“Japanese Only” sign on Okazaki Internet Cafe

mytest

Hello Blog. Just made a revision to the “Rogues’ Gallery” of Exclusionary Establishments–places nationwide in Japan which explicitly restrict or forbid foreign customers entry.

https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html

Newest entry (the 22nd municipality found yet so far) is from Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. An Internet cafe, of all things:

Okazaki City (Aichi Prefecture)
Internet Cafe “Dragon BOZ”
Aichi-shi Kakemachi Amigasa 5-1
ドラゴンBOZ
444-0011 岡崎市欠町網笠5-1(かけまちあみがさ)
Ph 0564-22-2051 or 0564-66-1156
http://www.dragonboz.com/main.html info@dragonboz.com

Sign up in English and Portuguese:

https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Okazaki
dragonbozsignsm.jpg
dragonbozfrontsm.jpg

COMMENT FROM THE SUBMITTER: “This Sunday (December 10th, 2006) I went to an internet café relatively close to where I live, since I have no access to the internet during Sundays and I had an urgent mail to send. I translate Japanese children’s books into Swedish in my spare time, and I had a deadline. Lo and behold, a true “foreigners only” at the desk. I was there with a japanese friend, so they said it would be OK for me to enter anyway: they had had some problem with a foreigner who didn’t speak Japanese two months ago, and felt that the sign was in good order to avoid further problems.

“Being a social anthropologist, I chose not to make a fuss over it in their face and instead came back with at tape recorder and actually got an interview with some middle-management boss about the reason for the rule, the café’s view on it and his personal (at least he said so) view. Surprisingly enough he even managed to come up with the “I realize that I would feel bad if I saw a ‘no japanese’ sign abroad” argument himself, but whether or not he was just being polite or not, I don’t know.

“Talking about it with a friend, I got the link to your homepage. It was quite a shock for me to see such a sign for the first time, and it made me feel much worse that I would have guessed.”
===============================

COMMENT: As it should. Pity the feeling didn’t stretch across the divide enough to convince the management that this sort of policy shouldn’t exist.

Hm. Should probably give these people a call and find out what’s on their little minds… Debito in Sapporo

“No Foreigners” signs in South Korea, too

mytest

Hello Blog. Fascinating blog from a South Korean perspective of “Japanese Only”… er… “Koreans Only” signs up on the Chousen Hantou.

http://www.rjkoehler.com/2006/12/13/oh-no-not-the-no-foreigners-in-the-sauna-thing/
(Thanks to Chris for notifying me.)

They link back to debito.org, so returning the favor.

I’m not going to make a habit of bringing in racism in other countries, however relevant, because it fosters arguments of “see, it’s everywhere, so fugeddaboudit”. But I have long gotten the feeling that South Korea (during my many trips there) is kinda like Japan, just in another dimension. And it’s fascinating to see the parallels to Japan that this blog provides from the perspective of people in Korea.

This blog in particular has a higher level of discussion anyway than most I see in Japan. Must be the kimchi. Have a look. Debito in Sapporo

Kume Hiroshi reads his decade-old gaffe on debito.org, apologizes! And why archives matter (contrast with dead and deleted archives at Tony Laszlo’s ISSHO Kikaku)

mytest

Hello Blog. Got some great news regarding some unfinished business over a decade old:

FORMER NEWS STATION ANCHORMAN KUME HIROSHI APOLOGIZES
FOR AN ANTI-“GAIJIN” COMMENT HE MADE TEN YEARS AGO
THANKS TO THE ISSUE BEING ARCHIVED ON DEBITO.ORG

This post is structured thusly:
///////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) BACKGROUND TO THE ISSUE
2) KUME’S LETTER OF APOLOGY
3) MORAL: ARCHIVES SHOULD NOT BE DELETED

(CONTRAST WITH THE DELETION AND SUPPRESSION OF HISTORY
ON TONY LASZLO’S ISSHO.ORG)

///////////////////////////////////////////////////
December 7, 2006

BACKGROUND TO THE ISSUE

I realized the value of a maintaining an archive all these years, when I got a letter out of the blue last Friday night (Dec 1) from a certain individual named Kume Hiroshi.

This is significant. Kume Hiroshi is a very influential person–for more than a decade he was Japan’s most popular (and controversial) news anchorman, hosting NEWS STATION on the TV Asahi network throughout the 1990’s. Much of his controversy stemmed from his glib editorial comments about news during the broadcast, found caustic or offensive by some viewers.

One thing that friends and I found offensive was his flippant use of the word “gaijin”, already becoming a “housou kinshi gotoba” (word not for broadcast, at least officially) on the networks at the time.

A gaffe he made in October 1996, questioning the efficacy of “gaijin” speaking fluent Japanese, caused a huge debate on mailing lists such as the Dead Fukuzawa Society and ISSHO Kikaku (both now moribund). It also occasioned my seminal essay on why “gaijin” is in fact a racist word (https://www.debito.org/kumegaijinissue.html).

Anyhow, this was one of the first human-rights issues ever I took up publicly in Japan, becoming a template for how to use “proper channels” for protest. Now, ten years later, those efforts have finally come to fruition!

What happened back then in more detail: On October 17, 1996, I emailed the following letter to TV Asahi (Japanese original):

============ MY 1996 LETTER TO TV ASAHI BEGINS =================
To Mr Kume Hiroshi:

(opening salutations deleted) On Monday (10/14)’s News Station broadcast something happened which troubled me. In the middle of a broadcast from India about the Maharaja burger in McDonald’s, some Indian apparently spoke very good Japanese.

But after that, Mr Kume apparently said:

“But it’s better if foreigners talk broken Japanese, right?”
(shikashi, gaijin wa nihongo ga katakoto no hou ga ii)

What does this mean? Maybe this was no more than an offhand comment, but I am greatly troubled. The next day, it became an issue on the the Fukuzawa internet group, and some “foreigners” felt very uncomfortable. The reason why was because foreigners both inside and outside Japan [sic] have taken great pains to become bilingual, and even if they try to fit into Japanese society, is it good for you to tell the whole country that “after all, it’s better if they remain unskilled like children”?

And then, I called TV Asahi directly and was connected to a gentleman at News Station. After I explained the above, he [replied]:

“‘Baby talk’ isn’t a bad word, I think. It’s just you who thinks so”, among other things. In other words, it seems he doesn’t take seriously the opinions of his viewers.

Even after I asked him, he wouldn’t give me his name, nor would he write down mine. “I’ll tell him” was all he said. But I really don’t have the confidence that he will pass the word along, so I am sending you this directly by email.

Afterwards, I called TV Asahi again and got hold of the Shichousha Center and talked to Mr Sekimoto. He said friendily, “That won’t do” and “I’ll talk to News Station”. However, that was around noon and I haven’t heard anything from them, so I don’t know what happened.

Anyway, Mr Kume, couldn’t you please take care of your terminology when addressing people who aren’t Japanese? If you take care about how you talk about Burakumin [Japanese Underclass], Zainichi Kankokujin [Japan-born Koreans], and “cripples” (bikko), please also do the same for the “gaijin”. (closing salutations deleted)

============ 1996 LETTER ENDS ======================
https://www.debito.org/kume1.5letterenglish.html
Japanese original at:
https://www.debito.org/kumeltrnihongo.html
https://www.debito.org/nihongo.html

(The entire issue, related articles, and the debate on Fukuzawa is archived at
https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#kume)

The issue then took off, hitting the Washington Post and the Daily Yomiuri twice. Finally, on November 28, News Station devoted an 11-minute segment on the word “gaijin” itself (a digression from the real issue of the “appropriateness” of their fluency–see my write-up of the telecast at https://www.debito.org/kume5tvasahibroadcast.html).

Alas, Kume topped the whole thing off by calling the reporter who anchored the story, award-winning novelist Dave Zoppetti, a “gaijin” all over again. Would he ever learn?

Yes, he would.

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

THE LETTER OF APOLOGY

Fast forward more than ten years. Kume-san is now no longer on the air (except for a radio program one day a week), and is apparently considering becoming a politician.

This is what I received last Friday:
(Japanese original, available at https://www.debito.org/?p=106
Translated by Arudou Debito):

============ LETTER FROM KUME BEGINS ======================
Subject: Mr. David Aldwinckle
Date: December 1, 2006 7:32:40 PM JST
To: debito AT debito.org
Aldwinckle sama:

Please excuse this sudden email. My name is Kume Hiroshi. I appeared three years ago on News Station.

This is something more than ten years old, but on my program I said something about “I find it weird when foreigners (gaikokujin) are good at Japanese.” Recently I found out that you sent in a letter of protest about this.

I remember this happening. That person who came on the show had such incredible Japanese that I was blown away. My memory was that I remarked with the nuance that foreigners (gaikoku no kata) who speak Japanese should speak it like they knew that they were foreign (gaikokujin).

However, after a good think about this, I realize that this is a pretty rude thing to say. I’m thinking about how this reflects the narrow viewpoint of someone with an island mentality (shimaguni konjou).

I’m not sure how you feel about this nowadays, but if you took offense to this, I apologize from my heart for it.

KUME HIROSHI
============ LETTER FROM KUME ENDS ======================

(Note how careful he is even to avoid using the word “gaijin” throughout his letter. Good.)

Now, given the nature of the Internet, I of course had doubts about the veracity of this email. So I asked the author nicely for some more proof. He answered to give me the contact details of his agency (I checked with Dave Spector to make sure it is legit) and the cellphone of his agent, and would let them know I would be calling. I called on Monday and confirmed that yes, Kume Hiroshi really was the author. I have already made this information public to my Japanese lists, to show that Kume really is a person with a conscience.

I also send this to you to show that it really does pay to protest.

Make your thoughts known calmly and earnestly, and minds might change even at the highest levels!

However, this incident brings a more serious issue to light:

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

3) MORAL: ARCHIVES SHOULD NOT BE DELETED
(cf. THE DELETION AND SUPPRESSION OF HISTORY ON TONY LASZLO’S ISSHO.ORG)

Now bear in mind that if these Kume letters were not up and searchable on debito.org, the entire issue would have been lost to the sands of time.

Which creates a clear irony. Another letter regarding the Kume “Gaijin” Gaffe up on my website is from ISSHO Kikaku, a formerly active Internet action group which promoted diversity in Japan (http://www.issho.org), headed by Tony Laszlo, now a millionaire and public figure. Tony Laszlo became very rich and famous in the 2000’s as “Tony-chan”, the amusing foreign husband of an international couple, thanks to the magical depiction by his wife, the very talented manga artist Oguri Saori, in the DAARIN WA GAIKOKUJIN multi-million-selling comic-book series. (Japan Times article “Drawing on Love: A publishing marriage made in heaven” at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20041017x1.html)

Anyway, the thing is, you can’t find that ISSHO Kume letter up at issho.org anymore. In fact, you can’t get any information whatsoever from the ISSHO Kikaku domain, despite all the years of work by hundreds of volunteers (myself included) creating that archive and information site. Issho.org also contained information on other important issues, such as foreign academics in Japan, the Azumamura Pool Exclusions Case, and the Ana Bortz Lawsuit.

Fact is, the ISSHO archives have been down for more than a year now (all you get when you access issho.org is “Site renewal – please wait a while. Submitted by issho on Sun, 2005-12-04 11:39.”) According to others doing net searches said: ” I just hope [information on the Ana Bortz Case] wasn’t solely on the issho.org site, because according to the Wayback Machine), ‘access to http://www.issho.org has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt.’ Which means whoever controls that domain has purposely blocked any attempts from outside to access information from it.” “To be more specific, the robot directed all search engines not to create their own archive. Also, there was a text message in the file, it read: ‘Go away!'”

I don’t know any real human rights group which would do a thing like this. Collate all this information and then not let people access it?

Similarly, the archive for the former issho mailing list at yahoogroups, likewise under the administration of Tony Laszlo, was also deleted several years ago.

Why does this matter? Because ISSHO Kikaku’s archives were an important historical record of how the foreign community in Japan fundamentally changed its awareness in the 1990’s. Foreigners began to refuse being merely seen as “guests”. They began asserting themselves online with a newfound confidence as residents and taxpayers, demanding attention, due recognition, and commensurate human rights.

I also tried to chart the rise of foreign resident awareness in my books JAPANESE ONLY. However, I received a letter, dated August 13, 2004, from Tony Laszlo’s lawyer, the famous TV lawyer Kitamura Yasuo, accusing me of infringement of copyright, libel, and invasion of privacy. Kitamura’s letter is available at https://www.debito.org/letterlazlawyer.html”>https://www.debito.org/letterlazlawyer.html

On August 30, 2004, my publisher and I had a meeting with Tony Laszlo and his lawyer, where he demanded that my publisher halt publication of both my English and Japanese versions of JAPANESE ONLY. We didn’t.

I bring all this up now because there has been more than a year of dead issho.org archives, many years of dead yahoogroups archives, and an attempt to silence another published account of the times in two languages. Why is there so much suppression and/or deletion of the historical record?

The biggest irony is that Tony Laszlo is once again appearing in public as “Representative, ISSHO Kikaku”, according to a November 26, 2006, meeting of new NGO “No-Borders” (http://www.zainichi.net Click under the left-hand heading “nettowaaku ni sanka suru soshiki, kojin” in the blue field, fourth from the top. His is the fifth name on the list. If that archive also mysteriously disappears, refer to https://www.debito.org/noborders120706.webarchive)

With no clear membership, no accessible information site, and no archives to show whatever ISSHO Kikaku has ever done, it seems that this is a Potemkin group indeed.

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

The bottom line: It is precisely because of archives that Kume Hiroshi apologized. Without a record, we are writing sand messages on the wind. Let history be judged in retrospect without denial of access or mass deletion. If we’re ever going to get anything done for ourselves in this society, we need to know what to continue building upon.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
https://www.debito.org
December 7, 2006
ENDS

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

ADDITION: JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE
Drawing on love

The “Da-rin” books detailing a couple’s quirky ways are a publishing marriage made in heaven
By TOMOKO OTAKE, Staff writer

THE JAPAN TIMES Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004
Courtesy (and with photos and book excerpts at)
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20041017x1.html

She is a Japanese manga artist with a piercingly sharp eye for human traits and foibles. He is an American writer and language buff who can chat with equal ease in four languages. Together, they make for a magnetic — not to say a “mangaetic” — couple.

That’s because for Saori Oguri and Tony Laszlo (above), their life together has also spawned a side-splitting comic-book series which, in two volumes, has recently topped the million-sales mark.

In the first of the books, “Da-rin wa Gaikokujin” (which means, “My Darling Is a Foreigner”), 37-year-old Oguri turned her life with 44-year-old Tony into a hilarious read.

Published in December 2002, “Da-rin” depicts Tony as a sensitive, naive and reflective guy with markedly chiseled features.

In one episode, bearded Tony is so emotionally affected by seeing a bus fly through the air off the middle of a broken highway in the action film “Speed” (only to miraculously land on the unbroken other side) that he has to get up and lean against the wall for a while “to soften” the shock. Meanwhile, Saori comes across as an articulate, no-nonsense type — a spouse Tony had no chance of shifting when she’d decided to buy two luxurious 200 yen buns at a bakery, despite him urging her to just get one 100 yen bag (with two buns in it) to save money.

“But what if we died tomorrow?” she retorts, her eyes narrowing into fiery slits. Next moment, she’s morphed into a woman on her deathbed, a worn-out futon — whispering feebly from between sunken cheeks: “I . . . wanted to eat that 200 yen bun . . . ”

Talking recently with the couple at a trendy cafe near their home in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, that same comical chemistry came to life from the pages of their book, with Tony waxing lyrical and reflective while his wife, in total contrast, cut straight to the chase.

Their first encounter dates back to 1995, when Saori volunteered to help at an event organized by a nongovernmental group that Tony had founded. Which one of them first had a crush on the other is a bone of contention, with each claiming the other was the first to look him/her in the eye.

Tiffs over ‘subtleties’
But anyway they clicked, started dating, and eventually got married. Although the book describes their budding relationship humorously, it was rocky at first, Saori said. That wasn’t just because Tony hails from the United States and has Hungarian and Italian parents, or just because Saori grew up in Japan. The tiffs came from differences in “subtleties” — like feeling that the efforts you’ve made to adjust to the other went unrecognized.

It was Noriko Matsuda, an editor at the Tokyo-based publisher Media Factory, who persuaded Saori, her older sister’s friend, to create a comic book based on the couple’s life. Matsuda had been a longtime fan of Saori, whose style before “Da-rin” had been relatively low-key, often allied to serious story lines and with dramatically different graphics from “Da-rin,” featuring lots of gorgeous girls and guys.

After she agreed to rise to Matsuda’s challenge, Saori drew the first volume of the book in just six weeks — from October 2002 — after taking time off from a series she was doing for a comic magazine.

Riding the success of the first “Da-rin,” whose total print run is now up to 550,000 copies, Saori came up with a sequel, simply titled “My Darling Is a Foreigner 2,” which was published in March.

Initially, the books were targeted at cross-culturally married couples. But they have turned out to have a much wider public appeal.

Nonetheless, the scale of the books’ success — with a combined 1.03 million copies printed so far (for which Saori receives 10 percent royalties for every one sold) raises the question of whether its popularity is connected to the rising number of Japanese getting hitched to non-Japanese (36,039 in 2003, up from 26,657 a decade ago, according to official statistics). Or does it mean that more Japanese are finally embracing multiculturalism — or at least feeling obliged to tune into the English-speaking world?

According to Matsuda, the book’s success has little to do with any of that.

“Whether you marry a Japanese or a foreigner, marriage, at the end of the day, is about living with someone else,” she said. “And readers probably resonated with the author’s message, which is, if you try to understand each other better, it makes life so much more enjoyable.”

Saori agrees that it’s not the theme of “international marriage” that has fueled the “Da-rin” boom. In fact more than 70 percent of the 60 to 100 postcard responses she gets from readers every month are from Japanese married to Japanese, she said — or from Japanese who are single.

Long after the book’s publication, there was one significant other whose opinion Saori was denied. Tony stopped himself from reading it, because he didn’t want to get caught up in all the hype.

Characteristically, though, when he did recently delve between its covers, he minutely examined its every detail. That was after contracts were signed for an as yet untitled English-Japanese bilingual version of the first book — and Tony was assigned as the translator. Now, he faces the daunting task of ensuring that all its many jokes and entertaining nuances equally successfully bridge the linguistic — and cultural — divide.

“I trust him,” Saori said. Then she turned to him with just a hint of intimidation in her tone, and said: “I’m counting on you, really.”

Keys to cohabitation
So just what are the keys to enjoying living with someone else?

“Talk a lot with each other, but don’t meddle in the other’s business,” Oguri replied directly and without hesitation. “I want him to clean up his stuff, but I don’t tell him persistently.”

I asked for Tony’s input. He paused, then started talking — in impeccable and soft-spoken Japanese — about the limitations of space in big cities and how it is important for a couple to secure enough living space to avoid needless conflict with each other.

“To overcome the shortage of space, you should learn how to put things upward, instead of sideways,” he said. “It’s been some 15 years since I came to Japan, but it’s still hard to master that. In Japan, stereos and other electronic appliances are all stacked up . . . ”

“Everyone is doing it,” Saori cut in. “You’re trying to justify your inability to clean up, aren’t you?”

“And it’s important not to interrupt someone when they’re speaking,” he continued.

Saori sighed, as Tony went on to stress at length the importance of community support in a disaster-rich nation like Japan. Eventually, though, his orbit brought him back to the area of relationships.

“It would be nice if you could be flexible so that you can adjust to your partner, while at the same time retaining your solid, individual self,” he opined.

“Yes, flexibility is necessary,” Saori concurred in an ever-so-slightly un-“Da-rin” way.

The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004
ENDS

J Times Dec 7 06: UNHCR “Japan cannot stop immigration”, Kyodo same day: Lawsuit argues “unreasonable to prohibit dual-income immigrant families” (updated)

mytest

Hello Blog. File this under the “Resistance is Futile” category, article number 213 or so. The UN has been saying since 2000 (and the PM Obuchi Cabinet agreed) that Japan must allow 600,000 immigrants per year or else. Currently Japan is only taking in about 50,000 registered foreigners net per annum. And those they are taking in, as I have shown in recent previous articles on this blog (https://www.debito.org/?p=105, https://www.debito.org/?p=99), are given horrendous working conditions and slave wages.

UNHCR grumbles about Japan’s lack of official acceptance of immigrants in Japan Times article below. Then Kyodo News same day (follows Japan Times article) gives the case of a Myanmar man denied the ability to make a livelihood. Facing deportation after being caught working full time as a dependent on his wife’s visa, he filed a lawsuit seeking to stay. He argues it is unreasonable to prohibit immigrant families from having a dual income. Power to him.

Hellooooo? People waking up yet? Debito in Sapporo

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

Japan can’t stop the tide of people: UNHCR chief
By KAREN FOSTER Staff writer
Courtesy of Matt and Steve at The Community
The Japan Times Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20061207f1.html

As more people migrate worldwide, Japan will not be able to stop
immigration, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, saying he was concerned with Japan’s restrictive refugee
acceptance program and treatment of asylum-seekers.

“One key aspect of the 21st century will be people moving, around the
world. And I don’t think any society will be able not to participate
in this situation,” Antonio Guterres told a news conference Monday.

Guterres, on a three-day visit that ended Wednesday, said the U.N.
agency was troubled with all parts of the process to become a refugee
in Japan.

“I’d say we have three main concerns — first, improvement of the
reception of asylum-seekers and of the procedural mechanisms to make
sure that there is an adequate set of decisions in an adequate time
framework and the forms of assistance that are desirable,” he said.
“And the possibility to open one, even if limited, program of
resettlement.”

“We recognize that every country has the right to define its own
migration policy,” Guterres elaborated in an interview Tuesday with
The Japan Times. “Our concern and the concern that is established by
international law is that for instance in these mixed flows of
populations that we are now witnessing all around the world,
independent of migration policies, countries are supposed to grant
protection to the people that need protection. That means physical
access to protection procedures, namely refugee status determination
and the fair treatment of their requirements.”

The ex-Portuguese prime minister came to talk to the Foreign Ministry
about Japan’s refugee assistance overseas, nongovernmental
organizations and to boost ties with the private sector, and to
discuss with the Justice Ministry the treatment of asylum-seekers.

NGOs here complain that despite changes in the immigration law last
year, the government continues to detain asylum-seekers and does not
provide them with adequate services, even after they are declared
refugees.

The UNHCR’s Country Operations Plan 2007 notes that while people are
applying for refugees status here, they do not have the right to work
and get little community support, including free legal service, which
residents can get under the new legal aid system.

While immigration law changes introduced a new appeals review panel
with nonimmigration counselors — appointed by the government — the
UNHCR report says it is still not independent.

Still, Guterres was upbeat about recent developments: “Japan has an
embryonic asylum system, but that is moving with positive steps.”

The number of people who have been given asylum here rose
dramatically in 2005.

The government finished processing 384 asylum applications in 2005.
Of those 46 were recognized as refugees — 15 of them on appeal —
and 97 were issued special resident permits for humanitarian reasons.

This compares with only 15 people recognized as refugees and nine
granted special permits in 2004 out of 426 applications processed.

Janet Lim, head of the UNHCR’s Bureau for Asia and the Pacific who
also was visiting, said the UNHCR had lots of experience helping
nations deal with refugees, and was ready to share its expertise with
Tokyo.

Robert Robinson, UNHCR chief representative for Japan, told the
Monday briefing he hoped talks at the Justice Ministry speed up
introduction of a border-guard training program. “That’s a critical
move for us,” he said.

In addition to Japan’s moral obligation to help people in danger, Lim
said refugees can help countries that need labor, alluding to Japan’s
shrinking labor force.

“They are here anyway and refugees are not just here as a burden,”
she said. “If we were given the possibility to train them and give
them skills, they could be made to fit the labor need of the country.”
ENDS

============================
Suit targets dual-income curbs on immigrants
Kyodo News, Courtesy of Steve at The Community
Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006

A man from Myanmar facing deportation after being caught working full time
while here as a dependent on his wife’s visa filed a lawsuit Wednesday
seeking to stay, arguing it is unreasonable to prohibit immigrant families
from having a dual income.

Nangzing Nawlar, 47, currently detained by the Tokyo Regional Immigration
Bureau, came to Japan in October 2001 as a dependent of his Myanmarese wife,
who works as an interpreter, according to his lawyer.

Nawlar initially took care of their son but started working longer than the
legally permitted 28 hours a week at a “yakinuku” (grilled meat) restaurant
after their daughter was born in August 2003.

He said his wife’s income alone was no longer sufficient to sustain the
growing family, while the illness of his relative back home also added to
the family’s financial woes.

Immigration authorities discovered in August that he was exceeding the work
limit and issued the deportation order in October.

The focus is on the visa issued to family members of foreign residents who
come to Japan as dependents.

It limits dependents to working only 28 hours a week, which the Myanmarese
man said is discriminatory because foreign-born spouses of Japanese do not
face this limit.

“Although working couples have become common, the (immigration) system
basically banning spouses from working disregards their personal rights and
violates the Constitution,” Nawlar argued in the lawsuit.

“Our marriage will go under without a double income,” he said. “It is
discriminatory to limit the work of spouses who are dependents of foreign
residents when other foreigners can work with no limit if they are spouses
of Japanese.”

Nawlar’s wife, L. Hkawshawng, told a news conference in Tokyo that there are
limits for her to support the family as the number of children increases. “I
cannot possibly sustain the family alone,” she said.
ENDS

===================================
Continuing on that note:

Government tells Iranian family to get out of Japan
Kyodo News, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20061209a7.html
Courtesy of Matt at The Community

Immigration authorities on Friday denied an application by an Iranian
family for a special residence permit to continue living in Japan,
officials said.

The Justice Ministry gave a one-month extension to Amine Khalil, 43,
his 39-year-old wife and their two daughters, aged 18 and 10, to
prepare for their departure.

The ministry told Amine and his wife of its decision at the Tokyo
Regional Immigration Bureau on the final day of their last monthlong
extension, the officials said.

Amine, his wife and their elder daughter came to Japan between 1990
and 1991. The younger daughter was born here in 1996. Settling in
Gunma Prefecture, the family sought a special residence permit,
arguing they would face difficulties if they returned to Iran.

The elder daughter, Maryam, who wants to become a nursery school
teacher, had planned to begin a two-year junior college course in
Gunma in the spring.

She told reporters she wants to continue her life in Japan with her
Japanese friends. The younger daughter, Shahzad, is in elementary
school.

Amine said Japanese is his daughters’ first language and they cannot
speak Farsi, adding they cannot live in Iran.

In 1999, the family applied to immigration authorities for a special
residence permit. The request was denied and the family was ordered
to leave. The Tokyo District Court repealed the deportation order,
but that ruling was overturned by the Tokyo High Court and the
Supreme Court upheld the high court decision.

The Japan Times, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006
ENDS

============================
QUICK COMMENT
Could somebody please explain me what kind of threat this family could possibly pose to the J body politic by being allowed to stay?

Is Immigration (not to mention the Supreme Court) worried that this would set a precedent, creating a tidal wave of immigrants staying on beyond their visas then claiming residency as a fait accompli? I’m not even sure that this phenomenon even applies in this case.

Given the low birthrate and the labor shortage, shouldn’t Japan be to some degree encouraging people with families who want to stay on as immigrants? Debito in Sapporo

ニュースステーションの久米宏氏は10年間以上前の「外人は日本語が片言がいいよね」のコメント、謝罪文を!

mytest

 ブロクの皆様こんばんは。非常にいいニュースがあります。

 昔々のことですが、テレビ朝日のニュースステーションの元アンカーマン 久米宏(http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/久米宏)は当番組の平成8年10月14日放送でこういうことがありました。私の抗議文から引用します。

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

Subject heading: 外人は日本語が片言がいいですか

久米 宏 様へ

お忙しいところすみません。こちらは北海道情報大学の講師アルドウインクル デビッ ト(David Aldwinckle)と申します。いつもテレビ朝日のニュース ステションを拝見 し、久米さんのざっくばらんのスタイルは非常に爽やかだと思います。

しかし、月曜(10/14) ニュース ステションの放送の時に困ったことがありました 。インドのルポの中、マクドナルドのマハラジャ バーガーはトピックスで、あるイ ンド人が非常にお上手な日本語でしゃべたようです。

その後、久米さんはこうおっしゃったそうです:

「しかし、外人の日本語が片言がいいよね」

これはどういう意味ですか。

すてセリフにすぎないかもしれませんが、非常に困らせます。次の日、フクザワInte rnet Groupで論点になり、とっても不快に感じた「外人」も居ました。なぜならば、 在外、在日外国人はせっかく日本語をBilingualにし、日本の社会に溶け込めようと しても、やはり子供のようにうまくないママでいいと全国に伝えた方がいいですか。

そして、きょうテレビ朝日に直接、電話してニュース ステションの方までつないで いただきました。上記の通りを説明してから、電話を受けた人は私をちゃかす様な言 い方にしました。

「片言は悪い言葉だと僕は思わない。あんただけだよ。」とも。

つまり、視聴者の意見を尊重してないようです。

お願いしても、電話を受けた人がお名前を教えて下さいませんでした。それに、私の 名前も書いておくことも断りました。「伝えます」だけを言い、本当に伝えってくれ る自信がないのでemailで送信しています。

後程、私はまたテレビ朝日に電話して、視聴センターの関本様と話し合って、「それ はいかん」ともおっしゃい、「ニュース ステションの人と話す」と親しく交わして 下さいましたが、それはきょう正午頃なのにお返答がなくてどうなっているか分かりません。

とにかく、久米さん、日本人じゃない者にも言い方を気を付けて下さいませんか。部 落民、在日韓国人、ビッコ(足の不自由の方)等に対する言い方を気を付ければ、「外人」にも宜しくお願い致します。

平成8年10月17日 北海道情報大学 講師  デビット アルドウインクル
========================================
http://debito.org/kumeltrnihongo.html
http://debito.org/nihongo.html#kume

 では、先日、久米さんから返事が来ました:
========================================
December 1, 2006 7:32:40 PM JST

Aldwinckle様。

突然のメールで恐れ入ります。
私は、3年前までニュースステーションという番組に出演していた
久米宏と申します。

10年ほど前の話で恐縮ですが、
私が番組の中で、「外国人があまり日本語がうまいのはどうも・・・」
という趣旨の話をして、
それに対して貴方様が抗議の発言をしていらっしゃるのを最近知りました。

その時の状況は覚えています。
その方は、とにかく物凄く日本語が上手で、
あまりのうまさに驚いて、やはり外国の方は、外国人だと分かる日本語を話して
くれないと困る、というニュアンスで僕は話した記憶があります。

しかしながら、良く考えてみると、これはかなり失礼な発言だと思います。
いわゆる「島国根性」の視野の狭さ、と反省しています。
もし不愉快な思いをされたら、今頃何をとお思いでしょうが、
心からお詫びします。

                          久米宏。
========================================

 このメールは本人からかどうかは分かりませんでした。その後、彼からのマネージメント(オフィストゥーワン)と彼のマネジャーの連絡先を教えて下さって、私が確認してから確かに本人からだと確認できました。

 よって、私から皆様にお伝いたいのは、久米宏さんは非常に良心的な方なので、いくらでも過去なことがあってもかかわらずきちんと責任を取ろうとしていますね。私から心から感謝いたします。どうもありがとうございました!

 これから(特にマスコミでは)「外人」の言葉遣いをやめて、国籍を問わず日本住民が頑張っていること(特に言語的に)を認めましょう。
 有道 出人
ends
//////////////////////////////////////////////////

アップデート!
「外人の日本語は片言の方が」 久米さん10年後の謝罪
朝日新聞 2006年12月21日16時59分
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1221/TKY200612210282.html
もしくは
https://www.debito.org/?p=132
ends

Tokyo Shinbun Dec 3 06, article on abuses of foreign Trainees and GOJ’s Kouno Taro policy prescription proposals

mytest

Hi Blog. From the Tokyo Shinbun Dec 3, 2006. Excellent article rounding up the problems and the possible policy prescriptions regarding treatment of foreign labor in Japan.

We’ve been talking about these things for a long time now, especially on debito.org (see one Japan Times article of note at https://www.debito.org/japantimes071106.html, and another from the Yomiuri (Dec 5) forbidding Indonesian women workers basic rights, such as wiring money home or using cellphones: https://www.debito.org/?p=99).

Glad to see we have a Dietmember (Kouno Taro) still speaking out about them. Translating the article for your reference. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ARTICLE BEGINS
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
DESPITE PROGRESS, LACK OF DISCUSSION IN THE GOVT
Where is the improved treatment of foreign labor?
NGOs advocate giving workers “free choice of work sector”

JINKEN SERIES 2006
TOKYO SHINBUN, Sunday, December 3, 2006, page 24
Article Courtesy of Dave Spector (thanks, as always)
Quickly translated by Arudou Debito
Japanese original archived at
https://www.debito.org/tokyoshinbun120306.jpg

Foreign workers, which are propping up the Japanese labor force, are gasping under low wages and being roped into doing extra work outside of their contracts. For some time now human rights watchdogs have been getting involved, to the point where finally the government has begun debating how to improve conditions. Both sides show quite a disparity in their views.

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

“The Government is facing up to the problems for foreign labor.” Such praise can be found in the new book “Basic Ideas for Accepting Non-Japanese” (kongou no gaikokujin no ukeire ni kansuru kihonteki na kangaekata), issued last September by the similarly-titled Ministry of Justice Project Team headed by Kouno Taro, former Vice Minister of Justice.

It continues, “In order to continue letting them invigorate the economy, the Government should look into expanding the acceptance of foreign labor in specialized and technical fields, and debate more policies.”

A coalition of NGOs including Solidarity for Migrant Workers Japan (SMJ, or Ijuuren, headed by Watanabe Hidetoshi, URL http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/) is praising this effort. In particular, they are happy that somebody is finally paying attention to a serious problem.

“These people come all the way from developing countries under specialization and trainee programs to learn something to take back home. But all they find when they get here is unskilled labor jobs. This void between true intention and pretenses has created a lot of bitterness and disappointment between non-Japanese labor and the local regions which are hosting them.”

Dietmember Kouno has written on his blog that the current system as it stands is a “almost all one big swindle” (ikasama).

A Chinese male worker receiving assistance from Ijuuren tells the following story about the low wages being offered:

“I come from a farming family, so I came to Japan with the promise of doing agrarian research, but was put to work doing sheet metal. As “Researchers” (kenshuusei) we get 50,000 yen a month, with 300 yen per hour for overtime. “Trainees” (jisshuusei) get 60,000 yen a month and 350 yen per hour for overtime.”

Another Chinese female workers echoes the same:

“Our monthly salary is 120,000 yen, but the air conditioning in our dorm alone is on a lease and costs about 90,000 yen.”

Noting that these cases of abuse of the Trainee and Researcher visa system are too numerous to mention, Ijuuren’s Watanabe angrily points out:

“This is a slavery system making up for the shortfall in Japan’s labor market. It’s a system which grinds people underfoot.”

Based on these miserable facts of the case, the above mentioned “Basic Ideas” book has hammered out the following prescriptions:

— Make it obligatory for companies to pay foreign employees the same wages and enroll them in the same social security programs as Japanese workers.

— Make Japanese language ability a requirement for even those job fields which are not classified as “specialized” or “technical”.

— Make getting Permanent Residency (eijuuken) easier for foreigners who are contributing so much to Japan.

However, experts caution that, “The Government and industrial leaders can’t reconcile how they are going to fill in the void created by the labor shortage. [NB FROM TRANSLATOR: Read: how they’re going to stay domestically competitive in the global market, keeping their industries from relocating overseas, even if they can’t keep importing foreign labor at slave wages.]

“They should be thinking of this from a new angle: How new Japanese residents from overseas are going to revitalize and reenergize Japan. They should consider how to welcome people from overseas as new members of Japan’s society.”

Based upon this manner of thinking, Ijuuren released to the relevant ministries a policy proposal entitled “Towards a Society Co-Existing with Non-Japanese Residents” (gaikokuseki juumin to no kyousei ni mukete) on November 19, 2006.

They proposed the creation of a “Laborer Visa” (roudou biza) as an official condition of residency. As the “freedom of labor movement” guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution also applies to non-Japanese, Ijuuren stressed that, “It is essential that principles of laborer equality regardless of nationality be established.”

There is one more “Basic Idea” of the MOJ Project Team the human rights groups praise:

“The Government must also accept non-Japanese workers with the intent of educating their children the same as Japanese.”

This is because people talk enough about the “duties” (gimu) of foreign laborers, but the book also explicitly states in writing that the foreign children have a “right” (kenri) to compulsory education.

The copious numbers of Brazilian and Peruvian children of laborers in the northern Kanto and Tokai regions are attending schools in Spanish and Portuguese. However, as these educational institutions are not formally acknowledged as “schools” under the Basic Education Law, thus are not eligible for government subsidies (kokko hojo), they operate in poor facilities. If foreign children were to qualify for compulsory education, there would be positive effects.

As the NGOs ask, “Are foreign workers to be seen as people? Or merely as units of labor?”

ENDS

読売:東日本の縫製工場、イスラム教徒研修生に「礼拝禁止」

mytest

東日本の縫製工場、イスラム教徒研修生に「礼拝禁止」
読売新聞2006年12月4日 Dave Spectorに転送のことを感謝
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20061204i505.htm

 外国人研修・技能実習制度で来日したイスラム教徒のインドネシア人女性の受け入れ条件として、東日本の縫製工場が日に5回の礼拝や断食を禁止する誓約書に署名させていたことが、わかった。

 読売新聞が入手した誓約書では、宗教行為のほか、携帯電話の所持や外出など生活全般を厳しく制限している。

 法務省は、入管難民法に基づく同省指針や国際人権規約に反した人権侵害行為の疑いがあるとしている。

 誓約書は、禁止事項として〈1〉会社の敷地内でのお祈り〈2〉国内滞在中の断食〈3〉携帯電話の所持〈4〉手紙のやり取り〈5〉家族への送金〈6〉乗り物での外出——の6項目のほか、午後9時までに寮に帰宅、寮に友人を招かないという2項目の「規則」も明記している。

 支援団体「外国人研修生問題ネットワーク」(東京)によると、20歳代の女性実習生は3年前に来日した際、工場側から誓約書への署名を求められた。こうした条件があることは知らされていなかったが、出国時に多額の費用を使っており、帰国するわけにはいかず、やむなく応じた。この工場には女性以外にも約10人のインドネシア人研修・実習生が働いているという。

 女性は同ネットワークに「礼拝は休憩時間でも認められなかった。他の研修・実習生も同じ誓約書を取られていた」と話したという。

 法務省によると、入管難民法に基づく同省指針で、企業による人権侵害行為は、受け入れ停止などの処分の対象。

 国際人権団体アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本は「人権に対する企業側の認識不足もはなはだしく、外国人研修・技能実習制度のひずみを象徴する事例」と指摘している。

(2006年12月4日14時47分 読売新聞)
ends

Yomiuri: Factory has foreign worker sign oath not to pray, fast, use cellphone, write letters, wire money home, ride in a car…

mytest

Hello Blog. Interesting article on how Japan’s factories’ abusive practices towards foreign “trainee” workers are coming to light. (I have another article on this subject on this blog at https://www.debito.org/?p=105)

In this case, a Muslim trainee worker has had to sign a “seiyakusho” (a written oath, mildly translated in the article as merely a “note”) promising not only to not pray on the premises or engage in Ramadan fasts, but also not ride in a car, use a cellphone, wire money home, or stay out past 9PM. These are all violations of Japanese labor laws, not to mention international covenants as mentioned in the article below.

The GOJ has already taken some measures (such as practically abolishing the “Entertainer Visa”, used for the sex trades) to abolish some forms of slavery (not an exaggeration, see https://www.debito.org/japantimes110706.html) in Japan. Now let’s see if the government can hold more employers accountable for these emerging abuses, which they probably couldn’t foist on Japanese workers. Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Factory denies Muslim basic human rights
The Yomiuri Shimbun Dec 5, 2006

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20061205TDY02007.htm
Original Japanese article at very bottom of this blog entry, courtesy Dave Spector

A sewing factory in eastern Japan required an Indonesian Muslim trainee to sign a note promising to forgo praying five times a day and Ramadan fasting as a condition of her employment, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Monday.

The firm also prohibited her from owning a cell phone and exchanging letters.

The Justice Ministry suspect the firm’s practice infringes on the woman’s human rights in violation of its guidelines for accepting trainees, which is based on the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

According to the note written both in Japanese and Indonesian, the factory prohibited the woman from worshipping on the firm’s property and fasting while in Japan.

She was also prohibited from exchanging letters domestically, sending money to her family or traveling in vehicles.

In addition, she had a curfew of 9 p.m. at her dormitory and was not allowed to invite friends there.

According to the Advocacy Network for Foreign Trainees, a Tokyo-based support group, the factory asked the woman, who is in her 20s, to sign the note when she came to Japan three years ago.

Although she was not notified about the conditions until she was asked to sign the note, she had no choice but to sign since she had paid a lot of money to come to Japan.

About 10 Indonesian trainees are reportedly working at the plant.

Based on the Koran, Muslims pray five times a day facing Mecca, the Islamic holy place in Saudi Arabia, and refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, which is in September in the Muslim calender.

The woman trainee told the network that she was not allowed to worship even during breaks, and that the other trainees at her factory also signed similar promissory notes.

“The prohibitions were likely enforced in the service of two aims: raising worker efficiency and prevent them from escaping,” a person in the network said.

According to the ministry’s guidelines, firms that infringe on the human rights of foreign trainees will be banned from accepting trainees.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee freedom of religion and expression, and freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.

Amnesty International Japan criticized the factory’s lack of knowledge on human rights issues and said it was a prime example of the problems with the central government’s foreign trainee program.

Of about 83,000 foreign trainees who came to the nation last year, about 4,800 were Indonesians. In Indonesia, 87 percent of the population is Muslim.

(Yomiuri Shinbun Dec. 5, 2006)

=========================
Original Japanese article

東日本の縫製工場、イスラム教徒研修生に「礼拝禁止」

 外国人研修・技能実習制度で来日したイスラム教徒のインドネシア人女性の受け入れ条件として、東日本の縫製工場が日に5回の礼拝や断食を禁止する誓約書 に署名させていたことが、わかった。

 読売新聞が入手した誓約書では、宗教行為のほか、携帯電話の所持や外出など生活全般を厳しく制限している。

 法務省は、入管難民法に基づく同省指針や国際人権規約に反した人権侵害行為の疑いがあるとしている。

 誓約書は、禁止事項として〈1〉会社の敷地内でのお祈り〈2〉国内滞在中の断食〈3〉携帯電話の所持〈4〉手紙のやり取り〈5〉家族への送金〈6〉乗り 物での外出——の6項目のほか、午後9時までに寮に帰宅、寮に友人を招かないという2項目の「規則」も明記している。
(読売新聞) – 12月4日17時24分更新
ENDS

人種、障害差別で乗車拒否 仙台市に55万円賠償命令(共同)

mytest

(師岡先生からの転送を感謝いたします。有道 出人)

人種、障害差別で乗車拒否 仙台市に55万円賠償命令(共同)
http://flash24.kyodo.co.jp/?MID=RANDOM&PG=STORY&NGID=soci&NWID=2006113001000247

 外国人で障害者であることを理由に、市営バスに乗車拒否されたとして、パキスタン出身の男性(60)=仙台市太白区=が同市に165万円の損害賠償を求めた訴訟の判決が30日、仙台地裁であった。

 畑中芳子裁判官は「運転手が人種、身体障害を理由に差別的取り扱いをした」と認定。法の下の平等を定めた憲法や人種差別撤廃条約などに違反したとして、市に55万円の賠償を命じた。

 判決などによると、男性は来日後に日本国籍を取得。左半身にまひがある。

 男性は2001年10月、パキスタンから来た友人に会うため、仙台市内でバスにいったん乗車。「荷物を取りにいく」と運転手に告げ、バス停まで戻ろうとしたところ、運転手はバスを発車させ乗車を拒否した。

 市側は「乗車拒否などの差別行為はない」と反論していた。

(共同)
(2006年11月30日 11時02分)

Yamanashi English school want ad: “blonde hair blue or green eyes and brightly character” (with updates)

mytest

Hi Blog. Just got this information from Alberto and David in Yamanashi. It’s a want ad for “E.R. English School” (motto: “Be All That You Can be” [sic]) in Kofu, Yamanashi-ken, saying, quote:

===================================
WANTED IMMEDIETLY [sic] NATIVE SPEAKER

E R English School needs a native speaker. Blonde hair
blue or green eyes and brightly character. [sic]
Please contact E R English School immedietly. [sic]

Ph: 055-241-4070
Yuji and Jocelyn Iwashita
===================================
E.R. English School Sign

Photo courtesy David Markle. Thanks. Click on thumbnail for larger image.

It’s pretty clear that Jocelyn hadn’t proofread the ad, and I was intrigued as to why the Yamanashi International Assocation (Yamanashi Ken Kokusai Kouryuu Kyoukai, website http://www.yia.or.jp/, phone 055-228-5419) had approved of such a thing.

So I gave the ER English School a call this afternoon and talked to a Mr Sata, the person in charge of all of this.

We had a nice conversation and a frank exchange of views. His points were:

1) The person wanted for this ad would be hired to teach kids at a local kindergarten (youchien). The principal (enchou) specifically wanted to acclimatize their kids to people who speak English, and to the principal’s mind, that meant somebody that had blond hair and blue or green eyes.

2) Yes, Mr Sata was aware that not all squash is zucchini, and that not all English speakers have blond hair and blue and green eyes. His school, after all, even employs Thais and Indians as English-speaking staff. But this is what the school principal wanted, so as this is their school’s job, they have to oblige. He did not feel as though this was a matter of discrimination.

3) Yes, Mr Sata was aware that this is a similar argument that a realtor might make–that “no pets, no gaijin” rules are merely at the behest of landlords, and that shifting the blame to the customer and his needs doesn’t let either party off the hook vis-a-vis discrimination. But this is business, and this is what the customer needs.

4) Yes, Mr Sata was aware that educational institutions in particular have an obligation not to promote prejudices and stererotypes. However, This is Japan and Japanese culture, he said. This is the image that Japan has of foreigners, so shikata ga nai.

5) Yes, Mr Sata was aware that there are plenty of children out there with gaijinesque pigmentation, Japanese and non-Japanese, in Japanese schools. Yes, they might be adversely affected by this “eigojin” syndrome and get socially othered. He, after all, has “half” children (as he put it) of his own. But anyway.

6) No, Mr Sata didn’t feel as though my calling the Kindergarten principal and directly explaining the problems with promoting these stereotypes would do any good. No need to confront the principal. Better to give the customer what they want and work with them later to change their mind.

7) No, Mr Sata didn’t feel as though the job advertisement was discriminatory. Yes, people with other phenotypes would not be refused the job, regardless of what the ad might say. Yes, they would consider rewording the ad. But still, those are the job specifications as per what the customer wants, and we have to stay in business. Even if it means selling asbestos or other toxic, damaging elements into society (okay, so we didn’t really get into this argument…)

And that was that. I enjoyed the talk. We stayed friendly throughout. Dunno if I changed any minds, however, particularly his. As the Corelone family would say, this is just business.

Feel free express your opinion to E R English House yourself. It doesn’t seem to have a website or an email address, but it’s regular address according to the phone book is Yamanashi Ken Koufu Shi Ushiroya-chou 323-4

055-241-4070 山梨県甲府市後屋町323-4
http://phonebook.yahoo.co.jp/bin/search?p=055-241-4070

If I have time, let’s see what the Yamanashi International Association has to say about this. They approved this ad, after all. Debito in Sapporo

================================
UPDATE NOV 29

Just sent out a letter to the appropriate authorities and human rights lists in Japanese. See the text at
https://www.debito.org/?p=93

================================
UPDATE DEC 5

According to local human-rights sources, the Yamanashi International Association will be taking this issue up. More when I know more.

================================
UPDATE DEC 17

Got the following letter from the Yamanashi International Association, saying that they were sorry and would be more careful in future. No word from the local Bureau of Human Rights, of course. I guess this is the best we can hope for. Case closed?

yamanashiintlctr121206sm.jpg

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

UPDATE FEB 3, 2007
from debito.org newsletter of the same date

I reported to you last November about that Eikaiwa “E R English School” in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture
https://www.debito.org/?p=92

which had a Want Ad posted on bulletin boards in the Yamanashi International Association (http://www.yia.or.jp) saying:
===================================
WANTED IMMEDIETLY [sic] NATIVE SPEAKER
E R English School needs a native speaker. Blonde hair
blue or green eyes and brightly character. [sic]
Please contact E R English School immedietly. [sic]
Ph: 055-241-4070
Yuji and Jocelyn Iwashita

===================================
https://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/11/EREnglishsign.jpg

I reported then that I called the school, where a manager (a Mr. Sata) there tried to justify the policy as just giving the customer the service he wants (i.e. some Kindergarten boss wanted to “acclimatize” his young ‘uns to real bonafide “gaijin”–see Sata’s arguments at https://www.debito.org/?p=92). Thus their hands were tied.

I then sent a letter on November 30 to the Yamanashi International Association, and to the local Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu–Japanese text of that letter at https://www.debito.org/?p=93), asking for some assistance in this matter.

I did get an answer from the YIA on December 12. Letter (Japanese) scanned at:
https://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/yamanashiintlctr121206sm.jpg
They said sorry, and would be more careful to not let this happen again on their bulletin boards.

Okay, so I called it a day there. But the story doesn’t end yet.

Yesterday, I got a call from Kyodo Tsuushin (Japan’s powerful wire service) who wanted some quotes from me for an article about this issue. They also wanted to know if I had heard from the Bureau of Human Rights on this. I hadn’t, so the reporter said he would start making a few inquiries.

Hours later, I received a call from E R English School’s Mr Iwashita, who asked who I was, what I was after, and if I now understood the company’s true intention behind their advertisement. He hoped there would be no further misunderstandings.

I replied that I felt it interesting that more than two months had gone by before he felt the need to explain his company policies further, and that it seems very conveniently timed with him getting a call from a Kyodo reporter. He agreed that it was indeed so.

But it wasn’t just Kyodo. It turned out (I saw a draft of the article last night, should have gone out today–anyone find it?) that E R English School had also been contacted by the Bureau of Human Rights that very day too, after the latter had been phoned for some quotes by Kyodo.

Nothing like a little press attention to finally set some wheels in motion….

Mr Iwashita said that he understood my feelings about this. I then mentioned that as educators we have a responsibility not to perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices, particularly in this internationalizing society. He agreed and we left it at that.

This afternoon I got another call from E R’s Jocelyn this time, who left a message on my cellphone and didn’t call back… Wonder what’s cooking. Anyway, if anything more comes of this, I’ll let you know.

ENDS

GOJ requires fingerprints and criminal history for long-term visas, yet refuses domestic means to produce them.

mytest

Hello Blog. As of April 2006, Japan is now requiring fingerprints and criminal records for long-term visas, yet now refusing to provide police cooperation in getting the former. US citizens, for example, are now told to give their fingerprints to the FBI and get a Rap Sheet–and pay for the privilege. Nice little money spinner for the USG on the behest of the GOJ, which requires compliance without domestic assistance. This is what people pay taxes for? Glad to be exempt. One more comment at the very bottom:

Courtesy USG newsletter to US expats abroad (forwarded me from two sources):
http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/acs/tacs-newsletter20061201.html

=========EXCERPT BEGINS=======================
——————————————————————————-
Fingerprints
——————————————————————————-

Every so often we, at the Embassy and Consulates, receive requests from people who need a copy of their fingerprints to apply for a specialized license in the U.S. Recently we started receiving similar requests in relation to the extension of the long-term resident permit in Japan.

We verified with the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice that as of April 2006, foreign long-term residents must provide the Japanese authorities with a copy of their criminal history record to extend their visa. In order to obtain such a record, Americans have to provide the FBI with a copy of their fingerprints.

We used to refer such requests for fingerprints to the local Japanese police, but in most cases the police have stopped offering this service. Since the Embassy does not provide this service, Americans needing a copy of their fingerprints should follow the guidance listed online here.
http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cjisd/fprequest.htm
=========EXCERPT ENDS=======================

==========USG LINK EXCERPT BEGINS==============
Introduction
An FBI Identification Record, often referred to as a Criminal History Record or Rap Sheet, is a listing of certain information taken from fingerprint submissions retained by the FBI in connection with arrests and, in some instances, federal employment, naturalization, or military service. If the fingerprints are related to an arrest, the Identification Record includes name of the agency that submitted the fingerprints to the FBI, the date of arrest, the arrest charge, and the disposition of the arrest, if known to the FBI. All arrest data included in an Identification Record is obtained from fingerprint submissions, disposition reports and other reports submitted by agencies having criminal justice responsibilities….

How to Request a Copy of Record

1. Complete cover letter. (click here)

If for a couple, family, etc., all persons must sign cover letter
Include your complete mailing address
If you have a deadline (e.g., an immigration deadline), please include the deadline in your cover letter and on the outside of the envelope.
2. Obtain proof of identity, which consists of a set of your fingerprints
(original card, no copies), with your name, date of birth and place of
birth. Fingerprints should be placed on a standard fingerprint form
(FD-258) commonly used for applicant or law enforcement purposes.

Include rolled impressions of all ten fingerprints and impressions of all ten fingerprints taken simultaneously (these are sometimes referred to as plain or flat impressions.)

If possible have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting technician (this service may be available at a Law Enforcement Agency.)

Previously processed fingerprint cards will not be accepted.
3. Include $ 18 – U.S. dollars in the form of a money order, certified check
made payable to the Treasury of the United States, or you may pay by
credit card

Be sure to sign where required
No personal checks or cash
Must be exact amount
If for a couple, family, etc., include $18 for each person
If paying by credit card you must include the completed credit card payment form
Credit cards will not be used for expedited mail services
4. Mail the items #1, #2, #3 (listed above) to the following address:

FBI CJIS Division – Record Request
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, West Virginia 26306
==========USG LINK EXCERPT ENDS==============

COMMENT: As I said, nice little money-spinner here. Really nice how governments are in the habit of requiring you have certain documentation and then charge you for it. Only this time, it’s technically being done at the behest of the Japanese Government because they can’t be bothered.

Also like how your behavior in Japan alone is no longer a factor in whether or not you can get a long-term visa. You must also have had your nose clean abroad too. You people who had bad childhoods–growing up and reforming yourself makes no difference. You still can’t become a Permanent Resident in Japan anymore. Presidents with colored pasts (Alberto Fujimori and Bush II) had better not emigrate either.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 27 2006

mytest

Good evening all. Recent articles on my blog have reached saturation point, so here’s a roundup:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 27, 2006
This post is organized thusly:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) OTARU ONSENS CASE NOW TEACHING MATERIAL
2) GAIJIN CARD CHECKS OUTSIDE “SAKURA HOUSE”
3) UPDATE ON KITAKYUSHU EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT
4) J TIMES ON TOURISM PROMOTION, WITH LETTER TO THE ED
5) TBS: FUJIWARA NORIKA BUMPS ARUDOU DEBITO
6) KYODO: MOCK JURY TRIAL SPRINGS FOREIGN MANSLAUGHTERER
7) JALT PALE ROUNDTABLE ON ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT
and finally…
8) WASH POST: GOJ CREATING SUSHI POLICE FOR OVERSEAS J FOOD
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

This and future material available in real time by subscription at
https://www.debito.org/index.php

1) OTARU ONSENS CASE NOW TEACHING MATERIAL

The Otaru Onsens Case (https://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html) refuses to fade into obscurity, thank goodness. Still, the facts of the case are being increasingly bleached out as time goes on. Witness how in this English teaching book discussing the case for educational purposes:

From “Shift the Focus”, Lesson 4: “Discrimination, or Being Japanese…?” pp 18-21, on the Otaru Onsens Case. Sanshusha Pubilshing Co., Ltd. February, 2006. Written by Colin Sloss.

After developing the case to make it appear as if I was doing this all on my own, the dialog continues:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Some foreigners who had been living in Japan for a long time, lets [sic] call them “old Japan hands,” objected to the claim that this was discrimination and should be stopped. Their argument, as I understand it, was that trying to make Japan like other countries would, in fact, make Japan less distinct and more ordinary. Japan, as it is now (regardless of any problems it may possess, such as discrimination and racism), should be appreciated because of its uniqueness. Ultimately, this argument is romantic, condescending and resistant to the globalization of Japan. Lafcadio Hearn could be said to represent an extreme of this kind of thinking. During the late Meiji Period, Hearn was strongly against the Westernization of Japan, which he feared would destroy the charms of old Japan. Such hopes, though understandable, tend to be disappointed with the changing times.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Entire dialog at https://www.debito.org/?p=88

COMMENT:
While I am happy that the issue has been condensed and replicated for future discussion in an educational setting, I wish the author could have gotten a little closer to the facts of the case. Perhaps included the fact that there was more than one Plaintiff in the case (Olaf and Ken), not just me alone.

I also think he should take less seriously the intellectual squirrelling afforded those postulating pundits he calls “old Japan hands”, found chattering away on places like NBR. They are hardly representative of the foreign resident community in Japan, the proprortionally-shrinking English-language community in Japan, or of anything at all, really. Except perhaps old grouches and bores.

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

2) GAIJIN CARD CHECKS OUTSIDE “SAKURA HOUSE”

Received a mail (I get a lot of these, especially on weekends) from people wanting some advice. This time, a person named Alisa told me about how cops keep hanging out outside the “gaijin guesthouses” of Sakura House (http://www.sakura-house.com) essentially to snare foreigners (this is not the first time I’ve heard about this, by the way):

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Anyway this morning I was stopped by three men in black jackets (windbreakers) and one of them flashed me a badge. They asked me if I had my “card”. Even though I had read your article, I was running late for work and was extremely frazzled at being approached like that. I could feel my Japanese fumbling but did manage to ask “nan de desuka?”. They told me that they had heard that some sakura house people had overstayed their visa and were “just checking”. They went to far as to ask my room number and whether I lived alone. They made double sure to check the address on the back of my card and sent me on my way. I was very insulted and humiliated at being stopped like that…
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Entire email at https://www.debito.org/?p=86

Alisa even took the trouble to print up copies of the law regarding these instant checkpoints for the benefit of fellow residents
(see https://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#gaijincard)
and to contact Sakura House about the harassment.

Well, let the hand-washing preclude any hand-wringing. Response from Sakura House:

======== SAKURA HOUSE RESPONSE BEGINS ===============
Dear Ms. Alisa West
Thank you very much for your staying at Sakura House.

In fact, Japanese police officer or imigration [sic] officer has a right to check your passport, visa status and alien registration card. If they ask you to show your passport, you have to show it to them. This is a leagal [sic] action. They do that kind of inspection without informing.

With best regards,
Takuya Takahashi
======== SAKURA HOUSE RESPONSE ENDS ===============

Pity Mr Takahashi doesn’t know the law better. It’s not quite that simple. So much for helping out his renters.

As I’m sure I’ll get nitpickers with short memories or attention spans thinking this is much ado, a few reminders from the record accumulating on debito.org:

Re the developing tendency towards racial profiling in Japan:
“Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents”
Japan Times May 24, 2005
https://www.debito.org/japantimes052405.html

“Justice system flawed by presumed guilt
Rights advocates slam interrogation without counsel, long detentions”
The Japan Times: Oct. 13, 2005
https://www.debito.org/japantimes102305detentions.html

An excellent summary from the Japan Times on what’s wrong with Japan’s criminal justice system: presumption of guilt, extreme police powers of detention, jurisprudential incentives for using them, lack of transparency, records or accountability during investigation, and a successful outcome of a case hinging on arrest and conviction, not necessarily on proving guilt or innocence. This has long since reached an extreme: almost anything that goes to trial in a Japanese criminal court results in a conviction.

Point: You do not want to get on the wrong side of the Japanese police, although riding a bicycle, walking outside, renting an apartment etc. while foreign seems more and more to incur police involvement.

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

3) UPDATE ON KITAKYUSHU EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT

At the beginning of this month, I told you about a restaurant in Kitakyushu which refuses service to foreigners. I was tipped off by a victim at a JALT national conference, and sure enough, I too was initially refused service as well. More details at https://www.debito.org/?p=69

Well, after sending letters on November 9 to the Kitakyushu Mayor, the tourism board, the local Bureau of Human Rights, the local newspaper, and JALT Central, I am pleased to report that I have had official responses.

The City International Affairs Desk (kokusai kouryuu bu) called me on November 20 to tell me that they had called the restaurant in question and straightened things out. No longer, they were assured, would foreigners be refused there.

The Bureau of Human Rights also called me on November 19 to get some more facts of the case. They would also be looking into them. “Go give them some keihatsu,” I urged them. They said they would.

Now, all we need is a letter from the Mayor’s Office and/or from JALT Central and we have a hat trick. I appreciate the concern given this matter (I have known many Bureaus of Human Rights, such as Sapporo’s, which couldn’t give a damn–even if it’s something as clearly discriminatory as the Otaru Onsens Case). Probably should write this up as a website later on to give people templates on how to work through administrative channels to deal with discrimination. Sure would help if we had a law against this sort of thing, though…

On that note:

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

4) JAPAN TIMES ON TOURISM PROMOTION, WITH LETTER TO THE EDITOR

On November 10, Kyodo reported that Japan is going to add to Koizumi’s “Yokoso Japan” campaign to bring over more tourists from Europe:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Staff at the Japan National Tourist Organization are also hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japanユs many “onsen” (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.

The campaign “Cool Japan–Fusion with Tradition” officially kicked off at this week’s World Travel Market in London, an annual trade fair that attracts more than 5,000 exhibitors. This year, 202 countries will be there.

The latest promotion follows the successful “Visit Japan Campaign” in Europe in 2003, which helped boost number of tourists traveling to Japan. Britain currently sends the most visitors to Japan from Europe, followed by Germany and France.

As part of the “Cool Japan” campaign, staff are sending out brochures on “manga” (comic books) and animation-related attractions, along with information on Japan’s cutting-edge architectural sights…

This year, representatives from a ryokan are on hand to advise travel agents and tour operators on how to promote traditional forms of leisure. Many Europeans do not think of Japan as place to relax and staff at JNTO are keen to change that.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Rest of the article at https://www.debito.org/?p=87

That’s fine. But as a friend of mine pointed out in a letter he got published in the Japan Times:

============== LETTER BEGINS ====================
Obstacle to increased tourism
By HIDESATO SAKAKIBARA, Jamaica, New York
The Japan Times, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20061119a6.html

Regarding the Nov 10 article “Japan works on a makeover to attract more Europeans”:

While it is admirable to see the the Japan National Tourist Organization making efforts to draw more foreign tourists, our government officials are omitting one important thing–the promulgation of a law making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or nationality.

The article states that JNTO staff are “hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japanユs many onsens (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.” But what about the many onsen that refuse entry to those who don’t look Japanese (including Japanese citizens)? What impression will “young tourists” get when they seek to enter discriminatory bars, hotels, discos, pubs (izakaya) and other spots only to be greeted with the words “Japanese Only?”
============== LETTER ENDS =====================

Well done. We need more people pointing out this fact as often as possible. I keep on doing it, but I say it so often (and alone) that to some I probably sound like a health warning on a cigarette box. If others say it as well, it makes the message come from more quarters, and increases credibility (i.e. I’m not just a lonely voice in the wilderness).

I encourage everyone to keep pointing out the elephant in the room thusly. Thanks for doing so, Hidesato.

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

5) TBS: FUJIWARA NORIKA BUMPS ARUDOU DEBITO

No, it’s not what you might think. I reported last newsletter that TBS noontime program “Pinpon” would be doing a segment on Nov 18, regarding Internet BBS and frequent host of libel “2-Channel” (https://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html). Thought the issue had reached a saturation point. Hell, they even flew up a producer and hired a camera crew on a moment’s notice all the way up to Sapporo just for an interview.

Well, guess what–the story got bumped for extended segments on Clint Eastwood’s new movie on Iwo Jima and supermodel Fujiwara Norika’s on-again/off-again engagement to some dork, er, nice guy.

Anyhoo, I called up the producer again ten days later. She says that the network wants a response from 2-Channel’s Administrator Defendant Nishimura Hiroyuki before airing. They’re still waiting for a response, unsurprisingly.

Ah well, that’s it then. Nishimura communicates with the press only by blog, as a recent story in AERA (https://www.debito.org/?p=48) indicates. He’s not going to make a TV appearance on this.

Meanwhile, the story cools, by design. S o might as well assume the TV spot is cancelled. Sigh. Sorry to inflict lunchtime TV on you, everyone.

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

6) KYODO: MOCK JURY TRIAL SPRINGS FOREIGN MANSLAUGHTERER

This was sent to me by a reporter friend which caused bewilderment in both him and me.

Japan will be reinstituting trial by jury (they had it before between 1928 and 1943, according to Wikipedia entry for 陪審制) in 2009. This will be for criminal cases, and there will be six laypeople and three judges on the jury (given the GOJ’s nannying instincts, you can’t trust the people with too much power, after all).

Kyodo reported extensively on Nov 23 about a mock trial to test the system. But what an intriguing test case to use:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Citizen judges on Thursday came out with a mixed verdict on a Briton, who was indicted for bodily injury resulting in death, at a mock trial in Osaka.

Paul Lennon, 36-year-old English teacher, stood trial at the mimic court, sponsored by the Osaka Bar Association, on the assumption that he kicked a Japanese man because he thought the man had assaulted a woman, although the man was just caring for his drunken girlfriend. The man died after falling down on a street and hitting his head…

Some citizen judges argued the defendant’s act was excessive as he should have realized its danger as a karate master, while others said it was not excessive, based on testimony of the witness that the victim collapsed dizzily, arguing that he would have fallen fast if the karate grade-holder had kicked him hard.

While the citizen judges did not reach a consensus, Takashi Maruta, a professor at Kwansei Gakuin University law school, said after observing the conference, “The mock trial showed ordinary citizens can develop reasonable and persuasive debates.”
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Rest of the article at https://www.debito.org/?p=83

I don’t know what the Osaka Bar Association is anticipating by putting a foreigner on mock trial like this, but there you have it. My reporter friend writes:

“Not sure what to make of this. Should I be disappointed that they chose a foreigner as the defendant in their mock trial or pleased that the jury didn’t necessarily lock him up and throw away the key just because he wasn’t Japanese?”

Quite. A real head scratcher. Anyway, what odd things make the news. With all the events jockeying for your attention, why so much space devoted to this highly-contrived fake court case? And I fail to see how this is any harbinger of the future of Japanユs upcoming jury system. Surely they could have come up with a more average case to test a jury with?

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

7) JALT PALE ROUNDTABLE ON ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT

I mentioned the JALT meeting above. Our interest group PALE (https://www.debito.org/PALE) held a roundtable on Nov 3 to discuss future employment issues in Japan’s academia. Panelists were Jonathan Britten, Michael “Rube” Redfield, Pat O’Brien, Evan Heimlich, and Ivan Hall. Introduction to a collation I made of the event:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Continuing the Roundtable forum that packed the hall at JALT 2005, five PALE members paneled a meeting to discuss a variety of issues relevant to the conference’s theme of “Community, Identity, and Motivation”. All presentations touched in some way upon employment issues, including issues of job security, union representation, the relationship of nationality to job description and employment terms, and the growing role of dispatch teaching arrangements in Japanese universities. They dealt explicitly or implicitly with the proper roles and responsibilities of PALE and JALT in managing these issues.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Full writeup at https://www.debito.org/?p=80

and finally…

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

8) WASH POST: GOJ CREATING SUSHI POLICE FOR OVERSEAS J FOOD

This article is making the rounds of the communities out there (at least three people have sent me the link), so I’ll forward this on to fill the gaps.

Yes, the Japanese Government will be establishing a bonafide committee to police the quality and authenticity of Japanese food restaurants overseas.

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
TOKYO – On a recent business trip to Colorado, Japan’s agriculture minister popped into an inviting Japanese restaurant with a hankering for a taste of back home. What Toshikatsu Matsuoka found instead was something he considered a high culinary crime–sushi served on the same menu as Korean-style barbecued beef.

“Such a thing is unthinkable,” he said. “Call it what you will, but it is not a Japanese restaurant.”

A fast-growing list of gastronomic indignities–from sham sake in Paris to shoddy sashimi in Bangkok–has prompted Japanese authorities to launch a counterattack in defense of this nation’s celebrated food culture. With restaurants around the globe describing themselves as Japanese while actually serving food that is Asian fusion, or just plain bad, the government here announced a plan this month to offer official seals of approval to overseas eateries deemed to be “pure Japanese.”…

A trial run of sorts was launched this summer in France, where secret inspectors selected by a panel of food specialists were dispatched to 80 restaurants in Paris that claimed to serve Japanese cuisine. Some establishments invited the scrutiny, while others were targeted with surprise checks. About one-third fell short of standards–making them ineligible to display an official seal emblazoned with cherry blossoms in their windows or to be listed on a government-sponsored Web site of Japanese restaurants in Paris.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Rest of the article at https://www.debito.org/?p=84

I think you can imagine where I’ll be going with my comment on this, but anyway:

Certification as “real” and “pure Japanese”, hmmm? Sort of like the beauty contests in the Japanese community in Hawaii I read about a decade ago open only to people with “pure Japanese blood”?

Anyway, I know Japan is a nation of foodies, but fighting against overseas restaurants tendency towards “fusion food”? Especially since, as the article notes, so much of Japanese food is from overseas, anyway? Tenpura, castella, fried chicken (“zangi” where I come from), even ramen!

And what if J restaurants innovate, and want to offer something from another country on the menu (such a Chinese or a Vietnamese dish)? Will it have to be offered in J restaurants first in Japan before it can be offered in J restaurants overseas as “authentic Japanese cuisine”? Silly, silly, silly.

This culinary Balkanization seems to be yet another way to give some retired OBs some work after retirement. What better way than for them to take money from either the restaurants or the J taxpayer than by offering the good ol’ “certifications”?

Anyway, food for thought. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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

That’ll do it for this newsletter. Thanks for reading.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
https://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 27 2006 ENDS

J Times Nov 10 06 on tourism promotion, with great Letter to the Ed Nov 19

mytest

Hi Blog. Here is an article about another promotion to bring more foreigners over to Japan to spend money as tourists (remember Koizumi’s “Yokoso Japan” campaign?), specifically mentioning onsen as one of the places they want more foreigners to frequent.

Funny they should mention onsens. Friend Hidesato Sakakibara makes a great rejoinder in a Letter to the Editor, questioning the effectiveness of such a campaign when there is no law to protect their rights from racial discrimination once tourists get here.

For the record, the article, Hidesato’s rejoinder, and a comment from me with some links follow.

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

Japan works on a makeover to attract more Europeans
The Japan Times, Friday, Nov. 10, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20061110b2.html
By WILLIAM HOLLINGWORTH

LONDON (Kyodo) In an effort to woo younger European travelers, Japanese tourism officials launched a campaign highlighting the country’s contribution to contemporary arts and culture.

Staff at the Japan National Tourist Organization are also hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japan’s many “onsen” (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.

The campaign “Cool Japan — Fusion with Tradition” officially kicked off at this week’s World Travel Market in London, an annual trade fair that attracts more than 5,000 exhibitors. This year, 202 countries will be there.

The latest promotion follows the successful “Visit Japan Campaign” in Europe in 2003, which helped boost number of tourists traveling to Japan. Britain currently sends the most visitors to Japan from Europe, followed by Germany and France.

As part of the “Cool Japan” campaign, staff are sending out brochures on “manga” (comic books) and animation-related attractions, along with information on Japan’s cutting-edge architectural sights.

This year’s exhibit also highlights the country’s fashion designers and high-tech gadgetry. The information has been compiled into a booklet in association with the Time Out magazine, which has a young readership.

With Japan, however, it’s not all about what’s new and trendy.

This year, representatives from a ryokan are on hand to advise travel agents and tour operators on how to promote traditional forms of leisure. Many Europeans do not think of Japan as place to relax and staff at JNTO are keen to change that.

Kylie Clark, public relations manager at JNTO in London, said the campaign was launched “to make people aware that Japan is much more than geisha, sumo, gardens, temples and Mount Fuji.”

“Through the campaign we wish to highlight that Tokyo, along with New York, Paris and London, is now one of the world’s leading cities when it comes to trends in foods, fashion and popular culture.”

Clark said the aim of the campaign was to “diversify” the types of travelers going to Japan. Currently, the main market is couples over 50 with an interest in Japanese traditional culture such as gardens and temples. JNTO hopes to attract more young couples, singles and families with this year’s promotion. It has already been running an “underground” ad campaign for several weeks.

And in an effort to attract the younger market, JNTO is also promoting the country’s ski resorts. After a series of good reviews by British journalists who tested Japan’s slopes, several tour operators are offering holidays to Japan next year.

JNTO is also keen to encourage more visits by British students and will soon be releasing a booklet they hope will make it easier to set up exchanges between educational institutions in the two countries. (The Japan Times)

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

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
READERS IN COUNCIL
Obstacle to increased tourism

By HIDESATO SAKAKIBARA
Jamaica, New York
The Japan Times, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20061119a6.html

Regarding the Nov. 10 article “Japan works on a makeover to attract more Europeans”: While it is admirable to see the the Japan National Tourist Organization making efforts to draw more foreign tourists, our government officials are omitting one important thing — the promulgation of a law making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or nationality.

The article states that JNTO staff are “hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japan’s many onsens (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.” But what about the many onsen that refuse entry to those who don’t look Japanese (including Japanese citizens)? What impression will “young tourists” get when they seek to enter discriminatory bars, hotels, discos, pubs (izakaya) and other spots only to be greeted with the words “Japanese Only?” (The Japan Times)

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

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO

Well done, Hidesato. We need more people pointing this fact out as often as possible. I keep on doing it, but to some I say it so often (and alone) I probably sound like a warning about cancer on a cigarette box. If others say it as well, it makes the message come from more quarters, and increases credibility (i.e. I’m not just a lonely voice out in the wilderness).

I encourage everyone to keep pointing out the elephant in the room thusly. Thanks again, Hidesato! Debito

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

PERTINENT LINKS:

The “Yokoso Japan” Campaign, official site
http://www.japanwelcomesyou.com/cssweb/

Essay for Miyakodayori (May 23, 2003) on Japan’s nacent tourism drive
https://www.debito.org/miyakodayori70.html

Identical irony pointed out by The Guardian (Manchester):
“Suspicious minds: Japan is hoping to boost foreign investment and tourism by promoting the country as a land of hospitality. However, institutional racism and the media’s tendency to blame foreigners for rising crime means many visitors find themselves less than welcome?”
THE GUARDIAN By Justin McCurry Wednesday March 10, 2004
https://www.debito.org/immigrationsnitchsite.html#grauniad

Otaru Onsens Case
https://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html

Photo gallery of places which refuse foreigners entry:
https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html
ENDS

Email on Gaijin Card Checks and Racial Profiling at Sakura House (with update)

mytest

Hello Blog. Received this email out of the blue from someone getting help from the information up at debito.org. Always pleased when somebody takes action to do something about their rights. Blogging with permission. Links to some pertinent info sites within the email and at the very bottom. Debito

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From: Anonymous
Subject: Gaijin profiling at guesthouse
Date: November 25, 2006 12:55:39 AM JST
To: debito@debito.org

Hello Debito-san, Thank you for your article about random gaijin- card checks.
https://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#gaijincard

What do think about this?

I live in Sakura House, which you may have heard of.
(http://www.sakura-house.com) It is a chain of
guesthouses in Tokyo exclusively for foreigners. The buildings are not
descreet. I live in Shitamachi and amidst the white tile and crumbling
brick buildings, mine is marked with a bright “Sakura House” sign, not
that the comings and goings of a few dozen foreigners would have gone
unnoticed otherwise.

Anyway this morning I was stopped by three men in black jackets
(windbreakers) and one of them flashed me a badge. They asked me if I had
my “card”. Even though I had read your article, I was running late for
work and was extremely frazzled at being approached like that. I could
feel my Japanese fumbling but did manage to ask “nan de desuka?”. They
told me that they had heard that some sakura house people had overstayed
their visa and were “just checking”. They went to far as to ask my room
number and whether I lived alone. They made double sure to check the
address on the back of my card and sent me on my way. I was very insulted
and humiliated at being stopped like that. And the more I thought about
it, and the angrier I became.

The part that gets me the most is that these men were just waiting outside
my apartment, waiting to trap the gaijin as they went outside. The fact
that they asked my room number makes me think that they’re just going to
keep patroling until they’ve accounted for everyone. Moreover, this sort
of thing should be really unneccessary, as Sakura house checks the
duration of everybody’s visa before allowing them to stay there.

I would like to ask you, if you don’t mind, a few questions to be sure of
my legal footing.

1) Who do you think these men were?

There were three of them, only one had a badge. None of them were in
uniform. Is it possible that they (or at least one of them) were
immigration detectives, assigned to check out my particular guesthouse
because they had some kind of lead? Were they plainclothes cops?
Vigilantees? (they did seem to be overly pleased with themselves)

2) Does checking everyone in a foreign dorm constitute “crime prevention”?

You had the bike example in your article, and it seemed that a cop
really does have the right to demand your gaijin card for rather flimsy
reasons. Is being foreign enough probable cause for suspicion, if the
crime in question is “overstay”? As you mention, Japanese are also
capable of theft, murder, and terrorist acts, but it would be pretty
difficult for them to overstay their visas. (Of course there is the
issue of Japanese who happen to look non-Japanese, of foreign- born
Japanese citizens such as yourself, and ethnic Japanese foreigners, but
I doubt that that issue would carry any weight with a cop on the
street.)

Also, if it is even true that they have some evidence of foreigners
overstaying their visas at my guesthouse, does that mean that any
special investigation they are conducting overrides my right not to show
my gaijin card when I am not doing anything suspicious?

Well, toriaezu, I emailed sakura house telling them what was going on and
how hurt I was by it. I told them I would appreciate it if they would do
something about it. I also posted a note on the front door of my
guesthouse and left a bunch of copies of “The law” in the entryway. I
don’t know if anyone will be interested in making waves, but there it is.

Anyway, I would appreciate any help or information you can give me. I’m
surprised at how much this bothers me. Good job with your site, I’m glad
that there’s information out there for us.

Thanks again, Anonymous

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Thank you back!

A couple of links re the developing tendency towards racial profiling in Japan:

Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents
Japan Times May 24, 2005
https://www.debito.org/japantimes052405.html

Justice system flawed by presumed guilt
Rights advocates slam interrogation without counsel, long detentions
The Japan Times: Oct. 13, 2005

https://www.debito.org/japantimes102305detentions.html
An excellent summary from the Japan Times on what’s wrong with Japan’s criminal justice system: presumption of guilt, extreme police powers of detention, jurisprudential incentives for using them, lack of transparency, records or accountability during investigation, and a successful outcome of a case hinging on arrest and conviction, not necessarily on proving guilt or innocence. This has long since reached an extreme: almost anything that goes to trial in a Japanese criminal court results in a conviction.

Point: You do not want to get on the wrong side of the Japanese police, although riding a bicycle, walking outside, renting an apartment etc. while foreign seems more and more to incur police involvement. Debito

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UPDATE:
SAKURA HOUSE WASHES THEIR HANDS OF HELPING OUT THEIR FOREIGN GUESTS IN ANY WAY

From Anonymous:
Oh, and by the way, I got the expected response from sakura house.

———————————————–
Dear Anonymous

Thank you very much for your staying at Sakura House.

In fact, Japanese police officer or imigration officer has a right to
check your passport, visa status and alien registration card. If they ask
you to show your passport, you have to show it to them. This is a leagal
action. They do that kind of inspection without informing.

With best regards,
Takuya Takahashi
———————————————–

COMMENT: Pity Mr Takahashi doesn’t know the law better. It’s not quite that simple. So much for helping out his renters. Debito

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COMMENT NOV 29 FROM CYBERSPACE

This is outrageous and dangerous. The woman should NEVER have
cooperated. She should write newspapers. Rapists could easily use
this ruse to target their victims ahead of time. If cops want to check
IDs, they had better be in their proper uniforms with their own proper
identification.

ENDS

Kyodo Nov 23: Odd mock trial of foreigner to test new jury system (with updates)

mytest

Hello Blog. Forwarding from a reporter friend. Comment is his. Debito

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Not sure what to make of this. Should I be dissapointed that they chose a
foreigner as the defendant in their mock trial or pleased that the jury
didn’t necessarily lock him up and throw away the key just because he
wasn’t Japanese….. Anyway, for your amusement and education:
==============================

Mock trial under lay judge system held in Osaka
by Keiji Hirano
OSAKA, Nov. 23 KYODO
http://asia.news.yahoo.com/061123/kyodo/d8lipja81.html

Citizen judges on Thursday came out with a mixed verdict on a Briton,
who was indicted for bodily injury resulting in death, at a mock trial in
Osaka.

Paul Lennon, 36-year-old English teacher, stood trial at the mimic
court, sponsored by the Osaka Bar Association, on the assumption that he
kicked a Japanese man because he thought the man had assaulted a woman,
although the man was just caring for his drunken girlfriend. The man died
after falling down on a street and hitting his head.

The mock trial was held prior to the introduction of the citizen judge
system in Japan by 2009, under which professional judges and lay judges
will try such serious crimes as murder, robbery resulting in death,
injuries leading to death and arson, in order to enable the public to
understand the planned system.

It will be the first attempt in Japan to enable ordinary citizens to
be involved in the judicial system.

During the mock trial, the prosecution side said Lennon, a muscled
grade-holder in karate, had kicked the victim, who was much smaller than
himself, without hearing what he had to say in order to chastise him and
that it was an excessive offense to target his face. The prosecutors
demanded a six-year prison term.

The defense lawyers argued that Lennon’s act was self-defense as the
drunken woman said to him ”help me” in English while the victim was
raising his arms in a fighting pose.

They also insisted he had kicked the man in a restrained manner. ”As
a result, the victim did not sustain any injuries to his face. It was
unfortunate the victim died but the defendant is not a criminal,” the
lawyers added.

After hearing the testimonies of the girlfriend and another witness of
the incident, six lay judges — actual ordinary citizens and students who
did not know the contents of the mock trial beforehand — discussed
together with three judges — actual lawyers of the association — about
whether the defendant was guilty.

A citizen judge said, ”I understand the principle of presumed
innocence, but I tend to be attracted to what the prosecutors argued,”
while another lay judge, commenting on the girlfriend’s remarks that the
victim did not raise his arms and the defendant kicked him suddenly, said
it was not trustworthy as she was drunk.

Some citizen judges argued the defendant’s act was excessive as he
should have realized its danger as a karate master, while others said it
was not excessive, based on testimony of the witness that the victim
collapsed dizzily, arguing that he would have fallen fast if the karate
grade-holder had kicked him hard.

While the citizen judges did not reach a consensus, Takashi Maruta, a
professor at Kwansei Gakuin University law school, said after observing the
conference, ”The mock trial showed ordinary citizens can develop
reasonable and persuasive debates.”

Under the citizen judge system, three professional judges plus six lay
judges would decide by a majority vote whether a defendant is guilty or
not, and pass sentence in a guilty verdict. At least one professional judge
and one lay judge must vote on the majority side.

Judicial circles — professional judges, prosecutors and lawyers —
are now holding such mock trials as part of their efforts to make the new
system functional and effective.

A symposium followed the mock trial on Thursday, in which a judge from
Hawaii and two people from Australia and France, who had once served as
jurors, shared their experiences with the audience.

Both Malcolm Knox from Sydney and Francoise de Vaulgrenant from Paris
said they had initially been reluctant to sit in courts as jurors but they
later found it a ”unique” and ”fascinating” experience.

While jurors must have been prejudiced initially, ”we became
impartial” after entering the jury room, said Knox. He said he had doubts
if he could work with others whom he did not know, but that he found it
wonderful to work with various kinds of people and he could foster trust in
other citizens after serving as a juror.

Vaulgrenant shared the view, calling the change in the jurors
”magic,” and told the Japanese audience ”don’t miss it” if selected to
be a citizen judge.

Lay judges in Japan would be chosen at random from lists of eligible
voters in a general election for the House of Representatives, regardless
of their views, faith or abilities.

Sabrina Shizue McKenna, a judge from Hawaii, said 99 percent of jurors
in her court said it was a great experience, although they too had been
hesitant about serving as jurors at first.

Speaking in Japanese, McKenna said, ”Life experiences of ordinary
people are much more important than professional knowledge of judges (in
discussing legal cases).”

Yuji Shiratori, a law professor at Hokkaido University who attended
the symposium, said that while introduction of a lay judge system has a
symbolic meaning of citizen’s participation in the judicial system, it is
also expected to improve overall criminal justice by exposing investigation
and defense processes to the public.

As lay judges will deliberate on serious crimes, which may lead to
capital punishment, Shiratori said, ”It is likely that not a few lay
judges will be hesitant to be involved in giving a death penalty, and the
introduction will be a good opportunity to stir national debate over
capital punishment.”

The lay judge system will be reviewed three years after its
introduction, and Shiratori said he expects the majority verdict to be
revised to a two-thirds or three-quarters decision in the future to ensure
more legitimacy during the review period or even before the 2009
introduction.
==November 23, 2006 21:49:55 Kyodo News
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COMMENT: What odd things make the news… With all the events jockeying for your attention, why so much of this highly-contrived fake court case? And I fail to see how this is any harbinger of the future of Japan’s upcoming jury system. Surely they could have come up with a better issue to put before a jury? Debito

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UPDATE NOV 27, 2006:
(from friend MS)

For your information, this would be a rerun of the actual trial of one Steve or Stephen Bellamy, who was indicted for manslaughter in Chiba around 1982 or thereabouts. His appeal went all the way to the Supreme Court.

He never spent any time in prison but had to pay whopping compensation to the dead man’s family. The whole thing was just a sad misunderstanding, the man was not assaulting the woman — she was just drunk and acting in an obnoxious manner, but Steve went galloping to her rescue like a knight in shining armor. I think he eventually moved to Hawaii. Back in the days of 300bps acoustic modems, Bellamy had one of the first computer bulletin boards in Japan, called Kanto Central.

Unfortunately there’s nothing in Google re this case. Anyone else here 25 years or so ago who remembers any details? MS

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

COURTESY OF REPORTER FRIEND MW

Debito,

Google might not have anything but Lexis Nexis does! Sorry for the caps….

Copyright 1984 Kyodo News Service
Japan Economic Newswire
NOVEMBER 22, 1984, THURSDAY
LENGTH: 311 words

DATELINE: TOKYO, NOV 22

BODY:
APPEAL COURT REVERSE TOKYO HIGH COURT FOUND A BRITISH BUSINESS CONSULTANT GUILTY OF ASSAULT RESULTING IN DEATH STEMMING FROM AN ALTERCATION ON A MATSUDO STREET THREE YEARS AGO.

JOHN STEVEN BELLAMY, 34, WAS SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON, BUT SENTENCE WAS STAYED AND BELLAMY PUT ON THREE YEARS PROBATION DUE TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE INDICENT.

THE CHARGE AROSE AFTER BELLAMY, A THIRD-DAN (LEVEL) KARATE EXPERT, BECAME INVOLVED IN WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS A DOMESTIC QUARREL IN MATSUDO BETWEEN YASUTOSHI HARIMA, THEN 31, AND A DRUNKEN WOMAN.

DURING LOWER COURT TESTIMONY, THE COURT WAS TOLD BELLAMY APPROACHED THE PAIR AND TRIED TO MEDIATE IN THE SITUATION, BUT WHEN HARIMA ASSUMED A BOXING STANCE AND THREATENED TO STRIKE THE BRITON, BELLAMY STRUCK OUT WITH A KARATE KICK WHICH RESULTED IN HARIMA’S DEATH.

HARIMA APPARENTLY STRUCK HIS HEAD ON A CONCRETE CURB AFTER THE KICK AND DIED FROM HEAD INJURIES.

THE CHIBA COURT RULED BELLAMY INNOCENT BECAUSE THE KICK WAS EXECUTED IN SELF DEFENSE, BUT THE TOKYO HIGH COURT SAID THE DIFFERENCE IN SIZE BETWEEN THE TWO MEN, HARIMA WAS 160 CM TALL AND 60 KILOGRAMS WHILE BELLAMY IS 180 CM AND 80 KILOGRAMS, AND THE EXPERT NATURE OF BELLAMY’S ATTACK RENDERED A RULING OF SELF DEFENSE INVALID.

THE HIGH COURT ADDED THAT THE KARATE MOVE WAS OF SUCH A SKILLFUL NATURE THAT AN ORDINARY PERSON COULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO DEFEND HIMSELF FROM IT.

IRONICALLY, THE SITUATION WHICH PROMPTED THE ALTERCATION WAS NOT AS THE BRITON HAD ASSUMED.

HARIMA WAS ACTUALLY TRYING TO COMFORT A FRIEND’S WIFE WHO HAD BECOME DRUNK AND WAS NOT ATTACKING THE WOMAN AS BELLAMY BELIEVED AT THE TIME.

BELLANY, VISIBLY PALE AND SHAKEN BY THE VERDICT, SAID HE HAD DONE “JUSTICE” AT THE TIME AND FELT THE HIGH COURT RULING “CRAZY, JUST CRAZY.”

THE HIGH COURT DECISION WILL BE APPEALLED TO THE SUPREME COURT, BELLAMY’S LAWYER INDICATED.

LOAD-DATE: Load-Date=NOVEMBER 22, 1984
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Hi, Debito:

I’ve been following your postings and articles over the years since we last exchanged mail. Generally (though not always) I’ve been in agreement. Hats off to the wide scope of your concerns and the sheer energy you bring to bear on them.

As for the mock trial in Osaka — you may know it is based on one of the most famous cases in the region involving a defendant named Steve Bellamy. The incident took place about a quarter of a century ago and was widely publicized here. I don’t have the dates or other details locked in my memory and my clippings for that period are not sorted.

The Bellamy case raises the sort of issues that case study textbook writers love. In the US today (possibly even at the time), Bellamy would have won in criminal court then lost in civil court — like Peairs in the Hattori case. The mock trial, like the case it was based on, was not about nationality. The issues are precisely those addressed by the jurors. From a legal education point of view, the Osaka Bar Association knew what it were doing.

For what it’s worth. You have my permission to use what I have written here any way you wish.

Keep up the good fight.

Bill Wetherall
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ENDS

Update to Kitakyushu Exclusionary Restaurant: Calls from City Int’l Affairs Desk and Bureau of Human Rights

mytest

Hello Blog.  Returning home tomorrow after a long four days on the road, with three days of eight-hour classes on Debate to about 65 students in Nagoya.  Gave a speech today at Japan Women’s University in Tokyo.  Nice crowd.  Writing you from an internet cafe in Shinjuku.

Updating the Kitakyushu exclusionary restaurant issue a few weekends ago (see https://www.debito.org/?p=69), I got a call this afternoon from the Kitakyushu City International Affairs Desk (kokusai kouryuu bu), who got the letter I sent to the tourism desk. 

They said that they called the restaurant in question and got an assurance from the manager that this sort of thing will not happen again.  Very good.  Thanks.  Glad they’re responding both to the problem and to the letter.

Bests, Debito in Shinjuku

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UPDATE NOV 19 AND 27 2006

The Bureau of Human Rights at the Kitakyushu Ministry of Justice (093-561-3542) also phoned me to get details on exactly who was refused and to clarify details. I told them the exact name on Nov 27 after receiving permission from the victim. So there you go. All we need now is a letter from the Mayor’s office and we’ve got a hat trick. Debito in Sapporo

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UPDATE DEC 11 2006

(Just sent this to the person who got refused at the restaurant.–Debito)

I just got a call from the Fukuoka Houmukyoku Jinken Yougobu Kitakyushu Shikyoku (Fukuoka Ministry of Justice Kitakyushu Division of the Bureau of Human Rights, and talked to a Mr Uehara.

He says he wants to talk to you directly about what happened. I told him I didn’t know your language level etc. or exactly where you live. But his contact details are 093-561-3542. Call him if you like and he will call you back.

In the course of our conversation, it became clear that he hadn’t talked to the restaurant yet, more than a month after this whole thing happened. He wanted to get our story straight before he approached them. I told them that I was too initially refused, so whether or not you talked to the Bureau directly should be irrelevant. He’s talking to me, and I was refused too, so talk to the restaurant to confirm our story already, it’s been a month. He said that he wanted to talk to you first too. This went on for about twenty minutes or so, so I at least said I would pass this information on to you. Here you go.

I hate dealing with bureaucrats who have no stomach for their job. They say they need to hear both sides. But then they say they won’t hear the other side until they are satisfied that they heard all of one side. I said I should suffice as one side, in any case. They disagree. So there you go. Please let me know whether or not you are amenable to talking to these bureaucrats?

Don’t worry–they’ll hold your name and information in confidence. Trust me–the BOHR has even refused to let me see my own file for a separate case cos they argued that I would violate my own privacy…

https://www.debito.org/policeapology.html

Absolutely useless organization, this. Debito

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

UPDATE DEC 22, 2006

I got yet another call from the Fukuoka BOHR this afternoon–yes, Mr Uehara again!

He says that he wants to talk to my contact, and wouldn’t I please contact him again? I said I would. And asked him to contact the goddamn restaurant. He won’t until he gets all the information from my contact. And if my contact doesn’t contact him by January 10? Then he’ll listen to my side of the story as evidence.

Soon be two months and counting. I’ll say it again–the BOHR is absolutely useless. Debito

JALT PALE Roundtable of Nov 3 06 Report re Japan’s future academic work

mytest

SUMMARY OF PALE ROUNDTABLE
PROFESSIONALISM, ADMINISTRATION, AND LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION (PALE) Special Interest Group
JAPAN ASSOCIATION FOR LANGUAGE TEACHING (JALT)
Friday, November 3, 2006, 1:15-2:50 PM, Room 21A, Kitakyushu International Hall
Full details on both organizations respectively at
https://www.debito.org/PALE and http://www.jalt.org
By PALE Members, collated by Arudou Debito

Continuing the Roundtable forum that packed the hall at JALT 2005, five PALE members paneled a meeting to discuss a variety of issues relevant to the conference’s theme of “Community, Identity, and Motivation”. All presentations touched in some way upon employment issues, including issues of job security, union representation, the relationship of nationality to job description and employment terms, and the growing role of dispatch teaching arrangements in Japanese universities. They dealt explicitly or implicitly with the proper roles and responsibilities of PALE and JALT in managing these issues.

PALE Program Chair JONATHAN B. BRITTEN (jbritten@cc.nakamura-u.ac.jp) moderated. He introduced the goals and current projects of PALE, and spoke briefly on the growing role of PALE as the primary means for JALT members to obtain advice and assistance with employment problems and other labor-related issues.

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MICHAEL “RUBE” REDFIELD (rube39@mac.com) developed a history of the “academic ideas” behind the use of dispatch teachers, i.e., the idea that Japanese linguists teach the language, and non Japanese basically function as native-speaking “informants”. This shift away from content-based teaching for “native speakers” is an unwelcome trend. He surveyed the ‘foreign experts’ use in Meiji, went thru Harold Palmer and the Coleman Report (20’s), AS Hornsby and Structural Linguistics (30’s), Fries, Lado and the Ford Foundation (50’s) in bringing us up to the present. He showed how historically Japan has welcomed foreign ideas (when deemed relevant) but not foreign people. He finished up with a discussion on how the past has influenced the present, and then compared foreign academics to lab animals; when they have been sufficiently abused or have mastered the maze, it is time to bring in a “fresh specimen”.

——————————

PATRICK O’BRIEN (pobrien@hawaii.edu) echoed this with his case of academic substitution, where non-Japanese are being taken out of content courses. Despite having a PhD in American Studies, he has been deprived of any classes in his workplace (Hokkai Gakuen University) dealing with his field, and confined to teaching ESL only thanks to his “native speaker” status. His classes have instead been to Japanese instructors. The statistics bear this out: According to the Japan Association for American Studies, 98.5% of positions devoted to teaching US culture are taught by Japanese. When Pat brought this situation up with the American Studies Association, they showed a remarkable incuriousness.

Pat also had a situation where elements within his school launched a campaign to get him fired. Trumped-up sexual harassment charges against him, which even made the local newspapers, fortunately came to naught, but the question lingers: When communication breaks down within the department or university, to whom might the individual educator turn? Is a Japanese union the best choice? Is a professional association such as JALT tasked to represent members in such disputes? To what extent is pressure from outside Japan (gaiatsu) a realistic option? (The American Studies Association, for example refused to help.) What worked for Pat was standing his ground, getting a lawyer involved to negotiate on his behalf, and ultimately, joining a Japanese labor union.

Pat further summarized his speech as follows:
========================================================
As a foreign instructor in Japan, I’ve lately felt part of the PALE community, which now, I feel, includes Dr. Ivan Hall. Hall’s “Cartels” and “Bamboozled” provide the intellectual framework for our efforts on employment in higher education here. Due to the lack of interest in the academic credentials of Westerners, Japan ends up employing only a low number of content instructors, giving such classes to Japanese professors. Unfortunately, the identity politics so prevalent in today’s academic circles in America makes it difficult for me to appeal to them for support (the white male still being seen as a colonizer and hegemonist). Two additional challenges facing us here in Japan are 1) Brian McVeigh may be right that “daigaku” is not the equivalent of “university” and 2) thus far the Ministry of Education (Monkashou) has been absent from any discussions on foreign content instructors. Though PALE is part of JALT, foreign content teachers can turn to PALE for support.
========================================================
——————————

EVAN HEIMLICH, a Specially Appointed Foreign Associate Professor of Cross-Cultural Studies, was brought to Japan from the US by Kobe University in 1997, but whom–with its entire contingent of five foreign professors–the Faculty of Cross-Cultural Studies is now purging. He requested JALT support teachers, especially foreign language teachers, by defending their professional interests against such systemic abuses, which are becoming much too common.

Japan’s cultural nationalism, Heimlich argued, is unacceptedly disciplining Japan’s language teachers, whose professional interests have almost no collective defense politically, legally, diplomatically, nor even from the labor movement. While politically teachers in Japan no longer have a very powerful voice, foreign teachers, if noncitizens, do not have any political representation at all; and most faculty councils ban them. The embassies, Heimlich added, hardly regard teachers as a significant constituency. Legally, Heimlich claimed, many foreign teachers cannot retain legal representation either–partly because employers label about ninety percent of them as “temporary workers,” exploiting manifold loopholes to evade legal protections on language teachers’ employment.

Trade unions–the main shield of employment–Heimlich said must be joined and strengthened. Yet he argued that teachers’ professional interest as ‘intellectual workers’ tends to make a poor fit with the goals of the labor unions. Labor unions focus on retaining employment for all members, rather than on the tourniquets banning the promotion of foreigners from “special” or “ALT” status to the same status as their Japanese colleagues.

Meanwhile professional associations command some respect in Japan–and some, notably the dentists’ association, have dramatically advanced members’ professional interests—so Heimlich concluded that JALT can help protect its members against the worst, systemic abuses against language teachers. He identified these as follows: the revolving-door policies of employment; the tourniquet-policies blocking foreign language teachers from joining the main body of the teaching profession; and the periodic, categorical purges safeguarding professional segregation.

In answers to questions from the floor, Heimlich mentioned legal action against the national government, such as a civil lawsuit which Arudou Debito is organizing (https://www.debito.org/kunibengodan.html) to raise awareness; and international lobbying both through other professional associations, as well as through the ILO and the United Nations, which Stephanie Houghton and others have been researching. Finally, Heimlich pointed to a website, http://faqracismjapan.blogspot.com, an FAQ on criticism of Japan’s institutional racism.

——————————

Finally, IVAN P. HALL, invited guest speaker for PALE this year, and author of the influential book CARTELS OF THE MIND, rounded out the roundtable with concluding comments. He mentioned “the sixth cartel”, referring to the five “intellectual cartels” shutting out foreign ideas from the Japanese polity, particularly in the fields of journalism, academia, and law. The sixth cartel he called the “enfranchisement of the overseas cocktail circuit”, where embedded academics and policymakers overseas, often chairing institutions with Japan-sourced grants, themselves turn a blind eye to the problems on the ground over here, and with the help of US-Japan cultural-bridge associations (which Dr. Hall is a veteran of), do a very good job at keeping the US out of understanding Japan.

Dr Hall also gave a two-hour speech later on in the day on the issues he calls “Academic Apartheid” in Japan’s academia. We hope to make a transcript of that speech public in the near future.

SUMMARY OF NOV 3 JALT PALE ROUNDTABLE ENDS

Quick Update to Kitakyushu Exclusionary Restaurant Issue

mytest

Hello Blog. Just got word today (Nov 17) from the Kitakyushu Branch of the MOJ’s Bureau of Human Rights (Jinken Yougobu) by phone today, re the “No foreigners allowed inside because they make the manager feel linguistically inadequate” Restaurant “Jungle”, in response to my Nov 9 letter to them. (https://www.debito.org/?p=69).

They are looking into it, they say. Is all for now. More when I know more. Glad they at least contacted me. Doesn’t always happen, trust me. Bests, Debito in Nagoya

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 15 2006

mytest

Hello All. Time for another
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER, NOVEMBER 15, 2006

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1) TBS INTERVIEW RE 2-CHANNEL BBS, THIS THURSDAY LUNCHTIME
2) NOOSE TIGHTENS: ZAKZAK AND MUTANTFROG ON NISHIMURA & WASEDA SPEECH
3) ASAHI: NORIGUCHI PONTIFICATING ON LANGUAGE TEACHING AGAIN
4) LETTER TO KITAKYUSHU AUTHORITIES RE EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT
5) EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF JAPANESE PRISON VISIT
6) FOREIGN MARRIAGES NOT ALLOWED FOR POLICE AND JSDF?
and finally
7) CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN TO HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS!
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

freely forwardable
blogged in real time at https://www.debito.org/index.php

1) TBS INTERVIEW ON 2-CHANNEL BBS THIS THURSDAY LUNCHTIME

I had an interview yesterday morning with one of Japan’s major networks, TBS (the network which brought you “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin”, and still brings sunlight and subliminal musical jokes to Sunday mornings with “Sunday Japon”).

It’ll be a brief segment on the 2-Channel libel lawsuit, with me speaking as one of the many victorious plaintiffs which BBS administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki refuses to pay, despite court rulings.

The attention this issue is getting in recent weeks is very welcome. The more the better, as it may prod the creation of some legislation. Japan should at least strengthen “contempt of court” punishments for court delinquents, making evasions of this type a criminal offense prosecutable by police.

As it stands right now, a thwarted Plaintiff in Japan has to chase down the Defendant for payment, at his or her own time and expense.

As I found out two weekends ago, you can’t even “serve papers” to a Defendant (notifying him of his legal obligations and eliminating plausible deniability) yourself, say, in a pizza box or at a public event. I refer to Nishimura’s blythe speech at Waseda (more on that in the next section), where my lawyer said I could approach the podium with papers, but it would be a publicity stunt, not a legally-binding action. “Serving” must go via the court through registered post; and all the deadbeat has to do is not retreive his mail!

But I digress. The show will be broadcast as follows:
=============================
SEGMENT ON BBS 2-CHANNEL, TBS show “PINPON”
http://www.tbs.co.jp/program/pinpon.html
Thursday, November 16, 2006 (as in tomorrow)
I’m told sometime between 12 noon and 1PM.
However, the show starts at 11AM, so set your VCRS.
TV network: TBS (HBC in Hokkaido)
=============================

Final thought: Quite honestly, I find appearing on TV terrifying. It’s like dancing (which I can’t do either–I think too much to have any rhythm). It takes all my brainpower just to manage my thoughts digestably, and then worrying about how to manage my face and eyes and all overloads the system… Anyway, tune in and see how I did.

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

2) THE NOOSE TIGHTENS:
ZAKZAK AND MUTANTFROG ON NISHIMURA & WASEDA SPEECH

Scandal paper Yuukan Fuji (and its online feed ZAKZAK) has been doing a series on Nishimura and 2-Channel, mentioning my case by name as well (which is what occasioned TBS coming up north to talk to me yesterday).

You can see two of the articles from last week translated into English by Adamu at Mutant Frog (thanks!) at

Don’t mess with 2ch: ZAKZAK, Sankei Sports report


The rupo on the Waseda speech deserves excerpting:

———————- EXCERPT BEGINS ——————————–
The focus was, as could be expected, the issue of Nishimura’s litigation-related disappearance. Last month, in a suit brought by a female professional golfer (age 24) alleging she was slandered and harmed by the bulletin board seeking deletion of the posts and damages etc, Nishimura was ordered to delete the posts and pay 1 million yen in compensation. However, he ignored the call from the court to appear in this case, and never showed up in court even once.

As to the reasons for that, Nishimura admitted, “Actually, there are similar cases going on from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.” He bluntly explained, “Well, lawyer fees would cost more than 1 million yen. Hey, I’ll go if I get bored.”

He explained that “I deleted the problem section (from the site),” but added his horrifying assertion that “there is no law to make me pay compensation by force, so it doesn’t matter if I win or lose in court. It’s the same thing if I don’t pay (the compensation).” When asked about his annual income, he boasted “a little more than Japan’s population (127 million).” So he’s not having money issues.

In response to Nishimura’s assertion that “there is no law forcing me to pay compensation,” Nippon University professor of criminal law Hiroshi Itakura points out, “a court’s compulsory enforcement (kyousei shikkou) can be used to ‘collect’ compensation.” He says that running from compensation is impossible. Also, if someone hides assets etc. for the purposes of avoiding compulsory execution, then “that would constitute the crime of obstructing compulsory execution,” (kyousei shikkou bougai zai). Itabashi wonders, “It is strange that the courts that ordered the compensation have not implemented compulsory enforcement. It’s not like Nishimura doesn’t have any assets.”
———————- EXCERPT ENDS ———————————–

Originals in Japanese at

2ちゃんねるの西村ひろゆき:早稲田にて「強制的に(賠償金を)払わせる法律がない」(追加:ZAKZAK 記事)


Two more ZAKZAK articles in Japanese which came out this week at

TBSテレビ番組「ピンポン」で2ちゃんねるについてインタビュー(木16放送)及びZAKZAK記事連載


(Adamu, feel free to translate again, thanks!)

And an article photocopied (literally) and sent from Dave Spector while shinkansenning (thanks!), from Tokyo Sports, Nov 9, 2006. Headline notes how the police are starting to get involved:
https://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/11/tokyosports110906.jpg

I wonder how long Nishimura thinks he’s going to be able to get away with this…

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

3) ASAHI: NORIGUCHI PONTIFICATING ON LANGUAGE TEACHING AGAIN

Professor Noriguchi at Kitakyushu University is becoming a regular pundit on English language education in Japan.

After saying not two months ago in the Asahi Shinbun’s prestigious “Watashi No Shiten” column, that one problem with non-Japanese teachers is that they stay in Japan too long (https://www.debito.org/?p=34), he’s back again with a response to his critics (or, as he puts it, his supporters).

Article is archived at

Kitakyudai’s Noriguchi again in Asahi on English teaching (Nov 4, 2006, with updates)

Let me rewrite a few of Noriguchi’s points and weave in comment and interpretation. He essentially asserts this time that:

So much energy devoted to the study of English (as opposed to other languages) is not only unneighborly, it is a reflection of a Japanese inferiority complex towards the West.

One consequence of this much focus on English is a lot of swindling and deception of the Japanese consumer, with bogus advertising about the merits and the effects of English language education.

In any case, English is hardly necessary for life in Japan, so why require it on entrance exams? Especially after all the trauma that Japanese go through learning it.

This is no mystery. Japanese have a natural barrier to learning English, given the “Japanese mentality”, the characteristics of the language, and the homogeneity of the country.

More so than other Asian countries, he mysteriously asserts. (Koreans, for example? And won’t the same barriers apply to other Asian languages if the Japanese are indeed so unique?)

Meanwhile, let’s keep the door revolving on foreign English-language educators by hiring retired teachers from overseas, who not only will bring in more expertise and maturity, but also by design (and by natural longevity) will not stay as long in Japan and have as much of an effect.

(NB: The last point is not his, but it’s symptomatic of Noriguchi’s throwing out of ideas which are not all that well thought through in practice. After all, nowhere in his essay does he retract his previous assertion that part of the problem is foreign teachers staying here too long.)

As before, Professor Noriguchi is reachable at
snori@kitakyu-u.ac.jp
He says that far more people support his views than not, so if you want to show him differently, write him.

Meanwhile, those two Watashi No Shiten articles seem to be having an effect on domestic debate. As a friend of mine (who is in academic admin) said earlier today on a different mailing list:

============== BEGINS ====================
[Noriguchi’s] articles are not merely “problematic”–they are DEVASTATING to the cause of foreigners here. I’ve had to discuss his crackpot ideas (given a kind of pseudo authority because they appeared in the Asahi and because the author is Japanese) on two occasions over just the LAST WEEK–once with a university president, and once with the head of this city’s board of education. Both see in these articles justifications for firing experienced foreign faculty and bringing in cheaper newbies. After all, as Noriguchi … [has] made clear, we are only language “polishers” and “cultural ambassadors,” not teachers.

Some unintentional humor from [The Ministry of Education]. On my desk right now is a document [entitled Gaikokujin Chomei Kenkyuusha Shouhei Jigyou].

The plan as described: Bring in NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS to accelerate (and elevate) the pacing and quality of academic research here. The catch? These stars will be on contracts capped on principle at 1-3 years!

Wouldn’t want these “cultural ambassadors” to become stale….
============== ENDS =====================

Concluding thoughts: There is a large confluence of events in recent weeks which makes me wonder whether the Ministry of Education is gearing up for another cleanout of foreign faculty in Japanese universities (as happened between 1992 and 1994, see Hall, CARTELS OF THE MIND). I’ll develop that theory a bit more if you want in my next newsletter.

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

4) LETTER TO KITAKYUSHU AUTHORITIES RE EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT

I mentioned last newsletter about an addition to the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Enterprises: An exclusionary restaurant, discovered in Kitakyushu on November 3, had an owner so fearful of foreign languages that he turned people away that maychance speak them.
https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Kokura
If he can’t greet customers because of his own complexes, perhaps he’s in the wrong line of work?

Well, I sent a letter on this dated November 9, in English and Japanese, to the Kitakyushu Mayor’s Office, the City Bureau of Tourism, the local Bureau of Human Rights, the local Nishi Nihon Shinbun newspaper, all my Japanese mailing lists, and JALT Central. Text available at

Letter to Kitakyushu authorities re exclusionary restaurant, Nov 9 06

No responses as of yet. Few things like these are taken care of overnight. Wait and see.

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

5) EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF JAPANESE PRISON VISIT

One of the advantages of doing what I do is that I get very interesting emails from friends. The other day, I got a report from a friend who paid a visit to a Japanese prison, to offer moral support to someone incarcerated. I don’t really know much about what the incarcerated has done to justify his imprisonment, but that’s not the point of the story. Interesting are the bureaucratic tribulations he (the author, not the prisoner) had to go through just to get a short audience (limited to 15 minutes), worth recording somewhere for the record. In the end, I couldn’t help thinking: Is all this rigmarole necessary? What purpose could it possibly serve?

Read the report at

Eyewitness account of a visit to a Japanese prison (with comment)

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

6) FOREIGN MARRIAGES NOT ALLOWED FOR POLICE AND JSDF?

A friend notified me of a blog entry (not exactly the most trustworthy source, I know) about German woman who wants to marry a Japanese man. The problem is, he’s a policeman, and apparently he was told by his bosses that Japanese police who want a future in the NPA cannot marry foreigners. There’s a security issue involved, it would seem.

Hm. Might be a hoax, but had the feeling it warranted further investigation. After I reported this to The Community mailing list (https://www.debito.org/TheCommunity), I got a couple of responses, one saying that international marriage is in fact not forbidden by the NPA (and this supervisor bullying should be reported to internal affairs).

But the other response said that somebody married to a former member of the Japanese Self Defense Forces also had to quit his job because of it. He was involved in a “sensitive” area, apparently.

Hm again. I know that certain jobs (such as Shinto Priests) are not open to foreigners, due to one of those “Yamato Race” thingies. (Buddhism, however, seems to be open, as I know of one German gentleman on my lists who has an administrative post within a major Japanese sect.)

But imagine the number of people in, for example, “sensitive” jobs in the US State Department who would have to make a choice between their job and a foreign spouse?

I’m blogging this issue for the time being at

Blog entry: J police cannot marry non-Japanese? (with update)


with comments and pings open for a change.

Any information? Let us know. Thanks.
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

and finally:

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

7) CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS!

For those of you under still under rocks: Our home team is unstoppable!

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, after reaching the top in Japan last month, on Sunday won the Asian Series, 1-0, vs Taiwan.

This makes them the best team in Asia this year. Our first baseman Ogawawara was just made MVP for the Pacific League, too! (Pity it looks as though we’re going to lose him to the rich but insufferably arrogant Tokyo Giants…)

Now if only we’d create a REAL world series, so the North Americans can’t lay claim to the title of “World Champion” every year!

Some articles of interest:
On Hillman and Fighers’ team spirit
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sp20061114se.html
On Ogasawara
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sb20061114j1.html
Wrapping up the season
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sp20061114el.html
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

As always, thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
https://www.debito.org
November 15, 2006
NEWSLETTER ENDS

Blog entry: J police cannot marry non-Japanese? (with update)

mytest

Hello Blog. Something interesting here. Friend passed on a link to a blog post as follows:

===================================
Hello. I am really down so I hope to get some help here. My boyfriend is japanese and I am german. We met in Japan ( working holiday…)and want to merry next year, because we are really sure about our love. The big problem we have is his job. He is a policeman. Policemen in Japan have to report their girlfriends when they become serious about their partnership. So my boyfreind reported me. After that we really had a lot of problems, because his organisation said that he can not have a relation with a foreign women. If he will go on with me, he will never get a promotion again and they will bully him at work. Yeah, that’s what they told him. The reason they gave us is to protect the Japanese Police Organitation and that after our marrigae is will be difficult to stop other policemen to merry with foreign women. For me it is simply racism! How could I be dangerous to the Police? I mean I am just a young women who wants to merry with love. What can we do? Of course my boyfriend thougth about chaning his job, but in this case they will get what they want. And there will be the same stupid old mind and discrimination in the Japanese Police like always. It should not be like that. Can`t we do anything against it? Is racism and discrimination really tolerated in Japan?
===================================
Original post and more discussion at
http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0 30435

This of course might be a hoax (you have to be careful about non-verifiable postings like these, and if it turns out as such, I’ll delete this issue from my blog with apologies). Still, might be worth checking into. Not all that difficult. Place a call to the NPA and see. Or ask around. Anyone have any friends in the police forces in Japan or other countries? Anyone know if there is a problem with police marrying non-citizens here or elsewhere?

Watch this space. I will add to this blog entry directly if there is something blogworthy. Debito in Sapporo

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

REPLY: Nov 14, 2006, from The Community mailing list:

Apparently there is no bar whatsoever to police marrying foreigners. I have it on authority from a member of Tokyo Metropolitan Police who says there are 5 officers she knows of who are married to foreigners. If this girl’s boyfriend was threatened with bullying over a matter which is not a case of breaking rules, he should report whoever made the comments to an appropriate body.

==============================
ANOTHER REPLY FROM THE COMMUNITY MAILING LIST
Nov 14, 2006
I am married to a member of JASDF but he had to change his job when
we met because he was in a “sensitive” field at the time. It was
tough for him as he loved what he had been doing and had to switch to
something he does NOT love. He also has a friend who quit JASDF to
marry his Chinese girlfriend. I don`t think it`s policy for all jobs
within the Force but it definitely happens sometimes.
==============================

ENDS

UPDATE:  A few more related articles have come out since this blog entry was written:

J MSDF demoting military officers with NJ spouses (UPDATED)
https://www.debito.org/?p=460

Also related
The Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
THE ZEIT GIST
The blame game
Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20070828zg.html

Letter to Kitakyushu authorities re exclusionary restaurant, Nov 9 06

mytest

Hi Blog. This is a slightly edited version of a letter I snailmailed today to the Kitakyushu Mayor’s Office, the local Bureau of Human Rights, the local Nishinihon Shinbun, and JALT Admin. It’s pretty self-explanatory, so read on. Debito in Sapporo

LETTER BEGINS
=============================
ARUDOU Debito, Associate Professor
(contact details deleted)
November 9, 2006
To JALT National, Steve Brown, President
JALT Central Office
Urban Edge Bldg 5F, 1-37-9 Taito
Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0016, Japan
Tel: 03-3837-1630 Fax: 03-3837-1631

Dear President Brown and JALT National Leadership,

First of all, let me express heartfelt gratitude for the most recent national conference in Kitakyushu. I consider it to be a great success, and look forward to more future conferences.

The reason I am writing is to notify you of an incident which occurred in Kitakyushu during the JALT conference to a JALT member.

On November 3, 2006, said JALT member was refused entry to a restaurant named “Jungle” (Kitakyushu-shi Kokura Kita-ku Kajimachi 1-7-4, Kajimachi Kaikan 3F, Ph: 093-512-7123, FAX 093-512-7124). The reason given was that the establishment was full, even though to the JALT member it visibly had open tables. Arudou Debito was then informed about this situation.

On November 4, at around 9PM, five friends and I went to Jungle. I first went in alone and the manager, a Mr. Matsubara Tatsuya, indeed tried to refuse me entry by claiming the restaurant was full. I then took a quick walk around the restaurant to confirm that the establishment, with at least eight large tables plus counter space, was in fact almost completely empty. When it was clear that Matsubara and I could communicate in Japanese, Matsubara then offered me counter space. I then brought in my friends and confirmed that we could have a table.

We then confirmed (after being seated and ordering drinks) that a) Matsubara did refuse foreigners entry, b) because he cannot communicate in English–he finds it his “nemesis” (nigate), c) and because he finds foreigners frightening (kowai). When asked if he had ever had any bad experiences or altercations with non-Japanese customers, Matsubara said no. He just (for reasons never made very clear) did not want to have to deal with them.

When we softly and calmly pointed out that a) non-Japanese are customers too, with money, not to mention language abilities (or at least forefingers to point to items on the menu), b) refusing them entry hurts their feelings, as it did the person refused the previous evening, c) that welcoming customers was part of Matsubara’s job description in his line of work (kyaku shoubai), he apologized and said he would try harder not to refuse non-Japanese customers in future.

The irony of the situation was that at the end of our drinks, one of the waiters who attended us (a student at the local technical college) talked to us in very good English. Why couldn’t Matsubara just have passed any customer with whom he was unable to communicate on to his staff?

I have since put “Jungle” up on a website cataloging the spread of exclusionary establishments around Japan.
Please refer to www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Kokura

We look forward to future reports from readers of this website who might wish to investigate this restaurant in future to see if Matsubara keeps his promise.

I would like to ask JALT to send a letter of concern to the appropriate offices within the City Kitakyushu, particularly Mayor Sueyoshi Kouichi, who wrote the kind message of welcome for this JALT Conference. I am also sending this message in Japanese to Mayor Sueyoshi’s office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bureau of Human Rights, and the Nishi Nippon Shinbun. I hope they also will look into this matter, and take sufficient measures so that something like this does not happen again.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely yours,

____________________________
Arudou Debito
LETTER ENDS

北九州市の「外国人拒否」するレストランについて市長、人権擁護部と西日本新聞に送った手紙

mytest

 ブログの皆様こんがんは。有道 出人です。いつもお読みいただいてありがとうございます。
 さて、夕べこの手紙を書いて郵送しました。念のためにアーカイブに入れます。
 宜しくお願い致します。
==========================
〒803-8501 北九州市小倉北区城内1番1号
電話:093-582-2127 FAX:093-562-0710 hisho@mail2.city.kitakyushu.jp
北九州市長 末吉興一秘書室 御中 市長 末吉 興一 殿
〒803-8513北九州市小倉北区城内5番3号(小倉地方合同庁舎)093(561)3542
法務省人権擁護部北九州支部 御中
(西日本新聞社及びJALT管理者にも送信)

市内「外国人お断り」のレストランの件、啓蒙のお願い

拝啓 晩秋の候、ますますご清栄のこととお喜び申し上げます。
 突然で失礼ですが、自己紹介させていただきたいと思います。私は北海道情報大学助教授の有道 出人(あるどう でびと)と申します。本年11月3日から3日間に渡り全国語学教育学会(JALT)の総会がきっかけで北九州市に訪れ、市民のホスピタリティを厚く御礼を申し上げます。
 しかし、標記の件ですが、11月3日の夜、JALTの外国出身メンバーがレストランに行きましたが、空席があったものの、支配人に「満席だから入らないで」と言われたようで、そのレストラン名は「ジャングル」(経営者は(有)ピー・ケイ・ティー)との事です。
北九州市小倉北区鍛冶町1-7-4 かじまち会館3F
Ph: 093-512-7123, FAX 093-512-7124
 断られた者が私に報告し4日の夜に再び、私と友人5名で「ジャングル」を尋ね、支配人の松原達也氏と話し合いました。彼は私にも(私は白人で帰化した日本人ですが)「満席です、入らないで」と言ったが、殆ど空席の状態が目立っていたので交渉し始めました。日本語で交渉してから入店できたが、松原氏が認めたことは:
 ①前日、その外国出身のJALTメンバーの入店お断りした
 ②その理由は「英語が苦手、外国人が怖い」
 ③以前、当店では外国人との問題が一切なかったので、個人的には外国人に対してトラウマは特にない
 ④「入店されたくない」のみで、ここまでの「外国人アレルギー」の原因は不明
しかし、これに対して私たちは松原支配人の意識高揚を行ってみました:
 ア)こうやって「ガイジンダメ」を言うのはお客に傷つけ、明らかに差別
 イ)言語の障壁があっても関わらず、メニューの注文はどうにかはなる
 ウ)出身を問わず、客商売とは全てのお客を持て成すことではないか
 よって店の対応の改善を求めてから、松原支配人が謝って下さいまして、これから改善しますとのことだったが、正直に言ってこれから門前払いが取り止められるかどうかは、私は若干自信がありません。なぜかは、飲み物を飲んでから勘定を支払った際、別のウェーターと話した際英語が達者だと分かりました。言語の障壁について心配した支配人は何故そのウェーターに応対させなかったのかは疑問です。
 お願いしたいのは、当店及びその付近の店舗にも差別撤廃のために啓蒙を行っていただければ幸いです。ある者にとってこの待遇は北九州市全体のイメージダウンとなります。私は既に「排斥する店舗のギャラリー」のウェブサイトに載せさせていただきました。
https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Kokura

意識高揚の結果、ぜひ、ご連絡いただければと存じます。宜しくお願い致します。
書中をもってご挨拶申し上げます。敬具
平成18年11月7日
有道 出人(連絡先を省く)
==========================
ENDS

Kitakyudai’s Noriguchi again in Asahi on English teaching (Nov 4, 2006, with updates)

mytest

Professor Noriguchi at Kitakyushu University is becoming a regular
pundit on English language education in Japan. After saying not two
months ago that one problem with non-Japanese teachers is that they
stay in Japan too long (https://www.debito.org/?p=34),
he’s back again with a response to his critics (or, as he puts it,
his supporters).

Let me rewrite a few of Noriguchi’s points and weave in comment and
interpretation. He essentially asserts this time:

So much energy devoted to the study of English (as opposed to other
languages) is not only unneighborly, it is a reflection of a Japanese
inferiority complex towards the West.

One consequence of this much focus on English is a lot of swindling
and deception of the Japanese consumer, with bogus advertising about
the merits and the effects.

In any case, English is hardly necessary for life in Japan, so why
require it on entrance exams? Especially after all the trauma that
Japanese go through learning it.

No wonder–Japanese have a natural barrier to learning it, given the
“Japanese mentality”, the characteristics of the language, and the
homogeneity of the country.

More so than other Asian countries, he mysteriously asserts (Koreans,
for example?–and won’t the same barriers apply to other Asian
languages if the Japanese are indeed so unique?).

Meanwhile, let’s keep the door revolving on foreign English-language
educators by hiring retired teachers from overseas, who not only will
bring in more expertise and maturity, but also by design (and by
natural longevity) will not stay as long in Japan and have as much of
an effect.

(NB: The last point is not his, but it’s symptomatic of Noriguchi’s
essays which throw out ideas not all that well thought through in
practice. After all, nowhere in his essay does he retract his
previous assertion that part of the problem is foreign teachers
staying here too long…)

Professor Noriguchi is reachable at
snori@kitakyu-u.ac.jp
He says that most people support his views than not, so if you want
to show him differently, write him.

Now for the article:

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

POINT OF VIEW/ Shinichiro Noriguchi: Why the focus on English as a language skill?
11/04/2006
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200611040140.html
SPECIAL TO THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

I unexpectedly received a number of responses to my Sept. 15 article in this column on English education in Japan. About seventy percent of the comments were favorable, 20 percent critical and 10 percent neutral. Thus emboldened, I wish to expand and clarify my views, focusing on three points: foreign language education in Japan, the English language and its relation to the Japanese people, and how I personally went about learning English.

As regards foreign language education in Japan, I wish to make two points. First, in addition to English, Japanese students should be learning Asian languages such as Chinese, Korean, Hindi, and Russian. It is imprudent as well as simply unneighborly for the Japanese government to neglect the teaching of these languages. Japan is a part of Asia, but it has devoted its teaching resources almost exclusively to English.

English is originally the language of a country that is geographically distant from Japan. The fact that we have made English the central focus of foreign language education is, I would suggest, a reflection of a Japanese inferiority complex toward Western cultures and, in particular, English-speaking cultures.

In this vein, I think the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology should offer Chinese, Korean and Russian as well as English as compulsory subject in the seventh grade. From the eighth grade onward, these classes would be electives depending on students’ talents and personal preferences. It is neither fair nor reasonable, given the political and economic changes which have occurred over the past decade, to expect students to learn only English as a foreign language for six years until they enter universities.

Second, I believe that English should be eliminated as a subject from entrance examinations for public high schools and national universities. According to scientific tests on human memory, people generally recall only 12 percent of what they were forced to painfully memorize. However, people remember 55 percent of what they did for the fun of it and 33 percent for curiosity. Very few students are really happy about taking examinations of any kind. For this reason, English education geared to preparing students for entrance examinations can never be effective and, indeed, it represents an enormous loss of time, money and energy for students and teachers alike.

In reality, most Japanese can live comfortably in this country without any knowledge of English. It is simply unreasonable to continue making English a central subject in entrance examinations, which remain key determinants of a student’s choice of university and ultimate career.

Because English has become not only a de facto official language for international transactions but also a global language, we should, of course, not ignore English, and Japan should continue to give thought to the most effective strategies to achieve the best possible results in English education. It is not necessarily bad for Japanese elementary school pupils to be exposed to English, but they should not be compelled to learn it.

Having said that, I would argue that perhaps about 15 percent of Japanese should be trained to become highly competent users of English, with skills approaching those of native speakers.

Fluency difficult to acquire

Without question, Japan must remain in a position where it interacts economically and politically with other nations. The need for communication in English will increase as economies and societies continue to internationalize, and indeed it will probably become more important as a world ruled by trade and finance replaces an order based on military force and weaponry.

I am frequently asked whether Japanese are by nature adept at becoming proficient speakers of English. My answer is no. It is very difficult for us to become fluent speakers of English. There are three reasons for this; the Japanese mentality, the characteristics of the Japanese language and the homogeneous nature of this nation.

In Japan, a man of few words is still considered to be the model gentleman. When I was in elementary school, my father once told me to look at myself in the mirror. He explained that heaven created me with two ears and two eyes, but only with one mouth, merely because heaven intends that I should listen to and observe others twice as much as I speak.

This sort of mentality has kept Japanese from believing that active participation in communication is a necessary social skill. Can we break through this barrier? It would seem easy, given the long process of modernization, but it is not because the Japanese mentality has changed little in spite of this country’s Westernization.

Another difficulty is the huge difference between the Japanese and English languages. The structure of the Japanese language, spelling, pronunciation and intonation are completely different from those of English. In this respect, compared with other Asians, we are handicapped. And yet, it is not impossible for any highly motivated Japanese to master English. It requires constant effort. There is no easy way to learn English in spite of what some advertisers of language learning methods, texts and devices suggest.

It is, in fact, simply a swindle for newspapers or magazines to insert such deceptive advertisements. In the case of canned foods, buyers can sue a company when the picture on a can and its content are different.

Why can such exaggerated advertisements be freely issued? We often fool ourselves that we are learning English. For eight years, I listened to the NHK radio English conversation program each morning without recording it. Why? Once we record the programs we tend to think that we can listen to it at any time. That is a common mistake, which simply leads to piles of recorded tapes which we never listen to. Once we make up our mind to listen to this program, we should do so when it is really broadcast. After the program we should read the textbook aloud, often and repeatedly, until we have completely memorized it. Finally, we should be able to write the texts and dialogues without errors. This, I believe, is an effective teaching aid.

But probably the most effective way of learning English is to practice the language with native speakers. The government should accept many more ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers), but it should change its policy and not employ so many young people fresh from universities and colleges in English speaking countries as it does today.

Let’s use retired teachers, too

Instead, retired teachers would be more beneficial for Japan due to their teaching experience and maturity. I have the impression that some young ALTs have actually made a mistake in deciding to come to Japan. They are reasonably well paid and treated with much respect, but in fact they are simply having fun and postponing important decisions regarding their lives and careers.

Let me summarize my suggestions as follows:

・Basic Asian language classes should be provided for all seventh graders, and after that these courses should be taught as electives.

・English should be eliminated as a required subject on entrance examinations for public high schools and national universities.

・About 15 percent of Japan’s population should be well trained to be highly competent in English, which is to say, approach native-speaker fluency.

・Businesses with deceptive English education materials should be reprimanded.

・More retired teachers from English speaking countries should be employed as ALTs for the benefit of Japan.

* * *

The author is professor of English at the University of Kitakyushu.(IHT/Asahi: November 4, 2006). Email him at snori@kitakyu-u.ac.jp
==============================

Agree or disagree with his opinion? Send him your view at
snori@kitakyu-u.ac.jp
He says that most people support his views than not, so if you want
to show him differently, write him.

Conclusion: I guess some people just don’t seem to get it, and think
that because people apparently agree with them they must be saying
the right thing. Alas, life is not quite so simple. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
ENDS

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

FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE:
(From a major professor in academia, anonymized upon request)
November 15, 2006

Hi Debito-san, How time flies! Got your latest just as I lamenting to friend with a degree in language teaching. He agreed with my “common-sense” view that if there were a vastly more effective method for teaching or learning languages, someone would have found it a long time ago. Then coming back from buying ink for my printer, I saw along the way back up to this office a poster advertising a foreign lady who claims that she can improve English-learning skills with jazz rhythms. A female colleague in another department happened by and saw me looking at it. I went into a bit of a tirade and told her what fraud that is. Our abysmally ignorant students need remedial liberal arts (history, philosophy, literature…); they *don’t* need another scam…She listened with an air of politeness mixed with fear at being in the company of a lunatic.

Anyway, let me comment on this Noriguchi idiot with a little devil’s advocate playing:

The trouble with these guys is that there is often at least a kernel of truth in what they say. Much of what goes on the classroom in which English is supposedly being taught *is* a waste of time. The vast majority of students *never* learn to speak English with the kind of fluency that would allow them to carry on a genuinely meaningful conversation. Those who can “manage” typically sound so stereotypically Japanese (in what the say more than in how they say it) that no one takes them seriously anyway.

It would obviously be a disaster if English teaching were drastically reduced. But for whom? For the eikaiwa industry and those who work in it. But I suspect that those with sufficient interest and talent could learn English pretty much on their own. I myself am anti-eigo-suuhai, but it’s, of course, the *Japanese* not the “foreigners” who are promoting that silly cult. The depressing thought I often have is that the reason the Japanese as a whole are very bad at English is not that they are bad linguists but rather that anything [+foreign] triggers verbal gibberish – even in Japanese.

I’m a great admirer of Ivan Hall and was myself involved in the movement to protest the way the fascist Monbu-kagakushou treated foreign language teachers, but I think the weakest part of Cartels of the Mind is about education. Ivan himself was treated shabbily, but he also knows perfectly well that there is an enormous difference between himself, a fluent Japanese speaker with impressive scholarly knowledge, and the eikaiwa teacher who happens to land a job in a university. Many of them are not themselves terribly “knowledgeable” (let alone “scholarly”), and I always found it embarrassing to discover how many of them could not speak Japanese even after five or ten years here. I see nothing immoral or cruel about limited contracts for such people. American universities have *always* distinguished between language teachers and academics. Those who want to be treated in the latter category have to jump through the right hoops. Its’s a simple as that. Japan has *no* obligation to provide a meal-ticket for a person who back in his or her own country would be lucky to be a high-school teacher.

The problem with the Japanese system is not that it’s harsh but rather that it’s vague, wishy-washy, inefficient, and hypocritical. Furthermore, what *I* worry about is not the elimination of eikaiwa but rather a more plausible move toward eliminating foreigners who do anything else, the argument being that such should be performed by Japanese. I teach linguistics in Japanese. My non-native Japanese ability aside, I think I am better able and qualified to teach linguistics than *any* of my colleagues, including the so-called linguists. But what the Noriguchi types really want is grinning foreign flunkies for the “real” professors. *That* is what has to be resisted.

Well, anyway, stay in touch. It was great seeing you for the symposium. Your presentation was excellent. Hey, you could have been on TV! COMMENT ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////////

Japan Times column Nov 7 2006 on Japan’s half-truth claims to the UN

mytest

Hello Blog. I have just put up my most recent column (my 33rd) for the Japan Times Community Page on my regular website. Published today, November 7, 2006, this is the “Director’s Cut”, with sentences excised from the print version for space concerns, and links to sources for claims within the article.

Rather than having the same article twice at this domain–both at debito.org and on the blog–I’ll just send the blog a link.
https://www.debito.org/japantimes110706.html

In the article I talk about Japan’s pattern of half-truth claims and empty promises regarding the United Nations, and most recently its membership on the newformed (and stumbling) Human Rights Council. Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
END

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2006

mytest

Hi Blog. Just a quick note before bedtime:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2006
ACADEMIC APARTHEID SPECIAL

///////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) IVAN HALL ET AL SPEAKING AT JALT KITAKYUSHU
2) BERN MULVEY ON MORE MINISTERIAL MOVES AGAINST ACADEMIC TENURE
3) U HODEN LAWSUIT RE SCHOOL BULLYING DUE TO CHINESE ETHNICITY
4) “AMERICANS FOR EQUAL TREATMENT” UNION FORMING
5) RES.PUBLICA JOB ADVERT FOR FULL-TIME JAPAN-BASED ACTIVIST
///////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org), Freely forwardable

1) IVAN HALL ET AL SPEAKING AT JALT KITAKYUSHU

The Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT http://www.jalt.org) will be holding its annual meeting in Kitakyushu this weekend (http://conferences.jalt.org/2006) . I’ll be there too at the PALE Group (https://www.debito.org/PALE) labor-issues booth most of the time selling books and hobnobbing, so if you’re in the area, stop by.

But a major coup for us this weekend is getting Ivan Hall to speak for us. One of the granddaddies of the movement against unequal treatment for foreign academics in Japan, Dr Hall is the author of book CARTELS OF THE MIND, a seminal work on how Japan keeps intellectual closed shops in five different job arenas, one of them higher education. He was the person who first got me into activism more than a decade ago (regarding “Academic Apartheid”, where foreigners get insecure contract work while Japanese get tenure), and you can see my archive on the issue at https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei I talked to Dr Hall for two hours this morning by phone, and his speech sounds excellent. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear one of the true troopers for human rights in Japan.

——————————————
PRESENTATION DETAILS
Presentation #662: Ivan Hall: Communities, or Cartels of the Mind?
Presenters: Ivan Hall, Jonathan Britten
Content & Format: Universal; Administration, Management and Employment Areas (PALE); Forum
Scheduled: Friday, November 3rd, 16:45 – 18:20 (4:45 PM – 6:20 PM); Room: MAIN HALL
——————————————

I might add that PALE will be sponsoring two other events:

——————————————
PRESENTATION DETAILS
Presentation #523: PALE Roundtable Discussion
Presenters: Jonathan Britten, Rube Redfield, Evan Heimlich, Patrck O’Brien
Content & Format: College and University Education (CUE); Administration, Management and Employment Areas (PALE); Forum
Scheduled: Friday, November 3rd, 13:15 – 14:50 (1:15 PM – 2:50 PM); Room: 21A

——————————————
PRESENTATION DETAILS
Presentation #661: PALE AGM
Presenter: Jonathan Britten
Content & Format: Universal; Administration, Management and Employment Areas (PALE); Meeting
Scheduled: Friday, November 3rd, 15:00 – 16:00 (3:00 PM – 4:00 PM); Room: 21A
——————————————

And I will also be speaking, although not in a room (I couldn’t get one, alas):

——————————————
PRESENTATION DETAILS
Presentation #107: “JAPANESE ONLY”: Racial Discrimination in Japan.
Presenter: Arudou Debito
Content & Format: Universal; Administration, Management and Employment Areas (PALE); Discussion
Scheduled: Saturday, November 4th, Poster set-up Room: FOYER
——————————————

Again, if you can make it to JALT this weekend, walk on by.

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

2) BERN MULVEY ON MORE MINISTERIAL MOVES AGAINST ACADEMIC TENURE

Dr. Mulvey, a longtime friend and Dean of Faculty at Miyazaki International University, has stumbled upon some Ministry of Education plans to further undermine lifetime employment (“permanent academic tenure”) in Japanese academia.

By playing with titles, and only allowing the very top (“kyouju’, or Full Professor) to have any non-contracted tenured status, the Ministry is continuing its efforts to make full-time employment in Japanese academia insecure.

============= EXCERPT BEGINS ====================
There are indeed only THREE official ranks currently–Kyouju, Jokyouju, and Joshu (assistants), with Koushi being a somewhat nebulous term for everyone else.

[Kyouju = Full Professor, Jokyouju = Associate Professor,
Koushi = Assistant Professor, Joshu = something below that]

This will now change to FOUR official ranks: Kyouju, Junkyouju, Jokyou and Joshu. … None of the [ministerial]documents, however, make it really clear why it was necessary to add this new category of assistant–not to mention change “Jokyouju to “Junkyouju.” However, the Sennin Koushi discussion, not to mention the repeated mentions that Jokyou need not be “tenured”, suggest that one possible motivation IS to give universities an out/excuse for dumping current Sennin Koushi and/or hiring even Japanese as contract Kyoujo.
============== EXCERPT ENDS =====================
Rest at https://www.debito.org/?p=58

For those who need more information on what’s wrong with contract employment in academia with no review or hope of tenure, see https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei , or a quick roundup at https://www.debito.org/?p=58 . Again, it dovetails with the Academic Apartheid issue people like Ivan and I have been raising all these years now.

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

3) U HODEN LAWSUIT RE SCHOOL BULLYING DUE TO CHINESE ETHNICITY

In the current press’s frenzied return to the problems of bullying (ijime) within Japanese schools, sometimes one’s ethnicity (in this case, a Chinese-Japanese grade schooler) becomes the bullying bone to pick. Years of negligence by both teachers and parents at a grade school in Kawasaki ultimately led to a public acknowledgment of the problem, an apology from the Board of Education and the school, and a demand for restitution. However, the bullies’ parents refused to own up to anything, so Plaintiffs took them to court. U Hoden, Professor at Japan Women’s University and a naturalized Japanese is the father of the victim and the named Plaintiff in this case:

============= EXCERPT BEGINS ====================
One of the perpetrators was a male classmate of the Plaintiff’s daughter, who began taunting the victim in first and second grade with calls of “Chinky” (chuugokujin, or “Chinese”). In third grade, this boy was put in her class, and led a gang of three boy and three girl classmates to taunt her. They carried out this bullying in the open, in front of the teacher. From around May 2000, on a daily basis they began calling her “dimwit” (noroma) and “shithead” (unko), and held their noses whenever they came close to call her “stinky” (kusai). Moreover, the ringleader of this bullying gang (“A-kun”) began to inflict repeated violence, such as hitting her head, kicking her legs, and pulling on her hair. Even in class, when the victim stood up to answer a question, A-kun would heckle her, and terrorize her with public comments like “Everyone in this class hates an asshole like you!” (omae wa minna kara kirawarete iru).

Thus from the tender age of eight, Plaintiff’s daughter was plagued with thoughts such as, “Does the Chinese blood I have flowing inside of me make me such a bad person? Am I a sullied person (kitanai ningen) because of it?” During the first year of bullying, the victim’s body stopped growing and developing. Her health deteriorated from the fear she felt, and she regressed mentally back to an infantile state and became isolated and withdrawn (kankaku shougai). A doctor diagnosed her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and prescribed her with daily tranquilizers to help her sleep, which she still takes to this day.
============== EXCERPT ENDS =====================
Rest at https://www.debito.org/?p=59

his is an ongoing lawsuit, decision due sometime next year. Will keep you posted. Plaintiff can be reached at yuxinghong@msn.com

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

4) “AMERICANS FOR EQUAL TREATMENT” UNION FORMING

Email from a friend:

=========================================
Dear Debito,

AETU is going to create a union in Japan by November 11, 2006. It will be the first time that a union was created in Japan made up of Americans. Can you get the word out to all Americans you know in Japan and the U.S. to take part in this historic event? We need some people to volunteer to be officers. There will be no union fees. We will seek donations from the U.S. For further details, please ask them to contact AETU at americansforequaltreatment@yahoo.com

Masao Sasaki (americansforequaltreatment@yahoo.com)
http://www.geocities.com/americansforequaltreatment/
=========================================

COMMENT: I send this to you because I know Masao personally and know his heart is in the right place. I have heard random scoffs from cyberspace about why this group fighting for rights should be “restricted to Americans”. The reason is because of the special relationship between Japan and the US, and Americans in particular could use their clout (for whatever it matters to the USG, which usually takes little notice of their citizens abroad unless there is an overriding geopolitical interest) to push for reforms for foreigners in Japan. It worked with Ambassador Mondale ten years ago pushing the doors open for Ivan Hall and company
( https://www.debito.org/JPRIfaxfrommondale.jpg and https://www.debito.org/JPRImondaleletter.html )

I say people should use whatever is peacefully at their advantage to push for the rights of all. Because whatever gains Masao makes in Japan will not be restricted to Americans. Check it out.

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

5) RES.PUBLICA JOB ADVERT FOR FULL-TIME JAPAN-BASED ACTIVIST

Forwarding this message. People who might be interested in a paying job as an activist here in Japan (those jobs are quite rare, believe me; I certainly can’t make a living out of what I do) ought to check this out:

==================================================
Arudou-san,

My name is Lee-Sean Huang, I am a former ALT on the JET Programme, and
I have been following your activism work for sometime now.

I am currently working for TheResPublica.org, a non-profit NGO based
in New York City. We are currently working on a new online global
activist community that will support multilingual, country-specific
content. One of our potential launch markets is Japan, and I was
wondering if you could help us out with our fact-finding and
recruitment.

The aim is to bring together millions of people around the world who
favor a more progressive globalization by building a well-organized
public constituency for key global issues like poverty, climate
change, global governance and peace. We will use the latest techniques
in online organizing, text messaging and more traditional campaigning
to do this. We plan to launch the organization in the next three
months.

Right now we are in the intensive recruiting phase of the project. We
are currently looking for several senior staff (we’ll be headquartered
in New York but we expect senior staff to be spread around the world),
as well as country coordinators in the UK, France, Germany, South
Korea, Japan, Brazil, India and China, and regional contact points for
each of the Middle East, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa.

We are looking for the following:

– A Chief Operating Officer who will be responsible for operations and
financial management
– An International Organizing Director who will
coordinate a growing group of national contact points that will
localize and amplify our global campaigns
– An Advocacy Director who will be a senior campaigner and play a key
role in communications
– An Online Director who will be steward of our technology strategy,
and will also likely have campaigning responsibilities
-Country/Regional Directors who will be responsible for building and
managing one of the organization’s country/regional teams.

I can provide a more detailed description of the project and job
descriptions, which should give a better sense of what we are
looking for. Would you be able to think about the most talented people
you know and whether you think they might be a good fit for this
project? We are looking for top-class, entrepreneurial, energetic,
international and accomplished people who are interested in being part
of this from the ground up.

Lee-Sean Huang
lee-sean@therespublica.org
260 Fifth Avenue, Level 9
New York, NY 10001
http://www.therespublica.org/
==================================================

I know very little about the organization itself right now, but those interested, please have a look.

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

Enough for tonight. Thanks as always for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
https://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG OCT 31 2006 NEWSLETTER ENDS

IJIME LAWSUIT: THE U HODEN CASE, 2000-present

mytest

Hi Blog. Just got finished translating the following for a friend. Debito in Sapporo

THE U HODEN CASE
HEISEI 16 (WA) DAI 247-GO SONGAI BAISHOU SEIKYUU JIKEN
YOKOHAMA DISTRICT COURT KAWASAKI BRANCH, CIVIL COURT B
SEEKING DAMAGES FOR POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Writeup based on Japanese original dated July 20, 2006, available at https://www.debito.org/kawasakiminzokusabetsu.htm
Translation by Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)

COURT CASE: HEISEI 16 (2004) (WA) DAI 247-GO SONGAI BAISHOU SEIKYUU JIKEN
PLAINTIFF: U HODEN et.al (Faculty, Japan Women’s University (Nihon Joshi Daigaku)
DEFENDANTS: SATOU Naoki, SATOU Tomoko, MORITA Masako.
COURT: YOKOHAMA DISTRICT COURT KAWASAKI BRANCH, CIVIL COURT B, reachable at Ph: 044-233-8171

I THE GIST OF THE CASE
“The results of the Board of Education Survey are as follows: For approximately one year starting from April 2000, a third-grade female student, who has a Chinese father and a Japanese mother, was the victim of bullying of both a violent and insulting nature, grounded in ethnic discrimination (minzoku sabetsu). We recognize that this bullying, even taking into account all other cases in our district (zenshi teki ni mite mo), is rare and extremely malicious example. We are deeply aware of how great the responsibility of the school board has to show guidance both in the case of schools in their district in general, and the Kawasaki City Minamisuge Primary School in specific.”

The above is a paragraph from “RE Bullying Connected to Ethnic Discrimination: Statement of awareness and what schools should do from now on”, which was announced by Kouno Kazuko, Director of the Kawasaki City Board of Education, and directed at the principal of Kawasaki City Minamisuge Primary School.

One of the perpetrators was a male classmate of the Plaintiff’s daughter, who began taunting the victim in first and second grade with calls of “Chinky” (chuugokujin, or “Chinese”). In third grade, this boy was put in her class, and led a gang of three boy and three girl classmates to taunt her. They carried out this bullying in the open, in front of the teacher. From around May 2000, on a daily basis they began calling her “dimwit” (noroma) and “shithead” (unko), and held their noses whenever they came close to call her “stinky” (kusai). Moreover, the ringleader of this bullying gang (“A-kun”) began to inflict repeated violence, such as hitting her head, kicking her legs, and pulling on her hair. Even in class, when the victim stood up to answer a question, A-kun would heckle her, and terrorize her with public comments like “Everyone in this class hates an asshole like you!” (omae wa minna kara kirawarete iru).

Thus from the tender age of eight, Plaintiff’s daughter was plagued with thoughts such as, “Does the Chinese blood I have flowing inside of me make me such a bad person? Am I a sullied person (kitanai ningen) because of it?” During the first year of bullying, the victim’s body stopped growing and developing. Her health deteriorated from the fear she felt, and she regressed mentally back to an infantile state and became isolated and withdrawn (kankaku shougai). A doctor diagnosed her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and prescribed her with daily tranquilizers to help her sleep, which she still takes to this day.

The bullying and mental duress the victim received did not affect her alone–it affected her family as well profoundly. Her father, a university professor, felt from all the stress as if something was lodged in his throat, and became unable to speak properly. Her mother was unable to keep her mind on her cooking, and her siblings were unable to get a good meal for so long that they ended up receiving medical treatment. Eventually the father decided to move his family away. Afterwards, however, Defendants steadfastly refused to cooperate with Kawasaki City Board of Education investigations to confirm the facts of the case, even though the Defendants confirmed for the record (see Affidavit) that their son’s bullying drove the father to distraction.

The parents of the victim have since brought suit against the parents of A-kun and also against the parents of a female classmate, “A-chan”. However, they have never acknowledged the existence of bullying. Also, rumors have been flying around the school that the victim was a problem child and thus deserved the bullying, that the victim’s father is violent, that her siblings also got bullied [and thus she hasn’t been singled out], and that the victim’s family is doing this for money. Plaintiffs also suffered from phone call harassment at the workplace and the new Yokohama apartment. This kind of malicious and anonymous protest towards the victims has continued to this day without letup.

II THE BACKGROUND TO THE ISSUE

What makes this case particularly egregious is not only the malicious nature of the ostracization by A-chan, nor the behavior of the bullies, but rather the fact that this happened repeatedly in front of the teacher. When the bullying began in the spring of 2000, the teacher was aware that bullying was going on, but just passed it off as “playfulness” (fuzake ai) or “a snit” (kenka). Whenever the bullying happened, the teacher either just told them to knock it off, or worse yet, turned a blind eye. When the victim told the teacher that she was feeling unwell, the teacher halfheartedly said, “What, again?” “Okay, go to the nurse’s office,” and thus further encouraged the abuse.

The parents of the victims filed complaints about the teacher’s negligence, and in December the issue was talked about in a school meeting. However, the mother of A-chan said “Doesn’t the problem somehow lie with your daughter, not mine?” This statement had no basis in fact, and just confused things further. The school’s administrators used this argument as justification for avoiding further responsibility.

Even after the school administration said it was aware of the bullying, it did not officially inform their schoolteachers about what was going on, nor did they caution the parents of the bullies what they should do about it. Because of this delay in formally dealing with it, the abuse continued. The Board of Education’s notice to the principal of Minamisuge Primary School opened with the following:

“A school must be a place where all children can have a relaxing, healthy, fun, and secure lifestyle. However, this time, the school’s teachers and staff did not take appropriate measures, and did not take care of the mental state of the victim. Also, the fact that the school did not caution the children in question made the bullying lengthy and repeated. As a result, the victim’s mental state deteriorated to the point where she could not come to school, and the parents had to move out of the school district. There is no possible way to explain away these facts of the case.”

III INVESTIGATION INTO THE CIRCUMSTANCES BY THE BOARD OF EDUCATION

In May 2001, the principal of Minamisuge Primary School reported the bullying to the Board of Education, and the BOE launched an investigation into who was responsible.

The investigation centered on the victim’s classmates, questioning the faculty, and asking for the cooperation of other classmates to back up the victim’s testimony. However, the parents of the bullies vigorously objected, saying, “The victim may have suffered, but so have the children around her. This investigation will only reopen old wounds.” They tried to drive a wedge between the BOE and the children, with some teachers’ support. However, the BOE’s investigators faced up to the difficulties, continued their investigations tenaciously, and managed to get testimony from classmates who witnessed several cases of bullying. They also managed to get written diaries about the events from the bullies, which led to reinvestigation and the eventual outing of all of the facts of this cruel, unbelievable case.

The investigation was launched in 2001, but thanks to the obstruction of schoolteachers and parents to the bullies’ diaries, it was not until September 2002 before it was concluded.

On January 19, 2003, the Director of the Kawasaki City BOE sent the results of the investigation to the Minamisuge Primary School principal and the BOE. On January 28, the Director apologized in a press conference. On March 11, the BOE issued a punishment (shobun) to the teacher involved, but ironically he had by now already quit the school and moved on to a private-sector job.

IV STEPS TO A LAWSUIT

Even though the bullies’ parents caused great harm to the victim, and even after the victim had changed schools, the vicious rumors and the obstruction to investigations continued. Although the school and the BOE apologized to the victim and her family, the bullies and their parents steadfastly refused to. This is why we took the step of launching a Civil Court lawsuit against two of the families.

At the press conference announcing the start of our lawsuit, the lawyers of the parents said, “Bullying is a problem lying with the bullies, and something they should not evade responsibility for. We will make it clear that there is no possible way to justify bullying.” The father of the victim added his opinion: “The head of the BOE and the school apologized, but not the bullies or their parents. This is unbelievable and not something I will just forgive and forget. I want a fast resolution to this situation for my daughter who suffered so much.” The mother: “The ethnic discrimination (which is the undercurrent of this bullying) is something I as a Japanese wish to appeal to society.”

What the Plaintiffs want out of this is: A society and a legal system which conscientiously tries to root out the causes of bullying. A society where parents who will not teach their children right from wrong are made to take responsibility and stop their children bullying. A society where bullying is justifiable under no circumstances.

Parents of the bullying children are still trying to twist and cover up the facts of this case, and claim that the BOE’s investigation represents only one side of the story–the Plaintiffs’. They also refuse to believe that the victim’s PTSD has anything to do with bullying, and have demanded the Plaintiffs make public her medical records. Defendants even deny the very existence of violence or verbal harassment. They claim in court that the problem lies with the bullied victim. But there is a contradiction between those classmates’ parents who claim that the teacher did enough to stop this bullying, and those who say the bullying did not exist at all. These divisions are causing the court case to be drawn out, and the victim and her family to face even more social opprobrium.

It is now 2006, and the phone calls still keep coming in. Plaintiff’s place of employment receives anonymous calls saying “Fire that guy.” “He has the evil character of an foreign country.” (hidoi kokuminsei da).

However, on the other hand, after we filed suit, we now have a support group with 120 names listed. Also, our standing up for ourselves has helped others do the same, and we meet with other bullied families to share our grief and solidarity. This case, which seeks to protect the dignity of the human spirit, is being widely watched.

PLAINTIFF U HODEN et al.
yuxinghong AT msn.com
ENDS

Ninkisei: Bern Mulvey on new ways to kill permanent tenure in J academia

mytest

Hi Blog. Reposting this with permission of the author. He says he will write something more thorough in future, but for now, in time for our upcoming PALE Conference at JALT Kitakyushu this weekend (www.JALT.org, www.debito.org/PALE), here is a new development in Japan’s academia worth considering:

QUICK BACKGROUND: Japan’s teritary education has always been unfriendly to foreign academics. From Lafcadio Hearn/Koizumi Yakumo’s firing at Tokyo Imperial University in favor of a “real Japanese English teacher” Natsume Souseki a century ago, foreign academics have always been on precarious terms vis-a-vis job security. Until 1997 (when laws changed), full-time foreign faculty almost always received contract employment (“ninkisei”, of several years in duration, but dismissable as soon as the contract came up for review) in Japanese universities, while Japanese would from day one have lifetime employment (“permanent tenure”) until retirement if hired full time. This was dubbed in the 1990’s “academic apartheid”, and full background can be found at https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei , with the Blacklist of Japanese Universities (places which contract full-time foreign faculty) at https://www.debito.org/blacklist.html.

After 1997, however, with the falling birthrate and shrinking student numbers, the government (particularly the Ministry of Education) sought to find ways to make Japanese as easily fireable as foreigners, so they slowly encouraged the institution of term-limited contract employment (ninkisei) for full-time Japanese academics as well. This hasn’t caught on as quickly as many university bean counters would like, so the MoE (Monkasho) is at it again with a new schtick, as Bern writes below. END QUICK BACKGROUND

By the way, the granddaddy of this issue, Dr. Ivan Hall, author of the classic book CARTELS OF THE MIND, will be speaking at JALT Kitakyushu next weekend. Details are:

=============================
Presentation #662: Ivan Hall: Communities, or Cartels of the Mind?
Presenter(s): Ivan Hall, Jonathan Britten
Content & Format: Universal; Administration, Management and Employment Areas (PALE); Forum
Scheduled: Friday, November 3rd, 16:45 – 18:20 (4:45 PM – 6:20 PM); Room: MAIN HALL
http://conferences.jalt.org/2006/
=============================

Now for Bern’s essay. Bern can be reached at bernmulvey_1@yahoo.co.jp

/////////////////////////////////////////////////
Greetings,

As some of you know, I’m currently Dean of Faculty at Miyazaki
Kokusai Daigaku–hence, all correspondence from Monkasho relating to
this issue has gone to me, and all relevant responses by this
university has been/will be directly from me.

As others have mentioned, the change in names is coming from
Monkasho. It’s actually been discussed in chamber for at least one
year, with the official mandate announced July 18 in (among other
places) a document titled “Kyouin Soshiki no Kaizen to Koutou
Kyouiku Seisaku no Doukou.” Another 40-page document,
titled “Daigakutou no Kyouin Soshiki no Seibi ni Kansuru Shitsugi
Otoushuu” is easier to understand, however, so my page references
will be to this one.

First, there is no reference in these documents to a mandatory loss
of “tenure”–e.g., depending on the university, even the new Jokyou
(despite being ranked just about joshu) could conceivably be tenured
(see pg. 4 in the second section). However, and this was most
interesting for me to learn, the Sennin Koushi [the position of those
regularly-employed, including foreigners] position, apparently,
was originally never intended to be an “official” rank
and/or “tenured” position (e.g., see pgs. 1 & 18 in the first
section). Accordingly, there are indeed only THREE official ranks
currently–Kyouju, Jokyouju, and Joshu (assistants), with “Koushi”
being a somewhat nebulous term for everyone else.

[Kyouju = Full Professor, Jokyouju = Associate Professor,
Koushi = Assistant Professor, Joshu = something below that]

This will now change to FOUR official ranks: Kyouju, Junkyouju,
Jokyou and Joshu. In other words, “Sennin Koushi”–used by almost
all Japanese universities and often translated as “assistant
professor”–still will not be an “official” rank (pg. 1 & 18 in the
first section), though the assumption is the rank will still
continue to be used by many (most) Japanese universities.

Jokyou and Joshu are to be almost equal in rank–i.e., both are
technically assistants–though the slightly more qualified Jokyou
can teach their own classes (pgs. 3-5 in the second section). None
of the documents, however, make it really clear why it was necessary
to add this new category of assistant…not to mention
change “Jokyouju” to “Junkyouju.” However, the Sennin Koushi
discussion, not to mention the repeated mentions that Jokyou need
not be “tenured,” suggest that one possible motivation IS to give
universities an out/excuse for dumping current Sennin Koushi and/or
hiring even Japanese as contract Kyoujo. (E.g., while before it
was “impossible” to get rid of bad Sennin hires, now this name
change, and the additional clarification regarding the nature of
these positions included with the announcement, schools seem to have
an excuse and/or window of opportunity to make changes….)

Bern Mulvey, Miyazaki, Kyushu
/////////////////////////////////////////////////

THE POINT: MoE is beginning to play with the language to make positions below Full Professor (kyouju) now non-permanently tenured. The noose just keeps on tightening for academics in Japan.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
October 29, 2006

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters poised for national victory tonight

mytest

Debito here. Another quick post to pass around the fever:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS ON VERGE OF FIRST NATIONAL VICTORY
WATCH THE GAME TONIGHT FROM 6PM
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
By Arudou Debito
October 26, 2005
freely forwardable

Now, I am in no way a sports writer (I mostly consider sports to be a diversion, rather than anything worth statistical or scientific analysis), but here goes:

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, my home team, look poised to take the national championship tonight. They are playing best of seven, and have won 3 games and lost 1. One more win and sayonara Chunichi Dragons!

It is their last home game, played to yet another capacity crowd of more than 40,000. The Fighters have won around 80% of their home games, so it looks likely they’ll win tonight. Tune in at 6PM and see.

————————————–

Why this all matters:

1) It will be the first national win for the Fighters in 44 years, and the first ever since they moved to Hokkaido three years ago. Naturally, it will be the first win for Hokkaido ever, and results like these so soon after the transplant are wonderful.

2) This matters to Hokkaido, because Hokkaido is not a place where people have their spirits uplifted like this. As I wrote in a (now rather dated) essay more than a decade ago (see https://www.debito.org/hokkaidodependency.html), about how Hokkaido, is a resource colony of the rest of Japan :

We have an economy based on agriculture and tourism, low incomes (and dropping–back then 40% less than Tokyo’s!) making us the poorest economy in Japan (we were a decade ago behind only Okinawa), a local workforce with little tendency towards entrepreneurialism or foreign trade, a bureaucracy in thrall to Tokyo (and financially dependent on Kaihatsukyoku tax handouts), and many of the homegrown businesses worth a damn (including our best college graduates and even Sapporo Beer) sucked down south (while feckless corporate drones got exiled up here to mark time in their careers). Back then, despite being the #5 city in Japan, we didn’t have so much as a baseball team to our name (while every other major city did), and we were stuck supporting the arrogant Tokyo Giants (who were diffident towards Dosanko at best).

Now we do have our own team, and it’s a real winner, crowding out the Tokyo Giants merchandise from the stores! We have dedicated fans filling the Sapporo Dome (originally seen as a boondoggle from the World Cup 2002 days, it is now rightly appraised as one of the nicest stadiums in the world) camping out overnight for tickets (even in chilly temperatures; camping has since been banned for safety reasons, but people have been taping their tarps to the grounds outside to hold their places overnight). The effect on the local community is something out of a movie.

More on the fever from an independent source at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sb20061024j3.html
(Japan Times Oct 24, 2006)

3) The press estimated that economic boon to Hokkaido (last month, as the Fighters were taking the league pennant) at 100 or so million US dollars. I bet it’s a lot more than that now that the bandwagon just keeps on rolling…

4) Trey Hillman has created a great team (it shows in the records), and may more teams emulate his humanistic style. The team has wonderful personalities and star players, a great sense of fan service (In baseball games I attended years ago, the crowd had to give even foul balls back to the team! Now, Shinjo throws nice catches to the audience for souvenirs.) , great ticketing and merchandising schemes, and a relaxed atmosphere that contrasts the often overbearing military bearing you see in Japanese baseball (more in Whiting’s YOU’VE GOTTA HAVE WA). You can indeed be a nice guy and smile when you make a mistake if you’re a Hokkaido baseball team (just look at how well Komadai Tomakomai did in the high school leagues for the past three years–two victories, second place this year), and still finish first.

5) This would be the second year in a row that an imported coach will have taken his team to the top of the heap (see Lotte’s Bobby Valentine last year). Here’s hoping that Japanese sport will stop seeing everyone, coaches, players, umpires etc. as “foreigners” worthy of comment or ridicule. Essay on nasty anti-gaijin comments made towards Valentine and Hillman even last month when they made some decisive decisions at:

Racist remarks against foreign baseball coach result in suspension, fine

Sport again: HS Coach refuses to meet Lotte foreign coach due to “language barrier”

Anyway, enough gush. I’m thrilled that our team is doing so well by behaving so nicely. Here’s hoping we don’t lose Trey Hillman to the Texas Rangers next year…

Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Truly excited for once in his life by a sporting event
debito@debito.org
October 26, 2006
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCT 24 2006

mytest

debito.org NEWSLETTER OCT 24 2006

Hello everybody. Arudou Debito here, emailing you during a layover at Narita Airport. Just got finished with my travels (Oct 4-22), so here’s an update on what’s transpired:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) ERIC JOHNSTON ON MCGOWAN LAWSUIT APPEAL VICTORY
2) AERA/MAINICHI ON 2-CHANNEL’S NISHIMURA
3) SHUUKAN PUREIBOI/JAPAN TIMES ON GAIJINIZING THE PUBLIC:
POLICE CHECKPOINTS NOW HAPPENING TO JAPANESE
4) WORLD TOUR II: TOKYO, CANADA, AND SEATTLE,
AND THE MURRAY WOOD CHILD ABDUCTION CASE DOCUMENTARY
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Debito.org newsletter dated October 24, 2006
Freely Forwardable

1) ERIC JOHNSTON ON MCGOWAN COURT VICTORY

This article comes from Japan Times Reporter Eric Johnston specially for this newsletter and debito.org. Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are his, and not necessarily those of The Japan Times. I enclose his article in full, because you won’t get this degree of analysis anywhere else:

——————–ARTICLE BEGINS————————–
McGOWAN COURT VICTORY AVOIDS THE REAL ISSUES
By ERIC JOHNSTON
Special to Debito.org

On Oct. 18th, the Steve McGowan case ended with a partial victory, when the Osaka High Court awarded him 350,000 yen. McGowan had sued Takashi Narita, the owner of an eyeglass store [G-Style, see http://gs-gstyle.jp ] in Daito, Osaka Pref. for racial discrimination, after Narita barred him from entering his store and told McGowan he didn’t like black people.

The court’s decision was welcomed by McGowan and his lawyers were, if not completely satisfied, at least relieved that the High Court did not simply repeat the District Court ruling which, as Debito has detailed so well elsewhere on this site (https://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html), can be summed up as: McGowan “misunderstood” Narita and there is no evidence of racial discrimination.

But many of those who followed the case, especially human rights activists, remained worried. The High Court avoided ruling whether or not Narita’s words and actions constituted racial discrimination, a point that both McGowan’s lawyer and some of his supporters hammered home to reporters in the post-verdict press conference.

So what was the verdict? It was a very, very carefully, vaguely worded ruling that said Narita’s words and deeds were an illegal activity outside social norms. But, and this is the crux of the problem, it cited no written precedents. The phrase “outside social norms” smacks of paternalism, of a stern father privately scolding the bully. What social norms are we talking about, Dad, and could the court please provide all of us a list of the ones that are legal and illegal?

Furthermore, the phrase used in ruling about the social norms, “fuhou koui” can mean both “illegal activities” or “activities not covered by the scope of current laws on the books.” In this case, given the overall tone of the ruling and because the court ordered Narita to pay, the closer meaning in spirit is “illegal activities “.

But anybody familiar with the way Japan works can see the potential problem ahead. What is going to happen when the next person, Japanese or not, is barred entry into a store whose Japanese owner tells them to leave and then says they don’t like the color of their skin? Using the McGowan High Court ruling as a precedent, some future High Court can simply decide what the “social norms” are based only on what the judge or judges feel the norms are. They then have the power to decide, in the absence of clear, written precedents, whether or not those social norms have been violated to the extent that–even though there is nothing on the books–somebody should be punished.

In fact, using the logic of the Osaka High Court, the decision could have just as easily gone the other way. In other words, the High Court could have simply chosen to use the second possible definition of “fuhou koui”, and say that, although Narita’s comments may have been outside social norms, there is nothing on the books. Therefore, we cannot say that what happened was “illegal”. Therefore, plaintiff’s motion denied.

It is to the eternal credit of the Osaka High Court that their judges made a decision far more moral and ethical than the District Court. However, good intentions often make bad law. By avoiding ruling on the crux of McGowan’s complaint, that Narita’s remarks were, in fact, a form of illegal discrimination, the more fundamental issue remains unaddressed. Namely, whether or not the McGowan case constitutes racial discrimination in a written, legal sense, as opposed to unwritten “social norms” where determination about their violation, and authority for their punishment, is controlled by the whims of a few judges.

The McGowan ruling simply reinforces the importance of having a national, written, easily understandable law banning racial discrimination, a point made by a range of people from McGowan, to 77 human rights groups, to the United Nations itself. As of this writing, it appears unlikely that McGowan will appeal to the Supreme Court to push for a clear ruling on the question of racial discrimination. Many of his supporters pushing for a national law banning discrimination don’t appear to be eager to take his case further and are, rather, content to let McGowan remain a symbol of the need for such a law. In the meantime, the basic question about what constitutes racial discrimination in Japan and what does not remains unanswered.
——————–ARTICLE ENDS—————————-

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:

Agreed. As I argued in my Japan Times article of Feb 7, 2006
(https://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html#japantimesfeb7)
the previous Osaka District Court ruling was made by a cracked judge. He established (deliberately or inadvertently) a precedent which would effectively deny any foreigner his right to sue for racial discrimination in Japan. Fortunately, this High Court reversal sets things back on kilter, but lowers the market value for suing for this kind of thing (it was 1 to 1.5 million yen; McGowan’s award of 350,000 yen, or about $3500 US, won’t even cover his legal fees!) while ignoring even the existence of racial discrimination

That’s a shame. But it’s better than before, and far better than if McGowan did not appeal. Just goes to show that if you want to win one of these things, you’d better have a completely watertight case. Default mode for Japanese judges is siding with the alleged perpetrator.

Thanks to Steve for keeping up the fight! Send best wishes to him at
stevetsuruinc@msn.com

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

2) MAINICHI ON 2-CHANNEL’S NISHIMURA

2-Channel, the world’s largest online BBS, and a hotbed for freedom of speech gone wild to the point of libel, is facing hard times. With owner and administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki refusing to even show up in court, let alone pay court-awarded damages for libel (see my court win against him at https://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html), he’s apparently dangerously close to declaring bankruptcy, even disappearing from society altogether. Ryann Connell translates an article for the Mainichi. Excerpt follows:

—————-EXCERPT BEGINS————————-
Operator of notorious bulletin board lost in cyber space
http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/waiwai/news/20061010p2g00m0dm020000c.html

…Nishimura has been reported by Japan’s tabloid media as “missing” — with the strong implication that he’d run away from massive debts brought on by a huge number of lost lawsuits that he consistently refused to contest by showing up in court. But the women’s weekly says it has managed to track him down and find out about the rumors of his disappearance.

“I’m just hanging out like I always do,” Nishimura tells AERA with a blog posting that serves as answers to its e-mailed questions.

Nishimura defends his decision not to contest the myriad of lawsuits filed against Ni-Chaneru.

“I’ve been sued in the north as far as Hokkaido and the south as far as Okinawa. It’s simply not possible to attend every court case where I’ve been named as a defendant. I figure if I can defend myself in every case, it’s exactly the same as not turning up in my defense,” he tells the weekly indirectly.

[ED’S NOTE: Huh???]

Nishimura also strongly denies suggestions that he’s gone bankrupt, which many have speculated may be the main reason nobody seems able to find him now….

The plaintiff took the drastic step because Ni-Chaneru has consistently refused to pay up when courts have declared it a loser in court cases. It has already been ordered to fork out more than 20 million yen over lost lawsuits.

“If they put the Ni-Chaneru domain up for auction, it’d reap tens of millions of yen for sure… There’s bound to be a company out there that would buy it.”
—————–EXCERPT ENDS————————–
Rest at https://www.debito.org/?p=48

QUICK COMMENT: I’m beginning to think that Nishimura’s pathological aversion to responsibility has nothing to do with his self-proclaimed role as a guardian of Japan’s freedom of speech (http://www.ojr.org/japan/internet/1061505583.php). More as the story unfolds. Thanks to Mark as always for keeping me informed.

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

3) GAIJINIZING THE PUBLIC: POLICE CHECKPOINTS NOW HAPPENING TO JAPANESE

I have reported on police random ID checks of foreign-looking people (justified by the authorities as a means to curb illegal aliens, terrorism, and infectious diseases) at length in the past. Cycling, walking, appearing in public, staying in a hotel, even living in a place for any amount of time while foreign have been grounds for spots ID Checks and police questioning in Japan. More at:
https://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

One of my pet theories is that Japan has a habit of “guinea-pigging the gaijin” with policy proposals. In essence, before you institute a new national policy, foist it on the foreigners–since they have fewer rights guaranteed them by law. Then propose a new-and-improved version for the nationals. It worked for increasing surveillance cameras for the general public (first Kabukichou, then onwards), and for undermining tenure with contract employment in tertiary education (https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei). It didn’t work for universal ID cards (remember the moribund Juki-Net system?). Now the police are working on expanding their authority further, to include Japanese citizens in their random ID checks.

I’ve come to see Japan as a benign police state. Remember–this is the land of the prewar Kempeitai thought police, “katei houmon” home visits by school teachers (with the express aim to snoop on students’ lifestyles, see https://www.debito.org/kateihoumon.html), and neighborhood watch systems still visible as the defanged “chounaikai”. Well, this new police putsch is receiving news coverage with advice. Excerpt follows:

—————-EXCERPT BEGINS————————-

Police shakedowns on the rise
By MARK SCHREIBER
Original article appeared in Weekly Playboy (Oct. 16)
Translation appeared in The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20061008t2.html

Last January, I was rushing past the koban [police box] at the west exit of Shinjuku Station en route to a meeting and suddenly this cop halts me, saying, ‘Will you please submit to an inspection of what you’re carrying on your person?’ ” relates editor Toshikazu Shibuya (a pseudonym), age 38. “I happened to be carrying this Leatherman tool, a pair of scissors with a 3-cm-long folding knife attachment in the handle. The next thing I knew, he escorted me into the koban.”

Shibuya vociferously argued that he used the tool for trimming films and other work-related tasks. “There’s no need for that gadget, you can find something else,” the cop growled, confiscating it.

Several weeks later Shibuya was summoned to Shinjuku Police Station to undergo another round of interrogation. After an hour, he was let off with a stern warning that possession of such scissors was illegal, and made him liable to misdemeanor charges.

Weekly Playboy reports that police have been conducting these shakedowns of the citizenry as part of an “Emergency Public Safety Program” launched in August 2003. In 2004, the number of people actually prosecuted for weapons possession misdemeanors uncovered during these ad hoc inspections, referred to as shokumu shitsumon (ex-officio questioning), reached 5,648 cases, double the previous year, and up sixfold from 10 years ago.

“I think you can interpret it as an expansion of police powers,” says a source within the police. “They are taking advantage of citizens’ unfamiliarity with the law to conduct compulsory questioning.”

In principle, police are not empowered to halt citizens on the street arbitrarily. The Police Execution of Duties Law, Section 2, states that an officer may only request that a citizen submit to questioning based on reasonable judgment of probable cause, such as suspicious appearance or behavior.

Moreover, Weekly Playboy points out, compliance to such a request is voluntary, i.e., you have the right to refuse….

What should you do if you’re stopped? Weekly Playboy offers several suggestions, including recording the conversation and carrying a copy of the relevant passage of the law to show you know your rights. Since cooperation is voluntary, you can refuse; but an uncooperative attitude might be regarded with suspicion. Raising a ruckus in a loud voice might cause a crowd to gather and convince the cop you’re more trouble than it’s worth….
—————–EXCERPT ENDS————————–
Rest at https://www.debito.org/?p=47

COMMENT:
Hm. Good advice. Exactly the advice I’ve been giving for close to a decade now on debito.org, as a matter of fact. See
https://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#checkpoint
But I wouldn’t recommend you raising a ruckus if you’re a foreigner. I’ve heard several cases of people (foreigners in particular) being apprehended and incarcerated for not “cooperating” enough with police, so beware. Point is it’s getting harder to argue racial profiling when Japanese are also being stopped and questioned. However, the difference is that the article’s advice doesn’t apply as well to foreigners–all the cop has to do is say he’s conducting a Gaijin Card search and you’re nicked.

Enjoy life in Japan. Keep your nose clean and short.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Finally, put last because this is the most personal part of the newsletter…

4) WORLD TOUR II
SPEECHES AND PRESENTATIONS IN TOKYO, VANCOUVER, KAMLOOPS BC, AND SEATTLE
AND THE MURRAY WOOD CHILD ABDUCTION CASE DOCUMENTARY

This was my second excursion abroad to talk about issues in Japan (last March was the first, at U Michigan Ann Arbor, NYU, Columbia Law et al), and on this eighteen-day journey I gave a total of seven presentations (two of them papers), at Temple University Japan, Tokyo University, Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops, Canada), University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies. You can see what I said where on this trip, along with other links to older speeches, powerpoint presentations and papers (now totalling 100 since 1995) at
https://www.debito.org/publications.html#SPEECHES
They all went really quite smoothly–well-attended, full of questions and comments, accompanied by great hospitality from all my hosts (and I had hosts and places to stay in every port of call; thanks forthcoming to them individually).

Of particular note was the atmosphere at the Japan Studies Association of Canada (JSAC) annual meeting in Kamloops. Despite some initial trepidation, people turned out to be welcoming of an activist (I guess it made a difference from often bone-dry academia); I sold more books there (more than thirty) than ever before. Also, in addition to presentations on “communities within communities in Japan (my aegis), JSAC hosted sections on demography and future welfare, education, security issues, history, and artsy-fartsy stuff. It was enjoyable to coast between presentations and feel the different atmospheres depending on disciplines: Luddite handouts and OHPs with the “continuous-retread touchy-feeley” cultural studies, cloak-and-dagger “what if” theories of the security hawks (North Korea, after all, had just been confirmed as nuclear), and the “See I’m telling you so! Here comes the brick wall” portentous presentations of the demographers. Kudos to friend (and host) Joe Dobson and company for putting this thing on.

The best part of JSAC for me was the fact that the Canadian Ambassador of Japan, Joseph Caron, not only put in an appearance–he stayed two nights and even chaired two sessions at the conference! (Imagine the American Ambassador doing that!) Ambassador Caron proved himself a true gentleman at our farewell dinner, where I got to ask a question and got an impressive answer. But first a segue for context:

—————SEGUE BEGINS: THE MURRAY WOOD CASE——————-

When I first arrived in Vancouver on October 8, I was met by Murray Wood, his partner Brett, and two cameramen. They were all here to film a documentary on the Murray Wood Case, a cause celebre gathering steam in Canada as a major human rights case.

I have mentioned this case briefly in previous newsletters, but let me synopsize again: The Murray Wood Case started when Murray and Ayako Maniwa met, married, and had two children. A former flight attendant at Air Canada, Ayako was by all accounts (Murray’s family was most open with their criticisms as we enjoyed Canadian Thanksgiving dinner in front of the cameras) unconcerned with the welfare of her children–so much so that even the Supreme Court in British Columbia awarded Murray custody of their kids after they split up. However, Ayako, under a ruse to visit her family in Saitama, abducted the children and severed all contact with their father. This is not a matter of he-said she-said: The Canadian police have a warrant out for her arrest if she ever comes to Canada again.

Given Japan’s unenforcable or nonexistent child-custody and visitation laws after divorce, and the dubious honor of being the only G7 country not to sign the Hague Convention on the Rights of the Child, Japan has become a safe haven for international abductions. However, what makes this case interesting is that Murray actually tried to work through Japan’s judicial system to get custody back. However, Saitama’s Family District and High Courts were unaccommodating. They ignored Canadian court judgments in their entirety and awarded Ayako custody–essentially because a) the children should not be uprooted from their present surroundings, and b) “fairness”. Judges claimed in their ruling (which I read but cannot provide a link to at this time) that Ayako had not said her piece in Canadian court (she never showed up to give it); but since she appeared in Japanese court, the judges ruled that their opinion (in her favor) more adequately reflected both sides! The Government of Canada is not happy with this outcome, and Murray has gotten a lot of press across Canada. As so he should. More substantiation on all these claims from
http://www.crnjapan.com/people/wom/en/
https://www.debito.org/successstoriesjune2006.html
http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&q=Murray+Wood%2C+Ayako&btnG=Search
Murray Wood reachable at amw@telus.net.

The case has garnered enough attention for two cameramen, one named David Hearn (reachable at david@ghosty.jp), to come all the way from Los Angeles and Tokyo to film it. Over the course of three days, they interviewed more than a dozen people of authority, family members, and friends (even me) on what happened and what this meant to them. We have a good feeling about what got captured on video, and I’ll keep you posted on any developments. In the age of the powerful documentary, this could be a good thing indeed.

————————–SEGUE ENDS—————————–

Back to JSAC’s final dinner with Ambassador Caron speaking. The Consul General of Japan at Vancouver and his staff were there (I happened to be seated next to Consul Assistant Keith Fedoruk, a rather chinless local hire, and we talked, however briefly and uncomfortably, about the Otaru Onsens Case and racial discrimination in Japan. He said, “Can’t you use your language abilities and position as a citizen in Japan more constructively?” as he broke off conversation.) It was clear that people wanted things to remain nicely, nicely. Perfect timing for one of my questions. Something like:

“Thank you Ambassador Caron. As you know, it is my job to raise the difficult issues, so let me not act out of character. The Consul General mentioned in his earlier speech tonight about the communality between Canada with the high regard for human rights and the rule of law. I would like to raise the issue about the Murray Wood Case. Given that this case involves Canadian court decisions ignored to deny custody to Canadian citizens, I would like to know if your office will continue to pursue this. Your government has been very publicly supportive or human rights. Your predecessor, Ambassador Edwards, kindly gave us a strong letter of support during the Otaru Onsens Case. Child abductions after divorce are a serious problem which affects the rights of both of your countries’ citizens. What will you do in future to promote human rights between your countries?”

Yes, it was a long question, and I had no time to develop Murray’s Case. I expected a standard answer of “We know nothing. We’ll look into it.” But no!

Ambassador Caron actually knew Murray’s case, and even took time to describe it in more detail to the audience! He mentioned how important he considered it in particular and the issue in general, and he said that he would continue pushing Japan to sign the Hague Convention!

Breathtaking. When the party ended, chinless wonder sitting next to me (who had earlier agreed to at least show my donated J and E JAPANESE ONLY books to the Consul General for consideration for the Vancouver Japan Consulate library) simply walked away, leaving the books behind on the dinner table. Bit of a shock, but again, not out of character. I sold them later that night anyway. Ambassador Caron (who also knew the Onsens Case) gladly took a copy as well.

Let’s hope the Murray Wood Case continues to build up steam, since like the Otaru Onsens Case, it’s a watertight representation of a problem with all other alternatives at resolution exhausted.

———————————-

Lots more happened during this trip, but that was the highlight which is germane to this debito.org newsletter. If you want me to spin a few stories for the Friends’ email List (I still haven’t written out what happened on last March’s World Tour I), let me know at debito@debito.org. Always helpful to know if people out there are enjoying what they read.

Enough for now. I hear my plane back to Sapporo revving its engines.

Arudou Debito
Narita, Japan
October 22, 2006
debito@debito.org
https://www.debito.org

NB: If you wish to receive updates in real time on important issues and articles, you can view and/or subscribe to my blog at https://www.debito.org/index.php Newsletters will necessarily lag as they collate important information for the general public and media.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OF OCTOBER 24, 2006 ENDS

Reporter Eric Johnston on McGowan victorious appeal

mytest

From: japantimes Osaka
Subject: Re: Breaking News: McGowan wins High Court appeal
Date: October 19, 2006 12:29:18 PM JST
To: debito@debito.org

Debito,

If you wish, you’re free to post this on your site:

By ERIC JOHNSTON
Special to Debito.org

On Oct. 18th, the Steve McGowan case ended with a partial victory, when the Osaka High Court awarded him 350,000 yen. McGowan had sued Takashi Narita, the owner of an eyeglass store in Daito, Osaka Pref. for racial discrimination after Narita barred him from entering his store and told McGowan he didn’t like black people.

The court’s decision was welcomed by McGowan and his lawyers were, if not completely satisfied, at least relieved that the High Court did not simply repeat the District Court ruling which, as Debito has detailed so well elsewhere on this site, can be summed up as: McGowan “misunderstood” Narita and there is no evidence of racial discrimination.

But many of those who followed the case, especially human rights activists, were worried. The High Court avoided ruling whether or not Narita’s words and actions constituted racial discrimination, a point that both McGowan’s lawyer and some of his supporters hammered home to reporters in the post-verdict press conference.

So what was the verdict? It was a very, very carefully, vaguely worded ruling that said Narita’s words and deeds were an illegal activity outside social norms. But, and this is the crux of the problem, it cited no written precedents. The phrase “outside social norms” smacks of paternalism, of a stern father privately scolding the bully. What social norms are we talking about, Dad, and could the court please provide all of us a list of the ones that are legal and illegal?

Furthermore, the phrase used in ruling about the social norms, “fuho koi” can mean both “illegal activities” or “activities not covered by the scope of current laws on the books.” In this case, given the overall tone of the ruling and because the court ordered Narita to pay, the closer meaning in spirit is “illegal activities”.

But anybody familiar with the Japan works can see the potential problem ahead. What is going to happen when the next person, Japanese or not, is barred entry into a store whose Japanese owner tells them to leave and then says they don’t like the color of their skin? Using the McGowan High Court ruling as a precedent, some future High Court can simply decide what the “social norms” are based only on what the judge or judges feel the norms are. They then have the power to decide, in the absense of clear, written precedents, whether or not those social norms have been violated to the extent that, even though there is nothing on the books, somebody should be punished.

In fact, using the logic of the Osaka High Court, the decision could have just as easily gone the other way. In other words, the High Court could have simply chosen to use the second possible defination of “fuho koi”, and say that, although Narita’s comments may have been outside social norms, there is nothing on the books. Therefore, we cannot say that what happened was “illegal.” Therefore, plaintiffs motion denied.

It is to the eternal credit of the Osaka High Court that their judges made a decision far more moral and ethical than the District Court. However, good intentions often make bad law. By avoiding ruling on the crux of McGowan’s complaint, that Narita’s remarks were, in fact, a form of illegal discrimination, the more fundamental issue remains unaddressed –namely, whether or not the McGowan case constitutes racial discrimination in a written, legal sense as opposed to unwritten “social norms” where determination about their violation, and authority for their punishment, is controlled by the whims of a few judges.

The McGowan ruling simply reinforces the importance of having a national, written, easily understandable law banning racial discrimination, a point made by a range of people from McGowan, to 77 human rights groups, to the United Nations itself. As of this writing, it appears unlikely that McGowan will appeal to the Supreme Court to push for a clear ruling on the question of racial discrimination. Many of his supporters pushing for a national law banning discrimination don’t appear to be eager to take his case further and are, rather, content to let McGowan remain a symbol of the need for such a law. In the meantime, the basic question about what constitutes racial discrimination in Japan and what does not remains unanswered.

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

Eric Johnston covered the Steve McGowan case for The Japan Times. The opinions expressed in this article are his, and not necessarily those of The Japan Times.

ENDS

McGowan Case: Steve wins case on appeal at Osaka High Court

mytest

Good news at last. Comment follows at bottom:

ARTICLE BEGINS
==========================

African-American wins Y350,000 in damages for being denied entry into Osaka shop
Japan Today, Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 19:41 EDT
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/387820/all
Courtesy Kyodo News

OSAKA — The Osaka High Court ordered an Osaka optical shop owner to pay 350,000 yen in damages to an African-American living in Kyoto Prefecture for denying him entry to the shop in 2004, altering a lower court ruling in January which rejected the plaintiff’s damages claim.

Presiding Judge Sota Tanaka recognized the owner told Steve McGowan, 42, a designer living in the town of Seika, to go away when he was in front of the shop, and acknowledged damages for McGowan’s emotional pain, saying the entry denial “is a one-sided and outrageous act beyond common sense.”

However, the remark “is not enough to be recognized as racially discriminatory,” he said. McGowan had demanded 5.5 million yen.

According to the ruling, the owner told McGowan to go away to the other side of the road in a strong language several times when he was about to enter the shop with an acquaintance in September 2004.

The plaintiff had claimed the owner said, “Go away. I hate black people,” but the ruling dismissed the claim, as the possibility that he misheard the owner cannot be eliminated.
A plaintiff attorney said, “It’s unreasonable that discrimination was not recognized, but the court ordered a relatively large amount of damages payment for just demanding the plaintiff leave the shop. It seems that the court shows some understanding.”
==========================
ARTICLE ENDS

COMMENT:
I am very happy Steve McGowan appealed his case, as it shows just how ludicrous the previous District Court ruling was last January.

Full information on the case at
https://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html

The previous decision disqualified McGowan and his wife as credible witnesses to any discrimination, by ruling:

1) McGowan’s testimony inadmissible, as he apparently does not understand enough Japanese to reliably prove that the store-owner used discriminatory language toward him.

2) McGowan’s wife’s testimony as negatively admissable. In her follow up investigation, McGowan’s wife didn’t confirm whether the store-owner had excluded McGowan because he is black (“kokujin”); she apparently asked him if it was because her husband is *foreign*.

Put another way: A guy gets struck by a motor vehicle. The pedestrian takes him to court, claiming that getting hit by a car hurt him. The judge says, “You weren’t in fact hit by a car. It was a truck. Compensation denied.”

This was a huge step backward. As I argued in a Japan Times column (Feb 7, 2006, see https://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html#japantimesfeb7), the McGowan decision thus established the following litmus tests for successfully claiming racial discrimination. You must:

* Avoid being a foreigner.

* Avoid being a non-native speaker of Japanese.

* Have a native-speaker witness with you at all times.

* Record on tape or video every public interaction you have 24 hours a day.

* Hope your defendant admits he dislikes people for their race.

Actually, scratch the last one. The eyeglass shop owner did admit a distaste for black people, yet the judge still let him off.

Now this High Court reversal sets things back on kilter, although it pays McGowan a pittance (35 man yen will not even cover his legal fees!) and will not acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination.

That’s a shame. But it’s better than before, and far better than if he did not appeal. Gotta pray for the small favors.

Thanks to Steve for keeping up the fight! Arudou Debito in Seattle, USA

Sport again: HS Coach refuses to meet Lotte foreign coach due to “language barrier”

mytest

This is an addendum to my post earlier today (https://www.debito.org/?p=42), on Trey Hillman’s getting bad-mouthed by a player for a sports decision due to being foreign:

During the September 25 high school draft picks for professional teams, one of the stars, Ohmine Yuuta, got his hopes up to be picked by Softbank Hawks. It was supposed to be a done deal, but Bobby Valentine, coach of Chiba Lotte, put in a bid as well for him. As is the established precedent, both Softbank and Lotte drew from a lottery, and Lotte by chance won. Suddenly. Ohmine declined to join Lotte, which is quite a scandal. Furthermore, the HS captain of the team Ohmine played for, Ishimine Yoshimori, refused to even meet with Valentine on September 26, citing the following reason:

“He won’t comprehend our words or feelings.” (「言葉も気持ちも通じない」)

Thus Coach Ishimine publicly rebuked Valentine essentially for his foreignness, citing a language barrier as an excuse.

Courtesy Sports Houchi (September 27, 2006, http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/baseball/npb/news/20060927-OHT1T00081.htm).

Nice how issues of foreignness keep coming up like this. Major coaches with worldwide reputations, like Valentine, are still just gaijin to be dismissed in Japan, unworthy of being treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

And does Valentine deserve it! He brought Lotte to its first pennant win last year in a generation–31 years–the first foreign coach ever to do so. http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/353246

It looks like Trey Hillman may be the second, two years running.

(This issue came up while researching one of my papers:
“On Language and Nationality”
which will be given at Linguapax Asia 2006 Third International Symposium
Tokyo University, Saturday, October 7, 2006, 2:00-2:30PM)
ENDS

Racist remarks against foreign baseball coach result in suspension, fine

mytest

Story about frustrated player making anti-gaijin remarks about his coach, our own Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters Trey Hillman, who has had a simply incredible season (and may take the pennant for the first time for this new team). Excerpt follows:

////////////////////////////////////
At this stage of the season, the only thing any player should be thinking about is winning the pennant. Because of a seventh inning grand slam by Lotte DH Benny Agbayani, the Marines were victorious over the Nippon Ham Fighters to inject even more chaos into this topsy turvy quest for first.

However, that was vastly overshadowed by the actions of Fighters starter Satoru Kanemura, who threw a major hissy fit due to being pulled by manager Trey Hillman in the fifth inning needing just one out to become the first Nippon Ham hurler to rack up five straight ten win seasons since Yukihiro Nishimura. After the game, he told the press that. yanking him was “absolutely unforgivable” and then took a racial shot at Hillman, grumbling that, “because he’s a foreigner, he doesn’t care about players’ individual goals.” He then challeneged reporters to print his remarks. “I don’t even want to look at him,” Kanemura said of Hillman. In addition, he accused the former Rangers farm director of being more indulgent with Iranian-Japanese righthander Yu Darvish than him. In the context of this little explosion, that also has a racial tinge to it. Kanemura also beefed that he didn’t think Hillman trusted him.

Hillman wouldn’t comment on any of this, but General Manager Shigeru Takada, a former outfielder with Yomiuri, did, saying that he thought Hillman, who has taken the Sparky Anderson tack to handling pitchers this season by going to the bullpen at the first signs of trouble, had actually waited too long before hitting the eject button on Kanemura, who was immediately taken off the roster for the duration of the playoffs and told to not even show up at practice Monday. A meeting will also be held Monday to determine what to do about Kanemura. None of the players interviewed, at least any of those who were willing to comment, were supportive of their teammate. Takada was especially miffed that Kanemura was talking about individual and not team goals.
////////////////////////////////////

Rest of the article at
http://www.japanbaseballdaily.com/pacificleague9-24-2006.html

Let’s see where this goes:
===============================

SPORT
Kanemura suspended, fined Y2 million for criticizing Hillman
Japan Today, Tuesday, September 26, 2006 at 07:22 EDT
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/385253

TOKYO Nippon Ham Fighters right-hander Satoru Kanemura received a suspension until the end of the playoffs and a 2 million yen fine Monday for criticizing the decision of team manager Trey Hillman, officials of the Pacific League club said. Nippon Ham removed Kanemura from the active roster the same day, following the 30-year-old’s comments from the previous day.

“I’ll never forgive him. He is a foreign manager, so he probably doesn’t care about individual stats. I don’t even want to see his face,” Kanemura said after Nippon Ham lost 8-4 to the Lotte Marines at Chiba Marine Stadium. In the bases-loaded situation, Kanemura, 30, needed one more out to have a chance of notching his 10th win of the season. He has posted double-digit wins in the past four seasons. (Kyodo News)

(Refreshing comments, as always, on the Japan Today BBS under the article)
===========================================

COMMENT: While I support the sanctions meted out, why am I not surprised by this development? Is it a given or a natural law that sooner or later, somebody’s foreignness is inevitably made an issue of here? I know Japan isn’t alone in this regard by any means, but one can hope that things can improve. Especially given the degree of fan service and overall relaxedness that the Fighters under Hillman have displayed–and still look likely to win the pennant! Nice guys can finish first. It’s just a shame that in the heat of the moment, the race card (or gaijin card, whichever interpretation you prefer) has to surface… Bravo to showing zero tolerance for this sort of thing. Debito in Sapporo, proud supporter of the Fighters!

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

COMMENT FROM A FRIEND WHO DISPUTES THE “RACIST” LABEL FOR THIS ISSUE:

On Sep 27, 2006, Debito’s friend wrote:
———————————————————————–
Personally, and I’ve read Kanemura’s comments in Japanese, too, I
didn’t find them to really be “racist” or xenophobic in any way.
———————————————————————–

DEBITO REPLIES:
Okay, here they are:

「絶対に許さない。外国人は個人記録はどうでもいいんでしょう。信用がないっていうこと。顔も見たくない」
(Zettai ni yurusanai. Gaikokujin wa kojin kiroku wa dou de mo ii n deshou. Shin’you ga nai tte iu koto. Kao mo mitakunai.) (Doshin Sept 25)
http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/Php/kiji.php3?&d=20060925&j=0034&k=200609254200

Now whether you consider that “racist” or “xenophobic” is a matter of
your tolerance for the terminology used.

Kanemura was not criticizing his coach personally for what was in his
mind a bad decision. He was making a blanket statement about
foreigners (hopefully he used the word gaikokujin instead of gaijin,
but even the media softens quotes like these at times, see
https://www.debito.org/opportunism.html#1), making it a factor in the
coach’s decisionmaking processes.

Slot in “Chinese”, “Black”, or any term of reference that is
generally unrelated to nationality (as “gaikokujin” is) in place of
“gaikokujin”, and you can make a case that this was inappropriate for
reasons more than just breaking the taboo of a player ridiculing his
coach in public.

This base of reference for decisionmaking power would not have
happened to a Japanese coach, for example. And imagine if this had
happened to a Zainichi coach (particularly a Zainichi Korean) or a
clearly Buraku coach. There would quite possibly be protests from
those quarters too. It’s only as racist, xenophobic, or problematic
in these situations as people like us in Hillman’s “quarter”, if you
will, tend to make it. Clearly I would. My friend wouldn’t. Okay.

The interesting thing is it seems the print and broadcast media is
sweetening the subject, making the fine and suspension merely a
matter of ridiculing the coach (which is fine in itself). But nobody
I’ve been able to talk to (including my barber today, who has the
radio on constantly) seems to know that “foreignness” was an issue in
the statements.

Hmmm… Is it a good thing to keep on sweeping this issue under the
rug, or would it be better to finally deal with it, so people put
this elephant in the room out to pasture? The World Cup 2006 very
clearly adopted as one of its slogans the complete intolerance of
dealing with people on racist (or xenophobic, whatever) terms. I
think it’s about time Japan’s sports leagues began adopting the same
approach.

—————————-

Anyway, everyone, watch the game tonight on NHK Sougou Terebi. 6PM.
If the Fighters win or tie against Softbank tonight (Fighters won 8
to nothing against them last night!), that’s it–we win the pennant!

Go Trey Hillman go! Debito

Yomiuri Sept 23 06: Govt to have employers report info on foreign employees

mytest

COMMENT: Quite honestly, I am of two minds on this proposal. Depends on who the true target of this policy is: The employer (to force them to employ legal workers, and force them to take responsibility when they don’t? It would be about time.), or the foreign employee (in another attempt to “track” them constantly, an extension of the proposed “Gaijin Chip” IC Card system? See my Japan Times article on this at https://www.debito.org/japantimes112205.html).

It’s a wait-and-see thing for me, as there is no way to determine how it will be enforced until it is enforced. As witnessed with the recent revisions of hotel laws, requiring passport checks of tourists, giving the NPA license to order hotels nationwide to demand passport checks of ALL foreigners (regardless of residency), see https://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html. –Arudou Debito

—————————-
Govt to check foreign staff situation / Plans to have firms report worker details
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept 23, 2006
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20060923TDY01004.htm

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry intends to make it mandatory for firms that hire foreign employees to report the number, name and nationality of such workers, ministry sources said Friday.

Currently, this information is submitted on a voluntary basis, and personal information is not included. As a result, the government does not have a detailed picture of the nation’s foreign workers.

With the new policy, the ministry will establish a reporting system that requires firms to submit foreign workers’ information. Companies that fail to turn in the necessary information will be subject to punishment. The ministry hopes the new measure will prevent foreigners from working illegally, while encouraging legitimate workers to take out social insurance.

The Labor Policy Council, an advisory body to the health, labor and welfare minister, will shortly start discussions on the measures and hopes to submit a bill to revise the Employment Promotion Law to the ordinary Diet session next year.

The nation’s declining birthrate and aging population has led to growing concerns over a labor shortage. Consequently, the government is working on ways to entice more foreign workers to the country.

According to reports on foreign employees submitted to the ministry’s public job security offices as of June 2005, about 340,000 foreigners had been hired by about 30,000 firms. These numbers are likely to keep increasing. Of the workers, 43 percent hailed from East Asia, followed by 30 percent from Central and South America.

However, according to the Justice Ministry, as of the end of 2005, registered foreigners numbered 2.01 million, 800,000 of whom were estimated to be working, including illegal workers, based on an analysis of their residence status.

There is a sizable difference between the two ministries’ figures.

The current system allows firms to choose whether to provide information to the government on their foreign employees, and only those firms with more than 50 employees are eligible to do so.

The government has been criticized for its sloppy monitoring of foreigners once they have entered the country, even though immigration procedures are rigorous.

By making it obligatory for companies to report foreign workers’ details, the government hopes to keep track of people on an individual basis, and to enhance measures for clamping down on those working illegally. In addition, it is hoped the measures will encourage foreign workers to take out social insurance, and allow central and local governments to offer better support to workers who have to change jobs frequently due to unstable contracts.

The government’s three-year deregulation program, finalized in March, discusses making it mandatory for firms to submit reports on their foreign employees and whether reports should include detailed information such as workers’ names and residence status. The policy is likely to prove controversial in light of the protection of foreign workers’ privacy and the impact of the new system on the economy.

Yomiuri Shinbun (Sep. 23, 2006)
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 23 2006

mytest

Good evening all. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here, with a roundup of recent articles I’ve been blogging recently:

Table of Contents:
////////////////////////////////////////
1) 2-CHANNEL’S DEFENDANT NISHIMURA “DISAPPEARS” (SHISSOU)
2) J TIMES: FUTURE CONFLICTS ON FOREIGN “OLDCOMERS” AND “NEWCOMERS”
3) YOMIURI: CRACKDOWN ON FOREIGN BUSINESSES IN COUNTRYSIDE
4) TOKYO GOV ISHIHARA TO RUN FOR THIRD TERM, DISSES “FOREIGNERS” AGAIN
5) ASAHI: MURDER SUSPECT TRIES TO BLAME CRIME ON “BLOND” MAN
6) KITAKYUSHU PROF BLAMES BAD ENGLISH EDUCATION ON FOREIGNERS WHO STAY TOO LONG
7) AKITA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY ADDED TO BLACKLIST
////////////////////////////////////////

Newsletter dated September 23, 2006
Freely forwardable

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

1) 2-CHANNEL’S DEFENDANT NISHIMURA “DISAPPEARS” (SHISSOU)

I updated you last week (https://www.debito.org/?p=30 ) about my lawsuit against Japan’s largest Internet BBS, 2-Channel. Although they lost a libel suit to me last January, Owner and Adminstrator Defendant Nishimura Hiroyuki still hasn’t paid the court-ordered damages, moreover has ignored another series of paperwork my lawyers have filed to enforce the decision. Full details on the lawsuit at https://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html#english

The news is that I just heard that Nishimura, with his invisible income, numerous personal blogs and online columns, and books published by the likes of Kodansha and Asukii, has made himself invisible. Yes, he’s just plain disappeared. Witness this newspaper article (translation mine):

============== BEGINS ==================
On September 22, it was established that Nishimura Hiroyuki (29), aka “hiroyuki”, administrator and operator of giant Internet BBS “2-Channel”, has disappeared (shissou joutai). This BBS is being run by Nishimura as an individual. Even after government organs have demanded that inappropriate posts be removed, and posters have their whereabouts revealed, [Nishimura] has let these things slide and not responded to orders to appear before courts. The worst case scenario is that “2-Channel”, an emblematic site to Internet industries, may even be shut down.
=============== ENDS ===================

I don’t know in what newspaper this appeared (it looks like a screen capture from a TV news show), but it is the genuine article, and visible at https://www.debito.org/nishimuradisappears.jpg

I have also heard rumors that Nishimura was about to declare personal bankruptcy, and has a gaggle of lawsuits following him to zap any above-board income (royalties etc.) he might legally receive. However, he’ll never be able to open and register a real company. If he does resurface (if he’s even still in the country) and declare himself bankrupt, he’ll apparently even lose the right to vote.

For the record, I do not support closing 2-Channel down (it is for millions a very valuable network). I only want it to take responsibility for filling the media with irresponsible information, so bad that even Japan’s cautious courts have determined in several cases to be libelous. Continuous evasion of these responsibilities as a member of the media may mean Nishimura gets his in the end. Keep a weather eye on this story…

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

2) J TIMES: FUTURE CONFLICTS ON FOREIGN “OLDCOMERS” AND “NEWCOMERS”

Reporter Eric Johnston has done it again–another prescient scoop on what may become a pressing domestic issue in future: How a probable influx of foreign labor may cause frictions between foreigners themselves, i.e. the “Oldcomers” (the Zainichi generational foreigners) and the “Newcomers” (overseas-born immigrants, whose numbers are rising as the Zainichis’ fall). Excerpt:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
“I don’t think you’d see a level of violence between different ethnic groups that you see in other parts of the world because Japanese authorities and society would not tolerate it,” said former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief Hidenori Sakanaka. “But it’s likely that established foreign residents would discriminate against groups of new foreigners, barring them from apartments, restaurants, or jobs.

“It’s already happening in cities like Tokyo, but it could become a much bigger problem nationwide in the future,” he said.

And newcomers facing job discrimination in particular, be it from long-term foreign residents or from Japanese, could find that groups like labor unions that have often been at the forefront of protecting the rights of foreigners may change their attitude if they begin to see foreign labor as a threat.

“I can see a large influx of foreign workers sparking opposition from Japan’s labor unions,” Sakanaka said.

“Compared to the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, opposition within the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to large numbers of foreigners is quite strong, and much of this opposition reflects the opposition that exists in labor unions.” (Japan Times, Sept 12, 2006)
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

It also addresses issues such as education, discrimination, public policy, and a lingering ostrich mentality even amongst “progressive” (and Prime-Ministerial-aspiring) Dietmembers such as Kouno Taro. Blogged in full at
https://www.debito.org/?p=28

Speaking of internationalization tensions:

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

3) YOMIURI: CRACKDOWN ON FOREIGN BUSINESSES IN COUNTRYSIDE

Here’s a harbinger of future foreign entrepreneurialism:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
The Toyama prefectural government has instructed two businesses
targeting foreign residents to improve their business practices after
discovering they had disregarded the city planning law, The Yomiuri
Shimbun has learned.

The prefectural government intends to issue similar instructions for
seven other businesses in the near future. If the conditions of the
instructions are not met, the businesses will be ordered to cease
operations. If the orders are again ignored, the prefectural
government will file criminal complaints against them.

The Construction and Transport Ministry is demanding the prefecture
also investigate the about 170 such businesses in the area that are
believed to be on the edge of the law as part of a clampdown on
businesses encroaching on the countryside…

The nine businesses for which the guidance has been issued or
scheduled comprise five used-car dealerships, a mosque, a real estate
office targeting foreigners, a money exchange business and a
used-appliance store. The operators of the locations include Japanese,
Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, among others…

[And of course, the perfunctory allusion to foreign crime…]

In the neighboring areas, there are a large number of robberies,
burglaries and traffic violations committed by foreigners….

(Yomiuri Sept 13, 2006, https://www.debito.org/?p=29 )
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

Goes without saying, but I would expect any businessman regardless of nationality to follow Japan’s zoning laws. But based upon the number of these “shack businesses” I see springing up in the Hokkaido countryside (where our foreign population is miniscule), I can’t help but think that crackdowns and criminal procedures wouldn’t be so considered without the foreign element. Let’s hope these proceedings also target places without mosques and Russian customers…

Now for a man who really wants foreigners to come to his town–as long as it’s for the Olympics…

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

4) TOKYO GOV ISHIHARA TO RUN FOR THIRD TERM, DISSES “FOREIGNERS” AGAIN

Yes, the man who never misses an opportunity to slag somebody off (how dare the Fukuoka mayor put in an Olympic bid and compete with Tokyo, the center of the universe!) has decided to run for a third term as Tokyo Governor. Expressly so that he can shepherd his plans through for the 2016 Tokyo Olympics: Tokyo won the bid to be Japan’s champion on August 31.

That’s fine. But then Ishihara decided to punch below the belt when a critic just happened to be “foreign”:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
However, Ishihara’s trademark volatility came to the fore when Fukuoka supporter Kang Sang Jung, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo–and a second-generation Korean born and raised in Japan–criticized Tokyo’s Olympic bid.

In his pre-vote speech, Kang provoked Ishihara’s ire by asking, “Can we win over world competitors with an Olympics of the rich, by the rich and for the rich?”

Ishihara replied in his speech, saying: “A scholar of some foreign country said earlier Tokyo has no philosophy. I do not know why.”

The governor then went on to make his displeasure clear later at a celebratory party, when he dismissed Kang as both “impudent” and an ayashigena gaikokujin (dubious foreigner).

(Asahi Sept 1, 2006, https://www.debito.org/?p=27 )
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

Aim high, shoot low. This caused quite a furor with human rights groups, since Ishihara promised to stop making these types of discriminatory remarks in 2000 after the firestorm wreaked by his “Sankokujin” (basically meaning “lesser-nation foreigners” in vernacular use) Speech to the Self Defense Forces (where he called for foreigner round-ups in the event of a natural disaster). For good measure, on September 15, Ishihara then talked about illegal immigration from the, quote, “sankokujin” all over again.

People have filed complaints, for what they’re worth (links in Japanese):
http://news.goo.ne.jp/news/asahi/shakai/20060916/K2006091504340.html?C=S
http://news.goo.ne.jp/news/asahi/shakai/20060920/K2006092004280.html
http://www3.to/kmj1

Can hardly wait to see how Ishihara assesses all the foreigners who come to spend money here during the Olympics… Given Japan’s overreaction to world-class sporting events, viz. the World Cup in 2002, I’m not optimistic.
https://www.debito.org/WorldCup2002.html

I’m also not all that optimistic about Ishihara getting the boot in the next election. But one can dream.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on with people blaming foreigners for their ills:

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

5) ASAHI: MURDER SUSPECT TRIES TO BLAME CRIME ON “BLOND” MAN

It’s quite a famous case up here in Hokkaido, where a kid from a broken family in Wakkanai, Japan’s northernmost city, apparently tried to get his friend to help kill his mom. It’s a pretty sad case, covered assiduously by the Wide Shows, of yet another example of Japan’s apparent decline in morals. It’s further complicated (as far as this newsletter is concerned) by the following fact:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
The victim’s son had initially told investigators that he saw a man with blond hair running away from his home, and the first-floor living room appeared to have been ransacked. Investigators suspect that the two attempted to cover up their involvement.

(Mainichi, Aug 29, 2006, https://www.debito.org/?p=32 )
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

Fortunately, the police saw through this. But given the NPA’s long history of targeting foreigners (got lots of links, but I’m not going to include them all in this already long-enough post), I’m happy that they didn’t jump to conclusions (especially given the often-sour relationship between Japanese seaports and disembarking Russians, which I have also catalogued in great detail in the past).

The point I’m trying to make is this: This is yet another attempt to pin Japanese crime on foreigners. It didn’t work this time, but how many crimes in Japan which are suspected to be committed by “foreigners” are thusly red-herringed? Does wonders for the foreign crime rate. And this is not alarmism–I have archived two other cases in 2004 of “gaijin nasuri tsuke”, one involving a youth gang attack, the other an indolent trucker:
https://www.debito.org/aichibikergangpatsy.html

By the way, an interesting note about this article. The original Japanese at
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/jiken/news/20060829k0000e040014000c.html
does NOT mention the blond man at all. It only says that the suspect saw “an unknown man” (mishiranu otoko) running away from the house’s genkan. Well, maybe both the media and the police are becoming more careful about how they investigate things nowadays. Good.

Now, how about some specious research from our intellectual best and brightest?

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

6) KITAKYUSHU PROF BLAMES BAD ENGLISH EDUCATION ON FOREIGNERS WHO STAY TOO LONG

Professor Noriguchi Shinichiro of Kitakyushu University (whom I have on very good authority is a very progressive individual) does himself few favors, with one of those navel-gazing essays on how bad Japan’s English-language education is.

After lashing out at unqualified Japanese teachers, Noriguchi then lumps in foreign instructors as a factor–not for any qualifications they lack, but rather because of qualifications they apparently lose over time:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
In particular, native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teacher–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students.

(Asahi, Sept 15, 2006, https://www.debito.org/?p=34 )
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

I see. A foreigner who is less adjusted is axiomatically more effective. Hmm. Damn those foreigners for becoming used to the system, getting their bearings, and “Japanizing” themselves. How dare they? It’s even unprofessional.

I guess we can also assume that this means we should not give permanent tenure to foreign faculty in Japanese Universities, because they have a shelf life (instead of a learning curve). It certainly is logic that would happily be used by unscrupulous university employers (I have a list of them at https://www.debito.org/blacklist.html).

This argument, by the way, is quite similar to the one used by Asahikawa University in a famous precedent-setting lawsuit called the Gwen Gallagher Case (who was fired after more than a decade of service for no longer being, quote, “fresh” enough, see https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkiseigallagher). I wonder if Noriguchi would enjoy being lumped in this kind of company.

So it’s one prof’s opinion, BFD. Unfortunately, Noriguchi’s essay appeared in one of Japan’s most influential, well-read, and prestigious columns called “Watashi no Shiten” in the Asahi.

I think he should issue a retraction. You can encourage him to do so via email at
snori@kitakyu-u.ac.jp
http://www.kitakyu-u.ac.jp/foreign/in/noriguchishinichiroin.htm

Speaking of universities:

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

7) AKITA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY ADDED TO BLACKLIST

The Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a list of tertiary-educational employers who refuse to employ full-time foreign faculty on permanent-tenure terms (i.e. without contract–unlike most universities, which tenure full-time Japanese from Day One of hiring), has just gotten one addition.

It’s AIU–which has Gregory Clark as its Vice President. More on Clark at
https://www.debito.org/PALEspring2000.html
https://www.debito.org/gregoryclarkfabricates.html
https://www.debito.org/onsensclarkjtimes122599.html

It’s a bit of a surprise. Akita International University was opened a couple of years ago to offer “a radically new approach to education in Japan”–with classes entirely in English, overseas immersion, and other progressive educational strategies.

Which is sad because it seems to have lapsed back into bad old systemic habits:

==============================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Akita International University (Private)
LOCATION: 193-2 Okutsubakidai, Yuwa, Tsubakigawa, Akita-City, Akita
https://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#aiu

EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Despite wanting PhDs (or the equivalent) for faculty, AIU offers 3-year contracted positions with no mention of any possibility of tenure, plus a heavy workload (10 to 15 hours per week, which means the latter amounts to 10 koma class periods), a four-month probationary period, no retirement pay, and job evaluations of allegedly questionable aims. In other words, conditions that are in no visible way different from any other gaijin-contracting “non-international university” in Japan. Except for the lack of retirement pay.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Job advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, dated September 2, 2006. http://chronicle.com/jobs/id.php?id=0000469416-01 (or visit https://www.debito.org/aiudata.html).

Other unofficial sources of dissent available on the Chronicle’s forums at
http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=28632.0
==============================================

There will be more additions to make to my lists (including the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Businesses) when there’s time. They’ll be on my blog first, of course. Again, to receive things in real time, subscribe at https://www.debito.org/index.php
////////////////////////////////////////

All for today. Thanks very much for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
https://www.debito.org
NEWSLETTER SEPT 23 ENDS

Asahi Sep 15 06: Kitakyushu prof discusses problems with English language education

mytest

COMMENT: For archival purposes: Kitakyushu University Prof argues (in one of Japan’s premier opinion columns) that one problem with English education is that foreigners stay here too long. Quote: “…native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students.”

I assume that this means we should not give tenure to foreigners, and that the Gwen Gallagher vs Asahikawa University Case (fired after more than a decade of service for no longer being, quote, “fresh” enough, see https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkiseigallagher) is moot.

————————
POINT OF VIEW/ Shinichiro Noriguchi:English education leaves much to be desired
09/15/2006
SPECIAL TO THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200609150129.html

More than 100 years ago Natsume Soseki, a great writer in the Meiji Era (1868-1912), wrote, “These days young people studying abroad and coming back to Japan speak English fluently, but the content is shallow, almost nothing. Why? They do not possess the spiritual backbone–Chinese classics.”

This situation seems not to have changed since then; indeed, it may have become worse, because the number of shallow-minded youths is ever increasing.

Why has this happened? Who is responsible? What should we do to correct what is clearly a deplorable situation?

Based upon my 40 years of experience as an English teacher I would like to make some suggestions about the teaching of English at both the high school and university levels.

First, let me clearly say that Japanese society has been completely duped by the idea that the TOEIC test and the development of “communicative” skills in English will finally solve the long-standing problem of inept English education.

Japan’s higher education is helplessly caught in the trap of the TOEIC and “communicative English” diseases. TOEIC is simply another version of the university entrance examination, a form of assessment that has been severely criticized in the past. The TOEIC has simply been skillfully masked by corporations to appear up-to-date. The content is shallow and does not present any real challenge to the test-taker. Students can achieve higher scores by taking TOEIC-focused classes and cramming. It is for this reason that Japanese English instructors can do a better job teaching TOEIC classes than native-speaking English teachers.

Second, many teachers have been corrupted by the lax attitude toward teaching the English language in Japan. Since not much is expected of students, teachers expect little of themselves. They have created and perpetuated an unhealthy situation in which students who are eager to better their English have in fact little opportunity to improve their skills.

The government, in particular the education ministry, together with Japanese corporations, have been accomplices in creating this lamentable situation. They are blindly intoning the mantra of “communicative English” and the benefits of TOEIC, which is now in fact established as the standard by which English ability is measured. Many have come to believe that “communication” simply means the ability to speak English.

They no longer think that reading and writing in English are a true means of communication. As a result, a strange phenomenon has occurred. Our society has once more revealed its weakness as a homogeneous society, swinging from one extreme to the other. The companies that create and cater to the TOEIC test probably can’t stop laughing at this situation from which they derive great profit.

We should recall the now-forgotten fact that it was through the ability to read English that Japan was able to catch up with Western culture and technology in the Meiji and Taisho (1912-1926) eras. Many university English teachers have been complicit in these developments. They do not spend sufficient time and energy testing what students have learned in class or correcting what they have written in English.

We should fully grasp the extent of the change that has taken place and acknowledge that there is a clear difference between spoken and written English.

There are many people who, despite errors and despite the frivolous subjects about which they talk, can speak English with reasonable fluency, but they cannot write even a few sentences in correct English. The point here is that if we can write our ideas in English correctly, we will become skilled communicators.

The best way to correct this problem is to have our writing in English corrected by native English teachers, but this is not always possible. They must earn a living. Many are part-timers teaching a large number of classes at various universities, where they often simply go through the motions of teaching. But blame should not be placed upon the native speakers, because our society has allowed them to take advantage of Japan’s lax attitudes toward English education.

In particular, native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students. Some of these teachers are not aware of this.

It is, of course, Japanese university teachers of English who are most responsible for the depressing results of university-level English instruction.

It is a fact, however odd, that some university teachers of English failed the public junior and senior high school English teacher’s examinations, and then entered post-graduate schools only as a second choice.

Within a few years, however, they start teaching English at universities and are qualified to issue credits to students studying for the high school English teacher’s license. University teachers, of course, do not need a license of any sort to teach at universities. The education ministry often creates rules and standards that defy common sense.

The English ability of English-teaching staff is, frankly speaking, often poorer than that of capable students, especially when it comes to speaking and listening comprehension. Regardless of their academic fields–American or English literature, transformational grammar, phonetics, cultural studies–university instructors should possess thorough knowledge of the language and solid practical English skills. To improve university English education, I would propose the following:

・English teachers should have passed the first grade of STEP or achieved a score of over 600 on the TOEFL test;

・Teachers should study abroad, for at least one year, in an English-speaking country;

・The university English curriculum should place far greater emphasis on the reading and writing of English;

・English teachers should spend at least three years teaching English in high schools or prep-schools;

・The education ministry should devise a licensing system for university English teachers.

   *   *   *

The author is professor of English at the University of Kitakyushu.(IHT/Asahi: September 15,2006)

毎日Aug 28 06:風に吹かれて:in the U.S.A. 増える「拉致」=國枝すみれ

mytest

風に吹かれて:in the U.S.A. 増える「拉致」=國枝すみれ
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/wadai/archive/news/2006/08/28/20060828dde012070009000c.html

 ハリウッドの映画館で、北朝鮮に拉致された横田めぐみさんのドキュメンタリー「アブダクション(めぐみ−−引き裂かれた家族の30年)」を見た。クリス・シェリダン監督が言う。「日本人は拉致問題を政治問題とみるが、私は人間の問題ととらえた。13歳の子どもを奪われた家族の苦しみは、どんな国の人間でも理解できる」
 映画館を出ると、米国人男性が観客一人一人に「アブダクションを見ましたか」と声を掛けていた。「見た」と答えた人には「日本人も子どもを拉致しています」とちらしを手渡す。
 パトリック・ブレイデンさん(46)。日本人女性と交際して、昨年4月に娘が生まれた。しかし、関係は妊娠中から冷え始め、女性は親権裁判の途中で生後11カ月の娘を連れて帰国してしまったという。
 もちろん、北朝鮮当局に拉致されためぐみさんとは次元が違う。しかし米国では、一方の親が他方の承諾なく子どもを連れ去ったら、れっきとした犯罪。誘拐犯として手配されてしまう。
 結婚の半分が破たんする米国では、別れても子どもは両親二人のもの、ともに養育責任があると考えるのが普通だ。親権裁判の泥仕合を何度も見たカウンセラーも言っていた。「恋愛関係が壊れ、心に傷を負った人間は、子どもに会わせないことで相手に報復しようとする。そういう人には、壊れたのはあなたとの関係で、子供との関係ではない、と何度も言って聞かせる」
 外国での親権裁判で不利な判定が出ることを恐れ、子どもを連れ去る日本人女性は、米国の法と文化を大きく踏み外すことになる。実際、FBI(米連邦捜査局)のお尋ね者リストには日本人女性の写真が並んでいる。
 米国務省によれば、日本人による子どもの連れ去りはこれまで37件報告され、うち18件は昨年以降に起きている。国際協定「子の奪取に関する条約」の加盟国は、連れ去られた子どもを元の国に戻すよう協力する義務があるが、日本は加盟していない。欧米諸国は日本を「連れ去り天国」と批判し、条約に加盟するよう圧力をかけている。
 映画終了から1時間たっても、ちらし配りを続けるブレイデンさん。北朝鮮の拉致問題と一緒にするのはちょっと強引だとも思ったが、「子どもを奪われた気持ちは同じ。勝手に連れ去るのは、僕と赤ん坊にとって公平じゃない」という父親の気持ちは分からないでもない。(ロサンゼルス支局)
毎日新聞 2006年8月28日 東京夕刊

Yomiuri Sept 13 06: Crackdowns on countryside foreign businesses

mytest

Toyama tackles ‘gray’ businesses / Mostly immigrant-owned
establishments disregarding urban zoning laws

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 13, 2006)
Courtesy http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20060913TDY02001.htm
An Imizu, Toyama Prefecture, car dealership that is actually licensed
as a restaurant

The Toyama prefectural government has instructed two businesses
targeting foreign residents to improve their business practices after
discovering they had disregarded the city planning law, The Yomiuri
Shimbun has learned.

The prefectural government intends to issue similar instructions for
seven other businesses in the near future. If the conditions of the
instructions are not met, the businesses will be ordered to cease
operations. If the orders are again ignored, the prefectural
government will file criminal complaints against them.

The Construction and Transport Ministry is demanding the prefecture
also investigate the about 170 such businesses in the area that are
believed to be on the edge of the law as part of a clampdown on
businesses encroaching on the countryside.

The businesses, often run by foreign residents, including Pakistanis,
are largely made up of used-car dealerships, of which there are
hundreds in the prefecture, largely in the area around Fushiki Toyama
Port.

The nine businesses for which the guidance has been issued or
scheduled comprise five used-car dealerships, a mosque, a real estate
office targeting foreigners, a money exchange business and a
used-appliance store. The operators of the locations include Japanese,
Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, among others.

The prefectural government has been investigating the matter since
April on the belief that the disorderly development may be in
violation of the rules of urbanization control areas. The urbanization
control area designation effectively acts as a green belt, in which
wooded areas and farmland are protected from urban sprawl. The scheme
says only businesses enhancing the life of residents–such as
convenience stores–are permitted in residential zones.

Six of the locations in question were originally intended to be used
for convenience stores or gas stations, but are instead being used for
other purposes without having undergone the necessary procedures.
Three of the locations have been discovered to have received
development permission for businesses other than the restaurants and
other services that actually exist at those locations.

The prefectural government is currently undergoing the guidance
procedures for these suspect businesses.

The about 170 businesses that fall into a gray area operate out of
temporary structures, such as prefabricated buildings and shipping
containers. The government is currently pursuing inspections of the
facilities to determine if the structures fall under the definition of
“architectural structure” as regulated by the city planning law.

A large number of the temporary structures have been outfitted with
electricity and phone lines, and have staff guarding them during
nighttime hours.

“If these buildings are being used continuously, they should be
treated as ‘architectural structures,'” the ministry said. “We hope
the prefectural government makes a decision that is in line with the
reality of the situation.”

The first such used-car dealership was opened in 1991 by a Pakistani.
Dealerships then spread into the countryside, where it was easy to
secure a space near the harbor to display the cars. There was an
explosion of dealerships beginning in 1995, as trade on the Sea of
Japan increased.

The majority of the businesses are run by nationalities that have
access to an international network of car dealers, including
Bangladeshi and Pakistani immigrants.

There are currently about 260 dealerships lining National Highway
Route 8 in Toyama, Imizu and Takaoka. The buyers are mainly Russians.

In the neighboring areas, there are a large number of robberies,
burglaries and traffic violations committed by foreigners.

To deal with this problem, the prefectural police established a
special unit in October and have been cracking down on visa
overstayers and people violating the antique trade law and Road
Traffic Law. The business improvement instructions, however, mark the
first time the businesses themselves have been targeted.

===

Port attracts entrepreneurs

The export car business is a profitable one. Every year, 45 billion
yen to 50 billion yen worth of used cars are shipped to Russia from
Fushiki Toyama Port–the combined name of Fushiki Port, Toyama Port
and Toyama New Port.

Many of the dealerships have taken over fields in the areas around the
ports, and more than half of the dealers are Pakistanis who received
visas after marrying a Japanese. The area along Route 8 has been
dubbed by locals as Pakistan Village, because of its many signs
written in Russian and Urdu, one of Pakistan’s official languages.

One of the buildings is a convenience store that has been converted
into a mosque. The prefecture issued instructions to business
operators who had not undergone the necessary procedures to change the
building’s use, but the manager said, “For followers of Islam, a
Mosque is absolutely necessary.”

However, a man whose house is near one of the dealerships said, “I
feel stressed every time I come home.”

Hiroshi Yamada, a lawyer specializing in civil cases involving
Pakistani immigrants said, “The government should recognize these
businesses and search for a way for all of us to live and prosper
together.”
(Sep. 13, 2006)

—————————
Comment from person who sent debito.org this link:

What makes my ears go up is when I read the blanket statement:
“In the neighboring areas, there are a large number of robberies,
burglaries and traffic violations committed by foreigners.” Some
statistics showing foreign vs non-foreign would have been nice…

ends

Asahi: Tokyo Gov. Ishihara to run for third term Sept 1 2006

mytest

Ebullient Ishihara to seek 3rd term
09/01/2006
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200608310347.html

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has made clear he will seek a third term to help prepare Tokyo for its bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

Ishihara, 73, declared his intention to run for the gubernatorial race next spring after Tokyo beat out Fukuoka on Wednesday to be Japan’s candidate to host the Summer Games in 10 years. The capital will likely compete with Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and other cities.

“I am the one who initiated the bid (to host the Games) so I’m responsible,” an apparently elated Ishihara said when asked if he would run again.

“I’ve made up my mind,” he said.

The second of Ishihara’s four-year terms will end April 22, 2007. The city to host the 2016 Games will be picked in the fall of 2009.

On Thursday, Ishihara met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe and called for “all-out Cabinet support” for Tokyo’s bid.

Abe is the frontrunner in the Sept. 20 race to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, although he has yet to officially declare his candidacy.

“If you win the (Liberal Democratic Party’s) presidential race, please appoint a minister in charge” of the Olympic issue, Ishihara said.

To prepare for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the administration of then Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda appointed a Cabinet minister to take charge of the operation.

Abe pledged government support for Tokyo’s efforts, although on the actual proposed portfolio, he simply said, “the next Cabinet will study the issue.”

Tokyo’s victory over Fukuoka had been expected due to the capital’s superior fiscal strength and name-recognition value.

In his presentation prior to the Japanese Olympic Committee’s selection panel vote, Ishihara suddenly floated the idea of converting a closed Tokyo high school into a national training center for athletes.

He also underscored Tokyo’s resolve to host the Olympics for a second time by saying it would stand again for 2020 should its current bid fail.

However, Ishihara’s trademark volatility came to the fore when Fukuoka supporter Kang Sang Jung, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo–and a second-generation Korean born and raised in Japan–criticized Tokyo’s Olympic bid.

In his pre-vote speech, Kang provoked Ishihara’s ire by asking, “Can we win over world competitors with an Olympics of the rich, by the rich and for the rich?”

Ishihara replied in his speech, saying: “A scholar of some foreign country said earlier Tokyo has no philosophy. I do not know why.”

The governor then went on to make his displeasure clear later at a celebratory party, when he dismissed Kang as both “impudent” and an ayashigena gaikokujin (dubious foreigner).

Ishihara was first elected governor in 1999, and went on to win 3.08 million votes in the 2003 re-election.
END

Akita International University added to Blacklist: Sept 11 06

mytest

The Blacklist of Japanese Universities (https://www.debito.org/blacklist.html), where listed institutions have a history of offering unequal contracted work (not tenure) to its full-time faculty (usually foreign faculty) has just been updated.

Substantiated by a recent job advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, brand-new Akita International University (founded in 2004) has been added with the following writeup:

////////////////////////////////////////////////////
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Akita International University (Private)
LOCATION: 193-2 Okutsubakidai, Yuwa, Tsubakigawa, Akita-City, Akita
EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Despite wanting PhDs (or the equivalent) for faculty, AIU offers 3-year contracted positions with no mention of any possibility of tenure, plus a heavy workload (10 to 15 hours per week, which means the latter amounts to 10 koma class periods), a four-month probationary period, no retirement pay, and job evaluations of allegedly questionable aims. In other words, conditions that are in no visible way different from any other gaijin-contracting “non-international university” in Japan. Except for the lack of retirement pay.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Job advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, dated September 2, 2006. http://chronicle.com/jobs/id.php?id=0000469416-01 (archived on the Blacklist at https://www.debito.org/aiudata.html). Other unofficial sources of dissent available on the Chronicle’s forums (links may obsolesce) at http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=28632.0
////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Sad to see, given that this “revolutionary” university has the following mission statement (from their website at http://www.aiu.ac.jp/cms/index.php?id=23):

“In today’s globalized world, peaceful solutions to a wide range of serious problems require unusual capacities to understand and respect diverse values and to assume world perspectives. AIU aims to contribute to world peace by educating young people through a unique, liberal arts education and a heavy international focus.”

The university might help its value diversity and strong liberal arts education by offering its well-educated faculty more secure jobs, for a start. Instead, it’s just going down the same path of other Japanese universities–contracting all its foreigners.

Ironically, the “revolutionary” thing about this university is that apparently nobody has tenure there–contract work applies to Japanese too.

Why contracted work is in fact problematic; links to essays from:
https://www.debito.org/blacklist.html

September 11, 2006

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OF SEPT 10, 2006

mytest

Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. Welcome back from summer break, everyone. Got quite a backlog of articles for this newsletter.

Let me briefly open with my summer break: Two weeks cycling 940 kms (Sapporo to Wakkanai to Abashiri), averaging around 100 kms a day, and a trip average of 16.9 kms an hour, on a mountain bike. Friend Chris accompanied me for the entire trip, and he’ll soon have a site up with a report and photos. And yes, I as usual lost no weight on this cycletrek (my third, see my first at https://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#cycletreks), but I feel great, and wish I lived in a climate with no winter so I could do this all year round.

On to the updates. As I said, there’s a backlog, so apologies if you have seen some of these articles before:

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

September 10, 2006, Freely forwardable.
Full text of all articles below blogged at
https://www.debito.org/index.php

1) PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS

The reason I opened with our cycletrek is to segue nicely into this topic: Upon reaching northern cities Wakkanai and Monbetsu, Chris and I did the rounds of “Japanese Only” signs on public establishments. Photo archive, eyewitness reports, and links to newspaper articles international and domestic available at:
https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Wakkanai
https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Monbetsu

WAKKANAI
Chris and I went by public bath “Yuransen”. An egregious entry in this gallery, Yuransen for years has violated the Public Bath Law to refuse all foreigners (including foreign taxpayers) entry. Then it built a separate “gaijin bath” with separate entry and separate prices (2500 yen, six times the entry fee of 370 yen, and without male and female sections). This attracted international attention, even making the New York Times in April 2004:
https://www.debito.org/iht042304.html

Well, guess what. Yuransen went bankrupt in March 2006. So much for its claim that letting foreigners in would drive them out of business. Meanwhile, its rival onsen some miles away, Doumu, does a brisk trade. And it has never refused foreigners. Does anyone else see a lesson here? Current photo of Yuransen’s storefront at the above Rogues’ Gallery link.

MONBETSU
has also had “Japanese Only Store” signs up since the previous century. Despite demands from the Ministry of Justice for them to be taken down in July 2000, some signs (we counted four) are still up to the present day, with the city government turning a blind eye to repeated requests and petitions for resolution.

Well, Chris and I dropped by a yakiniku restaurant and got the manager to take one of the signs down. It took less than a minute! Photos up soon at the Rogues’ Gallery. Bonus: if you’d like to hear me in action negotiating the sign down, courtesy of Chris’s mp3 player/recorder, download a soundfile at

Best part: Hear me stuttering in surprise at how easy it was, and Chris giggling at the very end.

Y’know, we’re going to win this battle. Not least because this issue has legs:

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2) YOU TUBE: “JAPAN DOESN’T LIKE YOU!” VIDEO ON EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS

In a similar vein, somebody has been filching photos from the Rogues’ Gallery, to create a YouTube photo gallery entitled “Do you like Japan? Japan doesn’t like you!” Japanese national anthem included. A two-minute vid, it has been viewed as of this writing about 25,000 times, with more than 700 comments, and the dubious honor of being one of the top ten most accessed “Travel and Places” videos in YouTube history.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCeK0Trz9E0&mode=related&search

And before you ask: No, I didn’t have any part in creating this video, and knew nothing about it until a friend notified me a few weeks ago.

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

3) NEWSWEEK JAPAN ON JAPAN NATURALIZATION

Newsweek Japan this week has two articles (English and Japanese each) entitled “The New Face of Japan–Foreigners are not only coming–They’re staying”. Friends Kaoru and Kiichi (formerly Coal and Jayasinghi), are featured on the very cover. Get a copy of both issues quickly while they’re still on the newsstands!

For those who cannot, text at
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14640269/site/newsweek/

Excerpt (included not because it quotes me, but because it luckily encapsulates the spirit of the article nicely):

———ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Meanwhile, so-called permanent residents–foreign born people who have chosen to live in Japan for the long term–are steadily growing. “It shows that immigrants, not generational foreigners, are now becoming the more common permanent residents in Japan, meaning they’re not going to leave,” says human-rights activist Debito Arudou, a former American turned Japanese citizen. “I used to say half of the foreigners in Japan were born here. Now it’s more like a quarter.”

And the fundamental consequence, says Arudou, is clear. “We’re going to see people who don’t look Japanese being Japanese. That’s undeniable.”
———ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

(NB: Those who would like to see some substantiation for this sea change in Permanent Residency, see my essay on this last January at https://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html )

A couple of quick corrections to the article, if I may: The figure of 15,000 people cited as the total number ofnaturalized people in Japan is the rough estimate of the YEARLY intake of naturalized citizens. According to the Minister of Justice, around 300,000 foreigners (mostly the Zainichis) took citizenship between 1968 and 2000. Update the number by 15K per year and you’re closing in on 400,000 newly-minted Japanese of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

And former Finn Tsurunen Marutei is not the only naturalized Japanese in the Diet. As friend Chris pointed out, “Renho, formerly of Taiwanese nationality, and Shinkun Park, formerly of Korean nationality, are two other naturalized Dietmembers.”
http://www.renho.jp/
http://www.haku-s.net/index.html

Newsweek has told me they will be issuing corrections in short order. Speaking of Tsurunen:

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

4) METROPOLIS: DIETMEMBER TSURUNEN MARUTEI

Reporter friend Oscar did a bang-up job of an article on Tsurunen for Metropolis Magazine last August. Article available at
http://www.crisscross.com/jp/newsmaker/345

Soon up for re-election, Tsurunen gives his views on Yasukuni, foreign crime, assimilation, education, nationalism, and constitutional changes. Highlight:

———ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Tsurunen’s more than 30 years of naturalized citizenship–if not books he’s penned in Japanese with titles such as “I Want to be a Japanese,” “Here Comes a Blue-Eyed Assemblyman” and “Blue-Eyed Diet Member Not Yet Born”–speak to his vested interest in foreigner acceptance. But he’s no longer as optimistic as when he took office in 2002.

“Well, it is still my goal–or wish [to get suffrage for foreigners]–but I’m not sure I have been able to do much. For example, I am for the right of permanent foreign residents to vote,” he says of a bill now on ice that would allow them to do so in local elections. “But our party is not united on this issue. Last year, I was the leader of a committee that dealt with the issue of accepting more foreign laborers and we made some progress. But I’m not sure if it’s the best solution now. Japanese people are not ready to live with foreigners. There will be problems such as discrimination. We have some cities where 10% of the population is foreign and they already have these kinds of problems.”… “For foreigners this is not a very friendly country–it can be very cold. I’m one of the lucky ones.”
———ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

COMMENT: I’ve met Tsurunen on several occasions, even had a chance to talk to him one-on-one (see my October 2003 interview with him at https://www.debito.org/tsuruneninterview.html ). I personally like the guy. I also understand that he’s trying to make his mark as a politician trumpeting more than just ethnic-rights issues (one of his biggest policy pushes is for recycling), and as a politician, he’s not in a position to please everybody.

However, I have qualms about the degree of his distancing. For example, when UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene came to Japan for a second time, talking about racial discrimination and the need for legislation to combat it (see https://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html ), Diene attended a 2PM meeting at the Diet’s Upper House on May 18, 2006. A few Dietmembers attended, and some of their offices sent secretaries to at least leave their office’s meishi business card behind as a sign of awareness or interest. Tsurunen’s office did neither. I find this deeply disappointing. This is, after all, a meeting with the United Nations–and on foreigner and ethnic issues. If Tsurunen’s office can overlook this, what kind of example does this set for the rest of Japan’s politicians?

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

5) ASAHI: IJIME CASE IN FUKUOKA RULES IN FAVOR OF VICTIM

Elephant-minded readers of Japan’s media might remember the “Pinocchio” Case of 2003–where a grade-school teacher had a “thing” about the mixed racial background of a child in his class. He would pull on the boy’s nose until it bled, calling him “Pinocchio”, do the same thing with his ears with a “Mickey Mouse”, and devise all sorts of public punishments (even demanding he die for having “stained blood” (chi ga kegareta)) until the child became mentally unstable.

On July 28, 2006, Fukuoka District Court ruled positively that the PTSD the boy suffered deserved compensation–awarding 2.2 million yen (continuing to push up the “market value” of racial discrimination lawsuits from the generally-accepted 1 million yen or so).
Full report at
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200607290180.html
Original Japanese at
http://www.asahi.com/edu/news/SEB200607280015.html

The downside to this case is that the teacher only received a suspension from teaching for six months, and is now back on the job with full responsibilities. The man deserves, in my view, incarceration, if not institutionalization.

Moreover, this is not the first case of racially-motivated power harassment between teacher and student I am aware of by any means. I will soon be reporting on a future Kawasaki court decision regarding a Chinese-Japanese in similar straits. For now, info site at https://www.debito.org/kawasakiminzokusabetsu.htm (Japanese).

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

6) SF CHRONICLE: “CHILD CUSTODY IN JAPAN ISN’T BASED ON RULES”

Friend and legal expert Colin has done an excellent article in the San Francisco Chronicle on another one of my hobby horses: Child custody after divorce in Japan, the weakness of courts to enforce their own decisions, and the “Who dares, wins” attitude behind many of the officially-mediated battles.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/08/27/INGD3KO4C71.DTL

———ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Imagine discovering you have been living in an artificial world with rules designed to mask a terrible reality. This is, of course, the premise of “The Matrix,” but it is also an analogy I use to explain child custody and visitation in Japan, a subject in which I do research (and have had personal experience). Japan’s family courts have rules and procedures that hide a sad truth: They are powerless to protect the parent-child relationship when a divorce turns hostile… Child custody litigation is always sad, but particularly so in Japan. For starters, there is, quite literally, no law…

Those who seek cultural (as opposed to institutional) explanations for this state of affairs should be wary. In a recent book in Japanese on visitation, a widely published expert on family problems explained why visitation was different in Japan than in the United States or Europe. The book said Japan is a Confucian society where children are important for continuing the bloodline (but only within marriage), while Western countries had gun cultures, long histories of incest, and frequent cases of parents abducting, raping and even killing their children.
———ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

Colin also talks about about the dynamic behind judicial decisionmaking–where judges who don’t toe the official current in their decisions are denied promotion and reappointment. It adds up to a horrifying state of affairs where children (especially those in international or intercontinental divorces) are the big losers, being technically kidnapped by one parent to Japan with no recourse whatsoever.

Fortunately, this issue is finally gaining some attention internationally. See report at Children’s Rights Network Japan about a recent protest at a Los Angeles film screening on the “Megumi Yokota Story”, drawing (stretched, but effective) comparisons between kidnappings to North Korea and child kidnappings to Japan:
http://www.crnjapan.com/events/2006/en/megumiyokotaprotest.html

A primer on this issue available from the Japan Times at:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20060718z1.html

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

7) KYODO: NEW “FOREIGN CRIME” CAMPAIGN HITS SNAG: DISSENT

You may have seen on the news a new slew of programs on “foreigner crime”. It’s periodical. The National Police Agency spoon-feeds the media every six months or so with new “foreigner crime” statistics, and special “tokushuu” shows doubling as public-service announcements appraise the public on how to avoid becoming victims of hordes of foreign criminals.

Some historical examples of how the NPA has finagled statistics and manufactured crime waves at
https://www.debito.org/japantimes100402.html
https://www.debito.org/opportunism.html
https://www.debito.org/foreigncrimeputsch.html
https://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/ihtasahi121502.html
https://www.debito.org/japantimes033004.html
https://www.debito.org/NPAracialprofiling.html
https://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

This time around, however, there’s been a snag–in that “Chinese Criminal DNA” proponent Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s former deputy chief has even come forward to call all the grandstanding an exaggeration.

The text of the article available on my blog (no other extant link available) at

Aug 24, 2006 Kyodo: “Ex-deputy of Tokyo Gov. Ishihara cries foul over ‘safe town’ campaign”

———ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Hiroshi Kubo, who released a book titled ”Is Public Safety Really Deteriorating?” in June, said such measures could make people excessively wary, encourage prejudice against foreigners and benefit those in authority like the police…

Some analysts say these concerns are entirely reasonable and have urged authorities to work harder to get rid of factors threatening public order, such as the widening income disparity, instead of simply telling people to brace themselves for possible crimes.

Kubo, 59, was a senior bureaucrat in the Tokyo government. He led various crime prevention projects as a division chief in charge of public safety in the governor’s headquarters from August 2003 to March 2005, when he quit the municipality.

Kubo said he felt ”embarrassed” when he involved himself in or led projects he said were aimed at prompting people to think the community was becoming more and more dangerous and to rely on the authorities, especially the police, to deal with the situation.
———ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

Finally, a voice of reason, even at the top…

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

8) NEW BOOK ON NATURALIZED CITIZENS FORTHCOMING

Calling all naturalized Japanese readers:

Naturalized Chinese-Japanese Professor U Hoden, of Japan Women’s University, and myself will be collaborating on a new book over the next few months. We aim to feature the views of life in Japan from a “newcomer citizen” perspective, with essays in Japanese from those who have naturalized. This will be in their own words. We have a basic outline of questions ready, so if anyone is interested (Kaoru, Kiichi?), please let me know at debito@debito.org.

Meanwhile, my friend and I have just finished the fourth draft of our new GUIDEBOOK TO LIFE IN JAPAN, which we think should be coming out in the next six months or so. More on that later…

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

And finally, let me announce here my new blog at debito.org, to more easily archive these newsletters. Go to
https://www.debito.org/index.php
to see what’s going out. There is also RSS capability, for those who want to sign up for reports in real time, before I collate into an update. I’m still getting used to the technology, but I hope you like what you see.

As always, thanks for reading, and welcome back for what promises to be an eventful autumn!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
https://www.debito.org
Sept 10, 2006
NEWSLETTER ENDS

SF CHRONICLE Aug 27 2006: “Child custody in Japan isn’t based on news””

mytest

Child custody in Japan isn’t based on rules

-By Colin P.A. Jones

San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, August 27, 2006

[COMMENT AT VERY BOTTOM]

Imagine discovering you have been living in an artificial world with rules designed to mask a terrible reality. This is, of course, the premise of “The Matrix,” but it is also an analogy I use to explain child custody and visitation in Japan, a subject in which I do research (and have had personal experience). Japan’s family courts have rules and procedures that hide a sad truth: They are powerless to protect the parent-child relationship when a divorce turns hostile.

Take the case of Samuel Lui, whose Japanese wife took their 2-year-old son from California to Japan in violation of a California court order that gave him custody. The validity of his U.S. custody order was confirmed by Japan’s Supreme Court, yet his wife remained in control of the child. In the meantime, he had to file proceedings in the Osaka Family Court just to seek visitation with the child who was supposed to be living with him in California.

By this time, his wife had thoroughly poisoned the child against him, and he ultimately had to agree to a mediated settlement whereby he gave up custody in exchange for limited (and unenforceable) visitation.

Child custody litigation is always sad, but particularly so in Japan. For starters, there is, quite literally, no law. A couple of articles in the Japanese Civil Code give Japan’s judges the authority to decide custody in divorce cases based on the best interests of the child. But there are virtually no provisions expressing what those interests are (California’s Family Code, by comparison, states clearly that best interests of a child involve frequent and continuous contact with both parents regardless of their marital situation).

Visitation, a matter of course in most U.S. divorces, is in Japan a vaguely defined notion created by judicial precedent and only sometimes described as a right. In reality, both custody and visitation are effectively administrative decisions made at the discretion of judges and untrained mediators, some of whom may even regard visitation as harmful to children.

The judges are part of an elite bureaucracy. Chosen from a small minority of those who have passed one of the most difficult exams in the world, the Japanese bar (which until recently had a pass rate of 3 percent), judges usually enter the judiciary in their 20s and spend their careers in a variety of postings around the country, often living in government housing, isolated from the rest of society.

A judge’s postings reflect the progress of his or her career, which depends on annual reviews. Well-rated judges will end up in higher courts or become part of the judicial administrative apparatus.

While the criteria used by the judiciary in evaluating its members are not public, efficient docket-clearing is an important factor. So, it seems, is not embarrassing the judiciary as an institution.

In one recent case, a judge who wrote a popular book criticizing the excessive length of some judicial opinions was denied reappointment. The reason? His opinions were too short.

Disfavored judges may end up spending most of their time in lower courts outside of Tokyo or other major cities, or in family court, where excessive tenure may be a sign of a stalled career.

While some judges may seek out such postings, others may have joined the judiciary expecting to preside over cases of national importance rather than resolving marital bickering. Thus, other factors may be at work when the best interests of a child are adjudicated.

Because docket clearing is one of these factors, a judge may be too busy to participate in the mediation proceedings that by law must precede divorce and custody litigation in Japan.

If the mediation is deemed unsuccessful, however, the judge may issue a judgment based primarily on the recommendation of the mediators and a family court investigator (another employee of the judicial bureaucracy). A parent may thus lose custody and be denied virtually all meaningful parental rights in proceedings where the judge has barely heard the parties speak and has never seen the child in question.

Custody and visitation decisions also present the judiciary with a problem from the standpoint of preserving its status because they are generally unenforceable.

The Web site of the U.S. State Department Office of Children’s Issues warns that compliance with Japanese family court orders is essentially voluntary. Police rarely get involved in family disputes and courts do not have marshals who can enforce compliance.

The penalty for violating a family court order is at most a fine of less than $1,000. There are other remedies, but they also have limited efficacy, particularly against a party with limited financial resources or who cannot be located.

I interviewed one mother whose attempts to enforce visitation were thwarted when her ex-husband simply hung up the phone on the court officer who had been trying to persuade him to comply. “There is nothing more we can do,” the bureaucrat explained, apologetically.

From the standpoint of resolving cases without exposing the judiciary’s weakness, it is small wonder that family courts so often seem to find the status quo to be in the best interests of the child, particularly when it comes to visitation.

If this means no visitation when one parent refuses to cooperate, then it is often denied or terminated. If the child is too young, visitation may be detrimental. If the child is going through puberty, visitation might be upsetting. If the parents cannot get along, then it would be bad for the child to be exposed to their fighting (though courts do not seem to care about such exposure within a marriage).

If Dad buys too many expensive presents for the children, then that, too, is potential grounds for termination of visitation.

It doesn’t seem to take much for Dad to become optional: One man (who has become a fathers’ rights activist) saw his visitation terminated by the court because his ex-wife said thinking about the visits made her physically ill.

Fathers who insist on their rights may be told by family court mediators, “Children don’t need a father all the way to age 18.”

Those who seek cultural (as opposed to institutional) explanations for this state of affairs should be wary. In a recent book in Japanese on visitation, a widely published expert on family problems explained why visitation was different in Japan than in the United States or Europe.

The book said Japan is a Confucian society where children are important for continuing the bloodline (but only within marriage), while Western countries had gun cultures, long histories of incest, and frequent cases of parents abducting, raping and even killing their children.

Whatever the explanation, the sad dynamics of custody litigation can lead to a vicious downward spiral. If a wife moves out of the home with the children and files for divorce (most divorces in Japan are initiated by women), she might be inclined to allow visitation.

However, her lawyer is likely to recommend against it, seeing it as a potential opportunity for the father (or hostile ex-in-laws) to take possession of the children. The courts may be unable to intervene and the woman could lose custody.

Some lawyers actually recommend against visitation until the divorce is final — which may take months or years because of the mandatory mediation.

Nor will a family court want to order visitation if it might result in a new status quo it cannot remedy but will surely be blamed for. After months of not seeing his children, the father may come to view abduction as the only way of preserving their relationship. In a recent case, a former judge was arrested for abducting his own daughter.

One Japanese mother I interviewed had a custody order affirmed all the way up to Japan’s Supreme Court. Her ex-husband still has their son despite years of litigation. Since she lost almost all contact with the child when he was 1 year old, she hopes to have at least enough contact that he will remember his mother’s face.

Sadly, Japan’s courts cannot seem to help realize even this meager hope.

——————————

Colin P.A. Jones is an associate professor at Doshisha University Law School in Kyoto. Contact us at insight@sfchronicle.com.

Page E – 3

URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/08/27/INGD3KO4C71.DTL

COMMENT: Fortunately, this issue is finally gaining some attention internationally. See report at Children’s Rights Network Japan about a recent protest at a Los Angeles film screening on the “Megumi Yokota Story”, drawing (stretched, but effective) comparisons between kidnappings to North Korea and child kidnappings to Japan:

http://www.crnjapan.com/events/2006/en/megumiyokotaprotest.html

A primer on this issue available from the Japan Times at:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20060718z1.html

end

METROPOLIS: DIETMEMBER TSURUNEN INTERVIEW AUG 9, 2006

mytest

Foreign-born lawmaker puts Japan’s acceptance of outsiders to the test

By Oscar Johnson
Courtesy http://www.crisscross.com/jp/newsmaker/345

Marutei Tsurunen stands in front of the Diet. PHOTO BY TSUTOMU FU
TOKYO — Marutei Tsurunen relentlessly clawed at the doors of the Diet for a decade with two goals in mind: to get the inside scoop on politics and offer an outsider’s perspective in a land he says is far from ready to accept its foreign residents. It’s a task that Japan’s first and only foreign-born parliamentarian likens to a mission from God — literally. In fact, he left North Karelia, Finland, 40 years ago as a Lutheran lay missionary bent on helping Japan see the light.

“Of course, I’m a Christian and I still say I’m a missionary, not as a churchman but as a politician,” says Tsurunen, 67, whose mission has always been more about social practice than religious preaching. Having graduated from Finland’s Social Welfare College, he was a caseworker for a children’s home in Kyushu before forgoing his church ministry to head an English-language school. In 1992, he was elected as the nation’s first foreign-born assemblyman in Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

“Originally I had no interest in politics,” he confesses. “I had been wondering why I left the church and why I was here. There was very little I could do to affect society as a foreigner. Then suddenly it hit me like lightening: maybe I should try it. It took a long time but I finally found my calling.”

To be sure, the House of Councilors seat that fell to him in 2002 can be seen as nothing short of a miracle. Having made three failed bids (and another for the House of Representatives), it came only after former television celebrity Kyosen Ohashi stepped down, dramatically declaring politics too lowbrow for his own tastes. The job automatically went to Tsurunen, fellow Democratic Party of Japan member and runner-up in the 2001 election, whose close-but-no-cigar defeat he and everyone else considered the end of his political career.

Tsurunen is an unabashed Japanophile who, in addition to rendering his Finnish name, Martti Turunen, into its current Japanese form, has translated “The Tale of Genji” and other local classics into his native language. His populist tactics brought him tantalizingly close to victory in each race, and upon finally taking office he touted protecting the environment and “internationalizing” the nation as his priorities. These days, he’s homed in on sustainable agriculture as a member of the Diet’s Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and founder and secretary-general of the Parliamentarian’s League for the Promotion of Organic Agriculture. But he says his mission is not confined to these.

Task is to improve Japanese lifestyles

“I feel this society is sick in many ways,” says Tsurunen, an amiable and soft-spoken vegetarian with a grandfatherly demeanor. He lays much of the blame for today’s social ills on an increasingly popular “law of the jungle,” which he says rewards selfish ambition and ignores the less fortunate.

“Morale is down and there are many things that are unhealthy about Japanese lifestyles today. There are more than 30,000 suicides every year and maybe five times as many attempts. Many people drink a lot and eat too much. Environmentally, more chemicals are used in Japan than anywhere else. Sixty percent of our food comes from other countries — one of the highest rates in the world. That’s because we eat a lot of meat. My task is to improve our lifestyles, to make them healthier.”

That’s not to say that the nation’s self-styled “blue-eyed lawmaker” hasn’t spied a number of recent political trends that put foreigners who are in — and in close proximity to — Japan on edge. There’s an ominous rightwing shift toward deepening nationalism, he concedes. It’s one that includes fingerprinting foreigners, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s insistent public homage at Yasukuni Shrine and an education bill that mandates patriotism.

“It is a shift,” Tsurunen says, “and a very dangerous one. I’m very worried about it. It’s mainly in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, not its junior coalition partner New Komeito.” True to his calling, he broaches such issues with caution.

“A few years ago we stopped fingerprinting foreigners and I thought it was a good idea,” he explains. “In some ways it’s good now because of terrorism. But maybe 1% of foreigners entering the country are criminals, while 99% are not. To fingerprint all of them, I think, is counter to basic human rights.” Yet, it comes as no surprise to the member of a government wont to fault foreigners for its crime woes — to the extent of mulling a legal cap on their residency to 3% of the population.

Tsurunen’s more than 30 years of naturalized citizenship — if not books he’s penned in Japanese with titles such as “I Want to be a Japanese,” “Here Comes a Blue-Eyed Assemblyman” and “Blue-Eyed Diet Member Not Yet Born” — speak to his vested interest in foreigner acceptance. But he’s no longer as optimistic as when he took office in 2002.

Goal is to get right to vote for foreigners

“Well, it is still my goal — or wish — but I’m not sure I have been able to do much. For example, I am for the right of permanent foreign residents to vote,” he says of a bill now on ice that would allow them to do so in local elections. “But our party is not united on this issue. Last year, I was the leader of a committee that dealt with the issue of accepting more foreign laborers and we made some progress. But I’m not sure if it’s the best solution now. Japanese people are not ready to live with foreigners. There will be problems such as discrimination. We have some cities where 10% of the population is foreign and they already have these kinds of problems.”

Tsurunen says he and his views as an outsider are welcome in the upper house, but admits it wasn’t always so in the Yugawara assembly, a post he resigned to run for the Diet. After spending two-thirds of his life here with his Japanese wife Sachiko and two adult children, he’s “hopeful” but makes no promises.

“For foreigners this is not a very friendly country — it can be very cold. I’m one of the lucky ones.” The key, he insists both by word and example, is to learn the language and avoid retreating to the bubble of gaijin communities. “If they want to get inside Japanese society, they should try to work for this society, not just for their rights. Japanese must learn to live with foreigners, but foreigners must also learn to live with Japanese,” he says. That may also mean living with an increasingly nationalistic worldview fostered by public education.

On plans to revise the 60-year-old Fundamental Education Law to mandate “loving the nation,” Tsurunen defers to the Democratic Party line. The ruling LDP bill, which is widely expected to prevail over opposition alternatives, plays on a conservative-posited notion that occupation-era education reforms are behind national woes ranging from declining academic performance to surging juvenile crime. Critics fear it could turn back the clock to a time when loving the nation meant nosediving fighters into battleships, occupying neighboring countries or rationalizing sexual slavery for a war effort deemed unpatriotic to question.

“This Fundamental Education Law bill is very difficult,” Tsurunen says. “In our (DP) bill we say patriotism should be encouraged but not mandatory. Maybe this trend has something to do with the law on the national anthem in Tokyo,” he says of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s popular nationalist reforms. They have punished well over 300 teachers — and reportedly some parents — in the metropolis for not standing before the flag and singing the anthem, or for not encouraging students to do so, at school events.

“They’re very strict about it. In Japan the history of the flag and the anthem, which pays homage to the emperor, is unique,” he says. “I’m afraid if this new education bill gets through in its present form, then when you look at students’ records you’ll be able to say, ‘You love the government this or that much.’ That’s not good.” Recent media reports have noted that 40 to 50 schools in Saitama — citing the Ministry of Education’s current guidelines for social studies — have already started to assess sixth-graders on their demonstrated “love of the nation.”

As for Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes Japan’s war dead including convicted Class-A war criminals, Tsurunen offers a measured but candid view.

“Yasukuni Shrine very much relates to China,” he says of Japan’s emerging rival in terms of regional power and resources. “I’m a little afraid of China because it wants to control the region. The prime minister should not go to Yasukuni now — but not because of China’s protests. We must find a good solution.”

He notes that controversy still swirls over the convictions of the criminals enshrined at Yasukuni and says building a new national memorial to bypass them is untenable. “I think it would be best if we could remove them from Yasukuni. But solving this issue will not solve all our problems with China.”

Japan’s relationship with China is not the only one that gives Tsurunen pause. “I think there should also be less emphasis on our relations with the United States,” he says. It’s a recurring theme in his thoughts on diplomacy.

In July, a week after North Korea lobbed seven Scud, Nodong and Taepodong-2 missiles into the Sea of Japan, Nagatacho rang with the bullhorns of right-wing protestors calling for an attack on the Stalinist state. Tsurunen dismissed the caravan of black vans with the wave of a hand. “They’re here all the time,” he says. “I’m not worried about North Korea. If they do anything, it would be suicide. To tell you the truth, I’m more worried about what the United States will do. Japan cannot act alone. If North Korea continues to aggravate the situation too much, the United States may attack them. That would destroy them and a lot of people would die.”

Tsurunen developed a distaste for war at the tender age of 4, when his family was one of a few in their small Finnish village to escape an attack by Soviet soldiers. “Our house was in the middle of the forest so they didn’t notice we were there,” he recalls. “Yes, you could say I am a pacifist. I don’t believe war can solve anything; it just makes things worse. Of course, sometimes it’s unavoidable, such as if we are attacked and must defend ourselves.”

War-renouncing Constitution is outdated

As director of the Diet’s Research Commission on the Constitution, this informs his position on whether and how to revise war-renouncing elements of a constitution the U.S. imposed on Japan during its occupation. He says the document is outdated, and polls show 60 to 70% of the nation believes some kind of amendment is in order.

“I think under certain conditions it’s needed,” Tsurunen says. “The first article should be changed so that it mentions the Self-Defense Forces, their task to defend the nation and to help with international humanitarian efforts at the United Nations’ request. Right now, it doesn’t,” he says of the missions that Japan’s quasi military have already undertaken.

But he stresses SDF deployment overseas should only be at the behest of the U.N., not the United States, as was the case with sending troops to Iraq. He also notes that similar to the fate of the education law, there’s a need to be on guard against LDP hawks that might seek to expand the SDF’s international role.

“Our party’s idea is quite different than the LDP’s,” Tsurunen says. “They may have ideas about making Japan stronger, more independent or nationalistic but they cannot change the constitution alone. Still, we must be careful when the LDP makes their proposals.”

In this case, his faith is not so much in his party’s ability to stop such tactics as it is in the need for a referendum to change the constitution. But he’s also hopeful the day will come when the Democratic Party of Japan will break the near half-century grip the conservative LDP has had on government.

“Because there is so much corruption many people are finally anticipating a shift in power,” he says, adding it’s the most significant change he’s seen in politics since he’s been in Japan. “During the last election the opposition actually won the most votes. The LDP won the election but that was because of the proportional electoral system. For the first time, more than 50% of the voters want change.”

To that end, Tsurunen is putting the faith he has in his political calling to the test one last time in a bid to retain his seat in the 2007 upper house election. It could be his first and only outright victory in a Diet election before reaching retirement age. “The people are very interested in me,” he says of his two-hour early morning glad-handing sessions with locals at train stations. “I believe I can get it.” The result may also say a little something about how truly ready Japan is to accept their “blue-eyed Diet member”— or any other foreigner.

August 9, 2006
ARTICLE ENDS

COMMENT: I’ve met Tsurunen on several occasions, even had a chance to talk to him one-on-one (see my October 2003 interview with him at https://www.debito.org/tsuruneninterview.html ). I personally like the guy. I also understand that he’s trying to make his mark as a politician trumpeting more than just ethnic-rights issues (one of his biggest policy pushes is for recycling), and as a politician, he’s not in a position to please everybody.

However, I have qualms about the degree of his distancing. For example, when UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene came to Japan for a second time, talking about racial discrimination and the need for legislation to combat it (see https://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html ), Diene attended a 2PM meeting at the Diet’s Upper House on May 18, 2006. A few Dietmembers attended, and some of their offices sent secretaries to at least leave their office’s meishi business card behind as a sign of awareness or interest. Tsurunen’s office did neither. I find this deeply disappointing. This is, after all, a meeting with the United Nations–and on foreigner and ethnic issues. If Tsurunen’s office can overlook this, what kind of example does this set for the rest of Japan’s politicians?

END

PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS: Sept 10, 2006

mytest

PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS

The reason I opened with our cycletrek is to segue nicely into this topic: Upon reaching northern cities Wakkanai and Monbetsu, Chris and I did the rounds of “Japanese Only” signs on public establishments. Photo archive, eyewitness reports, and links to newspaper articles international and domestic available at:
https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Wakkanai
https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Monbetsu

WAKKANAI
Chris and I went by public bath “Yuransen”. An egregious entry in this gallery, Yuransen for years has violated the Public Bath Law to refuse all foreigners (including foreign taxpayers) entry. Then it built a separate “gaijin bath” with separate entry and separate prices (2500 yen, six times the entry fee of 370 yen, and without male and female sections). This attracted international attention, even making the New York Times in April 2004:
https://www.debito.org/iht042304.html

Well, guess what. Yuransen went bankrupt in March 2006. So much for its claim that letting foreigners in would drive them out of business. Meanwhile, its rival onsen some miles away, Doumu, does a brisk trade. And it has never refused foreigners. Does anyone else see a lesson here? Current photo of Yuransen’s storefront at the above Rogues’ Gallery link.

MONBETSU
has also had “Japanese Only Store” signs up since the previous century. Despite demands from the Ministry of Justice for them to be taken down in July 2000, some signs (we counted four) are still up to the present day, with the city government turning a blind eye to repeated requests and petitions for resolution.

Well, Chris and I dropped by a yakiniku restaurant and got the manager to take one of the signs down. It took less than a minute! Photos up soon at the Rogues’ Gallery. Bonus: if you’d like to hear me in action negotiating the sign down, courtesy of Chris’s mp3 player/recorder, download a soundfile at

Best part: Hear me stuttering in surprise at how easy it was, and Chris giggling at the very end.

Newsweek Japan on Naturalized Japanese–Sept 11, 2006 issue

mytest

Excellent article on how Japan is changing as more people naturalize. The article in full follows.

==========================
This is the New Japan
Immigrants are transforming a once insular society, and more of them are on their way.
By Christian Caryl and Akiko Kashiwagi
Newsweek International
Courtesy http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14640269/site/newsweek/

Sept. 11, 2006 issue – A few years ago, when Milton Minoru Takahashi first set out to improve conditions for Brazilian guest workers living in Nagoya, he thought he’d be telling Japanese about soccer, samba and Brazilian beaches. They were the sales hooks the Brazilian-Japanese Takahashi—who works for a nonprofit foundation that aids the 60,000 foreigners in Nagoya—thought could open locals’ eyes to the beauties of Brazilian culture. But, he says, “the Japanese didn’t want to hear about those things. They wanted to talk about noise and garbage”—problems allegedly caused by the Brazilian immigrants in their neighborhoods.

Takahashi now spends most of his time on more mundane tasks, trying to help his fellow Brazilians overcome the bewildering array of barriers to integration into Japanese society. But he still wonders why the Japanese government is largely indifferent to the problems facing foreigners. What would he like to see from Tokyo? “Action,” says Takahashi. Something, anything, to acknowledge that there are immigrants in the country—and that they require recognition and support.

Takahashi’s frustration underscores a critical disconnect in Japan—a split between what the country is becoming and what most Japanese want it to be. For mostly economic reasons, Japan must open itself to other ethnicities. Japan’s population is not only aging rapidly, but starting to decline. By the year 2050, it is expected to fall from 128 million now to around 105 million. To keep the economy viable, experts say, the country must let in more immigrants—not just guest workers, but foreign-born naturalized citizens. A government panel acknowledged that in a report this summer, while at the same time recommending that the foreign percentage of the total population not exceed 3 percent, roughly double what it is now.

Consciously or not, ordinary citizens and government bureaucrats still cling to the notion that Japanese society is a unique, homogeneous culture. There is a conspicuous lack of public debate about how this insular country should adjust to the reality that more immigrants are coming—and that those already here are changing Japan. “The government has no [comprehensive] immigration policy,” says Marutei Tsurunen. Rather, the approach is piecemeal, with different agencies issuing often contradictory regulations. Tsurenen should know. He’s a former Finn turned Japanese citizen and the only naturalized member of the national Parliament, or Diet.

Travel around Japan today, and one sees foreign residents holding a wide range of jobs: there are Chinese short-order cooks, Indian software programmers, Bangladeshi used-car dealers, Brazilian textile-factory workers, Sri Lankan department-store cashiers. The overwhelming majority of the approximately 15,000 ex-foreigners who now hold Japanese citizenship are Chinese and Koreans—but increasingly one can also meet people like Kaoru Miki (formerly Colin Restall, born in the United Kingdom). “Generally people don’t expect someone who looks like me to be a citizen,” says Miki, 33, who makes his living translating software into English. He was naturalized this spring.

The number of foreigners in Japan has more than doubled over the past 15 years—rising from 886,000 in 1990 to over 2 million today. That amounts to 1.57 percent of the overall population—still small even by Western European standards (not to mention the United States or Canada). But that figure tells only part of the story. The rise in the foreign population is taking place against the background of Japan’s demographic decline; as the population ages, native-born Japanese constitute a diminishing share of the work force. Meanwhile the number of marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese has been rising sharply. So-called international marriages made up 5.5 percent of the total in 2004 (the last year for which data are available).

The numbers also reveal a growing trend toward what one might call “genuine immigration.” For many decades, the bulk of foreigners in Japan were ethnic Koreans, the vast majority of them born in the country but not automatically entitled to citizenship. In recent years, as their members have either died out or increasingly opted for naturalization, their share of the total number of foreigners has been declining. Meanwhile, so-called permanent residents—foreign-born people who have chosen to live in Japan for the long term—are steadily growing. “It shows that immigrants, not generational foreigners, are now becoming the more common permanent residents in Japan, meaning they’re not going to leave,” says human-rights activist Debito Arudou, a former American turned Japanese citizen. “I used to say half of the foreigners in Japan were born here. Now it’s more like a quarter.”

And the fundamental consequence, says Arudou, is clear: “We’re going to see people who don’t look Japanese being Japanese. That’s undeniable.” Essentially, any foreigner who has lived in Japan for five years, can prove he or she is in good financial health and has no criminal record can petition the Justice Ministry to become a citizen. In reality, the naturalization process is more complicated, and can take about 1 to 2 years to complete.

Many Japanese officials seem inclined to address the immigration issue as if it were merely a matter of good public relations with the outside world—let’s be polite to foreigners. In fact, though, immigration is often driven by hardheaded economic realities. Thanks to Japan’s resurgent economy and shrinking population, many industries are suffering from labor shortages, and immigrants are already sustaining sectors where native-born Japanese simply aren’t able or willing to pick up the slack. That’s the case in towns like Hamamatsu, where the local car and motorcycle industries have been buoyed by an influx of foreign labor, and in Ota City, where a Subaru factory and its parts suppliers are located.

Or take Homigaoka, a suburb of Toyota City, where ethnic Japanese from Brazil make up 5,000 of the 9,000 people living in a vast public-housing development. The Brazilians came to Japan thanks to a 15-year-old law designed to alleviate labor shortages in certain sectors of the economy. These days the Aichi prefecture firms that supply parts to Toyota and other local manufacturers are heavily dependent on the cheap labor provided by Brazilians (many of them now permanent residents who are entitled to stay in the country indefinitely). The magazine Weekly Diamond neatly summed up the situation in a headline recently: WITHOUT FOREIGNERS TOYOTA’S JUST-IN-TIME SYSTEM WOULDN’T WORK. Says Hidenori Sakanaka, a former director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau: “This labor force is contributing to Japan’s ability to make good and cheap cars.”

The problem, though, is that these immigrants may not prove so cheap in the long run. Many of the immigrants in Homigaoka are part-time workers who lack the basic health insurance or social security usually enjoyed by full-time employees. A loophole in the law means that their employers can get away without making any contributions on their behalf. Many of them have only limited Japanese-language skills. And there’s no law that compels them to send their children to Japanese public schools, where they might have the chance to gain the know-how that would give them social mobility. Most foreign children attend schools, but their Japanese language skills tend to be weak, and the government has virtually no provisions for teaching Japanese as a foreign language to students entering the system. As a result, the dropout rate is high. Needless to say, the creation of large groups of unemployable young people is a recipe for social problems in the future.

Or take the burgeoning Indian community in Tokyo’s Edogawa ward. In 1998 the government of then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori passed a law designed to alleviate a catastrophic shortage of software engineers by easing visa restrictions for programmers from India. Jagmohan Chandrani, 52, who has been living in the area since 1978, says 243 Indians were registered in Edogawa in 2000. Today there are 1,014—a fourfold increase.

In “Indiatown,” as it’s already being called, the classic immigrant dynamic is beginning to take hold. Newcomers who’ve established themselves offer support networks to the ones that follow—for example, by acting as guarantors when the new arrivals sign housing leases. The majority of the newcomers are writing code for financial firms in downtown Tokyo, a short subway ride across the river. They have confounded the stereotype of poor, unskilled foreigners held by many Japanese.

Yet members of the community are still desperately seeking a building to house a school for the burgeoning population of children. Tokyo isn’t helping, even though the Indian government in New Delhi provides facilities to the Japanese community there. Technically the Indians can be sent home when their visas (or jobs) run out—although as the growth of the community demonstrates, some will almost certainly find ways to stay on, and bring their relatives with them.

Five years ago a group of communities with large foreign populations sent a set of urgent policy recommendations to the government. They’re still waiting for an answer. And they’re not the only ones who are worried. Japan’s business leaders are at the forefront of calls for a comprehensive immigration policy. Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has predicted that the present work force of 66 million people will decline by 10 million by the year 2030. Before he stepped down earlier this year, the chairman of the Japanese Business Federation, Hiroshi Okuda, made headlines by calling on the country to accept foreign workers “in all business categories.”

Immigration proponents do perpetuate the occasional myth. One common misconception: that immigrants alone can counter the demographic decline. Economists say that just isn’t so. Robert Alan Feldman, an economist at Morgan Stanley, points out that immigrant workers almost always have lower productivity than natives, meaning that vast numbers of foreigners have to be brought in to make up the gap. (The solution, he says, is to find ways to encourage greater productivity from underutilized members of the population, such as women and the elderly.)

And despite the vagaries of life in their new country, most of the foreigners in Japan are living better lives than they would have back home. That’s certainly true of the Brazilians in Homigaoka. Twelve-year-old Editon Arakawa says that he loves living in Japan, even though he can express the thought only in broken Japanese since he dropped out of public school a few years back. “I don’t want to go back to Brazil,” he declares.

He might well get his wish, and manage to stay. But if he does, it’s in Japan’s own interest to respond to the challenge he poses—by making it easier for people who are born in the country to apply for citizenship; by forcing employers to bear some of the costs for social insurance; by making education mandatory for the children of foreigners legally in the country, and by providing resources to ensure that foreign residents learn Japanese. None of those measures may have been all that critical in the Japan of the past. But they’re the only way to the future.

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14640269/site/newsweek/page/2/

ENDS

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

(NB: Those who would like to see some substantiation for my quote, talking about this sea change in Permanent Residency, see my essay on this last January at
https://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html )

A couple of quick corrections to the article, if I may: The figure of 15,000 people cited as the total number ofnaturalized people in Japan is the rough estimate of the YEARLY intake of naturalized citizens. According to the Minister of Justice, around 300,000 foreigners (mostly the Zainichis) took citizenship between 1968 and 2000. Update the number by 15K per year and you’re closing in on 400,000 newly-minted Japanese of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

And former Finn Tsurunen Marutei is not the only naturalized Japanese in the Diet. As friend Chris pointed out, “Renho, formerly of Taiwanese nationality, and Shinkun Park, formerly of Korean nationality, are two other naturalized Dietmembers.”
http://www.renho.jp/
http://www.haku-s.net/index.html

Newsweek has told me they will be issuing corrections in short order.
ENDS

May 27, 2006: Police patrols, Diene, immigration and foreign workers

mytest

Hi All. Arudou Debito here. Updates:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) “POLICE PATROL CONTACT CARD” ASKS FOREIGNERS FOR PERSONAL DETAILS
2) SHUUKAN DIAMONDO ON “IMMIGRATION ARCHIPELAGO JAPAN”
3) ANOTHER TAKE ON THE UN RAPPORTEUR DIENE TRIP
4) THE RIGHT WING START GEARING UP AGAINST DIENE REPORT
5) LETTER TO YOMIURI RE FINGERPRINTING LAW
6) OTARU ONSENS MEDIA TAPE
7) YAMATO DAMACY’S CONCLUDING INTERVIEW
8) and finally… THE COMPLIMENT OF THE YEAR
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
May 27, 2006, freely forwardable

1) “POLICE PATROL CONTACT CARD” ASKS FOREIGNERS FOR PERSONAL DETAILS

I received this information earlier this week from a friend in Tokyo, who said cops patrolling her area came to her door asking for personal information about her and her wherewithal in Japan.

Entitled the “Junkan Renraku Caado” and issued by the police forces, this A4-sized paper reads, in English (as this form is clearly designed for English-reading foreigners):

———————————————
“This police officer is assigned to work in your area. His duties require him to establish rapport and maintain positive contact with community residents of his beat. As such he will occasionally call at your place of residence. These visits have a long history in the Japanese community and is [sic] not meant to be intrusive in nature. The activity is intended to provide the public with the best crime prevention and traffic awareness services the police can offer. We would also like to hear your difficulties, complaints, and opinions on community affairs, thereby helping us to serve our community better. On his first visit, the patrolman will be asking you to fill out this form. Information provided by you will be mainly used for communication purposes, should you suffer from crime, disaster, or traffic accident. Necessary precaution [sic] will be taken to maintain your privacy. Information provided by you will not be affected [sic] nor disclosed to third parties. We request your assistance in this matter. Thank you for your understanding.”
———————————————
See a scanned copy of it here
https://www.debito.org/junkairenrakucard.jpg

Above this section are boxes in Japanese only asking for “Head of Household” (setai nushi) and patrolman details.

Below it are boxes in English and Japanese for filling out Home Address (in Japan) with phone number, Nationality, and Period of Stay. There are several rows for FAMILY MAKE-UP, with Name in Full, Relationship, Sex, Occupation/School, Alien Registration Certificate Number.

The bottom half has:
a) POINTS OF EMERGENCY CONTACT (Name and address of Householder’s business, Name and address of Householder’s School, Name and address of close friend or next of kin)

b) TENANTS OTHER THAN FAMILY (with the same information required as the above FAMILY MAKE-UP SECTION

c) VEHICLE REGISTRATION NUMBER

Then finally,
d) COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS/REQUESTS TO THE POLICE.

Okay, here are some things I would write in this section:
———————————————
1) Why are you asking me for this information?
2) What bearing does this information have on the stated goals of public prevention of crime, disaster relief, and traffic awareness?
3) Is filling out this form optional?
4) Do you gather all of this information from Japanese residents too?
5) If foreigners were allowed to have juuminhyou residency certificates, like all other residents of Japan who happen to be citizens, would you police need to come around to my house and collect it yourself?
https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#juuminhyou
———————————————

Actually, in the time period spanning twenty years I have had contact with the Japanese police, I never once have had them come to my door and ask for anything like this. Yet I have heard so far that this has happened to two foreigners residing in Tokyo Nakano-ku and Shinjuku-ku. Anyone else? Let me know at debito@debito.org.

I will pass this on to one of my lawyers and ask whether or not filling this out is mandatory. Given that answering the Japan Census Bureau is completely optional, I have a feeling that filling this out would be optional too, at least for Japanese. (Ask your cop directly yourself: “Kore o ki’nyuu suru no wa nin’i desu ka?”)

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

2) SHUUKAN DIAMONDO ON “IMMIGRATION ARCHIPELAGO JAPAN”

Since a major overseas magazine will soon be doing a large article on foreign labor in Japan, I finally sat down and webbed something I keep referring to in my Japanese writings on immigration and foreign labor in Japan: Fifteen pages of a special report in Shuukan Diamondo (Weekly Diamond) economics magazine, concerning the importance of Immigration to Japan, which ran on June 5, 2004. All scanned and now available at:
https://www.debito.org/shuukandiamondo060504.html

Highlights:

Cover: “Even with the Toyota Production style, it won’t work without foreigners. By 2050, Japan will need more than 33,500,000 immigrants!! Toyota’s castle town overflowing with Nikkei Brazilians. An explosion of Chinese women, working 22 hour days–the dark side of foreign labor”

Page 32: “If SARS [pneumonia] spreads, factories ‘dependent on Chinese’ in Shikoku will close down”.

Page 40-41: Keidanren leader Okuda Hiroshi offers “five policies”: 1) Create a “Foreigners Agency” (gaikokujin-chou), 2) Create bilateral agreements to receive “simple laborers” (tanjun roudousha), 3) Strengthen Immigration and reform labor oversight, 4) Create policy for public safety, and environments for foreigner lifestyles (gaikokujin no seikatsu kankyou seibi), 5) Create a “Green Card” system for Japan to encourage brain drains from overseas.

Remember that powerful business league Keidanren was the one lobbying in the late 80’s and early 90’s for cheap foreign workers (particularly Nikkei Brazilians) to come in on Trainee Visas, working for less than half wages and no social benefits, to save Japanese industry from “hollowing out”.

Now that Keidanren boss Okuda has stepped down in favor of Mitarai Fujio (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20060525a3.html), it’s time to see what Keidanren’s new tack on foreign labor, if any, will be. At 7:50 AM yesterday morning, NHK interviewed Mitarai, and made much of his 23 years living overseas with foreigners (and his comments were, sigh, directed towards “understanding foreign culture and traditions”; when will we outgrow that hackneyed and sloppy analytical paradigm?). The interview made no mention of foreigners within Japan, however. Do I hear the sound of hands washing?

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

3) ANOTHER TAKE ON THE UN RAPPORTEUR DIENE TRIP

Last update, I gave a synopsis of Doudou Diene’s trip last week to Tokyo, Osaka, and Okinawa, sponsored by IMADR (available at https://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html#May2006. I received a response from Trevor Bekolay, student at Kokugakuin University and University of Manitoba, who was at a meeting with Diene which I could not attend. Forwarding with permission:

——————————————————
Just to add to your email about meeting with UN Special Rapporteur
Diene, I as well had the opportunity to meet him at the public meeting
on May 13th at IMADR’s building. The meeting consisted of but 20
people [due to the short notice of the schedule]. Most of the points
that he made you already included in your email…

The three-hour meeting included statements from IMADR, the NGO
representative, Dr. Diene himself, then about half of the time was
allotted to questions from those who attended. Here are the notes I
made on what I heard:

“Dr. Diene received a fair amount of negative media coverage after the
initial UN report due to the possibility of omissions which are
believed to be added to Diene’s report. IMADR attempted to address
these problems in their open letter to Dr. Diene, but the purpose of
the meeting really, was for Diene to receive feedback on the report,
especially of issues that were omitted in the original report. He
stressed that one does not have to be in a group, any individual can
inform the Special Rapporteur of individual cases of racism and
discrimination which will immediately be acted upon. Basically, the
UN is starting to police Japan’s government more closely, to determine
if they should remain in Human Rights groups in the UN.

[Inform the Special Rapporteur via sr-racism@ohchr.org
(Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)]

“The report’s goal is to be the first step in starting social change,
not just a report on the current situation. The responsibility of
activist groups like IMADR is to inform Diene of new developments.
Give as much information as possible so he can give a good report to
the UN. Consider how the report can be used as part of the fight
against racism in Japan.

“Question Period: Mainly specific issues, such as pension issues for
disabled Zainichi Koreans. However, a representative for the Civil
Liberties Union seemed to be there to defend the Japanese right to be
racist. He mentioned the issue of freedom of expression vs. racial
discrimination. He claimed that freedom of expression isn’t well
protected in Japan, so only public servants are punished for making
racist remarks in public forums. He gave two examples of problems
with freedom of expression: one in which public servants who were
distributing political leaflets were arrested, and one in which
environmentalists were arrested by SD forces while distributing
political leaflets.”…
——————————————————

Well and good. Especially since the conservatives are now feeling threatened by Diene enough to start organizing and publishing: Witness this:

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

4) THE RIGHT WING START GEARING UP AGAINST DIENE REPORT

A friend who studies conservative politics in Japan called me up just before dinner tonight, to inform me of the “emergency publication” of a new book by “right-wing nutjobs” decrying the spread of human rights in Japan.

Entitled, “Abunai! Jinken Yougo Houan, Semari Kuru Senshinkoku kei Zentai Shugi no Kyoufu”
(“Warning! The Human Rights Protection Bill: The Imminent Terror of the Totalitarianism of the Developed Countries”, or somesuch), it was just published April 27 and is visible at:
http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/4886562825/249-5993086-5621147?v=glance&n=465392

Complete, my friend notes, with manga (what else?) lots of Chinese living in an apartment on top of each other in violation of housing contract, being found out by the landlord, and taking action against him “to defend their own human rights”. Or of a “gaijin” picking a fight with a Japanese in a bar, getting turfed out, then taking action against the bar for “violating his human rights”. Hoo boy.

It zeroes in on the Diene report in specific. Not quite sure how (as I haven’t gotten a copy of the book yet), but will let you know. I ordered two copies today and will send one to Diene at the UN for his perusal.

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

5) LETTER TO YOMIURI RE FINGERPRINTING LAW

Last week I forwarded you an article from the Yomiuri entitled:
New ID card system eyed for foreigners
The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 14, 2006, still up temporarily at:
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20060514TDY01001.htm

Well, here’s a letter I sent to the Yomiuri shortly afterwards:

—————————————-
Sir, Your article, “New ID card system eyed for foreigners” (May. 14, 2006), makes an unfortunate omission and even an error.

In its haste to portray the change in the Alien Registration system as little more than a centralization and rationalization of power, your article neglects to mention the new “Gaijin Cards” will have imbedded IC computer chips.

These chips will be used, according to government proposals, to track even legal foreigners in Japan through swiping stations nationwide. [*1] This is an unomissible change.

Your article errs when it reports, “an increasing number of foreigners do not register themselves at municipalities after gaining admission at the bureau or fail to report an extension of their stay”. In fact, according to Immigration, the number of illegal foreigners has gone down every year uninterrupted since 1993. [*2] Even the figure cited within the article, “at least about 190,000 illegal aliens as of January”, is still lower than the 2003 figure of 220,000 overstays.

In this era of exaggeration of foreign crime, please endeavor to provide us with accurate reportage.
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan

—————————-

[Note 1 for editors: Source, Japan Times, “Computer-chip card proposals for foreigners have big potential for abuse”, November 22, 2005.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?appURL=fl20051122zg.html ]

[Note 2 for editors: Source: https://www.debito.org/crimestats.html , very bottom for an orange bar chart indicating the number of illegal aliens in Japan (courtesy of Immigration)]
—————————————-

Well, AFAIK it didn’t get published. Ah well. To be expected.

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

6) OTARU ONSENS MEDIA TAPE

For the Diene visit, I put together a tape of media (TV shows and news broadcasts) concerning the Ana Bortz Case, the Otaru Onsens Case, and NHK’s portrayal of foreign crime. (Synopsis of the tape’s contents at https://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html#video ).

If you would like a copy sent to you (for a nominal fee of, say, 1000 yen to cover tape, postage and handling, see https://www.debito.org/donations.html), please be in touch with me at debito@debito.org. Quite a few teachers are using this as classroom educational material on the subject of human rights. Be happy to help.

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

7) YAMATO DAMACY’S CONCLUDING INTERVIEW

What is shaping up to be the last and best bilingual interview of the bunch just came out yesterday on Yamato Damacy.
http://yamato.revecess.com/?lang=en&episode=23
Touching upon survival strategies in Japan, the future, and a special appearance of Tama-chan–probably the most successful issue we ever took up on The Community!

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8) and finally… THE COMPLIMENT OF THE YEAR

When I was having dinner with M. Diene on May 17 in Osaka, in attendance was a former vice-rector of a major Japanese university who paid me a wonderful compliment:

“I am in fact a quarter French. When I was younger, I really disliked the three-quarters of the Japanese side of myself that ridiculed my foreign background. But now no longer ashamed of my French roots. I’m even proud to be a Japanese. Because we have Japanese now like Arudou Debito who say the things I could never say.”

That was a tearjerker. Here I am just doing my thing, and it somehow helped an elderly gentleman overcome longstanding hurts he’d had for decades…

Arudou Debito
Sapporo
debito@debito.org
www.debito.org
UPDATE DATED MAY 27, 2006 ENDS

Jul 2, 2006: Immig feedback, MOFA, Kimigayo, El Barco

mytest

//////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON IMMIGRATION.
GIVE YOUR FEEDBACK
2) MOFA HAS NEW HEARING ON FOREIGNERS’ RIGHTS JULY 28
3) “NO DANCING LICENCE”: POLICE RAID HIROSHIMA FOREIGNER PUB EL BARCO
4) ASAHI: WITCH HUNT FOR PARENTS WHO REFUSE TO SING “KIMIGAYO”
5) LINKS TO HANDOUTS FROM RECENT SPEECHES
6) JAPAN TIMES JUNE 27 ON UN REP DIENE VISIT AND AFTEREFFECTS
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
July 2, 2006 Freely forwardable

1) DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON IMMIGRATION
GIVE YOUR FEEDBACK

I reported on June 6 about Kouno Taro, Dietmember and Senior Vice Minister for the Ministry of Justice, and his suggestion to cap foreigners at 3 percent of the population. Backlogged at:
https://www.debito.org/?p=10

Well, there’s a full report available online, at
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51.html
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51-1.pdf

As a friend reported:
—————————–
The Ministry of Justice is currently seeking public comment on a proposal to revise Japan’s immigration laws. Among the ideas are

1. Cap foreigners at 3%.

2. Continue to monitor foreigners even after they are permanent residents, requiring continuing reports on their activities, employment, etc.

3. Intervene to change the mix of nationalities among resident foreigners, presumably by denying visas to some nationalities with large numbers in Japan.
—————————–

There’s more. You can send your thoughts about it directly to MOJ Immigration Bureau by July 15 by snailmail, email, or fax:

Address: 100-8977 Houmushou Nyuukoku kanrikyoku Kanri Kikaku Kanshitsu
Fax: 03-3592-7940
Email: nyukan42@moj.go.jp
Questions to 03-3580-4111 ext 5685
It’s all up at http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51.html in Japanese.
Or you can contact Kouno Taro directly (he reads English) at http://www.taro.org

As I wrote before, my feelings about these sorts of immigration caps is that they are largely unworkable, as history has shown repeatedly, in variable migration policies in the US, Australia, Canada, etc. Examples of distortion in the labor markets, not to mention the often awful eugenics treatment of immigrants both present and potential, should send up a few flags. Moreover, not only are we going to have to police the birthrates of those foreigners already here (to somehow keep the total under 3%), but I also wonder how Toyota, Suzuki, Yamaha, Nissan, et al would feel about this proposed labor force cap. Close to two decades of “Foreign Trainee” workers, working for less than half wages, no social benefits, and no job security, are what’s keeping Japan’s labor costs down, stopping many of Japan’s major industries from relocating overseas. How about Toyota? In its national-pride push to finally overtake GM as the word’s leading automaker, it’ll need even more cheap labor for the foreseeable future. More on all that at
https://www.debito.org/shuukandiamondo060504.html

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

2) MOFA HAS NEW HEARING ON FOREIGNERS’ RIGHTS JULY 28

In an apparent follow-up to its hastily-patched-together hearing of NGOs and human-rights groups on March 7, 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be holding another hearing between 3 and 5 PM in the Tokyo MOFA building on Friday, July 28. It’s open to the public, but you have to apply in advance, and it’s best if you have something to say (and optimal if you send MOFA a statement in advance). Deadline for application is 5PM July 13. Particulars follow:

Address: 100-8919 Gaimushou Daijin Kanbou Kokusai Shakai Kyouryokubu Jinken Jindou Ka
(Jinshu Sabetsu Teppai Jouyaku Iken Koukan Tantou), Subject: Iken/Youbo Soufu)
Email: cerd2@mofa.go.jp (put Iken/Youbo Soufu in the Subject line)
Questions to 03-3580-3311, but they don’t accept applications by phone.
It’s all up at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/jinshu.html in Japanese.

I’ll also put in an application to be there.

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

3) “NO DANCING LICENCE”: POLICE RAID HIROSHIMA FOREIGNER PUB EL BARCO

Courtesy of Matt at The Community, the following appeared on the Get Hiroshima website:

===========================
El Barco raided by 50 officers, Proprietors arrested
http://www.gethiroshima.com/en/gethiroshima/Hype/2006/05/18/barcoraid

El Barco Ltd directors Richard And Hideko Nishiyama were arrested in a raid on the El Barco nightclub in the early hours of Sunday, May 14 for a permit violation under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act (Fuuzoku eigyou no kisei oyobi gyoumu no tekiseika tou ni kansuru houritsu). The raid, taking place on the club’s busiest night of the week, involved over 50 police officers, immigration officials and riot police.

Richard Nishiyama’s wife, Kiyomi, has posted an explanation of the situation and a plea for support on the company website. Her original Japanese post can be seen here and I have published a rough translation of the whole piece on the GetHiroshima Blog here. Here is an excerpt explaining the situation:

—————————–
The directors have been arrested for making/having customers dance without a night entertainment permit. There is in fact only one establishment in Hiroshima that actually holds all the licenses technically required under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act. Obtaining such a permit however places limits on the hours that a business can stay open. El Barco is registered as a late night business (mayonaka eigyou), however, that does not permit dancing. It is not possible to obtain both permits, meaning that under current Japanese law it is legally impossible to run an establishment where you can drink and dance late into the night. It thus follows that this is matter of concern for all late night dance clubs across Japan. We also have reservations about the manner in which the arrests were carried out, with over 50 police officers, immigration officials and riot police raiding El Barco late Saturday night to arrest only two people for a permit violation…
(continues at above website link)
—————————–
===========================

This might be defended as a routine raid by Immigration, but what happened next to Richard is more grist for a case of how the Japanese police target foreigners, and abuse their powers of interrogation:

===========================
El Barco co-owner speaks after being released from custody
http://www.gethiroshima.com/en/gethiroshima/Hype/2006/06/06/barcostatement

GetHiroshima spoke with proprietor Richard Nishiyama a couple of days after he was released from 10 days in custody at a holding center in Higashi-hiroshima. Anyone who knows the Peruvian-born Richard will know he is friendly, tolerant and non-confrontational… Taken into custody in the early hours of the morning, he was continually questioned and “asked” repeatedly to sign a prepared statement until three in the afternoon. Interrogation continued for several more days, but he remained composed, refusing to be provoked by insinuations made about his sister, who was also in custody, or threats against his family….
(continues at above website link).
===========================

More on the pub at
http://www.gethiroshima.com/en/Places/Nightlife/Bar/details?placeid=50345
Go there and offer Richard some moral support, if not some business. Just be careful not to dance.

Speaking of purposeful enforcement of “laws”:

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

4) ASAHI: WITCH HUNT FOR PARENTS WHO REFUSE TO SING “KIMIGAYO”

The Hinomaru and the “Kimigayo” were restablished as the national flag and anthem respectively during the Obuchi Administration in 1999. Fears of enforced patriotism (grading students on “love of country” in grade schools in Kyushu, for example) are steadily coming true.

Forwarding an article from the Asahi with comments from friend EH, who depicts a recent witchhunt in Toda, Saitama, as part of an emerging swing towards the right in Japan. The patriotism is no longer just being enforced upon the students. It is also being forced upon adult guests and parents.

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

“The city education board here is hunting down guests who did not stand up and sing.” The hunt is on. In fact, after Japan plays Brazil in the World Cup, I bet government officials will hunt down those who failed to stand and cheer loudly enough for the national side. You heard it here first. Seriously though, this news from Saitama is yet another horrible development:

—————————–
Board seeks guests who sat during ‘Kimigayo’
06/21/2006

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200606210153.html

TODA, Saitama Prefecture–The city education board here is hunting down guests who did not stand up and sing the “Kimigayo” anthem during spring graduation and enrollment ceremonies at public schools.

The board will question school staff members if they remember any of those guests at the 12 city-run elementary schools and six public junior high schools, the officials said.

The “investigation” will cover PTA officials, public welfare workers and city assembly members, but not the parents and guardians of the students, the officials said. The board will also ask principals of the 18 schools
about the results.

At a Toda assembly meeting on June 13, Ryoichi Ito, the head of the education board, was informed that some guests did not stand up and sing the anthem at the ceremonies.

“It makes me seethe with anger,” Ito replied. “It disrupts the order of ceremony. If it is true, then we must know (who did not stand).”

The education board has asked guests to stand up and sing “Kimigayo” since the education ministry’s curriculum guidelines made it practically mandatory to sing the anthem and hoist the Hinomaru rising-sun flag during school ceremonies.

But many view the song and the anthem as symbols of Japanese militarism in World War II. Some teachers, particularly in Tokyo, have refused to stand or sing “Kimigayo” during ceremonies, leading to reprimands and other punishments.

Some Toda assembly members have protested the investigation, saying that it infringes upon people’s freedom of thought.
(IHT/Asahi: June 21,2006)

(original article in Japanese at
http://www.asahi.com/edu/news/TKY200606200237.html )
—————————–

COMMENTS FROM EH:

1. The investigating officials say they aren’t hunting students’ parents. Like Koizumi’s assurance that nobody is being coerced, that claim is doublespeak.

2. The investigating officials say they are targeting the PTA, which of course by definition features students’ parents.

3. The investigating officials turn employees into informers–against anyone who is undemonstrative, lazy, uncooperative, un-genki, or dissenting; or indeed against anyone they care to finger. This is the worst part.
===========================

ONE MORE COMMENT: To cite friend Jens W., we always find mysterious how they will grade “patriotism” in the increasing number of children in Japan with foreign citizenships or international roots. Will they force children to choose which country to love more? Also, don’t people know that any type of “love”, including “love of country”, is something earned, not commanded? Anyone who’s experienced a relationship will know that. Perhaps this says something about the family backgrounds of the party kingpins who create such heartless policy…

Anyhoo, no follow-up article can I find in the Asahi on this. Eyes peeled. Still, the fact that the Asahi is making a big deal about this is good news (as long as they don’t drop the thread…).
Related articles at
http://makeashorterlink.com/?G35523B5D

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

5) LINKS TO HANDOUTS FROM RECENT SPEECHES

1) June 24, 2006: “The Need for a Racial Discrimination Law”, part of Workshop 5: “Basic Human Rights for Foreigners and Policy for the Prohibiting of Racial Discrimination”, with human rights lawyer Niwa Masao and Gaikiren Catholic NGO coordinator Satou Nobuyuki. Sponsored by Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan (Ijuuren, www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net), Sixth Annual Forum in Sapporo.

Powerpoint presentation (Japanese) at
https://www.debito.org/nazesabetsuteppaihou.ppt

2) June 25, 2006: “Working at University: Securing Our Future”. Forum with Louis Carlet of the National Union of General Workers (www.nugw.org), and Bob Tench of NOVA Union, June 25, 2006, 1PM-5PM, Tokyo Shigoto Center, Iidabashi, Tokyo. Sponsored by University Teachers Union (UTU, www.utu-japan.org).

Handout available in Word format at
https://www.debito.org/UTUSpeechHandout62506.doc

All presentations and publications available at
https://www.debito.org/publications.html

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

6) JAPAN TIMES JUNE 27 ON DOUDOU DIENE VISIT AND AFTEREFFECTS

My most recent article for the Japan Times Community page (excerpt):

===========================
In July 2005, Doudou Diene, a special representative of the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights, came to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese government.

He visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hokkaido to see if Japan, an aspirant for a U.N. Security Council seat, was keeping its treaty promises regarding racial discrimination.

His trip caused quite a reaction. Although the regular domestic press largely ignored his reports, they inspired a vivid debate in the new media. This column will chart the arc of the issues, and demonstrate a potential sea change in how the U.N. holds countries accountable for human rights…
===========================

This newsletter is long enough already, so let me send the link to the website, which has the full text with links to substantiation for claims made in the article:
https://www.debito.org/japantimes062706.html

I’ll send the whole article to select lists in a few days.

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

All for now. Will be trying to finish a rough draft of our book over the next couple of weeks, so I’ll be going quiet for a little while. Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
www.debito.org
July 2, 2006 NEWSLETTER ENDS

SUCCESS STORIES: Article on Divorce in Japan

mytest

Hi All. Arudou Debito here. What follows is a version of an essay recently published by executive newsletter Success Stories (http://www.successstories.com), and is written with that audience in mind.

Excerpted and adapted from our upcoming book, “Guidebook for Newcomers: Setting Down Roots in Japan” (working title), to be published in early 2007. I’d like to say “enjoy” as usual, but it’s not that kind of topic. Be advised, however, that the information within is very important to those hoping to stay and and create firmer roots in Japan. Because if a marriage with a Japanese goes sour, the system is not designed to protect both parents, and you as a foreigner could really lose big. FYI. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

DIVORCE IN JAPAN
WHAT A MESS
By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, https://www.debito.org
(All substantiation for claims made within can be found in the Referential Links section at the very bottom.)

For many readers of Success Stories, understanding the demographics of the Japanese market is essential to your business. This essay will deal with one fundamental facet, which affects consumer preferences, disposable income, and the stability of the oldest business proposition in existence: Marriage and the Family Unit.

Given the strong image of “docile Japanese wives” and “Japan’s selfless corporate workers”, many readers might be envisioning Japan as a homogeneous land of stable families and low divorce rates. But let’s look at the figures:

According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, there have been fewer marriages between Japanese in recent years: weddings steadily dropped from 764,161 in 1995 to 680,906 in 2004, an 11% decrease.

In the same time period, international marriages, where one partner is Japanese, have jumped from 27,727 to 39,551 couples, or a 43% increase. (And let’s answer the inevitable question of “Who’s marrying whom?” Perhaps counterintuitively (but not so when you consider how many farmers import brides), overwhelmingly more Japanese men marry foreigners than the other way around–at a ratio of nearly eight to two, and growing!)

However, perhaps because people prefer to leave the altar with smiles and hope for happy endings, less attention is paid to divorce figures. Between 1995 and 2004, broken unions in Japan also increased nearly without pause: from 199,016 to 270,804 divorces, a 36% increase. Of those, however, divorces between Japanese have plateaued, even decreased, in recent years. International divorces, however, have increased steadily, nearly doubling within the same time period (for Japanese men-Foreign women: from 6,153 to 12,071 divorces; for Japanese women-Foreign men: from 1,839 to 3,228 divorces).

This essay chooses not to speculate on the possible “cultural” or “sociological” reasons behind these numbers (since it is difficult to even accurately calculate a “divorce rate”). Suffice it to say that marriage in any society to anyone is risky.

However, marriage within the Japanese system is especially risky, because if it goes sour, people regardless of nationality can lose big. Enforcement of laws connected to alimony, child support, visitation rights, court orders, and custody in Japan is very weak. If you marry a Japanese, have children, and then get a divorce, you–and especially you as a foreign parent–could lose custody and all access to them. This may affect not only your bottom lines, but also your future personal plans in Japan.

————————————–
PARTING IS SUCH BITTER SORROW

Divorce in Japan, like marriage, is easy if both parties agree to it. All you have to do is head for the Ward Office and fill out a Divorce Form (rikon todoke–essentially the opposite procedure for getting married using a kekkon todoke). Spouses put their inkan stamp on the todoke (signatures are not valid), and file it with the Ward Office. That is all. They are divorced. This is called kyougi rikon, or “divorce by mutual consent”, which happens, estimates a lawyer friend who specializes in these cases, in about 80% of divorces. Assets, possessions, or property are divided up either informally or through the legal community, and you make a clean sweep of it and get on with your lives.

However, if both parties do not agree to divorce, things can get very messy. According to Japan Civil Code Article 770, there are five grounds for unilateral divorce:

1) infidelity
2) malicious desertion (which for foreign spouses can include being deported)
3) uncertainty whether or not the spouse is dead or alive for three years or more,
4) serious mental disease without hope of recovery, or
5) a “grave reason” which makes continuing the marriage impossible.

What is considered a “grave reason” is unclear, and at the discretion of a judge if things go to court. One reason can be the wife refusing the husband sexual relations for a long period of time (a reason only men can claim). Another can be the husband refusing the family unit his financial support (which only women can claim). However, the simple fact that you do not like each other anymore, i.e. a matter of “irreconcilable differences”, is not, according to lawyer Mizunuma Isao of IGM Law Offices, Sapporo, considered to be sufficient grounds.

Here things begin to pinch. If one side refuses to agree to the divorce, you will have to negotiate until you do, which can take many years. You can legally separate, but this is not a divorce, and you cannot remarry. Moreover, if there is a secret relationship behind the breakup, a spouse in Japan can sue your new partner for damages, demanding both you and your partner pay consolation for wrecking the marriage!

If you after talking things out you still cannot agree to divorce, you go to Family Court. The first step is called choutei (mediation), where you sit down with three representatives, i.e. two “upstanding members of the community” (who are generally not certified counselors) and one representative of the court. This mediation system is designed to give disputing couples a forum for their grievances without snarling up the courts. However, the role of the choutei is not to find fault on either side, rather to help both sides reach an agreement–i.e. reconcile or divorce. Meetings take place around every month or two, generally in separate rooms for a few hours, and can continue for years.

————————————–
TELL IT TO THE JUDGE

If the couple cannot reach an agreement even after court mediation (which is estimated to happen in around 5% of all divorce cases), then the next step is a lawsuit in Family Court. There, a judge will only rule that a contested divorce is legitimate if you can prove that the marriage has completely “collapsed” (hatan).

This is one of the reasons why divorces in Japan get messy. Since judges hardly ever grant divorces to the person who did wrong, you must show that your partner was at fault. In other words, you cannot separate amicably–you have to dredge something up. This does not create a constructive atmosphere; it can cause even more feelings of ill-will and a future desire for revenge. Also, since laws governing perjury in Japan are at best weakly enforced in civil cases, your spouse may make some exaggerated claims about your past in court with impunity. If it goes to court, it will get very nasty.

After all that, if the judge does not rule the marriage has actually “collapsed”, all you can do is wait. Sometimes former couples still reside together yet live divorced lives (katei nai bekkyo) of no contact. Separations of at least five years (ten to twenty years are not extraordinary in Japan) are necessary before a contested divorce may be granted by a court. Meanwhile, if there are children who need feeding, child support will be assessed by looking at a fee schedule created by the Bar Association, which measures both parents’ income and determines an appropriate monthly sum.

————————————–
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

Divorce proceedings and the aftermath are tough on the kids in any society, but Japan further complicates things through legal negligence. During separation, divorce court, and onwards, the parent who does not have custody may have problems meeting the children for more than a few hours a month, if at all. Visitation rights are not granted before the divorce is complete, but even then, Japan has no legal mechanism to enforce visitation rights or other court-negotiated settlements afterwards.

Also, enforcement mechanisms for the payment of alimony or child support have loopholes. For example, if your spouse owes you money but refuses to pay, you must know the home address, the workplace, and bank account details of your spouse in order to seek redress. However, if your spouse changes any of these things and happens not to notify you, you will have to track down those details yourself, which often requires hiring your own private detective. The police or government officials will not get involved.

————————————–
MULTINATIONAL MARRIAGES COME OFF WORST

What makes this situation especially difficult for international, and especially intercontinental, divorces is that foreign partners have extreme difficulty being granted custody of children in Japan. In a March 31, 2006 interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, lawyer Jeremy D. Morely, of the International Family Law Office in New York, stated:

—————————————-
“Children are not returned from Japan, period, and it is a situation that happens a lot with children of international marriages with kids who are over in Japan. They do not get returned. Usually, the parent who has kept a child is Japanese, and under the Japanese legal system they have a family registration system whereby every Japanese family has their own registration with a local ward office. And the name of registration system is the koseki system. So every Japanese person has their koseki, and a child is listed on the appropriate koseki. Once a child is listed on the family register, the child belongs to that family. Foreigners don’t have a family register and so there is no way for them to actually have a child registered as belonging to them in Japan. There is an international treaty called the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, and Japan is the only G7 country that is not a party to the Hague Convention.”[1]
—————————————-

This means that if things go intercontinentally ballistic (say, a Japanese spouse abducts a foreigner’s children back to Japan), the foreigner will lose all contact with them, according to the Children’s Rights Network.

Even if the foreigner tries to go through proper domestic channels, he loses. One clear example is the Murray Wood Case. Wood, a resident of Canada, was awarded custody of his children in 2004 by Canadian courts. Yet when his children were abducted to Japan by ex-wife Ayako Wood, he found himself powerless to enforce the court order. Not only were the Canadian Government’s demands to extradite Ayako ignored by the Japanese government, but also Japan’s Saitama District and High Courts awarded custody to her, essentially declaring that “uprooting the children from the current stable household is not in the child’s best interest”. What then? If the foreigner takes the law into his own hands and abducts them back, he will be arrested for kidnapping by the Japanese police, as was witnessed in a recent case handled by the American Embassy. Consequently, Japan has become a safe haven for international child abductions.

————————————–
CONCLUSION

The author does not wish to give the impression that divorce is any more likely if the spouse is a Japanese. “Any marriage,” my lawyer sources dryly indicate, “is a gamble.” However, what raises the stakes of the transaction is the fact that Japan has weak-to-nonexistent recourse to prevent potential abuses. According to Colin P.A. Jones J.D., Associate Professor at Doshisha University Law School, the system is geared to support the distaff side of the divorce. The woman, as wife and mother, is given overwhelming priority in divorce cases, as opposed to viewing each divorce on a case-by-case basis (spawning a cottage industry of guidebooks on wringing the most out of your man). Yes, weak-to-nonexistent enforcement of laws and court rulings mean that men in the Japanese system (as compared to, for example, the American) do not stand to lose enormously financially. They will, however, lose their children.

Veterans of broken Japanese marriages very often lead separate lives without any connection to each other or the children for decades. (Prime Minister Koizumi’s nonexistent relationship with his youngest son Yoshinaga is a prime example.) It is a system that encourages “fortress Moms”, “deadbeat Dads”, and “who dares, wins” custody battles. With all this, it is no wonder why marriage is not an option for some people, and why Japanese divorce statistics may in fact be artificially low (although we should see a jump from 2007, due to a reform where wives will be able to claim part of their ex-husbands’ pension).

In this era of modernity and more lifestyle choices, if Japan ever aspires to the ideals of “upholding the sanctity of marriage” and “strengthening the family unit”, it will have to reform this system to make all parties more accountable for relationships gone sour. Keep this information in mind if your business involves this sector of the Japanese market.

[1] Interview, Canadian Broadcasting Company, March 31, 2006, http://www.crnjapan.com/articles/2006/en/20060331-japanambassadorinterview.html

———————————
Referential Links:

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare statistics on marriage and divorce in Japan:
http://www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/jinkou/suii04/

Regarding Issues of Divorce and Child Custody in Japan:
http://www.crnjapan.com/en/issues.html

The Children’s Rights Network Japan
http://www.crnjapan.com

The International Family Law Office (Lawyer Jeremy D. Morely, Esq.):
http://www.international-divorce.com

Regarding PM Koizumi Junichiro’s divorce–the perfect case study of nonaccountability:
http://www.crnjapan.com/pexper/juk/en/

The Murray Wood Case
http://www.crnjapan.com/pexper/wom/en/

About the author of this article:
https://www.debito.org

AUTHOR BIO: ARUDOU Debito, a naturalized Japanese citizen, is an Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University, and a columnist for the Japan Times. His books, ‘JAPANESE ONLY’–The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan (Akashi Shoten Inc., revised 2004 and 2006) are available in English and Japanese. His latest book, “Guidebook for Newcomers: Setting Down Roots in Japan” (working title), is being co-authored with a Japanese lawyer and will be available in early 2007. This essay is an excerpt and adaptation from Chapter 4 of the Guidebook. The author may be reached at www.debito.org and debito@debito.org.

ENDS
June 20, 2006