According to media outlets like Al Jazeera, “the sign could be considered racist”, Kyodo: “seen as racist”, or Mainichi: “could be construed as racist”. (Oh, well, how else could it be considered, seen, or construed then? That only the Japanese language is spoken here?). Urawa Stadium management just called it “discriminatory” (sabetsu teki) and promised to investigate. Fortunately it was removed with some solid condemnations. But no media outlet is bothering to do more than blurb articles on it, barely scratching the surface of the issue.
This much you all know if you’ve been reading this space over the decades. But it bears repeating, over and over again if necessary. Because this sort of thing is not a one-off. It is based upon a mindset that “foreigners” can be treated as subordinate to Japanese in any circumstances, including in this case the allegedly level playing field of sports, and it is so unquestioned and hegemonic that it has become embedded — to the point where it gets dismissed as one of Japan’s “cultural quirks”, and the language of the original Otaru Onsens “Japanese Only” sign has become standardized language for the exclusionary.
But the problem is also in the enforcement of anti-racism measures. You think any official international sports body governing soccer (which has zero tolerance for racism and is often very quick to act on it) will investigate this any further? Or that the Olympic Committee before Tokyo 2020 is going to raise any public eyebrows about Japan’s lackadaisical attitude towards racism in its sports? For example, its outright racism and handicapping/excluding/bashing foreigners (even naturalized “foreigners”) in Sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai, or in the Ekiden Sports Races, which deliberately and overtly handicaps or outright excludes NJ from participation?
Hi Blog. Aaand, the inevitable has happened: Japan’s apparently underperforming athletes (particularly its ice skaters) have invited criticism from Japan’s elite. Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori Yoshiro, one of Japan’s biggest gaffemeisters when he served an abysmal stint as Prime Minister, decided to shoot his mouth off about champion skater Asada Mao’s propensity to choke under pressure. But more importantly, as far as Debito.org is concerned, about how the American-Japanese skating siblings Cathy and Chris Reed’s racial background has negatively affected their performance:
“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”
Fortunately, this has not escaped the world media’s glance. As CBS News put it: “Hurray for the Olympic spirit! You seem like a perfectly sensible choice to head a billion-dollar effort to welcome the world to Tokyo, Mr. Mori!” But expect more of this, for this is how “sporting spirit” is hard-wired in Japan. Because these types of people (especially their invisible counterparts in the media and internet) are not only unaccountable, they’re devoid of any self-awareness or empathy. If they think they can do better, as one brash Japanese Olympic swimmer once said, why don’t they try doing it themselves? Then she was taken off the team, never to return. ARUDOU, Debito
TOKYO —The head of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic organizing committee has criticized Japanese figure skater Mao Asada’s performance in the women’s short program at the Sochi Olympics.
The two-time world champion finished 16th in Wednesday’s short program after falling on her opening triple axel. Asada was a silver medalist at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where she finished second to South Korea’s Yuna Kim.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who became the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s chairman last month, said Asada has a habit of “always falling at the most critical time” of a competition. He blamed Asada’s short program shortcomings on her participation in the earlier team event at Sochi.
Asada performed sensationally in the free skate on Thursday night, however. She landed her trademark triple axel and wound up with a season’s best of 142.71. That gave her a total of 198.22.
“I thought I could do it,” Asada said through a translator. “I tried my best, and everything went according to practice.’
While in office, Mori had a reputation for making contentious comments. And his appointment to the Tokyo 2020 committee was criticized by some analysts who believe the 76-year-old former PM is too old to hold such a position.
Asada was selected for the inaugural team competition in the hope Japan would win a medal, but she also fell on the triple axel and Japan placed fifth.
“We shouldn’t have taken part in the team competition,” Mori said. “The psychological damage Asada incurred must have remained,” for the short program.
Mori was also critical of Japanese ice dancers Chris and Cathy Reed, who were born in the United States but compete for Japan.
“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”
Mr. Mori wasn’t done yet, taking a shot at Japanese ice dancers Chris Reed and Cathy Reed, the children of a Japanese mother and American father who were born and raised in the U.S. but renounced American citizenship in order to compete for Japan.
“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”
Hurray for the Olympic spirit! You seem like a perfectly sensible choice to head a billion-dollar effort to welcome the world to Tokyo, Mr. Mori!
Here are some Japanese articles with the original quotes:
(forwarding, courtesy of the author–Arudou Debito)
This Mainichi article, based on a piece that appeared in Flash four years ago, is about the sad fate that seems to befall Japan’s Olympic athletes. I thought I’d recycle it today. Mark
Star-studded sportsmen speed swim the Styx Flash, 10/31/2000 By Mark Schreiber (translated by the author)
Researchers have announced findings that compared with ordinary people, their lives are shortened by six years, asserts Kunihiko Kato, an assistant at Tokyo University’s department of physical science.
To whom is Kato referring? Chain smokers? Heavy boozers? People who live in houses under high-tension power lines, or those who refuse to pay protection to gangsters?
Indeed, what activity is scientifically recognized as being so hazardous, it threatens to send otherwise robust citizens of theworld’s longest-lived nation to an early grave?
The answer, reports Flash, is to earn a place on the JapaneseOlympic team. Or perhaps even worse, to win a medal.
Tragic examples are legion. Take Masatoshi Nekota, a member ofthe volleyball gold medalist at the 1972 Munich Olympics, whosuccumbed to cancer at age 39. Or three other outstanding athletes, who also died in their 39th year: 1968 Mexico City men’s gymnast and bronze-medal winner Takeshi Kato, a cancer victim; steeplechase runner (Mexico) Takeshi Endo, who died of heart failure; and broad jumper Hiroomi Yamada (Mexico), who suffered a fatal stroke.
Sports glory and public acclaim failed to bring any peace of mindto marathon runner Kokichi Tsuburaya, who took the bronze medal at Tokyo in 1964. Psychologically tormented when injury forced him to miss the games four years later, he committed suicide. The note he left read, simply, “Cannot run any more.” He was 27.
“Just at Japan Steel Corporation, where I was employed, sevenformer olympians have already passed away,” marathon silver medalist Kenji Kimihara (Mexico) tells Flash. “Overall, I’d say about 30 or so have died.”
Kimihara, now 60, is particularly saddened when recalling thosewho perished by their own hand. In addition to fellow marathoner Tsuburaya, these include swimmer Ryoko Urakami and 80 meter hurdler Ikuko Yoda.
“Everyone showed them respect, but they felt stigmatized by thetitle “olympic team member” attached to everything they didsubsequently,” sighs Kimihara. “I suppose it just became too much of a burden.”
But while mental pressures took a toll on Japan’s olympians, thesheer physical abuse can’t be disregarded either.
“After driving myself so hard during my teens, I wanted to justgo back to being a normal person,” recalls Mexico City weight lifting silver medalist Masaru Ouchi, now 57. “But I’m a physical wreck. When I reached my forties, I felt like I was already sixty.”
Tokyo University’s Kato is convinced scientific data contradictsthe general image of olympians and professional athletes as superb physical specimens. “Intense activity causes stress to build up, and excessive secretion of Corticotropin releasing hormone result in lowered immunity. Resistance to disease declines. There’s a greater likelihood of developing cancer.”
“Exercise causes oxygen consumption to increase, generating atoxic substance called free radicals that are harmful to the body,”Kato adds.
One side effect of too much activity may be osteoporosis. Citingdata on 13 female long-distance runners, Kato notes that the average bone density of eight was 90 percent or below the normal values, and four had bone density levels equivalent to women in their seventies.
“We believe this was caused by the intense training, whichlowered the volume of fat in their bodies, causing loss of calciumbecause they did not secrete sufficient female hormones.”
“Upholding Japan’s national honor was a heavy burden for thoseolympic athletes in the past,” says Kimihara. “When today’s athletes feel pressured, I’d like to see them channel their stress into constructive outlets.”
With so many depressing stories, Flash wonders, will “Q chan”— petite and personable Sydney marathon winner Naoko Takahashi — be all right?
Hello Blog. Some very significant things have happened in the two weeks since Debito.org got zapped and taken offline, and for the record we should cover them now since they warrant discussion.
My conclusions first: If you really want to “look on the bright side” of recent events, we could say “we live in interesting times”. Given the normally glacial pace of reforms in Japan, the Abe Administration is proceeding with incredible speed — which he can do, given LDP control over both houses of Parliament. It’s a pity that things are heading in the Rightist direction, dismantling the Postwar order of governance and the safeguards against Prewar fascism faster than the public or media can keep up.
Next up, as Debito.org Reader JJS sent me this morning:
///////////////////////////////////// Hi Debito. Glad to see you got control of your website back, though there may be lots still to do to secure it and prevent any further attacks. When you’re ready to start posting again, here are some juicy tidbits to chew on. With the passage of the Special State Secrets Bill, the Abe Administration is wasting no time making sure to A) start talking up Japan’s image as the “safest country in the world” while B) making sure to utilize the newly passed bill to start covering up any unsightly information from getting out about such things like nuclear powerplants, nuclear energy, etc. Finally, what will “cyber-terror” actually mean to this far right wing administration? Maybe your site may be included?? The next seven years leading up to the Olympics will be frightening to say the least.
Hi Blog. Good news from the Japanese judiciary. A lower court in Kyoto has finally ruled for the first time that a) hate speech exists in Japan, b) it is an illegal activity, subject to restriction, sanction, and penalty, and c) it is covered under international treaty (since Japan has no law against hate speech) such as the UN CERD.
That is a hat trick in terms of jurisprudence (on par with the Ana Bortz Case and the Otaru Onsens Case, although they were arguably more about issues of business and access to services than abstract concepts like freedom of speech).
Let’s hope a higher court does not overturn this. But I think the zealous bigots at Zaitokukai are realizing they’ve gone too far and set a spoiler precedent. About time — when their followers advocate murder and massacre of an ethnic minority, I think that’s when even timorous Japanese judges, who are sensitive to media attention, have to draw a line somewhere. Here’s where it was drawn. Articles from the Mainichi/Kyodo and Japan Times follow. Arudou Debito
KYOTO (Kyodo) — The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging a demonstration during which they directed hate speech at the ethnic Korean community in Japan, banning them from staging further demonstrations.
It is the first court decision in connection with hate speech, which fans discrimination and hatred toward a certain race or minority, lawyers for the school said.
October 07, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)
KYOTO — The Kyoto District Court on Oct. 7 ordered anti-Korean activists to pay 12.2 million yen in damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school through a demonstration in front of the school in which they used loudspeakers to disseminate hate speech.
The court decision came after the operator of Kyoto Korean Primary School sued the “Zainichitokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai” (Zaitokukai), a citizens group against special rights for Koreans, and its former members, demanding 30 million yen in compensation and a ban on anti-Korean demonstrations within a radius of 200 meters from the school.
Presiding Judge Hitoshi Hashizume concluded that the group’s actions, including promoting its demonstrations on the Internet, aimed to fan discrimination and hatred toward Koreans living in Japan. It is the first court decision that recognized these anti-ethnic Korean demonstrations as a form of racial discrimination banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The ruling discussed if freedom of expression secured under the Japanese Constitution could apply to the Zaitokukai’s demonstrations from December 2009 to March 2010, during which group members delivered hate speeches using words such as “Kick Korean schools out of Japan!” and “You guys smell like kimchi” and “These students are children of spies!” through loudspeakers at the school in Kyoto’s Minami Ward.
The ruling is hoped to prevent similar anti-Korean hate speech-fuelled rallies held mainly in Tokyo’s Shin-okubo district and Osaka, and is expected to spark debate on laws and regulations against such movements.
Meanwhile, Zaitokukai’s vice chairman Yasuhiro Yagi said, “We’re disappointed that the legitimacy of our actions were denied. We’ll decide whether or not to appeal after studying the verdict.”
A recent court ruling that stated that any hate speech campaign targeting particular races and ethnic groups constitutes racial discrimination and is illegal should be regarded as a rational judgment. It is hoped that the ruling, the first of its kind, will lead to the prevention of hate speeches, which have been conducted in neighborhoods of Tokyo, Osaka and other regions where many Korean residents are living and has developed into a serious social problem.
The Kyoto District Court ordered members of Zaitokukai, or a citizens group that “does not tolerate privileges for Korean residents in Japan,” which organized one of such campaigns, to pay 12.26 million yen in damages to the operator of a pro-Pyongyang Korean school in Japan. The court also banned the group from engaging in such street propaganda campaigns.
In the ruling, the court concluded that the defendants obstructed the school’s business and defamed the plaintiffs by blaring through loudspeakers, “Descendents of illegal immigrants,” and “Destroy Korean schools,” and uploading the footage of the campaign online.
The district court went on to recognize that the defendants’ campaign falls under “distinction and exclusion based on race or ethnic origin,” which is banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The court also expressed its view that the amount of compensation for any form of racial discrimination, such as the hate speech by Zaitokukai, is higher in accordance with the convention.
Zaitokukai claimed that it launched the campaign in question to protest against the school for using a neighboring park as a sports ground without permission from the Kyoto Municipal Government, which manages the park. However, the court ruled that regardless of whether Zaitokukai’s claim was true, the defendants’ campaign is illegal because it was obviously aimed at spreading a sense of discrimination against Korean residents throughout society. The court also dismissed Zaitokukai’s claim that its freedom to express political views should be protected, noting that the hate speech did not contain anything that served the common good and was nothing but an insult.
Freedom of expression is an important part of fundamental human rights. As such, the freedom to express opinions through demonstrations should be guaranteed. However, hate speeches could impair the dignity of Korean residents and other targets and foster prejudice against foreigners and exclusionism in Japan’s society.
In South Korea and China, these demonstrations in Japan are widely reported online, stirring anti-Japan sentiment. We must prevent such campaigns, launched by only a small portion of Japanese people, from contributing to the worsening of Japan’s relations with South Korea and China.
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Japan is a party, has a clause requiring parties to punish those involved in hate speeches. Some European countries legally slap punishments on those involved in such campaigns.
However, Japan has reserved its ratification of this clause in the convention for fear that should it enact legislation imposing criminal punishment on those involved in such campaigns, it could lead to excessive controls on freedom of speech and other forms of expression. Actually, the latest ruling has demonstrated that existing legislation can control hate speeches.
The ruling highlighted the common sense of not tolerating discrimination based on race and ethnic origin. It is important to ensure social consensus to avoid any words and deeds that impair individuals’ dignity from taking form in Japanese society. Japan should improve its efforts through education and other means to nurture people’s notion of human rights.
KYOTO – The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging demonstrations during which they used hate speech, and banned them from staging further rallies.
The landmark ruling acknowledged for the first time the explicit insults used in the rallies constituted racial discrimination, human rights experts said, and it could prompt a move to exempt hate speech from free-speech rights under the Constitution.
Presiding Judge Hitoshi Hashizume said the actions of Zaitokukai members and other activists who shouted hate-speech slogans near the school and posted video footage of the demonstrations online were “illegal.”
The actions “constitute racial discrimination as defined by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,” which Japan has ratified, Hashizume said.
Zaitokukai and the activists were ordered to pay about ¥12 million and banned from street demonstrations within a 200-meter radius of the pro-Pyongyang Korean school in the city of Kyoto. The operator of the school had sought ¥30 million in damages.
The operator filed the lawsuit in June 2010 against the group and eight activists for using hate speech on three occasions from December 2009 to March 2010 near Kyoto Chosen Daiichi Elementary School in Minami Ward.
The activists shouted slogans, such as “throw Korean schools out of Japan” and “children of spies,” through loudspeakers, disrupting classes and causing some students to complain of stomach pains, according to the suit.
The plaintiff argued that its right to receive “minority education” had been violated in seeking a ban on such demonstrations around the school, which has been consolidated with Kyoto Chosen Elementary School in Fushimi Ward since the incidents.
Several hundred thousand Koreans comprise Japan’s largest ethnic minority group, many of them descendants of forced laborers shipped to Japan during its brutal 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Many still face discrimination.
Such rallies have escalated this year and spread to Tokyo and other cities with Korean communities amid growing anti-Korean sentiment. In street rallies held in major Korean communities in the Tokyo area, hundreds of group members and supporters called Koreans “cockroaches,” shouted “Kill Koreans” and threatened to “throw them into the sea.”
Zaitokukai defended its actions as “freedom of expression” and said they were intended to oppose the school’s installing of a platform for morning assembly without permission at a park that is managed by the city.
Four of the eight defendants have been convicted of forcible obstruction of business and property destruction in connection with the demonstrations, while the school’s former principal has been fined ¥100,000 for unauthorized occupancy of the park.
Hi Blog. Here’s some good news. Finding a silver lining in Japan’s successful Olympics 2020 bid, here’s Zakzak reporting that Olympic fever has seized the groups protesting against the anti-Korean demonstrations happening in Tokyo: They are blocking demonstrations and not wanting them to spoil Tokyo’s Olympics. Well, very good. Should think that as the time draws nearer the xenophobic elements within Japan’s ruling elites will be leaning on the rabid Rightists as well. But it’s nice to see the Grassroots doing it for themselves. May it become a habit. Arudou Debito
A public bath facility in Eniwa, Hokkaido, refused entry to a Maori woman from New Zealand due to her face tattoos, a facility official said Thursday.
The Maori language lecturer, 60, has the tattoos, called ta moko, worn traditionally by some indigenous New Zealanders, on her lips and chin. She was in Hokkaido for a conference on indigenous languages in the town of Biratori in the northernmost prefecture.
On Sunday afternoon a group of 10 people involved in the conference visited the thermal baths but were refused entry by a facility staff member.
When a member of the group claimed the decision was discriminatory, the staff replied that the facility prohibits entry to anyone with tattoos in order to put customers at ease.
“Even if it is traditional culture, a typical person cannot judge the context behind the tattoos,” the facility official told reporters.
An Ainu language lecturer who was in the group said he felt sorry to disappoint an important guest.
“It is unfortunate that other cultures are not understood,” he said.
According to the food and sanitation section of the Hokkaido prefectural government and the National Federation of Public Bath Industry Trade Unions, the law on public baths allows operators to refuse entry to customers with infectious diseases, but does not rule on customers with tattoos.
Prohibition of tattoos is often used by public facilities in Japan to prevent entry by members of the country’s organized crime groups, many of whom have tattoos on their bodies.
Hi Blog. Oh the ironies of the above happening. It’s standard practice nationwide at many public bathhouses to refuse entry to Japanese with tattoos because they might be yakuza, and it’s long been a debate when one gets NJ who have tattoos as fashion statements.
But what really floors me is that a) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the famous Otaru Onsens Case (where people were refused entry just for being foreign; well, okay, just looking foreign), b) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the indigenous Ainu (whose conference in Biratori this indigenous Maori lecturer was attending), and c) it’s a traditional face tattoo, which the Ainu themselves used to have before the GOJ outlawed them:
Well, luckily for these bathhouse owners the GOJ erased that culture in its indigenous Ainu, not to mention erased most of the Ainu culture and people themselves. So nobody in Japan can claim cultural suppression of expression of tattoo culture anymore since suppression worked so well.
On the one hand, it’s about time the Ainu get the recognition they deserve. Yet on the other hand, focusing on the Ainu creates a cultural blind spot:
“The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony.”
Wait, hold on – why stop with just the Ainu? Why not end discrimination against *all* people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony?
My fear is that the GOJ will use the Olympics to politicize the Ainu at the expense of other NJ (e.g. Zainichi Koreans, immigrants).
That’s precisely the point, really. If we’re the GOJ, we’ll turn a blind eye towards (if not actively promote) the cultural suppression and denial of domestic ethnic diversity.
Except when we’re on our best behavior because the eyes of the world are on us. Then we’ll pay lip service to the ending of discrimination against one minority group. Never mind the others.
And if anyone comes here during the Olympics and gets refused service somewhere? Sorry, shikata ga nai. We have no laws against racial discrimination in Japan. Even though it’s closing in on twenty years since we promised to do so when signing the UN CERD in 1995. Maybe if you give us the Olympics a few more times, we’ll promise to protect a few more minorities.
I assume the Maori researcher has a topic for her next research paper. Arudou Debito
SAPPORO — The national government’s panel to work on revitalizing Ainu culture has decided to complete the building of an Ainu-themed museum and memorial park around Lake Poroto in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, by the summer of 2020, with a goal to promote Japan’s multiethnic culture during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, chairman of the Council for Ainu Policy Promotion, said, “The government aims to make the 2020 Olympics an opportunity for people overseas to learn about Ainu culture.” His comments came during a panel meeting on Sept. 11 to explain the plan to complete construction of the “Symbolic Place for Ethnic Harmony” as a national center for Ainu culture revitalization before the Games begin in Tokyo in July 2020.
The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony. It will conduct studies on Ainu history and culture while working on human resource development for the cultural preservation of the Ainu. The government also plans to bury bones of Ainu people at the site, which have been collected from their graves for research purposes by institutions including the University of Tokyo and Hokkaido University.
An expert panel on Ainu policy blueprinted the idea of building the memorial museum and park in 2009 as the 2008 Diet resolution concluded that the Ainu were an indigenous people of Japan.
And here’s one from Yuukan Fuji, July 6, 2013, with the view for bad-mouthing Koreans:
Good. Have the debate, good, bad, and ugly. That said, it doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact, according to the Mainichi:
/////////////////////////////////////////////// The Hate Speech Problem: More than 60% don’t know about it, according to an awareness survey of college students. Mainichi Shinbun, Aug 8, 2013, translation by Arudou Debito (corrections as always welcome)
In the wake of public demonstrations in places including Tokyo and Osaka displaying hate speech towards Zainichi Koreans, about 1000 students in Osaka area universities were surveyed for their awareness of the problem. It was revealed that more than 60% did not know about the hate speech.
Touyou University Department of Sociology’s Izawa Yasuki, who carried out this survey, analyzed the results as follows: “It could be said that many young people have no idea how they should take in the problems of Asia, because they were not given the materials to discern these things during their primary and secondary education,” noting the significant number of people who did not answer the survey at all.
The survey was also carried out by Zainichi Korean youth leagues headquartered in Osaka during June and July. It mainly surveyed youths in Tokyo and Osaka between the ages of 18 to 23, with 1014 responses.
According to this, the students who knew about the hate speech problem totaled 35%. When asked about what they thought about it, over 70% replied that “they should absolutely desist” or “it’s undesirable”, while 10.3% said they thought nothing of it and 7.4% said they felt the same way as the hate speechers.
In addition, more than 70% replied that then had no Zainichi Korean friends. Also, more than 70% indicated that they felt that their school instruction in modern Asia/Japanese history was insufficient.
[last paragraph untranslated because it’s not really relevant or scientifically significant]
COMMENT: Although surveys like these are generally easy to poke holes in methodologically (I skipped translating the last paragraph because, for example, the sample size was too small), I think that we can still broach a conversation here about how hate speech (even examples of it advocating murder and massacre) should be registering more of a shock within “peaceful Japan” than it apparently is. Of course, we can say that college students as a survey sample are more interested in playing video games, drinking and getting laid than soaking in the news. But when something is REALLY shocking in Japan, there’s enough carpet-bombing media debate on it that it certainly appeared in my college classrooms, and I doubt that has happened in this case. What do others think? I offer no clear conclusions on this case in point, so I put it under “Discussions” for looser moderation. Arudou Debito
Hi Blog. We’ve talked about Japan’s Academic Apartheid at the university level (i.e., NJ on perpetual contracts, J on permanent tenure) for decades now on Debito.org (especially since employment standards of NJ in academia set precedents for employment everywhere). And thanks to decades of pressure, as of April 2013 the GOJ built in safeguards to stop perpetual contracting — where working five years continuously on fixed-term contracts now gives the contractee the option for more stable contract work. But employers are now getting around that by capping their contracts at five years with a “non-renewal clause”, building in a poison pill for employees no matter how hard they work or contribute to the company. It’s one more reason to reconsider ever working in Japan.
Keep an eye out for it in your next contract, and don’t sign one that has it. Text, translation, and commentary courtesy of CF at the Fukuoka General Union. Arudou Debito
CF at PALE: There was an article in today’s Nishinippon Shinbun which stated that many of the “main” universities in Kyushu (most of the national universities) have changed their work rules to make all fixed term contracts (ie non-tenured) limited to only 5 years. This means that they can sack you (non renew you) just before you become eligible for non-fixed term contracts after 5 years of continuous employment.
This will drastically affect all non-tenured teachers, while tenured teachers are not affected. The new contract law which gives more security to those on fixed term contracts will be circumvented by this movement. I think there will definitely be a flow on effect to private universities in the “National universities are doing it so we have to too” approach.
With the amendment of the Labour Contract Law which came into effect on April first this year which stipulates that those who have worked for more than 5 years continuously on fixed term contracts may request to change their status to a contract with no fixed term (no-limit status transfer), a number of major universities in Kyushu are amending their work rules to insert a “non-renewal” clause. With government subsidies to universities are decreasing, the aim is to avoid locking in permanent personnel costs. Experts have criticized the move saying it “Goes against the purpose of the amendment of the law which is to provide stable employment to workers on fixed-term employment contracts”.
The amendment to the law does not apply to any specific industry, but to all workers. These countermeasures may have a flow on effect to other industries. Whereas the reason that universities have taken such protective measures in advance is that that already have a large number of teachers on fixed-term contracts who will be subject to the amendment to the law. Work rules (amendments) have been drafted for such teaching and administrative staff.
The Nishinippon Shimbun interviewed private and 7 National universities Kyushu, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki and Kagoshima. Of these all except Kumamoto said that they had taken measures to deal with the amendment that came into force in April. Kyushu University has amended related regulations to state, “Employees on fixed term contracts cannot be employed for a period that exceeds 5 years”. Previously, the rules stated “Limited to 3 years and 5 years with the possibility of renewal”, with continuous work over 5 years possible.
Saga University has followed Kyushu University in amending their work rules relating to fixed-term contracts in April. The University explained “We understand that the purpose of the law is to improve working conditions for workers, but with the limited amount of government funding, managing human resources costs is our top priority”.
However, each faculty in the University of Kagoshima held discussions and in the faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Science etc. have abolished the upper limit on fixed term contracts, leaving the possibility of transfer to no-limit status. Nagoya University has taken a similar line, but on a national scale it seems to be the exception. The Ministry of Education said they do not have a grasp of the actual situation.
With the amendment to the law, even a person on a 1 year fixed contract, which is renewed, in the 6th year the employee can demand non-fixed term status, which comes into effect in the beginning of the 7th year.
However, the Labour Contract Law, different to the enforceable Labour Standards Law, has no penalties or ability to issue breach notices like the Labour Standards Law. The Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare has stated that “It is not illegal for a company to set a limit on the number of years a worker can continuously work, but I really hope that if at all possible this it would be avoided.” The Vice Minister made this statement in the Diet last year.
According to labour law specialist lawyer Natsume Ichiro (Tokyo), “If you don’t make an issue of this clause now you won’t be able to fight it in court. I think teacher’s unions should make more of an issue of it.”
CF REPLIES: Ah yes, this is sneaky, changing the work rules by nominating a company brown-noser to sign off on behalf of all employers. Also it is the tenured teachers protecting their territory and throwing the contracted teachers to the wolves. Everyone should be careful when work rules (shugyo kisoku 就業規則 are changed and find out what the changes are.
Hi Blog. Posters on Debito.org have been champing at the bit to talk about Osaka Mayor Hashimoto’s controversial statements on the GOJ WWII sexual slavery program (which also involved NJ and colonial slaves, making this a Debito.org issue). So let’s have at it as a Discussion in a separate blog entry.
Below are Hashimoto’s statements to foreign press shortly before he appeared at the FCCJ on May 27. While I am disinclined to comment on the historical specifics (as I haven’t studied the WWII Sexual Slavery aka Comfort Women Issue sufficiently to make informed statements), I will say this about what Hashimoto’s doing: He’s bringing the issue to the fore for public scrutiny.
Bring this before public scrutiny in itself is a good thing. Too many times we have had bigoted, racist, sexist, and plain ahistorical statements by Japan’s public officials downplayed by the media, resulting in predictable backpedaling and claiming that comments were “for a domestic audience only”. This is typically followed by snap resignations without sufficient debate or correction (or, in recent years, people not resigning at all and just waiting for the next media cycle for things to blow over), undercarpet sweeping, and a renewed regional toxic aftertaste: How Japan’s elite status in Asia under America’s hegemony allows it to remain historically unrepentant and a debate Galapagos in terms of historical accountability. Japan’s media generally lacks the cojones to bring the xenophobic and bigoted to account for their statements (after all, Hashimoto to this day has not developed a filter for his role as public official; he still talks like the outspoken lawyer he was when appearing on Japanese TV as a pundit). So having him show some unusual backbone before the foreign press is something more Japanese in positions of power should do. Let’s have the debate warts and all, and let the historians debunk the ahistorical claims being made. But the claims have to be made clearly in the first place before they can be debunked.
The bad thing going on here, in my view, is that Hashimoto is rationalizing and normalizing sexual slavery as a universal part of war — as if “blaming Japan” is wrong because everyone allegedly did it. In his words, “It would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world.” That is: Japan did nothing all that wrong because it did nothing unusually wrong.
Hashimoto is also denying that the GOJ was “intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women”. And that is wrong both morally and factually. It is also wrong because working backwards from a conclusion of relativism. People (especially those of Hashimoto, Abe, and Ishihara’s political bent) have the tendency to not want to view their “beautiful country” “negatively” as the bad guy in the movie. Therefore their countrymen’s behavior must have been within context as part of the “normal”, because to them it is inconceivable that people could possibly have acted differently in the same circumstances.
But not only is this a dishonest assessment of history (EVERY country, yes, has a history that has shameful periods; the trick is not to cover them up, as Hashimoto’s ilk seeks to do, down to Japan’s education curriculum), but it is also disingenuously circumspect: For Hashimoto’s ilk, not only must Japan be seen ACCURATELY (as they see it), it must be seen NICELY. That’s simply not possible for certain time periods in Japan’s history.
At least Hashimoto is willing to boldly present that side for people to shoot down. Hopefully he will lose his political career because of it, for a man like this is unfit to hold political office. But it is more “honest” than the alternative.
Hashimoto’s statements follow in English and Japanese, plus an AJW article on the FCCJ Q&A. After that, let’s have some comments from Debito.org Readers. But an advance word of warning: Although this falls under Discussions (where I moderate comments less strictly), the sensitive and contentious nature of this subject warrants a few advance ground rules: Comments will NOT be approved if a) they seek to justify sexual slavery or human trafficking in any form, b) they try to claim that Hashimoto was misquoted without comparing the misquote to his exact quote, or c) they claim historical inaccuracy without providing credible historical sources. In sum, commenters who seek to justify Hashimoto’s ahistorical stances will have to do more homework to be heard on Debito.org. Conversely, comments will more likely be approved if they a) stick to the accuracy or logic of Hashimoto’s statements, b) talk about the debate milieu within Japan regarding this topic, c) take up specific claims and address them with credible sources. Go to it. But make sure in the course of arguing that you don’t sound like Hashimoto and his ilk yourself. Arudou Debito
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimioto issues a statement ahead of his press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.
* * *
Ideals and values on which I stand:
Today, I want to start by talking about my basic ideals as a politician and my values as a human being.
Nothing is more regrettable than a series of media reports on my remarks with regard to the issue of so-called “comfort women.” These reports have created an image of me, both as a politician and as a human being, which is totally contrary to my real ideals and values. This has happened because only a portion of each of my remarks has been reported, cut off from the whole context.
I attach the utmost importance to the universal values of human rights, freedom, equality and democracy, whose universality human beings have come to accept in the twenty-first century. As a constitutionalist, I also believe that the essential purpose of a nation’s constitution is to bind government powers with the rule of law and to secure freedom and rights of the people. Without such legal limitations imposed by the constitution, the government powers could become arbitrary and harmful to the people.
My administrative actions, first as Governor of Osaka Prefecture and then as Mayor of Osaka City, have been based on these ideals and values. The views on political issues that I have expressed in my career so far, including my view of the Japanese constitution, testify to my commitment to the ideals and values. I am determined to continue to embody these ideals and values in my political actions and statements.
As my ideals and values clearly include respect for the dignity of women as an essential element of human rights, I find it extremely deplorable that news reports have continued to assume the contrary interpretation of my remarks and to depict me as holding women in contempt. Without doubt, I am committed to the dignity of women.
What I really meant by my remarks on so-called “comfort women”
I am totally in agreement that the use of “comfort women” by Japanese soldiers before and during the World War 2 was an inexcusable act that violated the dignity and human rights of the women in which large numbers of Korean and Japanese were included. I am totally aware that their great pain and deep hurt were beyond description.
I also strongly believe that Japan must reflect upon its past offenses with humility and express a heartfelt apology and regret to those women who suffered from the wartime atrocities as comfort women. Our nation must be determined to stop this kind of tragedy from occurring again.
I have never condoned the use of comfort women. I place the greatest importance on the dignity and human rights of women as an essential part of the universal values in today’s world. It is extremely regrettable that only the cut-off parts of my remarks have been reported worldwide and that these reports have resulted in misunderstood meanings of the remarks, which are utterly contrary to what I actually intended.
We must express our deep remorse at the violation of the human rights of these women by the Japanese soldiers in the past, and make our apology to the women. What I intended to convey in my remarks was that a not-insignificant number of other nations should also sincerely face the fact that their soldiers violated the human rights of women. It is not a fair attitude to blame only Japan, as if the violation of human rights of women by soldiers were a problem unique to the Japanese soldiers. This kind of attitude shelves the past offenses that are the very things we must face worldwide if we are truly to aim for a better world where the human rights of women are fully respected. Sexual violation in wartime was not an issue unique to the former Japanese army. The issue existed in the armed forces of the U.S.A., the UK, France, Germany and the former Soviet Union among others during World War 2. It also existed in the armed forces of the Republic of Korea during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Against this historical background, I stated that “the armed forces of nations in the world” seemed to have needed women “during the past wars”. Then it was wrongly reported that I myself thought it as necessary for armed forces to use women and that “I” tolerated it.
It is a hard historical fact that soldiers of some nations of the world have used women for sexual purposes in wars. From the viewpoint of respecting the human rights of women, it does not make much difference whether the suffering women are licensed or unlicensed prostitutes and whether or not the armed forces are organizationally involved in the violation of the dignity of the women. The use of women for sexual purposes itself is a violation of their dignity. It also goes without saying that rape of local citizens by soldiers in occupied territories and hot spots of military conflict are intolerable atrocities.
Please do not misunderstand, and think that I intend to relativize or justify the issue of comfort women for former Japanese soldiers. Such justification has never been my intention. Whatever soldiers of other nations did will not affect the fact that the violation of the dignity of women by the former Japanese soldiers was intolerable.
What I really meant in my remarks was that it would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world. It would suppress the truth that the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers not only existed in the past but also has yet to be eradicated in today’s world. Based on the premise that Japan must remorsefully face its past offenses and must never justify the offenses, I intended to argue that other nations in the world must not attempt to conclude the matter by blaming only Japan and by associating Japan alone with the simple phrase of “sex slaves” or “sex slavery.”
If only Japan is blamed, because of the widely held view that the state authority of Japan was intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women, I will have to inform you that this view is incorrect.
While expecting sensible nations to voice the issue of the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers, I believe that there is no reason for inhibiting Japanese people from doing the same. Because the Japanese people are in a position to face the deplorable past of the use of comfort women by the former Japanese soldiers, to express deep remorse and to state their apology, they are obliged to combat the existing issue of the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers, and to do so in partnership with all the nations which also have their past and/or present offenses.
Today, in the twenty-first century, the dignity and human rights of women have been established as a sacred part of the universal values that nations in the world share. It is one of the greatest achievements of progress made by human beings. In the real world, however, the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers has yet to be eradicated. I hope to aim for a future world where the human rights of women will be more respected. Nevertheless, we must face the past and present in order to talk about the future. Japan and other nations in the world must face the violation of the human rights of women by their soldiers. All the nations and peoples in the world should cooperate with one another, be determined to prevent themselves from committing similar offenses again, and engage themselves in protecting the dignity of women at risk in the world’s hot spots of military conflict and in building that future world where the human rights of women are respected.
Japan must face, and thoroughly reflect upon, its past offenses. Any justification of the offenses will not be tolerated. Based on this foundation, I expect other nations in the world to face the issue of the sexual violations in the past wars as their own issue. In April this year, the G8 Foreign Ministers in London agreed upon the “Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.” Based on this accomplishment, I expect that the G8 Summit to be held in this June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, the UK, will become an important occasion where the leaders of G8 will examine how soldiers from nations in the world, including the former Japanese soldiers, have used women for sexual purposes, face and reflect upon the past offenses with humility, solve today’s problems in partnership with one another, and aim for the ideal future.
With regard to my remark in the discussion with the U.S. commander in Okinawa
There was a news report that, while visiting a U.S. military base in Okinawa, I recommended to the U.S. commander there that he make use of the adult entertainment industry to prevent U.S. soldiers from committing sexual crimes. That was not what I meant. My real intention was to prevent a mere handful of U.S. soldiers from committing crimes and strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the relations of trust between the two nations. In attempting to act on my strong commitment to solving the problem in Okinawa stemming from crimes committed by a minority of U.S. soldiers, I made an inappropriate remark. I will elaborate my real intention as follows.
For the national security of Japan, the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the most important asset, and I am truly grateful to contributions made by the United States Forces Japan.
However, in Okinawa, where many U.S. military bases are located, a small number of U.S. soldiers have repeatedly committed serious crimes, including sexual crimes, against Japanese women and children. Every time a crime has occurred, the U.S. Forces have advocated maintaining and tightening official discipline and have promised to the Japanese people that they would take measures to stop such crimes from occurring again. Nevertheless, these crimes have not stopped. The same pattern has been repeating itself.
I emphasize the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and greatly appreciate the U.S. Forces’ contribution to Japan. Nonetheless, the anger of the Okinawan people, whose human rights have continued to be violated, has reached its boiling point. I have a strong wish to request that the U.S.A. face the present situation of Okinawa’s suffering from crimes committed by U.S. soldiers, and take necessary measures to alleviate the problem.
It is a big issue that incidents of sexual violence have frequently happened without effective control within the U.S. military forces worldwide. It has been reported that President Obama has shown a good deal of concern over the forces’ frequent reports of military misconduct and has instructed the commanders to thoroughly tighten their official discipline, as measures taken so far have had no immediate effect.
With all the above-mentioned situations, I felt a strong sense of crisis and said to the U.S. commander that the use of “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan” should be considered as one of all the possible measures. Even if there is no measure with an immediate effect, the current state of Okinawa should not be neglected. From my strong sense of crisis, I strongly hope that the U.S. army will use all possible measures to bring a heartless minority of soldiers under control. When expressing this strong hope, I used the phrase “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan.” When this phrase was translated into English, it led to the false report that I recommended prostitution–which is illegal under Japanese law. Furthermore, my remark was misunderstood to mean that something legally acceptable is also morally acceptable. Although the adult entertainment industry is legally accepted, it can insult the dignity of women. In that case, of course, some measures should be taken to prevent such insults.
However, I understand that my remark could be construed as an insult to the U.S. Forces and to the American people, and therefore was inappropriate. I retract this remark and express an apology. In conclusion, I retract my inappropriate remarks to the U.S. Army and the American people and sincerely apologize to them. I wish that my apologies to them will be accepted and that Japan and the United States of America continue to consolidate their relationship of alliance in full trust.
My real intention was to further enhance the security relationship between Japan and the United States, which most U.S. soldiers’ sincere hard work has consolidated, and to humbly and respectfully ask the U.S. Forces to prevent crimes committed by a mere handful of U.S. soldiers. My strong sense of crisis led to the use of this inappropriate expression.
In the area of human rights, the U.S.A. is one of the most conscientious nations. Human rights are among those values accepted throughout the world as universal. In order for human rights of the Okinawan people to be respected in the same way as those of American people are respected, I sincerely hope that the U.S. Forces will start taking effective measures in earnest to stop crimes in Okinawa from continuing.
About the Japan-Korea Relationship
The Japan-Korea relationship has recently gone through some difficult times. Underlying the difficulty are the issue of comfort women and the territorial dispute over the Takeshima Islands. Ideally, Japan and South Korea should be important partners in East Asia, as they share the same values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. I believe that a closer relationship based on greater trust between Japan and South Korea would contribute to the stability and prosperity of not only East Asia but also the world.
One of the points of tension is that concerning wartime comfort women. Some former comfort women in Korea are currently demanding state compensation from the Japanese government.
However, the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea and the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea, both signed in 1965, have officially and decisively resolved any issues of claims arising from the war, including the right of individual persons to claim compensation. Japan has also performed its moral responsibility with the establishment of the Asian Women’s Fund, and it paid atonement money to former comfort women even after the resolution of the legal contention with the treaties.
The international community has welcomed the Asian Women’s Fund. A report to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations welcomed Japan’s moral responsibility project of the Asian Women’s Fund. Mary Robinson, the second United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave the Fund a favorable evaluation. Unfortunately, however, some former comfort women have refused to accept the atonement money from the Asian Women’s Fund.
Japan has given significant importance to the Treaty on Basic Relations and the Agreement on the Settlement, both of which made final resolution of any legal contention in 1965, and Japan also sincerely faces, reflects on, and apologizes for its own wartime wrongdoings with feelings of deep remorse.
The whole situation poses a rending dilemma for us: how to make such a compensation that former comfort women would accept as our sincere remorse and apology, while also maintaining the integrity of the legal bilateral agreements between Japan and Korea.
The Korean government has recently claimed that interpretive disputes over the individual right of compensation for former comfort women in the Agreement on the Settlement still remain. I hope that the Republic of Korea, as a state governed by the rule of law, recognizes the legal importance of the above-mentioned agreements. If the Republic of Korea still believes that there exist interpretive contentions in the agreements, I think that only the International Court of Justice can resolve them.
One can hope that the same legal/rule-of-law stance is also observed in the resolution of the territorial dispute over the Takeshima Islands.
I firmly believe that neither hatred nor anger can resolve the problems between Japan and Korea. I firmly believe in the importance of legal solution at the International Court of Justice, which arena would allow both sides to maintain rational and legal argument while both maintain both respect for each other and deep sympathy to former comfort women.
I wish to express sincerely my willingness to devote myself to the true improvement of the Japan-Korea relationship through the rule of law.
AJW Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on May 27 explained his views on “comfort women” and other issues during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. Excerpts from the question and answer session follow:
Question: Are you trying to suggest that other nations were also somehow involved in the managing of wartime brothels like the Japanese military?
Hashimoto: I have absolutely no intention of justifying the wrongs committed by Japan in the past. We have to always carry within our hearts the terrible suffering experienced by the comfort women.
We should also put an end to unreasonable debate on this issue.
Japan should not take the position of trying to avoid its responsibility. That is what causes the greatest anger among the South Korean people.
I want to bring up the issue of sex in the battlefield. I don’t think that the nations of the world have faced their pasts squarely. That obviously includes Japan.
Unless we squarely face the past, we will not be able to talk about the future. Sex in the battlefield has been a taboo subject that has not been discussed openly.
Japan was wrong to use comfort women. But does that mean that it is alright to use private-sector businesses for such services?
Because of the influence of Puritanism, the United States and Britain did not allow the respective governments and militaries to become involved in such facilities. However, it is a historical fact that those two nations used local women for sexual services.
When the United States occupied Japan, the U.S. military used the facilities established by the Japanese government. This is also a historical fact backed by actual evidence.
What I want to say is that it does not matter if the military was involved or if the facilities were operated by the private sector.
There is no doubt that the Japanese military was involved in the comfort stations. There are various reasons, but this is an issue that should be left up to historians.
What occurred in those facilities was very tragic and unfortunate, regardless of whether the military was involved in the facilities or they were operated by private businesses.
Germany had similar facilities as those used by Japan where comfort women worked. Evidence has also emerged that South Korea also had such facilities during the Korean War.
The world is trying to put a lid on all of these facts.
It might be necessary to criticize Japan, but the matter should not be left at that. Today, the rights of women continue to be violated in areas of military conflict. The issue of sex in the battlefield continues to be a taboo.
It is now time to begin discussing this issue.
I have no intention of saying that because the world did it, it was alright for Japan.
Japan did commit wrong, but I hope other nations will also face their pasts squarely.
The past has to be faced squarely in order to protect the rights of women in conflict areas as well as prevent the violation of the rights of women by a handful of heartless soldiers.
Q: Do you feel there is a need to revise or retract the Kono statement on comfort women since there is wording that “the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women,” which indicates trafficking was involved?
A: I have absolutely no intention of denying the Kono statement. I feel that what is written in the statement is generally based on fact.
However, it is ambiguous about a core issue.
You brought up the issue of military involvement in the transport of women. Historical evidence shows that private businesses used military ships to transport the women. Most of the employers at the comfort stations were private businesses. There was military involvement in the form of health checks to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.
Because a war was going on, military vehicles were used in the transport of the women.
The argument of many Japanese historians is that there is no evidence to show that the will of the state was used to systematically abduct or traffic the women. A 2007 government statement, approved by the Cabinet, also concluded there was no evidence to show the will of the state was used for the systematic abduction and trafficking of the women.
The Kono statement avoided taking a stance on the issue that was of the greatest interest of South Koreans. This is the primary reason relations between the two nations have not improved.
The Kono statement should be made clearer.
Historians of the two nations should work together to clarify the details on this point.
The South Korean argument is that Japan used the will of the state for the systematic abduction and trafficking of the women, while the Japanese position is that there is no evidence for such an argument. This point has to be clarified.
Separately from what I just said, there is no doubt that an apology has to be made to the comfort women.
The core argument that the will of state was used for the systematic abducting and trafficking of women is likely behind the criticism from around the world that the Japanese system was unique.
It was wrong for Japanese soldiers to use comfort women in the past. However, facts have to be clarified as facts. If arguments different from the truth are being spread around the world, then we have to point out the error of those arguments.
Q: Do you agree with the argument by Shintaro Ishihara (co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party) that Japan should not have to apologize for the war because it was forced to fight by the economic sanctions and other measures imposed by the United States?
A: Politicians have discussed whether there was military aggression on the part of Japan or colonial domination of the Korean Peninsula. This is an issue that should be discussed by historians.
Politicians who represent the nation must acknowledge the military aggression and the unforgivable colonial domination of the Korean Peninsula.
Denying those aspects will never convince the victorious nations in the war because of the terrible loss of life that was involved in achieving that end.
Politicians who represent the nation have to acknowledge the responsibility for the nation’s actions during World War II. They have to also reflect on and apologize to neighboring nations for causing terrible damage.
Ishihara does have a different view of the past.
That is likely a generational difference between those who lived through the war and those of my generation who were born after the war. This is a very difficult issue for nations defeated in the war.
Those who lived through the war believed that what their government was doing was the right thing.
The vast majority of Japanese acknowledge the military aggression and colonial domination of the war. However, it is very difficult to have all 120 million Japanese agree on this point since Japan is a democracy.
Politicians of my generation should not stir up questions of Japan’s responsibility in the war. The duty of politicians of my generation should not be to justify what happened in the war, but work toward creating a better future. Politicians of my generation should face the past squarely and use their political energy for the future.
However, that does not mean that we have to remain silent about any wrong understanding of the facts of the war just because Japan was a defeated nation.
Q: Is it your view that what the Japanese military of that time was involved in does not constitute human trafficking in light of the international understanding that any involvement by any individual or organization in any part of the process is defined as human trafficking? Separately, is it your view that the testimony given by women who were forcibly taken by the Japanese military is not credible?
A: I am not denying Japan’s responsibility. Under current international value standards, it is clear that the use of women by the military is not condoned. So, Japan must reflect on that past.
I am not arguing about responsibility, but about historical facts.
I feel the most important aspect of the human trafficking issue is whether there was the will of the state involved. Women were deceived about what kind of work they would do. The poverty situation at that time meant some women had to work there because of the debt they had to shoulder.
However, such things also occurred at private businesses.
I think similar human trafficking occurred at the private businesses that were used by the U.S. and British militaries.
Japan did do something wrong, but human trafficking also occurred at such private businesses.
I feel the human trafficking that occurred at both places was wrong.
I want the world to also focus on that issue that involves other nations.
I am aware that comfort women have given their accounts of what happened. However, there is also historical debate over the credibility of those accounts.
Q: If the government was aware of what was happening at the comfort stations and did nothing, isn’t that a form of government and military involvement; and who should bear responsibility for that?
A: Under the present value system, the state must stop human trafficking.
In that sense, Japan cannot evade responsibility by any means.
We must think now of what the government should do when confronted by such a situation.
Hi Blog. We have some positive movements regarding the treatment of hate speech in Japan, particularly regarding that “Kill all Koreans” hate demo that took place last February (god bless the ensuing gaiatsu of international attention for making the GOJ finally take some action to deal with this deservedly embarrassing incident). First, the Asahi reports that one of the participants in the Zaitokukai hate demo named Akai Hiroshi was arrested by the police, for violent bodily contact with a person protesting Zaitokukai activities.
Police have arrested a 47-year-old man who took part in a regularly held anti-Korean demonstration in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, for allegedly assaulting another man protesting the rally.
The man arrested Monday identified himself as Hiroshi Akai, an unemployed former Self-Defense Force member from Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture. Akai said he had “accidentally bumped into” the other man, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
Police allege Akai hurled himself at the 51-year-old company employee Sunday evening after the protest in Shinjuku. He was held by riot police who were guarding the demonstration.
Rightwing groups, including one claiming to be “citizens who do not condone privileges given to Koreans in Japan,” have been staging demonstrations several times a month in Shinjuku and nearby Shin-Okubo, home to a large ethnic Korean population.
The good news, however, is that we’re hearing about these events at all (discrimination often goes ignored in the J-media if its against NJ). Also good news is that the authorities are taking measures against them, as seen in this sign sent to me yesterday by AP:
(Taken in Sekime-Seiiku Station in the Osaka area, May 20, 2013.)
The sign reads: A bright society where people respect each others’ human rights. Let’s stop scrawling discriminatory GRAFFITI that will hurt people’s hearts. If you notice any discriminatory graffiti, let us know (addendum: let a station attendant know). Signed, Osaka City Citizens’ Bureau.
Submitter AP writes: “I talked to the 駅長 as well. I said I don’t know what lead to posting that message, but as a foreigner in Japan I sometimes face 差別 and understand why this kind of thing is important to address, and thanked him. He seemed appreciative as well.”
Good. Then maybe people are realizing that this sort of thing affects everyone in society, not just some guest foreigners whose lives and feelings have no connection with ours. These are positive developments. Arudou Debito
Justice Minister Tanigaki “Filled with Concern” over Hate Speech The Asahi Shimbun, May 9, 2013, courtesy of MS
On May 9, the issue of the Zaitokukai’s repeated demos containing hate speech, calling for people to “Kill the Koreans”, was taken up in the Upper House’s Judicial Committee. The Zaitokukai are a citizens’ group seeking to deny “special privileges” to Zainichi lifetime NJ residents of Japan. Justice Minister Tanigaki Sadakazu said, “I am filled with concern. This runs directly counter to the course of a civilized nation.”
The answer was in response to a question by PM Arita Yoshifu of the opposition DPJ. In regards to next steps, Tanigaki limited his statement to, “This is extremely worrisome because it is related to freedom of expression. I wish to observe most carefully to see whether it leads to sentiments of racial discrimination.”
As for those who gave permission to a discriminatory demo, the National Police Agency said, “According to the Public Safety Ordinance, we cannot deny permission because demo’s slogans become coarse/vulgar (soya) or rough (ranbou). If there is something concretely illegal under the law, we can take measures.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his concern on the increase of hate speech in the country in an Upper House Budget Committee session on May 7. The premier criticized the hate-mongering that has become rampant on the internet and in specific areas around the nation, adding that the hate these people show is dishonoring Japan.
“It is truly regrettable that there are words and actions that target certain countries and races,” Abe was quoted as saying. This was the prime minister’s response to a question from Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Kan Suzuki, who pointed out that demonstrations in the Koreatowns of Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district and Osaka’s Tsuruhashi district have been marred by such vitriol and race-specific hate. Protesters have been shouting, “Kill the Koreans”, or that “Koreans are cockroaches”, and “Koreans go home, you do not belong here!” Abe called on the Japanese people to show the courtesy that has been the trademark of the nation. “I believe that the Japanese respect harmony and should not be people who exclude others,” Abe said. “The Japanese way of thinking is to behave politely and to be generous and modest at any time,” he added.
Abe himself has been caught in recent issues where his specific words have caused angry reactions from South Korea and China. This is with regards to his views about Japan’s role in World War II, saying that the term “aggressor” can be defined in different ways from different points of view. South Korea has specifically made strong diplomatic reactions, asking Japan to apologize and the international community to exert pressure for Abe to retract what he said.
Abe concluded that those who are spreading hate speech – online or offline – do not represent the Japanese people. He also specifically said that it was his intention to restrict hateful comments posted on his official Facebook page. “It’s completely wrong to put others down and feel as if we are superior,” he said. “Such acts dishonor ourselves.”
COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Although I am happy that the LDP is saying that these hateful tendencies are a bad thing, there are two tendencies that should be noted. One is that these are reactive, not active, stances by the governing parties. These clear and powerful acts of hate speech happened months ago, and now we’re just getting to them during question time, in response to opposition questions? Far too slow. The LDP should have denounced this behavior immediately if it ran so counter to what PM Abe can so cocksurely say is not “The Japanese Way of Thinking”. (And given that these people are legislators, where is the proposal for a law against it?)
The other is Abe’s disingenuousness. Abe might now say that those who are disseminating this kind of hate speech “do not represent the Japanese people”. Yet these right-wing haters are precisely Abe’s support base. As I discussed in my articles in the Japan Times (“Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan will suffer“, February 4, 2013) and on Japan Focus (“Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance.” Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 9, No. 3. March 4, 2013), Abe has been intimately involved with the Sakura TV crowd, for years now advocating all manner of hateful invective towards NJ, particularly Japan’s neighbors and domestic NJ residents. Abe is thus talking out of both sides of his mouth here.
Especially in regards to issues of his Facebook page mentioned above, which exists to help rally support amongst the Internet Neto Uyo Rightist crowd. Consider this academic treatment by scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki in Japan Focus, excerpted:
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 8, No. 1, February 25, 2013.
FREEDOM OF HATE SPEECH; ABE SHINZO AND JAPAN’S PUBLIC SPHERE ヘイトスピーチ（憎悪発言）の自由ー安倍晋三と日本の公共空間
Facebook Friends to the Rescue: Mobilizing the Otakusphere
After a rather slow start, a number of Japanese politicians have taken to social media with great enthusiasm. Among them is the nationalistic mayor of Osaka, Hashimoto Toru, who issues an unending series of tweets on his policies and general view of the world, and caused particular controversy last year with a series of rambling tweets on the “comfort women” issue, in which he denounced the 1993 Kono apology and expressed support for Abe Shinzo’s position on the “comfort women”. 7 Abe himself has also responded most enthusiastically to the political opportunities created by the Internet age. He was quick to create a personal website, and has maintained a Facebook page since well before his recent election. He or his personal secretary post comments on the page almost every day, and it boasts over 4,800 Facebook friends and more than 230,000 followers.
On 22 December 2012, six days after the election which returned Abe to the prime ministership, NHK devoted its evening prime time to a discussion program about the election results and the implications of the new government for Japan. The participants in the program were the Secretary-General of Abe’s ruling party, Ishiba Shigeru, the head of the government’s coalition partner, Yamaguchi Natsuo, three university professors and an economist from the influential think tank the Japan Research Institute. NHK invited viewers to send in questions that they would like to have raised during the discussion.
About two hours before the program went to air, Abe’s secretary posted a message on the prime minister’s Facebook page mobilizing its friends and followers to action. The secretary slammed the “bias” of NHK and warned readers that the forthcoming program would be a “clean sweep of Abe bashing”. The web link, email address and fax number of the program were included in the post, and Abe’s friends and followers were urged to bombard the program with messages. The secretary’s message also made derogatory comments about the discussion program’s panelists, describing one (University of Tokyo political scientist Fujiwara Kiichi) as being “famous for saying that ‘the five abductees who came home to Japan should be sent straight back to North Korea”‘. 8 (8 See here, post dated 22 December 2012 (accessed 15 January 2013).)
Very far from being a “clean sweep of Abe bashing”, the program proved to be very much like most other political discussions on the public broadcaster. The early questions were directed to the two government-party politicians, who were allowed a substantial share of the air time, and much of the discussion centred around positive suggestions on the need (for example) to listen to the voices of the young and to address the problems of Japan’s aging population. Questions were raised, among other things, about the content of the government’s proposed large-scale public work’s programs, but the criticism was so calm and reasoned that it would require an unusually thin skin to be offended by it.
Later the same evening, after the program had gone to air, the Prime Minister added his own comment to his secretary’s post, describing the program’s participants (other, presumably than Ishiba and Yamaguchi) as “too low-level” (osomatsu sugi). One panelist was described as being “beyond the pale”, and of two others, the Prime Minister wrote that they should be “ashamed to show their faces in public”. 9 (9 See here, comment by Abe Shinzo, 21.59, 22 December 2012 (accessed 15 January 2013).)
Shortly afterwards, Professor Fujiwara posted a mildly worded response on Twitter, pointing out that he has never said or written that Japanese abductees should be returned to North Korea. Energetic efforts by at least one pro-Abe website to prove him wrong ended in failure 10 (10 See here (accessed 20 January 2013)), but meanwhile his supposed “statement” on the abduction issue (which in the Japanese context is roughly the equivalent of an American politics professor expressing support for Al Qaida) was circulating like wildfire through Japan’s right wing blogosphere.
Neither Abe nor his secretary has apologized for or revised the comment about Fujiwara, which still remains on the Prime Minister’s Facebook page. No opposition politician and no national newspaper or TV station in Japan has questioned the Prime Minister’s use of Facebook to libel an academic public commentator. Nor did any of them discuss the propriety of the Prime Minister’s Facebook page being used to post a misleading description of a TV discussion program, with the intention of inciting readers to inundate the program with pro-government comments.
The Abe Facebook message can be read as a calculated warning to any Japanese media outlet or commentator proposing to express doubts at government policy that they are likely face officially sanctioned harassment and vilification. In the Internet age, direct intervention by politicians in the media is no longer needed; they can get their Facebook friends to do it for them.
In sum, if Abe wants to keep harping on about “honor” (whatever that means), I think he should be looking at himself and his political activities in the mirror. These hate-speech activities are a direct result of the political machinations of his political ilk, if not him personally. That a man could exist in such a powerful position in government not once, but twice, says indicative things about Japan’s view of “honor”, and about the Japanese public’s tolerance of disingenuousness. Arudou Debito
On April 10, the [Governor] of Kyoto Keiji Yamada made public his intentions to appeal to the government to award overseas students who graduate from Kyoto [universities] with the right to permanent residence. It is a proposal entitled ‘Kyoto University Special Ward’ and also incorporates other supportive measures for foreign students. With a decrease in student intake within Japan in recent years, it is hoped that by providing incentives for academically skilled overseas students, Kyoto will not only be able to compete with other cities like Tokyo but will also be able to add a new lease of life to its cultural city.
The plan to introduce incentives for overseas students came to light after The Japanese Business Federation and Kyoto’s prefecture office held a panel discussion on how to revive the town. The same prefecture estimated that due to decrease in birth rates, the number of students enrolling in university was also likely to see a significant decrease in years to come. Looking at the birth rate statistics from 2011, it is predicted that the 160,000 students currently residing in Kyoto will see a 25,000 student decrease in the future.
On the other hand, the number of overseas students currently residing in Kyoto is 6,000. According to research carried out by Kyoto Prefecture, several universities in Singapore have over a 60 percent foreign student uptake. What’s more, the same students are awarded the right to permanent residence upon graduating. Singapore is no doubt leading the way in attracting, and fostering, talent from abroad.
At the same panel discussion, Kyoto’s [Governor] was enthusiastic about providing an environment like Singapore in which to support foreign students with finding employment after graduation, and nurturing talent through education.
With air of conviction, Kyoto’s [Governor] put his proposition to the panel:
“What I’d like to ask you to consider is whether overseas students who graduate from Kyoto [universities] and take part in the city’s job training program can be given permanent resident status. I’d like to work with everyone in producing an effective policy.”
It is reported that at the end of the discussion all the parties were keen to provide a fertile ground in which to foster a “University utopia” and backed the mayor’s proposal. Kyoto Prefecture is set to cooperate with the parties concerned and appeal to the government to put this measure in place during the year.
Hi Blog. Here are a couple of interesting cases that have fallen through the cracks recently, what with all the higher-level geopolitical flurry and consequent hate speech garnering so much attention. With not much to link them thematically except that these are complaints made into public disputes, let me combine them into one blog post and let them stand for themselves as bellwethers of the times.
First up, we have a criminal complaint filed with the police for classroom bullying resulting in serious injury due to his Pakistani ethnicity. This is one of a long line of cases of ethnic bullying in Japan, once again with insufficient intervention by authorities, and we’re lucky this time it hasn’t resulted yet in PTSD or a suicide. Like it has in these cases here with an ethnic Chinese schoolgirl, with an Indian student in 2007, or a Filipina-Japanese student in 2010 (in the last case NHK neglected to mention ethnicity as an issue). Of course, even here the Mainichi declines to give the name of the school involved. Whatever happened to perennial promises of a “major bullying study” at the ministerial level a couple of years ago to prevent things like this? Or of grassroots NGO actions way back when?
Pakistani student’s parents file complaint against classmates over bullying
TAKAMATSU — The parents of a 13-year-old Pakistani junior high school student here have filed a criminal complaint with police, accusing their son’s classmates of bullying and injuring him.
A male Pakistani student at a public junior high school in a town in Kagawa Prefecture was bullied and seriously injured by his classmates, his parents alleged in a complaint filed on Feb. 18 with prefectural police.
The parents requested on the same day that the town’s board of education investigate the case and take measures to prevent a recurrence as they claim the student has been racially abused by four of his classmates since last spring. However, the education board denies bullying took place at the school.
According to the parents who held a news conference, the student was verbally bullied about the color of his skin by four of his classmates ever since he entered school last April. The parents claim that the students would make racist comments that their son’s skin was “dirty” and that they told him to “go back to his home country.”
The student was also physically bullied repeatedly by his classmates. Last November, one of the four classmates tripped him over when he was running in the hallway, severely injuring his legs and face. Since that incident, the student reportedly has to use crutches to walk.
The student’s 41-year-old father said, “We asked the homeroom teacher and vice principle multiple times to improve the situation but they failed to take any action.”
Japanese defense minister Onodera Itsunori is the latest politician to enter the fray by calling former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio a ‘traitor’ on a television programme. Onodera’s remark came after Hatoyama commented to Chinese officials that the Senkaku Islands should be recognised as disputed territory, rather than Japanese territory, during his trip to China. Interestingly, Hatoyama caused further controversy this week when he apologised for the Nanjing massacre.
Translations courtesy of japanCRUSH:
Defense Minister Calls Hatoyama a ‘Traitor’ (kokuzoku)
Sankei Shinbun: On the evening of January 17, defense minister Onodera Itsunori gave a scathing criticism of Hatoyama Yukio, who met with Chinese officials in Beijing, for his acknowledgement of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture as being a disputed territory between Japan and China. Onodera stated, ‘This is a huge negative for Japan. At this, China will announce to the world that there is a dispute, and form international opinion. For the first time in a long while, the word ‘traitor’ came to mind’. Onodera spoke on a BS-Fuji news programme.
Defense Minister Onodera: Former Prime Minister Hatoyama is a ‘Traitor’
JIJI/YahooNews.jp: On the evening of January 17, defense minister Onodera Itsunori appeared on a BS-Fuji television programme, and said that ‘This is a huge negative for Japan. I shouldn’t really say this, but for a moment the word ‘traitor’ came to mind,’ strongly criticising former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio’s remark that ‘It is important to recognise that the Senkaku islands are a disputed territory’.
The defense minister showed his anxiety, saying ‘Although there is no dispute, and (Senkaku) is native Japanese territory, the Chinese will announce to the world that this is what a former Japanese prime minister thinks, and indeed world opinion will be formed as though there really is a dispute’.
So this is what it’s coming to. Dissent from prominent Japanese (who, in Hatoyama’s case, are no longer even political representatives) who act on their conscience, deviate from the saber-rattling party line, and show any efforts at reconciliation in this era of regional brinkmanship get decried as “traitors”.
Check out this photo essay link from the Sankei showing Hatoyama and missus provocatively bowing and praying at Nanjing (text of article follows):
More than 80 percent of respondents in a new poll said they are open to foreign nationals of Japanese descent living in the nation, the Cabinet Office reported.
The office’s first survey of its kind, released Thursday, found 80.9 percent of respondents expressed openness to living alongside those with Japanese ancestry, including Brazilian and Peruvian descendents of Japanese immigrants. Only 12.9 percent opposed the idea.
Of the 3,000 citizens canvassed in January for the poll, 59.7 percent were also in favor of the central government and municipalities assisting non-Japanese residents to a greater extent, for instance by providing Japanese-language classes for unemployed young people and recruiting interpreters at Hello Work job-placement offices.
“With more opportunities to interact with foreigners, (Japanese people) are eventually no longer rejecting” the idea of accepting non-Japanese nationals in society, a Cabinet Office official remarked.
As of the end of 2011, there were fewer than 300,000 foreigners of Japanese descent living in the country, of whom 210,000 were Brazilians and another 50,000 Peruvians, the Cabinet Office said.
Now just sit back in your chair and let that sink in for a moment. We have the highest level of government in Japan conducting a slanted survey (available in Japanese here) asking not about public acceptance of NJ, but rather a breed of NJ, specifically “Nikkei Teijuu Gaikokujin” (non-citizen residents of Japan who are of Japanese lineage). Why would that be the question asked? What policy is retroactively being sought to be justified? And why is this angle newsworthy?
Apropos of a few answers, here are some comments garnered from Debito.org and elsewhere:
============================== AS: “Blood = Japanese v.2?”
JDG: “It’s a brilliantly pointless piece of reporting, for the sake of massaging the egos of the Japanese readers, and assuring them that Japan is a ‘modern’ country… J-public are finally willing to accept foreigners… as long as they are ‘Japanese’ foreigners… I feel like I have gone back in time 5 years. The same politicians are back, the same old economic policies are back, and now Japan wants all those Nikkeijin they paid to go home, to come back too?”
Puddintain: “Imagine a similar poll in a country mostly populated with folks of white European descent that found that 80% percent of them were willing to live with immigrants of white European descent! Wouldn’t that be something amazing?”
============================== Moorehead: The survey asked respondents if they knew that there were Nikkei living in Japan, and how they knew this. Nearly 53 percent the respondents either knew that Nikkei were living in Japan, or had heard about it. 46 percent answered that they did not know that this group was living in Japan… [!!!]
On the one hand, I’m encouraged by the support for Nikkei in Japan. It’s certainly better than if they had said the opposite. But … I’m skeptical. South Americans in Japan, Nikkei and non-Nikkei alike, have told me very clearly that they do not feel included in Japanese society. Instead, borrowing some phrases from Eli Anderson’s The Cosmopolitan Canopy, they’re perpetually ‘on probation.’ In this provisional status, any misstep can be used against you as a sign of the fact that you’ll never fit in…
Hopefully government officials will use this survey to promote further initiatives to empower the Nikkei (and hopefully other non-Japanese) in Japan. Publicly conducting the survey, posting it on the Cabinet Office website, and releasing it to the press, may indicate that the government is testing public support for such initiatives.
Ultimately, I believe the GOJ will once again fall into the same old shortsightedness (like so many other societies) of wanting “workers” only to discover later they brought in “people”. And then, as before, society will seek to denigrate if not get rid of them as soon as they actually have needs (such as health care to provide, children to educate, lifestyles that reflect their backgrounds, retirement pensions to pay, political power to cede) that run counter to the original national plans… Arudou Debito
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Hi Blog. In a sad precedent, we have a clear case of death through overwork being officially recognized as such for a NJ doctor. It’s sadder that it has taken so long (more than two years) for that official recognition to come through. I’ve long realized that Japan has at times some pretty crazy work ethics (and a peer group atmosphere that encourages people to give their all, even until they die), but it seems even more crazy for NJ to leave their societies to come to a place that will work them to death. Especially as a NJ “trainee”, where they have even fewer labor-law rights than the locals who are in similar work circumstances. This situation has to be known about, since Japan’s immigration laws aren’t allowing a labor market where enough doctors (even imported ones) can satiate the perpetual labor shortage being referred to below. Only when GOJ authorities realize that the jig is up, because the international labor force is avoiding Japan as a harsh labor market to work within, will things change. Arudou Debito
A regional labor standards inspection office in Aomori Prefecture has recognized that a Chinese trainee doctor who was working at a municipal hospital died from overwork, a lawyer representing the victim has disclosed.
It is reportedly the country’s first case in which a foreign doctor working in Japan has been recognized by a labor standards office as having died from overwork.
The Hirosaki Labor Standards Inspection Office in Aomori Prefecture acknowledged that the 2010 death of Lu Yongfu, a Chinese trainee doctor at a municipal hospital in Hirosaki, was work-related, in a decision on Dec. 20. Lu died at the age of 28 after working up to 121 hours overtime a month.
Ayako Hiramoto, a lawyer representing the victim, revealed the labor office’s decision during a news conference on Dec. 25.
According to the office, Lu had worked between 84 and 121 hours overtime per month before he died of an acute circulatory disorder in November 2010. His average monthly overtime hours surpassed 80 hours — the criteria for certifying death from overwork, or “karoshi” in Japanese.
The trainee was on duty almost all weekends except for the summer break, and had two to four night shifts a month that left him working on day shifts the following day without enough sleep, according to the labor office.
Lu had arrived in Japan in 2002 and graduated from the school of medicine at Hirosaki University in Aomori Prefecture before starting his internship at the hospital in April 2010.
Hiramoto said there were at least six other cases in Japan in which trainee doctors had died from overwork in the past.
“Regional areas are suffering from a serious shortage of doctors, while the management of their work hours is sloppy. Drastic measures need to be taken,” she said.
================================= Original Japanese story
Hi Blog. We have an interesting case of a Japanese sports player quitting an overseas soccer team claiming “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu). Nakamura Yuuki, formerly of Slovak football club MSK Rimaska Sobota, has been reported in the Japanese press as returning to Japan last September, blogging about his treatment negatively. But look closely at this case and some odd thoughts come up. According to the press (English-language ones first, then Japanese, translated):
Japanese soccer striker Yuki Nakamura has quit his Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota saying his club and his teammates did nothing to support or protect him from the racial abuse targeted at him by supporters.
“It’s a real shame but I have come home because I have been subjected to racism at Rimavska Sobota and I can’t carry on living there,” Nakamura posted on his blog. The 25 year old, on loan from Czech side Viktoria Zizkov, said that fans would hurl racial slurs at him before and after games. When he told the club about it, they said there was nothing they could do about it. He decided he couldn’t continue living there and decided to just come home to Japan. He has previously played in Romania and the Czech Republic.
Other Japanese players have also experienced difficulties while playing overseas. Most recently in 2011, Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was taunted by opposing fans with chants of “Fukushima, Fukushima” in reference to the nuclear disaster from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Racism in football is still a persistent, serious problem and FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes it is one of the biggest scourges in the sport. He believes points should be deducted from teams in cases of racial abuse. Kevin Prince Boateng of AC Milan, who also plays for the national team of Ghana, walked out of a friendly match against Pro Patria after fans didn’t stop their “monkey” chants, even after being called out by the stadium announcer. United State’s Jozy Altidore is also another recent victim of racist chants, during a Dutch Cup game for his club AZ. The referee wanted to halt the fixture after fans continued hurling abuse at him, but Altidore asked for the game to continue.
Japanese striker Yuki Nakamura says he has left Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota because he was a target of racist abuse.
“It’s a real shame but I have come home because I have been subjected to racism at Rimavska Sobota and I can’t carry on living there,” the 25-year-old Nakamura wrote on his blog on Wednesday.
Nakamura, who has also played in Romania and the Czech Republic, says supporters would hurl abuse at him before and after games and that none of his teammates would offer help.
“This is not normal,” said Nakamura, who was on loan from Czech side Viktoria Zizkov. “Some type of threat was made to the club but they said there was nothing they could do about it, so I came home. I doubt there are many players that have experienced this.”
Several Japanese players have encountered difficulties while playing overseas. In 2011, former Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was taunted with chants of “Fukushima, Fukushima” by opposing fans in reference to the nuclear disaster following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently reiterated his belief in deducting points from teams in cases of racial abuse — which he believes is the one of the biggest scourges in soccer.
TOKYO: Japanese striker Yuki Nakamura says he returned home over intolerable racism at Slovak club Rimavska Sobota, adding that the side had received threats over his appearances.
The incident is the latest in a string of racially-linked incidents in European football, with Italian giants Lazio fined a total of 140,000 euros ($190,000) by UEFA on Wednesday after their Europa League clashes against Tottenham and Maribor were marred by racist chanting.
In an online blog entry dated Wednesday, Nakamura, 25, said he returned to Japan because of racism that had even involved some of his own teammates.
“Unfortunately, I have come home because I was subjected to racism at the club I belonged to, Rimavska Sobota, and could not live there any more,” the footballer wrote.
Calling out his name before and after matches, some club supporters raised their middle finger to Nakamura “with a look of furious anger”.
“No teammates helped me. There were even some players who joined in (the harassment),” he added.
“It wasn’t normal anymore, and the team even received some sort of threats. They cannot be responsible (for my safety), so I came home,” he said.
Nakamura played in Romania and the Czech Republic before joining Rimavska Sobota on loan in July last year.
Compare these with the Japanese-language reports below (my translation, then originals)
Japanese Soccer Forward quits club due to severe discrimination
Sankei Sports, January 31, 2013 (translation by Arudou Debito; corrections welcome)
Forward Nakamura Yuuki (25), of Slovak football club MSK Rimavska Sobota, wrote on his own blog on January 30 that “I received racially discriminatory treatment and could no longer live there, so I came back to Japan”, making clear that he had quit his team.
According to his blog, Nakamura had already returned to Japan by last September. The target of racial discrimination from soccer fans, he also made clear that teammates would side with them. “Before and after games, soccer fans would say my name with an angry demonic look in their eyes (oni no gyousou de), give me the finger… and none of my teammates would help me. It also seemed like some of the players would have a hand in it too,” Nakamura wrote in detail.
In addition, Nakamura reported that the club explained to him, “We cannot take responsibility if threats come to the team.”
Nakamura began playing for a Rumanian club after graduating from Kokushikan University. In 2012 he switched to the Viktoria Zizkov team in the Czech League, and in August he was on loan to MSK Rimavska Sobota.
Regarding incidents of racial discrimination towards Japanese players, in August 2011, Japan Team Goalie Kawashima Eiji, then a member of club Lierse in the Belgian League, was jeered at fans during a game where they said “Kawashima, Fukushima!” in reference to the nuclear accident. This led to Kawashima protesting to the head referee and interrupting the game.
The soccer world is thick with (habikoru) problems of racial discrimination, FIFA president Sepp Blatter (76) has is considering deducting winning points from any team which engages in racial discrimination.
Japanese soccer player in overseas league confesses that “racial discrimination” made him “unable to live there anymore”
RBB Today/Livedoor Sports, February 1, 2013 (translation by Arudou Debito; corrections welcome)
Forward Nakamura Yuuki (25), of second-tier Slovak football club MSK Rimavska Sobota, blogged that he had been subject to racially discriminatory treatment and could no longer carry on living there.
On January 30, in a blog entry entitled “The truth is…”, he wrote “This time I wanted to return to Japan sooner than usual. So by the end of September I was back,” reporting that he had already come home. “It’s a shame, but because I received racial discrimination at MSK I couldn’t live there anymore and so came home,” clarifying why he came home earlier than usual.
The treatment that Nakamura called “racial discrimination” was, as reported, “There were many things that made me think ‘Would such a thing happen in this day and age?’ Before and after games, soccer fans would say my name with an angry demonic look in their eyes (oni no gyousou de), give me the finger… and none of my teammates would help me. It also seemed like some of the players would have a hand in it too.” Nakamura also added that “things that looked like threats” also happened to the team. But since the team wouldn’t take responsibility (for Nakamura’s safety), it looks like he made the decision to leave.
On Nakamura’s blog in August before he repatriated, Nakamura reported about recent play and living conditions, “Honestly, I’m tired. I’m the only gaijin [sic] on this team and there are lots of communication problems;” “Well, it doesn’t matter where you go in this world, there’ll always be problems, right?’ Problems and adverse conditions. It’s times like those when you really have to think about how to think about them,” showing the difficulties he was having with playing for overseas teams. On his most recent blog entry, when he revealed how severe the bashing he was getting overseas, he said, “I think few other sportsperson have had this kind of experience,” concluding his blog entry with a positive feeling.
[Last paragraph of the article details his former Japanside career as a soccer player.]
As Submitter AS notes: Reading through the article and the blog quoted in the article, I can’t find anything that clearly shows racial discrimination. People giving him the finger? With no context, that could mean anything from racial discrimination to thinking he’s a useless player.
As Submitter HS notes: I find it very interesting how low the bar is for Japanese to scream “racism” overseas. Someone yells “Kawashima Fukushima” during a soccer game and Kawashima stops the game to protest?? And the Japanese media consider this taunt to be “racism”?? Surely the jeer is not appropriate but racism???
Try looking for an apartment – a place to live! – and being told “No!” simply because you are not Japanese. THAT’S racism. But why do I get the feeling that the Japanese media would make excuses, justify, and attempt to convince me that this is not racism but just a big misunderstanding on MY PART?
Where is FIFA or any other international sports league to decry racism when this sort of thing happens in Japan? Buried in cultural relativism. You can see that even more strongly in the comments to the Japan Today article cited above, which are overwhelmingly sympathetic to Nakamura. I don’t doubt that Nakamura had readjustment problems and decided not to stay because he wasn’t comfortable overseas. But imagine the reaction if a NJ player in the J-League were to quit, justifying it by saying “fans gave me an angry look” or “people gave me the finger”. He’d be told by commenters to grow a pair, and would have bloggers both in English and Japanese questioning not only the veracity of his claims (dollars to donuts they would dismiss his claim of “racial discrimination” as cultural misunderstandings or insensitivity) but also his mental stability.
That’s not happening in Nakamura’s case. Now why? Are we that programmed to holding Japan to a different standard? Arudou Debito
Debito here. Let me make a clarification to my post, since some people (off list) aren’t getting it:
Here’s what I am and am not saying:
I am NOT saying that Nakamura has no standing to have a complaint about the way he was felt he was treated.
I am NOT saying that Nakamura should have stayed on if he felt that way.
I am NOT saying that because racial discrimination (RD) also exists in Japan that Nakamura has no standing to claim RD in Europe.
I AM saying that the standards for what is called RD in Europe and in Japan seem to be different.
I AM saying that it is ironic that unequal treatment towards NJ sportspeople in Japan is not similarly decried as RD.
I AM saying that if international sports authorities are willing to acknowledge Nakamura’s treatment in European sports leagues as RD, those same international sports authorities (not to mention pundits and media commentators) should also have something similarly critical to say about the way NJ sportspeople are treated in Japan as well.
Thus, the irony I am pointing out is not that Nakamura claimed RD. The irony is that Japan’s unequal treatment of people by race/nationality/national origin is not held to the same standard as Europe’s unequal treatment of people by race/nationality/national origin.
For Nakamura, the threshold (based upon the standards of proof that he offered) was much lower than what people claim (and find their claims discounted for “cultural reasons”). Again, if any NJ quit his Japanese team due to getting the “stink eye” and “the finger” from the stands, nobody would take him or her at all seriously. It’s sweet that people (both European and Japanese) did in Nakamura’s case. But let’s universalize the thresholds and standards, shall we?
Hi Blog. As part of a continuing series of how the Post-Fukushima Debacles have laid bare just how irredeemably broken Japan’s system is (see related articles here (item #2), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), the NYT has just reported the latest on the Fukushima radiation cleanup effort. Within, we can witness a wonderful fusion of corruption, xenophobia, and unaccountable bureaucratic culture that have been symptomatic of why Japan as a society cannot not fix itself (see items #1-3). And this time, it’s a wonderful capsule summary of why foreign technology and assistance will lose out to featherbedded domestic interests (the Kensetsu Zoku, who are making a right mess of things). And how there’s no hope of it getting better since the corrupt corporatists who facilitated this system in the first place (LDP under Abe and co.) are back in power as of December with a fresh mandate. A choice excerpt from the NYT, very, very germane to the purview of Debito.org, follows:
NYT: Japanese officials said adapting overseas technologies presented a particular challenge.
“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”
(UPDATE: Original Japanese question and answer, courtesy of Hiroko Tabuchi (thanks!):
(Here’s a picture of Nishiyama Hidehiko to burn into your memory cells, courtesy of Reuters:)
This is an incredibly racist insult to all the NJ who were both there and who went up there to help the victims of the disasters at great time, expense, and risk to their health — without scaring people. I have two articles below the NYT from the WSJ which outline what a horrible little fellow this Nishiyama is, and how he keeps bouncing right back into power despite scandal within Japan’s unaccountable bureaucracy.
After that, I have some links to previous comments on this article. I originally put this up yesterday as an addendum to a previous blog entry, but the comments there (see most of them in context here) are worth archiving here because they express the appropriate amount of outrage. About a system that is, in the end, betraying everyone. Kudos to NYT reporter Hiroko Tabuchi for uncovering this. Arudou Debito
NARAHA, Japan — The decontamination crews at a deserted elementary school here are at the forefront of what Japan says is the most ambitious radiological cleanup the world has seen, one that promised to draw on cutting-edge technology from across the globe.
But much of the work at the Naraha-Minami Elementary School, about 12 miles away from the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, tells another story. For eight hours a day, construction workers blast buildings with water, cut grass and shovel dirt and foliage into big black plastic bags — which, with nowhere to go, dot Naraha’s landscape like funeral mounds.
More than a year and a half since the nuclear crisis, much of Japan’s post-Fukushima cleanup remains primitive, slapdash and bereft of the cleanup methods lauded by government scientists as effective in removing harmful radioactive cesium from the environment.
Local businesses that responded to a government call to research and develop decontamination methods have found themselves largely left out. American and other foreign companies with proven expertise in environmental remediation, invited to Japan in June to show off their technologies, have similarly found little scope to participate.
Recent reports in the local media of cleanup crews dumping contaminated soil and leaves into rivers has focused attention on the sloppiness of the cleanup.
“What’s happening on the ground is a disgrace,” said Masafumi Shiga, president of Shiga Toso, a refurbishing company based in Iwaki, Fukushima. The company developed a more effective and safer way to remove cesium from concrete without using water, which could repollute the environment. “We’ve been ready to help for ages, but they say they’ve got their own way of cleaning up,” he said.
Shiga Toso’s technology was tested and identified by government scientists as “fit to deploy immediately,” but it has been used only at two small locations, including a concrete drain at the Naraha-Minami school.
Instead, both the central and local governments have handed over much of the 1 trillion yen decontamination effort to Japan’s largest construction companies. The politically connected companies have little radiological cleanup expertise and critics say they have cut corners to employ primitive — even potentially hazardous — techniques.
The construction companies have the great advantage of available manpower. Here in Naraha, about 1,500 cleanup workers are deployed every day to power-spray buildings, scrape soil off fields, and remove fallen leaves and undergrowth from forests and mountains, according to an official at the Maeda Corporation, which is in charge of the cleanup.
That number, the official said, will soon rise to 2,000, a large deployment rarely seen on even large-sale projects like dams and bridges.
The construction companies suggest new technologies may work, but are not necessarily cost-effective.
“In such a big undertaking, cost-effectiveness becomes very important,” said Takeshi Nishikawa, an executive based in Fukushima for the Kashima Corporation, Japan’s largest construction company. The company is in charge of the cleanup in the city of Tamura, a part of which lies within the 12-mile exclusion zone. “We bring skills and expertise to the project,” Mr. Nishikawa said.
Kashima also built the reactor buildings for all six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, leading some critics to question why control of the cleanup effort has been left to companies with deep ties to the nuclear industry.
Also worrying, industry experts say, are cleanup methods used by the construction companies that create loose contamination that can become airborne or enter the water.
At many sites, contaminated runoff from cleanup projects is not fully recovered and is being released into the environment, multiple people involved in the decontamination work said.
In addition, there are no concrete plans about storing the vast amounts of contaminated soil and foliage the cleanup is generating, which the environment ministry estimates will amount to at least 29 million cubic meters, or more than a billion cubic feet.
The contaminated dirt lies in bags on roadsides, in abandoned fields and on the coastline, where experts say they are at risk from high waves or another tsunami.
“This isn’t decontamination — it’s sweeping up dirt and leaves and absolutely irresponsible,” said Tomoya Yamauchi, an expert in radiation measurement at Kobe University who has been helping Fukushima communities test the effectiveness of various decontamination methods. “Japan has started up its big public works machine, and the cleanup has become an end in itself. It’s a way for the government to appear to be doing something for Fukushima.”
In some of the more heavily contaminated parts of Fukushima, which covers about 100 square miles, the central government aims to reduce radiation exposure levels to below 20 millisieverts a year by 2014, a level the government says is safe for the general public. But experts doubt whether this is achievable, especially with current cleanup methods.
After some recent bad press, the central government has promised to step up checks of the decontamination work. “We will not betray the trust of the local communities,” Shinji Inoue, the environment vice minister, said Monday.
There had been high hopes about the government’s disaster reconstruction plan. It was announced four months after the March 2011 disaster, which declared Japan would draw on the most advanced decontamination know-how possible.
But confusion over who would conduct and pay for the cleanup slowed the government response. It took nine months for the central government to decide that it would take charge of decontamination work in 11 of the heaviest-contaminated towns and cities in Fukushima, leaving the rest for local governments to handle.
In October, the state-backed research organization, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, announced that it was soliciting new decontamination technology from across the country.
By early November, the agency had identified 25 technologies that its own tests showed removed harmful cesium from the environment.
A new system to trap, filter and recycle contaminated runoff, developed by the local machinery maker Fukushima Komatsu Forklift, was one of technologies. But since then, the company has not been called on to participate in the state-led cleanup.
“For the big general contractors, it’s all about the bottom line,” said Masao Sakai, an executive at the company. “New technology is available to prevent harmful runoff, but they stick to the same old methods.”
The Japanese government also made an initial effort to contact foreign companies for decontamination support. It invited 32 companies from the United States that specialize in remediation technologies like strip-painting and waste minimization, to show off their expertise to Japanese government officials, experts and companies involved in the cleanup.
Opinions on the trip’s effectiveness vary among participants, but in the six months since, not a single foreign company has been employed in Japan’s cleanup, according to the trip’s participants and Japan’s Environment Ministry.
“Japan has a rich history in nuclear energy, but as you know, the U.S. has a much more diverse experience in dealing with the cleanup of very complicated nuclear processing facilities. We’ve been cleaning it up since World War II,” said Casey Bunker, a director at RJ Lee, a scientific consulting company based in Pennsylvania that took part in the visit.
“There was a little of, ‘Hey, bring your tools over and show us how it works.’ But they ultimately wanted to do it themselves, to fix things themselves,” Mr. Bunker said. “There didn’t seem to be a lot of interest in a consultative relationship moving forward.”
Japanese officials said adapting overseas technologies presented a particular challenge.
“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”
Some local residents are losing faith in the decontamination effort.
“I thought Japan was a technologically advanced country. I thought we’d be able to clean up better than this,” said Yoshiko Suganami, a legal worker who was forced to abandon her home and office over two miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. “It’s clear the decontamination drive isn’t really about us any more.”
Most of the clients at Ms. Suganami’s new practice in Fukushima city are also nuclear refugees who have lost their jobs and homes and are trying to avert bankruptcy. She said few expect to ever return.
In Japan Rarity, Nuclear Spokesman Replaced After Affair Allegations
By Yuka Hayashi
Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2011, courtesy of JE
Over the past few months, the world has been rocked by revelations of powerful men caught in sex scandals: Arnold and Anthony Weiner, to name a few. Now Japan has its own version, which this week claimed the scalp of Hidehiko Nishiyama, Tokyo’s former chief nuclear spokesman.
Hidehiko Nishiyama was demoted from his role as the government’s chief nuclear spokesman on June 29 after rumors about an alleged affair with a young female employee unfurled.
Unlike the U.S., where online flirting costs politicians their jobs, the public in Japan is generally forgiving of powerful men involved in sex scandals. But not this time.
Mr. Nishiyama, a successful career bureaucrat at the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, was abruptly pushed out of his role Wednesday, less than a week after a news magazine reported an alleged affair between him and a younger female staffer at the ministry. While Mr. Nishiyama, 54, denied having a sexual relationship with the woman through a ministry spokesman, the colorful details reported in the article became a source of incessant gossip among the city’s elites.
Extra-marital affairs of politicians and business leaders are often viewed in Japan as they are in France – personal matters that should be left alone as long as they don’t interfere with their work — or dramatically offend people’s sensitivities. Some even consider such scandals as something the men should be proud of, as a sign of their power and personal charm.
Take Prime Minister Naoto Kan. In 1998, a news magazine reported his affair with a newscaster. He was called “You idiot!” by his wife, as he himself admitted, but suffered no lasting damage to his career. Paparazzi captured Goshi Hosono, a rising star of Mr. Kan’s ruling party, in a moment of passion with a TV reporter in 2006, but the 39-year-old married politician quickly put his career back on track; he just got appointed as Japan’s new nuclear minister on Monday.
Until recently, Mr. Nishiyama, who is married with two children, was known as a rising star within the ministry, but that hardly made him a public figure. That changed a few days after the March 11 disaster, when he was tapped to moderate the ministry’s daily briefings on the accident. With his articulate answers and knowledge of the power industry gained through his previous assignments, he became a familiar face on national television.
Mr. Nishiyama will now return to his pre-March 11 job in the ministry’s trade bureau, where his primary responsibility is to move Japan toward participating in a controversial regional trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“I apologize if (the report) gave the impression or invited concerns that I was not fully committed to my job” Mr. Nishiyama said last week. Yukio Edano, chief government spokesman, said Wednesday Mr. Nishiyama was relieved of his responsibility due to “concerns that (the scandal) would interfere with his duties.”
As the minister also overseeing the cleanup of the nuclear crisis, Mr. Hosono said the insensitive behavior exhibited by his staff ultimately falls on his shoulders. (He will continue to collect his Y1.3 million monthly income as a member of parliament).
Penalties were also imposed on the environment vice ministers, who will face a 20% pay cut for two months. Others involved have been transferred to other positions and given stern warnings.
The penalties come the day after Mr. Hosono revealed that an environment ministry employee threw soil with trace amounts of radiation away in a vacant lot near his home last week. The soil was sent to the ministry from a Fukushima resident, who had asked the ministry to get rid of the soil. Tests of the soil detected radiation of about 0.18 microsieverts per hour – a low level deemed safe.
Looking ever more haggard since becoming the central government’s captain in charge of the Fukushima Daiichi accident soon after March 11, Mr. Hosono said at a press conference Friday: “What is behind this is the feeling among Fukushima residents that the government has not been implementing its responsibility for handling contaminated soil and should be doing more. I do not think I will be able to gain understanding of people in Fukushima with something like this,” according to state broadcaster NHK.
Separately, the environment ministry has taken in a familiar face to help oversee the soil decontamination effort. Hidehiko Nishiyama, a former government nuclear spokesman disgraced by a sex scandal, has been named deputy chief of a special team for decontamination of Fukushima, set up within the ministry of environment, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday.
Mr. Nishiyama still remains an employee of the METI but will now be on lease to the environment ministry. The 54-year-old elite bureaucrat joined the ministry in 1980 after graduating from Tokyo University. Mr. Nishiyama wasn’t available for comment.
AB: Like the classic “gaijin skis won’t work on Japanese snow” absurdity van Wolferen (?) wrote about 20 years ago. Unbelievable this crappola is still going on. Only gonna get worse with LDP back in the saddle. To paraphrase de Tocqueville “a people gets the government it deserves”
CD: i wonder the extent to which this statement is a convenient misdirection. it’s much easier to spew out some xenophobic nonsense than to publicly admit that fukushima has been written off. i mean, the place was written off the moment they built the plants. but what japanese politician or bureaucrat is going to admit to that? much easier to say grandma and grandpa might get scared by gaijin.
AB: No one — at least no one IN JAPAN — is EVER going to admit this (even though it’s true). It’s like the same-old same-old — everyone afraid of being tarred with the “Hikokumin brush” and being called “defeatist” or a “dream-destroyer” (yume wo kowasu hito).
Same dynamic that kept everyone with half a brain enough to see what was going on otherwise silent as Imperial Japan lurched toward — then plunged into — a suicidal war in 1941.
EF: This is private life, [Nishiyama] does with his tin-tin whenever he wants. What concerns us is his racist profile and he attacking foreigners this way again after all foreigners have done for the victims in Fukushima because, at the time of the hard cleaning up, many foreigners were there removing the corpses along with the Japanese and no one seemed scared by our presence.
GH: [Nishiyama’s] comments are already noted on his Wikipedia page under 日本人論的・差別的発言.
IJ: Pathological racism. Just like how they couldn’t use the U.S. military’s rescue helicopters in Kobe. The Japanese air is different so the pilots might not have been able to fly in Japanese airspace… and the U.S. and French doctors might have scared the earthquake victims to death. But it was really the swiss search dogs that would have been the biggest problem. Japanese dog food is so different. LOL … What a frigging mess Japan is in. Gladder and gladder I voted with my feet years ago.
KL: So the local victims have to suffer because of the racism of the authorities?! But I guess the little people don’t matter…
MN: I know the real reason foreign companies were not invited to take part. I have a relative who works for a major general contractor (maybe even one mentioned in the article). He tells me that ALL (not some, ALL) of their business is carried out in cash for the single purpose of ensuring bribes go smoothly. Foreign companies are not above this. They just don’t know how to play the game.
JDG: Yet another microcosm for all that is wrong with Japan. If the J-public (especially the victims of the disaster) are going to persist in taking it lying down (and unlubricated!), then I can’t see much hope for the future.
GP: Instead, there are now armies of cheap laborers washing down buildings with water and scraping topsoil off schoolyards and dumping it in local rivers – simply spreading the contamination even further while they toil to line the coffers of companies with the juicy cleanup contracts – companies that just conveniently are linked to the nuclear industry. And this is a first world country?
The final comment from the environment ministry really said it all though. This almost reads like a sarcastic joke referencing the “Japan has different snow” tactics of yester-year, with a fine dash of xenophobia thrown in for good measure. Can’t have any nasty furriners scaring the oldies!! (Let’s conveniently ignore the fact that hundreds of foreigners if not thousands have already given their time, money and labor to cleanup and rebuild in Tohoku, and by all accounts their assistance was warmly welcomed).
JDG: ATTENTION APOLOGISTS!
Since you obsessively check this site, please read Debito’s post #23 and explain to me;
How this is simply one small isolated case of government and business collusion in corruption, and does by no means indicate that ‘Japan Inc.’ is broken?
How does this prove that the Fukushima situation is fully safe and under control, and being managed in a transparent fashion?
How does the following statement;’“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”’, prove that rather than racism being endemic in the heart of the Japanese state, I am simply an over sensitive moaner who can’t understand Japan’s unique culture?
How does this article prove that all Japan reporting is shoddy in nature, and biased unfairly against Japan?
How does this statement by a displaced Fukushima resident; ‘“It’s clear the decontamination drive isn’t really about us any more.”’ clearly reek of unfair and scientifically unsound anti-nuclear lobby alarmism?
By all means, please take this opportunity to show us all where we have being getting it so wrong for all these years in our criticism of Japan.
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Hi Blog. Archiving something important today: The text of the first law explicitly against (inter alia) racial discrimination in Japan that was passed (and then subsequently UNpassed by a panicky public). Although I have already written about this subject before, let me give you the story in more detail, then finish with the text of the jōrei so it does not disappear from the historical record.
On October 12, 2005, after nearly a year of deliberations and amendments, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly approved a human rights ordinance (tottori-ken jinken shingai kyūsai suishin oyobi tetsuzuki ni kansuru jōrei) that would not only financially penalize eight types of human rights violations (including physical abuse, sexual harassment, slander, and discrimination by “race” – including “blood race, ethnicity, creed, gender, social standing, family status, disability, illness, and sexual orientation”), but also set up an investigative panel for deliberations and provide for public exposure of offenders. Going farther than the already-existing Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yōgobu, which has no policing or punitive powers), it could launch investigations, require hearings and written explanations, issue private warnings (making them public if they went ignored), demand compensation for victims, remand cases to the courts, and even recommend cases to prosecutors if they thought there was a crime involved. It also had punitive powers, including fines up to 50,000 yen. Sponsored by Tottori Governor Katayama Yoshihiro, it was to be a trial measure — taking effect on June 1, 2006 and expiring on March 31, 2010. It was a carefully-planned ordinance, created by a committee of 26 people over the course of two years, with input from a lawyer, several academics and human rights activists, and three non-citizen residents. It passed the Tottori Prefectural Assembly by a wide margin: 35-3.
However, the counterattack was immediate. The major local newspaper in the neighboring prefecture, the Chūgoku Shimbun (Hiroshima), claimed in its October 14 editorial entitled, “We must monitor this ordinance in practice,” that the ordinance would “in fact shackle (sokubaku) human rights.” Accusations flew that assemblypersons had not read the bill properly, or had supported abstract ideals without thinking them through. Others said the governor had not explained to the people properly what he was binding them to. Internet petitions blossomed to kill the bill. Some sample complaints (with my counterarguments in parenthesis, for brevity): a) The ordinance had only been deliberated upon in the Assembly for a week (though it was first brought up in 2003 and discussed in committees throughout 2005); b) The ordinance’s definitions of human rights violations were too vague, and could hinder the media in, for example, investigating politicians for corruption (even though the ordinance’s Clause 31 clearly states that freedom of the press must be respected); c) Since the investigative committee was not an independent body, reporting only to the Governor, this could encourage arbitrary decisions and cover-ups (similar to the Bureau of Human Rights, which reports only to the secretive Ministry of Justice); d) This invests judicial and policing powers in an administrative organ, a violation of the separation of powers (which means that no oversight committee in Japan is allowed to have enforcement power — but this calls into question the many other ordinances in Japan, such as those governing garbage disposal, mandating fines and incarceration).
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren) sounded the ordinance’s death knell in its official statement of November 2, 2005: Too much power had been given the governor, constricting the people and media under arbitrary guidelines, under a committee chief who could investigate by diktat, overseeing a bureaucracy that could refuse to be investigated. This called into question the policymaking discretion of the committees that had originally drafted it, and the common sense of the 35 Assemblymembers who overwhelmingly passed it. The government issued an official Q&A to allay public concern, and the Governor said problems would be dealt with as they arose, but the original supporters of the ordinance, feeling the media-sponsored and internet-fomented pressure, did not stand up to defend it. In December and January 2006, the prefecture convoked informal discussion groups containing the Vice-Governor, two court counselors, four academics, and five lawyers (but no human rights activists), where arguments to rescind the bill included how appointed untrained public administrators ostensibly cannot act as judges. On March 24, 2006, less than six months after passing the ordiance, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly voted unanimously to suspend it indefinitely. “We should have brought up cases to illustrate specific human rights violations. The public did not seem to understand what we were trying to prevent,” said Mr. Ishiba, a representative of the Tottori Governor’s office. “They should have held town meetings to raise awareness about what discrimination is, and created separate ordinances for each type of discrimination,” said Assemblywoman Ozaki Kaoru, who voted against the bill both times. Governor Katayama resigned his governorship in April 2007, saying that ten years in office was enough. The ordinance was later resubmitted to committees in 2007, where it was voted down for the last time. As of this writing, the text of the ordinance, Japan’s first legislation explicitly penalizing racial discrimination, has been removed entirely from the Tottori Prefectural website.
The fact that this former law has been removed entirely from the legislative record is a crime against history, and an unbefitting end to a template of human-rights legislation so needed in Japan. So let me, for the purposes of keeping a record of the casualty of this catastrophic event, blog the entire text of the Ordinance on Debito.org to keep it web searchable:
Reading through the articles (enclosed below), I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, it’s good to have the media acknowledging that there are Japanese kids of diverse roots and experiences out there, with some tone of saying how silly it all is that so many people get treated in stereotypical ways (with a “roundtable of halfs” at the end giving their own views on the situation). On the other hand, the level of discourse gets pretty low (“some foreigner talked to me in Narita Airport in English and it was so frightening I felt like crying”), and an opportunity to actually address a serious issue of how Japan has changed is wasted on parts laughing, parts crybabying, parts confirmation that treating people as “different” because they look “different” is a natural, if not inevitable, part of life in Japan. I’ll let Debito.org Readers read for themselves and decide whether this important topic is being broached properly.
Definitely not cool, however, is the topic page with the prototypical illustration of a “half”:
We have not only some phenotypical “othering” going on here, but also the trope of “being foreign means you can’t use chopsticks”. One would think that most multiethnic Japanese (not to mention anyone regardless of nationality — it’s a skill) would have few problems with that. But it’s supposed to be funny, in a “microaggressive” sort of way. Har har. Arudou Debito
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Hi Blog. Here’s something quite indicative about the conservatives in Japan. As I will be alluding to in my next Japan Times column (due out October 2), there is an emphasis on making sure “hopes and dreams” are part of Japan’s future. Fine, but for Japan’s conservatives, fostering “hopes and dreams” means obliterating things like the shameful bits of Japan’s past (which every country, doing an honest accounting of history, has).
For Osaka Mayor Hashimoto (who just launched his ominously-named “Japan Restoration Party”), that means killing off Japan’s only human-rights museum (which, when I visited, had a corner devoted to the Otaru Onsens Case). Because talking about how minorities in Japan combat discrimination against them is just too disruptive of Japan’s “dreamy” national narrative. Read on. Arudou Debito
Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a ‘New Japan’
By Tessa Morris-Suzuki (Recommended citation: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, “Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a ‘New Japan,’” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 36, No. 1, September 3, 2012.)
Hopes and Dreams They exist all over Japan, like tiny sparks of light, flickering and fragile, but somehow surviving against the odds: the peace museums, the reconciliation groups, the local history movements that work to address problems of historical responsibility neglected or denied by national politicians. As Kazuyo Yamane notes, according to a UN survey, Japan has the highest number of peace museums of any country in the world (Yamane 2009, xii). But the heritage created at the grassroots by ordinary Japanese people is constantly under threat from the hostility of nationalist politicians and sections of the media: and never more so than today (see Chan 2008; Morris-Suzuki, Low, Petrov and Tsu 2012).
Among the sparks of light is Osaka’s Human Rights Museum, also known as Liberty Osaka.
Founded in 1985, Liberty Osaka is Japan’s only human rights museum. It features displays on the history of hisabetsu buraku communities (groups subject to social discrimination), the struggle for women’s rights, and the stories of minority groups such as the indigenous Ainu community and the Korean minority in Japan. An important aspect of the museum is its depiction of these groups, not as helpless victims of discrimination, but rather as active subjects who have fought against discrimination, overcome adversity and helped to create a fairer and better Japanese society. By 2005 more than a million people had visited the Liberty Osaka. (See the museum’s website (Japanese) and (English).)
Today, the museum faces the threat of closure. The Osaka city government has until now provided a crucial part of themuseum’s funding, but the current city government, headed by mayor Hashimoto Tōru, has decided to halt this funding from next year, on the grounds that the museum displays are ‘limited to discrimination and human rights’ and fail to present children with an image of the future full of ‘hopes and dreams’ (Mainichi Shinbun 25 July 2012)
Yomiuri: Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro (79) said at his regular press conference on August 3, regarding the difficulties the Japanese judo team is having at the London Olympics, “Watching Westerners do judo is like watching beasts fight. An internationalized judo has lost its exquisite charm.” He added, “In Brazil, it’s said that they eat chocolate in their norimaki, but I wouldn’t call that ‘sushi’. It’s a shame that judo has also gone the same way.”
That said, the new system also includes new Gaijin Cards (Zairyuu Kaado), which are higher-tech versions (I say remotely trackable due to the RFID technology inside, by design; see below) and still required under criminal law to be carried 24-7 under penalty of search, seizure, and possible incarceration for a week or three. That hasn’t changed. In fact I would now argue it’s gotten worse — since Japanese citizens (even if computer chip technology has also been introduced into J driver licenses and passports, which not all Japanese get anyway) are not required by law to carry any ID whatsoever at all times. Some historical links regarding the true intention of the ZRK (tracking and control of untrustworthy NJ, not convenience for them as is generally sold) follow.
A new management system for foreign residents in Japan started Monday. As part of the changes, the previous alien registration system will be abolished and a new resident card will be issued to foreign residents in Japan.
The new system is designed to reduce the number of foreign residents staying in Japan illegally and to be more convenient for bona fide foreign residents.
In the previous alien registration system that began in 1952, local municipalities issued alien registration certificates to foreign residents without examining their resident status. This enabled foreigners staying in Japan illegally to obtain the certificates.
Under the new system, the Justice Ministry will issue a resident card to foreign residents, excluding certain people such as diplomats, who have been granted a status of residence in Japan with a period of stay for more than three months. The card will hold information that includes the name, nationality, date of birth and address of the cardholder.
For special permanent residents such as Korean residents in Japan, a special permanent resident certificate will be issued instead of a resident card.
The period of stay limit for foreign residents has been extended from three years to five years. Under the new system, people leaving Japan will not be required in principle to obtain a re-entry permit if they hold a passport and a resident card and return to Japan within a year and before their period of stay expires.
Foreigners with a resident card or a special permanent resident certificate are included in the national resident registry and they will be able to obtain a copy of their certificate of residence from their local municipality.
On the other hand, those who stay in Japan illegally will not be included in the registry. This could prevent them from obtaining administrative services including education services and medical assistance because local municipalities will not be able to obtain necessary information, such as their address.
The Japan Times Tuesday, July 10, 2012 Re-entry permits soon consigned to history Foreigners flock for new residence IDs By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer
A large number of foreign residents flocked to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on Monday, the first day it is issuing new “zairyu,” or residence, cards to replace alien registration cards.
At 8:30 a.m., more than 100 people had lined up for the applications to obtain a new card, an official at the center in Minato Ward said.
Those who arrived at around 8 a.m. had to wait about two hours. People who didn’t bring a head shot measuring 4 cm by 3 cm also had to line up at the photo booths.
Eight regional bureaus, six district immigration offices and 63 branch offices across the nation are now issuing the residence card. Applicants can go to a bureau or office, fill out the application form and receive the card the same day.
“I feel like a part of society,” Yang Chunying, 52, a Chinese national, said after receiving her residence card at the Tokyo bureau. “I am glad to have the card because things will be more convenient.”
The new immigration control system that began Monday has unified the administrative work on foreign residents under the Immigration Bureau.
While some fear that controls on non-Japanese will be tightened, the government has made it more convenient for law-abiding foreigners by extending visa lengths to five years from the current three, and eliminating the requirement to obtain a re-entry permit before leaving Japan for any period less than a year.
The system is designed to be tougher on illegal residents, however.
Such people have been receiving various public services because municipalities usually don’t care about who is here legally or illegally, but this may not last under the Immigration Bureau’s watch.
Some 130 people, mainly Asians, held a demonstration Monday against the new immigration control system at Hibiya Park in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, saying it is overly harsh on illegal residents.
Two people on a flight from the United States became the first to get Japan’s new foreign resident cards early on the morning of July 9, the first day of the Ministry of Justice’s new mid- to long-term residency management system for foreign nationals.
Late on July 8, staff from the Immigration Bureau — administered by the justice ministry — stood by at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) in preparation for the switch to the new system. When the clock struck midnight, they changed the signs above the immigration counters, and those indicating card-issuance counters for mid- to long-term residents.
Two passengers from a flight from Los Angeles, California, were the first to apply for the new resident cards at around 4:30 a.m. on July 9. The first recipient was Carlos Shaw, a 37-year-old Tennessee native who was coming to Japan for the first time. Shaw, who is here to teach English at an elementary and junior high school in Yamagata, said he felt lucky to be the first recipient of the new card.
Because the alien registration certificates that had heretofore been issued are being replaced by the new resident cards, mid- to long-term residents already in Japan must exchange their old cards for new ones when they renew their visas. Foreign nationals residing in Japan illegally are not eligible for resident cards under the new system.
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Hi Blog. Making headlines this past week has been the Govinda Mainali Murder Case, a cause celebre I’ve known about for years (thanks to a very active domestic support group with regular mailings in Japanese). It’s come to a head, where DNA evidence has finally cast enough doubt on the evidence behind the conviction (see Yomiuri article immediately below), and it’s come to light (see Japan Times editorial below) that the prosecution withheld (or didn’t bother to have tested) vital evidence from the court (yes, they can do that in Japan) that would have exonerated him. It also put him in double jeopardy, meaning trying him more than once for the same crime (technically illegal, but yes, they can do that in Japan), reversing a not-guilty decision in lower court. As if that wasn’t enough, note the date of the Yomiuri article below stating the negative DNA test (July 2011) — meaning it only took Japan’s criminal justice system about a year for him to finally get his retrial, on top of the 15 years he’s been incarcerated. And after all that, now that it looks like Govinda is going to have his name cleared, Immigration is just going to deport him. The police in Japan are sore losers. (At least Sugaya Toshikazu, in a very similar situation to Govinda, got an apology in 2009 from public prosecutors, not deportation.)
Now, check out the details in Terrie’s Take below, where the plot really thickens because the murder victim, a prostitute in her off-hours, was an employee with TEPCO (yes, that TEPCO) with names of some high-level clients in her address books…
As Terrie Lloyd notes below (as have I in the Japan Times), the already prosecutor-heavy criminal justice system in Japan is even more so if the suspect is a NJ. More and more it looks like Govinda Mainali was actually a patsy for the powerful because he was a convenient foreigner for the Japanese police to pin this on. I’ve already discussed in detail before how Japan’s criminal investigation system is fully stacked against NJ victims (start here with the Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases, then progress to the Suraj Case, where the police have still gotten away with murder). The Govinda Case is yet another case study for everyone to remember for when the NJ are potential perps. Can’t win either way once the Japanese police get their hands on you. Arudou Debito
The Tokyo High Court said Thursday it will retry Govinda Prasad Mainali, 45, a Nepalese man serving life in prison for the 1997 robbery-murder of a 39-year-old woman, because a DNA test in July contradicted the justification for its guilty verdict.
The high court also said Thursday Mainali’s sentence will be halted. He was later released from a Yokohama prison. He is expected to soon be placed in immigration custody for deportation, as he has been convicted of visa violations.
“We would like to express respect to the high court’s prompt and appropriate decision even though there was no room for doing otherwise,” Mainali’s attorneys said in a prepared statement.
“Prosecutors should comply with the decision, for doing so is in compliance with prosecutors’ philosophy: ‘Prosecutors must not regard guilty verdicts as their purpose and heavy punishments as their achievement.’ “
The Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office immediately filed an objection to the court’s decision, with deputy chief Toshihiko Itami saying the decision was “totally unacceptable.”
One of his lawyers quoted Mainali as saying, “I am glad I found a judge who believes my innocence and truth.”
His wife, Radha, 42, expressed her gratitude at a news conference in Tokyo. His daughter, Alisha, 19, said the past 15 years were “very long and dark.” They came to Japan with another of Govinda’s daughters, Mithila, 21.
The victim, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. employee whose name was withheld and who engaged in prostitution at night, was found dead March 19, 1997, in a vacant apartment in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. Mainali, who lived nearby, was arrested four days later on suspicion of overstaying his visa. He was later charged with murdering and robbing the woman, after police learned that Mainali was an acquaintance of hers, had a key to the flat and because a used condom found in the toilet at the scene contained semen that matched his DNA.
The district court acquitted Mainali in April 2000 because prosecutors failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A urologist also testified that the semen in the condom greatly predated the day of the slaying. The court added there were several unclear points, including two strands of hair found on the victim that came from a third party.
However, when prosecutors appealed his acquittal, the Tokyo High Court found Mainali guilty in December 2000 and sentenced him to life behind bars even though no new evidence was presented. The high court said “it is difficult to think someone other than” Mainali brought her to the vacant apartment where she was slain and called his testimony unreliable.
The Supreme Court finalized the sentence three years later.
Mainali’s coming retrial is based on DNA tests carried out on semen found in and on the victim. It was that of another man and matched the hair fibers.
Prosecutors often appeal lower court-meted acquittals because they imply the case will be brought before a high or the Supreme Court, and thus do not violate the law against double jeopardy.
Japan, like many nations, bans double jeopardy, but the judicial system considers district court, high court and Supreme Court trials of the same party for the same alleged offense to be separate trials, unlike in other countries where the verdict in the trial of first instance stands.
The Tokyo High Court on June 7 decided to retry a Nepalese man serving a life sentence for the 1997 robbery-murder of a 39-year-old woman in Tokyo on the strength of new evidence and he was released at the court’s order. But the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office immediately filed an objection. The prosecutors office should refrain from any further moves to delay the start of the retrial because the high court decision is based on DNA evidence that suggests that the perpetrator was not Mainali.
A female employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co. was found dead in a vacant apartment in Maruyama-cho, Shibuya Ward, on March 19, 1997. Govinda Prasad Mainali, now 44, living nearby, was arrested four days later based on the fact that he had a key to the apartment and that semen left in a condom found in the apartment’ toilet matched his DNA. Mainali has consistently denied the charges.
The Tokyo District Court in April 2000 found him innocent. It said that it was not clear whether the condom was used at the time the crime was committed and that two strands of hair found on the victim came from a third party. But the Tokyo High Court in December the same year found him guilty primarily on the grounds that a notebook owned by the woman, who meticulously kept records on men she had sexual intercourse with, contained no reference to the condom in question.
Semen was also found inside the woman’s body. Its blood type matched that of another man, but the prosecution did not carry out a DNA test on the grounds that the amount was so small, and given the technological limits at the time, a DNA test was impossible.
In hearings to request a retrial for Mainali, his defense counsel called for a DNA test on the semen. A DNA test in July 2011 found that it did not match Mainali’s DNA, but that it did match the DNA of a strand of hair left on the carpet at the scene and a blood stain on the victim’s coat. These findings suggest that a different man was in the apartment when the crime was committed. The high court said that the findings constitute enough new evidence for a court to overturn the original guilty ruling against Mainali and render a not-guilty ruling.
Long after Mainali was found guilty, it was revealed that the prosecution had withheld critical evidence concerning the semen, the bloodstain and saliva found on the victim’s breast. A law should be enacted that requires the prosecution to reveal all its evidence to the court and the defense lawyers, and to punish all public prosecutors who do not comply. A system also should be devised to preserve evidence indefinitely for future testing if needed.
Immigration authorities on Monday issued an order to deport a Nepalese man who has been granted a retrial after the Tokyo High Court decided last Thursday to reopen the case of the murder of a Japanese woman in Tokyo in 1997.
Godinda Prasad Mainali, 45, who arrived in Japan in 1994, was convicted of overstaying his visa in 1997. Ongoing deliberations for a retrial will continue even with his absence from Japan.
On the order issued by the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau, Mainali is expected ot soon leave Japan along with his wife Radha, 42, and their two daughters Mithila, 20, and Alisha, 18, who came to Japan from Nepal last week.
A Nepalese man who was granted a retrial in the murder of a Japanese woman 15 years ago will leave for home soon.
Japan’s Immigration Bureau issued a deportation order for Govinda Prasad Mainali on Monday.
Mainali was released from prison and sent to an immigration facility in Yokohama after a Tokyo court granted his retrial. He had been serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder that took place in the capital.
Sources say Mainali wants to return to Nepal at his expense together with his wife and 2 daughters. The three came to Japan last week.
The Immigration Bureau plans to deport Mainali as soon as he is issued a passport by the Nepalese Embassy and his plane tickets are ready.
Nepalese Man Granted Retrial Ordered to Leave Japan
Tokyo, June 11 2012 (Jiji Press)–The Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau’s Yokohama branch issued a deportation order Monday to a Nepalese man who was granted a retrial and released Thursday after being jailed for the murder of a Japanese woman in 1997. Govinda Prasad Mainali, 45, has been in custody at the immigration office as his prison sentence for the killing of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. <9501> employee was halted. [sic] Mainali is expected to return to Nepal on Tuesday at the earliest. The office decided to deport Mainali, convicted of violating the immigration control law, as he wished to return home in an interview, officials said. He is to return to Nepal after the Nepalese embassy in Tokyo issues a passport which he has sought.
Mainali faces difficult readjustment after 15 years in prison Kyodo KATHMANDU — The elder brother of a Nepalese man granted a retrial in Japan after serving 15 years in prison for the 1997 murder of a Japanese woman expects his sibling’s rehabilitation to be a challenge.
Indra Mainali, 54, who is waiting for Govinda Prasad Mainali’s return to Nepal, said while the Tokyo High Court’s decision on Thursday to grant a retrial has ended a chapter in Govinda’s suffering, another chapter of less tangible suffering is about to begin.
Govinda’s daughters felt during conversations with their father last week that 15 years of imprisonment have inflicted heavy psychological and emotional damage on their father, Indra said.
Mithila, 20, and Alisha, 18, met their father twice last week, the first time in prison and the second time at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau’s Yokohama office, where he is currently in custody awaiting deportation. Including these meetings, the daughters have met their father only three times over the past 15 years.
After his long imprisonment, Govinda, 45, seemed very worried about how he will adjust to his family and social life, said Indra, who took over responsibility of Govinda’s family after his arrest and conviction in Japan.
Indra said his brother had not expected that he would leave prison the day he was granted a retrial.
According to Indra, prison security personnel suddenly told Mainali late afternoon on Thursday to pack his things and get ready.
They did not allow him time to say goodbye to other inmates.
They did not tell him that he was being released. Later, a police officer arrived at the prison and drove him to the immigration office.
Last week something happened that we never expected to see: the release of Govinda Prasad Mainali, a Nepalese who has been in prison on and off since 1997. Mainali was released to Immigration authorities, who are going to deport him for overstaying his visa back in 1997, because the Tokyo High Court finally agreed to a retrial of Mainali after new DNA evidence.
Japan has an extremely high conviction rate for many reasons, including some not to be proud of. One of these is the willingness of the courts to hear prosecution testimony with greater belief than anything the defense may say. Particularly problematic is the acceptance of “induced” confessions as if they were fact, even if the other evidence is not sufficiently supported by actual facts.
Further, the conviction rate of foreigner suspects (you definitely don’t want to be one) is a foregone conclusion, with seemingly little or no interest by the courts about who actually committed the crime when a foreigner is offered up as the perp. There are a number of recorded cases where the courts have actually SAID there has been insufficient evidence for an ordinary conviction, but none-the-less have convicted the defendant anyway, simply because the prosecutors said they did it.
Unfortunately the Japanese police, immigration, and prosecutors have the ability to “disappear” suspects for days or even months while they mercilessly interrogate them so as to extract a confession. This is not just a foreigner thing. The abuse of this system became so bad that several years ago new laws were pushed through that now require prosecutors to record their interrogation interviews. However, this doesn’t force them to treat the suspect humanely and there are still lots of ways for them to induce a confession outside of the actual interrogation. And, well, the recorder could always just run out of batteries…
The case of Govinda Mainali is particularly distressing, and reminds all foreigners that through seemingly innocent circumstances we could just as easily be caught up in a similar situation. Reading about his case makes you feel like we’re living in an emerging economy in the Middle East rather than a first-world country like Japan. In particular, we feel that his is a case where his race and foreignness played a large part in how he was treated. At the same time we concede that Japan does not have a monopoly on unfair treatment by the courts. There are plenty of examples in the UK and USA to compare.
The background to his case is that he was a restaurant worker in Shibuya and who shared an apartment with four others. Unfortunately for him, he started seeing a local hooker, Yasuko Watanabe, and struck up a relationship with her. By all accounts they didn’t see each other often, but at some point he helped her get access to a vacant apartment near his, and she used to take her customers there — four men a night, virtually every night. What is weird is that she was leading a double life and by day was a highly paid researcher for Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). When she was found murdered in the vacant apartment, Mainali became the prime suspect by virtue of the fact that he had a key to the apartment and that his name was in her diary.
The problem for Mainali is that he lied initially, saying he didn’t know her, which of course made the police suspicious. At some point he changed his story and agreed that he’d slept with her, but the damage was done. The fact that he lied wasn’t surprising, considering he was an overstayer and was no doubt fearful of what might happen to him, but once he started down that slippery slope, the prosecutors pieced together all the circumstantial evidence and decided they had their man.
Mainali had good lawyers, however, who decided there was an injustice being done and made a crusade out of getting him freed. In 2000 his case was thrown out by the Tokyo District Court for lack of evidence. At that point, if he was a Japanese he would have been let go, but because the outstanding deportation order, the Prosecutor’s office successfully had him kept in jail while they appealed to a higher court. With the second trial he was found guilty and sentenced. A subsequent Supreme Court appeal also failed.
It was only after 15 long years of appeals by Mainali’s lawyer and a change of judge, that the prosecutor’s office was forced to admit they had untested sperm samples in a freezer. Just recently they reluctantly and finally tested the DNA from the victim and they found — guess what — the DNA wasn’t his.
What is interesting is that Yasuko Watanabe kept meticulous records of her customers, and on that list was one of her bosses at TEPCO, where she worked. Who else was she seeing? Was Mainali a fall-guy for something deeper and darker? There are various Japanese websites that speculate that Watanabe in her day job, having written a number of damning internal reports about nuclear power risks at TEPCO, coupled with an affair with one of her bosses (possibly the current Chairman of the company), meant that she was silenced by the Yakuza on the behalf of “someone”.
Another key point, and the reason for Mainali’s release was the fact that the Prosecutor’s office seemingly never revealed to several appeal courts (the High Court and the Supreme Court) that they didn’t do a DNA test on sperm inside the victim’s body. Given how crucial it was to the case, how is that even possible?
Anyway, Mainali is now going to be deported. No word yet on whether he is going to be allowed back to represent himself at the re-trial, and certainly if we were him, we wouldn’t be planning to come back to Japan, ever. However, at that hearing, if he is found not guilty through lack of evidence, as he was back in 2000, then there is the small issue of compensation. If he was in some other countries, he might be able to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars in mental anguish, physical hardship, and lost earnings.
But this is Japan, and in one case a South American woman who was arrested by the Chiba Prefectural Police was illegally confined at a hotel for 10 days until they got an arrest warrant (god knows what actually went on at the hotel). She was awarded JPY2m in compensation for wrongful detention. It didn’t do her much good, though, as the court still imprisoned her on her hotel confession even though she retracted it once they properly charged her. She got 8 years and has no doubt been deported by now…
We wish Mainali the best of luck with the rest of his life, and hope that his case knocks some sense into the Japanese courts and the Prosecutor’s Office, since it’s apparent that they were highly embarrassed by the turn of events. But the fact is that a foreigner falling afoul of the Japanese legal system doesn’t have a hope in hell of getting a fair trial. In our opinion, the first step in getting Japan to address the obvious inequalities towards foreigners in the legal system is to pass a law making prosecutors who hide/withhold evidence open to legal charges themselves.
Secondly, racial discrimination against non-Japanese should be illegal, especially by law enforcement bodies. According to a book from Mainali’s supporters, in 1997, 76.1% of Japanese suspects were held in custody, whereas for foreigners the number was 99%. Apart from being a overdue concession to human rights, equal treatment would also give overstayers a foothold to appeal on the grounds that they should get the same level of legal consideration that any Japanese would expect.
Thirdly, Japan also needs to recant the death penalty. We’re not sure why Mainali wasn’t put on the death row, but he did get the second most harsh sentence — that of indefinite life imprisonment. If he had been on death row, it’s possible that after the 2003 Supreme Court appeal failed, that he would have been hanged. Too late, then, for apologies later.
Lastly, it is also obvious that Japan needs stricter suspect detention rights rules, such as giving prisoners access to legal advice and protection from abusive law authorities, and habeus corpus procedures that require the police and immigration to prove that they actually have legal right to hold someone. These are obvious and simple rights that most first-world citizens and residents take for granted. Many people would be shocked if they knew just how primitive the system is in Japan, and how easy it is for foreigners in particular to fall into the legal system’s maw.
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Hi Blog. The Japan Times came out with an editorial last Sunday, entitled “Flyjin rather few,” which talked about a recent Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey of NJ in Tokyo, carried out to ascertain how many stayed or left after the disasters of March 2011 and beyond. The survey was trying to see if the “Flyjin” phenomenon really happened, and in doing so, the JT notes, potentially resuscitated the invective of Japanese media and xenophobic pundits branding NJ as deserters.
The JT editorial is a doozy. Not only does it demonstrate that “the vast majority of foreigners in Tokyo stayed right where they were — in Tokyo“, it also castigates the whole thought process behind it:
“The survey did little to focus on what can be done to ensure that all residents of Tokyo be given clear information about conditions and constructive advice about what to do in the event a similar disaster strikes in Tokyo in the near future.”
“The ‘flyjin’ issue, besides being a derogatory term, was always a tempest in a teapot. Surveys that find information to help improve communications are important, but it is the actions that follow that really count. The metropolitan government should prepare a means to give all residents of Tokyo, whatever nationality they are, trustworthy information during emergencies so safe, sensible decisions can be made.”
In other words, the JT was easily able to see through the stupid science (e.g., the singling out of NJ, the small sample size, limiting it to Tokyo residents, the lack of clear aim or rigor in methodology, and ultimately its lack of conclusion: “The survey did little to better understand all Tokyoites’ complicated reactions to the crisis.”)
Why, in these days of seemingly-endless self-sacrifice in Japan, do people have to turn on themselves like this and just make things worse for everyone? Especially themselves? It’s a serious question. So let me pose it. Arudou Debito
Twenty five percent of foreigners living in Tokyo left the country temporarily following the March 11, 2011 disasters, according to a recent Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey.
The survey was conducted between October and November 2011 as part of the metropolitan government’s efforts to re-examine the way information is delivered to foreigners residing in the capital in case of a disaster. It obtained responses from a total of 169 Tokyo-based foreigners.
According to the survey, among those who had briefly returned to their home countries following the disasters, nearly half were foreigners who have lived in Japan for less than three years, hinting at the tendency that the shorter a foreigner had lived in Tokyo, the more likely they were to leave after the disasters.
Among the most common reasons for those who had briefly left Japan were, “Strongly urged by families abroad,” and “Following embassies or employers’ instructions to leave temporarily.”
Meanwhile, 56 percent of the respondents said they did not leave Tokyo following the disasters, while 5 percent had moved to the Kansai area in southern Japan or other places within the country.
In terms of the means foreigners used to collect information related to the disasters, 75 percent said they relied on TV broadcasts, 37 percent used the Internet, and only 7 percent read newspapers at the time.
Among the respondents, 44 percent said they used mobile phones and 28 percent used e-mail as a means to contact relatives and friends immediately after the disasters, though only 51 percent reported the attempt was successful.
Among the free answer section of the survey, some opinions stressed the need for more accurate and faster information services for foreigners, one explicitly pointing at the fact that “A panic was caused at the time due to a lack of accurate information provided to foreigners overseas.”
At the same time, the survey also hinted at the need for information provided in easy Japanese, based on the results that while 76 percent of the respondents said they could understand Japanese, when asked if they could understand the language if simple phrases are used, responses increased to 85 percent.
The survey also showed that 41 percent of the respondents had never experienced earthquakes prior to moving to Japan.
東日本大震災:都内外国人、２５％が一時帰国 母国の家族ら心配−−都アンケ ／東京
毎日新聞 2012年05月01日 地方版 http://mainichi.jp/area/tokyo/news/20120501ddlk13040130000c.html
UPDATE MAY 9, 2012:
‘Exodus’ of disaster-panicked foreigners from post-3.11 Japan doesn’t add up
One year ago — less than two months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and with the Fukushima nuclear crisis in flux — anyone walking the streets of Tokyo might very well have asked that question. With Japan in the teeth of disaster, it seemed as though the country’s foreign population had evaporated, an image reinforced by news footage of gargantuan queues at Narita International Airport check-in counters.
Some 531,000 foreigners left Japan in the four weeks after the March 11, 2011 disaster, according to a Ministry of Justice announcement of April 15 that year. It was mass panic, a rush for the last lifeboats on the Titanic. The expatriate community had left Japan for dead.
Or had they?
Of those 531,000 people who left in the first month, about 302,000 had obtained re-entry permits, suggesting most were at least considering coming back. Furthermore, a look at foreign resident numbers and the job market for foreign talent months after the disaster show that the exodus was in the end more a trickle than a flood, and perhaps only an acceleration of pre-existing trends.
Certainly in the days after the quake, with a nuclear crisis and all its potential horrors brewing at the Fukushima nuclear plant — about 225 kilometers from the heart of Tokyo — the first reaction of many was to get somewhere else in a hurry. Canadian Jason Yu, a senior IT manager at the Tokyo offices of a European investment bank, says more than half his predominantly foreign staff disappeared soon after the disaster.
“We had around 120 (workers), and I’d say about 70 left,” he says. “It was really something, because one day they were there, and then they weren’t.”
According to Yu, amid the hysteric coverage of the nuclear disaster in the Western media and a general sense that the government wasn’t telling the whole story, his firm allowed employees to leave if they didn’t feel safe and return when they were ready. Eventually, of the some 70 who had left — many with families — about 50 returned to their posts. However, “a lot of them moved on” to jobs outside Japan when their contracts ended that summer.
“That was typical,” says Christine Wright, managing director of Hays Specialist Recruitment Japan, a recruiting firm that also does broad research on employment trends. “There was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction,” where lots of people left, if not Japan, then the Kanto area, and then came back.
The rush for the exits was not, however, entirely illusory. Hays Japan saw a wave of openings in the “professional contractors” area, which includes IT and other positions where Japanese language proficiency is not necessarily a requirement. With so many foreigners in certain fields having absconded, Wright says some of Hays’ client firms expressed a preference for Japanese candidates with good English skills, as they were seen as more likely to stay long-term. Furthermore, “a lot of roles that can be (filled) by a non-Japanese speaker have been off-shored” to places like Hong Kong and Singapore, she adds.
So how great was the exodus?
“When you look at the statistics, the losses weren’t all that huge,” Nana Oishi, associate professor of sociology at Tokyo’s Sophia University, told the Mainichi. According to Oishi, the Ministry of Justice — which administers Japan’s immigration system — has not released how many of the half a million-plus foreigners who left Japan from March 12 to April 8, 2011 have returned. However, what the ministry will say is that the total foreign population in the country fell from 2,134,151 in December 2010, to 2,078,480 by December 2011 — a loss of 55,671 people, or just 2.6 percent.
Moreover, the loss was not disproportionately greater than those of preceding years. Japan’s foreign population peaked at 2,217,426 in 2008 — the year of the Lehman Shock — and has been in decline ever since, dropping by 31,305 from the end of 2008 to the end of 2009, and by 51,970 in the same period in 2009-2010.
A closer look at the foreign population by resident status furthermore shows that the decline was far from an across-the-board phenomenon, with some categories even posting significant gains. The number of technical trainees, for example, jumped to 141,994 in December 2011 from 100,008 at the same time the previous year — a 42 percent rise. Permanent residents went from 964,195 to 987,519, up 2.4 percent; investor and business manager visa holders from 10,908 to 11,778, an 8 percent climb; and teacher numbers inched up 0.9 percent, from 10,012 to 10,106.
Even in categories that saw declining numbers, the justice ministry statistics show a pattern of losses predating 3.11 by years. “Specialist in humanities and international services” visa holder numbers peaked in 2009, and have since been drifting downwards by several hundred annually. The number of foreign engineers, which dropped by 8.5 percent to 42,634 between December 2010 and December 2011, had already fallen from a high of 52,273 in 2008 to 46,592 by the end of 2010. Intra-company transferee numbers — those posted to Japan by their firms — have also been declining since 2008.
What’s more, according to justice ministry statistics, the inflow of foreign workers has also been in annual decline since a 2004 peak of about 158,900, dropping to some 52,500 by 2010.
In other words, not all the blame for even the modest drop in the foreign population can be put on disaster panic, as the overall numbers — and those in certain professional categories in particular — had been in decline for some time.
What the earthquake and the nuclear crisis have done, according to Oishi, is accelerate pre-existing trends. First of all, Oishi and Wright point out, off-shoring of back-office and non-Japanese speaking jobs was already in progress when the disaster hit. Furthermore, there was already employee attrition in some sectors for reasons completely divorced from the disaster. As Jason Yu points out, there were already staff cuts and transfers going on at the investment bank where he works before 3.11 because “it was not a good year” financially, “so you can’t say people left just because of the earthquake.”
Even the outflow of foreigners with children, which Yu says accounted for a significant portion of those who left his firm, was not all down to the disasters, according to Oishi.
“When the earthquake happened, that trend accelerated because of the radiation issue,” she says, but she points out that the departure of skilled foreign workers with kids, too, was a pre-existing trend. In a paper published on April 13 in the journal American Behavioral Scientist, Oishi points out that concerns over the quality of Japanese public education and the high cost of international schools — which do not receive government funding — was already pushing skilled foreigners with families out of the country.
The fear and the airport lines in the weeks after the earthquake and meltdowns were real. Over the long term, however, it can be said that there was no “exodus” of foreigners, but rather a smaller-scale reshuffle of certain types of foreign residents that was sped up by 3.11. “You can’t really say the quake chased away skilled workers,” says Oishi.
In fact, asked if the disasters had impacted firms’ drive to internationalize their workforces, Hays’ Christine Wright said, “One year on, no.”
According to Wright, Hays Japan’s business in foreign talent has jumped to “record levels. We’ve got record levels of vacancies, record levels of placements, so our business is performing at the best it’s performed” in the firm’s 11 years in Japan.
Furthermore, Wright says that the initial post-quake preference for Japanese candidates has weakened and “the market for foreign talent in the future … will continue to increase,” with fluent bilinguals and those capable of filling leadership positions particularly in demand.
The image of foreigners streaming out of Japan in March and April 2011 was a strong one. Wright says that she was thanked by Japanese associates for staying, and that her business relationships with some clients even improved when it became clear she would not be absconding.
More than a year on, however, government statistics and employment trends show that the exodus was if not entirely imaginary then at least ephemeral. The reality is, the foreign population remains in the millions, job openings for foreigners and foreigners hoping to fill them remain plentiful, and Japan remains a major destination among the globally mobile. (By Robert Sakai-Irvine, Staff Writer)
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Hi Blog. In an important decision regarding how Japanese nationality is granted, the Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional on March 23, 2012, that if a person with Japanese blood is born overseas and has another nationality, and if the parents have not registered the child with Japanese authorities within three months of birth, Japanese nationality will be denied.
The possibility of discrimination seemed to make no difference in this ruling, as paternity and wedlock don’t seem to be an issue. Place of birth is, meaning this ruling erodes the primacy of Japan’s jus sanguinis (citizenship by blood) conceits in favor somehow of jus soli (citizenship by birthplace).
A Tokyo court ruled as constitutional March 23 a clause in the nationality law which stipulates that children of Japanese nationals born overseas who have acquired foreign nationality cannot get a Japanese passport unless their parents take steps to obtain nationality within three months of birth.
The district court was ruling in a lawsuit filed against the Japanese government by 27 Philippine nationals who were fathered by Japanese between 1986 and 2007.
They were unable to gain Japanese nationality because their parents were unaware of the requirements in the nationality law.
The clause on stating intentions within three months of birth was added to Article 12 of the revised nationality law in 1985.
The decision was the first concerning the law’s clause, according to the Justice Ministry.
The plaintiffs argued that the stipulation was discriminatory because it amounted to reserving nationality based on birthplace, thereby going against the spirit of Article 14 of Japan’s Constitution, which guarantees equality for all.
In the ruling, Presiding Judge Makoto Jozuka explained the legislative purpose of the clause was to prevent individuals from holding dual nationality without a legitimate reason to claim Japanese nationality.
However, the court granted the request of one plaintiff on grounds that the individual had taken steps to acquire Japanese nationality.
One of the plaintiffs, Hiroko Ishiyama, 21, broke down in tears at a news conference after the ruling.
“My father is Japanese,” she said. “I have the right to become Japanese.”
She said her father did not know of the provision in the nationality law and missed the three-month deadline to file for Japanese nationality by one week.
Her younger sister has Japanese citizenship, as her parents filed the request within the prescribed period.
“I want to work and live in Japan,” Ishiyama said. “If there is a chance to acquire Japanese nationality, even if it is 1 percent, I want to get it.”
Submitter JK comments: “I would say this is good news, so long as the leadership of these 28 firms don’t conduct themselves like Olympus. The companies cited (i.e. Fast Retailing and Aeon) seem to ‘get it’…for these two cases, would you say that, ‘Don’t work for a Japanese company as an NJ and expect equality and upward mobility’ is still applicable?”
PHOTO CAPTION: Foreign students studying in Japan listen as a company representative explains his firm’s recruitment plan during a recruitment seminar held at Pasona headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Oct. 16. (Mainichi)
Some 23 percent of Japan’s top 122 companies are considering employing more foreigners starting from next year, citing plans for overseas expansion as their main incentive, a Mainichi survey has revealed.
Sixty-two companies, some 50.8 percent of all firms surveyed, further answered that they are likely to hire more foreign employees in the next 10 years as well.
Conversely, 45 companies, or 36.9 percent, answered that their foreign employee numbers will remain unchanged. There were no firms that plan to decrease foreign employment from current figures.
The survey, conducted between mid-November and mid-December 2011, sought responses from top executives of leading firms including Fast Retailing Co., Aeon Co., Dai Nippon Printing Co., and Hitachi Ltd.
A strong inclination for hiring foreign employees was observed mainly among companies with overseas expansion ambitions. Fast Retailing Co., the owner of casual wear chain Uniqlo, stated “more overseas shops” as the main reason for the increase, while Aeon Co., another retail giant, cited the necessity of increasing employees from other Asian countries due to the company’s plans for further expansion on the continent.
Meanwhile, companies judged economic prospects in Japan as either declining or about the same as last year. Nearly 90 percent of all companies expressed concern over the rising yen as their prime economic anxiety.
Asked to assess current economic conditions, 66 firms (54.1 percent) answered they had remained unchanged — a sharp increase from the total of 44 firms (37 percent), which gave the same answer in last year’s July-August survey.
There were no companies that judged current economic conditions as “improved” and only 34 firms (27.9 percent) answered that the economy is gradually improving. The figures were higher during last year’s survey, when a total of 62 companies (52.1 percent) said the economy was improving.
Meanwhile, 21 companies (17.2 percent) judged current economic conditions as either “deteriorating” or “gradually deteriorating,” yet another sharp increase from last year’s 13 companies (10.9 percent) that said so in the 2011 survey.
Europe’s ongoing debt crisis, the yen’s appreciation, and the influence of Thailand’s floods are believed to be some of the reasons behind companies’ worsened economic outlook.
The survey also found that nearly half of all companies (59 firms, or 48.4 percent) believe the economy will stay unchanged in the near future, while 43 firms (35.2 percent) said they expect it will improve.
Furthermore, when asked what the future held for Japan’s employment system, 36 companies answered that they foresee an increase in mid-career recruitment ten years from now, while 20 firms chose “enforcement of merit-based salary” among the provided multiple-choice suggestions.
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Hi Blog. Good news. Congratulations to The Don for getting his Japanese citizenship, and on what looks to be an expedited schedule (of only four months, according to the Yomiuri below. Of course; the guy is in his ninetieth year!) I think it’s good that an old man can realize his twilight dreams, and take advantage of opportunities that he has clearly earned as a contributor to Japan in the world.
Quoth Donald in the above press conference: 「日本人として犯罪を起こさないことを誓います」(As a Japanese, I swear not to commit any crimes.)
That said, I don’t believe that gives him license to continuously bad-mouth other NJ, whom he yet again essentially accuses of desertion, according to the Asahi article trumpeting the news of his successful application below (translation mine):
“…[Keene] received Japanese Permanent Residency, but after the Great East Japan Earthquake, knowing about the large numbers of foreigners that distanced themselves from Japan, he said, ‘I came to Japan, where I will always stay. I believe in Japan, is what I wanted to broadcast.'”
And it shows a remarkable naiveté regarding Japan and life in general, since will you never have to face a life in Japan as a non-elite NJ laborer in Japan; moreover, as I’ve said before, as a nonagenarian you won’t be around for any denouement. Just shut up and take your kudos with grace, already, without denigrating others. Do something to lose that “mean-old-man” stink you’re repeatedly and needlessly airing in public. Arudou Debito
Here’s the Yomiuri’s take, with The Don not only bashing NJ and coming here for the sake of “enduring hardships with the Japanese”, but also traipsing off to Africa and India next month, like most Japanese can to escape their hardships.
Keene becomes Japanese citizen
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 9, 2012), courtesy of JK
Donald Keene speaks to The Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo on Thursday morning after learning he has been granted Japanese citizenship.
Donald Keene, a prominent scholar of Japanese literature and culture, has been granted Japanese citizenship, the Justice Ministry announced in a government gazette issued Thursday.
Keene, 89, decided to permanently live in Japan following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
A professor emeritus at Columbia University, Keene studied Japanese literature and culture after serving as an interpreter for U.S. forces during the Pacific War.
Regarded as an authority in the field, he received the Order of Culture in 2008.
He expressed his intention to obtain Japanese citizenship after the March 11 disaster.
“I love Japan,” Keene said, while explaining his decision to move to Japan at a press conference following his last lecture at Columbia University. He now lives in Tokyo.
Keene expresses gratitude
Keene expressed his joy over the news that he has been granted the Japanese citizenship in an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun at his home in Tokyo on Thursday.
“I’m so glad to finally be able to become Japanese,” a smiling Keene said.
“If my decision encourages the Japanese people, it’s a great joy.”
Keene was informed of the decision by phone by a Justice Ministry official on Thursday morning. He said he expressed his appreciation to the official, repeatedly saying, “Thank you.”
Right after the March 11 disaster, Keene saw the stoic suffering of people in the Tohoku region on TV.
Worried over the news that an increasing number of foreigners were leaving the country, Keene made up his mind to permanently live in Japan. “I wanted to endure the hardships with the Japanese, who had taken good care of me, at a difficult time like this,” he said.
Keene applied for Japanese citizenship in November last year.
He wondered how long it would take to obtain citizenship, but officials only told him it would take some time. He sometimes expressed his anxiety to people around him, saying, “As I’m already 89 years old, I don’t have much time left.”
In the end, he obtained his citizenship in only about four months.
“Donald Keene” became his pen name, and his Japanese name is now Kiin Donarudo.
Starting next month, he will travel by ship to India and Africa for vacation.
“[After returning to Japan], I’ll continue to work more diligently in a suitably Japanese way. I also want to contribute to areas affected by the disaster,” he said with a smile.
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The number of crimes by foreigners uncovered by police across Japan in 2011 dropped 12.7 percent from a year earlier to 17,286, a preliminary National Police Agency survey showed Thursday.
The number of foreign nationals the police questioned, arrested and sent papers on to prosecutors last year also fell 15.2 percent from 2010 to 10,061. Both numbers have been on a declining trend after peaking in 2005, according to the survey.
Foreigners with permanent residence status are not included in the data.
Among the crimes committed by foreigners, the number of fake marriage cases soared 26.1 percent in 2011 to 193, with the number of foreign nationals investigated by police in those cases also rising 17.6 percent to 554.
Police have been clamping down on bogus marriages, believing they are creating the infrastructure for a host of other criminal activities, the survey said.
Of the total number of crimes committed by foreigners, violations of the Penal Code in 2011 dipped 10.2 percent from the previous year to 12,590, while infringements of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act and other laws declined 18.8 percent to 4,696.
By country of origin, China topped the list with Japanese police taking action against 4,012 Chinese nationals, accounting for 39.9 percent of the total, followed by South Korea and the Philippines.
The number of foreign suspects who fled overseas in 2011 slipped 4.0 percent to 677, according to the survey.
3) They ignore it completely. Foreigners can only ever be news if they’re criminals.
To support this last assertion, look how the above article was featured in the Mainichi online only in English, as a copy of a Kyodo wire. And doing a Google news search in Japanese, (search terms gaikokujin hanzai and the newspaper title), I could not find a similar article on this news on the Mainichi, Asahi, Yomiuri, or Sankei Shimbun sites (search as of February 23, 2012):
Instead, you get Japanese sites, for example Zakzak News below, concurrently and ironically talking about how dangerous Japanese society has become due to foreign crime (despite it going down), and saying how having a “kokumin bangou” to identify all citizens by number is now indispensable (since, as Zakzak says below, foreigners now speak Japanese!!). Fine, have that conversation if you want, but don’t blame it on foreign crime.
This perpetual criminalization of foreigners in Japan is nothing short of hate speech. On an official scale. And you get a regular fit of it twice a year regardless of what NJ residents do (or don’t do). Arudou Debito
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Hi Blog. To kick off a salvo of blog entries on NJ migration/immigration to Japan, here are two articles from the vernacular press. The first one talks about the MOJ’s institution of a “points system” for future NJ visas, in order to encourage “foreign researchers, doctors, managers and people with specialized knowledge or skills” to come to Japan — with higher value accruing to those with good educational pedigrees, higher salaries, etc. “People with more than 70 points” will be considered “higher-degree people with capabilities” (koudo jinzai), with an annual quota of about 2000 souls. They’ll get special benefits like easier visa conditions for wives and children (something currently reserved for those here on foreign expat packages in the financial markets), and five-year waits for Permanent Residency (instead of the usual ten for those not married to Japanese), and no doubt more. It’s scheduled to start from this Spring.
Fine, let’s have an objective and reviewable system for immigration (or in Japan’s case, just plain old inward migration), but there are two assumptions here, 1) that people are still simply beating a path to Japan now as a matter of course (when by now there are plenty of other rich countries in the region that are better at, say, foreign languages and import infrastructure, not to mention without an irradiated food chain), and 2) a guarantee of things that are fundamental to making a life here without harassment for being different (such as, say, oh, a law against racial discrimination, and checks and balances against a police force that sees racial profiling, street harassment, and even home invasion as part of its mandate). Japan has had plenty of opportunity to take some safeguards against this, and the fact that it won’t yet still wants to get people to live here anyway to offset its demographic crisis is just plain ignorant of reality.
The second article talks about the effects of a society with institutions that aren’t all that friendly or accountable for its excesses — the second drop of the registered NJ population in two years, after a rise over 48 straight years. I talked about this briefly in my January Japan Times column (as one of the Top Ten Human Rights Events for 2011), so for the record, here is a vernacular source. I think, sadly, that people are starting to wise up, and realize that Japan isn’t all that open a place to settle. Arudou Debito
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Hi Blog. Here we have some naked xenophobia and related intolerance in interpersonal internet auctions. I have heard of numerous cases like these on Japanese internet outlets, where sellers simply refuse to sell to somebody with money if the buyer happens to be bearing money while foreign (and nothing would come of it from moderators). But here’s a report of what one person, Jeff Smith, decided to do about it. As he says, auction forums in Japan need to step up with rules to honor bona fide transactions, because that’s the entire point of money as a means of transaction — it is not foreign currency even if the buyer is foreign. Let’s wait and see what Yahoo Japan decides to do about it, if anything. Arudou Debito
Yahoo Auctioneer Denies Foreign Bidders Documented by Jeff Smith (Osaka, Japan) February 15th, 2012
Something I came upon last night while looking for guitars on Yahoo Auctions, Japan. This individual ignoramus had the nerve to actually write in his or her auction that foreigners would be denied the right to buy said item once found to be foreign, NJ or otherwise:
“Winners please be aware of the message I send upon auction close. I will not accept new bidders who do not reply, or people with bad manners. New bidders are to respond within 48 hours, and those that do so will be allowed to pay for the item. In addition, due to troubles that have occurred, I am not accepting any foreign bidders with a score under 30 rating. [This was actually changed this morning, Feb. 15, 2012: originally it said I will accept NO FOREIGN WINNERS, period.] If I find that the winner is a foreigner after the auction ends, I shall void the auction at my convenience.”
Amazed that this person could even have the gall to write in such a manner, I contacted the seller with a message as follows:
English translation: Good evening. It’s a shame that you have claimed to have had some trouble with foreigners, but to say that you will do no business with them is prejudicial thinking on your part. There are people on this auction who are serious, and Japanese people have caused trouble on auctions as well. I myself have had problems, and have not blamed all Japanese people for it. I hope you find a good bidder.
The auctioneer quickly replied with the following:
English: “Because of lack of comprehension and inability to effectively communicate intentions on the part of the winners, I have decided not to do business with foreigners.” (意志疎通: ishisottsu; means this ability to communicate thoughts or intentions smoothly)
English: “If you (or someone else) doesn’t like it, just don’t bid, please. Also, please don’t put comments like this (actually these, because いちいち(ichi-ichi) in Japanese implies a nagging complaint, therefore someone else called this person out.) This person’s Japanese language ability isn’t all that great, either.
I reported this person to Yahoo Auction under 詐欺 (sagi:fraud), and possible trouble (トラブル可能性) which if you think about it, it is if someone is to deny someone their rights to buy an item if they are found to be foreign! The ridiculous comments from this person, such as the “inability to communicate intentions” just goes to show how xenophobes and racists use these lame excuses to cover up how they dropped the idiomatic “ball” and had bad experiences. Still, Yahoo Auction needs to have a clearer stance on their guidelines as to not tolerating this kind of behavior.
Be on the lookout for these types of idiots who think they can run auctions with impunity: don’t be afraid to call people out on it!
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Hi Blog. Second in this series of arbitrary bureaucratic rule in Japan: Debito.org Reader J sends me this post about the tribulations he’s had getting his Permanent Residency, and how Immigration Bureau bureaucrats feel they are within their mandate to ignore the letter of the law. According to J, even when you show them their guidelines are unlawful under the law, they have replied, “That’s just a law.” Which of course calls into question the rule of law in Japan, and bureaucrats’ attitudes towards being constrained by legislation meant to preserve the consent of the governed in a democracy. Arudou Debito
November 8, 2011
Hi Debito, how’s it going? Who do you think is a good lawyer that has appealed a PR declination successfully before?
I think I have an undeniable open-and-shut appeal case in which the courts will most likely overturn an immigration officer’s illegal decline of Permanent Residency.
(Perhaps you remember, I had a car accident once 5 years ago in which I committed a crime – I received probation, since thankfully no people were hurt, only cars damaged.)
What makes [my] PR decline obviously “illegal” is that the following Law was ignored: (1) 素行が善良であること (2) 独立の生計を営むに足りる資産又は技能を有すること (3) その者の永住が日本国の利益に合すると認められること （注）日本人，永住者又は特別永住者の配偶者又は子の場合は，(1)及び(2)に適合することを要しない。 #1 reason for declination is: having committed a crime. #2 reason for declination is: being financially too poor. #3 reason for declination is: not being a profit to Japan. The Law then nicely goes on to state that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens.
So, this means that if an immigration officer wants to legally decline Permanent Residency to a spouse of a Japanese citizen, he is REQUIRED to claim reason #3.
My case is: I’m married to a Japanese citizen (7 years) and yet the immigration officer declined my Permanent Residence using reason #1, “previous conviction”.
So again, who do you think is a good lawyer? I’m willing to pay his standard price, plus, a 500,000 yen bonus upon successfully overturning this illegal refusal of PR. Please let me know if you have any good ideas of who I should call. Sincerely, J
November 8, 2011
Hi Debito. Turns out I don’t need a lawyer after all.
Whoever wrote the original Law saying that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens, their goal was clear: to let foreigners married to Japanese citizens become Permanent Residents, regardless of whether they were convicted criminals, or poor, or both.
But then, some bureaucrats within immigration with the opposite goal (limiting PRs) decided to write some new “Guidelines” which say the exact opposite.
These new “Guidelines” (which the Unelected bureaucrats proclaim “trumps” the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers) say that reason #3 includes convictions.
But now, check out this crafty Heisei 15/16 “update” to the immigration Guidelines (added by unelected immigration bureaucrats) look at the ア、イ、ウ、オ additions: (1) 素行が善良であること 法律を遵守し日常生活においても住民として社会的に非難されることのない生活を営んでいること (2) 独立生計を営むに足りる資産又は技能を有すること 日常生活において公共の負担にならず，その有する資産又は技能等から見て将来において安定した生活が見込まれること (3) その者の永住が日本国の利益に合すると認められること ア 原則として引き続き１０年以上本邦に在留していること。ただし，この期間のうち，就労資格又は居住資格をもって引き続き５年以上在留していることを要する。 イ 罰金刑や懲役刑などを受けていないこと。納税義務等公的義務を履行していること。 ウ 現に有している在留資格について，出入国管理及び難民認定法施行規則別表第２に規定されている最長の在留期間をもって在留していること。 エ 公衆衛生上の観点から有害となるおそれがないこと http://www.moj.go.jp/nyuukokukanri/kouhou/nyukan_nyukan50.html
Cute. So since the door was opened “too wide” by the original Law, just type up some “Guidelines” that moves the “crime disqualification” from reason #1 into reason #3, et voila!
Now, if I go to court, the court can simply say, “Well, according to this Heisei 15/16 update/addition to the immigration Guidelines (penned by Unelected bureaucrats) you lose. Boom.”
But, your honor, “reason #1” means “didn’t follow the law” (and “reason #1” doesn’t apply to spouses of Japanese citizens) so how can “didn’t follow the law” be added to “reason #3”?
Guidelines written by Unelected bureaucrats are REVERSING and TRUMPING the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers, plus let’s remember that these Guidelines are usually secret.
For example: the LAW says that Passports only have to be shown to immigration officers, but new GUIDELINES say that every Gaikokujin (for example: your single foreigner cousin, living in your house, with a valid visa, NOT RECEIVING KODOMO TEATE [child allowance]) must come allow the Kodomo Teate Section to copy his Passport, or else the couple with kids are penalized.
Perhaps your single foreigner cousin, living in your house, with a valid visa, NOT RECEIVING KODOMO TEATE, refuses to let some “Kodomo Teate city worker” to copy his Passport?
According to the new Kodomo Teate Guidelines, if ANY Gaikokujin living in the house refuses to hand over his Passport, the Kodomo Teate will be taken away from the couple with kids.
So now the couple with children must force any Gaikokujin roommates they are living with to submit to this unlawful new guideline, or else the couple with children will be penalized.
The couple with children do NOT have to ask their Japanese roommates to submit anything, this unlawful new guideline doesn’t dare ask JAPANESE citizens to show their passport.
The reasoning for this guideline is “foreigners spend Kodomo Teate money vacationing in Thailand, but Japanese citizens would never do that, so we don’t check Japanese passports.”
Try asking the Kodomo Teate section for a copy of this new Guideline, they won’t give a copy of it, they won’t even show it to you, because, “Our Guidelines are secret.” Seriously. (!)
Laws made by the Kokkaigin say that we DON’T have to show our Passport except to immigration officers and when getting our ARC, but: new Guidelines say Kodomo Teate as well.
If you are a Japanese person receiving Kodomo Teate, with a non-Japanese living in your house, the new Guidelines say ALL Gaikokujin MUST come show their Passport – or else.
Do the Elected Lawmakers know that their will has been reversed and trumped? Do the Elected Lawmakers know that these new guidelines are in direct conflict with national Laws?
My conversation recently with an immigration official summed it up perfectly, when I read him the Law stating that reason #1 can’t be used against me, he said, “That’s just a law!”
I couldn’t believe it, this officer actually said, in front of his co-workers, “それはただの法律だけ！” His tone was perfectly clear, “WE make the decisions around here, not laws.”
So, nevermind my request for a lawyer, I can see that since the bureaucrats within immigration have craftily moved crime from reason #1 down to reason #3, I can’t get PR, oh well.
Currently in Japan (in my opinion the best country relative to others) a sad state admittedly exists where Guidelines trump Laws: Unelected bureaucrats trump elected lawmakers.
Thanks anyway for the good work you do. Sincerely, J
PS – I wonder how the majority of Japanese citizens would feel about a Law that says, “From now, only Elected Lawmakers (and publicly-voted initiatives) can create Laws. And any Guidelines written by unelected bureaucrats CANNOT conflict with those Laws. Plus all Guidelines written by unelected bureaucrats must be Public: no Secret Guidelines.”
Now, movies about killers are nothing new (including ones with overtones of hero worship; consider NATURAL BORN KILLERS), and biopics about Japanese killers (the very good VENGEANCE IS MINE, starring a lean and mean Ogata Ken, I saw back in college) are also out there (even though VENGEANCE, although it tries to analyze the killer’s motivations and mother complex, did not spare the audience of the horrific detail of his murderous activity).
Maybe this movie will do the same (even though many of the details of what Ichihashi did to Hawker’s corpse have not been made public). But the article below says that the contents will focus on his life as a fugitive and offer insights into Japan’s low life (such as the day-laborer sector of Airin Chiku; cue sympathy for the killer’s hardships?).
In any case, I for one see this as just more profiteering. It looks as though this story will be depicted through Ichihashi’s eyes, and there is apparently already quite an online hero cult out there for this creep that the studios would love to cash in upon.
Again, this sort of media event has happened before, but this is altogether too soon — still seems like moviemakers trying to make a fast yen (and an unknown actor trying to make a directorial debut; he talks briefly below about his “feeling of responsibility” towards the victims, but mostly about how the killer’s account fascinates him, so methinks that’s what the flick will focus upon) before Ichihashi fades from public memory. Ick. Arudou Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito
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Hi Blog. Related to Japan’s future signing of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, here we have an official report about a public forum held on November 22, 2011 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (something I attended before and incidentally considered a very flawed and biased format). Present were academics, lawyers, the Ministries of Justice, Health and Welfare, Education, Internal Affairs, plus the Cabinet and the National Police Agency.
In the course of discussions about setting up a central agency to handle the enforcement of the Hague, 168 public comments were collected since the end of September and were brought up at this meeting. That report follows in full below, courtesy of TS. A few things I found noteworthy within it:
1) The term LBP (Left-Behind Parent) is now part of the Japanese lexicon.
16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits
Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.
A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.
The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.
In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.
Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.
Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.
”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…
17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.
After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:
Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…
According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.
The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”
COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.
FUKUOKA–The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling.
The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.
Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.”
The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits.
According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.
According to the ruling, the woman applied for the public welfare at the Oita city government in December 2008, but the city government rejected her request.
The point at issue in the lawsuit was whether the Daily Life Protection Law can be applied to noncitizens.
Article 1 of the law limits recipients to Japanese citizens. As for non-Japanese residents, each local government has made respective judgments based on a 1954 notice issued by the then Health and Welfare Ministry, which said the law would be applied with some modification.
Though there are many foreign permanent residents in Japan who receive public welfare benefits, their eligibility has not been legally guaranteed.
The high court ruling noted Diet deliberations in 1981 on ratifying the U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which stipulates that countries “shall accord to refugees within their territories treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”
At the time, the Diet presented a view that Japan would not need to revise the Daily Life Protection Law to eliminate nationality clauses in it because the government has already been applying the law with necessary modifications.
The high court judged that the Japanese government had at that moment become obliged under international law to provide public welfare assistance to foreign residents in the country.
The high court also pointed out that the central government in 1990 limited the range of noncitizen recipients to those with permanent resident status in terms of management of the public welfare system.
COMMENT: Okay, that’s good news and a good precedent. Glad they took it away from the denizens of Oita, who clearly started saying “Chotto…” to the petty bureaucrats, then backtracked within two weeks as the wagons encircled to rule against the alleged foreigner (I would like to hear more about her, i.e., if she is in fact a Zainichi or not — there is a difference between ippan eijuusha and tokubetsu eijuusha, after all, and that will be noted by any legal exceptionalists who want to stop further positive precedent building). But the fact that she’s born here, raised here, speaks Japanese as her native language, and is approaching eighty years of age, yet STILL was denied benefits by heartless bureaucrats, backed up by the judiciary, is more than a bit scary. If this gets appealed to the Supreme Court (after all, the GOJ is a sore loser in court), I hope the judges are in a good mood when they start deliberating. Maybe we should send them sweets. Arudou Debito
A Japanese woman has been arrested in Hawaii on accusations she took her 9-year-old daughter with a Nicaraguan ex-husband back to Japan without permission, it has been learned.
The 43-year-old Japanese mother and her 39-year-old ex-husband, who lives in the United States, have custody disputes over the child ongoing in both Japan and the U.S. The Foreign Ministry says that it is highly unusual for a Japanese national to be arrested abroad during a custody dispute with a foreign ex-partner.
According to legal officials and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the woman married and bore the child in February 2002. She lived in the state of Wisconsin in the U.S., but in February 2008 she returned to Japan with the child. In June 2009 her divorce was finalized, but the father was given custody rights.
The woman went to court in Japan to have the custody rights changed, and in March this year the court awarded them to the woman, giving the father just 30 visitation days a year in the U.S. Both sides immediately appealed the ruling, and the case is now being deliberated at the Osaka High Court.
The woman flew to Honolulu on April 7, 2011 local time to renew her permanent U.S. resident status. However, an arrest warrant for the woman was on issue from Wisconsin authorities for violating the father’s custody rights by taking the child to Japan without permission, and the woman was arrested by Hawaii authorities. She remains in custody, and a trial is ongoing in Wisconsin. Prosecutors suggested a plea bargain where she would be given a suspended sentence in exchange for returning the child, who currently lives with the woman’s grandparents in Japan, but she has refused and maintains her innocence.
The ex-husband has reportedly said that if the woman will return the child, he does not want her held further, and he wants the child to be able to meet both parents. A lawyer for the woman, however, says that she fears that if she returns the child once, the child will never be able to come back to Japan.
According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, records of Japanese international marriages since 1992 show a peak in 2006 of around 44,700, after which they have been declining, with around 32,000 in 2010. On the other hand, Japanese international divorces have increased, peaking at about 19,400 in 2009. International divorces are accompanied by unique problems like differences in national law, children’s nationality and parental custody rights, and people leaving the relevant countries.
Professor Takao Tanase of Chuo University’s law school says, “The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction’s primary objective is to get the child in such disputes returned to the country they were taken from, and therefore civil-level procedures to return the child are prioritized. If the child is returned, criminal legal action is often not pursued. If Japan joins the convention, I think that there will be fewer cases that lead to arrests.”
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito
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Hi Blog. Here we have some more GOJ mischief in the works regarding the Fukushima debacle. What follows is a primary-source document from the Minister of the Environment, Division of Waste and Recycle Policy, dated October 7, 2011, addressed to all prefectural waste management department heads.
It concerns disposing of debris from the Tohoku disaster areas in other prefectures, as a follow-up to their communication/”survey” of April 8, 2011, where they asked regional governments to pitch in in dispersing the rubble nationwide. The Education Ministry acknowledges that several prefectures expressed trepidation at spreading radioactive refuse all over Japan. Nevertheless, as Tokyo has started undertaking the disposal of the debris, it’s clear the GOJ considers it high time that others did their part (as per the “close cooperation” (genmitsu ni rentai shi) between the Minstry and the regional environmental agencies) to match that effort. It is clear that by the fourth paragraph of the directive below, the Ministry will be moving forward with this policy full steam regardless of regional objections.
The results of the abovementioned April communication/”survey” where local governments balked will not be made public. That is to say, those prefectures who balked at taking radiation into their area will not be named [after all, we don’t want NIMBY citizens rallying behind their local representatives that are clearly antipathetic towards GOJ policy].
COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I had heard about this months ago (a rumor that toxic waste from Fukushima was being delivered to my nearby garbage incinerator in Hassamu, Sapporo), but lacked enough evidence to say much at the time. Now we have documented proof that the Japanese government (the Environment Ministry, no less) is taking steps to pressure local governments nationwide into swallowing their fair share of the radiation. Why does this debris have to be carted around the country? Not only could it contaminate the entire nation, it will also shield the nuclear power industry from criticism and responsibility — as it will make it harder to link radiation to the cause of any future sickness or death if casualties are not limited to the Fukushima area. Having the national government shove this down the local governments’ throats is one thing, but the sheer venality, nay, flat-out evil of this kind of policy is staggering.
Just in case you think this may be a hoax, see the Chunichi Shinbun of October 15, 2011 (reprinted below) acknowledging this dispersal is exactly what’s happening, with the local governments (in this case, Aichi-ken) refusing to make public how much debris they’re disposing of. Arudou Debito
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Hi Blog. This is a very interesting development that has been uncovered and discussed on the H-Japan academic public listserv (which I include in full below to show the context).
The Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare Ministry has issued a directive, written by the Education Ministry’s Department of Life Sciences, Bureau for the Promotion of Research, to all related research industries, universities, and tertiary-education associations regarding health surveys and research conducted within the Tohoku disaster area.
Dated May 15, 2011, a little more than two months after the tsunami, the directive (full Japanese text below) essentially tells academic researchers 1) there are “ethical guidelines” (rinri shishin) for epidemiologists to follow, and that research guidelines must be passed by ethics committees and approved by their research institution’s head; 2) these health surveys and research must also sufficiently (juubun) be run by the local governments (jichitai) in the disaster areas beforehand, and afterwards the results of the research (if I’m reading this odd and rather vague sentence right) must “take into due consideration” (hairyo) the disaster victims and the appropriate systems providing them health and welfare (better translations welcome); 3) in order to not to cause any undue stress to the disaster victims, health surveys and research must avoid repetition by “not surveying and researching in more detail than necessary”, and with sufficient understanding of the situation on the ground.
The point is, in the name of “ethics”, the government is inserting veto gates into what might become research independent of the GOJ, and making sure that information tracked before and afterwards stays under central control. Which means, in practice, that if there are research lines or inquiries or results unpalatable to the GOJ, they might not be seen by the public.
My read of this document is that this is primary-source evidence of GOJ central control over the scientific method regarding a politically-sensitive issue. And this will control the information flow out to the world regarding the effects and aftermath of Fukushima. Arudou Debito
From: H-Japan Editor (j-edit@MAIL.H-NET.MSU.EDU) Editor’s Subject: H-JAPAN (E): Teaching the Crisis: some reflections Author’s Subject: H-JAPAN (E): Teaching the Crisis: some reflections Date Posted: Tue, 10 Oct 2011
H-JAPAN (E) October 9, 2011
From: JFMorris (email@example.com)
Dear List Members
I would like to thank David Slater for his open call to bring together people working on the disaster in Tohoku.
However, reading his proposal, I cannot help but feel a certain disquiet about it. I think that this stems most directly from the fact that I cannot find Tohoku involved in this proposal in any but a passive way. If you want to reflect the voices of people from Tohoku, then why not get us involved from the outset? Tohoku University had set up one of the major world class interdiscipinary research projects on natural disasters some years before this current disaster (we all knew that a big one was coming, and were already gearing up for it): outside of Tohoku University, numerous scholars within Tohoku are involved in dealing with it a multitude of ways. One thing that has really bugged me watching reporting on this disaster unfold is that we of Tohoku are there to be talked about, but not to be seriously allowed to go much beyond eyewitness accounts, the more heart-rending the better. If you want to deal with topics such as trying to reframe Tohoku history (this requires you to reframe crucial junctures of “Japanese” history…), interdisciplinary approaches to studying disasters, experiences learnt from this disaster, then there is a wealth of academic experience here. Is the problem that the overwhelming portion of this is available in Japanese? This list was originally set up with the high ideal of bringing Japanese and non-Japanese scholars together in a truly bilingual list, where posting in 2 languages was meant to be the norm… How many years is it since I saw anything on this list written in Japanese, let alone any other language?
While on my high horse, I would like to add a little word of caution about barging in and doing research here. I am as much aware of the need to do this as anyone else. As IKEDA Ken’ichi pointed out in his posting of 3rd October, (1) Japan does have ethical standards to be maintained in conducting research, and (2) the Ministry of Education and Science has put out effectively a blanket ban on doing research unless this is specifically at the request of the local government of the relevant area: there are that many people crawling through this area that this kind of restriction is necessary (well, up to a point…).
I do not want to start a flame; that is furthest from my intention. From his postings to this net, I am seriously impressed with David’s commitment to acting both as a rank and file member of humanity, and as an academic, to reacting in a constructive way to this disaster. However, if you want to start some kind of a summing up, if you leave the major research centres of the region out, then I think that you are going to miss something very important. If I have misconstrued David’s posting, then I apologise in advance.
Faithfully, John Morris Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University
From: H-Japan Editor (j-edit@MAIL.H-NET.MSU.EDU) Date: 12 October, 2011 Subject: H-JAPAN (E): Research ban? Reply-To: H-NET/KIAPS List for Japanese History
On-line editor: Janet R. Goodwin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
H-JAPAN (E) October 12, 2011
From John Morris’ post appearing on October 9th :”(2) the Ministry of Education and Science has put out effectively a blanket ban on doing research unless this is specifically at the request of the local government of the relevant area: there are that many people crawling through this area that this kind of restriction is necessary (well, up to a point…).”
Could you provide more information about the research ban? Is it for certain designated districts or certain research subjects? I was surprised to read of a ban because the government has been encouraging tourism as a means of economic recovery. Recently, I caught a few seconds of an NHK clip showing students taking a boat on coastline tour of a tsunami hit area and snapping away with cameras. From what little I saw, this activity was being presented as an edifying experience. I hope that researchers do not interfere with recovery. However, it seems odd that the government would allow school children to visit an area from which it banned researchers.
From: H-Japan Editor (j-edit@MAIL.H-NET.MSU.EDU) Author’s Subject: H-JAPAN (E/J): Ban on Research? Date Written: Wed, 12 Oct 2011 22 On-line editor: Janet R. Goodwin
H-JAPAN (E/J) October 12, 2011
Dear Greg and List Members,
The directive issued jointly by the Ministry of Education and Science and is as follows. Please note that to display the rest of this mail on your screen, you will have to set your “View” settings to display in either Japanese or Universal font. It is not a total ban, but a very limiting one.
From: j-edit@MAIL.H-NET.MSU.EDU Date: 13 October, 2011 To: H-JAPAN@H-NET.MSU.EDU Subject: Re H-JAPAN (E/J): Ban on research?
—————————- Original Message —————————-
On-line editor: Janet R. Goodwin
H-JAPAN (E/J) October 13, 2011
Thanks. So the Health Ministry is restricting research on human subjects,
被災地における被災者を対象とした健康調査・研究 not all research as I mistakenly assumed. The 対象となる被災者 refers to people in the 被災地, but I wonder if the Ministry shouldn’t consider whether people displaced by the disasters and no longer in 被災地 require a clause in this memorandum, however difficult it would be to enforce. Even if the government is incapable of keeping tabs on extra-district research, in the end the scholarly community has to police its own research ethics.
２。。。必要と考えられる被災者には、適切な保健医療福祉サービスが提供される体制を 整備する等配慮すること。 Needless to say, I hope the responsible agencies are also giving those 被災者who do not become research subjects this consideration in sufficient measure!
Hi Blog. Related to my FCCJ article posted here a couple of days ago, we have the J-media now piling on about “harmful ads in the free newspapers aimed at foreigners”, encouraging criminal behavior. This is a national issue of course (as I argued before, articles/campaigns about foreign crime take priority, even drown out good news (or any news) about NJ residents in Japan), and essentially the same article becomes common to the major papers (submitter JK sends the Yomiuri, Mainichi, and Nikkei).
When I said to JK: “Thanks for these, but not sure what angle to pursue. People will (groundfully) counterargue that these sorts of activities advertising ways for people to break the law should be rightfully reported and stamped out. What would you say to them?”, JK counterargued:
“Hi Debito: I would say that I find it odd that on the one hand, the NPA is focused on ads in free papers enticing foreigners to perform criminal acts, whereas on the other hand, the NPA has, to my knowledge, yet to report on the number of pachinko parlors that paid out tokens / goods to players which were converted into cash (read: gambling, a criminal act!).
“To me, it’s obvious that the NPA is being selective in investigating potential criminal acts because in the case of the ads in the free papers, NJ are specifically involved.
“Wouldn’t it be great if the NPA, instead of reporting that x% of ads offered illegal employment, and y% of ads offered brokerage services, etc., reported that x% cash paid out was converted from pachinko parlor tokens, and y% of cash winnings was from stuffed animals?”
Point taken. Finally, JK sends a positive article towards NJ (regarding something cultural), but like I said in my FCCJ article, that gets confined to local papers. Might be because it’s a local event/issue, but so does anything positive towards NJ seem. It’s the negative stuff that becomes part of NPA campaigns against “foreign crime”, not the positive stuff ever becoming, say, a national GOJ campaign for “up with people”. Not the best examples, but anyhoo, good timing for these mild cases in point to illustrate a phenomenon I brought up. Arudou Debito
Many ads encouraging criminal behavior such as working illegally and entering into fake marriages have been carried by free newspapers aimed at foreigners, according to a police survey.
The survey, conducted by the National Police Agency in May and June, said 736 harmful ads were found in papers distributed in commercial and entertainment districts around the nation.
The NPA will ask publishers of free papers not to run ads encouraging criminal activity. It also may pursue criminal charges against publishers allowing such ads to appear in their papers.
According to the survey, 58 free papers distributed in Tokyo and 24 other prefectures have carried such ads. Of them, 26 were aimed at Chinese and 22 at Koreans. Others were for Filipinos and Brazilians living in Japan.
The free papers carrying the ads also contain information on daily life services and restaurant information for foreigners.
Forty percent of the ads, or 291, offer illegal employment, with some recommending work in sex-related establishments.
Twenty-four percent of the ads, or 174, offer brokerage services to falsify residential qualifications or social status. They included such messages as: “We seek illegal overstayers who want to marry a Japanese” and “We can change your illegal entry status to a legal one.”
The Metropolitan Police Department has uncovered a number of cases involving illegal work and fake marriages, including some in which readers successfully asked specialists in administrative procedures and others who carried ads in the papers for residential status.
A number of advertisements encouraging crimes are carried in free papers for foreign residents in Japan, the National Police Agency (NPA) has found.
According to the NPA, a total of 736 ads promoting criminal acts were carried in 58 free papers providing living information to Chinese, South Korean, Brazilian and other foreign residents in Japan in their respective mother tongues between May and June. Many of the ads involved such wrongful acts as overstaying visas and illegal work.
The NPA has requested the publishers of those free papers not to carry such inappropriate ads.
By content, 39.5 percent of the ads were about job placement; 23.6 percent about disguised mediation of certificates and status; 20 percent about soliciting unauthorized sales; and 6 percent about introducing residences.
“International marriage: We welcome those whose visas will soon expire. Will introduce partners immediately,” one ad says, while another says: “Hostess immediately needed. With or without a visa.” Yet another ad reads, “(We will introduce) nominees or guarantors. All Japanese.” Some advertisers falsely identify themselves as administrative scriveners, while others suggest assisting fake marriages and overstaying visas.
The NPA has named the services and means of communication that promote crimes as “crime infrastructure.”
Here is my cut of a translation that is being circulated by an influential NGO in Japan as the standard for recognizing Domestic Violence (“DV”) in Japan. Thanks CJ for finding and posting this!
Note that these standards or substantially similar standards will likely be applied under the new Hague implementation law to deny access and/or return of children to foreign (and Japanese) parents who are victims of parental abduction to and within Japan. Similar standards are already applied in Japanese family courts at present.
The original URL is below and this was a rushed translation, so if someone can clean it up or correct it, please do. Please feel free to forward this to folks involved with Congressional approval if HR1940.
Please note for the avoidance of doubt that I am very much for the protection of both males and females from legitimate partner abuse and certain forms of behavior (like slapping) on this list are SERIOUS infractions, represent CRIMINAL acts and are to be condemned in the STRONGEST possible terms. However, certain of the conduct described below is a given even in otherwise healthy relationships and to include such conduct alongside actual physical violence or serious verbal abuse dilutes the very necessary efforts needed to protect actual abuse victims and for this reason, such ridiculous crap science does more to endanger domestic violence victims than to help them. For these reasons, such a list is highly contemptible. Best, CJS
The DV Checklist
“He is kind of scary. Is this even a ’DV’?” “’DV’ I mean, I often hear the term, but I do not know specifically what ‘DV’ is!”…
Often we hear about DV in daily life. If you do too, try completing the following checklist.
We have published this checklist by Dr. Numazaki Ichirou. The survey was designed for men and women, but for sexual minorities, please complete the exercise according to one’s role in the relationship.
Checklist for Women
Please check any of these if you have experienced them:
He sulks if I deviate in any way from what he has requested of me.
He quickly blames me whenever something goes wrong.
When I go out alone, he calls my cell phone regularly.
He is reluctant to associate with my friends and parents.
He is angry if I come home late.
He says I am “stupid” or “incompetent”.
He cops an attitude so that I don’t refuse to comply with his whims.
I do not want him to be angry so I reluctantly listen to him.
I always try to wear clothes that he likes.
He has not problem pointing out my shortcomings in front of other people.
He ignores me when I want to talk with him.
Also complains vocally about my idiosyncrasies.
I am relieved when he is not around.
If I have a temper tantrum, he responds by hitting walls, or throwing objects.
I have been slapped by him.
After he hits me, he is quickly kind and gentle to me and apologizes.
In order not to offend him I have given up a lot.
He insists on sex without taking care of my needs.
Source: by Numazaki Ichirou “Why Do Men Choose Violence?”
Checklist for Men
Please check any of these if you have experienced them:
I have yelled at her.
I wish that she would only have eyes for me.
Sometimes I don’t answer her when she wants to talk to me.
While speaking with her, I have stood up and got close to her.
She has thought that I made fun of her.
I think a woman should look up to her man.
I may have silently stared at her.
I am concerned when she is speaking with other men.
I have secretly checked her cell phone.
I have cheated on her.
I have told her “Don’t get smart with me.”
I may have lifted a hand to her.
I am annoyed when she talks back to me.
I have cussed at her.
I have called her a big mouth.
I feel restless if I am not with her all the time.
I feel hurt if she pushes back at me.
She incurred a debt for me without my permission.
Source: Dr. Numazaki Ichirou “Why Do men choose violence?”
According to Professor Numazaki, the producer of this list, a check mark next to even ONE item indicates a DV event. (For women who checked off one item, they have been a victim of DV and, for men, any checks indicate that that man was a perpetrator of DV.)
One of the items in the men’s list is “I wish that she would only have eyes for me.” One might question “How can ‘wishing’ or “thinking” something amount to violence?” Indeed, “just thinking” does not amount to violence. But if the thought “I think so” represents a strong belief, it is often followed by action. If one thinks “I want her only to have eyes for me” strongly, then the expression of power and domination (violence) is possible.
According to the results of a survey in 2008 by the Cabinet, “33,2% of married women over the age of 20 have been victims of DV.”
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Hi Blog. The Sankei reports on May 25 that the Ministry of Justice will be loosening some of its strictures on NJ visas (the Sankei uses the word nohouzu in its headline; I’m not 100% sure of the nuance but it sounds like “a wild and endless expansion of favorable treatment regarding NJ entry visas”; rather snotty, but that’s the Sankei for ya).
The new Immigration policy is directed at NJ with very high skills (koudo jinzai — a good idea) and their families (who will also be allowed to work; wow, that’s a change!), will have a points system for evaluation (another good idea), will offer longer visa periods (5 years), and will loosen the specificity between work visas. It’s being touted as a means to make Japan more appealing to NJ labor (you had better!).
Sounds like a step in the right direction. But it’s still 中途半端. What’s missing is GOJ guaranteeing some degree of protection of labor and civil rights after NJ get here. And what about qualifications? Just try practicing law, medicine, or most other licensed skills in Japan now without going through the rigmarole of domestic certification, with walls so high (cf. the NJ nurses from Indonesia and The Philippines over the past few years) that almost all NJ applicants fail (and, magically, have to return home as usual after three years, just like any other revolving-door “Trainee” or “Researcher” NJ laborer).
This isn’t the first time a points system etc. has been floated (only to die the death of a thousand meddling bureaucrats) either. I guess the mandarins are realizing what a fix Japan is in without NJ labor. But if this kind of policy is going to happen at all, the almighty MOJ has to be the one proposing it. Then perhaps the waters will part for Moses. Let’s wait and see.
But this is on balance “good” news. But not “great” news unless the GOJ also does something to force domestic actors to treat NJ nicely. Which is doubtful. Arudou Debito
Niconico News cites a former prosecutor who said his training was to deny human rights to organized crime members and foreign suspects.
Level3, Mark in Yayoi, and Sora amend an original translation, featured below. More commentary follows the translation:
Stunning revelation from former prosecutor on the real situation of initial training, “We were taught that yakuza and foreigners have no rights”
Niconico News, May 23, 2011 (updated May 31, 2011)
The chief prosecutor in the Saga City Agricultural Co-op case, now known to be a frame-up, spoke at a symposium held in Tokyo on May 23, 2011, offering a revealing discussion of the surprising reality of the training he received when he joined his department. “We were taught that yakuza and foreigners have no human rights,” he disclosed, and “public prosecutors were taught to make up confessions and then have suspects sign them.” Describing how terrifying this warped training system is, he added that “after being trained in that way, [he] began to almost believe that this was natural.”
The person making the statements about his erstwhile workplace was former public prosecutor Hiroshi Ichikawa. Appointed to handle the 2000 Saga City Agricultural Co-op case, he coerced a confession from the former union leader that he was interrogating, using violent language such as “Bastard! I’ll kill you!” The union leader had been indicted on suspicion breach of trust. His confession was deemed not to have been voluntary, and he was acquitted. As a result, Mr. Ichikawa was severely reprimanded and resigned his post as public prosecutor.
Mr. Ichikawa took the podium as a panelist at the symposium “Prosecution, Public Opinion, and False Convictions,” sponsored by the Graduate School of Communications at Meiji University. “I have done things that no public prosecutor should do,” he said. “I want to tell the truth about how it is that a prosecutor could say such things.” This was a shocking statement.
Mr. Ichikawa was appointed to the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office in 1993. He said that in his first year, a superior prosecutor taught him that “yakuza and foreigners have no human rights.” Describing his experiences, he mentioned that that superior said, “Foreigners don’t understand Japanese, so you can use whatever threatening language you like if it’s in Japanese.” The same superior also said that when investigating one foreign suspect, he held a pointed awl in front of the suspect’s face and shouted abuse at the suspect in Japanese. “‘That’s how you get them to confess,’ the superior said.”
In his third year, a superior taught him how to obtain a confession; this consisted of the prosecutor taking a document filled with whatever the prosecutor chose to say, threatening the suspect with it, and obtaining the suspect’s signature. What if the suspect refused to sign? “If the suspect resisted, my boss said, I should say that the document was my [investigation], not his [confession form],” said Mr. Ichikawa.
“As I continued to be educated this way, I began to think that these methods were natural. By my eighth year, I was saying things I definitely shouldn’t have; the [Saga] case resulted in an acquittal, and I ended up quitting.”
Mr. Ichikawa quit his post in 2005 and is currently practicing as an attorney. On May 22, the day before the symposium, he drew attention by offering a televised apology to the family of the union head that he had verbally mistreated, appearing on the TV Asahi program “The Scoop – Special”. This Meiji University symposium was also broadcast on Nico Nico Douga, where Mr. Ichikawa explained why he made these statements in public: “I think it is my role now to tell about what I have seen and heard in order to atone for the terrible mistakes I have made.”
COMMENT: Good that this came out, and bravo for Mr. Ichikawa. Mark in Yayoi offers the best comment by looking at the Twitter reactions to this article (also reproduced below), where a number of posters sought to justify the status quo. In Mark’s words:
“The Twitter comments that follow it are dispiriting — nobody seems to notice the fundamental incongruousness of discussing members of a criminal organization and people who happen to have different nationalities in the same breath. And then there are the other commenters who support the idea of certain people not having human rights. Others claim that foreign embassies should be the ones to guarantee the rights of immigrants. They miss the fundamental meaning of ‘human’ rights: rights are inherent aren’t handed down by the government! The government can restrict certain people’s rights, but the default state is not ‘zero rights’.”
That is very insightful about the public awareness and understanding of human rights in Japan, including at the highest levels of law enforcement. Bear this in mind in future discussions. Arudou Debito in Sapporo.
Tens of thousands of worried foreign workers left Japan shortly after a crisis at the nuclear power plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, causing serious labor shortages in some industries.
After foreign governments lifted their temporary evacuation advisories issued in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, many Americans and Europeans started coming back to Japan, albeit gradually. But workers from neighboring countries such as China have yet to do so.
Chinese people in particular — mostly students and trainees — had occupied key parts of the workforce in many Japanese industries, and therefore if they continue to stay out of Japan for an extended period of time, they could have a grave impact on the industries and force firms to review their business strategies or cut production.
“We are closed for a while,” said a notice written in rather awkward Japanese pasted on the shutter door of a Chinese restaurant slightly away form the main street of Yokohama Chinatown, the biggest Chinese quarter in Japan.
According to the cooperative association of shop owners in Chinatown, of the total of 2,500 people working there, about 300 of them, mainly part-time workers and students from China, returned to their country. As a result, about 10 out of some 320 stores, including souvenir shops, had to suspend their business operations.
The number of visitors to Chinatown at present accounts for about 80 percent of figures before the disaster, according to Kensei Hayashi, head of the cooperative association. There are shops that have enough labor to conduct business now, but they are stretched. While Chinatown hopes to see more people visiting the quarter the way they used to, there are growing concerns that an acute labor shortage could hit the town hard.
At Yoshinoya, a major beef bowl restaurant chain in Japan, about 200 foreign part-time workers including Chinese students, or about one-fourth of the total number of such workers in the Tokyo metropolitan area, quit their jobs in the first week after the March 11 disaster. The restaurant chain has managed to continue to operate by sending its employees to the shops from stores in other areas and hiring new workers.
Lawson, a major convenience store chain in Japan, also saw a number of foreign students quitting their part-time jobs at its stores in central Tokyo, but it has managed to keep its stores open by dispatching employees from headquarters. One Chinese person who had been set to work for Lawson from spring turned down the job offer.
A large number of foreign companies operating in Japan urged their employees to evacuate to areas outside Tokyo or abroad in the wake of the nuclear disaster. But some signs are emerging now that the situation is subsiding. Those companies that moved their offices to the Kansai region or elsewhere temporarily have started moving their offices back to Tokyo.
At Berlitz, a major English conversation school in Japan, the number of foreign instructors dropped by 30 to 40 percent immediately after the earthquake, but it has come back to about 90 percent of the total workforce it had before the disaster.
In the case of Chinese workers, many of them are students or trainees, and therefore it is often difficult for them to secure enough money to return to Japan. There are cases of “worrisome parents not letting them return to the country,” said a Chinese resident of Japan. Such being the case, it is unlikely that they will return to their workplaces in Japan anytime soon.
Japan’s sewing industry, which had accepted more than 40,000 trainees from China, saw them returning to their country in droves in the wake of the nuclear crisis. The Japan Textile Federation says about 30,000 Chinese trainees remain in their home country. Each company in the industry is required to keep the number of Chinese trainees below about 20 percent of its total workforce, but if the current situation were to continue, the industry as a whole would likely be forced to cut production drastically.
If the sewing industry were to fall into stagnation, the entire textile industry, including clothing, yarn and dyeing sectors, would suffer serious damage. “While production is being shifted abroad, the domestic industry in Japan has been able to survive by making high-quality and high-value-added products. But the industry could fall apart due to the earthquake disaster and the nuclear accident,” says the Japan Textile Federation.
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Hi Blog. Here’s yet another article from a more reputable source, the Nihon Keizai Shinbun, talking about the phenomenon of NJ allegedly leaving Japan behind and having an adverse effect on Japan’s economy.
For the record, I don’t doubt that NJ have left Japan due to the Tohoku Disasters. I just have my doubts that a) it’s any more significant than the Japanese who also left, yet get less nasty media coverage (I have yet to see an article comparing both J and NJ “flight” in terms of numbers), b) it’s worth blaming NJ for leaving, since Japanese overseas would probably do much the same if advised to do so by their government in the face of a disaster, and c) the media is actually doing their job investigating sources to nail down the exact statistics. Let’s see how the Nikkei does below:
Some bogus journalistic practices unbecoming of something as trusted as the Nikkei, to wit:
Providing a generic photo of people drinking at a Tokyo izakaya and claiming that they’re talking about repatriating NJ (that’s quite simply yarase).
Relying on piecemeal sources (cobbling numbers together from Xinhua, some part-timer food chains, an eikaiwa, a prefectural employment agency for “Trainee” slave labor, and other pinpoint sources) that do not necessarily add up to a trend or a total.
Finishing their sentences with the great linguistic hedgers, extrapolators, and speculators (in place of harder sources), including “…to mirareru“, “… sou da“, “there are cases of…” etc. All are great indicators that the article is running on fumes in terms of data.
Portraying Japanese companies as victimized by deserting NJ workers, rather than observing that NJ thus far, to say the least, have helped Japan avoid its labor shortage (how about a more positive, grateful tone towards NJ labor?, is what I’m asking for).
And as always, not comparing their numbers with numbers of Japanese exiting. Although the article avoids the more hectoring tone of other sources I’ve listed on Debito.org, it still makes it seems like the putative Great Flyjin Exodus is leaving Japan high and dry. No mention of course in the article of how many of these NJ might also be leaving Japan because they have no stake in it, i.e. are stuck in a dead-end or part-time job with no hope of promotion, advancement, or leadership within their corporate sector.
Once again, it’s pretty flawed social science. The Nikkei could, and should, do better, and if even the Nikkei of all media venues can’t, that says something bad about Japanese journalism when dealing with ethnic issues. Read the article for yourself. Arudou Debito
As for Japanese guests? Not always better. Here’s the latest mutation: The Yomiuri reports places are refusing Japanese people too from irradiated Fukushima Prefecture because they think they might be glowing:
As the article lays out, it’s not just a hotel (although hotels have a particular responsibility, even under the law, to offer refuge and rest to the paying public). A gas station reportedly had a sign up refusing Fukushima Kenmin (they must think Fukushimans spark!), while complaints came in to official soudan madoguchi that a restaurant refused Fukushimans entry and someone had his car defaced. In all, 162 complaints reportedly came in regarding fuhyou higai, or roughly “damages due to disreputation” of being tarred by the disasters. Now that’s an interesting word for a nasty phenomenon.
Good news is that these problems are at least being reported in the media as a social problem, and Fukushima Prefecture is asking the national government to address them. Let’s hope the GOJ takes measures to protect Fukushima et.al. from further exposure to “fuhyou” and discrimination. Might be a template for getting the same for NJ.
(Okay, probably not, but it’s still the right thing to do.) Arudou Debito
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Hi Blog. As promised, here we have a record of how domestic media is either reporting on nasty rumors denigrating NJ, or circulating those nasty rumors themselves. The GOJ is taking measures to quell the clacking keyboards, but the tabloids (roundly decried for spreading exaggerated information overseas about the state of radioactivity from Fukushima) are still selling papers by targeting NJ regardless.
(There’s a lot of text in Japanese below; keep paging down. Brief comments in English sandwiched between.)
Still, that doesn’t stop other media from headlining other (and still nasty) rumors about how (bad) NJ are heading south towards Tokyo (soon rendering Ueno into a lawless zone). Or that NJ are all just getting the hell out:
(SPA Magazine Issue dated April 12, 2011)
(Nikkan Gendai April 11, 2011)
Despite the (uncriticizing) domestic reports of Japanese also leaving Tokyo?
Besides (as other Debito.org Readers have pointed out), if the shoe was on the other foot, do you think Japanese citizens living overseas would refuse to consider repatriating themselves out of a stricken disaster area (and do you think the media of that stricken country would zero in on them with the same nasty verve?).
Meanwhile, xenophobic websites continue to rail and rant against NJ, since hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity: Here’s but one example (which has escaped the notice of the GOJ as yet, calling for the execution of foreign criminals and throwing their bodies into the sea etc.); I’m sure Readers can find more and post them in the Comments Section below:
People always need someone to blame or speak ill of, I guess. I’ll talk more soon about how Japanese from Fukushima are also being targeted for exclusion. However, it seems that hate speech directed towards NJ is less “discriminate”, so to speak — in that it doesn’t matter where you came from, how long you’ve been here, or what you’re doing or have done for Japan; if you’re foreign in Japan, you’re in a weakened position, suspect and potentially subversive.
As long as one can anonymously bad-mouth other people in billets and online, one can get away with this. Again, this is why we have laws against hate speech in other countries — to stem these nasty tendencies found in every society. Arudou Debito
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Hi Blog. Here we have the Wall Street Journal joining in the NJ bashfest, publicizing the word “flyjin” for the Japanese market too (making one question the claim that the pejorative is restricted to the English-language market). Gotta love the Narita airport photo within that is deftly timed to make it seem as if it’s mostly NJ fleeing. “Good-natured hazing” is how one investment banker puts it below, making one wonder if he knows what hazing means. Anyway, here’s another non-good-natured article about how the aftershocks of the earthquake are affecting NJ. Arudou Debito
Wall Street Journal March 23, 2011
TOKYO—Life in Japan is showing tentative signs of returning to normal, but a fresh challenge may be facing the expatriates and Japanese who left and are now trickling back to their offices: how to cope with ostracism and anger from their colleagues who have worked through the crisis.
One foreigner, a fluent Japanese speaker at a large Japanese company, said that his Japanese manager and colleagues were “furious” with him for moving to Osaka for three days last week and that he felt he was going to have to be very careful to avoid being ostracized upon returning to work in Tokyo.
The flight of the foreigners—known as gaijin in Japanese—has polarized some offices in Tokyo. Last week, departures from Japan reached a fever pitch after the U.S. Embassy unveiled a voluntary evacuation notice and sent in planes to ferry Americans to safe havens. In the exodus, a new term was coined for foreigners fleeing Japan: flyjin.
The expat employees’ decision to leave is a sensitive cultural issue in a country known for its legions of “salarymen”: loyal Japanese employees whose lives revolve around the office, who regularly work overtime and who have strong, emotional ties to their corporations and their colleagues.
“There is a split between [the Japanese and foreigners] on where their allegiances lie. In Japan, the company and family are almost one and the same, whereas foreigners place family first and company second,” said Mark Pink, the founder of financial recruitment firm TopMoneyJobs.com, based in Tokyo.
The head of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, at a news conference Tuesday, expressed his disappointment that so many foreigners—from the U.S., France, the U.K., China and Hong Kong, among others—had been urged to leave the country by their governments and by worried families. Their flight was at least in part due to the more alarmist tones the foreign media took in coverage of the disaster, compared with the local news that emphasized how problems were being addressed.
“Many countries arranged for planes to bring their people back home. In some embassies, they sent messages to their nationals in Japan that the situation is very dangerous, while at some companies, top executives have come to Japan to provide reassurance,” said Atsushi Saito, head of the TSE. “It may be part of TSE’s role to put down rumors and to transmit to foreign nations what a great country Japan is.”
One expat in Tokyo, who runs his own small business, decided to go to London last week with a business partner. “It has been the right thing to do from a work-productivity point of view, as we have a big deadline to meet at the end of the month,” he said. “That said, I don’t feel very good about leaving and I’m sure people will perceive it as cowardly, and I won’t object to that.”
European Pressphoto AgencyPassengers, among them foreign nationals, checking in for flights departing from Narita International Airport, near Tokyo, on Sunday.
Those foreigners who return will find life in Tokyo is largely back to normal, with trains crowded during rush hour and men in suits packing restaurants during lunchtime in the city’s main financial district. But signs of disruption linger: Many shops close at 6 p.m. to conserve electricity and many stores are still out of basics such as milk and toilet paper.
One foreign investment banker in Tokyo says he wasn’t surprised that so many employees left. “We don’t hire people into the financial industry to risk their lives—this is investment banking and we hire investment-banker types,” he said. “We are trying to avoid ostracism for those who come back—there is no upside in that—but there is good-natured hazing.”
To be sure, most foreign senior-level managers leading teams in Tokyo stayed in the capital or relocated their entire offices to other locations in Japan, according to several managers interviewed Tuesday. In most cases, the expats who left are stay-at-home mothers, their children and those workers who don’t have staff reporting to them and can work remotely from Hong Kong and Singapore. Some Japanese, of course, also left Tokyo, though mainly women and children going home to their families in other parts of Japan, while their husbands stay in behind to work.
“If I had left as the president, my role as a leader would have been diminished,” said Gerry Dorizas, the president of Volkswagen AG’s operations in Japan, who has been in that role four years. “We’ve been very transparent.”
VW Japan has moved all its staff, including 12 expats and 130 Japanese staff and their families, to Toyohashi in Aichi prefecture.
Boeing Co., which has operated in Japan for more than 50 years, says the majority of its 30-strong staff in Tokyo have remained, despite an offer to work in Nagoya, or for expats to take a home leave.
Christine Wright, managing director of Hays in Tokyo, one of the country’s leading recruitment firms, said: “I saw no reason to leave; if you have a commitment to your staff, you stay there.”
Some said the expats would likely find local colleagues to be more understanding than expected. They say a decade of deflation and economic hardship has changed the Japanese mindset. “I think the Japanese had more of the group mentality decades ago, but not so much now,” said Shin Tanaka, head of PR firm Fleishman Hillard’s operations in Japan. “I think most [Japanese] people are staying because they think there is little risk.”
A Japanese employee at a foreign investment bank said he wasn’t bothered by the fact that some of his colleagues left last week. He felt the gap was narrowed by technology, anyway, allowing some who left to do their share. “It hasn’t really been a problem,” he said. “They’re working remotely out of other countries in Asia.”
Still, the return of the “flyjin” to Tokyo and other areas of Japan will likely be an issue for management to grapple with one way or another in the coming weeks.
“Most companies are trying to give some space to people on both sides to adjust: the people who feel they were abandoned and the foreigners who are coming back and feeling some initial tension,” said Mr. Pink. “Within a week or so that may resolve itself.”
—Alison Tudor and Kana Inagaki contributed to this article.
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Hi Blog. Check out this Asahi Shinbun editorial (Japanese, then English), which offers an assessment of the victimization of Japan by 3/11, and insinuates that NJ in Japan are deserting us in our time of need:
This past weekend, there were fewer foreigners than usual to be seen in Tokyo’s typically busy Ginza and Omotesando districts. Not just tourists from abroad scrambled to leave Japan, but also business travelers, students and reportedly even diplomats.
While I am deeply grateful to people around the world for their moral and material support, I understand too well that rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but the Japanese.
We haven’t yet got a total picture of the extent of damage wrought by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Elderly people continue to die at evacuation centers and hospitals. At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, four reactors are taking turns in acting up.
The megaquake occurred 10 days ago, but it is still tormenting its victims, having unleashed twin monsters of a gigantic tsunami and a nuclear crisis.
On March 11, normal life fell apart in many ways, big and small. Rolling power outages have become routine in the Kanto region, where supermarket shelves are noticeably bare. Even in the Kansai region, which suffered no damage, people are reportedly hoarding gasoline and batteries. All over Japan, people are scared.
In towns that have been reduced to rubble, survivors mourn their lost loved ones, hanging on to what they remember of them before the muddy tsunami waves claimed them.
“You want to cry, but you can’t,” said a head nurse at a hospital. A survivor herself, she is risking her own life to save others.
Time is irreversible, and I feel the pain of these people. I will stand by them in spirit as they face further hardship in the days to come.
One week after the earthquake and tsunami, the Tokyo Sky Tree, now under construction in the capital’s Sumida Ward, reached its full height of 634 meters. When it surpassed Tokyo Tower in height a year ago, I noted in this column, “From that height, I would like to see Japan outgrow its introverted mentality and start moving again.”
The starting line will have to be moved back considerably. But just as people experience a sudden surge of superhuman power when their backs are against the wall, the deeper our country is steeped in crisis, the greater our ability will be to rebound.
Let us all believe that, and let us stand by our fellow citizens who survived the catastrophe. We have nowhere to go back to, except this country of ours, which we must rebuild again out of the rubble.
–The Asahi Shimbun, March 20, 2011. ENDS
COMMENT: Now, some may excuse this as a strained column created by a tired journalist during a time of great national stress. But my point is that it’s interesting what stress brings out in influential public forums — in this case, a knee-jerk belief that NJ in particular (with the assumption that Japanese are constrained from fleeing themselves) are fleeing, not helping, and have no investment in this society. How insulting, especially in light of how many NJ are also pitching in. Also, the clear and nasty assertion that it’s only the Japanese who can rebuild Japan (made also by PM Kan in his speeches) seems not only callously ethnocentric, but also in error in light all the assistance Japan has been gratefully accepting from the world.
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Hi Blog. Let’s now start looking at some aspects of what appears to be a Post 3-11 Backlash against NJ. Let’s start with the Tokyo Governor’s Election, due April 10.
We already have one overtly racist incumbent, Ishihara Shintaro, whom I’ve heard is alas the favorite to win, again. But also on the bill is this noticeably nasty candidate Furukawa Keigo, who advocates by his very slogan the expulsion of foreigners from his jurisdictions (pedants might counter that he’s only referring to Chinese and Koreans, but a) that doesn’t make it any better, and b) you think he’s only stopping there?).
Here’s Furukawa’s public campaign announcement, put in every Tokyoite’s mailbox through public monies:
Platform (from Campaign Video page, translation courtesy MS): Safeguard the capital. Safeguard Japan. Japan belongs to the Japanese people.
Now more than ever, we should resolutely expel the foreign barbarians
Eject foreigners from Tokyo.
(By foreigners, I mean mainly Chinese (the pejorative “Shinajin” used for this) and north and south Koreans. In other words, the foreigners who are thought to be causing harm to Japan.)
1. Change the law so that foreigners cannot purchase land in Tokyo-to.
2. Absolutely opposed to voting rights for foreigners!!
3. Ban the the use of officially recognized Japanese aliases used by so-called “Zainichi” Koreans.
4. Make conversion of pachinko shop premiums into cash illegal
5. Do not relocate the Tsukiji fish market
6. Permit opening of casinos in Toyosu
7. Continue with tuition-free high schooling. Abolish the school district system.
8. No need for Tokyo to host the Olympic Games
9. Merge Tokyo’s two subway corporations. Run the trains round the clock.
10. Revize Metropolitan Tokyo’s Ordinance No. 128 (law controlling public morals)
11. Provide more public housing
12. Revise construction safety regulations in Tokyo.
COMMENT: Although diverse elections will always contain crank candidates (after all, they have to represent their portion of the crank public), a question to be raised is what kind of people (and electoral system) would allow a campaign advocating the expulsion of taxpayers who have lived here for generations? Submitter MS says poignantly, “I’m royally pissed at having my tax money used on a document published and distributed by Met Tokyo that bears a prominent advertisement by a right-wing wacko candidate that advocates my expulsion.”
MS provides the mailing address of the office that oversees the gubernatorial election, FYI.
Secretariat to Election Administration Commission
(Senkyo Kanri Iinkai Jimukyoku)
39th Floor, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building No. 1
8-1, Nishi Shinjuku 2-chome
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 163-8001
This issue is admittedly a bit tangental; these campaign stumps were probably written and submitted before 3-11, so they are but riding sentiments that were already lying latent before they could surf the current wave of public opinion. How well Furukawa does on April 10 is quite possibly a bellwether of how sentiment is turning anti-NJ (or not) in the face of the “Fly-Jin” or “Bye-Jin” pejoratives.
More on how the J media has been bashing NJ as pseudo-deserters tomorrow. Arudou Debito
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Hi Blog. Here are some multilingual sites that might be helpful to NJ regarding disaster prevention and relief. This is by no means exhaustive. Debito.org Readers, please feel free to add more sites below that you think might be helpful. Arudou Debito
Japanese Cabinet site on policies towards NJ residents (includes disaster information) (multilingual).
Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara apologized Tuesday for his remark that the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami last week represented “divine punishment” of the Japanese people who have been tainted with egoism.
“I will take back (the remark) and offer a deep apology,” Ishihara said, adding that he should have thought about the feelings of the victims.
Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai showed displeasure with Ishihara, telling reporters he hopes the Tokyo governor will consider the people affected by the disaster.
“Japanese politics is tainted with egoism and populism. We need to use tsunami to wipe out egoism, which has rusted onto the mentality of Japanese over a long period of time,” Ishihara, who is seeking re-election for a fourth term on April 10, told reporters Monday. “I think (the disaster) is ‘tembatsu’ (divine punishment), although I feel sorry for disaster victims.”
But this old fool has long lost the mental software governing prudence befitting a person in high office. For a milder (but concrete) example, check out this video, where Ishihara gets all snitty because he was trying to make another speech about how the world was not going the way he wants it (when asked to offer a few seconds of encouragement to runners in this year’s Tokyo Marathon on February 27). Watch to the very end where you hear him characteristically grumbling about being cut off mid-rant: