIGN" CUSTOMERS.
After initially supporting this upstart airline (which went through a lot of trouble in 1998 just to get off the ground, and to this day requests financial support from the Hokkaido Government ), I grew disappointed with AIR-DO's odd need to steer "foreign" passengers away from emergency exit seats. AIR-DO has long maintained that "foreigners" may have language difficulties in case of an accident, therefore seating by emergency exits requires special consideration. However, in September 2001, when I checked in in problem-free Japanese and asked for an emergency seat, the ground staff went so far as to lie to me about the amount of legroom in other seats. I considered this poor customer service and raised a complaint. The airline soon afterwards promised in a written apology to stop denying "foreigners" (gaijin, in their words) their preferences, but in November 2001, it happened again--to somebody else. So I took it up with the Ministry of Transportation... See why AIR-DO is increasingly being known as "AIR-DON'T". A Community Project
JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE ON FOREIGN CRIME (Oct 4, 2002)
Japan has had widespread reportage about the alleged "Foreigner Crime Wave". This is a myth. Turns out the foreigner crime rate is actually far less than the Japanese rate. I speculate that the Japanese police are deliberately trying to generate mass hysteria through selective reporting of statistics, in order to increase their budgetary outlay (in the same successful way they did for the alleged threat of hooliganism during the World Cup 2002). An article I wrote for the Japan Times Zeit Gist Column. Have a read.
thoughts on WORLD CUP JAPAN 2002
Speaking both as a Sapporo resident (my city being the site of the contentious England-Argentina match) and a naturalized Japanese citizen (who attracted police attention with his foreign features due to the overall media-stoked fear of hooliganism), I think it was too early for Japan as a society to have hosted the world's most popular sport. I offer some on-site observations, newspaper articles, photos of exclusionary signs and opinions of agents who profited from them, and opinions on the overall fiasco that need not have happened if Japan would have understood soccer as a sport better beforehand.
JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE ON TOKYO POLICE BIKE CHECKPOINTS (June 20, 2002)
Tokyo should be a fun place to cycle around, especially at night whe traffic is light. Not so. If you look like a foreigner, you may be stopped on suspicion of theft. I found out for myself in May 2002, and wrote it up for the Japan Times Zeit Gist Column. Have a read.
NTT DOCOMO'S 30,000 YEN TARIFF ON FOREIGN CUSTOMERS
As of April 1, 2002, NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest cellphone company, now requires a 30,000 yen deposit from all new cellphone subscribers--if and only if they happen to be foreigners without Permanent Residency. DoCoMo's rivals, KDDI AU and J-Phone, do not do this, so my friends and I at The Community and UMJ encourage a BOYCOTT of DoCoMo (while expressing your discontent to NTT management) until this policy is abandoned. Information on this policy, the flawed reasoning behind it, and NTT's incompetent business practices in general are here at The Community Issues Website. If you want to unsubscribe from NTT Docomo with a downloadable statement of discontent, CLICK HERE for the TRILINGUAL LETTER OF PROTEST.
UPDATE: JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE ON NTT DOCOMO FOREIGNER TARIFF (Aug 29, 2002) available here
MORE JAPAN TIMES ARTICLES (2002-2004) I'VE WRITTEN ON DISCRIMINATION HERE
"JAPANESE ONLY" SIGNS AROUND MISAWA AIR BASE
In Misawa, Aomori Prefecture, northern Honshu, there is an American military base servicing the Japanese Self Defense Forces, domestic airlines, and 30,000 US servicepeople and dependents. However, there is friction between the base and local communities, as witnessed in the at least seven (as of March 28, 2002) cheap bars, restaurants, and karaoke bars which not only exclude foreigners, but also put up signs saying "JAPANESE ONLY". It won't be long before signs appear in stores carrying everyday goods like bowls, sunbrella, cleaning items, and much more. A permutation of the Otaru Exclusionary Onsens Case, the situation is not without compounded irony. One irony is that despite the lack of a language barrier (the hostesses are overwhelmingly foreigners: Chinese, Filipina, Russians etc.), the hostesses were used as bouncers--refusing all foreigners entry in English instead of explaining Japanese drinking systems. The other irony is that even though I went there and showed my Japanese passport, I was still refused entry--by foreigners--exposing the truth that only Japanese customers who physically look Japanese are permitted inside.
Read report with dates, places, addresses, and photographs here.
UPDATES 2002-04, with the Japanese government's lukewarm reaction, and the American Consulate Sapporo, claiming "this is not an issue of human rights", refusing to take any action, which ultimately, in an odd string of events, led to me giving up my US passport.
GET ON THEIR CASE: A Japan Times article (Nov 30, 2004) for those who experience racial discrimination in Japan and want to know what they can do about it, by Arudou Debito.
Foreigners are not legally-registered "residents" of Japan
By law, since foreigners are by definition not citizens, we cannot have a "Residency Certificate" (juuminhyou, in kanji: 住民票), ergo we do not actually "reside" in Japan. Not only is this an affront to our contribution to society (even though we pay resident taxes like anyone else), this legal loophole has created a number of systemic horror stories for non-Japanese--such as your Japanese spouse looking legally unmarried and your children bastards.
However, by law, it
turns we can do something about this--get listed on our spouse's
a footnote. Know your rights; read this
find out how. Jpegs of the pertinent legal
my wife's new juuminhyou
also included. [NB:
These documents were issued before I received my Japanese
citizenship, of course.]
You can also see the root of this problem--the fact that I am not listed as a "person" in the "names rank" at the bottom of our family's Family Registry (koseki touhon). Excerpts of my wife's koseki touhon are here, demonstrating that I am the spouse of my wife and father of my children, but not a "husband" in the appropriate name column--despite having our marriage recognized in Japan as legal as any other marriage by citizens.
UPDATE: A QUIET
REVOLUTION IN PROGRESS
Not more than six months after this came up as a topic, many people have been emailing me with the good news: the legal loophole works! In fact, people (usually male non-Japanese, mind) have gotten their names listed on their spouse's juuminhyou AUTOMATICALLY! The bureaucrats even had a copy of my wife's papers right there that they had downloaded! Spooky! Since then, other people have written in saying that this site has helped get them juuminhyoued. Consider doing it yourself.
Meanwhile, this issue is attracting more and more attention. See my "Watashi no Shiten" article in the Asahi Shinbun of Nov 8, 2003 (Japanese). Also Japan Times article here (January 20, 2002).
FINGERPRINTING IN JAPAN
Japan has had some very alienating fingerprinting laws, which were instituted after WWII to control and track foreigners. Several people took an active stance against this practice in the 1980's, some even taking their case before the Japan Supreme Court. One activist, columnist Kathy Morikawa, gave HIBA (Hokkaido International Business Association) a very thorough talk on her long march in November, 1998. As I was then Secretary of HIBA, I wrote up a report for the HIBA NEWS. Because of heroes like her, Permanent Residents like me can get away with signatures on our Gaijin Cards, and the whole fingerprinting system may be abolished in the near future. Entire text of newspaper article on the abolition of the system on this URL.
UPDATE: Brief article on the abolition in the New York Times, Aug 13, 1999.
MAINICHI DAILY NEWS on Japan's reintroduction of fingerprinting of entrant foreigners, as an "counterterrorist measure" (after all, only foreigners are terrorists...) (Dec 5, 2004)
KUME HIROSHI GAFFE
(The first issue I helped publicize which drew national attention.)
WA NIHONGO GA KATAKOTO NO HOU GA II YO NE"
Kume Hiroshi, flippant Anchorman of popular program NEWS STATION on TV Asahi, made a glib comment about non-Japanese that causes outrage amongst the foreign community in Japan. I respond by telephoning the network to lodge a complaint, only to be brushed aside. But it doesn't end there. A story of protest from a newly self-aware minority in Japan--the non-Japanese residents.
Two: THE RISE AND FALL OF AN ISSUE
After a meteoric rise (pity meteors don't rise), the issue faces the nay-sayers. Fukuzawa contrarians begin to chisel away at the legitimacy of complaining. "What's wrong with the word 'gaijin' anyway? Aren't we being 'politically correct' here?" My observations are on how non-Japanese aren't used to working together as a minority group, and find themselves unable to cooperate with one another.
Three: GAIJIN IS A DISCRIMINATORY WORD
In response to the naysayers above, I describe exactly what the word "gaijin" means and why it is in fact a racist term.
Part Four: KUME ISSUE ESCAPES INTERNET, HITS WORLD PRESS
a) Front page article in Chicago Sunday Tribune
b) Daily Yomiuri's William Penn comments in "Televiews"
c) Resultant TV broadcast on NEWS STATION Nov 28, 1996
d) Christmas Day article in The Daily Yomiuri--with angry denials of censorship from TV Asahi producers
NEWS FLASH, DECEMBER 2006: KUME HIROSHI READS DEBITO.ORG, APOLOGIZES A DECADE LATER FOR THIS WHOLE THING!
WASHINGTON TIMES ARTICLE ON A CASE OF DISCRIMINATION IN JAPAN
A public swimming pool in a country village in Japan (Azuma-mura) had a bad experience with some "foreigners" roughhousing (or worse) in their pool, so they decided to ban all foreigners from their waters. Great logic. Exceptthat it is illegal for a public place to do this to fellow taxpayers. Fortunately, people didn't take this lying down (A precursor to The Community geared up its press machines and made an issue of it. See the Issho Kikaku Website for more). Anyway, this article talks more about it. I didn't write it. I just got quoted in it.
A How-To Guide
Ever wondered how hard it is to become a Japanese citizen? What are the requirements? I compare both America and Japan in this essay that may or may not inspire you to change your citizenship.
a) Requirements for naturalization into Japan and America (plus some referential articles about other countries)
b) Jpegs (in Japanese) of original information pamphlet on requirements for Japanese natururalization (cover and back) (inside)
c) The 100 Questions on America the US Immigration and Naturalization Service asks its applicants to screen them.
d) Or if you are less ambitious, a brief overview of requirements for getting your PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN JAPAN.
e) The US State Department's policy on Dual Nationality (it is possible), and how one can lose American citizenship: jpeg pages one and two.
MY NATURALIZATION INTO JAPAN
Yup, I did it. Became a Japanese Citizen. How? Read. Why? Ditto.
PART ONE: MOTIVES AND PRELIMINARY STEPS
PART THREE: QUALMS I HAD WITH CHANGING MY NAME AND THE ADVICE I GOT ON IT FROM CYBERSPACE
PART FOUR: FILING THE PAPERS OCT 23, 1999
PART FIVE: "ARUDOU DEBITO, OMEDETOU!" OCT 10, 2000--MY JAPANESE CITIZENSHIP IS GRANTED
NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE, "Turning Japanese--it takes more than a passport" (Nov 29, 2000, page 4), gives more details on my case. It may be seen on the NYT website at http:// www.nytimes.com/2000/11/29/world/29JAPA.html or else as text here.
PART SIX: HOW TO GIVE UP AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP Yes, I did. What could have inspired such a rash act? A little coercion from the US State Department, in what I felt was an attempt to stop me from pursuing an international incident of racial discrimination near an American air base. The procedures involved, the actual documents (even my cancelled passport) scanned, and the motivations are all available here
JAPAN TIMES ON NATURALIZATION:
Friday, April 20, 2001, Part one:
FOREIGNERS FACE LONG SLOG TO JAPANESE CITIZENSHIP
(includes statement from me on naturalization procedures)
Saturday, April 21, 2001, Part two:
KOREANS WEIGH MERITS OF GAINING JAPANESE CITIZENSHIP
(includes statement from my Korean friend on his rejection for parking tickets)
And just for fun, to show how quickly a person's mind can change, I dug up and URLed an essay I wrote in 1995 arguing that assimilation into Japan is practically impossible! Time capsule on my old attitudes towards assimilation available here.
GLOSSY NKK NEWS ARTICLES ON ASSIMILATION AND NATURALIZATION INTO JAPANESE SOCIETY:
April 1999 (color jpeg) on why Japanese society will undergo a sea change in the not-too-distant future--as more foreigners are staying, having children, and even naturalizing. The very image of "Japaneseness" (black hair, brown eyes) may have to be revised.
May 1999 (color jpeg) describes how difficult the procedures are for naturalization into Japan.
ISSUES OF ACADEMIA AND EDUCATION
TERM LIMITS ON NON-JAPANESE ACADEMICS
In a government program designed to save Japanese universities money, Japan's government has been systematically denying tenure to its non-Japanese educators. Called ninkisei (任期制),< I> or "term limitation system", this form of "academic apartheid" has been destroying the livelihoods of academics on the basis of nationality, not qualification. But this is only the start--a dress rehearsal for a systemwide abolishment of tenure in general for Japan, where the Japanese Ministry of Education (Monbushou) can fire people at will and clean the left-wing out of Japan's education system.
A primer on the issue
(including the "smoking gun"--jpegs of original Nov 1995 Shingikai Report in Japanese, as well as an English-language article on the damage done)
The end-1996 debate in the Japanese press and English-language press, as Monbushou's scope expands to include Japanese academics as well (jpegs)
GAIJIN RIGHTS UPDATE Good news. Japan's Supreme Court just ruled (Jan 1997) that even ILLEGAL foreigners in Japan have rights to compensation. This is an article from the Japan Times on the decision, which bodes well for non-Japanese who are here legally but are being fired by Japanese government fiat.
If you have been on a contract, renewed several times, then are suddenly facing dismissal, you can find out more about your rights in this essay by Steve van Dresser, "The Employment Rights of Repeatedly Renewed Private Sector Contract Workers" here (written 1999, previously of the now-defunct Issho Kikaku website).
Scholarly publications on the subject (from JPRI et al):
ACADEMIC APARTHEID IN JAPAN by Dr Ivan Hall
ACADEMIC APARTHEID UPDATE ONE by Dr Hall again
ACADEMIC APARTHEID UPDATE TWO by the JPRI Staff
and for the contrarian who disbelieves anything without an official letterhead, a jpeg of a FAX OF SUPPORT WE RECEIVED FROM FORMER AMBASSADOR MONDALE
1997 Statement from JALT (Japan Association for Language Teaching) President Gene Van Troyer on discrimination in Japan
JALT'S THE LANGUAGE TEACHER MAGAZINE, July 1999, on Job Search Tips in the Time of Ninkisei
JALT'S THE LANGUAGE TEACHER MAGAZINE, August 1999, on with a revised fin-de-siecle Ninkisei Roundup
Arudou Debito Presentation on WHY JALT SHOULD TAKE A STAND ON THE NINKISEI ISSUE, presented at JALT Hokkaido's Annual Conference, May 20, 2001. (Rejected for publication by cautious JALT Hokkaido Proceedings, accepted for publication in JALT's The Language Teacher in 2002)
Second Arudou Debito Presentation: Monbushou is introducing ninkisei for all Japanese too, by getting universities used to the idea of full-time contract workers through a government program providing free "researchers" for any university who wants to take them. This is not small potatoes--Monbushou is asking the government for a budget of US $400 million in 2002, and in the period 1998-2000, the number of universities agreeing to this freebie has gone up sixfold. It's only a matter of time. Presented at JALT Kitakyushu, November 23, 2001.
RANKS--THE OVERSEAS BACKLASH
"CARTELS OF THE MIND" GETS IRRESPONSIBLY REVIEWED IN AN AMERICAN ACADEMIC JOURNAL
A seminal work on the one-way ideological transfer between Japan and the rest of the world (particularly in terms of employment conditions for non-Japanese academics), Ivan Hall's important CARTELS OF THE MIND (ISBN 0-393-04537-4) was destined to spark controversy and even some nasty press. Pity it should come from an academic review in an influential publication, the Journal of Japanese Studies, which should have known better than to publish a mere hatchet job. I write a rebuke that invites even more controversy. As several academics said to me later, with the degree of Japanese funding of US higher educational research institutions on Japan, "the fix was in", and the diligence with which the JJS tries to silence me instead of dealing with the arguments I raise felt was quite indicative. Maybe Thomas Wolfe really was right about going home. At least for a budding academic out of the loop over here in Japan.
JALT's PALE JOURNAL OF PROFESSIONAL ISSUES, with past issues and records of employment abuses. More details in the NINKISEI UPDATES sections directly below, but fully-webbed issues, with hypertexted Tables of Contents for easy searching and scrolling, are here:
PALE APR 98
PALE AUG 98
PALE < A HREF="PALE1298.html">DEC 98
PALE APR 99
PALE AUTUMN 99
PALE SPRING 2000
PALE SPRING 2001
(see also the FOREIGN ACADEMICS IN JAPAN page on Issho Kikaku for even more comment, debates, articles and resources. To find out what JALT is, click here.)
RAMIFICATIONS OF NINKISEI: THE GWENDOLYN GALLAGHER CASE (Autumn 1997
to the present day)
Dismissed from Asahikawa University because 1) it wanted "fresh foreigners" and 2) she was "too Japanese", Gwen took the school to court, won an injunction (karishobun), and received reinstatement through a settlement (wakai) with the school. Then the school fired her all over again, citing simple termination of contract. This case exposes the evils of Ninkisei in all its glory--the opportunity for educational institutions to fire people arbitrarily.
How I got involved in the first place: at JALT's PALE N-SIG 1997 Roundtable at Hamamatsu; speaking on the topic and then doing a write-up on the proceedings.
CASE UPDATE FEB 2000
A District Court Judge in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, ruled on Feb 1, 2000 that a university is legally permitted to dismiss a non-Japanese academic because he or she is "too Japanized", explicitly citing as evidence in the hanketsu decision that living here too long and being married to a Japanese spouse renders an educator unable to teach about foreign culture.
Dubious? Original Hanketsu pages in Japanese here: cover, page sixty-three and sixty-four in jpeg form. Full update writeup in English, plus suggestions on what you can do to help here.
GALLAGHER CASE UPDATE FEB 2001
Gallagher lost her appeal. Now it is a matter for the Supreme Court. No word yet whether they will deliberate the case. More details as they become available.
GALLAGHER CASE NOV 2002: After a long wait, the Japanese Supreme Court decided not to hear her case. This is where the case ends. Details unclear at this time.
KORST CASE AT THE U OF THE RYUUKYUUS, OKINAWA (Spring 1998)
Timothy J Korst, fired for apparently personal reasons from his teaching position at the above National University in March 1998, took the school to court. This URL has all the information on his case from start to finish--from the background negotiations to union involvement, the filing of the legal papers, letters to both the US and Japanese governments, press releases, and the arguments both sides make in court. Also included are detailed instructions on how to form YOUR OWN UNION (it's surprisingly easy) and what pitfalls to avoid when defending your employment rights. Originally published in JALT's PALE Journal of Professional Issues, April 1998.
CASE CLOSED: KORST DECISION HANDED DOWN BY NAHA DISTRICT COURT JULY 12, 1998. Click here to read final update.
THE KUMAMOTO PREFECTURAL UNIVERSITY (KENRITSU DAI) CASE (Spring 1998):
Much of the same as above--summary dismissals, bad faith negotiations (or none at all), changing the job descriptions (one really begins to see patterns emerging)--this time ata Public (Kouritsu) University. However, in this case, thanks to the schools over-finagling of the job title, the aggreived union found that they were legally in a position to take their case to the streets, and they did--in Japan's first-ever strike by employees in a Kouritsu Dai. Full details and an FAQ on the issue here. Later published in JALT's PALE SIG Journal of Professional Issues with updates.
NINKISEI: WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT? FOREWARNED IS...
BLACKLIST AND GREENLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES
TEN QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR EMPLOYER BEFORE TAKING A JOB IN A JAPANESE UNIVERSITY
The Japanese university system is full of pitfalls. Most (yes, most) full-time foreign educators in Japan suffer or have suffered from temporary job status in a system that differentiates not on the basis of qualification, but nationality. Don't be fleeced and sent home. Know how to tell the difference between the stable and the temp jobs. Basic criteria for judgment are here. An abridged version which appeared in Tokyo Classified, May 15, 1999, pg. 25, is here as a jpeg only.
JALT SCOEP RECOMMENDATION 2001
SCOEP stands for "Standing Committee on Employement Practices" (and if you don't know what JALT is, please click here). Our committee is duty bound to provide annual recommendations on JALT policy vis-a-vis educator employment practices in Japan. As Committee Chair, one JALT PALE Journal Editor, and drafter of this proposal, I include this on my website.
assified, May 15, 1999, pg. 25, is here as a jpeg only.
APARTHEID UPDATE OCT 2005
EMPLOYERS BECOME MORE SOPHISTICATED IN FINDING LOOPHOLES
TO UNDERMINE JOB SECURITY
Japan's employment system, which is discovering the advantages (legal loopholes, an ineffectual administrative system, an indolent judiciary) of hiring contracted workers (Japanese as well as foreign), has become dire. Employees are increasingly disposable at the whim of the employer, with no effective recourse for labor abuses. The only legally-protected status remaining is labor unions, and the author advises readers to lose their negative preconceptions about organized labor and join one if they wish to have any job security in Japan.
AND SUBSEQUENT TRAGEDIES
Indictments of the Japanese legislative and administrative systems,
which have forgotten who is serving whom.
LOBBYING JAPAN'S POLITICAL PARTIES
A PRELIMINARY REPORT
Japan's political system is, ostensibly and constitutionally, a representative democracy, which by design should lend a voice to the people. On April 16, 2001, as a Japanese citizen with voting rights, I decided to test this theory, and see how Japan's political parties would react if I asked them to do their job: produce laws to protect all citizens and residents against a large and growing social problem of Racial Discrimination. I dropped by the Sapporo HQs of the LDP, Minshutou, JCP, and Koumeitou with a draft bill (courtesy of NGO Issho Kikaku) in hand. The responses were interesting, and illuminating when the LDP Hokkaido Assembly Rep Mr Satou Tokio even went so far as to say, "Japan doesn't need laws"--right in front of the TV cameras!
TAKES A VILLAGE...
NANPORO, HOKKAIDO--A TOWN IN FLUX
I moved to a small town in November 1997 after buying and building on a piece of land, and that alone was the subject of several essays. However, little did I know just what kind of a neighborhood I was moving into--one where demographics were threatening to unseat a corrupt mayor. This essay will explore how social movements work in Japan, how Japanese political machines react to them, how the mass media is controlled and exploited, and how one person can make a surprising amount of difference.
Essay One, on the background to the issue and the start of the social movement.
Essay Two, on how political campaigns are held in Japan, with the results of the election.
UPDATE: Nanporo's mayoral and councillor elections were on April 27, 2003. Reports:
PART ONE: How "people power" is thwarted by Japan's electoral laws, effectively stopping individuals from holding fora to increase communication between candidate and electorate.
PART TWO: How to run for a town council election in Japan. And win.
THE DAI-SAN SECTOR (Third Sector)
AN ENGINE FOR CORRUPTION
My little town of Nanporo pinned its future to a public-private consortium, the Dai-San Sector, to create a golf course that would bring in the tourists. This enterprise turned out to be Frankenstein's Monster, as the mayor, who, as you read above, was thrown out of office for his corrupt activities through this company, refused to step down as CEO, and, thanks to arcane D3S rules, could not be audited out of existence. Want to see the postmodern Japanese bubble keizai in action? Read this expose, one of the most important essays I have ever written.
APPLE TRADE BARRIERS AND THE DR. TANII SUICIDE
A study of the darker side of Fortress Japan. Japan refused to import US apples for fear of disease. A local botanist doing his job reports to the overseas scientific community that the disease in question already exists in Japan, showing the Japanese government had been telling big fat lies. Subsequently, the scientist, hung out to dry by the government and his community, commits suicide.
Working backwards--articles from the front pages of the Los Angeles Times (with partial jpeg inside) and the Finger Lakes Times, my hometown newspaper (partial jpeg only)
BACKGROUND: how I got personally involved, and, as a primer on common perceptions of the issue, the ignorant apple debate on The Dead Fukuzawa Society.
the perspective of the Washington State Apple growers, with links to their home page.
UPDATE: WTO RULES AGAINST JAPAN ON APPLE TRADE BARRIERS. Click here to read press release.
THE KOBE EARTHQUAKE
Important to me because it started my outspoken tendencies...
My very first essay to the now-defunct Dead Fukuzawa Society--a diatribe on how Japan's government blundered in its rescue efforts
My second Fukuzawa essay--a narrative on my going to Kobe as a volunteer.
After stupid Leader in The Economist (jpeg) refuses to lay due blame, my angry response got published in The Economist (jpeg)
Letter (jpeg) on Kobe published in sanitized Japanese in the Hokkaido Shinbun, followed by my original, more critical draft in my Japanese (English translation here)
Report (jpeg) on my volunteer expeiences, published again in sanitized Japanese in the Hokkaido Shinbun (unsanitized Japanese version here, both translated into English here)
EARTHQUAKE UPDATE ONE
Viewing the damage after the 1994 California Earthquake, Japanese government officials officiously scoffed, "This couldn't happen in Japan." One year to the day later it DID happen, in Kobe. Two years later, California's back to normal, while Kobe, according to this article from a friend, remains mired in botched relief efforts. A 1998 indictment of a system which is still not serving its citizens properly.
EARTHQUAKE UPDATE TWO
On a trip to Kobe in 1999, I get introduced to some people in a park who are still squatting and refusing to obey the government's demands that they move. Why? Read and find out.
FURUBIRA TUNNEL COLLAPSE
A tunnel collapses on a bus here in Hokkaido and it takes over a week for the government to dig it out. Another story of apparent government ineptitude.
DEPENDENCY ON THE JAPANESE MAINLAND
Hokkaido is known as Japan's Siberia. No wonder. Tokyo is actively keeping its Great White North economically dependent to discourage it from getting too friendly with the outside world, and to keep it as a military outpost and resource colony.
written by Arudou Debito are Copyright 1994-2007, Arudou Debito/Dave
Aldwinckle, Sapporo, Japan
All rights reserved.
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