J-Govt. “We are Tomodachi” Newsletter Vol. 4 , June 2014 offers fascinating insights into PM Abe Admin mindsets

mytest

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Hi Blog. Any good organization wanting public approval (or in this case, approval from its geopolitical “friends”) does outreach. And this very professional online magazine issued yesterday from the Abe Administration, called “We are Tomodachi”, is worth an introduction to Debito.org Readers.  It offers fascinating insights into what the PM Abe Administration is thinking (or trying to convince you it is thinking — something few branches of Japan’s governmental organs do in any convincing detail even for its citizens).

As The Economist (London) recently noted, Abe is “Japan’s most purposeful prime minister for many years“, and many of Abe’s purposes are herein clearly argued in well-proofed English, albeit in all their stiff transparency.

I mean “transparent” in the sense that the aim of the propaganda is pretty obvious. But I also mean “stiff”.  For example, check this picture out:

tomodachisprsum2014

Surely they could have chosen a better picture.  The message one gets is of a very stiff and uncomfortable Abe plonked amidst Japan’s little African brothers (okay, sisters) who have little idea who he is and practically no enthusiasm for him being there.

Yet this is the cover photo of the magazine!

Moving on, here’s the email promo I got last night:

////////////////////////////////////////
From: We are ‘Tomodachi’ by Japan Gov. <tomodachi@cas.go.jp>
Date: June 8, 2014
Subject: “Tomodachi” Newsletter Vol.4

==========================================================
This e-mail has been sent to people who consented
to receive the “Tomodachi” newsletter.
==========================================================

Greetings from the staff of the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan

“We Are Tomodachi” is an e-book published with the aim of further deepening people’s understanding of the initiatives of the Government of Japan and the charms of Japan. With the recent events that have taken place, including the visit to Japan by the U.S. President and the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to European countries from late April to early May, on May 31, we released the spring/summer edition, which is a revised version of the spring edition. The link is as follows.

 http://japan.kantei.go.jp/letters/index.html

*Clicking on the E-BOOK icon at the center of the screen will allow you to view the e-book in browsing mode.
The PDF version is available for download by clicking on the PDF icon.

We very much hope you will read this for a deeper understanding about Japan.

The summer edition will be released in mid-July.
We are preparing a broad range of topics, including an introduction to colorful fireworks that light up the evening sky and a feature on women who play an active role in society. Please stay tuned!

=========================================================
The Staff of the Office of Global Communications,
Prime Minister’s Office of Japan

public.relations@cas.go.jp
=========================================================

*You can visit the URL below to terminate your subscription to this newsletter or change the address at which you receive it:
 https://www.mmz.kantei.go.jp/tomodachi/unsubscribe.php
////////////////////////////////////////

The inside of the 80-page magazine is, again, fascinating in its prioritizing of subjects, including:

  • Abe in Fukushima
  • The aims for the Abe Administration (depicted as “kokorozashi”, complete with large kanji; I wish we had a shakuhachi soundtrack)
  • A photo essay of Abe hobnobbing internationally this Spring
  • Abe’s speeches
  • A photo essay of Abe hobnobbing internationally over the past year
  • “Abenomics is Progressing!  Making the impossible possible” (complete with a graphic with — you guessed it — three arrows!  Plus another one of him “drilling” through vested interests; yeah, sure.)
  • Abe “actively engages” in dialogue
  • The Road to Revival
  • Fukushima’s contaminated water problem
  • Japan’s Proactive Contribution to Peace (with lengthy explanations of how Japan’s new National Security Council and Act on the Protection of Specially-Designated Secrets is similar to if not milder than Official Secrets Acts elsewhere)
  • International Contributions of Japan’s Self Defense Forces
  • The Senkaku Islands:  3 Commonly Held Misconceptions
  • A bit on the North Korean kidnappings of Japanese, making it into an international issue by including abductees from Thailand, Romania, Lebanon, and China (but if that’s the tack you want to take, why no mention of South Korean abductees?).
  • Japan’s contributions to international attempts to decrease maternal mortality rates in Cambodia
  • Empowering Farmers as Mainstream Economic Actors (in Africa)
  • Japan’s Global-Leading Medical Services
  • Useful information for traveling in Japan
  • Travel times from Narita to downtown Tokyo — “How Fast It Has Become!”
  • Free Wi-Fi Expands (for foreigners!)
  • Related Websites and Publications
  • Flower Festivals in Summer
  • “Friends of Japan” (with profiles of Kendo Master Alexander Bennett, Heritage Preserver Alex Kerr, and Tea Ceremony and “Heart of Japanese Hospitality” Master Randy Channell Soei)
  • What Surprises Foreigners About Japan (with a survey of — count them — a whole 50 foreigners, the majority of whom had their lost belongings returned!  My, those honest Japanese!  Good thing they weren’t talking about umbrellas or bicycles — or that theft is by far the largest crime in Japan)
  • Japanese Customs (and come to Japan and be a JET teacher!)

And more.  Part travel guide, part geopolitical gaijin handling, part cultural screed (cue those shakuhachis!), this is a great read to deconstruct how the Abe Administration is trying to march the Post-Bubble discourse on Japan back into the first-generation Postwar discourse.  Ah, those were the days, when Japan’s elites had near-total control over Japan’s image in the world, and so few outsiders had any understanding (or or had experienced Japan in great depth) that they would ever be taken seriously by anyone who wasn’t a “real Japanese” (moreover, the handful of NJ who did know something could be co-opted as anointed cultural emissaries; they’re still trying to do it within this very magazine).

No, since then millions of people have since experienced Japan beyond the GOJ boilerplate, have lived and invested their lives in Japan, and have learned the Japanese language.  So the dialogue is not so easily controlled by the elites anymore.  (PM Abe’s Gaijin Handlers:  If you’re dropping in on Debito.org again, Yokoso and enjoy our Omotenashi!)

So, Gaijin Handlers, here’s a lesson on what to avoid next time:  What irritates people like us who know better is your cultivated mysticism in elite conversations about anything cultural in Japan.  Consider this example of bogus social science (depicted as a “secret”) from page 72:

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

“The Japanese have a reputation for being taciturn and hard to communicate with.  Probably the most difficult part of Japanese communication for people from other countries is the way people here converse wordlessly.  When people are standing silently at some natural attraction, they’re using their five senses to feel nature and commune with it.  So if you notice some quiet Japanese in such a spot, you might try joining them in their silence, taking in everything around you with all your senses:  light, wind, sky, clouds, sounds, smells.  Because even when nobody is talking, there is plenty of communication going on in Japan.”

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

This is a juicy claim for deconstruction under a number of genres of social science.  The biggest confusion you’re going to cause in NJ tourists and newbies will come when they confront the amount of noise at many a tourist trap (especially from those trying to “nigiyaka” the place up with their megaphoned music), and wonder how they’re supposed to use all their five senses like the mystical Japanese apparently do.  Logically, this also means the purported J-silence around awkward conversations could be due to the inscrutably “shy” Japanese trying to take NJ in with all their five senses too (I wonder what happens when they get to “Smell”, “Touch”, or “Taste”?).  What rubbishy analytical tools.  And it’s one reason why so many people (Japanese and NJ) go nuts in Japan, because they’re constantly told one thing yet experience another.

Anyway, there’s a lot there, so I’ll let Debito.org Readers go through this magazine and have some fun.  For as sophisticated as Japan’s bureaucrats can be, they’re pretty clumsy when it comes to social science.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

My Japan Times JBC column 76: “Humanize the dry debate about immigration”, June 5, 2014, with links to sources

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks as always for putting my article in the Top Ten most read on the JT Online once again!
justbecauseicon.jpg
========================================
Humanize the dry debate about immigration
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 76 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES
June 5, 2014, courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/06/04/issues/humanize-dry-debate-immigration/
Version with links to sources.

Japan’s pundits are at it again: debating what to do about the sinking demographic ship. With the low birthrate, aging and shrinking society (we dropped below 127 million this year) and top-heavy social security system, Japan’s structural problems will by many accounts spell national insolvency.

However, we’re hearing the same old sky pies: Proposals to plug the gaps with more Japanese babies, higher retirement ages, more empowered women in the workplace (also here) — even tax money thrown at matchmaking services!

And yet they still won’t work. Policymakers are working backwards from conclusions and not addressing the structural problems, e.g., that people are deserting a depopulating countryside for urban opportunities in an overly centralized governmental system, marrying later (if at all) and finding children too expensive or cumbersome for cramped living spaces, having both spouses work just to stay afloat, and feeling perpetual disappointment over a lack of control over their lives. And all thanks to a sequestered ruling political and bureaucratic elite whose basic training is in status-quo maintenance, not problem-solving for people they share nothing in common with.

Of course, proposals have resurfaced about letting in more non-Japanese (NJ) to work. After all, we have that time-sensitive 2020 Tokyo Olympics infrastructure to build — oh, and a Tohoku to reconstruct someday. And no self-respecting white-collar Taro wants those 3K (kitsui, kitanai and kiken — difficult, dirty and dangerous) jobs. Never mind that policymakers have rarely cared about the NJ already here investing their lives in Japan, long discouraged from settling via revolving-door visa regimes, and even bribed to leave in 2009.

So, come back! All is forgiven!

Predictably, the Shinzo Abe administration recently announced the expansion of the “trainee” program. You know, that exploitative, abusive and unmonitored system that has imported NJ since 1990, free from the protections of labor law? The one that causes dozens of NJ deaths from overwork and other “unknown causes” every year, and keeps many in conditions of virtual slavery? Despite a decade of criticisms from human-rights groups, parliamentarians and the United Nations, these three-year visas have been lengthened by two more so we can exploit them longer.

And then, a previously taboo word entered the discussion: imin (immigration). It made such an impact that prominent debate magazine Sapio made it June’s cover story.

Sapio_June.Cover

Michael Hoffman reviewed this spread in the JT in his Big In Japan column on May 24, “Will Japan be a country that welcomes all?”

Great. But I’ll answer Michael’s question right now: no — and not just for an obvious reason like Japan’s innate mistrust of outsiders. We also have a structural problem with how the concept of imin is being framed. It goes beyond constant othering and alienation: NJ aren’t even being seen as people.

Last time this debate came up, I lambasted the government for shutting NJ long-termers out of the deliberation councils drafting policies affecting them. I also mentioned how policymakers avoided the word imin.

So now imin has been formally broached — albeit while being stigmatized: The person in charge of the Immigration Bureau, Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, immediately said NJ would present “adverse effects on security.” (Note to ad agencies: Don’t hire Tanigaki to sell your product.)

But imin has also been dehumanized. Look up “immigrant” in an English-Japanese dictionary and you get words such as ijūmin, ijūsha, imin rōdōsha and, oddly, mitsunyūkokusha and fuhō nyūkokusha (illegal immigrant). But these aren’t immigrants: These are migrants, here temporarily, as properly translated by domestic NGOs looking out for NJ interests, such as the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Iju Rodosha to Rentai Suru Network).

The word for “immigration,” meaning something permanent, is imin — denoted on the Denshi Jisho dictionary site as a “sensitive” word (of course; that’s why the government avoided using it for so long).

But we still have no word for an immigrant as an individual person, such as iminsha, with its own honorific sha — in the same vein as ijūsha (migrant), rōdōsha (laborer), teijūsha (settler, usually a Nikkei South American), zairyūsha (temporary resident), eijūsha (permanent resident) and even (in a few government documents) kikasha (naturalized citizen).

It’s just the clipped imin. That means nobody gets to claim “I am an immigrant” in Japan. (Try it: “Watashi wa imin desu” sounds funny.) And this in turn means immigration remains a strictly statistical animal. Lost in this narrative is the idea that when we import labor, we import people. With lives. And needs. And voices to be heard.

This kind of framing damages the debate by taking away the immigrant’s voice. Take that Sapio special: From the very cover, you’ll notice that not one visible minority is featured among the talking heads.

Sapio_June.Cover

Almost all those speechifying inside are elite Japanese (including former Tokyo governor and professional bigot Shintaro Ishihara, which already signals where things are headed): the same old pundits defending their ideological camps with no real new ideas.

But more indicative of the framing of the debate is the main photo on Sapio’s cover: a hate-speech rally showing anti-Korean demonstrators vs. anti-racism counterdemonstrators. (A smaller inset photo shows South Americans at a labor-union rally. Their faces are visible, unlike those in the larger photo, which were blurred out to protect people’s privacy. More evidence of powerlessness: Apparently NJ aren’t people with privacy concerns.)

Hang on: An anti-Korean rally is not an issue of immigration; it’s got more to do with Japan’s unresolved historical issues with its neighbors.

If you define “immigrants” as NJ who have moved to Japan and made a life here as long-term residents (if not regular permanent residents, or ippan eijūsha) — i.e., the “Newcomers” — that’s a different group than the one being demonstrated against.

Being targeted instead are the “Oldcomers” — the Zainichi Korean and Chinese special permanent residents (tokubetsu eijūsha), descendants of former citizens of empire who have been living in and contributing to Japan for generations. The Oldcomers are not the “immigrants” in question — and from this blind spot, the debate goes askew.

Sapio’s editorial on discrimination towards NJ (pages 20-21) not only neglects to mention any examples of discrimination against Japan’s Newcomers; it also crosses its analytical wires by citing the Urawa Reds “Japanese only” exclusionary banner at Saitama Stadium last March as hate speech against the Oldcomers.

Hang on again: That “Japanese only” banner would not have affected the Zainichis. “Japanese only” is a narrative targeting Japan’s visible minorities, i.e., those who don’t “look Japanese” enough to pass an exclusionary manager’s scrutiny. Naturally, after several generations here, Zainichi can quietly enter a “Japanese only” zone without drawing hairy eyeballs. And while the historical wrongs done to the Zainichi in Japan are very worthy of discussion, they should not suck the oxygen out of the debate on immigrants.

But I believe this is by design: By entangling the debate in the same old Zainichi issues, the xenophobes can derail it with the same old paranoid fears about granting rights to potentially subversive North Korean and Chinese residents. This makes the true iminsha not only voiceless but invisible.

That’s exactly what the xenophobes want. A common theme in rightist writings is “more foreigners means less Japan,” and admitting more visible minorities (which inevitably happens when you import people) will always bring forth that tension. Best to just argue as if they don’t exist.

So what to do? Be Gandalf and say “That shall not pass!” Just as the Urawa Reds fans’ “Japanese only” banner forced the domestic media in March to finally admit that racial discrimination happens in Japan, we must force the nation’s elites to reframe the concept of immigration and humanize the immigrants behind the statistics. Allow the public to see a way to welcome Newcomers not only as individuals, but also as long-termers, immigrants and, ultimately, as citizens with the same rights and obligations as every other Japanese.

The elites will resist this, because the economic incentives are clear: The more powerless and invisible you keep NJ, the easier it is to exploit them.

So, if you want to finally address one of Japan’s structural problems, start by popularizing the word iminsha. Let regular folk with regular lives attach that term to an NJ neighbor they know. Then give them a voice.

Otherwise, it’s same old debate, same old (and getting older) Japan.
========================================

Debito Arudou received his Ph.D. from Meiji Gakuin University in International Studies in April. Twitter: @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. As noted in the Japan Today article cited below, SAPIO debate magazine (June 2014) devoted an issue specifically to the issue of immigration (imin) to Japan (what with the Abe Administration’s renewed plan to import 200,000 NJ per year).

Good. But then it fumbles the issue with all manner of narratives that microaggress the NJ immigrant back into a position of being powerless and voiceless.  First, let’s start with SAPIO’s cover, courtesy of MS:

Sapio_June.Cover

COMMENT:  Notice anything funny?  Start with the sub-headline in yellow talking about having a vigorous debate from “each world” (kyaku kai).  Each?  Look at the debaters being featured in the bubbles.  See any Visible Minorities there?  Nope, they’re left out of the debate once again.  All we get are the typical powerful pundits (probably all Wajin, with “Papa Bear” Wajin Ishihara second in line). , Where is the voice of the immigrant?

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

Now look at the larger photo.  It’s a xenophobic demo about issues between Japan and Korea (and no doubt China).  That’s not a debate about immigration.  It’s a hate rally airing historical grievances between Japan and it’s neighbors, gussied up as a jerry-rigged issue about “Zainichis having special privileges as NJ” (the very root complaint of the Zaitokukai group, which, even if those “special privileges” were meaningfully true, ought to happen anyway what with all the contributions the Zainichi have made to Japanese society both as prewar citizens of empire and postwar disenfranchised residents for generations; but I digress).  Anyway, the point is that the cover does not convey the issue of “immigration in Japan” accurately.  Zainichi issues dominate.

Finally, note how all the Wajin demonstrators have their faces blocked out in the photo.  Clearly Wajin have privacies to protect.  Not so the NJ protesting in the photo inset.  Hence NJ once again have fewer rights to privacy in the Japanese media.  Just like this photo from the racist Gaijin Hanzai Magazine of yore (remember that?  more information here). Comparative powerlessness in visual form.

gaijinhanzaipg11

Next up, check out the Japan Today writeup on the SAPIO special:

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Consultant urges ‘one-of-a-kind’ immigration policy for Japan
JAPAN TODAY KUCHIKOMI MAY. 12, 2014 – TOKYO —
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/consultant-urges-one-of-a-kind-immigration-policy-for-japan, courtesy lots of people

In its cover story for June, Sapio devotes 14 articles—including a contribution by former Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara—and 23 pages to wide-ranging discussions on the subject of immigration. It looks like substantial changes are coming, and coming soon. What form should immigration take? What are the merits and demerits?

Management consultant Kenichi Ohmae is, if anything, a pragmatic person. He also expresses his ideas logically and persuasively, and he has devoted a lot of thinking to the issue of immigration, which he suggests be adopted as a policy in three successive stages.

First of all, the demographics don’t lie: by 2050 the largest age segment in Japan’s population pyramid, both for males and females will be those in their late 70s, with fewer and fewer younger people. If this course is maintained, people in their productive ages will decline rapidly. Ohmae says he pointed this out more than 20 years ago. During his past four decades as a business consultant, he has observed that in general, introduction of foreign workers in Japanese businesses has been carried out in five-year increments, during which time problems and challenges are resolved through a trial-and-error basis.

When one looks back 25 to 30 years, to the economic “bubble,” Japan found itself with a labor shortage, particularly in construction and manufacturing. It began bringing in “Nikkeijin” (people of Japanese ancestry) from Latin America, along with Pakistanis, Iranians and others. Since there was no visa status for manual laborers, they entered on tourist or student visas, and the government feigned disinterest when they took blue-collar jobs.

Then the bubble collapsed, and these workers were summarily dismissed. The number of illegal foreign workers declined, and Japan was soundly criticized for its lack of interest in the workers’ welfare.

The current Abe government appears inclined to issue guidelines that will expand entry by foreign workers in such fields as construction, nursing care, agriculture and household domestics. On the other hand, it’s proceeding with measures to ensure that the entry of such foreigners not be mistakenly construed as “immigration policies.” In other words, time limits will be imposed on those workers’ stays. Inevitably, this will result in a repeat of the mistakes and troubles that happened after the collapse of the bubble.

Considering that the Japanese babies being born now will take from 15 to 30 years before they start contributing to Japan’s economy, it’s clear that immigration offers Japan’s only hope to preserve its economic vitality. And, Ohmae emphasizes, now is probably its last chance to take meaningful action.

The three stages Ohmae proposes are: First, Japan should emulate Silicon Valley in attracting 1,000 skilled people a year from such countries as Israel, India, Taiwan, Russia and East European countries. But these people should not be limited only to the field of Information Technology. They would be concentrated in six “clusters” around the country, mostly in large urban areas where they and their families would be made to feel at home with access to churches, schools and so on.

The second stage is to find a way to attract 100,000 professionals a year in the category of work titles with the “shi” suffix (such as “kangoshi” or nurse), trained care providers, attorneys, firemen, etc), all of which are currently in short supply.

The third stage is to accept blue-collar workers, of whom at least 300,000 per year will be needed to keep Japan’s economic engine purring. Ohmae suggests the Japanese government set up and fund preparatory schools in countries likely to supply labor, where students can learn the basics of the Japanese language, laws, customs, and so on before they arrive. And passing an examination will entitle them to a Japanese-style “green card,” permanent residence and the right to work. Such a system is likely to help avoid concentration of unskilled foreigners who would gravitate to the slums that have created social problems in other countries.

When considering the future of immigration, Ohmae also urges the importance of avoiding its politicization among Japanese, so that when people debate its pros and cons, this can be done dispassionately, without tarring one another with “right wing” or “left wing” labels.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Although unusually well-intentioned (check out his paternalistic and misogynistic attitudes about Burmese and Aung San Suu Kyi in 1997’s SAPIO), Ohmae, despite his verbal distancing from Japan’s perpetual “Revolving Door” visa regimes, fundamentally recycles the same old ideas about bringing in brainy NJ (unscientifically linking job skills with thoroughbred nationalities/ethnicities and sequestering them in their own enclaves, once again), with no apparent suggestion about making these immigrants into Japanese citizens.  Well, we don’t want to give them too much power to actually have any say over their own lives here.  NJ can come here to work so that we Wajin can stay economically afloat, but that’s all.  They shouldn’t expect much more than the privilege to work and stay in our rich country for as long as they’re needed.

I’ll leave the readers to parse out all the unconscious “othering NJ” microaggressions for themselves, but, ultimately, the question remains:  Where is the specialist commenting on “immigration” (there are people well-studied in that science; try the United Nations) who will lend a specifically-trained viewpoint to the debate, instead of the same old, hoary Wajin pundits defending their ideologies?

Finally, consider the opening editorial article in SAPIO below, which explores the issue of discrimination in general in Japan.  Despite the title (which rightfully talks about hate speech towards Zainichi Koreans and Chinese as shameful for a first-world country), it opens with some soul-searching about the Urawa Reds fans’ “JAPANESE ONLY” banner in Saitama Stadium as an example of Japan’s discriminatory attitudes.  Fine.  But then the article is hijacked once again by the (very important, but not complete) issues of domestic discrimination towards the Zainichi.

Remember, this is an issue also devoted to IMMIGRATION.   The numbers of the Zainichi Koreans and Chinese (i.e., the “Oldcomers”) have been dropping for many years now.  They are not the immigrants of note.  The immigrants, as I defined above, are the NEWCOMERS.  And once again, their voice is not represented within the debate on discrimination or assimilation in Japan.  Those minorities, particularly the Visible Minorities, are silenced.

What’s particularly ironic in the citation of the Urawa Reds’ “Japanese Only” banner is that IT WOULD NOT HAVE AFFECTED THE ZAINICHIS.  “Japanese Only” as a narrative very specifically affects those who do not “look Japanese“.  Thus any Zainichi in Saitama Stadium that day would have “passed” as “Japanese” on sight identification, and could have chosen to sit in those exclusionary stands.  Thus SAPIO, like just about all Japanese media I’ve ever seen, once again crosses its analytical wires, and with these narratives riddled with blind spots and microaggressions, Japan’s “immigration” issue will not be resolved.

That said, I think PM Abe knows this.  That’s why his administration is going back to bribing Wajin to have more babies.  More on that here courtesy of JK.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Sapio_June1 Sapio_June2

 

ENDS

 

Scholar Majima Ayu on how the racial discrimination inherent in America’s Japanese Exclusion Act of 1924 caused all manner of Japanese craziness

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Today’s post is a history lesson, about a very different Japan that took racial discrimination very seriously.  Especially when Japanese were the victims of it overseas.  Let me type in a section from Majima Ayu, “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan”, in Rotem Kowner and Walter Demel, Eds., Race and Racism in Modern East Asia: Western and Eastern Constructions. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2013, pp. 398-401.  Quick comment from me follows (skip to it if you think this text is a little too academic for your tastes).

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Pathos of the Glorious “Colored”

Japan’s Racial Equality Clause was denied by the Western powers, and racial discrimination such as the Japanese exclusion in California still remains, which is enough insult to raise the wrath among the Japanese. — Emperor Showa, 1946.

Although Japanese exclusion was largely caused by racial discrimination, some elites tried to deny this by replacing the issue with class issues, similar to the interpretation of physical grooming. According to the minister of war, Terauchi Masatake (1852-1919), the Anti-Japanese movement arose because Japan had sent “bottom-class workers” who looked like “monkeys in the zoos” to the United States. In fact, the Japanese government encouraged workers from farming villages to emigrate because these villages were so impoverished and their population continued to grow. Terauchi’s view towards the Japanese immigrants to the United States was shared among elites since racial issues originally emerged as labor issues. However, the Japanese Exclusion Act of 1924 did not support the Japanese elites’ interpretation of existing class issues but made obvious the racial distinction between Japan and the United States.

As cited, the Emperor Showa (1901-1989) saw the Exclusion Act as “a remote cause of the Pacific War” (Terasaki & Miller 1995: 24). When President Woodrow Wilson met Ambassador Chinda Sutemi (1857-1929) in 1913, he was shocked by Chinda’s grave reaction to the Law, and knew then that war was more than a possibility. As a letter on 8 February 1924 from Secretary of State Charles E. Hugues to Chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization Albert Johnson stated, “The Japanese are a sensitive people, and unquestionably would regard such a legislative enactment as fixing a stigma upon them.” It also aptly used the term stigma used before by Taguchi. In fact, opinions against the Japanese Exclusion Act were an immediate reason for public outcry in Japan. The population had become exasperated by the weak-kneed diplomacy that brought national dishonor amidst the emotional bashing from the mass media. This manifested in extremely emotional and near mass-hysteric situations, such as the suicides near the American Embassy on May 31, the follow-up suicides, the events for consoling the spirits of the deceased, and the countless letters sent to the Naval Department calling for war against the United States (Matsuzawa 1980: 363-4).

While the situation heated up rapidly, it quickly subsided. However, the elites’ reaction against the Act remained strong. On the 15th of January 1924, Hanihara Masano, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States, stated in a memorandum that to “to preserve the self-respect” of Japan, “the sole desire of the Japanese Government was to relieve the United States Government of the painful embarrassment of giving offense to the just national pride of a friendly nation”. Three months later on April 10th, Hanihara sent another letter to Secretary of State Hughes:

To Japan the question is not one of expediency, but of principle. To her the mere fact that a few hundreds or thousands of her nationals will or will not be admitted into the domains of other countries is immaterial, so long as no question of national susceptibilities is involved. The important question is whether Japan as a nation is or is not entitled to the proper respect and consideration of other nations. In other words, the Japanese Government asks of the United States Government simply that proper consideration ordinarily given by one nation to the self-respect of another, which after all forms the basis of amicable international intercourse throughout the civilized world.

Some criticized Japan’s contradiction in terms of its pressure on Asia, but their anger only focused on Japan’s national dishonor and on the insults to its reputation. According to Hanihara’s correspondence with Secretary of State Hughes, the Exclusion Act “would naturally wound the national susceptibilities of the Japanese people.” It would also bring the “possible unfortunate necessity of offending the national pride of a friendly nation… stigmatizing them as unworthy and undesirable in the eyes of the American people” and “seriously offend the just pride of a friendly nation.”

Even Kiyosawa Kiyoshi (1890-1945), known as a liberal journalist, also took a critical stance of this. “Discrimination from the United States,” he wrote, “was due to regarding the Japanese as colored people. This is a disgrace to the most delicate matter of the Japanese ethnic pride.” On the 2nd of July at the Kokumin Shinbun, Tokutomi Sohou designated the 1st of July 1924 — the day the Anti-Japanese Immigration Law had passed — as the “Day of National Dishonor”. He explained the significance of the day to be one of “cutting ties with the United States”, and embracing their Asian brothers.” Tokutomi explained that the Anti-Japanese Law had caused “the Japanese to suffer unprecedented insult.” He also stated, “The immigrant issue is not simply a matter of US-Japan relations, it is the issue [lying] between the United States and the colored races” In the meantime, Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933) wrote in his 1931 correspondence on the night before the Manchurian Incident that the Exclusion Act was “a severe shock which came completely out of the blue… my heart was deeply wounded and I felt strongly insulted as if we Japaense were suddenly pushed down from our respected status to being the wretched of the earth.”

American’s racial categorization aggravated Japan’s anger, which turned to anxiety as a result of Japan’s diminishing sense of belonging in the world; “the world being limited to the Western powers,” as Tokutomi cited earlier, even if Japan earned a status equal to that of the Western powers, there would still be a great “distance” between them, namely one of racial and religious differences, and the whole difference between the East and West. The sentiment of being a “solitary wanderer” rejected by the West contradicts the manner in which Japan brought about its own isolation. Tokutomi also asserted that the express “Asian” had no other meaning beyond the geographical, and thus Japan’s self-perceptions and identity no longer belonged to Asia. The sense of isolation was actually based on the denial of “Asia”, and it came from Japan’s own identification built upon the idea of “Quit Asia and Join Europe”. It could be said that Japan’s contradictory identification came to reveal Japan’s inability to identify with either the East or the West, a situation that came about through the emergence of a consciousness of the racial distance, especially from 1919 to 1924.

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COMMENT:  There is a lot here to parse and analyze, and I’ll leave space for Debito.org Readers to tell us their reads.  But mine on the most topical level is this:

Look at how crazy racial discrimination makes people.  Mass hysteria?  Suicides?  Rumors of war?  Feeling rejected by the West after the elites had taken a risk and turned the national narrative away from the East?  Thereby laying the groundwork for Postwar Japan’s narrative of uniqueness and exceptionalism that fuels much of the irrational and hypocritical behavior one sees in Japan today (especially vis-a-vis racial discrimination towards anyone NOT “Japanese”).  Yet during Prewar Japan (when Japan was colonizing), the GOJ denied that it could even ideologically PRACTICE racial discrimination, since it was liberating fellow members of the Asian race (Oguma Eiji 2002:  332-3); and now we get denials that it exists in Japan, or that Japanese even understand the concept of racial discrimination because Japanese society allegedly has no races.  After all, racial discrimination is something done to us Japanese by less civilized societies.  It couldn’t happen in Japan.  Yet it does.  And when that is pointed out, then the denialism comes roaring back intertwined, as the above passage demonstrates, with the historical baggage of victimization.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan’s Right-wing swing taking on NJ media: Foreign correspondents ‘blindly swallowing’ anti-Japanese propaganda, writer alleges

mytest

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Hi Blog. As Japan’s right-wing swing begins to be noticed and acknowledged overseas (I predicted this swing would happen quite a while ago), foreign media are increasingly taking off the kid gloves, and dealing forcefully with Japan’s perpetual historical amnesia. So much so that it’s making some Japanese opinion leaders uncomfortable, and, as the article below attests, they’re pushing back against the apparent gaiatsu by claiming the foreign correspondents are succumbing to “propaganda”. Have a read.

Within, note how opportunist NJ panderer Henry Scott-Stokes is being tossed around like a ball in play as evidence of something (hey, revisionism has more credibility if someone, anyone, from the NJ side will parrot their views). Debito.org has already covered the profiteering that some NJ (particularly those who have no idea what has been written for them in Japanese) will engage in. Shame on them for becoming the monkey to the organ grinder.

As a bracing counterpose, check out this other extremely angry article by Robert Fisk in the UK Independent on the Abe Administration and Japan’s burgeoning (and hypocritical) revisionism; he’s clearly commenting outside of his comfort zone, but this is what will increasingly come out as the mask of “peaceful Western ally” that Japan’s elites have shamelessly worn for two generations continues to slip.  And this generation of elites, who have never known war (and will never have to serve even if there ever is one), will continue to extol the glory of it.  Arudou Debito

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Foreign correspondents ‘blindly swallowing’ anti-Japanese propaganda, writer alleges
JAPAN TODAY KUCHIKOMI APR. 10, 2014, courtesy of MS
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/foreign-correspondents-blindly-swallowing-anti-japanese-propaganda-writer-alleges

TOKYO — In his “East Asia Anemometer” (an anemometer is a device for measuring wind speed) column for the Sankei Shimbun column of March 29, Takao Harakawa accused foreign correspondents based in Tokyo of harboring “blind belief” in the anti-Japanese propaganda being generated by China and South Korea. He bases this on his observations from a recent press conference that in his view descended into a “blame-Japan” fest.

China, he alleges, has ordered its embassies in various countries to engage in a worldwide campaign to criticize prime minister Abe for visiting Yasukuni Shrine last December. And South Korea recently went so far as to use the venue of an international comic exhibition to lambaste Japan over the sex-slave (“comfort women”) issue.

These two neighboring countries’ persistent efforts to discredit Japan, suggests Harakawa, may finally be starting to show results, as the press event held in mid-March at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Yurakucho, Tokyo, turned into a one-sided affair.

The event was intended to publicize the activities by a delegation of Japanese legislators in local government assemblies who had visited Glendale, California to protest Korean lobbyists’ installation of a statue of a comfort woman in a public park.

But when it came time for questions, Harakawa didn’t like the tone of the reporters at all.

“During the war, Korean laborers worked in the coal mines in Oita prefecture. Do you think they were sent there forcibly or not?” was one question.

“We’re not here today to discuss laborers, this is a press conference about ‘sex slaves,’” replied Yoshiko Matsuura, a councilor in the Suginami assembly, in an attempt to deflect his question.

Matsuura pointed out that the 1993 “Kono Statement” apologizing to the sex slaves was based on “completely vague testimony, and also noted that as a result of the controversy there, Japanese children residing in Glendale had been subjected to “bullying and harassment” by Korean children.

“The statue of the ‘comfort woman’ erected in Glendale will leave a huge bill to be paid in the future,” she warned.

The questions fired back by the correspondents in attendance, however, were “conspicuous in the way they were either based on insufficient understanding or bias.”

Another correspondent’s remarks that “You’re saying that the ‘sex slaves’ are a fabrication, but as opposed to merely making that statement, how many facts are there to support it? Presently Japan is continuing to lose sympathy throughout the world,” is given as another example.

Tomoko Tsujimura, a member of the Komae City assembly who also attended the gathering, was quoted as saying “Since the Japanese government is not completely responding [to the allegations], Japan’s position is being outweighed by propaganda from South Korea, and I feel the foundations have been laid for many members of the foreign media to harbor feelings of disgust toward Japan.”

After the event, Kawahara said a sympathetic foreign journalist said to him, “Today’s event was not to ask questions to you, but to cast blame on Japan.”

In the background of the journalists’ mindset, believes Harakawa, was a viewpoint echoing the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

Details from the press event have appeared in the online versions of TIME magazine and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. Neither of them were inclined to support Matsuura’s views. TIME’s reporter even wrote that the speakers’ efforts to take the offensive over the sex slave issue was “likely to do them more harm than good.”

Interpreter at the event was Hiroyuki Fujita, an international journalist and translator of Henry Scott-Stokes’ recent book (in Japanese) titled, “Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist.”

“Foreigners, especially citizens of the Allied nations (during WW2), tend to view the historical truth in terms of judgments handed down by the Tokyo war crimes tribunal,” said Fujita. “According to that view, Japan must be the villain, and anyone who attempts to assert something at odds with that is stereotypically tarred as a revisionist who is attempting to gloss over history. One of the very few correspondents who’s an exception to this would be Mr Henry Scott-Stokes, who has really done his homework on the issues.”

Japan faces an urgent need to assume a state of readiness to counter propaganda from China and Korea, including additional budgetary measures for issuing information, Harakawa concludes.

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 7, 2014: “The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013”, with links to sources

mytest

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Happy New Year to all Debito.org Readers.  Thank you as always for reading and commenting.  2014 has a few things looming that will affect life for everyone (not just NJ) in Japan, as I allude to in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (came out a few days later than usual, since there was no paper on January 2, on January 7, 2014).

Thanks to everyone once again for putting it in the most-read article for the day, once again. Here’s a version with links to sources. Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

THE JAPAN TIMES ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
The empire strikes back: the top issues for non-Japanese in 2013
BY ARUDOU Debito
JANUARY 7, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/06/issues/the-empire-strikes-back-the-top-issues-for-non-japanese-in-2013/

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of 2013’s top human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This year was more complex, as issues that once targeted NJ in specific now affect everyone in general. But here are six major events and five “bubble-unders” for your consideration:

11. Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first foreign-born Diet member of European descent, loses his seat (see “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ,” JBC, Aug. 5).

10. Donald Richie, one of the last of the first postwar generation of NJ commentators on Japan, dies aged 88.

9. Beate Sirota Gordon, one of the last living architects of the liberalizing reforms within the postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89.

8. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto takes a revisionist stance on Japanese history regarding the wartime sex-slave issue and reveals his camp’s political vulnerability (“By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor,” JBC, June 4).

7. Tokyo wins the 2020 Olympics, strengthening the mandate of Japan’s ruling class and vested construction interests (see “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right,” JBC, Sept. 1).

6. Xenophobia taints No. 1 cleanup

The Fukushima debacle has been covered better elsewhere, and assessments of its dangers and probable outcomes are for others to debate. Incontrovertible, however, is that international assistance and expertise (despite this being an international problem) have been rejected due to official xenophobia.

Last January, The New York Times quoted Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director of the Environment Ministry and the man in charge of the cleanup, as saying that foreign technologies were somehow not applicable to Japan (“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example”), and that foreigners themselves were menacing (“If we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there”). Nishiyama resigned several months later, but Fukushima’s ongoing crisis continues to be divisively toxic both in fact and thought.

5. Japan to adopt Hague treaty

As the last holdout in the Group of Eight (G-8) nations yet to sign this important treaty governing the treatment of children after divorces, both houses of the Diet took the positive step in May and June (after years of formal nudging by a dozen countries, and a probable shove from U.S. President Barack Obama last February) of unanimously endorsing the convention, with ratification now possible in 2014.

As reported on previous Community pages, Japanese society condones (both in practice and by dint of its legal registration systems) single-parent families severing all contact with one parent after divorce. In the case of international divorces, add on linguistic and visa hurdles, as well as an unsympathetic family court system and a hostile domestic media (which frequently portrays abducting Japanese mothers as liberating themselves from violent foreign fathers).

The Hague treaty seeks to codify and level the playing field for negotiation, settlement and visitation. However, Japanese legal scholars and grass-roots organizations are trying to un-level things by, among other things, fiddling with definitions of “domestic violence” to include acts that don’t involve physical contact, such as heated arguments (bōgen, or violent language) and even glaring at your partner (nirami). Put simply: Lose your temper (or not; just seethe) and you lose your kids. Thus, the treaty will probably end up as yet another international agreement caveated until it is unenforceable in Japan.

4. Visa regimes get a rethink

Two years ago, domestic bureaucrats and experts held a summit to hammer out some policies towards foreign labor. JBC pointed out flaws in their mindsets then (see “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for non-Japanese,” July 3, 2012), and last year they ate some crow for getting it wrong.

First, a highly touted “points system” for attracting highly skilled workers with visa perks (which JBC argued was unrealistically strict; see “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” March 6, 2012) had as of September only had 700 applicants; the government had hoped for 2,000. Last month, the Justice Ministry announced it would relax some requirements. It added, though, that more fundamental reforms, such as raising salaries, were also necessary — once again falling for the stereotype that NJ only alight in Japan for money.

In an even bigger U-turn, in October the government lifted its ban on South American NJ of Japanese descent “returning” to Japan. Those who had taken the repatriation bribes of 2009 (see “Golden parachutes for Nikkei mark failure of race-based policy,” JBC, April 7, 2009), giving up their accumulated welfare benefits and Japanese pensions for an airfare home, were now welcome to return to work — as long as they secured stable employment (as in, a one-year contract) before arrival. Good luck with that.

Again, what’s missing in all this is, for example, any guarantee of a) equal protection under labor and civil law against discrimination, b) equal educational opportunities for their children, and c) an integration and settlement program ensuring that revolving-door visas and tenuous jobs do not continue forever. But the Abe administration has never made a formal immigration plan one of its policy “arrows”; and, with the bigger political priorities discussed below, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

3. Hate speech turns murderous

This was also the year that the genteel mask of “polite, peace-loving Japan” slipped a bit, with a number of demonstrations across the nation advocating outright hatred and violence towards NJ. “Good Koreans or bad, kill them all,” proclaimed one placard, while another speaker was recorded on video encouraging a “massacre” in a Korean neighborhood of Osaka. An Asahi Shimbun reporter tweeted that anti-Korean goods were being sold on Diet grounds, while xenophobic invective (even rumors of war with China) became normalized within Japan’s salacious tabloids (see here and here).

It got so bad that the otherwise languid silent majority — who generally respond to xenophobia by ignoring it — started attending counterdemonstrations. Even Japan’s courts, loath to take strong stands on issues that might “curb freedom of speech,” formally recognized “hate speech” as an illegal form of racial discrimination in October, and ordered restitution for victims in one case (a Zainichi Korean school) and a year of actual jail time in another (for harassing a company that had used a Korean actress in its advertising).

However, leading politicians offered only lukewarm condemnations of the hatred (Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it “dishonorable,” months after the fact) and no countermeasures. In fact, in April, Tokyo’s then-governor, Naoki Inose, slagged off fellow Olympic candidate city Istanbul by denigrating Islam — yet Tokyo still got the games.

Meanwhile, people who discussed issues of discrimination in Japan constructively (such as American teacher Miki Dezaki, whose viral YouTube video on the subject cost him his job and resulted in him retreating to a Buddhist monastery for a year) were bullied and sent death threats, courtesy of Japan’s newly labeled legion of anonymous netto uyoku (Internet rightists).

This political camp, as JBC has argued in the past two annual Top 10 lists, is ascendant in Japan as the country swings further to the right. With impressive victories:

2. LDP holds both Diet chambers

In July, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party accomplished its primary goal by chalking up a landslide victory in the Upper House to complement its equally decisive win in the Lower House in December 2012. Then, with virtually no opposition from the left, it got cocky in its deceptiveness.

Shortly after the election, Deputy PM Taro Aso enthused aloud about Nazi Germany’s policymaking tactics, advocating similar stealth for radical constitutional reforms before Japan’s public realizes it. Later it became clear that LDP reform proposals (excising, for example, “Western” conceits of individuality, human rights and a demystified head of state, and replacing them with the duty to “respect” national symbols, the “public interest” and “public order”) might be too difficult to accomplish if laws were actually followed. So off went Abe’s gaijin-handlers on overseas missions (see “Japan brings out the big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6) to announce that reinterpretations of the Constitution’s current wording would resolve pesky postwar restrictions.

Meanwhile, Abe was being rebranded for foreign consumption as a peace-loving “ethnic nationalist” instead of (in JBC’s view) a radical historical revisionist and regional destabilizing force. Not only was his recent visit to controversial Yasukuni Shrine repackaged as a mere pilgrimage to Japan’s version of Arlington National Cemetery, but Japan’s remilitarization was also portrayed as a means to assist America and the world in more effective peacekeeping operations, as seen in Abe’s “human security” and “proactive peace policy” neologisms.

As always, a liberal slathering of “peace” talk helps the munitions go down. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. For curtains are precisely what are being drawn with the passage of:

1. The state secrets law

In a country where most reforms proceed at a glacial pace, the Act on Protection of Specified Secrets took everyone by surprise, moving from the public-debate back burner to established law in mere weeks. We still don’t know what will be designated as a “secret,” although official statements have made it clear it would include information about Fukushima, and could be used to curtail “loud” public rallies by protesters LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba likened to “terrorists.”

We do know that the punishments for leakers, including journalists, will be severe: up to 10 years’ jail for leaking something the government says it doesn’t want leaked, and five for “conspiracy” for attempting to get information even if the investigating party didn’t know it was “secret.” It’s so vague that you can get punished for allegedly “planning” the leak — even before the leak has happened or concrete plans have been made to leak. Although resoundingly condemned by Japan’s media, grass roots and the United Nations, it was too little, too late: Stealth won.

The state secrets law is an unfolding issue, but JBC shares the doomsayers’ view: It will underpin the effort to roll back Japan’s postwar democratic reforms and resurrect a prewar-style society governed by perpetual fear of reprisal, where people even in privileged positions will be forced to double-guess themselves into silence regarding substantiated criticism of The State (see the JT’s best article of the year, “The secret of keeping official secrets secret,” by Noriko Hama, Japanese Perspectives, Nov. 30).

After all, information is power, and whoever controls it can profoundly influence social outcomes. Moreover, this law expands “conspiracy” beyond act and into thought. Japan has a history of “thought police” (tokubetsu kōtō keisatsu) very effectively controlling the public in the name of “maintaining order.” This tradition will be resuscitated when the law comes into force in 2014.

In sum, 2013 saw the enfranchised elite consolidating their power further than has ever been seen in the postwar era, while Japan’s disenfranchised peoples, especially its NJ residents, slipped ever lower down the totem pole, becoming targets of suspicion, fear and loathing.

May this year be a healthy one for you and yours. ARUDOU, Debito

Post-passage of State Secrets Bill, watch as Abe further dismantles Japan’s postwar anti-fascism safeguards

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Some very significant things have happened in the two weeks since Debito.org got zapped and taken offline, and for the record we should cover them now since they warrant discussion.

My conclusions first:  If you really want to “look on the bright side” of recent events, we could say “we live in interesting times”.  Given the normally glacial pace of reforms in Japan, the Abe Administration is proceeding with incredible speed — which he can do, given LDP control over both houses of Parliament.  It’s a pity that things are heading in the Rightist direction, dismantling the Postwar order of governance and the safeguards against Prewar fascism faster than the public or media can keep up.

As discussed here before Debito.org got tackled, both inside and outside observers (including the UN) were alarmed at the contents of the State Secrets Protection Law (himitsu hogo hou), the one that leaves vague what a “government secret” is exactly (for better public non-transparency), and offers criminal penalties of up to ten years’ incarceration for violators, including journalists.  The tone of this law is pretty clear:  Anyone who gets in the way (and according to LDP Secretary General and defense policy wonk Ishiba Shigeru, “noisy” protestors will be labeled “terrorists”; I’m waiting for Ishiba to say the same thing about the perennially noisy, intimidating, and sometimes violent right-wing sound trucks) will be dealt with accordingly.

Debito.org said that the protests in any case were too little, too late, and it would make no difference.  It didn’t (except in Abe’s approval ratings, which dipped below 50% for the first time for this administration; never mind — a few more saber rattlings with the Chinese bogeyman will remedy that), and the bill was rammed through both the Lower and Upper Houses and is now law.  SITYS.

This after, as also noted on Debito.org previously, Abe’s Gaijin Handlers were sent off on a mission to placate the one country that might get them to avert this course:  The United States.  Top Abe advisor Kitaoka Shin’ichi recently visited Hawaii and points mainland to sell Japan’s remilitarization as a means to help America’s security exploits abroad, saying it would be possible by a mere circumvention of the Constitution by reinterpretation.  Who needs to go through that laborious process of actual Constitutional revision when you can just ignore it?  And it seems the Americans have signed off on it.  And on Japan’s new protection measures of “state secrets”.  And on a creation of a National Security Council that reports to Abe, modeled on the USG’s NSC, so who could object?  Checkmate.

Next up, as Debito.org Reader JJS sent me this morning:

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Hi Debito. Glad to see you got control of your website back, though there may be lots still to do to secure it and prevent any further attacks. When you’re ready to start posting again, here are some juicy tidbits to chew on. With the passage of the Special State Secrets Bill, the Abe Administration is wasting no time making sure to A) start talking up Japan’s image as the “safest country in the world” while B) making sure to utilize the newly passed bill to start covering up any unsightly information from getting out about such things like nuclear powerplants, nuclear energy, etc. Finally, what will “cyber-terror” actually mean to this far right wing administration? Maybe your site may be included?? The next seven years leading up to the Olympics will be frightening to say the least.

NHK)「世界一安全な日本」戦略決定
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20131210/k10013709951000.html
12月10日 12時49分

「世界一安全な日本」戦略決定
政府は10日の閣議で、2020年の東京オリンピック・パラリンピックに向けて、テロ対策やサイバー犯罪への対処を強化するなどとした治安対策の新たな指針、「世界一安全な日本」創造戦略を決定しました。

「世界一安全な日本」創造戦略は、安倍総理大臣とすべての閣僚でつくる犯罪対策閣僚会議が、2020年の東京オリンピック・パラリンピックの開催を視野に、今後7年間の治安対策の新たな指針としてまとめ、10日の閣議で決定されました。

それによりますと、良好な治安を確保することが、東京オリンピック・パラリンピックの成功の前提だとしたうえで、原子力発電所に対するテロ対策の強化や、海上や沿岸警備の強化など水際対策の徹底、それに、在外公館を通じた情報収集活動の強化に取り組むとしています。

また、「世界最高水準の安全なサイバー空間の構築」にも取り組み、サイバー犯罪の取り締まりの徹底や、サイバー犯罪対策を手がけるアメリカの産学官の団体を参考にした新たな組織の創設などを進めるとしています。

安倍総理大臣は、閣議に先立って開かれた犯罪対策閣僚会議で、「総合的な犯罪対策を政府一体となって推進し、国民が誇りとする世界一安全な国、日本を創り上げるため、全力で取り組んでほしい」と指示しました。

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日経)サイバー犯罪対策で官民組織 政府、東京五輪に向け戦略
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASDG1000Z_Q3A211C1CR0000/
2013/12/10 11:24

保存印刷リプリントこの記事をtwitterでつぶやくこの記事をフェイスブックに追加共有
政府は10日の閣議で、2020年の東京五輪開催に向けて取り組む治安向上策をまとめた「『世界一安全な日本』創造戦略」を決定した。脅威が増すサイバー犯罪やテロへの対策強化が柱。暴力団排除をはじめとする組織犯罪への対処や人材育成、再犯防止策の推進も盛り込んだ。

閣議に先立つ犯罪対策閣僚会議で、安倍晋三首相は五輪開催に向け「安心して感動を共有できる大会にするには安全の確保が必須の前提で、わが国の国際的な使命だ」と指摘。「戦略に基づき、総合的な犯罪対策を政府一体となって推進してほしい」と呼びかけた。

近年、重大な脅威が表面化しているサイバー犯罪への対処としては、優れた知見を持つ民間事業者や海外の捜査機関との協力強化を明記。米国でサイバー犯罪の手口やウイルス情報の集約・分析を手がける非営利団体「NCFTA」をモデルとした官民の新組織の創設も掲げた。

テロ対策では、原子力発電所など重要施設の警備に力を入れる。警察にある特殊急襲部隊(SAT)の装備充実や自衛隊などとの共同訓練の推進を列挙。臨時国会で成立した特定秘密保護法を的確に運用し、諸外国からの情報収集・分析を強化することも盛った。

ストーカーや配偶者間暴力(DV)、薬物、振り込め詐欺など身近な犯罪への対応も強化する。
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産経)東京五輪へ、「世界一安全な日本」を 犯罪対策閣僚会議が新計画
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/news/131210/plc13121012170015-n1.htm
2013.12.10 11:14

2020年東京五輪に向けて、政府の全閣僚をメンバーとする犯罪対策閣僚会議は10日、テロに強い社会構築などを目指した「『世界一安全な日本』創造戦略」を策定した。平成15年と20年にまとめた「犯罪に強い社会の実現のための行動計画」の最新版。五輪招致成功の要因として治安の良さが評価されたことを受け、名称を変え、今後7年間取り組んでいく。

「原子力発電所に対するテロ対策の強化」を挙げ、警察・自衛隊など関係機関の実践的な共同訓練を進め緊急事態への対応能力を高める。また、海上や沿岸警備の強化などを柱とする水際対策の徹底、テロの兆候に関する情報を確実に得られるよう外国情報機関と連携し、情報収集や分析機能の向上を図る。

「世界最高水準の安全なサイバー空間の構築」にも取り組む。増加するサイバー犯罪・攻撃の取り締まりを強化し、民間事業者と協力して未然防止に努める。組織犯罪対策など、各種犯罪全般について具体的に取り組む施策を列挙した。
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読売)世界一安全な国へ…サイバー犯罪・テロに対策
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20131210-OYT1T00638.htm?from=navr

政府は10日午前の閣議で、2020年開催の東京五輪・パラリンピックを見据え、治安をさらに良くして「世界一安全な国、日本」を創り上げるための戦略を決定した。

地域の絆や連帯の強化を図る一方、サイバー攻撃や国際テロなどの新たな脅威への対策を講じるとし、「五輪成功の前提として絶対に成し遂げなければならない」と強調した。

戦略では、サイバー犯罪対策として、民間業者と連携して捜査技能の向上を図ることや、犯人の追跡を容易にするためインターネットの通信履歴(ログ)の保存などを検討していくとした。テロ防止では、アルジェリアの人質事件を教訓に、在外公館に警察出身者や防衛駐在官を増員するなど、情報収集と分析を強化するとしている。

(2013年12月10日19時55分 読売新聞)
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官邸公式)『世界一安全な日本』創造戦略(pdf 63ページ)
http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/hanzai/kettei/131210/kakugi.pdf
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Thanks JJS.

Look, some people might be surprised by all this, but I’m not.  Debito.org saw this coming more than ten years ago, and watched it play out since 2000 as innate fears of outsiders in general were made into public policy that portrayed foreigners as criminals, then terrorists etc.  Now, it’s Chinese foreigners in specific (what with the two-plus “Lost Decades” of stagnant to negative growth causing Japan to be eclipsed by China as the largest economy in the region).  I’ve charted the arc of this public debate in a paper for Japan Focus, showing how officially-sponsored xenophobia was used to undermine, then decimate, Japan’s Left.  And with no opposition Left, there’s nothing to stop a dedicated silver-spoon elite like Abe, who has known no war (and accepts no responsibility for Japan’s historical role in it), for swinging the pendulum the furthest Right it has been in the Postwar Era.  Provided his health holds up, he’s got three years to do it.  Just watch him do it as quickly as possible.  Arudou Debito

UN News: “Independent UN experts seriously concerned about Japan’s Special Secrets Bill” Fine, but too late.

mytest

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Hi Blog. First the news, then commentary:

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INDEPENDENT UN EXPERTS SERIOUSLY CONCERNED ABOUT JAPAN’S SPECIAL SECRETS BILL
UN News, New York, Nov 22 2013  1:00PM
Two independent United Nations human rights experts today expressed serious concern about a Government-sponsored draft bill in Japan that would decide what constitutes a State secret.

The Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and on the right to health requested further information from the Japanese authorities on the draft law and voiced their concerns regarding its compliance with human rights standards.

“Transparency is a core requirement for democratic governance,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, <“http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14017&LangID=E“>said.

He stressed that secrecy in public affairs is only acceptable where there is a demonstrable risk of substantial harm and where that harm is greater than the overall public interest in having access to the information kept confidential.

“The draft bill not only appears to establish very broad and vague grounds for secrecy but also include serious threats to whistle-blowers and even journalists reporting on secrets.”

According to reports, information related to defence, diplomacy, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism will all be classified as a state secret, while ministers could decide what information to keep from the public.

Meanwhile, the Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, who visited Japan last year and studied the response to the disaster in Fukushima, underlined the need for to always ensure full transparency in emergency contexts: “Particularly in calamities, it is essential to ensure that the public is provided with consistent and timely information enabling them to make informed decisions regarding their health.”

“Most democracies, including Japan, clearly recognize the right to access information. As much as the protection of national security might require confidentiality in exceptional circumstances, human rights standards establish that the principle of maximum disclosure must always guide the conduct of public officials,” concluded the rapporteurs.

The bill in question establishes the grounds and procedures for classification of information held by the Government of Japan.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
________________
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan has issued a protest of their own, in pdf format, at http://www.fccj.or.jp/images/FCCJ-State-Secrets-Protest-eng.pdf

However, my comment is pretty straightforward:  The snowball is rolling and a version of this legislation, even if “watered down” (or perhaps not), will probably be rammed through into law, since both houses of Parliament are in the hands of ultraconservative parties without a viable opposition party anymore.

Why wasn’t this seen coming down the pike in the first place before it got to this stage?  The warning signs were all there from last December’s election (before that, even, if you read PM Abe’s manifestoes about his “beautiful country“) about Japan’s rightward swing.  This consolidation of information control has always been part and parcel of state control — no surprises, especially in Japan.  So this public reaction of both naiatsu and gaiatsu is too little, too late.  Get ready for the politicized criminalization of public disclosure.  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 69, Nov 7 2013: “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.” about PM Abe’s charm offensive through Gaijin Handler Kitaoka Shin’ichi

mytest

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Hello Blog. This month sees my 69th Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, and I’m happy to report that even after nearly six years of monthly articles (and nearly 12 years of semimonthly reports), I don’t feel like I’m losing my stride. In fact, this month’s entry is one that I’m particularly proud of, as it helped crystallize a feeling I’ve had for quite some time now about the rightist shift in Japan’s politics — and how it inevitably leads (in Japan’s case) to militarism. It spent a couple of days in the JT Online Top Ten, thanks everyone!

justbecauseicon.jpg

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JAPAN BRINGS OUT BIG GUNS TO SELL REMILITARIZATION IN U.S.
By Arudou Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 69 for the Japan Times Community Pages
The Japan Times, November 7, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/11/06/issues/japan-brings-out-the-big-guns-to-sell-remilitarization-in-u-s/
Version follows with links to sources

Last month in Hawaii I attended a speech titled “Japan’s new National Security Strategy in the Making” by a Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka. A scholar and university president, Dr. Kitaoka is deputy chairman of the “Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security” within the Shinzo Abe administration.

I sat in because I wanted to see how a representative of Japan’s government would explain away Abe’s militaristic views to an American audience.

Dr. Kitaoka did not disappoint. He was smooth. In impeccable English, to a packed room including numerous members of Hawaii’s military brass, he sold a vision of a remilitarizing Japan without a return to a prewar militarized Japan. (You can see the entire speech at http://www.vimeo.com/77183187.)

He laid out how Japan would get around its ban on having a military beyond a “self-defense force,” i.e., one that could project power beyond its borders. It would be the same way Japan got around its constitutional ban on having any standing military at all: Japan would once again reinterpret the wording of the Constitution.

His logic: If Japan has a sovereign right to “individual self-defense” (i.e., the right to attack back if attacked), it also has an inherent sovereign right to “collective self-defense” (i.e., the right to support Japan’s allies if they are attacked). A reinterpretation must happen because, inconveniently, it is too difficult to reform the Constitution itself.

That legal legerdemain to undermine a national constitution should have raised eyebrows. But Kitaoka was culturally sensitive to what his American audience wanted to hear: that the ends justify the means. He immediately couched Japan’s freer hand as a way to better engage in the U.S.-Japan security alliance, as well as participate more equally and effectively in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Japan could now assist the world in “human security” through a “proactive peace policy.”

As further reassurance, he gave five reasons why Japan could not return to 1930s-style fascism. Back then, 1) Japan needed more territory, resources and markets, which were being denied them by economic blocs formed during the Great Depression (conveniently omitting the entire “liberating Asians from white imperialism” narrative that underpinned Japan’s “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”); 2) there was hubris on the part of Japan’s military, convinced that neighboring territories were weak and easy targets; 3) the international community had little economic integration or punitive sanctioning power; 4) the military was not under civilian control; and 5) Japan lacked freedom of speech.

Then his rhetoric entered what I call “perpetual wolf-at-the-door territory,” reflecting the typical ideological polarization of a trained geopolitical security analyst. They see the world only in terms of power, potential threats and allies vs. enemies. (That’s why I stopped studying security issues as an undergrad at Cornell.)

Kitaoka sold China as the polar opposite of Japan. Japan is a “peace-loving” society with a “peace Constitution” and capped military expenditure, while China is a nuclear power with an enormous and expanding military budget. Japan has, if anything, “too much” freedom of speech, unlike China, where dissidents are jailed. Japan has no territorial designs abroad (not even the constant threat of invasion from the Korean Peninsula is worrisome anymore — the U.S. has it covered), while China is claiming islands and expanding into markets as far away as Africa! If Japan steps out of line, it would be hurt by international sanctions, as it is fully integrated into and dependent on the world economy, while China . . . isn’t. China is safeguarding its national security and enhancing its prestige through a nationalism that is “obsessed with national glory” while Japan . . . isn’t.

In fact, Kitaoka managed to trace just about every problem in his speech back to China. His conclusion in a Yomiuri Shimbun column on Sept. 22 was stark: “We should now take the place of the (prewar) Republic of China, which was invaded by Japan, and think about how to defend ourselves from unjustified aggression, and consider what should be done to defend ourselves more aggressively.” History, to Kitaoka, has come full circle.

So, in order to maintain regional security and balance of power, Kitaoka announced that Japan would adopt two measures by the end of 2013: 1) A comprehensive “national security strategy,” the first in Japan’s history, integrating foreign and defense policy; and 2) a new “outline of defense planning” through the establishment of an official “National Security Council.”

This would be led by a PM Abe unfettered by the “cancer of sectionalism” between “pro-Western” and “pro-Socialist” camps in Japan’s bureaucracy. Abe’s strong executive leadership would break the hold of Japan’s leftists (whom Kitaoka dismissed as “vocal minorities”) and give the “majority” their proper hand in policymaking.

Then Kitaoka felt he was in a position to make guarantees to the audience. He told them not to worry, for there was “zero possibility” of Japan intervening in the Koreas, including over the Takeshima/Dokdo disputed rocks, “without a request from you.” Japan would also not go nuclear, because nukes are unnecessary in a land so “narrow and densely populated” with no place to put them!

What about Japan’s ability to project power at sea? Despite the recent unveiling of the Izumo (one of three SDF “helicopter-carrying destroyers”; see “Watching Japan and China square off in East China Sea,” BBC News, Nov. 12, 2012), Kitaoka says Japan has “no use” for them. After all, the whole archipelago is full of “unsinkable aircraft carriers” — the Japanese islands themselves. So pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

My favorite part of Kitaoka’s speech (other than when he defied his doctorate training by calling Koreans an “emotional people,” and dismissed several counter-opinions as “stupid”) was when he blamed the putative ineffectiveness of the U.N. Security Council on a struggle between democratic and undemocratic member states, with China and Russia getting in the way. The U.N. would be more effective if more democratic countries were allowed into the UNSC — India, Germany, Brazil and . . . Japan, naturally.

Nice segue. Told you he was smooth.

This is why I am devoting a whole column to this event: The Abe administration is clearly on a charm offensive, sending out an articulate “gaijin handler” with an elite pedigree (Kitaoka is president of the International University of Japan, professor emeritus at Tokyo University, a former ambassador and U.N. representative, and a member of several major think tanks) on a whistle-stop U.S. tour to reassure American power brokers that they can relax their grip over Japan’s security.

After all, that seems to be what the U.S. wants. The schizophrenic U.S.-Japan security relationship has demanded for decades that Japan make more contributions to the geopolitical order, while making sure U.S. bases underpin Japan’s regional security and stop regional worries about a resurgent militarist Japan. As Maj. Gen. Henry Stackpole, former commander of the U.S. Marines in Japan, put it in 1990, the U.S. is the “cork in the bottle.” Thus, Kitaoka is softening up the crowd for Abe to uncork Japan’s military potential.

Now it all makes sense. This is why Abe is making so much noise recently in places like the Wall Street Journal and domestic media about Chinese aggression and regional security.

Abe has a timetable to meet. His national security council is due this month. The defense planning outline is due in December. It’s time to rile up the Japanese public once again about the Chinese wolf at the door, and get them ready to sign off on Japan’s remilitarization.

Look, when Japan’s gross domestic product fell behind China’s in 2011, we all knew there would be blowback in terms of Japan’s national pride. But so much so quickly? Who would have thought that a troublemaking Tokyo governor could create such geopolitical mayhem by threatening to buy some specks in the ocean outside his prefecture, throw Japan’s left-leaning government into chaos and get Japan’s most right-leaning government in generations elected by the end of 2012?

Then again, it’s not so surprising. Watching Kitaoka’s speech, I realized again just how smooth Japan’s elites are. They know whose hands to shake, whose ears to bend, and how to behave as public campaigners in the diplomatic community. Hey, that’s how they somehow got the 2020 Olympics! They know how to say what people want to hear. That is the training of a lifetime of tatemae (pretenses masking true intentions).

Sit back, folks. We’re going to get an official and resurgent Japanese military. With a probable nod and a wink from the Americans, there’s not a lot we can do but watch Abe’s military machinations march to fruition. In 10 years, let’s see how many of Kitaoka’s public promises about a peaceful, internationally cooperative Japan hold.

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More discussion of the Kitaoka speech at www.debito.org/?p=11896. Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday Community page of the month. Send your comments on these issues and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

ENDS

Restoration Party Shinpuu’s xenophobic candidate in Tokyo Katsushika-ku elections: “Putting Japanese first before foreigners”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As Tokyo is having some elections (or by this time of blogging, had; sorry), I thought it within the role of Debito.org to archive yet another example of xenophobia used as a campaign strategy.

Xenophobic party Ishin Seitou Shinpuu (Restoration Party New Wind) is up to its old anti-foreigner tricks again.  This time, front and center, is a candidate for Tokyo Katsushika-ku by the name of Kaneko Yoshiharu, a former employee of Ishikawa Prefecture and former town councilor for O-i Chou in Kanagawa Prefecture, clearly skipping to the other side of Tokyo to rent an apartment and rally up a few fellow fearmongerers.

shinpuukanekoyoshiharu2013poster

Courtesy http://www.shimpu.jp/chihon/senkyo/tokyo_katsushika/kaneko73101001.jpg

His slogan, front and center:  “More than foreigners, Japanese are first!” (Gakokujin yori nihonjin ga daiichi!), setting up a false dichotomy (the fact that foreigners can’t vote in the first place makes that clear).  He’s also calling for limits to foreign products being “dumped” (i.e., being sold overseas for lower than production cost or domestic pricing in order to capture market share — which is kinda rich to say given Japan’s trade record) and for a hardening of policy against Japan’s low birthrate (sorry, potential pun acknowledged).  He also wants (see below within his public statement) an end to “superfluous (kajou na) support for foreigners”, whatever that means.

In case you’re wondering whether anyone would have the courage to put this up on campaign poster walls (or wonder whether Japan’s election laws would allow for such divisive language), he does and they do:

PT370001

(Courtesy RW, photo taken November 5, 2013 in Katsushika-ku, Tokyo)

If you want to know more about what Kaneko wants done, have a look at this:

KanekoYoshiharuPolicies2013

Courtesy http://www.shimpu.jp/chihon/senkyo/

Keep an eye on this party, folks (http://www.shimpu.jpn.org).  It’s the most brazen, but by no means the only xenophobic party of grumpy old Japanese men out there who want to jerk Japan’s political chain hard right.  It helps to have somebody extremely hard-line so that other hardliners (such as Ishihara/Hashimoto’s Japan Restoration Party — without the New Wind) look milder by comparison.  Helps to normalize the invective. Arudou Debito

Good news: Japan Times Community Pages expanding from two-page Tuesdays to four days a week

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Good news.  With an imminent tie-up between The Japan Times and The New York Times, the Community Pages (which I have written for since 2002) will expand from its present two pages on Tuesday to four days a week.  The JT explains in more detail below.  Proud to be part of this writing crew.  We are the only English-language newspaper that is covering issues in this degree of depth in ways that matter to the English-reading NJ communities, and now we’re getting even more space.  Bravo.  Thank you to everyone for reading and encouraging this to happen.  — Arudou Debito, JUST BE CAUSE Columnist, The Japan Times

communityauthorsOct2013

justbecauseicon.jpg

 

Growing Community: the JT’s most talked-about section is about to get larger

From Thursday, Oct. 17, the Community pages will be expanding to four days a week from the present double-page spread on Tuesday and single Saturday page in the print edition. Here’s a taste of what to expect from mid-October:

Monday

Recognizing that a huge number of our readers work in the education sector, Monday’s main feature, Learning Curve, will focus on aspects of the teaching profession in Japan, from eikaiwa to JET and higher education.

Louise George Kittaka will continue to answer readers’ questions for Lifelines, with lawyers from the Tokyo Public Law Office’s Foreigners and International Service Section addressing legal issues on the second Monday of the month.

Learning-related listings and letters will also run Mondays.

Tuesday

Writers including David McNeill, Jon Mitchell and Simon Scott will continue to tackle the big issues for The Foreign Element.

Opinion pieces that in the past would have been published here will shift to Thursday’s page.

Views From The Street will be staying put, tapping the views of people around the country about everything under the rising sun.

Free listings related to causes and campaigns will feature on Tuesdays, as will feedback about the previous week’s columns.

Thursday

Debito Arudou’s Just Be Cause will appear on the first Thursday of the month, with Hifumi Okunuki’s Labor Pains on week two.

Oct. 17 will see the debut of Law Of The Land, a new column by legal expert Colin P.A. Jones.

Fourth (and fifth) Thursdays will offer an open space for opinion, to be called Foreign Agenda.

Readers will still have a forum to vent in Hotline to Nagata-cho.

Listings related to shared pursuits — from discussion groups to sports clubs — will run on Thursdays.

Saturday

Japan Times stalwarts Amy Chavez (Japan Lite) and Thomas Dillon (When East Marries West) will alternate week by week, offering their wry observations about life in Japan from the wilds of the Seto Inland Sea and Tokyo, respectively.

Saturday will continue to be the place to find out more about the diverse range of individuals that make up the foreign community of Japan, with personality profiles, reports on events and organizations, and the occasional embassy profile in Our Man/Woman In Tokyo.

Mixed Matches will focus on multicultural relationships, while Saturday’s listings will cover social and religious events.

ENDS

Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, Chair of Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, speaks at UH EWC Oct 11, 2013 on Japan’s need to remilitarize

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Hi Blog.  Yesterday I attended the following speech:

KitaokaShinichiEWCflyer

I attended because I wanted to see what was making one of PM Abe’s leading advisors tick.  Dr. Kitaoka did not disappoint.

He spoke in excellent English, and came off as a very articulate, passionate, and fluent advocate of his cause, which is essentially to make Japan strong enough militarily to deter China.  He did not feel a need to be restrained by a diplomat’s training, calling various schools of thought “totally wrong” and “stupid”, nor an academic’s subtlety that should come with a doctorate, where he said with firm certainty at various stages that “no Japanese” wants things like expansion of Japan’s borders (he also called Koreans an “emotional people”).  Almost all of the geopolitical problems he referred to in his talk were traced back to China, and he made a strong, reasoned plea for Japan’s inherent sovereign right for collective self defense in order to “contribute to peace and stability” by being empowered to assist Japan’s friends and allies (particularly, naturally, the Americans).

Dr. Kitaoka was very smooth.  He pushed all the right rhetorical buttons with an American audience (this one at the EWC quite full of American military brass; the audience was quite emotive), contrasting rich, democratic, non-nuclear, and “peace-loving” Japan with richening, undemocratic, nuclear and unfree China, which is increasing its defense budget every year and seeking territorial expansion (he even mentioned China’s dealings in Africa in that context).  He also smoothed feathers to head off the “Genie in the Bottle” argument (which is one image the US military uses to justify its continued presence in Japan — to stop Japan from remilitarizing) by pointing out five conditions why today’s Japan is different.  (See them well elaborated in his Yomiuri article scanned below.)

So to this end, Japan would need its first National Security Council, which would hopefully be established by November 2013.

There were a couple more surprises in Dr. Kitaoka’s talk.  One was that he was arguing that Japan is essentially in the same position today as China was in the early 20th century, where Japan is the one now who should think about how to defend itself from unjustified aggression from China!  The other surprise was his reasoning about why the world should not worry about Japan’s potential renewed territorial expansion abroad — because treaty agreements between the US and South Korea would preclude Japan’s need to invade the Korean Peninsula for defensive reasons (now that’s a novel take on Japan’s colonial history!).

Oh, and that it would be an impossibility for Japan to go nuclear again, because Japan as a huge developed economy integrated into world markets is particularly vulnerable to international sanctions.  But China, you see, is a member of the UN Security Council, unlike Japan, and they make UN sanctions more “ineffective”.  Less democratic countries, such as China and Russia, have more power in the UN than the democratic countries such as Japan, Germany, India, and Brazil… (and that was a very neat way to allude to Japan’s need for a UNSC seat — told you he was smooth).

The Q&A was done by people passing papers to the front to be sorted, vetted, and read by EWC staff.

In the end, Dr. Kitaoka talked like I would expect one of Japan’s elites to talk — seeing the world only in terms of power, and how Japan needs more of it because its neighbors are security threats.  That’s what any security analyst will say, of course (that’s how they’re trained), but Dr. Kitaoka spoke like a trained Gaijin Handler representing PM Abe’s political agenda, not a scholar.  Fascinating in that light, but scary, since these are the people who have been voted right back into power and want to dramatically alter Japan’s future policy.

Through him we can see PM Abe’s remilitarizing machinations and goals.  And next month, here they come.  Arudou Debito

NB:  LLK sends links to his full speech (with Q&A) available on vimeo.com. Here’s the link:

http://vimeo.com/77183187

Japan’s New National Security Strategy in the Making from East-West Center on Vimeo.

Here are the handouts that were presented to the audience for Dr. Kitaoka’s talk:

(click on image to expand in browser)

KitaokaShinichiYomiuri

KitaokaShinichihandout1KitaokaShinichihandout2
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013: “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”

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Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013:
“Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”
BY ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/09/30/issues/triumph-of-tokyo-olympic-bid-sends-wrong-signal-to-japans-resurgent-right/
Version with links to sources

Blame news cycles, but I’m coming in late to the discussion on Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics. Sorry. The most poignant stuff has already been said, but I would add these thoughts.

Probably unsurprisingly, I was not a supporter of Tokyo’s candidacy. Part of it is because I have a hard time enjoying events where individuals are reduced to national representatives, saddled with the pressure to prove an apparent geopolitical superiority through gold medal tallies. Guess I’m just grouchy about international sports.

That said, this time around, the wheeling and dealing at the International Olympic Committee has been particularly distasteful. Unlike the IOC, I can’t forget Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose’s denigration of fellow candidate city Istanbul for being “Islamic” (conveniently playing on widespread Western fears of a religion and linking it to social instability). This was especially ironic given rising xenophobia in Japan, where attendees at right-wing rallies have even called for the killing of ethnic Koreans who have lived in and contributed to Japan for generations.

Nor can I pretend to ignore the risk of exposing people to an ongoing nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima. Even if you think the science is still unclear on the health effects of radiation in Tohoku, what’s not in doubt is that there will be incredible amounts of pork sunk into white-elephant projects in Japan’s metropole while thousands of people still languish in northern Japan, homeless and dispossessed. When so much work is incomplete elsewhere, this is neither the time nor place for bread and circuses.

All of this has been said elsewhere, and more eloquently. But for JBC, the most important reason why the Olympics should not come to Japan is because, as I have argued before, Japan as a government or society is not mature enough to handle huge international events.

I know, Japan has held three Olympics before (in Tokyo, Sapporo and Nagano), as well as numerous international events (such as the G-8 Summits in Nago and Toyako) and one FIFA World Cup. But with each major event it holds, Japan keeps setting precedents that hemorrhage cash and make life miserable for residents. Especially those who don’t “look Japanese” — Japan’s visible minorities.

Media memories tend to be short, so some refreshers: More money was spent on “security” at Nago’s G-8 Summit in 1998 than at any previous such powwow — by a factor of five (“Summit wicked this way comes,” Zeit Gist, Apr. 22, 2008). Then Toyako in 2008 spent even more than Nago.

When you devote this much time and energy to policing, consider the effects on those being policed. As reported on these pages before (I have gone as far as to call Japan a “mild police state”), Japan’s police forces have inordinate powers of search, seizure, and detention even at the most mundane of times.

Now, bring in the eyes of the world for an international event, and Japan’s general bunker mentality produces a control-freak guest/host relationship, where nothing is left to chance, and nobody will be allowed to spoil the party.

That means Japan’s authorities get a freer hand to smoosh not only alleged threats to social order, but also dissenters in general. Because our media generally ignores contrarians and naysayers for the sake of putting the best face on Japan for guests, they forget their own duty to act as a check and balance against official over-enforcement and paranoia.

But paranoia tends to peak when there are “foreigners” gadding about. Remember the 2002 World Cup, when politicians, bureaucrats and the media declared open season on “foreigners” (popularizing the word “hooligan” among Japanese), justifying enormous budgets and infrastructure to subdue their international guests if necessary? (It wasn’t.)

Years later, Toyako slingshot off that precedent, with “foreigners” equated with “terrorists,” further normalizing the act of subjecting any foreign face to extra scrutiny and racial profiling.

Plus, you might recall, Japan still has no law against racial discrimination, so treating foreigners like crap can happen anytime, anywhere, by any vigilante who can scribble “Japanese Only” on a storefront window.

But wait — there’s something more sinister afoot. In terms of domestic politics, this was in fact the worst possible time to award Japan the Olympics.

Over the past year, this column has charted the re-ascendance of Japan’s right wing into power, and its rout of the more liberal elements who tried to rein in Japan’s endemic corporatism and bigotry.

Now we have government once again run by and for Japan’s ruling class — i.e., the political families, entrenched bureaucrats, corporate conglomerate heads and hereditary elites.

These types can only see the world in terms of power. Their forebears cheered loudest when, for example, Japan triumphed in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. It showed both them and the rest of the world that Japan had become mighty enough to defeat a world power!

This victory transformed Japan into a colonial empire, cocksure that it was on the right track because it could beat white people. This hubris led to enormous suffering worldwide, as the elites led Japanese society to a destiny of total war and utter defeat.

Three generations later, these elites still have not learned their lesson. The biggest reason why Japan’s ruling class respected and once emulated America is because they lost a war to them. Now that postwar Japan has rebuilt and re-enriched itself, they believe it’s nigh time to re-militarize, restore Japan to its rightful place in the geopolitical hierarchy and rally Japanese society behind repeating a glorious (yet ultimately tragic) history.

If you read the subtext of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposals for constitutional reform closely, you’ll realize that this is precisely what Japan’s ruling politicians are calling for. From that will flow the restored trappings of a prewar-ordered Japanese society.

And now, these jingoists have had their mind-sets rewarded with an Olympics. What a windfall! Even if Abe were to step down tomorrow (he won’t — he’s got a good three years left to machinate if his health holds up), he will be remembered positively for bagging the 2020 Games. But now he and his ilk can leverage this victory into convincing the general public that Japan is still somehow on the right track.

Even when it’s not. For the fallout still remains: Abe lied about how “safe” and “under control” Japan’s nuclear industry is. And Japan’s already massive public debt will balloon further out of control. And once again, the invisible slush monies available to fund elite projects will remain unaccountable.

After all, Japan won its last Olympics, according to Time magazine (“Japan’s sullied bid,” Feb. 1, 1999), through blatant corruption and bribery of IOC officials. How much corruption? We don’t know, because Japan burned all of the Nagano Olympics financial records!

Slush clearly didn’t bother the IOC this time either, as they seated themselves at the trough. I guess we can’t expect corrupt bedfellows to police each other. So anyone who outspends, outbids and outdoes their rivals, even to the detriment of their respective societies, gets rewarded for it — precisely the wrong geopolitical incentives for societies in flux.

In Japan’s case, the damage will be political as well as economic: Everyone must get behind the Olympic effort or else. Then, when the party’s over, remember those who got steamrollered: The people living outside of greedy Tokyo; our non-Japanese residents, who will once again be targeted as a destabilizing force; and the rest of Japanese society, who will have to live under illiberal regimes where individual rights will be further subordinated to the maintenance of social order.

In sum, international events undermine Japan’s democracy. Shame on you, IOC, for being a party to it.

ENDS

Arudou Debito’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send your comments on these issues and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

The Real News: “Japan Grapples with the Rise of Hate Groups” (video)

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Hi Blog. Interesting report sent to me by Debito.org Reader D. Eleven minutes of video on the Zaitokukai, the Rise of Hate Groups in Japan, and the tensions between Right, Left, and “Foreign” in Japan’s public debates. Very much worth a viewing. Courtesy of The Real News Network (theRealNews.com).

Published on Sep 8, 2013
Tensions in East Asia are putting stress on Japanese society as rightwing activists begin to target resident Koreans. This has led to some politicians calling for legislative action against “hate speech”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgvfMHYYv2E

Arudou Debito

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

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Hi Blog. Thanks for making my article once again one of the top-read articles on the day of publication!  Arudou Debito

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Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ
By ARUDOU Debito
JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 66 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES COMMUNITY PAGE
August 6, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/08/05/issues/ol-blue-eyes-isnt-back-tsurunens-tale-offers-lessons-in-microcosm-for-dpj/
Version with links to sources

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

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

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

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

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

Tsurunen became an MP partly because, as a Caucasian Newcomer, he offered protest voters something different (even visibly) from established expectations. But he wasn’t a sphinx. He said he would speak up for outsiders, promote intercultural tolerance, and support laws banning discrimination in housing and employment (New York Times, Mar. 8, 2002).

However, mere months later he distanced himself from “foreigner issues.” In a 2002 interview, he told me that his basic policy was to hitch his fortunes to the DPJ. Quote:

“There will be cases, such as international problems, where… I will have to vote along party lines, even if it is at odds with my personal convictions… After all, if I don’t follow party discipline, I will be expelled from the party. Then I won’t be able to do my job. I will maintain my ability to say my own opinion, but at important times I will be a party man. That’s how I stand.”

That’s not much of a stand. Yet as the DPJ’s fortunes rose to become a viable ruling party, Tsurunen became more invisible.

Where was Tsurunen (or his staff) when the United Nations visited the Diet on May 18, 2006, presenting preliminary findings about racial discrimination in Japan?

When the DPJ took power and began presenting significant proposals enfranchising outsiders, such as suffrage for Permanent Residents and anti-discrimination laws, where was Tsurunen when opposition debates became racialized and xenophobic?

When bigoted politicians such as Shintaro Ishihara and Takeo Hiranuma began questioning the loyalty of Japanese with “foreign ancestors” (“Last gasps of Japan’s dying demagogues”, JBC May 4, 2010), why wasn’t Tsurunen standing up for himself? After all, if not him, who? (The most vocal protests were from Mizuho Fukushima, the leader of a different party altogether.)

Not only did Tsurunen fail to influence the debate, he even relinquished control over his own public narrative and identity.

He famously gaijinized himself in the Japan Times (“Mind the gap, get over it: Japan Hands,” Dec. 28, 2010) by calling himself a “foreigner,” and telling people to accept and work with their fate as permanent outsiders.

Despite some public backpedaling and capitulation, Tsurunen’s attitude never changed, and even after twelve years in office he never tried to transcend mere first impressions of being Japan’s First Gaijin MP.

As proof, check out one of his pamphlets shortly before this election, where he even metaphorically offered to “change the color of his (blue) eyes” (“me” no iro kaete, i.e., change his mind). Now that’s what I call racialized pandering!

tsurunenmarutei2013pamphletcrop

See full pamphlet at http://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/tsurunenmarutei2013pamphlet.jpg

So in the end, what was Tsurunen’s agenda? Unclear, because he let others dictate it.

As did the DPJ. And that’s why they fell from power.

To give them some credit, Japan’s politics has entrenched difficulties for newcomers. The DPJ inherited a system corrupted by decades of LDP rule and patronage, firmly nestling Japan in now more than two “lost decades” of economic stagnation. Yet regime change was so inconceivable that the 2009 election had to popularize a new word in Japanese (seiken kōtai) to reflect a new party coming to power.

The DPJ also had the bad luck of the March 11, 2011 disasters happening on their watch. Given how badly Japan’s nuclear industry botched their job (plus refused to cooperate with the DPJ), this would spell doom for any party in power.

Nevertheless, here’s where the DPJ is culpable:

During its short time in power, the DPJ made some impressive policy proposals in very clear precedent-setting manifestos. The problem is that during the crucible of public debate, they didn’t stand by them.

The DPJ’s first major sign of fragility was their policy cave-in vis-à-vis the US Government over American bases in Okinawa (JBC, “Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy”, Jun. 1, 2010).

This eventually cost us our first DPJ prime minister, and gave glass jaws to future policy proposals sent into public policy brawls. Increased welfare services? Bogged down. Historical reconciliation with neighbors? Lame. Renewable energy? Nixed. Any other issues than border disputes? Weak.

Eventually, the DPJ could neither control their party narrative nor or set the public agenda. By the time PM Noda took charge, the electorate and the media were somehow convinced that a gridlocked Diet (due to the LDP’s machinations) was the DPJ’s fault!

Allowing the LDP to set the agenda is particularly fatal in a society that fixates on brands (and the LDP is THE default political brand of Postwar Japan), and generally roots for winners rather than underdogs. (After all, if the media is constantly telling you that the DPJ is going to lose, why would you waste your vote on them?)

Contrast this with how clear the LDP has been about their intentions over the past year, even if it includes erasing Postwar democratic liberalism.

This column argued last November (“If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”) that Japan’s Right should show their true colors, so the electorate could decide if they wanted a Diet of historical revisionists, bigots, and xenophobes. The debate was indeed in technicolor. And last December, with the DPJ’s resounding electoral defeat, voters decided that xenophobia was okay with them.

Then this column argued last February (“Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan will suffer”) that if both Houses of Parliament went LDP in July, this would bring about radical constitutional revisions affecting civil liberties. Last month, voters apparently decided that was okay too. Thus a perfect storm of politics had completely routed Japan’s Left.

But many Leftists still deserved to lose their position in the Diet because they were too timid or disorganized to carve a space for themselves in Japan’s political narrative. We knew more about who they were not (the LDP), rather than who they were.

Similarly, Tsurunen will be remembered as a person with insufficient self-awareness of his role in Japanese politics. He openly called himself an “outsider,” then refused to fight for issues that concerned outsiders. Like Tsurunen, the DPJ ultimately accepted their fate as permanent outsiders.

So, barring an unlikely “no-confidence” vote, we have around three more years of LDP coalition rule. During this time in the political wilderness, Japan’s Left had better learn the power of controlling their own narrative, and grasp the fact that the party in power should set the terms of debate on public policy. If they ever want to be insiders again, seize the agenda accordingly.

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

Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.
ENDS

WSJ: Abenomics’ Missing “Third Arrow: The absence of immigration reform from Abenomics bespeaks a deeper problem”

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As I will be discussing in my next Japan Times column due out next week, one of the things that the LDP has been good at during this election cycle has been controlling the agenda.  By diverting attention away from contentious constitutional reform by talking about economic reform (or at least the promise of it), Abe and Co. have used imagery of loosing “three arrows” (monetary easing and fiscal stimulus, then eventually structural reforms).  The Economist (London) on June 15 wondered if “Abenomics” had “failed before it even properly began“.

As Debito.org and others have been saying for years now, you can’t have sustained growth without a healthy and energetic workforce, especially as society ages, pensioners crowd out taxpayers, and public works continue to fill in the gaps and crowd out entrepreneurship.  And if you want youth, energy, and entrepreneurialism, you cannot beat immigration and the Can-Do Make-Do Spirit of the Immigrant.

But the strong xenophobic tendencies of the LDP and the dominant fringes within the ruling side of Japan’s politics have made this currently politically untenable.  And here’s the Wall Street Journal giving us their take on why a serious immigration policy should have been one of the GOJ’s “arrows”.  Arudou Debito

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Mr. Abe’s Missing Arrow
The absence of immigration reform from Abenomics bespeaks a deeper problem.
By JOSEPH STERNBERG
Tokyo
WSJ BUSINESS ASIA June 26, 2013
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324637504578568613127577972.html

If there’s one reform that’s symbolic of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s eponymous program to rejuvenate the Japanese economy, it’s immigration.

By importing new consumers and workers, immigration is crucial to stimulating domestic capital investment by companies. By expanding the taxpaying population base, it improves the government’s fiscal position. Immigration will facilitate foreign direct investment, boosting productivity.

All of that makes immigration reform precisely the kind of bold and deep change Mr. Abe promises. But the thing that makes immigration reform most emblematic of Abenomics is that despite its importance to Japan’s future, it is almost entirely absent from the agenda.

No one should underestimate the economic damage done by the country’s demographic emergency. Deaths have outnumbered births since 2005, and now that the inflow of expatriates is slowing, the net population has contracted for two years in a row. The age distribution skews ever older. As of 2010, Japan already had the lowest proportions of its population in the 0-14 years and working-age 15-64 years brackets of any developed economy, at 13.2% and 63.8% respectively. By 2050, those age cohorts will have shrunk further, to 9.7% and 51.5%, according to Statistics Bureau estimates.

Fewer people means fewer consumers. This is one of several interconnected explanations for why Japanese companies are so reluctant to invest at home. It also means fewer workers. One implication is that unless Japan could radically increase productivity per worker—by as much as 3% or 4% per year, an unusual level for a fully developed economy—it will be impossible to deliver the sustained 2% GDP growth Mr. Abe has promised.

IMAGE: Softbank Corp President—and third-generation immigrant— Masayoshi Son.

Yet Abenomics only hints at these realities, never quite facing them head-on. Mr. Abe’s emphasis on boosting the embarrassingly low female labor force participation rate is an acknowledgment that Japan needs more workers. But that is only a temporary measure in light of inexorable demographic change, which policy makers seem to forget affects women as much as men.

Japan needs as many as 10 million immigrants by 2050 to offset natural population decline, according to Hidenori Sakanaka of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute. Many of Mr. Abe’s other goals ultimately depend on immigration. For instance, unanswered in Mr. Abe’s plan to open thousands of new child-care centers so that mothers can return to their careers is the question of who will staff them. Immigrants are the most plausible solution.

Abenomics is not entirely silent on immigration. Mr. Abe proposes revising the points system used to evaluate the visa applications of high-skilled immigrants to make it easier for them to enter, and also to reduce to three years from five the amount of time a foreigner must live in Japan before qualifying for permanent residency.

Both of these would be useful changes, but don’t represent the bigger conceptual leap Japan needs to make. Tokyo can’t afford human resources “winner picking” any more than it can afford to continue the industrial winner picking of yore. Since immigration imports entrepreneurial talent, immigrants also will be vital to achieving the productivity growth Japan needs.

Successful entrepreneurs, like successful business ideas, pop up where and when a bureaucrat least expects them. Masayoshi Son, founder of SoftBank and one of Japan’s most successful living entrepreneurs, is the grandson of otherwise unremarkable pig-farming illegal immigrants from Korea. Japan needs to cast as wide a net as possible for more families like that.

***
The problem, of course, is that immigration will be hugely disruptive to Japan’s way of life, which is undeniably comfortable. Per capita GDP, especially when adjusted for falling prices, is healthy, thank you very much, despite anemic growth in the economy overall. Unemployment is low, even if an inefficient labor market and low productivity suppress wages. Crime is practically unheard of.

The social stability Japanese prize is not noticeable in high-immigration developed economies such as the U.S. or Western Europe. Hearing a foreigner from a place where Latin American drug cartels are active or unassimilated Muslim immigrants burn cars in the suburbs argue for more immigration, the Japanese not unreasonably say, “You must be kidding.” In theory, Japan may have no alternative to immigration if it wants to return to sustained growth. In reality, you’re asking people to upend their society in pursuit of an abstract economic goal.

Investors have lately panned Abenomics, rightly, for its lack of daring. Optimists hope this is a political calculation that a month before a major election is no time to introduce bold reforms, and that more and better is on the way later. But reflection on the immigration problem raises a different prospect. Any meaningful reform will be deeply disruptive—whether in terms of new immigrants let in, small farms consolidated and old farmers retired, new businesses started and old firms bankrupted. In all the hubbub about Abenomics, everyone forgot to ask whether Japan really wants the upheaval needed to restart growth. Unless and until Japanese are willing to tolerate such changes, Abenomics will be more wish than reality.

Mr. Sternberg edits the Business Asia column.
ENDS

Japan Times: Politicians silent on curbing hate speech, and post-election I see no pressure to do so

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Hi Blog. This article is a bit stale, sorry, but discussions here of last week’s Upper House Election was more focused on constitutional revisions. Here’s Eric Johnston surveying how last winter’s hate speech finally blew up into a social issue during the spring (enough so that even Abe had to publicly disavow it), then did not gain enough political traction to become a campaign issue during the election. It’s a shame, really, as how people voice their opinions about groups of people in public have profound effects on how those groups will be treated both in public debate and in public policy. Even with PM Abe’s Facebook record of jingoistic and revisionistic “mobilization of the otakusphere”, voters indicated last week that they didn’t care. If anything, they gave Abe a strengthened mandate to continue in this vein. So even though this article talks about events before the Upper House election, I foresee no change to how hate speech is used to continue Japan’s rightward swing in Japan’s social discussions and politics. There is simply no pressure to. Arudou Debito

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

NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Reining in anti-foreigner tirades a nonstarter in Diet
Politicians silent on curbing hate speech
BY ERIC JOHNSTON, STAFF WRITER
The Japan Times, JUL 10, 2013, courtesy lots of people
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/10/national/politicians-silent-on-curbing-hate-speech/

OSAKA – Calls in the Diet for legislation to curb hate speech targeting foreign residents of Japan are being made even as the issue barely registers on the campaign trail for the July 21 Upper House poll.

Over the past six months, demonstrations and parades against foreign residents, especially Koreans, have grown in intensity. In Osaka’s Tsuruhashi district, home to large numbers of “zainichi” resident Koreans, a 14-year-old girl in February using a microphone loudly maligned Korean residents, saying she despised them and warned them to relocate to the Korean Peninsula or be massacred.

Her comments were reported worldwide and were followed in the months afterward by anti-Korean demonstrations in Tokyo and Osaka that grew, with protestors holding signs saying “Good or Bad Koreans: Kill them All.”

Yoshifu Arita, an Upper House member of the Democratic Party of Japan who is leading a Diet effort to enact legal measures curbing such speech, says things have calmed down only recently after politicians began speaking out.

“On May 7 in the Upper House, (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe said these demonstrations were ‘regrettable.’ Justice Minister Taniguchi used the same word. Chief Cabinet Secretary (Yoshihide) Suga also said these were ‘not good things,’ ” Arita told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Tuesday in Tokyo, referring to terms habitually trotted out by politicians in lieu of serious condemnation.

Over the past six months or so, it has been the rightist group Zaitokukai that has been responsible for much of the hate speech. Arita said this was not a coincidence. “Zaitokukai was established during the “right-leaning” Abe’s first administration in 2006 and 2007, and started escalating their aggression after the resurgence of (Abe’s) Liberal Democratic Party and the advent of his second administration last year,” Arita said.

Judging from Abe’s rhetoric in May, Arita doubts the prime minister in particular would be seriously inclined to sign on to any sincere legislative effort to ban such virulent talk.

“In the most recent edition of the monthly magazine Bungei Shunju, Abe was asked about hate speech. His response was ‘I leave this matter to the good conscience of the average Japanese,’ ” Arita said. “But politicians must take responsibility for trying to resolve this issue. The fact that Abe can make such a comment fills me with doubt about how seriously he’s taking it.”

Nor do most Diet members seem to want to mull legal bans.

In late May, a network of 84 human rights nongovernmental organizations conducted a poll of all 717 Diet lawmakers on how they felt about hate speech, getting replies from only 46, although they represented all major parties except the Japanese Communist Party and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), whose co-leader, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, drew international scorn over his attempt to justify wartime Japan’s use of sex slaves, in large part Korean, for the military.

Forty-three of the 46 said they thought a national response to the rise in hate speech was necessary, while 41 said they supported the idea of the Diet investigating hate speech incidents. All 46 indicated the Diet should consider an antidiscrimination law that bans certain kinds of hate speech.

Arita said hate speech not only targets foreign residents and also has the potential to escalate.

He noted incidents in which politicians, during speeches that may touch on topics certain members of the audience may disagree with, find hecklers calling them “traitors” or “people selling out our country.”

“These are words you see not only on the Internet but actually thrown in politicians’ faces when they’re giving their speeches. We’ve not really seen this kind of situation in Japan in the postwar era.”

ENDS

Japan Focus: “Japan’s Democracy at Risk: LDP’s 10 Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change” by Lawrence Repeta (UPDATED with Aso’s Nazi admiration gaffe)

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Hello Blog.  Meiji University law professor Lawrence Repeta has written up an important article about the probable outcomes and motivations of the specific texts (and subtexts) behind the LDP’s proposed constitutional revisions.  A rough draft of this article appeared on Debito.org from a Repeta lecture last May; as his lecture notes don’t appear as of this writing to be loading properly, let me put this article up instead.  Again, frightening stuff, especially from a human-rights perspective.  And it looks to me like it may come true with PM Abe’s Upper House win last weekend.  Arudou Debito

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

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 28, No. 3, July 15, 2013.
Japan’s Democracy at Risk – The LDP’s Ten Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change
By Lawrence Repeta, courtesy lots of people

http://japanfocus.org/-Lawrence-Repeta/3969
(excerpt)

This is a critical moment in Japan’s history. In parliamentary elections held on Sunday, July 21, the LDP gained thirty seats, giving the Party a total of 115 in the 242-seat Upper House. Following its sweeping victory in December 2012 Lower House elections, this means that together with its coalition partner Komeito, the Party holds secure majorities in both Houses of the Diet. Although the LDP does not control the two-thirds parliamentary majorities required to pass resolutions for constitutional change, it does control Japan’s political agenda. Abe and his followers are in a good position to continue their push to revise the constitution.

Under the present constitution, the Japanese people recovered from the unimaginable suffering of total war and have come to enjoy several generations of peace and prosperity. That constitution has acted as a powerful restraint on the nation’s rulers. It has never been amended. The constitution is the “supreme law” of the land. As we show below, the LDP seeks fundamental change that could have far-reaching effects.

[…]

1. Rejecting the universality of human rights

The LDP proposals start with a thorough rewriting of the Preamble. Several ringing declarations of democratic ideals would disappear: “We, the Japanese people….do proclaim that sovereign power resides with the people…” Deleted. “Government is a sacred trust of the people….This is a universal principle of mankind….” Deleted. “…we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world…” Deleted.

In place of these ideals, the LDP Preamble would emphasize the strength of the Japanese nation, lauding the people’s pride in their country and their willingness to defend it. It would also express pragmatic goals such as a desire to “pursue friendly relations with all nations under a philosophy of peace” and to promote “education, science and technology.”

But, in contrast to the universal principles of the present constitution, the overriding theme of the LDP version is that Japan is different from other countries. Thus, the first sentence of the LDP Constitution would read: “Japan is a nation with a long history and unique culture, with a tennō [Emperor] who is a symbol of the unity of the people….” (Appendix One presents the full English texts of the present Preamble and the proposed LDP version.)

Regarding human rights, the LDP Q&A Pamphlet further explains,

…[r]ights are gradually formulated through the history, tradition and culture of each community. Therefore, we believe that the provisions concerning human rights should reflect the history, culture and tradition of Japan.3

This replacement of universal human rights principles with a unique system of rights based on Japan’s “history, culture and tradition” has profound implications for the people of Japan and for Japan’s relations with the world. Recognition of the universal nature of human rights is the fundamental principle that underlies the postwar global human rights regime. The first article of the UN charter proclaims that “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all” is one of the UN’s primary purposes. One year after Japan’s Constitution took effect, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations….” and described its purpose as securing “their universal and effective recognition and observance….”4

The LDP program clearly rejects this global consensus on human rights. Japan has been an important supporter of the UN since it joined in 1956. Denial of the universal nature of human rights would not only have an impact on the Japanese people, but would also mark a major change in Japan’s foreign policy.

What elements of “history, culture and tradition” should provide the basis for human rights in Japan? The Q&A’s authors do not tell us directly, but several proposed changes in constitutional wording and statements in the Q&A pamphlet indicate a clear direction. We will examine some of these proposals below.

2. Elevating maintenance of “public order” over all individual rights

The LDP would revise key language of Article 12 of the Constitution to read that the people “shall be aware that duties and obligations accompany freedoms and rights and shall never violate the public interest and public order.…”

What are these “duties and obligations”? The LDP doesn’t say. Such open-ended language would serve as an invitation to zealous officials eager to identify duties and obligations that may limit or even override individual rights. The most disturbing aspect of this text, however, is that “freedoms and rights” would be subordinated to “public interest and public order.” “Freedoms and rights” are specified in the present text of the constitution, but the new expression “public interest and public order” is undefined. In their Q&A pamphlet, LDP authors explain,

“Public order” here is “social order” (shakai chitsujo); it means peaceful social life (heibon na shakai seikatsu). There is no question that individuals who assert human rights should not cause nuisances to others.5

So the LDP target appears to be individuals who “assert human rights” and thereby “cause nuisances to others.” Although the public order limitation would apply to all constitutional rights, we can expect that it would have an especially powerful chilling effect on speech rights and other forms of protest. Every public march or other political demonstration slows traffic and causes “nuisances” to others. Most democratic societies accept such inconveniences as a necessary cost of freedom, especially for protection of the right to speak out. Japan’s courts have shown little respect for such rights, however, repeatedly ruling in favor of police action to manage public demonstrations and otherwise restrict public speech.6…

Under the LDP plan, the hostile attitude of the police and the courts toward public demonstrations would gain an unshakable foundation in the constitution itself with express language declaring that an undefined (and therefore potentially limitless) “public interest and public order” would be superior to individual rights.

3. Eliminating free speech protection for activities “with the purpose of damaging the public interest or public order, or associating with others for such purposes”

Just in case a future court might overlook the change to Article 12, the LDP would also revise Article 21 of the Constitution, which presently makes the simple, powerful declaration that “Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed.”

The LDP proposal adds this proviso: “Notwithstanding the foregoing, engaging in activities with the purpose of damaging the public interest or public order, or associating with others for such purposes, shall not be recognized.”

This change not only strips free speech protection from activities that might have the purpose of damaging the “public order,” it would also remove protection from the right of association. So even if I did not go down to the demonstration on that fateful day, if am a member of some citizens group that did, I might be prosecuted, too.

4. Deleting the comprehensive guarantee of all constitutional rights

Widespread recognition of the primacy of human rights as a fundamental condition of civilized society is a relatively recent phenomenon. As noted above, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not created until its drafters were driven by recent memories of the most destructive war in human history.

Article 97 of Japan’s Constitution delivers a stirring declaration of the heritage of these rights: “The fundamental human rights by this Constitution guaranteed to the people of Japan are fruits of the age-old struggle of man to be free; they have survived the many exacting tests for durability and are conferred upon this and future generations in trust, to be held for all time inviolate.”

The LDP proposes to simply delete these words. The Party provides no explanation for this in its Q&A pamphlet, so we can’t be entirely sure about its motivation…

– Full article at: http://japanfocus.org/-Lawrence-Repeta/3969

ENDS

2013 Election Special: The rout of Japan’s Left is complete with a crushing LDP Upper House Victory

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It’s as predicted (if not encouraged) by Japan’s media:  The rightist Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), along with its coalition partner  “Buddhist Party” Kōmeitō (KMT), won an outright majority in Japan’s Upper House.

BACKGROUND

Background for those who need it:  Japan’s Diet (Parliament) is a bicameral legislature, with a more-powerful Lower House (House of Representatiaves) and a more rubber-stamping Upper House (House of Councillors) that can block Lower House legislation.  The Upper House holds elections every three years (Councillors have 6-year terms, and half the Upper House — 121 seats — goes up for election at a time), and yesterday was the Upper House’s most recent election.

The timing of this election was important to Japan’s accelerating swing to the Right.  As Debito.org noted after last December’s Lower House Election, Japan’s rightwing parties — the LDP, KMT, and even a lunatic-Rightist fringe called the Japan Restoration Party (JRP, headed by the likes of xenophobic bigot Ishihara Shintaro and demagogic Hashimoto Tōru) — won an enormous victory over the ruling leftwing parties (particularly the Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ, who had finally wrested power from the LDP, a party that had become very corrupt and inbred after governing Japan for most of its Postwar Era, in 2009).

How enormous a victory was last December’s Lower-House election for Japan’s Right?  It put 3/4 of all Lower House seats in the hands of ultraconservative parties — ones who were openly stating they favored the reinstatement of a Japanese military (not just the “Self Defense Forces”), a revision of Japan’s Constitution to remove Postwar sensibilities regarding individual rights, and a very ahistorical accounting for Japan’s Wartime responsibilities; they were also quite nakedly playing up external threats to sovereignty by niggling over disputed ocean specks with China and South Korea (see here and here).  These trends were enough to cause alarm in even dispassionate scholars of Japan, but no matter — the DPJ was voted out.

Thus yesterday’s election was to be a referendum on the past six months of Prime Minister Abe, who was previously PM last decade in a spectacularly inept LDP administration that went down in flames in less than a year.  Although political Pollyannas said Abe would be restrained between January and July due to this election (indeed, he vacillated somewhat on his stance towards historical revisionism, such as Japan being involved in wars of aggression and wartime sexual slavery), Abe still made the election more about temporary economic upturns with a hint of constitutional reform — asking for a mandate to resolve the gridlocked Diet (gridlock he had caused, it should have been noted), while occasionally raising alarmist fears about outsiders and Japan’s sovereignty. Meanwhile, the DPJ could not make the main issue of the election how the LDP’s proposed constitutional reforms would abrogate everyone’s constitutional rights.  The LDP’s campaign slogan was in fact “Take back and return Japan” (Nihon o tori modosu); readings by scholars noted that this meant taking Japan back not from the DPJ, but from a Postwar constitution back to something Prewar.  So much for restraint.

So SITYS.  Debito.org has long called for Japan’s rightists to bring it on and show their true colors — so that Japan’s voters could decide whether they really wanted reactionary arch-conservatives to tinker with their civil and political rights.  It looks like they have.  Debito.org has also warned what would happen if Japan’s Right got what it wanted.  Turns out voters didn’t seem to care, for now with this resounding Upper House victory, they have given Abe the mandate to do so.  Let’s crunch some election results and then offer some conclusions:

ELECTION RESULTS

These results are from Japan’s mainstream media, so there is nothing particularly specialist in these analyses.  I will take screen captures from the Asahi Shinbun’s website at Asahi.com, dated Monday July 22, 2013, 2:15 AM JST, with all seats reporting in:

Here’s the makeup of how the seats went by prefectural electoral district:

UpperHouse2013Senkyoku

 

EXPLANATION:  Each box is a prefecture.  Inside each box is a colored kanji representing one seat and, depending on the color, to which party it went.  The navy blue ones are the LDP, the sky blue ones the coalition KMT.  Red is the center-left DPJ, and within the fringe parties of note, the light green is the ultrarightist JRP and the orange is all-over-the-map-politically Your Party (Minna no Tō).

COMMENT:  As you can see, almost every prefecture went LDP.  Japan’s rightward shift is especially clear when you compare it to the distribution in the 2010 Upper House election:

UpperHouse2010Senkyoku

and the 2007 Upper House election, which was quite decisively DPJ:

UpperHouse2007Senkyoku

Now let’s look at how the Upper House looks in terms of seat distribution and assembly majority.

UpperHouse2013shinseiryoku

EXPLANATION:  The uppermost grouping is the LDP/KMT coalition, denoting a total of 135 seats in the 242-seat Upper House.  That gives them an absolute majority, as half the seats (visible in the horizontal bar chart) is 121.  The 10 are unaffiliated and fringe parties, the 11 are the Japan Communist Party, and at 59 is the DPJ.

In the smaller greyer horizontal bar chart below the larger one, you can see the distribution of assembly seats before the election.  Below that is a chart showing the seats distribution with this election (e.g., 65 for the LDP), plus the seats that were not up for election this time (e.g., 50 for the LDP), totaling the political power of 115 seats below that.

COMMENT:  As denoted in the larger horizontal bar chart above, a 2/3 majority has been reached in the Upper House if one coalitions the JRP (at 9) and the Minna no Tō (at 18).  This means a reform of Japan’s Constitution is now very possible if not probable.

Next, to see how much of a rout this election was for the DPJ, consider this bar chart for this election alone, not including seats that were not up for election this time:

UpperHouse2013Kaisenbun

 

EXPLANATION:  The biggest seat getters were the LDP/KMT coalition at 76.  They had 44 before this election.  The other fringe parties, Minna no Tō (politically wild-card) went from 3 to 8, JRP (ultra rightist) went from 2 to 8, and JCP (leftist communist) went from 3 to 8.  Clearly the biggest loser was the DPJ, which dropped from 44 to 17.

COMMENT:  The Right is now clearly in control of the Upper House.

Next, Japan has a funny election system seen in other parliamentary democracies where the electorate votes for an individual candidate in a prefectural seat (senkyo-ku), and then votes for a second time for a political party (called hirei-ku, or Proportional Representation).  So of the 121 seats up for grabs this time, 73 are for prefectural seats largely apportioned by local population numbers (i.e., larger population = more seats), while 48 are reserved for people who get votes on behalf of their party.  So if people preferred an individual candidate but didn’t like their party, they could vote for the person and then a second time for a different political party.  Here’s how those turned out:

UpperHouse2013votebreakdowns

At the top is the LDP again, which got 47 seats in electoral districts, and 18 seats from PR votes, total 65 seats of the 121 up for grabs, increasing their total seats in the Upper House from 84 to 115.  You can do the same math for the other parties, which are, respectively, LDP coalition party KMT (sky blue, center-rightist), DPJ (red, center-leftist), Minna no Tō (orange, wild card), JRP (green, ultra-rightist), JCP (purple, leftist-communist), and other fringe parties in grey Seikatsu no Tō (political despoiler Ozawa Ichiro’s latest incarnation), Shamintō (leftist), Midori no Kaze (green leftist), Kaikaku (unknown leanings; did not field a candidate), Taichi (Suzuki Muneo’s demagogic party), the rest of the fringes, and the unaffiliateds.

COMMENT:  Once again, the biggest winners were the LDP, the biggest losers the DPJ (which got as many as KMT and just one more than the ultrarightist JRP!)

TWO ELECTIONS OF NOTE TO DEBITO.ORG:

As talked about in previous blog entries, two candidates were notable a) for their underwhelmingness (Japan’s first European-born MP Tsurunen Marutei) and b) for their rabid xenophobia (the anti-Korean candidate Suzuki Nobuyuki).  Suzuki first:

1) XENOPHOBE SUZUKI NOBUYUKI GETS MORE THAN 1% OF TOKYO ELECTORATE

suzukinobuyukicampaignposterjuly2013

In the end, Suzuki came in tenth (out of twenty candidates), which is not too shabby considering how extremely nasty he is. As of this writing, 74,083 people in Tokyo voted for him.  I find that decidedly scary.

UpperHouse2013TokyoSuzukiNobuyuki

2) TSURUNEN LOSES HIS SEAT.  NOT EVEN CLOSE

tsurunenmarutei2013pamphletcrop

Finland-born Tsurunen Marutei, the human chameleon who got his Diet seat for two terms, did little of import with it, and then promised to change even the color of his eyes, decisively lost in the PR vote.

UpperHouse2013DPJPRvotesTsurunen

For the DPJ, he came in thirteenth, gaining only 81,856 votes (not all that many more than Suzuki, and this is a nationwide vote!).  This is below the threshold allowed for the total votes cast for the DPJ, which gave only seven candidates (those denoted by red roses) a seat.

COMMENT:  What an ignominious end to what could have been a noteworthy career.  And if you think I’m exaggerating Tsurunen’s underwhelmingness, even the Asahi didn’t see Tsurunen’s loss (as Japan’s first Visible Minority elected to the Diet) as significant enough to include in the 63 “noteworthy races” (chūmoku no tōraku) they gave special coverage to.

CONCLUSION:  I think Abe will now see this as vindication of his mandate, and we’ll see even more pushing of his rightest agenda to undo as many Postwar reforms as possible.  Those will become very visible in the coming weeks.  Vigilance.

Alright, that’s the bare bones of this election.  Let’s open this up to Comments. Thanks for reading.  Arudou Debito

Scholar Morris-Suzuki on the rebranding of PM Abe for foreign consumption, contrasted with his “reverse postwar political reforms” goals set out in his manifesto

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On the eve of an election that will only further empower this man, Scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki talks about the media machines to rebrand him as “not a nationalist”.  Hah.  And double hah after reading some actual scholarship on this man.  Read on and grit your teeth as election results come in.  Arudou Debito

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 28, No. 1, July 15, 2013.

The Re-Branding of Abe Nationalism: Global Perspectives

Tessa Morris-Suzuki

In 2010, the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) launched a highly successful TV show called The Gruen Transfer. The title refers to the disorienting psychological effects produced on consumers by the architecture of shopping malls, whose dazzle and noise are deliberately designed to mesmerize: on entering, “our eyes glaze over, our jaws slacken… we forget what we came for and become impulse buyers”.The ABC’s Gruen Transfer explored the weird, wonderful and disorienting effects produced by the advertising industry. Its most popular element was a segment called “The Pitch”, in which representatives of two advertising agencies competed to sell the unsellable to the show’s audience – creating gloriously sleek videos to market bottled air, promote the virtues of banning religion, or advocate generous pay raises for politicians.

I have been reminded of The Gruen Transfer in recent months, as sections of the media in Japan, and even internationally, have gone into overdrive to sell an equally challenging message: the message that Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is not a nationalist.This particular pitch has been running for some time. It began with the inception of Abe’s first short-lived prime ministership in 2006, when Japanese Foreign Affairs Deputy Press Secretary Taniguchi Tomohiko devoted considerable energy to persuading a US audience that Abe was “almost the polar opposite” of a nationalist.The right-of-centre Sankei Newspaper took up the challenge with enthusiasm: its Washington correspondent, Komori Yoshihisa, published numerous articles, including an opinion piece in the New York Times, which aimed to refute the “nationalist” tag. Far from being a hawkish nationalist, Komori argued, Abe had “merely been shaped by democracy”, and his real aim was to bring Japan back from the “post-war extreme towards the center”.But these pronouncements had only limited impact on international opinion, and by early 2007 one prominent Japanese marketing consultant was lamenting, in the pages of the Yomiuri newspaper, that the government needed a far more effective foreign media strategy to rescue Abe from the “hawk” and “nationalist” labels.5

The issue has resurfaced with renewed vigor since the advent of the second Abe regime in December 2012. In May 2013, a US Congressional Research Service paper describing Abe as a “strong nationalist” evoked a surprisingly querulous response from pro-government media in Japan, and even from Prime Minister Abe himself. Abe hit back with a statement in parliament, expressing his unhappiness that “the ideas of our country” were being misunderstood by foreigners. He went on to call for measures to “actively collect and spread information so that we will be correctly understood”.6

[…]

Abe’s core goal, inherited from Kishi, clearly set out in Towards a Beautiful Country, and echoed in the manifestos of groups like the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership, is to “escape from the postwar regime”: that is, to reverse the political reforms introduced to Japan during the allied occupation. In his view, these reforms undermine Japan’s traditions, which are centred on the figure of the Emperor. What Abe’s nationalist vision means in practice is best understood by examining his party’s far-reaching proposals to rewrite the postwar Japanese constitution. The proposed changes include removing the reference to “respect for the individual” and making it constitutionally impossible for foreign permanent residents to be given national or local voting rights. Freedom of expression and freedom of association would not be protected where these “have the purpose of harming the public interest or public order”. The same formula would be used to limit the right of citizens to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The revised constitution prepared by the Liberal Democratic Party contains no guidelines as to how, and by whom, “public interest” and “public order” would be defined, leaving an alarmingly large loophole for the repression of civic freedoms by the state. A new article would also be added to the constitution to give the state sweeping powers to declare prolonged states of emergency, during which constitutional rights could be suspended.22 With the prospect of an LDP super-majority in parliament for the next two to three years, there is a strong likelihood that the ruling party will push forward with an attempt to carry out these changes: changes so profound that they should probably be described, not as plans for constitutional revision, but rather as plans for a new constitution.

This artwork appeared in an exhibition entitled “the Constitution and Peace” which opened in a public art space in Fukui Prefecture in May. The work consists of several sections of the current constitution written out in attractive calligraphy and coloured ink on Japanese paper. Soon after the exhibition opened, it was removed on the orders of the company which manages the art space for the local government on the grounds that “its political content might offend the feelings of some viewers”.

 

The current popularity of the Abe administration in no way reflects public enthusiasm for these grand political designs. It is, instead, a response to the government’s economic stimulus package, and to Abe’s skill in making optimistic statements, which convey a sense of leadership to a population weary of political uncertainty and economic malaise. In the end, the Abe government’s performance should and will be judged, not on any political labels, but on the impact that it has on Japanese society and on Japan’s relations with its region and the world. It is possible that Abe may yet choose to focus on the vital tasks of creating a basis for a strong Japanese economic future and improving relations with Japan’s neighbours, rather than pursuing the ideological agendas of anti-liberalism and “escape from the postwar regime”.

In the meanwhile, though, those who care about the future of Japanese society should not allow the dazzle of verbal juggling to induce a political version of the Gruen Transfer. The prime minister’s ideology may be re-branded for the global market, but the old adage remains: buyer beware.

– See full article at: http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3966

Tessa Morris-Suzuki is Professor of Japanese History in the Division of Pacific and Asian History, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, and a Japan Focus associate. Her most recent books are Exodus to North Korea: Shadows from Japan’s Cold War, Borderline Japan: Foreigners and Frontier Controls in the Postwar Era and To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey Through China and Korea.

ENDS

Anti-Korean Upper House candidate Suzuki Nobuyuki wants Japan closed to immigrants and rearmed with nukes (CORRECTED)

mytest

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Hello Blog. It’s election time again, and of course we get all sorts of weirdos coming out of the woodwork. In past campaigns we’ve had antiestablishment types (love this campaign video), and also xenophobic types (this one was a shocker back in 2011 — here’s his campaign video). But here’s one candidate this time around who targets Koreans in particular:

suzukinobuyukicampaignposterjuly2013

Suzuki Nobuyuki, a candiate for Tokyo in the Upper House for the far-right Restoration Party Shinpuu (New Winds, not to be (easily) confused with Ishihara’s Restoration party), calls for the end of relations with Korea, an end to immigration (imin), and even the barring of Koreans from entering Japan (how he’ll deal with the Zainichi already here is unclear from his slogans). Oh, and he also wants Japan to rearm itself with nuclear weapons (kakubusou) — now that’s even fodder for Japan’s increasingly isolationist future.

(UPDATE JULY 18:  It has been pointed out in the Comments Section below that the poster above of Suzuki was misunderstood, in that Suzuki is trying to use his bad-boy image of meddling with monuments overseas — so much so he’s been barred from entering South Korea — as an election campaign tactic.   Sorry for the error, and thanks for the corrections.  He makes his barring from South Korea the banner item on his newspaper blurb too.)

Here’s his newspaper blurb, courtesy of MS (click on image to expand in your browser):
SuzukiNobuyuki2013election

It has the typical right-wing tropes about a strong country with sufficient autonomy to defend itself from Chinese invasion, defending Japan’s honor by weeding out “masochistic” (jigyaku) history from education and reestablishing the family unit along traditional lines (no doubt meaning bringing back the Ie Seido), returning Japan to its status as the “world’s safest country” by bringing back the “world’s safest energy source,” nuclear power, and kicking out immigrants so they don’t take jobs away from Japanese (even though NJ were brought in as official policy during Japan’s labor shortage to do the dirty jobs Japanese don’t want in the 3K sector; oh, never mind — facts don’t matter to these people).

Nasty ideology seeing the light of day these days in Japan. Are there still people not becoming alarmed yet? The stuff coming out of the mainstream political parties involving constitutional revisions is even scarier.

Other election watchers seeing stuff that’s bothering them are welcome to contribute (don’t forget links. Here’s Shinpuu’s). Arudou Debito

Assessing outgoing MP Tsurunen Marutei’s tenure in the Diet: Disappointing

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In keeping with the upcoming Upper House Election in Japan in less than one week (July 21), one member whose seat is up for renewal is Tsurunen Marutei, the septagenarian Finland-born naturalized Japanese. He has spent a great proportion of his life in Japan running for elections in local positions (successfully), then nationally (not so successfully, but finally squeaking in on the last rung of Proportional Representation seats by “kuri-age“, when the person who got in instead, Ōhashi Kyosen, gave up his seat in disgust with Japan’s political system).  Tsurunen then won his second six-year term in 2007.  This was significant, since it could be argued that Tsurunen now had a more secure mandate thanks to his works.

However, next week Tsurunen looks likely to lose his Diet seat.  And in Debito.org’s opinion, so be it.  On the eve of this rather ignominious end to what should have been a noteworthy political career, let’s assess here what Tsurunen accomplished:  As far as Debito.org is concerned, very little.   As I have written elsewhere:

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

Normalization of the Gaijin’s permanent “foreigner” status: The self-proclaimed “foreigner” MP Tsurunen Marutei 

 Another naturalized citizen was also undermining Japan’s naturalization regime. Tsurunen Marutei, Japan’s first European-born Caucasian MP, assumed office in Japan’s Upper House in 2002 promising to “speak up for the outsiders”, “promote intercultural tolerance and laws banning discrimination in housing and employment” while cultivating support from the Zainichi Korean minority.[1] However, after distancing himself from “foreigner issues” in a 2002 interview with the author and in a 2006 interview with Metropolis magazine,[2] he was conspicuously absent from a Diet meeting with United Nations Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2006 regarding the latter’s preliminary report on racial discrimination in Japan.[3] Then, in an interview with the Japan Times conducted in English, Tsurunen was quoted as follows:

We are foreigners and we can’t change the fact. But still Japanese accept us into this society as foreigners… I don’t need to try to be Japanese or assimilate too much. I want to be accepted as a foreigner and still contribute to this society. It’s no problem for me to be a foreigner — it’s a fact… I always say I am Finn-born Japanese.[4]

There were many critiques of this statement with some questioning the legal validity of the statement “Japanese foreigner” from a national representative in the Diet sworn to uphold Japan’s laws. As racialized concepts of “Japaneseness” were being established beyond legal parameters by xenophobic public officials (such as Ishihara Shintarō), Tsurunen, the most prominent Visible-Minority naturalized citizen of Japan, instead of protesting was normalizing and justifying the racialization of Japanese citizenship – by calling himself a “foreigner”, and thereby enforcing his Gaijin status upon himself.

Tsurunen responded to the criticism: “I wish to thank everyone for their comments. As people have pointed out, my use of the English word ‘foreigner’ was inappropriate. I was trying to express that I am not a ‘Japan-born Japanese’ and used ‘foreigner,’ but strictly speaking I should have said ‘foreign-born person,’ or, as I said in the article, ‘Finn-born Japanese.’ I regret using expressions that gave rise to misunderstandings, and would like to offer my apologies.”[5]

Notwithstanding this gaffe, Tsurunen, facing re-election in 2013, published this pamphlet (click on image to expand in browser):

tsurunenmarutei2013pamphlet

(MP Tsurunen’s 2013 support pamphlet with bio and basic policy stances.)

Note the slogan on the right third of the pamphlet: “‘Me’ no iro kaete, ganbarimasu.” (I will change the color of my “eyes” [change my outlook] and do my best). Further rendering the kanji for “eye” in blue to match his eyes, Tsurunen is highlighting his physical attributes as a Visible Minority as part of his public appeal, and thus further “othering” himself in what may be a desperate act to maintain his Diet seat.


[1] “Yugawaramachi Journal: Japan’s New Insider Speaks Up for the Outsiders.” New York Times, March 8, 2002.

[2] Interview, March 4, 2002, archived at www.debito.org/tsuruneninterview.html; “Foreign-born lawmaker puts Japan’s acceptance of outsiders to the test.” Metropolis Magazine, August 9, 2006.

[3] On May 18, 2006, 2-3PM, at the Shūgi’in Dai-ichi Kaikan, Diene gave a preliminary presentation of his findings to MPs and the general public. I was present, as were several MPs, but Tsurunen was not. In cases where the MP is absent due to schedule conflicts, it is protocol to send a secretary to the event to leave the MP’s business card (meishi) as a show of support. Tsurunen’s office sent no representative and left no card.

[4] See “Mind the gap, get over it: Japan hands.” Japan Times, December 28, 2010.

[5] See Arudou Debito, “Naturalized Japanese: Foreigners no more.” Japan Times, February 1, 2011.

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

CONCLUSION:  As Tsurunen noted in his interview with Debito.org back in 2002, his only policy was to hitch himself to the DPJ.  Quote:  “[T]here will be cases, such as international problems, where we in the Upper House will have to put things to a vote. I will have to decide there and there pro or con. At that time, I think I will have to vote along party lines, even if it is at odds with my personal convictions. If asked by the media before or after why I did that, I will have to say that that’s how party politics work. After all, if I don’t follow party discipline, I will be expelled from the party. Then I won’t be able to do my job. I will maintain my ability to say my own opinion, but at important times I will be a party man. That’s how I stand.” That’s not much of a stand.

And now that the DPJ has gone down in flames, so will he; Tsurunen as the election looms clearly has little he can use to recommend himself for his job except the color of his eyes.  This unremarkable politician, who once said he’d fight for the “outsiders”, in the end did little of that. In fact, it seems Tsurunen fought only for himself, wanting a Diet seat only as a matter of personal ambition and status — to be Japan’s first at something.  Even if it was to occupy what he seems to have made into a sinecure.  Same as any politician, people might argue.  But Tsurunen, with all the visibility and potential of Japan’s first foreign-born and Visible-Minority Japanese MP, squandered a prime opportunity to show what Visible Minorities in Japan can do.

If anything, Tsurunen deserves to be remembered as a person who had no spine, conviction, clear moral compass (despite being a member of Japan’s religious community), or worst of all self-awareness of his minority background in Japan.  He was, for example, no Kayano Shigeru, Japan’s first and only Ainu MP.  And ultimately Tsurunen will be a footnote in history if he remembered at all — a man who called himself a “foreigner” yet refused to fight for the rights or issues that concerned or influenced them.  Mottai nai.  Time to retire into obscurity. Arudou Debito

Meidai’s Repeta lecture May 23 on LDP’s likely constitutional reforms: Deletes fundamental guarantee of human rights, shifts from “rights” to “duties” & prioritizes “public order”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We are mere weeks away from the next Diet Upper House election (July 23, to be exact), where half the seats are up for grabs, and at this point it looks like Japan’s rightward swing will be successful and complete.  According to current opinion polls (and they do matter a priori, as Japan’s voting culture rarely supports underdogs), the LDP is far and away in the lead (so far so that the opposition DPJ won’t even bother to field more than one candidate in the Tokyo constituency), meaning they will probably add the Upper House to its collection of majorities in the more-powerful Lower House as well.

With this comes the likelihood of first changes in the Postwar Constitution.  Legal scholar Colin P.A. Jones of Doshisha University has already come out with articles in the Japan Times discussing the LDP’s proposed changes (see here and here).  What I will do in this blog entry is scan and paste in the lecture notes (ten pages) from another legal scholar, Lawrence Repeta of Meiji University, who gave his analysis in a lecture at Temple University in Tokyo on May 23, 2013.  It is less accessible than Colin’s newspaper articles but no less authoritative, so here it is, courtesy of CP (notes in the margins probably also by CP). Repeta similarly holds that we will see a shift in focus towards strengthening The State in the name of “public order”, and prioritizing the duties and obligations of the Japanese public rather than guaranteeing their rights as individuals.

In sum (I argue), we are seeing the return of Japanese as Imperial subjects rather than citizens, where rights and duties are granted from above rather than secured and guaranteed from below.

This is what’s coming, folks.  Be prepared.  Arudou Debito

repetalecture0523131

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Also enclosed in CP’s mailing was this curious note from senior Japan scholar Ronald Dore, which fixates on one particular debate held more than 20 years ago (along with snide asides at Japan’s Left), and even gets the former Tokyo Governor’s name wrong:

dorenotes052313

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 64 Jun 4, 2013: “By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest column for your comments. Thanks to everyone who read it in print and online! Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg
JUST BE CAUSE
By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor
BY ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times June 4, 2013, version with links to sources
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/06/04/issues/by-opening-up-the-debate-to-the-real-experts-hashimoto-did-history-a-favor

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has been busy making headlines around the world with his controversial views on Japan’s wartime sex slaves (or “comfort women,” for those who like euphemisms with their history). Among other things, he claimed there is no evidence that the Japanese government sponsored the program, and suggested these exploited women were (and still are) a “necessary” outlet for a military’s primal urges. (Sources here and here)

I will say something for this idiot’s provocative behavior: He brought this issue out for long-overdue public scrutiny. He has also presented us with a case study of how to keep people like him in check.

For a person in power, Hashimoto has behaved unusually candidly. Generally, after Japanese politicians or bureaucrats burp up ignorant, bigoted, sexist or offensively ahistorical comments, they backpedal by claiming they were somehow misunderstood (which Hashimoto did), or even try to excuse their remarks by saying they were “for a domestic audience only.” (They seem to think they live on an isolated debate Galapagos, and that the Japanese language is a secret code.)

Then Japan’s media plays along by ignoring or downplaying the events or, if pressed, lobbing the ideologues a few softball interview questions. Most reporters lack the independence (due to editorial constraints and incentives not to rock the powerful press club system) or the cojones to hold elites’ feet to the fire.

However, when their statements make the foreign media (particularly the BBC or New York Times) they get serious domestic traction, because now Japan’s international image — vis-a-vis countries Japan’s government actually cares about — is being tarnished.

In the bad old days, blunderers would then tentatively apologize and tender a snap resignation — without effecting any real change in how Japan’s elites “really think,” or sufficient debate on the issues they resuscitated. It feels like lopping off one of the heads of a hydra — you just know more noggins will pop up shortly.

Nowadays it’s worse, because the hydra often stays unlopped. Bona fide bigots (such as former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara; see JBC, Nov. 6, 2012: If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on) remain boldly unrepentant or tepidly sorry, hunker down at their posts and wait for the public to swallow the issue before the next media cycle begins.

The result is a toxic aftertaste regurgitated in the region: Japan seemingly rewrites a pretty awful colonial past, and former colonies see this free pass from historical purgatory as a product of Japan’s special political and military relationship with hegemon America. Asia’s acid reflux thus sours other international relationships.

This time, however, Hashimoto is doing something different: He’s actually cooking up an international debate. A marathon press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan last week exposed some juicy bones of contention.

Hashimoto reiterated his denial that the government was “intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women” but, more indicatively, he said: “It would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world.”

To paraphrase: Japan did nothing all that wrong because it did nothing unusually wrong. Hashimoto is thus rationalizing and normalizing sexual slavery as a universal part of war — as if blaming Japan is wrong because everyone else allegedly did it.

Essentially, revisionists such as Hashimoto want a bowdlerized assessment of history. But remember, every country has shameful periods in their past; the trick is to learn from them, not cover them up (as Hashimoto’s ilk seeks to do, all the way down to a sanitized education curriculum).

They also want a dishonest tone in the narrative. For them, Japan must not only be seen accurately (as they see it); it must be seen nicely. That is simply not possible when addressing certain parts of Japan’s history.

Why are these people trying so hard to be relativistic? They might actually be so thick as to believe that any government would institutionalize sexual slavery in the “fog of war.” It’s more likely, however, that they simply don’t want their “beautiful country” to be the bad guy in their movie.

Fortunately Hashimoto’s posturing has exposed this ugly illogic. He has given people who know better (such as historians and eyewitnesses) the opportunity to correct and inform Japan’s revisionists on a national level.

To be sure, Hashimoto (a lawyer famous for taking extreme stances as a TV celebrity before his election to office) has never developed the “caution filter” that usually comes with public office, which is why he should return to private practice, where his semantic games would be limited to Japan’s petty courts.

But Hashimoto has also inadvertently shown us a way to blunt the rise of Japan’s incorrigible right wing: Reduce their rants to performance art.

As historian Tessa Morris-Suzuki sagely notes: “This is not politics by persuasion but politics by performance. The object of the current performance is obvious. It is to provoke impassioned counter-attacks, preferably from those who can be labeled left-wing and foreign — best of all from those who can be labeled Korean or Chinese nationalists. This will then allow Hashimoto to assume the ‘moral high ground’ as a martyred nationalist hero assailed by ‘anti-Japanese’ forces . . .

“This makes a careful and considered response to the Hashimoto phenomenon particularly important. Above all, this phenomenon should not be ‘nationalized.’ Hashimoto does not speak for Japan, and to condemn Japan because of his comments would only be to boost his demagogic appeal.

“The best reply from those who hope he never will speak for Japan is to allow his words to speak for themselves. Those outside Japan who are alarmed or offended by these words should seek out and lend support to the embattled peace, human rights and reconciliation groups in Japan which also seek a different future, so that their voices too may be heard at the national level.”

So, I encourage readers to understand what’s behind maintaining these narratives. Japan’s Hashimotos want to channel Japanese society’s innate cautiousness towards the outside world (JBC, Oct. 2, 2012: Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place) into domestic support for their xenophobic populism. When they make their venomous statements, take them up and calmly point out the illogic and inaccuracies therein — stress on the word “calmly.” Use their tactics against them.

It’s a bit ironic, but Japan needs more Hashimotos to make a hash of contentious issues. The clearer they spout stupid stuff, the clearer our corrections will be. And, with sufficient attention and pressure, the shorter their political lives will be.

Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

ENDS

Discussion: Osaka Mayor Hashimoto and GOJ WWII Sexual Slavery System: A brave debate that is suddenly and disingenuously circumspect

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Posters on Debito.org have been champing at the bit to talk about Osaka Mayor Hashimoto’s controversial statements on the GOJ WWII sexual slavery program (which also involved NJ and colonial slaves, making this a Debito.org issue).  So let’s have at it as a Discussion in a separate blog entry.

Below are Hashimoto’s statements to foreign press shortly before he appeared at the FCCJ on May 27. While I am disinclined to comment on the historical specifics (as I haven’t studied the WWII Sexual Slavery aka Comfort Women Issue sufficiently to make informed statements), I will say this about what Hashimoto’s doing:  He’s bringing the issue to the fore for public scrutiny.

Bring this before public scrutiny in itself is a good thing.  Too many times we have had bigoted, racist, sexist, and plain ahistorical statements by Japan’s public officials downplayed by the media, resulting in predictable backpedaling and claiming that comments were “for a domestic audience only”.  This is typically followed by snap resignations without sufficient debate or correction (or, in recent years, people not resigning at all and just waiting for the next media cycle for things to blow over), undercarpet sweeping, and a renewed regional toxic aftertaste:  How Japan’s elite status in Asia under America’s hegemony allows it to remain historically unrepentant and a debate Galapagos in terms of historical accountability.  Japan’s media generally lacks the cojones to bring the xenophobic and bigoted to account for their statements (after all, Hashimoto to this day has not developed a filter for his role as public official; he still talks like the outspoken lawyer he was when appearing on Japanese TV as a pundit).  So having him show some unusual backbone before the foreign press is something more Japanese in positions of power should do.  Let’s have the debate warts and all, and let the historians debunk the ahistorical claims being made.  But the claims have to be made clearly in the first place before they can be debunked.

The bad thing going on here, in my view, is that Hashimoto is rationalizing and normalizing sexual slavery as a universal part of war — as if “blaming Japan” is wrong because everyone allegedly did it.  In his words, “It would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world.”  That is:  Japan did nothing all that wrong because it did nothing unusually wrong.

Hashimoto is also denying that the GOJ was “intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women”.  And that is wrong both morally and factually.  It is also wrong because working backwards from a conclusion of relativism.  People (especially those of Hashimoto, Abe, and Ishihara’s political bent) have the tendency to not want to view their “beautiful country” “negatively” as the bad guy in the movie.  Therefore their countrymen’s behavior must have been within context as part of the “normal”, because to them it is inconceivable that people could possibly have acted differently in the same circumstances.

But not only is this a dishonest assessment of history (EVERY country, yes, has a history that has shameful periods; the trick is not to cover them up, as Hashimoto’s ilk seeks to do, down to Japan’s education curriculum), but it is also disingenuously circumspect:  For Hashimoto’s ilk, not only must Japan be seen ACCURATELY (as they see it), it must be seen NICELY.  That’s simply not possible for certain time periods in Japan’s history.

At least Hashimoto is willing to boldly present that side for people to shoot down.  Hopefully he will lose his political career because of it, for a man like this is unfit to hold political office.  But it is more “honest” than the alternative.

Hashimoto’s statements follow in English and Japanese, plus an AJW article on the FCCJ Q&A.  After that, let’s have some comments from Debito.org Readers.  But an advance word of warning:  Although this falls under Discussions (where I moderate comments less strictly), the sensitive and contentious nature of this subject warrants a few advance ground rules:  Comments will NOT be approved if a) they seek to justify sexual slavery or human trafficking in any form, b) they try to claim that Hashimoto was misquoted without comparing the misquote to his exact quote, or c) they claim historical inaccuracy without providing credible historical sources.  In sum, commenters who seek to justify Hashimoto’s ahistorical stances will have to do more homework to be heard on Debito.org.  Conversely, comments will more likely be approved if they a) stick to the accuracy or logic of Hashimoto’s statements, b) talk about the debate milieu within Japan regarding this topic, c) take up specific claims and address them with credible sources.  Go to it.  But make sure in the course of arguing that you don’t sound like Hashimoto and his ilk yourself.  Arudou Debito

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

Statement by Toru Hashimoto
Asahi Shimbun, Asia and Japan Watch, May 27, 2013, courtesy of JDG
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201305270012

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimioto issues a statement ahead of his press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

* * *

Ideals and values on which I stand:

Today, I want to start by talking about my basic ideals as a politician and my values as a human being.

Nothing is more regrettable than a series of media reports on my remarks with regard to the issue of so-called “comfort women.” These reports have created an image of me, both as a politician and as a human being, which is totally contrary to my real ideals and values. This has happened because only a portion of each of my remarks has been reported, cut off from the whole context.

I attach the utmost importance to the universal values of human rights, freedom, equality and democracy, whose universality human beings have come to accept in the twenty-first century. As a constitutionalist, I also believe that the essential purpose of a nation’s constitution is to bind government powers with the rule of law and to secure freedom and rights of the people. Without such legal limitations imposed by the constitution, the government powers could become arbitrary and harmful to the people.

My administrative actions, first as Governor of Osaka Prefecture and then as Mayor of Osaka City, have been based on these ideals and values. The views on political issues that I have expressed in my career so far, including my view of the Japanese constitution, testify to my commitment to the ideals and values. I am determined to continue to embody these ideals and values in my political actions and statements.

As my ideals and values clearly include respect for the dignity of women as an essential element of human rights, I find it extremely deplorable that news reports have continued to assume the contrary interpretation of my remarks and to depict me as holding women in contempt. Without doubt, I am committed to the dignity of women.

What I really meant by my remarks on so-called “comfort women”

I am totally in agreement that the use of “comfort women” by Japanese soldiers before and during the World War 2 was an inexcusable act that violated the dignity and human rights of the women in which large numbers of Korean and Japanese were included. I am totally aware that their great pain and deep hurt were beyond description.

I also strongly believe that Japan must reflect upon its past offenses with humility and express a heartfelt apology and regret to those women who suffered from the wartime atrocities as comfort women. Our nation must be determined to stop this kind of tragedy from occurring again.

I have never condoned the use of comfort women. I place the greatest importance on the dignity and human rights of women as an essential part of the universal values in today’s world. It is extremely regrettable that only the cut-off parts of my remarks have been reported worldwide and that these reports have resulted in misunderstood meanings of the remarks, which are utterly contrary to what I actually intended.

We must express our deep remorse at the violation of the human rights of these women by the Japanese soldiers in the past, and make our apology to the women. What I intended to convey in my remarks was that a not-insignificant number of other nations should also sincerely face the fact that their soldiers violated the human rights of women. It is not a fair attitude to blame only Japan, as if the violation of human rights of women by soldiers were a problem unique to the Japanese soldiers. This kind of attitude shelves the past offenses that are the very things we must face worldwide if we are truly to aim for a better world where the human rights of women are fully respected. Sexual violation in wartime was not an issue unique to the former Japanese army. The issue existed in the armed forces of the U.S.A., the UK, France, Germany and the former Soviet Union among others during World War 2. It also existed in the armed forces of the Republic of Korea during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Against this historical background, I stated that “the armed forces of nations in the world” seemed to have needed women “during the past wars”. Then it was wrongly reported that I myself thought it as necessary for armed forces to use women and that “I” tolerated it.

It is a hard historical fact that soldiers of some nations of the world have used women for sexual purposes in wars. From the viewpoint of respecting the human rights of women, it does not make much difference whether the suffering women are licensed or unlicensed prostitutes and whether or not the armed forces are organizationally involved in the violation of the dignity of the women. The use of women for sexual purposes itself is a violation of their dignity. It also goes without saying that rape of local citizens by soldiers in occupied territories and hot spots of military conflict are intolerable atrocities.

Please do not misunderstand, and think that I intend to relativize or justify the issue of comfort women for former Japanese soldiers. Such justification has never been my intention. Whatever soldiers of other nations did will not affect the fact that the violation of the dignity of women by the former Japanese soldiers was intolerable.

What I really meant in my remarks was that it would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world. It would suppress the truth that the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers not only existed in the past but also has yet to be eradicated in today’s world. Based on the premise that Japan must remorsefully face its past offenses and must never justify the offenses, I intended to argue that other nations in the world must not attempt to conclude the matter by blaming only Japan and by associating Japan alone with the simple phrase of “sex slaves” or “sex slavery.”

If only Japan is blamed, because of the widely held view that the state authority of Japan was intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women, I will have to inform you that this view is incorrect.

While expecting sensible nations to voice the issue of the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers, I believe that there is no reason for inhibiting Japanese people from doing the same. Because the Japanese people are in a position to face the deplorable past of the use of comfort women by the former Japanese soldiers, to express deep remorse and to state their apology, they are obliged to combat the existing issue of the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers, and to do so in partnership with all the nations which also have their past and/or present offenses.

Today, in the twenty-first century, the dignity and human rights of women have been established as a sacred part of the universal values that nations in the world share. It is one of the greatest achievements of progress made by human beings. In the real world, however, the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers has yet to be eradicated. I hope to aim for a future world where the human rights of women will be more respected. Nevertheless, we must face the past and present in order to talk about the future. Japan and other nations in the world must face the violation of the human rights of women by their soldiers. All the nations and peoples in the world should cooperate with one another, be determined to prevent themselves from committing similar offenses again, and engage themselves in protecting the dignity of women at risk in the world’s hot spots of military conflict and in building that future world where the human rights of women are respected.

Japan must face, and thoroughly reflect upon, its past offenses. Any justification of the offenses will not be tolerated. Based on this foundation, I expect other nations in the world to face the issue of the sexual violations in the past wars as their own issue. In April this year, the G8 Foreign Ministers in London agreed upon the “Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.” Based on this accomplishment, I expect that the G8 Summit to be held in this June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, the UK, will become an important occasion where the leaders of G8 will examine how soldiers from nations in the world, including the former Japanese soldiers, have used women for sexual purposes, face and reflect upon the past offenses with humility, solve today’s problems in partnership with one another, and aim for the ideal future.

With regard to my remark in the discussion with the U.S. commander in Okinawa

There was a news report that, while visiting a U.S. military base in Okinawa, I recommended to the U.S. commander there that he make use of the adult entertainment industry to prevent U.S. soldiers from committing sexual crimes. That was not what I meant. My real intention was to prevent a mere handful of U.S. soldiers from committing crimes and strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the relations of trust between the two nations. In attempting to act on my strong commitment to solving the problem in Okinawa stemming from crimes committed by a minority of U.S. soldiers, I made an inappropriate remark. I will elaborate my real intention as follows.

For the national security of Japan, the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the most important asset, and I am truly grateful to contributions made by the United States Forces Japan.

However, in Okinawa, where many U.S. military bases are located, a small number of U.S. soldiers have repeatedly committed serious crimes, including sexual crimes, against Japanese women and children. Every time a crime has occurred, the U.S. Forces have advocated maintaining and tightening official discipline and have promised to the Japanese people that they would take measures to stop such crimes from occurring again. Nevertheless, these crimes have not stopped. The same pattern has been repeating itself.

I emphasize the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and greatly appreciate the U.S. Forces’ contribution to Japan. Nonetheless, the anger of the Okinawan people, whose human rights have continued to be violated, has reached its boiling point. I have a strong wish to request that the U.S.A. face the present situation of Okinawa’s suffering from crimes committed by U.S. soldiers, and take necessary measures to alleviate the problem.

It is a big issue that incidents of sexual violence have frequently happened without effective control within the U.S. military forces worldwide. It has been reported that President Obama has shown a good deal of concern over the forces’ frequent reports of military misconduct and has instructed the commanders to thoroughly tighten their official discipline, as measures taken so far have had no immediate effect.

With all the above-mentioned situations, I felt a strong sense of crisis and said to the U.S. commander that the use of “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan” should be considered as one of all the possible measures. Even if there is no measure with an immediate effect, the current state of Okinawa should not be neglected. From my strong sense of crisis, I strongly hope that the U.S. army will use all possible measures to bring a heartless minority of soldiers under control. When expressing this strong hope, I used the phrase “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan.” When this phrase was translated into English, it led to the false report that I recommended prostitution–which is illegal under Japanese law. Furthermore, my remark was misunderstood to mean that something legally acceptable is also morally acceptable. Although the adult entertainment industry is legally accepted, it can insult the dignity of women. In that case, of course, some measures should be taken to prevent such insults.

However, I understand that my remark could be construed as an insult to the U.S. Forces and to the American people, and therefore was inappropriate. I retract this remark and express an apology. In conclusion, I retract my inappropriate remarks to the U.S. Army and the American people and sincerely apologize to them. I wish that my apologies to them will be accepted and that Japan and the United States of America continue to consolidate their relationship of alliance in full trust.

My real intention was to further enhance the security relationship between Japan and the United States, which most U.S. soldiers’ sincere hard work has consolidated, and to humbly and respectfully ask the U.S. Forces to prevent crimes committed by a mere handful of U.S. soldiers. My strong sense of crisis led to the use of this inappropriate expression.

In the area of human rights, the U.S.A. is one of the most conscientious nations. Human rights are among those values accepted throughout the world as universal. In order for human rights of the Okinawan people to be respected in the same way as those of American people are respected, I sincerely hope that the U.S. Forces will start taking effective measures in earnest to stop crimes in Okinawa from continuing.

About the Japan-Korea Relationship

The Japan-Korea relationship has recently gone through some difficult times. Underlying the difficulty are the issue of comfort women and the territorial dispute over the Takeshima Islands. Ideally, Japan and South Korea should be important partners in East Asia, as they share the same values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. I believe that a closer relationship based on greater trust between Japan and South Korea would contribute to the stability and prosperity of not only East Asia but also the world.

One of the points of tension is that concerning wartime comfort women. Some former comfort women in Korea are currently demanding state compensation from the Japanese government.

However, the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea and the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea, both signed in 1965, have officially and decisively resolved any issues of claims arising from the war, including the right of individual persons to claim compensation. Japan has also performed its moral responsibility with the establishment of the Asian Women’s Fund, and it paid atonement money to former comfort women even after the resolution of the legal contention with the treaties.

The international community has welcomed the Asian Women’s Fund. A report to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations welcomed Japan’s moral responsibility project of the Asian Women’s Fund. Mary Robinson, the second United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave the Fund a favorable evaluation. Unfortunately, however, some former comfort women have refused to accept the atonement money from the Asian Women’s Fund.

Japan has given significant importance to the Treaty on Basic Relations and the Agreement on the Settlement, both of which made final resolution of any legal contention in 1965, and Japan also sincerely faces, reflects on, and apologizes for its own wartime wrongdoings with feelings of deep remorse.

The whole situation poses a rending dilemma for us: how to make such a compensation that former comfort women would accept as our sincere remorse and apology, while also maintaining the integrity of the legal bilateral agreements between Japan and Korea.

The Korean government has recently claimed that interpretive disputes over the individual right of compensation for former comfort women in the Agreement on the Settlement still remain. I hope that the Republic of Korea, as a state governed by the rule of law, recognizes the legal importance of the above-mentioned agreements. If the Republic of Korea still believes that there exist interpretive contentions in the agreements, I think that only the International Court of Justice can resolve them.

One can hope that the same legal/rule-of-law stance is also observed in the resolution of the territorial dispute over the Takeshima Islands.

I firmly believe that neither hatred nor anger can resolve the problems between Japan and Korea. I firmly believe in the importance of legal solution at the International Court of Justice, which arena would allow both sides to maintain rational and legal argument while both maintain both respect for each other and deep sympathy to former comfort women.

I wish to express sincerely my willingness to devote myself to the true improvement of the Japan-Korea relationship through the rule of law.

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Japanese version:
橋下徹氏:「私の認識と見解」 日本語版全文
毎日新聞 2013年05月26日
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130526mog00m010012000c.html

2013年5月27日

橋下徹

■私の拠(よ)って立つ理念と価値観について

まず、私の政治家としての基本的な理念、そして一人の人間としての価値観について、お話ししたいと思います。

いわゆる「慰安婦」問題に関する私の発言をめぐってなされた一連の報道において、発言の一部が文脈から切り離され、断片のみが伝えられることによって、本来の私の理念や価値観とは正反対の人物像・政治家像が流布してしまっていることが、この上なく残念です。

私は、21世紀の人類が到達した普遍的価値、すなわち、基本的人権、自由と平等、民主主義の理念を最も重視しています。また、憲法の本質は、恣意(しい)に流れがちな国家権力を拘束する法の支配によって、国民の自由と権利を保障することに眼目があると考えており、極めてオーソドックスな立憲主義の立場を採(と)る者です。

大阪府知事及び大阪市長としての行政の実績は、こうした理念と価値観に支えられています。また、私の政治活動に伴って憲法をはじめとする様々(さまざま)なイシューについて公にしてきた私の見解を確認いただければ、今私の申し上げていることを裏付けるものであることをご理解いただけると信じております。今後も、政治家としての行動と発言を通じて、以上のような理念と価値観を体現し続けていくつもりです。

こうした私の思想信条において、女性の尊厳は、基本的人権において欠くべからざる要素であり、これについて私の本意とは正反対の受け止め方、すなわち女性蔑視である等の報道が続いたことは、痛恨の極みであります。私は、疑問の余地なく、女性の尊厳を大切にしています。

■いわゆる「慰安婦」問題に関する発言について

以上の私の理念に照らせば、第二次世界大戦前から大戦中にかけて、日本兵が「慰安婦」を利用したことは、女性の尊厳と人権を蹂躙(じゅうりん)する、決して許されないものであることはいうまでもありません。かつての日本兵が利用した慰安婦には、韓国・朝鮮の方々のみならず、多くの日本人も含まれていました。慰安婦の方々が被った苦痛、そして深く傷つけられた慰安婦の方々のお気持ちは、筆舌につくしがたいものであることを私は認識しております。

日本は過去の過ちを真摯(しんし)に反省し、慰安婦の方々には誠実な謝罪とお詫(わ)びを行うとともに、未来においてこのような悲劇を二度と繰り返さない決意をしなければなりません。

私は、女性の尊厳と人権を今日の世界の普遍的価値の一つとして重視しており、慰安婦の利用を容認したことはこれまで一度もありません。私の発言の一部が切り取られ、私の真意と正反対の意味を持った発言とする報道が世界中を駆け巡ったことは、極めて遺憾です。以下に、私の真意を改めて説明いたします。

かつて日本兵が女性の人権を蹂躙したことについては痛切に反省し、慰安婦の方々には謝罪しなければなりません。同様に、日本以外の少なからぬ国々の兵士も女性の人権を蹂躙した事実について、各国もまた真摯に向き合わなければならないと訴えたかったのです。あたかも日本だけに特有の問題であったかのように日本だけを非難し、日本以外の国々の兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙について口を閉ざすのはフェアな態度ではありませんし、女性の人権を尊重する世界をめざすために世界が直視しなければならない過去の過ちを葬り去ることになります。戦場の性の問題は、旧日本軍だけが抱えた問題ではありません。第二次世界大戦中のアメリカ軍、イギリス軍、フランス軍、ドイツ軍、旧ソ連軍その他の軍においても、そして朝鮮戦争やベトナム戦争における韓国軍においても、この問題は存在しました。

このような歴史的文脈において、「戦時においては」「世界各国の軍が」女性を必要としていたのではないかと発言したところ、「私自身が」必要と考える、「私が」容認していると誤報されてしまいました。

戦場において、世界各国の兵士が女性を性の対象として利用してきたことは厳然たる歴史的事実です。女性の人権を尊重する視点では公娼(こうしょう)、私娼(ししょう)、軍の関与の有無は関係ありません。性の対象として女性を利用する行為そのものが女性の尊厳を蹂躙する行為です。また、占領地や紛争地域における兵士による市民に対する強姦(ごうかん)が許されざる蛮行であることは言うまでもありません。

誤解しないで頂きたいのは、旧日本兵の慰安婦問題を相対化しようとか、ましてや正当化しようという意図は毛頭ありません。他国の兵士がどうであろうとも、旧日本兵による女性の尊厳の蹂躙が決して許されるものではないことに変わりありません。

私の発言の真意は、兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙の問題が旧日本軍のみに特有の問題であったかのように世界で報じられ、それが世界の常識と化すことによって、過去の歴史のみならず今日においても根絶されていない兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙の問題の真実に光が当たらないことは、日本のみならず世界にとってプラスにならない、という一点であります。私が言いたかったことは、日本は自らの過去の過ちを直視し、決して正当化してはならないことを大前提としつつ、世界各国もsex slaves、sex slaveryというレッテルを貼って日本だけを非難することで終わってはならないということです。

もし、日本だけが非難される理由が、戦時中、国家の意思として女性を拉致した、国家の意思として女性を売買したということにあるのであれば、それは事実と異なります。

過去、そして現在の兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙について、良識ある諸国民の中から声が挙がることを期待するものでありますが、日本人が声を挙げてはいけない理由はないと思います。日本人は、旧日本兵が慰安婦を利用したことを直視し、真摯に反省、謝罪すべき立場にあるがゆえに、今日も根絶されていない兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙の問題に立ち向かう責務があり、同じ問題を抱える諸国民と共により良い未来に向かわなければなりません。

21世紀の今日、女性の尊厳と人権は、世界各国が共有する普遍的価値の一つとして、確固たる位置を得るに至っています。これは、人類が達成した大きな進歩であります。しかし、現実の世界において、兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙が根絶されたわけではありません。私は、未来に向けて、女性の人権を尊重する世界をめざしていきたい。しかし、未来を語るには、過去そして現在を直視しなければなりません。日本を含む世界各国は、過去の戦地において自国兵士が行った女性に対する人権蹂躙行為を直視し、世界の諸国と諸国民が共に手を携え、二度と同じ過ちを繰り返さぬよう決意するとともに、今日の世界各地の紛争地域において危機に瀕(ひん)する女性の尊厳を守るために取り組み、未来に向けて女性の人権が尊重される世界を作っていくべきだと考えます。

日本は過去の過ちを直視し、徹底して反省しなければなりません。正当化は許されません。それを大前提とした上で、世界各国も、戦場の性の問題について、自らの問題として過去を直視してもらいたいのです。本年4月にはロンドンにおいてG8外相会合が「紛争下の性的暴力防止に関する閣僚宣言」に合意しました。この成果を基盤として、6月に英国北アイルランドのロック・アーンで開催予定のG8サミットが、旧日本兵を含む世界各国の兵士が性の対象として女性をどのように利用していたのかを検証し、過去の過ちを直視し反省するとともに、理想の未来をめざして、今日の問題解決に協働して取り組む場となることを期待します。

■在日アメリカ軍司令官に対する発言について

また、沖縄にある在日アメリカ軍基地を訪問した際、司令官に対し、在日アメリカ軍兵士の性犯罪を抑止するために風俗営業の利用を進言したという報道もありました。これは私の真意ではありません。私の真意は、一部の在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪を抑止し、より強固な日米同盟と日米の信頼関係を築くことです。一部の在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪被害に苦しむ沖縄の問題を解決したいとの思いが強すぎて、誤解を招く不適切な発言をしてしまいましたが、私の真意を、以下に説明いたします。

日本の安全保障にとって、米国との同盟関係は最も重要な基盤であり、在日アメリカ軍の多大な貢献には、本当に感謝しています。

しかしながら、多くの在日アメリカ軍基地がある沖縄では、一部の心無いアメリカ軍兵士によって、日本人の女性や子どもに対する性犯罪など重大な犯罪が繰り返されています。こうした事件が起きる度に、在日アメリカ軍では、規律の保持と綱紀粛正が叫ばれ、再発防止策をとることを日本国民に誓いますが、在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪は絶えることがありません。同じことの繰り返しです。

私は、日本の外交において日米同盟を重視し、在日アメリカ軍の日本への貢献を大いに評価しています。しかし、人権を蹂躙され続ける沖縄県民の怒りは沸点に達しているのです。在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪被害に苦しむ沖縄の現状をアメリカに訴え、何としてでも改善してもらいたい、という強い思いを持っております。

アメリカ軍内部において性暴力が多発し、その統制がとれていないことが最近、アメリカで話題となっています。オバマ大統領もアメリカ軍の自己統制の弱さに相当な危機感を抱き、すぐに効果の出る策はないとしつつ、アメリカ軍に綱紀粛正を徹底するよう指示したとの報道がありました。

このような状況において、私は強い危機感から、在日アメリカ軍司令官に対して、あらゆる対応策の一つとして、「日本で法律上認められている風俗営業」を利用するということも考えるべきではないかと発言しました。すぐに効果の出る策はないとしても、それでも沖縄の現状を放置するわけにはいきません。私の強い危機感から、ありとあらゆる手段を使ってでも、一部の心無い在日アメリカ軍兵士をしっかりとコントロールして欲しい、そのような強い思いを述べる際、「日本で法律上認められている風俗営業」という言葉を使ってしまいました。この表現が翻訳されて、日本の法律で認められていない売春・買春を勧めたとの誤報につながりました。さらに合法であれば道徳的には問題がないというようにも誤解をされました。合法であっても、女性の尊厳を貶(おとし)める可能性もあり、その点については予防しなければならないことはもちろんのことです。

今回の私の発言は、アメリカ軍のみならずアメリカ国民を侮辱することにも繋(つな)がる不適切な表現でしたので、この表現は撤回するとともにお詫び申し上げます。この謝罪をアメリカ軍とアメリカ国民の皆様が受け入れて下さいます事、そして日本とアメリカが今後とも強い信頼関係を築いていけることを願います。

私の真意は、多くの在日アメリカ軍兵士は一生懸命誠実に職務を遂行してくれていますが、一部の心無い兵士の犯罪によって、日米の信頼関係が崩れることのないよう、在日アメリカ軍の綱紀粛正を徹底してもらいたい、という点にあります。その思いが強すぎて、不適切な表現を使ってしまいました。

アメリカは、世界で最も人権意識の高い国の一つです。そして、人権は世界普遍の価値です。アメリカ国民の人権と同じように、沖縄県民の基本的人権が尊重されるよう、アメリカ軍が本気になって沖縄での犯罪抑止のための実効性ある取り組みを開始することを切に望みます。

■日韓関係について

日本と韓国の関係は現在厳しい状況にあると言われています。その根底には、慰安婦問題と竹島をめぐる領土問題があります。

日本と韓国は、自由、民主主義、人権、法の支配などの価値観を共有する隣国として、重要なパートナー関係にあります。日韓の緊密な関係は、東アジアの安定と繁栄のためだけでなく、世界の安定と繁栄のためにも寄与するものと信じています。

現在、元慰安婦の一部の方は、日本政府に対して、国家補償を求めています。

しかし、1965年の日韓基本条約と「日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定」において、日本と韓国の間の法的な請求権(個人的請求権も含めて)の問題は完全かつ最終的に解決されました。

日本は、韓国との間の法的請求権問題が最終解決した後においても、元慰安婦の方々へ責任を果たすために、国民からの寄付を募り1995年に「女性のためのアジア平和国民基金(略称アジア女性基金)」を設立し、元慰安婦の方々に償い金をお渡ししました。

このアジア女性基金を通じた日本の責任を果たす行為は、国際社会でも評価を受けております。国連人権委員会へ提出されたレポートもアジア女性基金を通じての日本の道義的責任を歓迎しています。また国連人権高等弁務官であったメアリーロビンソンさんも基金を評価しています。

しかし、残念ながら、元慰安婦の一部の方は、このアジア女性基金による償い金の受領を拒んでおります。

日本は過去の過ちを直視し、反省とお詫びをしつつも、1965年に請求権問題を最終解決した日韓基本条約と日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定も重視しております。

日韓基本条約と日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定を前提としつつ、元慰安婦の方々の心に響く償いをするにはどのようにすればいいのかは大変難しい問題です。韓国政府は最近、日韓基本条約とともに締結された「日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定」における元慰安婦の日本政府への請求権の存否の解釈が未解決だと主張しております。韓国も法の支配を重んじる国でしょうから、日韓基本条約と日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定という国際ルールの重さを十分に認識して頂いて、それでも納得できないというのであれば、韓国政府自身が日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定の解釈について国際司法裁判所等に訴え出るしかないのではないでしょうか? その際には、竹島をめぐる領土問題も含めて、法の支配に基づき、国際司法裁判所等での解決を望みます。

私は、憎しみと怒りをぶつけ合うだけでは何も解決することはできないと思います。元慰安婦の方の苦しみを理解しつつ、日韓お互いに尊敬と敬意の念を持ちながら、法に基づいた冷静な議論を踏まえ、国際司法裁判所等の法に基づいた解決に委ねるしかないと考えております。

法の支配によって、真に日韓関係が改善されるよう、私も微力を尽くしていきたいと思います。
ENDS

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

Hashimoto explains remarks in Q&A session at Tokyo news conference
Hashimoto denies ‘will of state’ in comfort women system
May 27, 2013
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201305270124

AJW
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on May 27 explained his views on “comfort women” and other issues during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. Excerpts from the question and answer session follow:

***

Question: Are you trying to suggest that other nations were also somehow involved in the managing of wartime brothels like the Japanese military?

Hashimoto: I have absolutely no intention of justifying the wrongs committed by Japan in the past. We have to always carry within our hearts the terrible suffering experienced by the comfort women.

We should also put an end to unreasonable debate on this issue.

Japan should not take the position of trying to avoid its responsibility. That is what causes the greatest anger among the South Korean people.

I want to bring up the issue of sex in the battlefield. I don’t think that the nations of the world have faced their pasts squarely. That obviously includes Japan.

Unless we squarely face the past, we will not be able to talk about the future. Sex in the battlefield has been a taboo subject that has not been discussed openly.

Japan was wrong to use comfort women. But does that mean that it is alright to use private-sector businesses for such services?

Because of the influence of Puritanism, the United States and Britain did not allow the respective governments and militaries to become involved in such facilities. However, it is a historical fact that those two nations used local women for sexual services.

When the United States occupied Japan, the U.S. military used the facilities established by the Japanese government. This is also a historical fact backed by actual evidence.

What I want to say is that it does not matter if the military was involved or if the facilities were operated by the private sector.

There is no doubt that the Japanese military was involved in the comfort stations. There are various reasons, but this is an issue that should be left up to historians.

What occurred in those facilities was very tragic and unfortunate, regardless of whether the military was involved in the facilities or they were operated by private businesses.

Germany had similar facilities as those used by Japan where comfort women worked. Evidence has also emerged that South Korea also had such facilities during the Korean War.

The world is trying to put a lid on all of these facts.

It might be necessary to criticize Japan, but the matter should not be left at that. Today, the rights of women continue to be violated in areas of military conflict. The issue of sex in the battlefield continues to be a taboo.

It is now time to begin discussing this issue.

I have no intention of saying that because the world did it, it was alright for Japan.

Japan did commit wrong, but I hope other nations will also face their pasts squarely.

The past has to be faced squarely in order to protect the rights of women in conflict areas as well as prevent the violation of the rights of women by a handful of heartless soldiers.

Q: Do you feel there is a need to revise or retract the Kono statement on comfort women since there is wording that “the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women,” which indicates trafficking was involved?

A: I have absolutely no intention of denying the Kono statement. I feel that what is written in the statement is generally based on fact.

However, it is ambiguous about a core issue.

You brought up the issue of military involvement in the transport of women. Historical evidence shows that private businesses used military ships to transport the women. Most of the employers at the comfort stations were private businesses. There was military involvement in the form of health checks to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Because a war was going on, military vehicles were used in the transport of the women.

The argument of many Japanese historians is that there is no evidence to show that the will of the state was used to systematically abduct or traffic the women. A 2007 government statement, approved by the Cabinet, also concluded there was no evidence to show the will of the state was used for the systematic abduction and trafficking of the women.

The Kono statement avoided taking a stance on the issue that was of the greatest interest of South Koreans. This is the primary reason relations between the two nations have not improved.

The Kono statement should be made clearer.

Historians of the two nations should work together to clarify the details on this point.

The South Korean argument is that Japan used the will of the state for the systematic abduction and trafficking of the women, while the Japanese position is that there is no evidence for such an argument. This point has to be clarified.

Separately from what I just said, there is no doubt that an apology has to be made to the comfort women.

The core argument that the will of state was used for the systematic abducting and trafficking of women is likely behind the criticism from around the world that the Japanese system was unique.

It was wrong for Japanese soldiers to use comfort women in the past. However, facts have to be clarified as facts. If arguments different from the truth are being spread around the world, then we have to point out the error of those arguments.

Q: Do you agree with the argument by Shintaro Ishihara (co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party) that Japan should not have to apologize for the war because it was forced to fight by the economic sanctions and other measures imposed by the United States?

A: Politicians have discussed whether there was military aggression on the part of Japan or colonial domination of the Korean Peninsula. This is an issue that should be discussed by historians.

Politicians who represent the nation must acknowledge the military aggression and the unforgivable colonial domination of the Korean Peninsula.

Denying those aspects will never convince the victorious nations in the war because of the terrible loss of life that was involved in achieving that end.

Politicians who represent the nation have to acknowledge the responsibility for the nation’s actions during World War II. They have to also reflect on and apologize to neighboring nations for causing terrible damage.

Ishihara does have a different view of the past.

That is likely a generational difference between those who lived through the war and those of my generation who were born after the war. This is a very difficult issue for nations defeated in the war.

Those who lived through the war believed that what their government was doing was the right thing.

The vast majority of Japanese acknowledge the military aggression and colonial domination of the war. However, it is very difficult to have all 120 million Japanese agree on this point since Japan is a democracy.

Politicians of my generation should not stir up questions of Japan’s responsibility in the war. The duty of politicians of my generation should not be to justify what happened in the war, but work toward creating a better future. Politicians of my generation should face the past squarely and use their political energy for the future.

However, that does not mean that we have to remain silent about any wrong understanding of the facts of the war just because Japan was a defeated nation.

Q: Is it your view that what the Japanese military of that time was involved in does not constitute human trafficking in light of the international understanding that any involvement by any individual or organization in any part of the process is defined as human trafficking? Separately, is it your view that the testimony given by women who were forcibly taken by the Japanese military is not credible?

A: I am not denying Japan’s responsibility. Under current international value standards, it is clear that the use of women by the military is not condoned. So, Japan must reflect on that past.

I am not arguing about responsibility, but about historical facts.

I feel the most important aspect of the human trafficking issue is whether there was the will of the state involved. Women were deceived about what kind of work they would do. The poverty situation at that time meant some women had to work there because of the debt they had to shoulder.

However, such things also occurred at private businesses.

I think similar human trafficking occurred at the private businesses that were used by the U.S. and British militaries.

Japan did do something wrong, but human trafficking also occurred at such private businesses.

I feel the human trafficking that occurred at both places was wrong.

I want the world to also focus on that issue that involves other nations.

I am aware that comfort women have given their accounts of what happened. However, there is also historical debate over the credibility of those accounts.

Q: If the government was aware of what was happening at the comfort stations and did nothing, isn’t that a form of government and military involvement; and who should bear responsibility for that?

A: Under the present value system, the state must stop human trafficking.

In that sense, Japan cannot evade responsibility by any means.

We must think now of what the government should do when confronted by such a situation.

***
ENDS

Asahi on arrest of Zaitokukai participant in anti-Korean demo; J-Cast on anti-Korean stuff being sold at Dietmember kaikan; Osaka sign saying “Stop Scrawling Discriminatory Graffiti”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We have some positive movements regarding the treatment of hate speech in Japan, particularly regarding that “Kill all Koreans” hate demo that took place last February (god bless the ensuing gaiatsu of international attention for making the GOJ finally take some action to deal with this deservedly embarrassing incident).  First, the Asahi reports that one of the participants in the Zaitokukai hate demo named Akai Hiroshi was arrested by the police, for violent bodily contact with a person protesting Zaitokukai activities.

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

新大久保の反韓デモ、初の逮捕 対立グループに暴行容疑
朝日新聞 2013年5月20日, courtesy of MS
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0520/TKY201305200108.html

在日韓国・朝鮮人を非難する東京・新大久保でのデモで対立するグループの男性に体当たりしたとして、警視庁は、自称・埼玉県熊谷市拾六間、無職赤井洋容疑者(47)を暴行の疑いで逮捕し、20日発表した。「つまずいて相手にぶつかっただけだ」と容疑を否認しているという。新大久保でのデモで逮捕者が出たのは初めて。

新宿署によると、赤井容疑者は19日午後6時40分ごろ、東京都新宿区の路上で、会社員男性(51)の胸などに体当たりした疑いがある。

赤井容疑者は「在日特権を許さない市民の会」のメンバーらとともにデモに参加。被害男性は、デモをやめるよう抗議する集団に加わっていた。両集団はそれぞれ約200人規模で、警視庁機動隊を挟み、緊迫した状況だったという。

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

Japan Times reports from Kyodo:

==============================
NATIONAL
Man held during anti-Korean rally
KYODO MAY 22, 2013

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/22/national/man-held-during-anti-korean-rally

Police have arrested a 47-year-old man who took part in a regularly held anti-Korean demonstration in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, for allegedly assaulting another man protesting the rally.

The man arrested Monday identified himself as Hiroshi Akai, an unemployed former Self-Defense Force member from Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture. Akai said he had “accidentally bumped into” the other man, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Police allege Akai hurled himself at the 51-year-old company employee Sunday evening after the protest in Shinjuku. He was held by riot police who were guarding the demonstration.

Rightwing groups, including one claiming to be “citizens who do not condone privileges given to Koreans in Japan,” have been staging demonstrations several times a month in Shinjuku and nearby Shin-Okubo, home to a large ethnic Korean population.
==============================

Okay, good start, and glad that there are protests regarding the hateful, xenophobic protesters (usually their activities get ignored even if they involve violence against counter-demonstrators).  Except for the fact that this sort of hate speech has by now reached the highest and lowest levels of society, as in anti-Korean stickers being sold in Diet buildings, and anti-Korean graffiti being scrawled on public transportation:

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

韓国人差別ステッカーを議員会館で販売 自民議員側は関係否定して困惑顔
2013/5/14 J-Cast News, courtesy of MS
http://www.j-cast.com/2013/05/14175063.html

「チョンキール」と書かれた韓国人差別のステッカーが衆院議員会館で売られていた――。朝日新聞記者がこうツイートし、ネット上でステッカー販売に批判が相次いでいる。市民団体の会議室利用に協力した自民党議員側は、販売との関係を否定しており、困惑している様子だ。
ステッカーには、ゴキブリのような絵とともに、「ヨクキク 強力除鮮液」「チョンキール」と字が入っていた。朝日新聞社会部の石橋英昭記者が、2013年5月13日のツイートで、会議室でこんなものなどが売られていたと写真付きで紹介している。「日韓断交」というステッカーなども写っている。
朝日新聞記者のツイートがきっかけ
jcast051413
ツイートが物議
この日の会議室は、沖縄復帰をめぐる学習会に使われており、石橋記者は、自民党の西銘(にしめ)恒三郎衆院議員が主催者で、日本維新の会の西村眞悟衆院議員が講演していたと書いた。ただ、続くツイートでは、「国会議員が窓口になって議員会館で学習会を開いた民間団体の関係者が、販売していたということです。議員は直接には関わってないと思います」と補足している。
しかし、ツイートは波紋を呼び、ネット上では、「主催議員は責任をとらなければならない」「知らなかったでは済まされないぞ」などと批判が相次いだ。小説家の深町秋生さんも、「首相のヘイトスピーチ批判とはなんだったんだろう」とツイッターで疑問を呈すほどだった。
これに対し、学習会実行委員会の中心メンバーで市民団体の沖縄対策本部では、「この写真は昨日の学習会とも主催者とも関係ありません」とツイッターなどで弁明を始めた。石橋記者もこのことをツイッターで紹介し、「主催者と無関係な人が会議室に入り、台を設け販売していたとのことのようです」と前言を変えた。
沖縄対策本部代表の仲村覚さんは、フェイスブックでさらに事情を説明している。それによると、ボランティアを依頼した人の友人が、一緒に参加して勝手に展示したものだという。西銘・西村両議員側には、報告とお詫びをしたとしている。
「記者は事実関係確認してほしかった」
とはいえ、西銘恒三郎議員が、差別ステッカーなどの展示・販売について知っていたことはないのか。
沖縄対策本部代表の仲村覚さんは、取材に対し、そのことを否定し、展示の経緯について説明した。それによると、ボランティアをしていた人の友人は、前日の別の集会にも来ており、そこでステッカーなどを販売していた。友人は、学習会でボランティアをするので、そこでも販売させてほしいと仲村さんに申し出たが、仲村さんは、会議室での物品販売はできないと説明を受けているとして申し出を拒否した。
ところが、この友人は当日、会議室のテーブルでステッカーなどを勝手に展示し始めた。これを仲村さんの仲間が見つけ、展示を止めさせたそうだ。ステッカーの販売までしたとは、聞いていないという。
ステッカーなどは、日韓断交共闘委員会という市民団体がサイト上で売っていたが、仲村さんは、この団体のことは知らないとした。販売の意図もナゾのままで、「今後は身元チェックを厳しくするなど、注意していきます」と言っている。
学習会の主催は、形式的に西銘議員になっているが、実際は実行委がしていたという。西銘議員は、企画・運営にはタッチしておらず、学習会にも来ていないとした。
西銘議員の事務所では、取材に対し、スタッフがこう説明した。
「同じ沖縄の人が祖国復帰の勉強会をしたいので会議室利用の窓口になってほしいと依頼があり、こちらで借りられるようにお手伝いはしました。しかし、実行委員会からステッカーのことについて報告などがあり、どういうことなのかとびっくりしています。差別的な思想自体が困りますし、とても残念なことだと思っています。朝日新聞の方も、ツイッターで発言する前に、事実関係を確認してほしかったですね」
ENDS
==============================

The good news, however, is that we’re hearing about these events at all (discrimination often goes ignored in the J-media if its against NJ). Also good news is that the authorities are taking measures against them, as seen in this sign sent to me yesterday by AP:

antirakugakisignmay2013

(Taken in Sekime-Seiiku Station in the Osaka area, May 20, 2013.)

The sign reads: A bright society where people respect each others’ human rights.  Let’s stop scrawling discriminatory GRAFFITI that will hurt people’s hearts.  If you notice any discriminatory graffiti, let us know (addendum:  let a station attendant know).  Signed, Osaka City Citizens’ Bureau.  

Submitter AP writes:  “I talked to the 駅長 as well. I said I don’t know what lead to posting that message, but as a foreigner in Japan I sometimes face 差別 and understand why this kind of thing is important to address, and thanked him. He seemed appreciative as well.”

Good.  Then maybe people are realizing that this sort of thing affects everyone in society, not just some guest foreigners whose lives and feelings have no connection with ours.  These are positive developments.  Arudou Debito

JDP: Abe criticizes rise of hate speech in Japan, calls it “dishonorable” and counter to “The Japanese Way of thinking”. My, how disingenuous.

mytest

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Hi Blog. We now have the xenophobic public demonstrations talked about previously on Debito.org, which had slogans such as “Kill the Koreans!” in Tokyo and “start a Tsuruhashi Massacre like the Nanking Massacre!” in Osaka, being debated and decried in Japan’s political circles. Witness this article fresh from the Asahi (translation mine):

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

Justice Minister Tanigaki “Filled with Concern” over Hate Speech
The Asahi Shimbun, May 9, 2013, courtesy of MS

On May 9, the issue of the Zaitokukai’s repeated demos containing hate speech, calling for people to “Kill the Koreans”, was taken up in the Upper House’s Judicial Committee. The Zaitokukai are a citizens’ group seeking to deny “special privileges” to Zainichi lifetime NJ residents of Japan. Justice Minister Tanigaki Sadakazu said, “I am filled with concern. This runs directly counter to the course of a civilized nation.”

The answer was in response to a question by PM Arita Yoshifu of the opposition DPJ.  In regards to next steps, Tanigaki limited his statement to, “This is extremely worrisome because it is related to freedom of expression.  I wish to observe most carefully to see whether it leads to sentiments of racial discrimination.”

As for those who gave permission to a discriminatory demo, the National Police Agency said, “According to the Public Safety Ordinance, we cannot deny permission because demo’s slogans become coarse/vulgar (soya) or rough (ranbou).  If there is something concretely illegal under the law, we can take measures.”

ENDS

2013年5月9日 朝日新聞
ヘイトスピーチ「憂慮に堪えない」 谷垣法相
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0509/TKY201305090289.html

「在日特権を許さない市民の会」(在特会)などの団体が「朝鮮人を殺せ」と連呼するヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)デモを繰り返している問題が、9日の参院法務委員会でとり上げられた。谷垣禎一法相は「憂慮に堪えない。品格ある国家という方向に真っ向から反する」と語った。

民主党の有田芳生氏の質問に答えた。今後の対応については「表現の自由との関係で、誠に悩ましい。人種差別感情をあおるものになるのか、注視してゆきたい」と述べるにとどめた。

差別的なデモが許可されていることについて、警察庁は「公安条例では、デモの主張が粗野、乱暴だという理由では不許可にできない。具体的な違法行為があれば対処する」とした。
ENDS

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

Comments have also come from the top:

==========================================
Japan’s PM Abe criticizes rise of hate speech in country
Japan Daily Press, posted on MAY 8, 2013 by JOHN HOFILENA, courtesy of JK
http://japandailypress.com/japans-pm-abe-criticizes-rise-of-hate-speech-in-country-0828468

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his concern on the increase of hate speech in the country in an Upper House Budget Committee session on May 7. The premier criticized the hate-mongering that has become rampant on the internet and in specific areas around the nation, adding that the hate these people show is dishonoring Japan.

“It is truly regrettable that there are words and actions that target certain countries and races,” Abe was quoted as saying. This was the prime minister’s response to a question from Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Kan Suzuki, who pointed out that demonstrations in the Koreatowns of Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district and Osaka’s Tsuruhashi district have been marred by such vitriol and race-specific hate. Protesters have been shouting, “Kill the Koreans”, or that “Koreans are cockroaches”, and “Koreans go home, you do not belong here!” Abe called on the Japanese people to show the courtesy that has been the trademark of the nation. “I believe that the Japanese respect harmony and should not be people who exclude others,” Abe said. “The Japanese way of thinking is to behave politely and to be generous and modest at any time,” he added.

Abe himself has been caught in recent issues where his specific words have caused angry reactions from South Korea and China. This is with regards to his views about Japan’s role in World War II, saying that the term “aggressor” can be defined in different ways from different points of view. South Korea has specifically made strong diplomatic reactions, asking Japan to apologize and the international community to exert pressure for Abe to retract what he said.

Abe concluded that those who are spreading hate speech – online or offline – do not represent the Japanese people. He also specifically said that it was his intention to restrict hateful comments posted on his official Facebook page. “It’s completely wrong to put others down and feel as if we are superior,” he said. “Such acts dishonor ourselves.”

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Although I am happy that the LDP is saying that these hateful tendencies are a bad thing, there are two tendencies that should be noted.  One is that these are reactive, not active, stances by the governing parties.  These clear and powerful acts of hate speech happened months ago, and now we’re just getting to them during question time, in response to opposition questions?  Far too slow.  The LDP should have denounced this behavior immediately if it ran so counter to what PM Abe can so cocksurely say is not “The Japanese Way of Thinking”.  (And given that these people are legislators, where is the proposal for a law against it?)

The other is Abe’s disingenuousness.  Abe might now say that those who are disseminating this kind of hate speech “do not represent the Japanese people”.  Yet these right-wing haters are precisely Abe’s support base.  As I discussed in my articles in the Japan Times (“Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan will suffer“, February 4, 2013) and on Japan Focus (“Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance.” Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 9, No. 3. March 4, 2013), Abe has been intimately involved with the Sakura TV crowd, for years now advocating all manner of hateful invective towards NJ, particularly Japan’s neighbors and domestic NJ residents.  Abe is thus talking out of both sides of his mouth here.

Especially in regards to issues of his Facebook page mentioned above, which exists to help rally support amongst the Internet Neto Uyo Rightist crowd.  Consider this academic treatment by scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki in Japan Focus, excerpted:

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

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 8, No. 1, February 25, 2013.

FREEDOM OF HATE SPEECH; ABE SHINZO AND JAPAN’S PUBLIC SPHERE  ヘイトスピーチ(憎悪発言)の自由ー安倍晋三と日本の公共空間

Tessa Morris-Suzuki

Facebook Friends to the Rescue: Mobilizing the Otakusphere

After a rather slow start, a number of Japanese politicians have taken to social media with great enthusiasm. Among them is the nationalistic mayor of Osaka, Hashimoto Toru, who issues an unending series of tweets on his policies and general view of the world, and caused particular controversy last year with a series of rambling tweets on the “comfort women” issue, in which he denounced the 1993 Kono apology and expressed support for Abe Shinzo’s position on the “comfort women”. 7 Abe himself has also responded most enthusiastically to the political opportunities created by the Internet age. He was quick to create a personal website, and has maintained a Facebook page since well before his recent election. He or his personal secretary post comments on the page almost every day, and it boasts over 4,800 Facebook friends and more than 230,000 followers.

On 22 December 2012, six days after the election which returned Abe to the prime ministership, NHK devoted its evening prime time to a discussion program about the election results and the implications of the new government for Japan. The participants in the program were the Secretary-General of Abe’s ruling party, Ishiba Shigeru, the head of the government’s coalition partner, Yamaguchi Natsuo, three university professors and an economist from the influential think tank the Japan Research Institute. NHK invited viewers to send in questions that they would like to have raised during the discussion.

About two hours before the program went to air, Abe’s secretary posted a message on the prime minister’s Facebook page mobilizing its friends and followers to action. The secretary slammed the “bias” of NHK and warned readers that the forthcoming program would be a “clean sweep of Abe bashing”. The web link, email address and fax number of the program were included in the post, and Abe’s friends and followers were urged to bombard the program with messages. The secretary’s message also made derogatory comments about the discussion program’s panelists, describing one (University of Tokyo political scientist Fujiwara Kiichi) as being “famous for saying that ‘the five abductees who came home to Japan should be sent straight back to North Korea”‘. 8 (8 See here, post dated 22 December 2012 (accessed 15 January 2013).)

 

Very far from being a “clean sweep of Abe bashing”, the program proved to be very much like most other political discussions on the public broadcaster. The early questions were directed to the two government-party politicians, who were allowed a substantial share of the air time, and much of the discussion centred around positive suggestions on the need (for example) to listen to the voices of the young and to address the problems of Japan’s aging population. Questions were raised, among other things, about the content of the government’s proposed large-scale public work’s programs, but the criticism was so calm and reasoned that it would require an unusually thin skin to be offended by it.

Later the same evening, after the program had gone to air, the Prime Minister added his own comment to his secretary’s post, describing the program’s participants (other, presumably than Ishiba and Yamaguchi) as “too low-level” (osomatsu sugi). One panelist was described as being “beyond the pale”, and of two others, the Prime Minister wrote that they should be “ashamed to show their faces in public”. 9 (9 See here, comment by Abe Shinzo, 21.59, 22 December 2012 (accessed 15 January 2013).)

Shortly afterwards, Professor Fujiwara posted a mildly worded response on Twitter, pointing out that he has never said or written that Japanese abductees should be returned to North Korea. Energetic efforts by at least one pro-Abe website to prove him wrong ended in failure 10 (10 See here (accessed 20 January 2013)), but meanwhile his supposed “statement” on the abduction issue (which in the Japanese context is roughly the equivalent of an American politics professor expressing support for Al Qaida) was circulating like wildfire through Japan’s right wing blogosphere.

Neither Abe nor his secretary has apologized for or revised the comment about Fujiwara, which still remains on the Prime Minister’s Facebook page. No opposition politician and no national newspaper or TV station in Japan has questioned the Prime Minister’s use of Facebook to libel an academic public commentator. Nor did any of them discuss the propriety of the Prime Minister’s Facebook page being used to post a misleading description of a TV discussion program, with the intention of inciting readers to inundate the program with pro-government comments.

The Abe Facebook message can be read as a calculated warning to any Japanese media outlet or commentator proposing to express doubts at government policy that they are likely face officially sanctioned harassment and vilification. In the Internet age, direct intervention by politicians in the media is no longer needed; they can get their Facebook friends to do it for them.

Full article at http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3902

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

In sum, if Abe wants to keep harping on about “honor” (whatever that means), I think he should be looking at himself and his political activities in the mirror.  These hate-speech activities are a direct result of the political machinations of his political ilk, if not him personally.  That a man could exist in such a powerful position in government not once, but twice, says indicative things about Japan’s view of “honor”, and about the Japanese public’s tolerance of disingenuousness.  Arudou Debito

NYT Editorial: Japan’s “Unnecessary Nationalism”, re the trappings of GOJ’s rightward swing

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a tight little editorial from the NYT, focusing on Japan’s “unnecessary” geopolitical disputes.  This is before the issue of the LDP’s constitutional reform proposals have come up, injecting an even more insidious and invidious degree of nationalism.  No doubt we’ll get a good treatment of the latter issue by constitutional scholars on places like Japan Focus, so I’ll save blog space for then.  I’m just glad that the dangers Debito.org has been advising the media about are sinking in overseas — which is good, as it’s the only way that Japan’s unaccountable ruling elite will possibly be deterred from their path away from excoriating “Western democracy” as something anathema to “Japanese values”.  Arudou Debito

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

EDITORIAL
Japan’s Unnecessary Nationalism
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times
Published: April 23, 2013, Courtesy of AS
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/opinion/japans-unnecessary-nationalism.html

Since taking over as Japan’s prime minister in December, Shinzo Abe and his conservative Liberal Democratic Party have been juggling a packed agenda of complicated issues, including reviving the country’s economy, coping with the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and managing prickly relations with neighbors like North Korea. Stirring up extraneous controversy is counterproductive, but that’s exactly what he and his nationalist allies in Parliament have done.

On Tuesday, a group of 168 mostly low-ranking conservative lawmakers visited the Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo, which honors Japan’s war dead, including several who were executed as war criminals after World War II. It was the largest mass visit by Parliament in recent memory. The Japanese news media said that Mr. Abe didn’t visit the shrine, instead sending a ritual offering, but his deputy prime minister and two other ministers made a pilgrimage there over the weekend. He has a record of defending Japan’s conduct during World War II.

Mr. Abe and his allies know well what a deeply sensitive issue this is for China and South Korea, which suffered under Japan’s 20th-century empire-building and militarism, and the reaction was predictable. On Monday, South Korea canceled a visit to Japan by its foreign minister and China publicly chastised Japan. On Tuesday, tensions were further fueled when Chinese and Japanese boats converged on disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Japan and China both need to work on a peaceful solution to their territorial issues. But it seems especially foolhardy for Japan to inflame hostilities with China and South Korea when all countries need to be working cooperatively to resolve the problems with North Korea and its nuclear program.

Instead of exacerbating historical wounds, Mr. Abe should focus on writing Japan’s future, with an emphasis on improving its long-stagnant economy and enhancing its role as a leading democracy in Asia and beyond.

ENDS

BBC, Yomiuri etc.: LDP now pushing revisionistic, jingoistic and militaristic agenda from above and below, with “Return of Sovereignty Day”, booths at Niconico Douga geek festival

mytest

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Hi Blog.  You have to hand it to zealots in political power for their singlemindedness and clarity of message.  The extreme-right leaders of the LDP are pursuing their agenda with messianistic fervor from both above and below, opening booths and putting in Prime Ministerial appearances at online geek festivals, and even enlisting the Emperor to push an overtly politicized agenda of historical revisionism.  Consider these news items:

////////////////////////////////////
Japan marks ‘return of sovereignty’ day
BBC News, 28 April 2013, Courtesy of JK
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22330635

emperorjapansovereigntyday
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko gave added weight to the event

Japan has for the first time marked the anniversary of the end of the allied occupation, which followed its defeat in World War II.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the “restoration of sovereignty day” would give Japan hope for the future and help it become “strong and resolute”.

The event is seen as part of Mr Abe’s nationalist campaign.

He is also pushing for a revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to ease tight restrictions on the armed forces.

It was during last year’s election campaign that Mr Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) proposed the event to mark the day in 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect, formally ending WWII and the allied occupation.

“I want to make this a day when we can renew our sense of hope and determination for the future,” the 58-year-old said in front of officials gathered in Tokyo.

“We have a responsibility to make Japan a strong and resolute country that others across the world can rely on,” he said.

Protests
It was the latest in a series of events and remarks that have angered Japan’s Asian neighbours.

Mr Abe infuriated China and South Korea when he suggested he may no longer stand by the wording of an apology issued in 1995 for Japan’s war-time aggression, saying the definition of “aggression” was hard to establish.

China also strongly objected to the visits by several cabinet members and 170 MPs this month to the Yasukuni war shrine, which is seen as a symbol of Japan’s imperialistic aggression.

Sunday’s ceremony was also controversial with some Japanese. Thousands of people on the southern island of Okinawa took to the streets to denounce the event as a betrayal.

Okinawa was invaded by US marines in 1945 and was not returned to Japan until 1972.

Nearly three-quarters of US troops stationed in Japan under a bilateral treaty are based in Okinawa.

ENDS

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

Right-wing Yomiuri’s less critical and more maudlin take on the event:

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

Japan in Depth / Rethinking Japan’s sovereignty
The Yomiuri Shimbun April 30, 2013 Courtesy of JK
By Yuichi Suzuki and Tetsuya Ennyu / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000176268

Same photo as above’s caption:  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, sends off the Emperor and Empress after a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty held Sunday at Kensei Kinenkan hall in Tokyo.

In hosting a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty after its defeat in World War II, the government apparently aimed at encouraging the people to deepen their perceptions of national sovereignty.

Also behind the government’s decision to sponsor the ceremony is the perceived threat to the nation’s sovereignty, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pursuit of constitutional revision, observers said.

The ceremony was held Sunday in Tokyo to mark the 61st anniversary of the effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty on April 28, 1952, which ended the postwar Occupation of Japan by Allied forces.

After speeches by Abe, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the House of Councillors, the Suginami Junior Chorus performed, easing the atmosphere with clear singing voices.

The chorus sang such popular songs as “Te no hira o taiyo ni” (Palms in the sun) and “Tsubasa o kudasai” (Please give me wings), as well as “Asu to iu hi ga” (The day called tomorrow), a song in support of people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

These songs, which the emcee described as being full of hope for the future, were performed because the government deliberately staged the event to foster a future-oriented atmosphere, taking into account criticism it had received that holding such a ceremony is indicative of a reactionary and rightist inclination.

It was Takeshi Noda, chairman of the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System, who called on Abe and others to organize such a ceremony.

Noda began suggesting the idea about a decade ago. He believes it is necessary to give the people an opportunity to ponder why the nation lost its sovereignty by considering as a set the April 28 anniversary of the restoration of independence and the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, the day the nation announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. He calls the Aug. 15 anniversary “the day of humiliation for losing [the nation’s] sovereignty.”

Efforts made by Noda and his followers bore fruit when the LDP, then an opposition party, held a people’s forum to mark the sovereignty restoration anniversary on April 28 last year at its party headquarters.

Abe, who was not the party leader at the time, delivered a video message, saying: “[The nation’s] failure to thoroughly review the Occupation period right after sovereignty was restored has left serious problems. The next [task for us] is [to revise] the Constitution.”

Event reflects Abe’s intent

Holding the government-sponsored ceremony was mentioned in the so-called J-File, in which the LDP explained in detail its manifesto for the House of Representatives election last year and its plan to hold ceremonies on National Founding Day on Feb. 11, and Takeshima Day on Feb. 22.

Of the three, however, only the sovereignty ceremony has been realized so far.

The prevailing view is that Abe’s strong intention to amend the Constitution had much to do with the event.

During recent interviews and on other occasions, Abe has repeatedly emphasized that “When the Constitution was enacted, Japan had yet to become independent…The Constitution was, as one might put it, created by the occupation forces. We haven’t made any constitution on our own.”

Abe’s strong desire to establish the nation’s own constitution was seen to have coincided with the holding of the ceremony.

During the ceremony, lower house Speaker Bunmei Ibuki said: “What does the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty mean? The most important thing is that the people have the right to decide the law and the systems within their own territory.”

Yet the nation’s territory and sovereign power have been threatened daily.

China’s maritime surveillance ships have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. Meanwhile, the Takeshima islands have been illegally occupied by South Korea, and Russia has been intensifying its effective control over the northern territories off Hokkaido.

The current situation, in which the nation’s sovereignty is in unprecedented danger, also appears to have fueled Abe’s desire to hold the latest ceremony.

As for the future of the recent ceremony, Abe has not made his intention clear.

“This is not the kind of the event that is to be held every year,” he said.

The attendance of the Emperor and the Empress at the ceremony was included in the decision the Cabinet made March 12 to hold the ceremony. It seems the Imperial couple attended as part of their official duties at the request of the Cabinet, with whom final responsibility for the ceremony lies.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Cabinet briefed the agency on the purpose of the ceremony. On the basis of the Cabinet’s explanation, the agency requested the attendance of the Imperial couple at the ceremony.

Festive mood toned down

“Especially noteworthy is the fact that Okinawa Prefecture, which experienced heavy casualties in cruel infantry battles, remained outside of Japan’s control for the longest period,” Abe said in his speech, referring to the fact that Okinawa Prefecture remained under U.S. administration 20 years after Japan regained its sovereignty.

Abe called for the people to deeply respect the hardships the Okinawan people endured during and after the war.

Okinawa Prefecture was separated from Japan when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect on April 28, 1952. As U.S. forces continued to expropriate land and construct bases in Okinawa Prefecture long after that time, some Okinawans regard April 28 as a “day of humiliation.”

However, it cannot be certain that the prime minister and those around him were fully aware of the backlash and mixed feelings of Okinawans regarding the ceremony.

Abe expressed his intent to hold the ceremony at the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee on March 7, but made no mention of Okinawa at the time. A government official said Abe’s “snub” incited mistrust and anger among residents of Okinawa Prefecture.

However, in his responses to questions in the Diet and other occasions, Abe said, “If Japan had not restored its independence, negotiations [for the reversion of Okinawa to Japan] would have been impossible.”

The ceremony was shortened to 40 minutes from the initially planed 60 minutes, as festive programs were cut shortly before the ceremony.

“Decorations for the ceremony were toned down to the absolute minimum,” said a government official.

After the ceremony, Okinawa Vice Gov. Kurayoshi Takara, who was in attendance, told the press: “[Abe] paid consideration to the problems of Okinawa Prefecture. I accepted his speech.” However, he added, “I can empathize with those who assembled in Ginowan in protest of the ceremony.”
ENDS

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

Then we get to an even bigger surprise than this:  The PM finding the time to put in an appearance at a local geek festival, sponsored by Internet snakepit of bullies and right-winger refuge 2-Channel’s corporate body, Niconico Douga a few days ago!

 

avwatchniconicodouga2043013

 

All screen captures from http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/20130430_597889.html.  Article courtesy of JJS, who comments:

Wanted to point your attention to this as it seems like one of those things that will be passed up, glossed over, or completely go unseen by most people.  I guess NicoNico video held some type of “Big Conference” called 「ニコニコ超会議2」. It appears at first to be some gathering for tech-heads and geek culture of all kinds. But scroll down a bit to the section 自衛隊や在日米軍、各政党も参加 and you’ll see that Abe came to participate…essentially campaigning at the event. Nico Nico played a big role in one of the debates he proposed be put online, live. But to outright be campaigning at this event seems out of the norm and certainly a bending of the rules. Even more disturbing is the show of military hardware with tie-ins to cute “moe” characters, etc. There is something rotten in Nagatacho and it all seems to be going “according to plan.”

Thanks.  Here’s the screen capture outlining the details of the event.

avwatchniconicodouga043013

 

It even talks about the “movement on Japan’s Internet”, which manga/geek fan and rejuvenated political zombie Aso Taro (currently in the Abe Cabinet as the Deputy PM) no doubt appreciates.  Given how there is even a word nowadays coined to describe the bullying tactics of the Internet Rightists (Netto Uyoku, or Neto-uyo), a sympathetic hearing was no doubt granted by this swarm of birds of a feather).

And in case you were wondering if these geeks were just hikikomori types more interested in using up their room’s inventory of kleenex than thinking militaristic thoughts, consider this screen capture from the event:

avwatchniconicodouga3033013

This ain’t something harmless like the KISS Army, folks.  It’s the “Kiss our collective asses, world!” army being summoned through the LDP’s messages melding nationalism, militarism, and naked political ambition.  Something wicked is not only this way coming, it is already here.  If the LDP gets its way and converts this tone of agenda into real public policy, Japan is heading for remilitarization all over again.  Arudou Debito

New eBook: “JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Onsens Case”, 10th Anniv Edition with new Intro and Postscript, now on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook $9.99

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Hi Blog.  I am pleased to announce the eBook release of my book “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” Tenth Anniversary Edition, available for immediate download for Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble NOOK.

The definitive book on one of Japan’s most important public debates and lawsuits on racial discrimination, this new edition has a new Introduction and Postscript that updates the reader on what has happened in the decade since JO’s first publication by Akashi Shoten Inc.  A synopsis of the new book is below.

You can read a sample of the first fifteen or so pages (including the new Introduction), and download the ebook at either link:

Price:  $9.99 (a bargain considering JO is currently on sale on Amazon Japan used for 3100 yen, and at Amazon.com used for $390.93!), or the equivalent in local currency on all other Amazons (935 yen on Amazon Japan).

If you haven’t read JO yet (as clearly some media presences, like TV Tarento Daniel Kahl or decrier of “bathhouse fanatics” Gregory Clark, have not; not to mention “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo would rather you didn’t), now is a brand new opportunity with additional context.  Here’s the Synopsis:

SYNOPSIS OF THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF eBOOK “JAPANESE ONLY”

If you saw signs up in public places saying “No Coloreds”, what would you do? See them as relics of a bygone era, a la US Segregation or South African Apartheid? Not in Japan, where even today “Japanese Only” signs, excluding people who look “foreign”, may be found nationwide, thanks to fear and opportunism arising from Japan’s internationalization and economic decline.

JAPANESE ONLY is the definitive account of the Otaru Onsens Case, where public bathhouses in Otaru City, Hokkaido, put up “no foreigners allowed” signs to refuse entry to Russian sailors, and in the process denied service to Japanese. One of Japan’s most studied postwar court cases on racial discrimination, this case went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, and called into question the willingness of the Japanese judiciary to enforce Japan’s Constitution.

Written by one of the plaintiffs to the lawsuit, a bilingual naturalized citizen who has lived in Japan for 25 years, this highly-readable first-person account chronologically charts the story behind the case and the surrounding debate in Japanese media between 1999 and 2005. The author uncovers a side of Japanese society that many Japanese and scholars of Japan would rather not discuss: How the social determination of “Japanese” inevitably leads to racism. How Japan, despite international treaties and even its own constitutional provisions, remains the only modern, developed country without any form of a law against racial discrimination, resulting in situations where foreigners and even Japanese are refused service at bathhouses, restaurants, stores, apartments, hotels, schools, even hospitals, simply for looking too “foreign”. How Japan officially denies the existence of racial discrimination in Japan (as its allegedly homogeneous society by definition contains no minorities), until the Sapporo District Court ruled otherwise with Otaru Onsens.

JAPANESE ONLY also charts the arc of a public debate that reached extremes of xenophobia: Where government-sponsored fear campaigns against “foreign crime” and “illegal foreigners” were used to justify exclusionism. Where outright acts of discrimination, once dismissed as mere “cultural misunderstandings”, were then used as a means to “protect Japanese” from “scary, unhygienic, criminal foreigners” and led to the normalization of racialized hate speech. Where even resident foreigners turned on themselves, including Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark’s repeated diatribes against “bathhouse fanatics”, and future “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo’s opportunistic use of activism to promote his own agenda at the expense of the cause. Where the plaintiffs stay the course despite enormous public pressure to drop the lawsuit (including death threats), and do so at great personal risk and sacrifice. Remaining in print since its first publication in 2003, JAPANESE ONLY remains a testament to the dark side of race relations in Japan, and contains a taut story of courage and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Now for the first time in ebook format, this Tenth Anniversary Edition in English offers a new Introduction and Postscript by the author, updating the reader on what has changed, what work remains to be done, and how Japan in fact is reverse-engineering itself to become more insular and xenophobic in the 2010s. Called “a reasoned and spirited denunciation of national prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry” (Donald Richie, legendary Japanologist), “clear, well-paced, balanced and informative” (Tom Baker, The Daily Yomiuri), “a personal and fascinating account of how this movement evolved, its consequences and how it affected those who participated in it” (Jeff Kingston, The Japan Times), and “the book of reference on the subject for decades to come and should be required reading for anyone studying social protest” (Robert Whiting, author of You’ve Gotta Have Wa), JAPANESE ONLY is a must-read for anyone interested in modern Japan’s future direction in the world and its latent attitudes towards outsiders.

More reviews at http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html
ends

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here are a couple of interesting cases that have fallen through the cracks recently, what with all the higher-level geopolitical flurry and consequent hate speech garnering so much attention.  With not much to link them thematically except that these are complaints made into public disputes, let me combine them into one blog post and let them stand for themselves as bellwethers of the times.

First up, we have a criminal complaint filed with the police for classroom bullying resulting in serious injury due to his Pakistani ethnicity.  This is one of a long line of cases of ethnic bullying in Japan, once again with insufficient intervention by authorities, and we’re lucky this time it hasn’t resulted yet in PTSD or a suicide.  Like it has in these cases here with an ethnic Chinese schoolgirlwith an Indian student in 2007, or a Filipina-Japanese student in 2010 (in the last case NHK neglected to mention ethnicity as an issue).  Of course, even here the Mainichi declines to give the name of the school involved.  Whatever happened to perennial promises of a “major bullying study” at the ministerial level a couple of years ago to prevent things like this?  Or of grassroots NGO actions way back when?

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Pakistani student’s parents file complaint against classmates over bullying

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130219p2a00m0na006000c.html

TAKAMATSU — The parents of a 13-year-old Pakistani junior high school student here have filed a criminal complaint with police, accusing their son’s classmates of bullying and injuring him.

A male Pakistani student at a public junior high school in a town in Kagawa Prefecture was bullied and seriously injured by his classmates, his parents alleged in a complaint filed on Feb. 18 with prefectural police.

The parents requested on the same day that the town’s board of education investigate the case and take measures to prevent a recurrence as they claim the student has been racially abused by four of his classmates since last spring. However, the education board denies bullying took place at the school.

According to the parents who held a news conference, the student was verbally bullied about the color of his skin by four of his classmates ever since he entered school last April. The parents claim that the students would make racist comments that their son’s skin was “dirty” and that they told him to “go back to his home country.”

The student was also physically bullied repeatedly by his classmates. Last November, one of the four classmates tripped him over when he was running in the hallway, severely injuring his legs and face. Since that incident, the student reportedly has to use crutches to walk.

The student’s 41-year-old father said, “We asked the homeroom teacher and vice principle multiple times to improve the situation but they failed to take any action.”

February 19, 2013 (Mainichi Japan) 

傷害容疑:「いじめで重傷」告訴…パキスタン籍の中1両親

毎日新聞 2013年02月19日 00時37分(最終更新 02月19日 09時33分)

http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130219k0000m040116000c.html

 香川県中部の町立中学校に通うパキスタン国籍の1年男子生徒(13)が同級生からの暴行で重傷を負ったとして、男子生徒の両親が18日、傷害容疑で県警に告訴した。昨春以降、同級生ら4人から人種差別的な暴言によるいじめも続いているといい、両親は同日、町教育委員会に調査と再発防止を申し入れた。町教委側は「いじめはなかった」と否定している。

記者会見した両親らによると、男子生徒は昨年4月の入学直後から同級生4人に肌の色の違いを言われ「汚い」「国へ帰れ」など人種差別的な発言をされ、足を蹴られるなどの暴行も繰り返し受けたという。昨年11月には、校内の廊下を走っていて4人のうち1人に足を掛けられ転倒。足や顔などに重傷を負ったという。男子生徒は今も松葉づえで登下校している。父親(41)は「担任や教頭に何度も改善を訴えたがかなわなかった」と話している。【鈴木理之、広沢まゆみ】

婚約破棄:「在日差別意識に起因」 女性が市議を提訴
毎日新聞 2013年01月28日 15時00分(最終更新 01月28日 16時11分)
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130128k0000e040180000c.html

婚約相手だった兵庫県内の自治体の30代男性市議に自分の祖父が在日韓国人だと告げたところ、婚約を破棄されたとして、大阪市の会社員の女性(28)が市議に550万円の損害賠償を求める訴訟を大阪地裁に起こした。市議側は結婚できない理由として「政治的信条から消極的にならざるを得なかった」と説明しているが、女性側は「差別意識に起因し、不当だ」と批判している。人権問題に詳しい専門家からは市議の対応を問題視する声が上がっている。

提訴は昨年10月。訴状などによると、市議と女性は結婚相談所の紹介で同3月に知り合った。市議は同6月、「あなたのことが大好きです」などと書いた手紙を渡して「結婚したい」と伝え、女性も承諾した。しかしその数日後、女性が自分の祖父は在日韓国人だと市議に伝えると、市議は「韓国の血が流れている」などとして婚約を破棄したという。女性自身は日本国籍だった。

市議側は地裁に提出した書面で「結婚したい」といったん女性に伝えたことは認めた上で、「保守派の政治家として活動し、在日韓国人らに対する選挙権付与に反対するなどの政治的スタンスをとっており、政治的信条などから結婚できないと考えた」と説明。さらに「婚約は成立していない」として請求の棄却を求めている。

市議本人は取材に「弁護士に任せているのでコメントできない」としているが、女性は「どれだけ人を傷つけたのか、深く受け止めてほしい」と話した。在日外国人問題に詳しい田中宏・一橋大名誉教授は「結婚で出自を問う発想は問題だ。政治家としての考え方があるから正当化されるものではない」と指摘している。

判例などによると、双方の両親や友人らに婚約の意思を伝えている▽結納や指輪の交換をした−−などの事実があれば、婚約が成立したとみなされる。過去には、日本人男性から国籍を理由に婚約を破棄されたとして韓国籍女性が男性に慰謝料などを求めた訴訟で、大阪地裁は83年、「民族差別の存在に起因した迷いから婚約破棄したのは不当」として、男性に約240万円の支払いを命じた判決がある。【渋江千春】
ENDS

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

And finally, courtesy of japanCRUSH last January, we have this interesting titbit:

Japanese defense minister Onodera Itsunori is the latest politician to enter the fray by calling former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio a ‘traitor’ on a television programme. Onodera’s remark came after Hatoyama commented to Chinese officials that the Senkaku Islands should be recognised as disputed territory, rather than Japanese territory, during his trip to China. Interestingly, Hatoyama caused further controversy this week when he apologised for the Nanjing massacre.

Translations courtesy of japanCRUSH:

Defense Minister Calls Hatoyama a ‘Traitor’ (kokuzoku)

Sankei Shinbun:  On the evening of January 17, defense minister Onodera Itsunori gave a scathing criticism of Hatoyama Yukio, who met with Chinese officials in Beijing, for his acknowledgement of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture as being a disputed territory between Japan and China. Onodera stated, ‘This is a huge negative for Japan. At this, China will announce to the world that there is a dispute, and form international opinion. For the first time in a long while, the word ‘traitor’ came to mind’. Onodera spoke on a BS-Fuji news programme.

鳩山氏は「国賊」と防衛相

産經新聞 2013.1.17 22:29 [鳩山氏の不思議な行動
 小野寺五典防衛相は17日夜、北京で中国要人と会談した鳩山由紀夫元首相が沖縄県・尖閣諸島は日中間の係争地だとの認識を伝えたことについて、「日本にとって大きなマイナスだ。中国はこれで係争があると世界に宣伝し、国際世論を作られてしまう。久しぶりに頭の中に『国賊』という言葉がよぎった」と述べ、鳩山氏を痛烈に批判した。BSフジの報道番組で語った。
===========================

Defense Minister Onodera: Former Prime Minister Hatoyama is a ‘Traitor’

JIJI/YahooNews.jp:  On the evening of January 17, defense minister Onodera Itsunori appeared on a BS-Fuji television programme, and said that ‘This is a huge negative for Japan. I shouldn’t really say this, but for a moment the word ‘traitor’ came to mind,’ strongly criticising former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio’s remark that ‘It is important to recognise that the Senkaku islands are a disputed territory’.

The defense minister showed his anxiety, saying ‘Although there is no dispute, and (Senkaku) is native Japanese territory, the Chinese will announce to the world that this is what a former Japanese prime minister thinks, and indeed world opinion will be formed as though there really is a dispute’.

鳩山元首相は「国賊」=小野寺防衛相

時事通信 1月17日(木)22時37分配信

 小野寺五典防衛相は17日夜、BSフジの番組に出演し、「尖閣諸島を係争地と認めることが大事だ」との鳩山由紀夫元首相の中国での発言について「日本にとって大きなマイナスだ。言ってはいけないが『国賊』という言葉が一瞬、頭をよぎった」と述べ、強く非難した。
防衛相は「係争などなく(尖閣は)固有の領土なのに、中国側は、日本の元首相はこう思っていると世界に宣伝し、いかにも係争があるかのように国際世論がつくられてしまう」と懸念を示した。

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130117-00000197-jij-pol

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

So this is what it’s coming to.  Dissent from prominent Japanese (who, in Hatoyama’s case, are no longer even political representatives) who act on their conscience, deviate from the saber-rattling party line, and show any efforts at reconciliation in this era of regional brinkmanship get decried as “traitors”.

Check out this photo essay link from the Sankei showing Hatoyama and missus provocatively bowing and praying at Nanjing (text of article follows):

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

鳩山元首相が「南京大虐殺記念館」訪問 中国、「安倍内閣牽制」に利用も
産經新聞 2013年1月17日
http://photo.sankei.jp.msn.com/kodawari/data/2013/01/17hatoyama/

【上海=河崎真澄】中国を訪問中の鳩山由紀夫元首相は17日、日中戦争で旧日本軍による南京占領で起きたとされる「南京事件」の資料などを展示する江蘇省南京市の「南京大虐殺記念館」を訪問した。日本の首相経験者が同館を訪れるのは、海部俊樹、村山富市両元首相に続いて3人目。

中国版のツイッター「微博」などでは、「もっと日本に鳩山元首相のような人が増えればいい」といった同館訪問を歓迎する発言に加え、「記念館で鳩山はざんげしろ」「日本人は歴史を直視しろ」などとの書き込みもある。鳩山氏と対比する形で、東南アジア歴訪中の安倍晋三首相を「右翼的思想だ」と警戒感をむき出しにした発言も目立つ。

歴史認識をめぐって植民地支配と侵略を認めた「村山談話」を継承しつつ、新たな談話の作成を進める安倍内閣に対し、中国側はいわば同館への鳩山氏訪問のタイミングを利用し、牽制する狙いもありそうだ。

鳩山氏は16日の賈慶林全国政治協商会議主席ら中国要人との会談で、沖縄県の尖閣諸島について、日本政府の公式見解と異なり中国との「係争地」と発言、波紋を広げている。
///////////////////////////////////

Doesn’t seem like there is much space for tolerance of moderate or diverse views (or people) anymore.  Arudou Debito

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest publication, which came out last Sunday, elaborating more on the historical arc of Japan’s rightward swing I have already talked about journalistically in three recent Japan Times columns:

Here is how I see the build up to what came to fruition with PM Abe and his cadre’s reinstatement to power last December.  Excerpt follows.  Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 9, No. 3, March 4, 2013.
Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance
日本の右傾化と鳥取県人権条例

By Arudou Debito

ABSTRACT
Japan’s swing to the right in the December 2012 Lower House election placed three-quarters of the seats in the hands of conservative parties. The result should come as no surprise. This political movement not only capitalized on a putative external threat generated by recent international territorial disputes (with China/Taiwan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and with South Korea over Takeshima/Dokdo islands). It also rode a xenophobic wave during the 2000s, strengthened by fringe opposition to reformers seeking to give non-Japanese more rights in Japanese politics and society.

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

Keywords: Japan, human rights, Tottori, racial discrimination, suffrage, minorities, Japanese politics, elections, xenophobia, right wing

Introduction

As has been written elsewhere (cf. Arudou 2005; 2006a; 2006b et al.), Japan has no law in its Civil or Criminal Code specifically outlawing or punishing racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu). With respect to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (which Japan adopted in 1996), Japan has explicitly stated to the United Nations that it does not need such a law: “We do not recognize that the present situation of Japan is one in which discriminative acts cannot be effectively restrained by the existing legal system and in which explicit racial discriminative acts, which cannot be restrained by measures other than legislation, are conducted. Therefore, penalization of these acts is not considered necessary.” (MOFA 2001: 5.1)

However, in 2005, a regional government, Tottori Prefecture northwest of Ōsaka, did pass a local ordinance (jōrei) explicitly punishing inter alia discrimination by race. What happened to that law shortly afterwards provides a cautionary tale, demonstrating how public fear of granting any power to Non-Japanese occasioned the ordinance to be rescinded shortly afterwards. This article describes the defeat of a similar bill on a national scale, the public reaction to Tottori’s ordinance and the series of events that led to its withdrawal. The aftermath led to the stigmatization of any liberalization favoring more rights for Non-Japanese.

Prelude: The Protection of Human Rights Bill debates of the mid-2000s

Throughout the 2000s, there was a movement to enforce the exclusionary parameters of Japanese citizenship by further reinforcing the status quo disenfranchising non-citizens. For example, one proposal that would have enfranchised non-citizens by giving them more rights was the Protection of Human Rights Bill (jinken yōgo hōan). It was an amalgamation of several proposals (including the Foreign Residents’ Basic Law (gaikokujin jūmin kihon hō)) that would have protected the rights of residents regardless of nationality, ethnic status, or social origin.

Read the rest at http://japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/3907

Other Japan Focus articles by Arudou Debito at http://japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito

3907 Arudou Debito

Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance

2708 Arudou DebitoA. Higuchi

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan

2559 Arudou Debito

Japan’s Future as an International, Multicultural Society: From Migrants to Immigrants

2386 Arudou Debito

Gaijin Hanzai Magazine and Hate Speech in Japan: The Newfound Power of Japan’s International Residents

2078 Arudou Debito

The Coming Internationalization: Can Japan assimilate its immigrants?

1743 Arudou Debito

JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hotspring Case and Discrimination Against “Foreigners” in Japan

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

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Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who read and commented on this article — it was in the “trending” articles (for a time in the top position) for two days. Debito

justbecauseicon.jpg

Child’s quibble with U.S. ‘poverty superpower’ propaganda unravels a sobering story about insular Japan
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, March 5, 2013, Column 61 for JUST BE CAUSE
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/03/05/issues/childs-quibble-with-u-s-poverty-superpower-propaganda-unravels-a-sobering-story-about-insular-japan
Version with links to sources

Last November, a reader in Hokkaido named Stephanie sent me an article read in Japan’s elementary schools. Featured in a sixth-grader magazine called Chagurin (from “child agricultural green”) dated December 2012, it was titled “Children of America, the Poverty Superpower” (hinkon taikoku Amerika no kodomotachi), offering a sprawling review of America’s social problems.

chagurin1

Its seven pages in tabloid format (see debito.org/?p=10806) led with headlines such as: “Is it true that there are more and more people without homes?” “Is it true that if you get sick you can’t go to hospital?” and “Is it true that the poorer an area you’re in, the fatter the children are?”

Answers described how 1 out of 7 Americans live below the poverty line, how evicted homeless people live in tent cities found “in any town park,” how poverty correlates with child obesity due to cheap junk food, how bankruptcies are widespread due to the world’s highest medical costs (e.g., one tooth filling costs ¥150,000), how education is undermined by “the evils (heigai) of evaluating teachers only by test scores,” and so on.

For greater impact, included were photos of a tent city, a fat lady — even a kid with rotten-looking picket-fence teeth.

chagurin4teethcrop

These images served to buttress spiraling daisy chains of logic: “As your teeth get worse, your bite becomes bad, your body condition gets worse and your school studies suffer. After that, you can’t pass a job interview and you become stuck in poverty.”

The article’s concluding question: “What can we do so we don’t become like America?” Answer proffered: Think critically, don’t take media at face value and ask questions of your parents and friends. Ask why hamburgers are so cheap, why Japan would give up its sovereignty and domestic industrial integrity through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade agreement, and why only “efficiency and competition” are prioritized in the agricultural, medical and educational sectors.

Heavy stuff for a children’s magazine, and not entirely without merit. But not entirely accurate, either. So Stephanie’s daughter did as encouraged and questioned the article, for she had been to America and her experience was different.

Teacher’s answer: “It is written so it is true.” So much for critical thinking.

So Stephanie wrote to Chagurin asking about some of the article’s “generalizations and falsehoods” (such as the cost of a filling: ¥150,000 would in fact cover an entire root canal). She asked why there had been no comparison with Japan’s strengths and weaknesses so that both societies “can learn from each other.”

To their credit, Chagurin responded in January (see debito.org/?p=11086), admitting to some errors in scope and fact. “Tent cities in every town park” was an exaggeration; the kid’s “picket-fence teeth” were in fact fake Halloween costume teeth. They would run a few corrections but otherwise stood by their claims.

Editors justified their editorial bent thus (my translation): “Chagurin was created as a magazine to convey the importance of farming, food, nature and life, and cultivate the spirit of helping one another. The goal of the article . . . was not to criticize America; it was to think along with the children about the social stratifications (kakusa shakai) caused by market fundamentalism (shijō genri shugi) that has gone too far. . . . There are many things in this world that we want children to learn . . . not limited to poverty and social inequality, but also food supply, war, etc. . . . We would like to positively take up these issues and include Japan’s problems as well.”

But that’s the thing. They didn’t. Chagurin basically seized upon an entire foreign society as a cautionary tale, swaddled it in broad generalizations and burned it in effigy to illuminate a path for Japanese society.

So I did some research on the magazine. Endorsed by Japan PTA, Chagurin is funded by the Japan Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, connected with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

Aha. MAFF is famous for its propagandizing, especially when it comes to keeping Japan’s agricultural sector closed for “food security” purposes. Remember Japan’s poor harvest in 1995 when rice had to be imported? To ensure Japanese consumers never realized that “foreign rice” could be of similar quality to domestic fare, American and Chinese-made japonica was blended with Japanese, while low-quality Thai rice was sold alone as “foreign” to maintain a firewall. Similar dirty marketing tricks have happened with other agro-imports, including foreign apples in the 1990s and the “longer Japanese intestines unable to digest foreign beef” nonsense in the 1980s. Chagurin’s inclusion of the TPP issue is suddenly not so odd.

More interesting, however, is the article’s author, Mika Tsutsumi. According to The Japan Times (“Spotlight on the States,” April 4, 2010), Tsutsumi, the daughter of a famous Japanese journalist, lived many years in the U.S., her “dream country.” A former United Nations worker and Nomura Securities analyst who studied at the State University of New York, New Paltz, Tsutsumi has since returned to Japan to write extensively about America exclusively in Japanese. Her bestselling books include “America’s Revolution of the Weak,” “Freedom Disappears from America” and the award-winning “America, the Poverty Superpower” (original, sequel and a manga version) — which Chagurin, from the title on down, cooperatively adapted for preadolescents nationwide.

Although Tsutsumi repeatedly encourages critical thinking in her writings, none of her books on Amazon Japan apply the same level of critique to Japanese society — probably because they would not sell as well or win awards. Thus America becomes a convenient foil for Tsutsumi to sell herself, even to grade-schoolers.

But put the shoe on the other foot: If an article of this tone and content about Japan appeared in grade-schooler magazines overseas, funded by the U.S. farming lobby and endorsed by the PTA, the first wave of protests would be from the Japanese Embassy. Then Internet denizens would swamp the publisher’s servers with accusations of racism and Japan-bashing, followed by hue and cry from the Japanese media. Yet in Japan, this angle of research passes muster — as long as it’s not about Japan.

Then I dug deeper and found something even more interesting: Tsutsumi is married to Diet member Ryuhei Kawada, a member of Minna no To (Your Party), a mishmash of center-right libertarian “we’ll say whatever you want to hear as long as you vote for us” political platforms. Kawada, a hemophiliac among thousands infected with HIV in the 1980s tainted blood scandal, came to national prominence spearheading a successful campaign against the government and the drug companies involved.

An activist for Japan’s “lost generation” of “permanent part-timers” and chosen as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, Kawada was elected to national office in 2007 on a platform of fighting discrimination. On his website (ryuheikawada.jp/english) he states, “Discrimination is the most serious issue not only in developing countries but in developed countries. I still see it in my country. . . . Education against it must be essential.”

That’s ironic, because in 2008 Kawada (unsuccessfully) campaigned against reforming Japan’s Nationality Law to allow international children born out of wedlock to be recognized as citizens even if paternity was not formally acknowledged, opportunistically joining a chorus of Japan’s xenophobes fomenting a “false paternity” scare. Apparently for Kawada, “discrimination” in Japan does not transcend nationality.

[See also http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/国籍法改正問題 and  http://d.hatena.ne.jp/macska/20081209/p1]

Thus Tsutsumi and Kawada are a power couple (such darlings of the left that they can jump to the right), and their influence in both policymaking circles and Japan’s media is broad. For Kawada, his alarmist gang of arguments forced the Nationality Law to be reinterpreted in 2012 to place further restrictions on Japanese with foreign nationalities (Just Be Cause, Jan. 1). For Tsutsumi, her books are now even “catching them young” — scaring impressionable minds about the “evils” of a foreign society before any schooling in comparative cultures or critical thinking.

Not to be outdone, let me offer two of my own cautionary tales from this month’s research adventure.

One is that a lack of critical thinking in Japan has enabled Japan’s media to propagandize with impunity. Propaganda, as defined by scholar Robert McChesney, is “the more people consume your media, the less they’ll know about the subject, and the more they’ll support government policy.” Tsutsumi’s article is a quintessential example: By denigrating a foreign society while elevating her own, she distorts information to leave readers ill-informed and more supportive of Japan’s insularity.

To be fair, it’s not only Tsutsumi: Live long enough in Japan and you’ll be influenced by the slow-drip mantra of how “dangerous” the outside world is (contrasted with “safe Japan”), and how if you ever dare to leave Japan (where “everyone is middle class”) you’ll be at the mercy of gross social inequalities. Over time you’ll start to believe this propaganda despite contrary experiences; it’s very effective at intimidating people from emigrating, no matter how tough things get in Japan.

The other lesson is that the hope that Japan’s “next generation” will be more open-minded than their elders is gradually evaporating. Tsutsumi and Kawada are well-educated 30-to-40-somethings with international experience, language ability and acclaimed antidiscrimination activism under their belts. Yet both are behaving as conservatively as any elite xenophobic rightist. They can get away with it because they have a perpetual soft target for Japan’s media — the outside world — to bash in a society that generally mistrusts outsiders. And they’re making mucho dinero while at it.

So let’s conclude in Tsutsumi’s style: “We” should not become like Japan because its aging society, controlled by an unaccountable bureaucratic/gerontocratic elite, will forever crowd out the young and disenfranchised from its power structure. Meanwhile the Japanese public, insufficiently trained in critical thinking, will remain intellectually blinded by jingoistic and xenophobic propaganda.

After all, focusing on overseas problems distracts attention away from domestic ills, such as an inflexible job market, an imperfect education and health system, an underdiscussed class system, a mass media that ill-serves the public interest — and yes, ironically, even questionable dietary practices, underreported poverty and homelessness, and substandard dental care.

Never mind. Let’s talk instead about how “we” are still somehow better off than somebody else. Bash the outside world — it’s lucrative. For some.

============================
Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012′s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp.
ENDS

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

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Hi Blog.  Sometimes I wish the Star Trek Universal Translators were already here.  But we’re getting closer.  Here’s a Google Translate version of an article that came out in Die Zeit newspaper a couple of months ago that cites me and others about Japan’s political problems with creating an immigration policy.  Not a lot here that frequent readers of Debito.org don’t already know (except for the give-and-take access to export markets for the bilateral nursing agreements between Indonesia and The Philippines), but here’s a German media take on the issue.  There are some bits that are a bit clumsily translated, so corrections welcome.  Arudou Debito

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

JAPAN
Old and xenophobic
Japan on the day of elections: the economy is running out of workers. Immigrants may bridge the gap, but locals reject strangers.
DIE ZEIT, December 6, 2012, by Felix Lill
Courtesy of author Felix Lill, OM, and Google Translate (cleaned up a bit, corrections welcome)
Original German at
http://www.zeit.de/2012/50/Japan-Wirtschaft-Arbeitskraefte-Einwanderer

To Ezekiel Ramat would be the Japanese economy actually tear. [??]  The 24 year old geriatric nurse is young, well educated and unmarried. Moreover, the man hails from the Philippines, who for almost two years in Japan, lives for two-thirds of the salary of his Japanese colleagues. But instead of being welcomed with open arms, Ramat needs after-hours cramming. After four years, he must either pass the Japanese nurse exam – or leave the country.

The contents Ramat knows that from his training at home. But the three Japanese alphabets in which the questions are asked, make it almost impossible for foreigners to pass the test. Only one in ten may remain at the end.

“I’m learning every day,” says Ramat. “Maybe I have a 50-50 chance.” He says he’s even hopeful about the December 16th Japanese parliamentary elections: A new government , which will most likely represent to current polls business-oriented Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), must be on the future of Japan. “Japan’s economy still needs foreigners working. It would be unwise to kick us again.”  So gives Ramat courage.

An immigration campaign would be political suicide

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

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

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

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

“In Japan, it would be political suicide to run an immigration campaign,” says Arudou Debito. The author of US-Japanese origin has long been involved with Japan’s foreign policy, and has also just written his doctoral thesis. “Most Japanese can not imagine having to share their country with foreigners.” Opinion polls recorded in recent years paint a foreigner-skeptical picture.

Only half of the Japanese supported the idea of ​​granting foreigners the same fundamental rights as Japanese. A third of the population was against further immigration. Three-quarters think that in ten million immigrants would exceed the limit of what is acceptable.

“Which party is under such circumstances to make active immigration policy?” Asks Debito. He even a few years ago made headlines when he sued a Japanese hot spring, which had denied his two American-looking daughters entry. [Sic:  it was one of my daughters, not both.]  To date, Japan has no law to protect foreigners against [racial] discrimination.

Japan has tried to compensate for an aging society through immigrants. As the dangers of shrinking population became known in the eighties, Japan courted Japanese-born Brazilians for simple tasks. By 2004 this had risen to almost 300,000. But since there was a lack of integration programs, a lot of Brazilians in Japan never felt at home.

In addition, policy making and media sentiment against the newcomers blamed the increasing proportion of foreigners for a rise in crime. With the start of the financial crisis, it was finally opportune to send back the foreigners out of the country. From 2009, each Brazilian has been offered a one-way ticket to South America, on condition they never seek work in Japan [sic: on the same visa status].

In June 2008, the Liberal Democrat Cabinet of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced a plan by which within 50 years about ten million immigrants should be admitted. The number of foreign students should rise by 2025 to one million per year. But both Fukuda and his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, who ruled Japan from 2001 to 2006, saw the acceptance by the Japanese the biggest obstacle. At the end of his administration, Koizumi said, “If the number of foreign workers exceeds a certain level, there will be conflict.  It should be prevented. “

To not rely on the consent of the electorate, Japanese bureaucrats concluded their last bilateral contracts through the back door. Agreements with the Philippines and Indonesia that were hardly discussed publicly allowed Japanese companies market access and in turn allowed the posting of caregivers for sick and elderly to Japan.

A sign for a better immigration policy was not there. “The main objective of these agreements was to support our export economy,” says Takahiro Wakabayashi, who is in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of business with Southeast Asia. Wakabayashi does not deny the need for more immigration itself, but on the question of why this insight occasions little action, he gives an answer that is heard again and again: The topic of immigration is controversial. “We should have the economic capacity to take in more people. But the unions fear in such a case falling wages.”

Young foreigners be exploited – and then sent away

The author Debito believed that the current provisions for foreign workers are therefore less restrictive, so they do not remain in the country in the long term. “The examination system at the nurses is intended to take advantage of some of the best years of young foreigners and then return them home. The system works: Theoretically, everyone has the chance to make it to a status of unlimited right of residence [sic:  I did not say anything about Permanent Residency], but almost no one gets it. “

If there are alternatives to more immigration to Japan? One might raise the retirement age, which is 65 years. But that would be very expensive for the company. In Japan, namely, the principle that with increasing seniority and higher salaries are paid. In addition, today many Japanese retirees take new jobs, because their pension is not enough. Women, of which less than two-thirds have a job complain that there was not enough childcare.

In the eyes of the scientist Naohiro Ogawa, it is a matter of time before Japan’s “demographic time bomb” explodes. “Until Japan is willing to open the door to more immigrants, the countries that would like to send today, workers have long since been in the situation of labor shortage. Worldwide, the population growth back already. ” [??]

And the patience of Japanese contractors is limited. For example, Clifford Paragua of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo. He says: “We could do a lot more than the current 600 workers send to Japan. Japan could use a lot more. “In the Middle East 800,000 Filipinos are working in hospitals, their education will also be recognized, and they came through with English mostly. Why,” asks Paragua, should “young Filipinos choose Japan?”

No matter who wins: Even after the election will probably not change much in the integration policy. Many of the few foreigners who make it to Japan, such as geriatric nurses Ezekiel Ramat, will send half of their income to the family back home – and then leave after a few years the country again.

“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” says Naohiro Ogawa. Because immigrants would not just do the work and pay the pensions, they would not buy the products of Japanese manufacturers and with their own children compensate the lack of Japanese youth.” Ogawa says that his people would only think about it once properly. “Economic understanding would suffice.”
ENDS

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

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Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer
By ARUDOU, Debito
The Japan Times, February 4, 2013
Column 60 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/02/04/issues/keep-abes-hawks-in-check-or-japan-and-asia-will-suffer, version with links to sources below

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

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

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

Recall how Abe fluffed his first chance between 2006-7 — so badly that he made it onto a list of “Japan’s top 10 most useless PMs” (Light Gist, Sept. 27, 2011) on these pages. The Cabinet he selected was a circus of embarrassments (e.g., after his corrupt agriculture minister claimed ¥5 million for “office utility expenses,” the replacement then claimed expenses for no office at all, and the next replacement only lasted a week), with gaffe after gaffe from an elitist old-boy club whittling away Abe’s approval ratings.

Abe himself was famously incapacitated with diarrhea (spending hours a day on the john) as well as logorrhea, where his denials of wartime sexual slavery (i.e., the “comfort women”) were denounced even by Japan’s closest geopolitical allies. Finally, after the LDP was trounced in a 2007 Upper House election, Abe suddenly resigned one week after reshuffling his Cabinet, beginning a pattern of a one-year tenure for all subsequent Japanese PMs.

However, Abe did accomplish one important conservative reform in 2006: amending the Fundamental Law of Education. The law now clearly states that a right to education in Japan is restricted to “us Japanese citizens” (ware ware Nihon kokumin — i.e., excluding foreigners), while references to educational goals developing individuality have been removed in favor of education that transmits “tradition,” “culture” and “love of nation.”

In other words, building on Japan’s enforced patriotism launched by former PM Keizo Obuchi from 1999 (e.g., schoolteachers and students are now technically required to demonstrate public respect to Japan’s flag and national anthem or face official discipline), vague mystical elements of “Japaneseness” are now formally enshrined in law to influence future generations.

That’s one success story from Abe’s rightist to-do list. He has also called for the “reconsideration” of the 1993 and 1995 official apologies for wartime sexual slavery (even pressuring NHK to censor its historical reportage on it in 2001), consistently denied the Nanjing Massacre, advocated children’s textbooks instill “love” of “a beautiful country” by omitting uglier parts of the past, and declared his political mission as “recovering Japan’s independence” (dokuritsu no kaifuku) in the postwar order.

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

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

Abe alone is a prominent leader (if not a charter member) of almost all the ultra-rightist groups mentioned. Whenever I read rightwing propaganda, Abe’s face or name invariably pops up as a spokesman or symbol. He’s a big carp in a small swamp, and in a liberal political environment would have been consigned to a radical backwater of fringe ideologues.

But these are dire times for Japan, what with decades of stagnation, insuperable natural and man-made disasters, and the shame of no longer being Asia’s largest economy. The glory of Japan’s regional peerlessness is gone.

That’s why I have little doubt that the LDP saw this perfect storm of 3/11 disasters (which, given how corrupt the unelected bureaucracy has been after Fukushima, would have led to the trouncing of any party in power) as perfect timing to reinstall someone like Abe. Why else, except for Abe’s thoroughbred political pedigree (grandson of a suspected Class-A war criminal turned postwar PM, and son of another big LDP leader whose name is on international fellowships) and sustained leadership of back-room interest groups, would they choose for a second time this jittery little man with a weak stomach?

Why? Because LDP kingpins knew that people were so desperate for change last year they would have elected a lampshade. After all, given the nature of parliamentary systems, people vote more for (or, in this case, against) a party, less for an individual party leader. Moreover, Abe, at first glance, does not seem as extreme as the “restorationists” (Shintaro Ishihara et al) who wish to take Japan back to prewar glories by banging war drums over territorial sea specks. So, the lesser of two evils.

But look at the record more closely and these “liberal democrats” and restorationists are actually birds of a feather. Now more powerful than ever, they’re getting to work on dismantling postwar Japan. Abe announced on Jan. 31 that he will seek to amend Article 96 of the Constitution, which currently requires a two-thirds Diet majority to approve constitutional changes. That’s entirely possible. Then the rest of Japan’s “Peace Constitution” will follow.

So I end this month’s column with a caution to outside observers:

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

One of the basic lessons of chess is that if you allow your opponent to accomplish his plans, you will lose. If Abe is not kept in check, Asia will lose: Japan will cease to be a liberal presence in the region. In fact, given its wealth and power in terms of money and technology, Japan could become a surprisingly destabilizing geopolitical force. Vigilance, everyone.

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

Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012′s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp .

ENDS

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

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Hi Blog. Thanks everyone for putting this article in the Top Ten Most Read once again for most of New Year’s Day (and to the JT for distinguishing this with another “Editor’s Pick”). Great illustrations as always by Chris Mackenzie.  Here’s hoping I have more positive things to say in next year’s roundup… This version with links to sources. Enjoy. And Happy New Year 2013.  Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

The year for non-Japanese in ’12: a top 10

By ARUDOU DEBITO

Back by popular demand, here is JBC’s roundup of the top 10 human rights events that most affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan in 2012, in ascending order.

10. Keene’s naturalization (March 7)
News photo

This should have occasioned great celebration in Japan’s era of crisis, but instead, scholar Donald Keene’s anointment as a Japanese citizen became a cautionary tale, for two reasons. One was his very public denigration of other NJ (despite their contributions as full-time Japan residents, taxpayers and family creators) as alleged criminals and “flyjin” deserters (JBC, Apr. 3), demonstrating how Old Japan Hands eat their young. The other was the lengths one apparently must go for acceptance: If you spend the better part of a century promoting Japanese literature to the world, then if you live to, oh, the age of 90, you might be considered “one of us.”

It seems Japan would rather celebrate a pensioner salving a wounded Japan than young multiethnic Japanese workers potentially saving it.

9. Liberty Osaka defunded (June 2)
News photo

Liberty Osaka (www.liberty.or.jp), Japan’s only human rights museum archiving the historical grass-roots struggles of disenfranchised minorities, faces probable closure because its government funding is being cut off. Mayor Toru Hashimoto, of hard-right Japan Restoration Party fame (and from a disenfranchised minority himself), explicitly said the divestment is due to the museum’s displays being “limited to discrimination and human rights,” thereby failing to present Japan’s children with a future of “hopes and dreams.”

In a country with the most peace museums in the world, this politically motivated ethnic cleansing of the past augurs ill for cultural heterogeneity under Japan’s right-wing swing (see below).

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10619 http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3818

8. Nationality Law ruling (March 23)
News photo

In a throwback to prewar eugenics, Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional a section of the Nationality Law’s Article 12 stating that a) if a man sires a child with a foreigner b) overseas, and c) does not file for the child’s Japanese citizenship within three months of birth, then citizenship may legally be denied.

Not only did this decision erode the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that granted citizenship to international children born out of wedlock, but it also made clear that having “foreign blood” (in a country where citizenship is blood-based) penalizes Japanese children — because if two Japanese nationals have a child overseas, or if the child is born to a Japanese woman, Article 12 does not apply. The ruling thus reinforced a legal loophole helping Japanese men evade responsibility if they fool around with foreign women.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10060 http://www.debito.org/?p=1715

7. No Hague signing (September 8)
News photo

Japan’s endorsement of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction became a casualty of months of political gridlock, as the opposition Liberal Democratic Party blocked about a third of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s bills.

The treaty outlines protocol for how children of broken marriages can avoid international tugs of war. As the Community Pages have reported umpteen times, Japan, one of the few developed countries that is not a signatory, remains a haven for postdivorce parental alienation and child abductions.

Since joint custody does not legally exist and visitation rights are not guaranteed, after a Japanese divorce one parent (regardless of nationality) is generally expected to disappear from their child’s life. Former Diet member Masae Ido (a parental child abductor herself) glibly called this “a Japanese custom.” If so, it is one of the most psychologically damaging customs possible for a child, and despite years of international pressure on Japan to join the Hague, there is now little hope of that changing.

Sources:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=10548

6. Immigration talks (May 24-August 27)
News photo

In one of the few potentially bright spots for NJ in Japan this year, the Yoshihiko Noda Cabinet convened several meetings on how Japan might go about creating a “coexistence society” that could “accept” NJ (JBC, July 3). A well-intentioned start, the talks included leaders of activist groups, local governments and one nikkei academic.

Sadly, it fell into old ideological traps: 1) Participants were mostly older male Japanese bureaucrats; 2) those bureaucrats were more interested in policing NJ than in making them more comfortable and offering them a stake in society; 3) no NJ leader was consulted about what NJ themselves might want; and 4) the Cabinet itself confined its concerns to the welfare of nikkei residents, reflecting the decades-old (but by now obviously erroneous) presumption that only people with “Japanese bloodlines” could “become Japanese.”

In sum, even though the government explicitly stated in its goals that NJ immigration (without using the word, imin) would revitalize our economy, it still has no clue how to make NJ into “New Japanese.”

Source:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10396

5. Mainali, Suraj cases (June 7, July 3)
News photo

2012 saw the first time an NJ serving a life sentence in Japan was declared wrongfully convicted, in the case of Govinda Prasad Mainali. The last time that happened (Toshikazu Sugaya in 2009), the victim was released with a very public apology from public prosecutors. Mainali, however, despite 15 years in the clink, was transferred to an immigration cell and deported. At least both are now free men.

On the other hand, the case of Abubakar Awudu Suraj (from last year’s top 10), who died after brutal handling by Japanese immigration officers during his deportation on March 22, 2010, was dropped by public prosecutors who found “no causal relationship” between the treatment and his death.

Thus, given the “hostage justice” (hitojichi shihō) within the Japanese criminal prosecution system, and the closed-circuit investigation system that protects its own, the Japanese police can incarcerate you indefinitely and even get away with murder — particularly if you are an NJ facing Japan’s double standards of jurisprudence (Zeit Gist, Mar. 24, 2009).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=9265
http://www.debito.org/?p=10407
“Hostage justice”: http://www.debito.org/?p=1426

4. Visa regimes close loop (August)
News photo

Over the past two decades, we have seen Japan’s visa regimes favoring immigration through blood ties — offering limited-term work visas with no labor law rights to Chinese “trainees” while giving quasi-permanent-residency “returnee” visas to nikkei South Americans, for example.

However, after 2007’s economic downturn, blood was judged to be thinner than unemployment statistics, and the government offered the nikkei (and the nikkei only) bribes of free airfares home if they forfeited their visa status (JBC, Apr. 7, 2009). They left in droves, and down went Japan’s registered NJ population for the first time in nearly a half-century — and in 2012 the Brazilian population probably dropped to fourth place behind Filipinos.

But last year was also when the cynical machinations of Japan’s “revolving door” labor market became apparent to the world (JBC, March 6) as applications for Japan’s latest exploitative visa wheeze, “trainee” nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines, declined — and even some of the tiny number of NJ nurses who did pass the arduous qualifying exam left. Naturally, Japan’s media (e.g., Kyodo, June 20; Aug. 4) sought to portray NJ as ungrateful and fickle deserters, but nevertheless doubts remain as to whether the nursing program will continue. The point remains that Japan is increasingly seen as a place to avoid in the world’s unprecedented movement of international labor.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10010
http://www.debito.org/?p=10497
http://www.debito.org/?p=10340
International labor migration stats http://www.oecd.org/els/internationalmigrationpoliciesanddata/internationalmigrationoutlook2012.htm

3. New NJ registry system (July 5)
News photo

One of the most stupefying things about postwar Japan has been how NJ could not be registered with their Japanese families on the local residency registry system (jūmin kihon daichō) — meaning NJ often went uncounted in local population tallies despite being taxpaying residents! In 2012, this exclusionary system was finally abolished along with the Foreign Registry Law.

Unfortunately, this good news was offset by a) NJ still not being properly registered on family registries (koseki), b) NJ still having to carry gaijin cards at all times (except now with potentially remotely readable computer chips), and c) NJ still being singled out for racial profiling in spot ID checks by Japanese police (even though the remaining applicable law requires probable cause). It seems that old habits die hard, or else just get rejiggered with loopholes.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10414
http://www.debito.org/?p=9718
Remotely readable computer chips http://www.debito.org/?p=10750

2. Post-Fukushima Japan is bust
News photo

After the multiple disasters of March 11, 2011, there was wan hope that Japan’s electorate would be energized enough to demand better governance. Nope. And this despite the revelations in December 2011 that the fund for tsunami victims was diverted to whaling “research.” And the confusing and suppressed official reports about radioactive contamination of the ecosystem. And the tsunami victims who still live in temporary housing. And the independent parliamentary report that vaguely blamed “Japanese culture” for the disaster (and, moreover, offered different interpretations for English- and Japanese-reading audiences). And the reports in October that even more rescue money had been “slush-funded” to unrelated projects, including road building in Okinawa, a contact lens factory in central Japan and renovations of Tokyo government offices.

Voters had ample reason for outrage, yet they responded (see below) by reinstating the original architects of this system, the LDP.

For everyone living in Japan (not just NJ), 2012 demonstrated that the Japanese system is beyond repair or reform.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=9745
http://www.debito.org/?p=9756
http://www.debito.org/?p=10706
http://www.debito.org/?p=10428
http://www.debito.org/?p=9698
http://japanfocus.org/-Iwata-Wataru/3841

1. Japan swings right (December)
News photo

Two columns ago (JBC, Nov. 6), I challenged former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara (whose rabble-rousing bigotry has caused innumerable headaches for disenfranchised people in Japan, particularly NJ) to “bring it on” and show Japan’s true colors to the world in political debates. Well, he did. After a full decade of successfully encouraging Japanese society to see NJ (particularly Chinese) as innately criminal, Ishihara ratcheted things up by threatening to buy three of the privately-owned Senkaku islets (which forced the Noda administration to purchase them instead, fanning international tensions). Then Ishihara resigned his governorship, formed a “restorationist” party and rode the wave of xenophobia caused by the territorial disputes into the Diet’s Lower House (along with 53 other party members) in December’s general election.

Also benefiting from Ishihara’s ruses was the LDP, who with political ally New Komeito swept back into power with 325 seats. As this is more than the 320 necessary to override Upper House vetoes, Japan’s bicameral legislature is now effectively unicameral. I anticipate policy proposals (such as constitutional revisions to allow for a genuine military, fueling an accelerated arms race in Asia) reflecting the same corporatist rot that created the corrupt system we saw malfunctioning after the Fukushima disaster. (Note that if these crises had happened on the LDP’s watch, I bet the DPJ would have enjoyed the crushing victory instead — tough luck.)

In regards to NJ, since Japan’s left is now decimated and three-quarters of the 480-seat Lower House is in the hands of conservatives, I foresee a chauvinistic movement enforcing bloodline-based patriotism (never mind the multiculturalism created by decades of labor influx and international marriage), love of a “beautiful Japan” as defined by the elites, and more officially sanctioned history that downplays, ignores and overwrites the contributions of NJ and minorities to Japanese society.

In sum, if 2011 exposed a Japan in decline, 2012 showed a Japan closing.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10854
New arms race:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20302604 (Watch the video from minute 5.30:  the Hyuuga, Postwar Japan’s first new aircraft carrier is now in commission, two new big aircraft carriers are in production.)

Bubbling under (in descending order):

• China’s anti-Japan riots (September) and Senkaku-area maneuvers (October to now).

• North Korea’s missile test timed for Japan’s elections (December 12).

• NJ workers’ right to strike reaffirmed in court defeat of Berlitz (February 27).

• NJ on welfare deprived of waiver of public pension payments (August 10), later reinstated after public outcry (October 21).

• Statistics show 2011’s postdisaster exodus of NJ “flyjin” to be a myth (see JBC, Apr. 3).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10055
http://www.debito.org/?p=10081

Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012’s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp.
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013
ENDS

2012 Election Special: Japan’s lurch to the right has happened, as predicted. DPJ routed, LDP and Ishihara ascendant in Dec 2012 LH Election

mytest

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Hi Blog. It’s been said that people get the democracy that they deserve.  Although unduly harsh, that rings true today, as the results of 2012’s election have absolutely routed the DPJ and placed the old-school LDP/Koumeitou alliance and the even older-school Ishihara Party, pardon, Japan Restoration Party (JRP) with a greater than 3/4 majority (LDP/KMT at 324, JRP 54) as a total in the 480-seat Lower House. (Source: Yomiuri 12/17/12) This is well over the 320 votes necessary to override the Upper House’s vetoes, and essentially makes Japan’s bicameral legislature unicameral. This new parliamentary composition could very well squeeze out a revision to the Self-Defense Forces (calling it what it really is: a standing military that should be unconstitutional) as well as force a “revision of the pacifist American-made Japanese Constitution” out of this.  More on this below.

The DPJ, for its part, was completely and utterly routed. It went from 230 seats in the Lower House to, as of this writing, a mere 57. Even in my home area of Hokkaido, a bellwether DPJ stronghold, the DPJ lost *ALL* their seats in their 12-district electoral system (with only two DPJ, including long-standing career politician Yokomichi — as a legacy vote due to his status as current Speaker of the Lower House and former Hokkaido Governor — squeaking by on the Proportional Representation vote). (Source: Yomiuri 12/17/12) This meant that eight Cabinet members lost their seats (two of them, Public Safety’s Kodaira and Health and Welfare’s Mitsui, from Hokkaido), which is by far a Postwar record (the previous record was only three in the 1983 Nakasone Cabinet). (Source: Yomiuri 12/17/12).

The smaller fringe parties saw increases more favoring the right than the left (as of this writing, according to the Yomiuri, Communists are down yet another seat from 9 to 8, socialist Shamintou down from 5 to 2, DPJ ally Kokumin Shintou down from 3 to 1, and the shards of other parties Mirai no Tou down from 61 to 9!).  The quasi-libertarian but really all-over-the-map-just-vote-for-us-already Minna no Tou was up from 8 to 18.  And one-man-party Shintou Daichi, run by the utterly corrupt Hokkaidoite and Debito.org bogeyman Suzuki Muneo, was also down from 3 to 1.

How to interpret all of this? Former and future PM Abe Shinzo rather glibly offers the assessment that the voters were “saying no to the confusion of the past three years” (a confusion created by people like him, note). I’m sure others have their reads, and we’ll let the Comments Section below cover that. My read is that people were voting less a “yes” for Abe (who was one of Japan’s most useless PMs when he was last in office between 2006-7) and more a “no” to the DPJ, who have had some of the greatest (literally) seismic shifts in power on their watch (the Japan Times editorialists would agree). If the LDP had been ruling in their place when these disasters all happened (given that the decades of systemic corruption were bred under their watch), I doubt they too would have been immune from the rout. That said, yesterday’s strength of the showing for the JRP I cannot interpret as anything other than a reaction to fear, particularly of a xenophobic nature (cf. China and North Korea, who timed their actions perfectly for the likes of Ishihara to exploit).

If one must search for the silver lining out of this election, it is that the far-right JRP didn’t pick up as many seats as was initially projected (100-150), but that was always just an optimistic guesstimate. And since both leaders of the LDP and the JRP have inchoate urges to mold a “beautiful Japan” in their image (read: more willful ignorance of history and nationalistic excess in the name of a more xenophobic nation-state), the real silver lining is that they have to come to grips with the unelected bureaucrats that are even more powerful and less accountable than they are.

What’s next? Here’s what the Japan Times says:

===================================
Both the LDP and the Japan Restoration Party are known for their hawkish attitude on constitutional issues. They call for revising the Constitution, including revision of the war-renouncing Article 9, and for exercising the right to collective self-defense.

The government’s traditional interpretation is that the Constitution prohibits Japan from exercising that right. If the right to collective self-defense is allowed to be exercised, Japan would be legally able to take military action to defend a nation with close ties with Japan if that nation is militarily attacked by a third party.

Attention must be paid to the fact that while a constitutional revision requires the support of two-thirds of the Diet members to initiate a national referendum on such a revision, changing the government’s interpretation of the Constitution related to the right to collective self-defense does not require such a procedure.

The LDP and other parties calling for the exercise of that right can enact a bill that will change the government’s traditional interpretation. Exercising the right to collective self-defense could open the way for putting Japanese nationals in harm’s way by involving Japan in military conflict not directly affecting it. This would violate Japan’s defense-only defense policy. Such a bill would completely gut the no-war principle of the Constitution.

The LDP calls for revising Article 9 to create a National Defense Force. Its draft revision states that the proposed NDF, under a specific law, can take part in international cooperative activities to help maintain peace and security in the international community — a concept that can be used to justify Japan’s participation in virtually any type of military mission abroad.

Even without revising the Constitution, the LDP may try to enact a bill to expand the Self-Defense Forces’ activities overseas. Given Japan’s military aggression in the Asia-Pacific region in the 1930s and ’40s, the LDP’s posture would arouse suspicions about Japan’s true intentions among neighboring and other countries, thus destroying the international community’s trust in Japan. It could also lead to a fierce arms race and destabilization of relations in East Asia, endangering Japan’s security.
===================================

Full editorial at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ed20121217a1.html

Fine words. But who’s listening anymore? Certainly not Japan’s voters at this time. Keep an eye on what happens from now, folks, because I think that once the sake cups have been drained and hangovers recovered from, these people are going to get to work with a vengeance. Because for this generation of old-schoolers (such as Ishihara), there’s not much time left for the Wartime Generation to undo all the Postwar liberalizations of Japan that have helped make Japan rich without overt remilitarization and aggression. For these fans of a martial Japan, who only value, respect, and covet a world in terms of power and hierarchy, revenge will be sweet. For as I have written before (Japan Times Oct. 2, quoting Dr. M.G. Sheftall):

“As a historian, it’s discomfiting having anything smacking of wartime ideology making a comeback while men who committed atrocities for the Imperial Japanese military still live. While they deserve some sympathy for what they endured under an ideology they were unable to resist or reject, I don’t they deserve the satisfaction of leaving this mortal coil feeling that Japan’s war has been historically vindicated.”

I think that is what this election has been all about. It’s just a pity that so many bad things had to happen to the Japanese public over the past three years to cause them to overlook this hidden agenda.  Arudou Debito

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

PS:  As per the NJ-in-Japan bent of Debito.org, there is a decent assessment of how each party dealt with NJ issues before the election here.  Thus the winners of this election are clearly not pro-foreigner, and I bet NJ in Japan are going to be clouted as the pendulum swings to the right.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 58, Dec. 11, 2012: “Do Japan a favor: Don’t stop being a critic”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Just wanted to thank everyone for putting this column in the Top Ten Most Read again this month (as it is every month for years now), and thank the JT Editor for choosing it as an “Editor’s Pick” this month.  Now up for commentary:

justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE Column 58
Do Japan a favor: Don’t stop being a critic
By ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121211ad.html

Remember grade school, when the most demanding question put to you was something as simple as “What color do you like?” Choose any color, for there is no wrong answer.

This is the power of “like,” where nobody can dispute your preference. You don’t have to give a reason why you like something. You just do.

In adult society, however, things are more complicated. When talking about, say, governments, societies or complicated social situations, a simple answer of “I like it” without a reason won’t do.

Yet simply “liking” Japan is practically compulsory, especially in these troubled times. With Japan’s swing towards the political right these days (to be confirmed with this month’s Lower House election), there is ever more pressure to fall in line and praise Japan.

“Liking” Japan is now a national campaign, with the 2007 changes to the Basic Education Law (crafted by our probable next prime minister, Shinzo Abe) enforcing “love of country” through Japan’s school curriculum. We must now teach a sanitized version of Japanese history, or young Japanese might just find a reason not to “like” our country.

But surely this is a case of mountains and molehills, a critic might counter — aren’t “like” and “dislike” harmless and inevitable facets of the human condition? After all, these two emotions inform so much of our lives, including choices of food, lifestyle, leisure, friends, lifetime partners, etc. Is it really that unsavory a thought process?

Of course not. My point is that reducing public debate to “like or dislike” is too unsophisticated for thoughtful social critique — especially when it is being enforced from above. I will even argue that this rubric fundamentally interferes with the constructive debate an ailing Japan desperately needs.

Consider this: Have you ever noticed how words not only affect our thoughts, but even limit their scope and expressibility?

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that they do (look up “cognitive linguistics” and its proponents Lera Boroditsky and George Lakoff). Publicly framing what should be a complex intellectual process as a “like or dislike” dichotomy vastly oversimplifies the shades of the emotional spectrum.

Now add on another layer that stifles dissent yet further in Japan: wa maintenance. Dissent frequently gets silenced to keep things calm and orderly. Remember the oft-cited axiom of “putting a lid on smelly things” (kusai mono ni wa futa o shiro) to explain away censorship and coverup? The more criticism something might invoke, the more likely it is to be suppressed. (How the Olympus and Fukushima fiascoes were handled are but two examples.)

It also engenders an element of self-censorship. If there is inordinate pressure to “like” things, then you’d better keep the “dislikes” to yourself. After all, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all,” right?

Non-Japanese (NJ) readers of this column know this dynamic well, because the pressure on NJ to “like” Japan is relentless.

Ever notice how you are supposed to say “I like Japan” at every opportunity? Mere hours or minutes off the airplane, someone wants to hear how much you like Japan so far. As you begin to study Japanese, set phrases are less “Where is the library?” more “I like sushi, anime and Japan’s unique four seasons” and other pat platitudes.

Even years or decades later, thanks to the predominance of “guestism,” NJ “guests” are not to be overly critical of their “host” country (even if they are naturalized citizens, as letters protesting this column indicate just about every month). I was even compelled to devote an entire column (JBC, Feb. 6, 2012) to what I like about Japan. Why? Oh, just because.

And if you dare get critical? You face exclusionism, even from NJ themselves. The common retort to any criticism is, “Well, if you don’t like it here, why don’t you leave?”

With reasoned argument debased to the level of “love it or leave it,” the “like or dislike” ideological prism effectively becomes an intellectual prison. The reaction towards critics of Japan is clear and immediate: Non-likers become disliked.

So why are people so quickly labeled han-nichi (anti-Japan), Nihon-girai (Japan-haters) or “Japan-bashers” just because they offer criticism? Because, linguistically, you can stigmatize and shut them up for walking on the wrong side of the dichotomy.

Thus, “like” leads to an enforcement of “like-mindedness.” It is ultimately an issue of power — a subtle means to disenfranchise any dissenter and empower the status quo. And that suits the Powers That Be just fine, thank you very much.

This dynamic is being used very effectively on the eve of a historic election. As Japan wilts economically, politically and demographically, ascendant rightwing demagogues are offering simplified slogans dictating how the public can better “like” Japan by “disliking” their leftwing opponents and critics.

Not to mention “disliking” outsiders — after all, the wolf at the door in many debates is a bullying China. Or anyone who hasn’t fallen in on “Japan’s side.”

Therein lies the fatal flaw of the “like or dislike” discourse in public debate, which critic-haters are invariably blind towards.

The act of criticizing a government is not the same as criticizing an individual, or a group of individuals, or even necessarily a society in general. A government is always — but always — fair game for critique. A government is power personified, and power must be constantly challenged. “Liking or disliking” a government is completely irrelevant to the discussion.

I should mention one more significant problem with this oversimplification process: If it is so easy in public discourse to talk about “liking” or “disliking” things without offering a reasoned argument why, it becomes just as easy to apply this to people.

As in “I like/dislike foreigners,” which one hears all too often in Japan. Healthy societies should not be this unsophisticated towards other human beings. But if normalized public discourse is this unsophisticated, what can you do but choose a side? Better “like” the side with the power, or else. It’s even patriotic.

That side, alas, will not favor fresh, new ideas put forth by the critics already labelled outsiders and excluded from the debate — and that’s ironic. As Japan’s rightists hark back to an (ahistorical) golden past of Japan’s preeminence and intellectual purity, they ignore the legacies of those outsiders: Pre-industrial Japan sent envoys overseas and imported foreign specialists to investigate how modern nations ran themselves, famously adopting outside models successfully.

Sadly, rightwing exclusionism is selling well these days because it’s offering, as usual, simple solutions to more complex issues, grounded in how much people love Japan and dislike other people.

We must get beyond this grade-school-level debate. That means being brave and brazen with critique. Don’t succumb to the pressure to say only “good things” about any society. It beggars meaningful conversation and defangs the debate necessary to make things better.

Criticism does not signal “dislike”; it indicates critical thinking. If critics didn’t care enough about a place to analyze it deeply, they wouldn’t bother. Critique is their — and your — civic duty.

So do Japan some good: Offer some fresh ideas. Be a critic. Or else, as things get worse, you will only find more things to be critical of. Silently, of course.

——————————-

Arudou Debito and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012’s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp.

ENDS

Archiving Tottori’s 2005 Jinken Ordinance (the first and only one ever passed, then UNpassed, penalizing racial discrimination in Japan) to keep it in the historical record

mytest

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Hi Blog. Archiving something important today: The text of the first law explicitly against (inter alia) racial discrimination in Japan that was passed (and then subsequently UNpassed by a panicky public). Although I have already written about this subject before, let me give you the story in more detail, then finish with the text of the jōrei so it does not disappear from the historical record.

On October 12, 2005, after nearly a year of deliberations and amendments, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly approved a human rights ordinance (tottori-ken jinken shingai kyūsai suishin oyobi tetsuzuki ni kansuru jōrei) that would not only financially penalize eight types of human rights violations (including physical abuse, sexual harassment, slander, and discrimination by “race” – including “blood race, ethnicity, creed, gender, social standing, family status, disability, illness, and sexual orientation”), but also set up an investigative panel for deliberations and provide for public exposure of offenders.  Going farther than the already-existing Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yōgobu, which has no policing or punitive powers), it could launch investigations, require hearings and written explanations, issue private warnings (making them public if they went ignored), demand compensation for victims, remand cases to the courts, and even recommend cases to prosecutors if they thought there was a crime involved. It also had punitive powers, including fines up to 50,000 yen. Sponsored by Tottori Governor Katayama Yoshihiro, it was to be a trial measure — taking effect on June 1, 2006 and expiring on March 31, 2010.  It was a carefully-planned ordinance, created by a committee of 26 people over the course of two years, with input from a lawyer, several academics and human rights activists, and three non-citizen residents. It passed the Tottori Prefectural Assembly by a wide margin: 35-3.

However, the counterattack was immediate.  The major local newspaper in the neighboring prefecture, the Chūgoku Shimbun (Hiroshima), claimed in its October 14 editorial entitled, “We must monitor this ordinance in practice,” that the ordinance would “in fact shackle (sokubaku) human rights.”  Accusations flew that assemblypersons had not read the bill properly, or had supported abstract ideals without thinking them through. Others said the governor had not explained to the people properly what he was binding them to.  Internet petitions blossomed to kill the bill.  Some sample complaints (with my counterarguments in parenthesis, for brevity):  a) The ordinance had only been deliberated upon in the Assembly for a week (though it was first brought up in 2003 and discussed in committees throughout 2005); b) The ordinance’s definitions of human rights violations were too vague, and could hinder the media in, for example, investigating politicians for corruption (even though the ordinance’s Clause 31 clearly states that freedom of the press must be respected); c) Since the investigative committee was not an independent body, reporting only to the Governor, this could encourage arbitrary decisions and cover-ups (similar to the Bureau of Human Rights, which reports only to the secretive Ministry of Justice); d) This invests judicial and policing powers in an administrative organ, a violation of the separation of powers (which means that no oversight committee in Japan is allowed to have enforcement power — but this calls into question the many other ordinances in Japan, such as those governing garbage disposal, mandating fines and incarceration).

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren) sounded the ordinance’s death knell in its official statement of November 2, 2005: Too much power had been given the governor, constricting the people and media under arbitrary guidelines, under a committee chief who could investigate by diktat, overseeing a bureaucracy that could refuse to be investigated.  This called into question the policymaking discretion of the committees that had originally drafted it, and the common sense of the 35 Assemblymembers who overwhelmingly passed it.  The government issued an official Q&A to allay public concern, and the Governor said problems would be dealt with as they arose, but the original supporters of the ordinance, feeling the media-sponsored and internet-fomented pressure, did not stand up to defend it.  In December and January 2006, the prefecture convoked informal discussion groups containing the Vice-Governor, two court counselors, four academics, and five lawyers (but no human rights activists), where arguments to rescind the bill included how appointed untrained public administrators ostensibly cannot act as judges.  On March 24, 2006, less than six months after passing the ordiance, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly voted unanimously to suspend it indefinitely.  “We should have brought up cases to illustrate specific human rights violations.  The public did not seem to understand what we were trying to prevent,” said Mr. Ishiba, a representative of the Tottori Governor’s office.  “They should have held town meetings to raise awareness about what discrimination is, and created separate ordinances for each type of discrimination,” said Assemblywoman Ozaki Kaoru, who voted against the bill both times.  Governor Katayama resigned his governorship in April 2007, saying that ten years in office was enough.  The ordinance was later resubmitted to committees in 2007, where it was voted down for the last time. As of this writing, the text of the ordinance, Japan’s first legislation explicitly penalizing racial discrimination, has been removed entirely from the Tottori Prefectural website.

The fact that this former law has been removed entirely from the legislative record is a crime against history, and an unbefitting end to a template of human-rights legislation so needed in Japan.  So let me, for the purposes of keeping a record of the casualty of this catastrophic event, blog the entire text of the Ordinance on Debito.org to keep it web searchable:

Courtesy http://web.archive.org/web/20080329214102/http://www.pref.tottori.jp/jinken/jorei-kyusai.html

とりネッ ト >  人権局 > 鳥取県人権 侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例

鳥取県人権侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例

目次

  • 第1章  総則(第1条−第3条)
  • 第2章  人権侵害救済推進委員会(第4条−第15条)
  • 第3章  人権侵害に対する救済手続(第16条−第28条)
  • 第4章  適用上の配慮(第29条−第33条)
  • 附則

第1章 総則

  • (目的)
    第1条  この条例は、人権の侵害により発生し、又は発生するおそれのある被害の適正かつ迅速な救済又はその実効的な予防に関する措 置を講ずることにより、人権が尊重される社会の実現に寄与することを目的とする。
  • (定義)
    第2条  この条例において「人権侵害」とは、次条の規定に違反する行為をいい、行政機関による同条の規定に違反する行為を含むもの とする。
    2  この条例において「虐待」とは、身体に外傷が生じ、若しくは生じるおそれのある暴行、心理的外傷を与える言動若しくは性的いや がらせをし、又は養育若しくは介護を著しく怠り、若しくは放棄することをいう。
    3  この条例において「人種等」とは、人種、民族、信条、性別、社会的身分、門地、障害、疾病又は性的指向をいう。
    4  この条例において「社会的身分」とは、出生により決定される社会的な地位をいう。
    5  この条例において「障害」とは、継続的に日常生活又は社会生活が相当な制限を受ける程度の身体障害、知的障害又は精神障害をい う。
    6  この条例において「疾病」とは、その発症により日常生活又は社会生活が制限を受ける状態となる感染症その他の疾患をいう。
  • (人権侵害の禁止)
    第3条  何人も、次に掲げる行為をしてはならない。
    (1) 人種等を理由として行う不当な差別的取扱い又は差別的言動
    (2) 特定の者に対して行う虐待
    (3) 特定の者に対し、その者の意に反して行う性的な言動又は性的な言動を受けた者の対応によりその者に不利益を与える行為
    (4) 特定の者の名誉又は社会的信用を低下させる目的で、その者を公然とひぼうし、若しくは中傷し、又はその者の私生活に関する事実、肖像そ の他の情報を公然と摘示する行為
    (5) 人の依頼を受け、報酬を得て、特定の者が有する人種等の属性に関する情報であって、その者の権利利益を不当に侵害するおそれがあるもの を収集する行為
    (6) 身体の安全又は生活の平穏が害される不安を覚えさせるような方法により行われる著しく粗野又は乱暴な言動を反復する行為
    (7) 人種等の共通の属性を有する不特定多数の者に対して当該属性を理由として不当な差別的取扱いをすることを助長し、又は誘発する目的で、 当該不特定多数の者が当該属性を有することを容易に識別することを可能とする情報を公然と摘示する行為
    (8) 人種等の共通の属性を有する不特定多数の者に対して当該属性を理由として不当な差別的取扱いをする意思を公然と表示する行為

第2章 人権侵害救済推進委員会

  • (設置)
    第4条  第1条に規定する目的を達成するため、人権侵害救済推進委員会(以下「委員会」という。)を設置する。
  • (委員会の職務)
    第5条  委員会は、人権侵害による被害の救済及び予防に関する職務を行う。
  • (組織)
    第6条  委員会は、委員5人をもって組織する。
    2  委員は、非常勤とする。
    3  委員会に委員長を置き、委員の互選によりこれを定める。
    4  委員長は、委員会の会務を総理し、委員会を代表する。
    5  委員長に事故があるとき、又は欠けたときは、委員長があらかじめ指名する委員が、その職務を代理する。
  • (任命)
    第7条  委員は、人格が高潔で人権に関して高い識見及び豊かな経験を有する者のうちから、議会の同意を得て知事が任命する。
    2  委員のうち男女いずれか一方の数は、2人以上となるように努めなければならない。
    3  委員のうちには、弁護士となる資格を有する者が含まれるように努めなければならない。
  • (任期)
    第8条  委員の任期は2年とし、再任されることができる。
    2  委員の任期が満了したときは、当該委員は、後任者が任命されるまで引き続きその職務を行うものとする。
  • (身分保障)
    第9条  委員は、次の各号のいずれかに該当する場合を除いて、在任中その意に反して解任されない。
    (1) 禁錮以上の刑に処せられたとき。
    (2) 委員会により、心身の故障のため職務の遂行ができないと認められたとき、又は職務上の義務違反その他委員たるに適しない非行があると認 められたとき。
  • (解任)
    第10条  知事は、委員が前条第1号に該当するときは、その委員を解任しなければならない。
    2  知事は、委員が前条第2号に該当するときは、議会の同意を得てその委員を解任することができる。
  • (委員の責務)
    第11条  委員は、公平かつ適切にその職務を遂行しなければならない。
    2  委員は、職務上知ることができた秘密を漏らしてはならない。その職を退いた後も、同様とする。
    3  委員は、在任中、政党その他の政治的団体の役員となり、又は積極的に政治運動をしてはならない。
  • (委員会の会議)
    第12条  委員会の会議は、委員長が招集し、その議長となる。
    2  委員会の会議は、委員の3分の2以上の出席がなければ開くことができない。
    3  委員会の議事は、出席者の3分の2以上の多数により行う。
    4  委員会は、必要があると認めるときは、事案の当事者その他の関係者、学識経験者等の出席を求め、その意見を聴くことができる。
  • (委員の除斥)
    第13条  委員は、次に掲げる場合には、その職務の執行から除斥される。
    (1) 委員又はその配偶者若しくは配偶者であった者が、事案の当事者であるとき。
    (2) 委員が、事案の当事者の四親等内の血族、三親等内の姻族若しくは同居の親族であるとき、又はあったとき。
    (3) 委員又はその配偶者若しくは二親等内の血族が、その従事する業務について事案の当事者と直接の利害関係があるとき。
    2  前項に規定する除斥の原因があるときは、委員会は、職権又は申立てにより、除斥の決定をする。
    3  除斥の申立てがあったときは、その申立てについての決定が確定するまで当該事案に係る職務の執行を停止しなければならない。
  • (報告)
    第14条  委員会は、第21条若しくは第24条第1項の規定による措置を講じたとき、又は同条第3項の規定による公表を行ったとき は、当該措置又は公表の 内容を、知事を経由してその日以降の最初の議会に報告しなければならない。
    2  委員会は、毎年度、この条例に基づく事務の処理状況について報告書を作成し、知事を経由して議会に提出しなければならない。
    3  前項の報告書には、第24条第1項の規定により行った県の機関に対する勧告について、その具体的内容を明記するものとする。
  • (事務局)
    第15条  委員会の事務を処理させるため、委員会に事務局を置く。
    2  事務局に事務局長その他の職員(以下「事務局の職員」という。)を置く。
    3  第11条及び第13条の規定は、次条第2項の規定により同条第1項の相談を行う事務局の職員及び第18 条第4項の規定により同項の調査を行う事務局の 職員について準用する。

第3章 人権侵害に対する救済手続

  • (相談)
    第16条  委員会は、人権侵害に関する問題について、相談に応ずるものとする。
    2  委員会は、委員又は事務局の職員に前項の相談を行わせることができる。
  • (救済の申立て等)
    第17条  何人も、本人が人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれがあるときは、委員会に対し救済又は予防の申立てをすることがで きる。
    2  何人も、本人以外の者が人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれがあることを知ったときは、委員会に対しその事実を通報するこ とができる。
    3  第1項の申立て又は前項の通報(以下「申立て又は通報」という。)は、当該申立て又は通報に係る事案が次のいずれかに該当する 場合は、行うことができ ない。
    (1) 裁判所による判決、公的な仲裁機関又は調停機関による裁決等により確定した権利関係に関するものであること。
    (2) 裁判所又は公的な仲裁機関若しくは調停機関において係争中の権利関係に関するものであること。
    (3) 行政庁の行う処分の取消し、撤廃又は変更を求めるものであること。
    (4) 申立て又は通報の原因となる事実のあった日(継続する行為にあっては、その終了した日)から1年を経過しているものであること(その間 に申立て又 は通報をしなかったことにつき正当な理由がある場合を除く。)。
    (5) 申立て又は通報の原因となる事実が本県以外で起こったものであること(人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれのある者が県民である場 合を除 く。)。
    (6) 損害賠償その他金銭的補償を求めるものであること。
    (7) 現に犯罪の捜査の対象となっているものであること。
    (8) 関係者が不明であるものであること。
    (9) 前各号に掲げるもののほか、その性質上、申立て又は通報を行うのに適当でないものとして規則で定めるものであること。
    4  知事は、前項第9号の規則の制定又は改廃をしたときは、これを議会に報告しなければならない。
    5  申立て又は通報は、文書又は口頭ですることができる。
  • (調査)
    第18条  委員会は、前条第1項の申立てがあったときは、当該申立てに係る事案に関して必要な調査を行わなければならない。
    2  委員会は、前条第2項の通報があったときは、当該通報に係る事案に関して必要な調査を行うことができる。
    3  委員会は、人権侵害の被害の救済又は予防を図るため必要があると認めるときは、職権により調査を行うことができる。
    4  委員会は、委員又は事務局の職員に調査を行わせることができる。
    5  調査は、犯罪捜査のために認められたものと解してはならない。
  • (関係者の協力等)
    第19条  委員会は、前条に規定する調査に関し必要があると認めるときは、当該調査に係る事案に関係する者に対して、事情の聴取、 質問、説明、資料又は情 報の提供その他の必要な協力を求めることができる。
    2  前項の規定による協力の要請を受けた調査に係る事案の当事者は、法令で特段の定めがある場合その他正当な理由がある場合を除 き、当該調査に協力しなけ ればならない。
    3  第1項の規定による協力の要請を受けた関係行政機関は、当該協力の要請に応ずることが犯罪の予防、鎮圧又は捜査、公訴の維持、 刑の執行その他公共の安 全と秩序の維持(以下「公共の安全と秩序の維持」という。)に支障を及ぼすおそれがあることにつき相当の理由があると当該関係行政機関の長が認めるとき は、当該協力の要請を拒否することができる。
    4  第1項の規定による協力の要請を受けた関係行政機関は、当該協力の要請に対して事実が存在しているか否かを答えるだけで公共の 安全と秩序の維持に支障 を及ぼすおそれがあるときは、当該事実の存否を明らかにしないで、当該協力の要請を拒否することができる。
  • (調査結果の通知等)
    第20条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査を行ったときは、当該調査に係る事案の当事者に対し、その調査結果の内容を書面により 通知するものとする。
    2  委員会は、前項の規定による通知をするときは、通知の相手方に対し、調査結果の内容について再調査を申し立てることができる旨 及び申立てをすることが できる期間を教示しなければならない。
    3  第1項の規定により通知を受けた者は、当該調査結果の内容について不服があるときは、当該通知を受けた日から2週間以内に、そ の理由を記載した書面に より、委員会に再調査を申し立てることができる。
    4  委員会は、前項の規定による申立てに理由があると認めるときは、再度第18条に規定する調査を行わなければならない。
  • (救済措置)
    第21条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査の結果に基づき、人権侵害による被害を救済し、又は予防するため必要があると認めると きは、次に掲げる措置を 講ずるものとする。
    (1) 人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれのある者及びその関係者(以下「被害者等」という。)に対し、必要な助言、関係公的機関又は関 係民間団体 等の紹介、あっせんその他の援助をすること。
    (2) 人権侵害を行い、若しくは行うおそれのある者又はこれを助長し、若しくは誘発する行為を行う者及びその関係者(以下「加害者等」とい う。)に対 し、当該行為に関する説示、人権尊重の理念に関する啓発その他の指導をすること。
    (3) 被害者等と加害者等の関係の調整を図ること。
    (4) 犯罪に該当すると思料される人権侵害について告発すること。
  • (調査及び救済手続に当たっての配慮)
    第22条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査を行い、又は前条に規定する措置を講ずるに当たっては、当該調査に係る事案の当事者に よる自主的な解決に向け た取組が促進されるよう十分配慮しなければならない。
  • (調査及び救済手続の終了等)
    第23条  委員会は、調査を開始した後において、当該調査に係る事案が第17条第3項各号のいずれかに該当することが明らかになっ たときは、調査又は救済 措置を中止し、又は終了するものとする。
    2  委員会は、調査を開始した後において、人権侵害による被害が確認できず、又は生ずるおそれがないことが明らかであるときは、調 査又は救済措置を中止 し、又は終了することができる。
    3  委員会は、前2項の規定により調査又は救済措置を中止し、又は終了したときは、理由を記載した書面により、その旨を申立人又は 通報者に通知しなければ ならない。ただし、通報者の所在が匿名その他の理由により分からないときは、この限りでない。
  • (是正等の勧告等)
    第24条  委員会は、生命若しくは身体に危険を及ぼす行為、公然と繰り返される差別的言動、ひぼう若しくは中傷等の重大な人権侵害 が現に行われ、又は行わ れたと認める場合において、当該人権侵害による被害を救済し、又は予防するため必要があると認めるときは、第21条に規定する措置を講ずるほか、次に掲げ る措置を講ずるものとする。
    (1) 加害者等に対し当該人権侵害をやめ、又はこれと同様の行為を将来行わないよう勧告すること。
    (2) 加害者等に対し人権啓発に関する研修等への参加を勧奨すること。
    2  前項第1号に掲げる勧告を受けたときは、当該加害者等は、委員会に対し、当該勧告に関して行った措置を報告しなければならな い。
    3  委員会は、第1項第1号に掲げる勧告を行ったにもかかわらず、当該加害者等が正当な理由なく当該勧告に従わないときは、その旨 を公表することができ る。
    4  委員会は、第1号及び第2号に該当するときは申立人、通報者及び被害者等に、第3号に該当するときは申立人、通報者、被害者等 及び加害者等に通知する ものとする。ただし、通報者の所在が匿名その他の理由により分からないとき、その他正当な理由があるときは、この限りでない。
    (1) 第1項の規定により措置を講じたとき。
    (2) 第2項の規定により加害者等から報告があったとき。
    (3) 前項の規定により公表したとき。
  • (弁明の機会の付与等)
    第25条  委員会は、前条第1項第1号の規定による勧告又は同条第3項の規定による公表を行うときは、あらかじめ当該加害者等に対 し、弁明の機会を与えな ければならない。
    2  弁明は、委員会が口頭ですることを認めたときを除き、弁明を記載した書面(以下「弁明書」という。)を提出してするものとす る。
    3  弁明をするときは、証拠書類等を提出することができる。
  • (弁明の機会の付与の通知等)
    第26条  委員会は、弁明書の提出期限(口頭による弁明の機会の付与を行う場合は、その日時)までに相当な期間をおいて、当該加害 者等に対し、次に掲げる 事項を書面により通知するものとする。
    (1) 原因となる事実
    (2) 弁明書の提出先及び提出期限(口頭による弁明の機会の付与を行う場合には、その旨並びに出頭すべき日時及び場所)
  • (訴訟援助)
    第27条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査に係る人権侵害の被害者等若しくはその法定代理人又はこれらの者から委託を受けた弁護 士から委員会が保有する 当該人権侵害に関する資料の閲覧又は写しの交付の申出を受けた場合において、当該人権侵害に関する請求に係る訴訟を遂行するために必要があると認めるとき は、申出をした者に当該資料(事案の当事者以外の者の権利利益を不当に侵害するおそれがある部分を除く。)の閲覧をさせ、又は写しを交付することができ る。
    2  委員会は、前項の規定により資料の閲覧をさせ、又は写しの交付をした場合において、当該被害者等が当事者となっている当該人権 侵害に関する請求に係る 訴訟の相手方若しくはその法定代理人又はこれらの者から委託を受けた弁護士から当該資料の閲覧又は写しの交付の申出を受けたときは、申出をした者にその閲 覧をさせ、又は写しを交付しなければならない。
    3  前2項の規定により資料の写しの交付を受ける者は、当該写しの作成及び送付に要する費用を負担しなければならない。
  • (罰則)
    第28条  第11条第2項(第15条第3項において準用する場合を含む。)の規定に違反して秘密を漏らした者は、1年以下の懲役又 は50万円以下の罰金に 処する。
    2  正当な理由なく第19条第2項の規定に違反して調査を拒み、妨げ、又は忌避した者は、5万円以下の過料に処する。

第4章 適用上の配慮

  • (人権相互の関係に対する配慮)
    第29条  この条例の適用に当たっては、救済の対象となる者の人権と他の者の人権との関係に十分に配慮しなければならない。
  • (不利益取扱いの禁止)
    第30条  何人も、この条例の規定による措置を求める申立てをしたことを理由として、不利益な取扱いを受けない。
  • (報道の自由に対する配慮)
    第31条  この条例の適用に当たっては、報道機関の報道又は取材の自由その他の表現の自由を最大限に尊重し、これを妨げてはならな い。
  • (個人情報の保護)
    第32条  この条例の適用に当たっては、個人情報の保護について配慮しなければならない。
  • (委任)
    第33条  この条例に定めるもののほか、この条例の施行に関し必要な事項は、規則で定める。

附則

  • (施行期日)
    1  この条例は、平成18年6月1日から施行する。ただし、次の各号に掲げる規定は、当該各号に定める日から施行する。
    (1) 第7条第1項中議会の同意を得ることに関する部分  公布の日
    (2) 第2章(第7条第1項中議会の同意を得ることに関する部分を除く。)及び第28条第1項の規定  平成18年4月 1日
    (3) 第28条第2項の規定  平成18年10月1日
  • (この条例の失効)
    2  この条例は、平成22年3月31日までに延長その他の所要の措置が講じられないときは、同日限り、その効力を失う。
  • (この条例の失効に伴う経過措置)
    3  この条例の失効の際現に第18条に規定する調査を行っている事案については、同条から第27条までの規定は、前項の規定にかか わらず、同項に規定する日 後も、なおその効力を有する。この場合においては、同日に在任する委員が、その任期にかかわらず、引き続きその職務を行うものとする。
  • 4  委員又は事務局の職員であった者が職務上知ることができた秘密については、第11条第2項及び第15 条第3項の規定は、附則第2項の規定にかかわら ず、同項に規定する日後も、なおその効力を有する。
  • 5  この条例の失効前にした行為及び前2項の規定によりなおその効力を有することとされる場合におけるこ の条例の失効後にした行為に対する罰則の適用につ いては、なお従前の例による。ENDS

Interesting debate on martial arts as newly required course in JHS under Japan’s Basic Education Law reforms

mytest

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Hi Blog. Something that came up on one of the mailing lists I’m on (a JALT group called PALE) is an interesting debate on physical education in Japan as part of cultural education in Japan — the new requirement for students to take a martial art in Junior High School as an attempt to “transmit tradition” and develop one’s inherent inner Japanese-ness.

My basic objection with all this education on “what it means to be Japanese” (which reasserted itself with former PM Abe’s reforms of the Basic Law of Education in 2006 to foster “an attitude that loves the nation“) is that, given the binary approach to “being Japanese” (especially when defined as “being unique”, with an added contrast to “being foreign”), it encourages people of NJ roots to be excluded (or else to deny their own diversity as incompatible). But the debate on PALE added a new dimension — an unnecessary degree of danger, given how martial attitudes in Japan often invite physical brinkmanship in unaccountable sports coaches over their young athletes. It’s tangental to the discussion of diversity in Japanese education, but read on as it’s good food for thought. Used with permission. Arudou Debito

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

October 2, 2012
From RA
[PALE] Concerns about compulsory judo in junior high schools

PALErs:  Although not directly connected to PALE’s brief, this issue is so important to anyone involved in the Japanese education system that it deserves exposure on this forum.

As most of you will know, traditional martial arts became compulsory in junior high schools this year.

This is a direct result of the new Fundamental Law of Education introduced the last time Abe was prime minister (so nice to see him back at the helm of the LDP!) which called for a return to traditional Japanese values.

In most cases the martial art that has been chosen is judo.

Many parents of young children are very concerned about this.

Since 1983 there have been 108 recorded deaths of children in judo class or school club activities in Japan. With a huge increase in the number of participants it can be assumed that the death rate will increase in the future.

Nobody has been prosecuted for any of these deaths.

As a result, a group of parents and activists have set up the Japan Judo Accidents Victim Association.

Their English language web site is here:

http://judojiko.net/eng/

I hope that PALE can do its bit to spread awareness of this serious issue.  Yours, RA

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

From: MP

Thanks RA,
For me the most important link was on the left side for the Al-Jazeera program broadcast from Osaka. The older Japanese judoka/MD is opposed to the new system. I’ve forwarded the link to all PE teachers at my place.  Yours, MP

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

From:  EF

I had not heard about this so I appreciate you sharing the information. I do think that an important aspect of your alarm is missing. 108 Children have died in 27 years of judo practice in schools – but there’s no mention of the total # of youth who participated safely in judo (which I’d guess is in the thousands nationwide). So, while the death of 108 children is sad, it’s not the alarmist statistic the website is portraying. How many children are killed walking to school along crowded narrow streets? How many are killed riding bicycles on busy roads? I don’t know but I’d guess it’s no small number either.

The fact that, “Nobody has be prosecuted for any of these deaths.” does not necessarily mean that it’s a conspiracy to hide the facts. Maybe all 108 were deemed to be accidents – something that’s VERY common among youth sports programs worldwide. Let us consider our own childhoods; if a person was injured playing sports, was there a lawsuit or criminal proceedings for all cases? These 108 cases which resulted in death (which the website states were due primarily to brain injury) could have been tragic accidents by kids not paying attention to how they were flipping or being flipped. Without further details of each case, it’s premature to throw up our arms in protest against the implementation of judo in junior high schools.

Sports are dangerous and a measure of risk is involved in simply rising from one’s futon in the morning. Throwing up alarm flags to stop children from learning a traditional Japanese sport which teaches discipline and self-defense–something which I think many would argue is lacking in today’s youth—is not a prudent step in the big scheme of things. You may argue that their goal is not to ban judo, but to “to support victims and find ways to reduce death and serious injury among students” as stated on their website. But the tone of the language implies to me that they desire more than just an “improved safety regime.” If I am misreading this, I apologize.

I agree that an emphasis on safety needs to be made so that we can minimize risk, but banning a sport because somebody might get hurt is like banning bicycles because someone in the past had an accident (a current policy at my daughter’s junior high school). Thank you for allowing me to voice my concerns about the power of PALE’s membership jumping behind this issue without truly looking at the big picture. Have a great week and let the flaming commence. Yours, EF

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

From: RA

EF, thank you for your questions.

First of all there are quite a lot of options available between banning a sport and making it compulsory. So, yes you are misreading the site if you think it is calling for a ban. Although you are free to contact the campaign organisers if you want more clarification.

If you want further details of each accident, please go back to the site and click on ‘Download’ and look at the details of the deaths.

There are some heat stroke and heart attack cases but most deaths are due to brain contusions or subdural hematomas. These are directly caused by being thrown. There are also some suffocations caused by choke holds (sometimes by the teacher). This is NOT the same as falling off a bike. You are not supposed to fall of a bike or ride it into a fast moving car. You ARE supposed to throw your opponent in judo. I know almost nothing about judo and how someone is able to protect themselves when they fall. Clearly there are techniques for doing this and equally clearly they are not working for many school children in Japan. Making everyone do judo will only make this problem worse.

I do not agree with your implied notion that there is an acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries for any school sport. Rugby is a sport where serious injury can occur. However, over the years there have been changes in the rules of rugby in order to (successfully) reduce the number of accidents. Maybe this is the way to go with judo in schools.

On the subject of criminal prosecution, take a look at this Japan Times article from 2010:

Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010
108 school judo class deaths but no charges, only silence
Fatalities since ’83 highest rate in any sport; brain injuries abound
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20100826f1.html

It describes some tragic cases where the police did try to get prosecutions but public prosecutors threw the case out.

It may be only a matter of time before a prosecution does stick. The only question is how many children will die between now and then.

Someone who knows judo much better than me (and is a fan) told me that judo is the most dangerous legal two-person sport: more dangerous than boxing. Is it a smart idea to make this sport compulsory for 12-year-old boys and girls?

As far as I have been able to find out deaths in judo world-wide are extremely rare – except in Japan.

With the making of judo compulsory it is a statistical certainty that the number of deaths will increase in the future if nothing serious is done to change the way judo is taught in Japan. Yours, RA

PS:  You asked us to think of our own childhoods and the accidents that are bound to occur in school games. Well, when I think back I can clearly remember boys coming in to school on Monday morning with injuries sustained over the weekend in various sporting fixtures. I remember broken arms, black eyes, missing teeth etc. usually from rugby games. I knew one boy who lost his front teeth by, as he put it, ‘unwisely trying to catch a cricket ball in my mouth’. I think the closest I ever came to serious injury myself was when I was chased by a wild horse during a cross country run (but I managed to escape up a tree). When I was a teacher in a school near London I had to apply First Aid to a boy whose bare foot had been spiked by another boy’s running shoe. Try as I might I can’t think of any case of a child being killed or put in a coma during a school sporting activity in my school or any nearby schools. And the atmosphere is much more safety conscious in the UK now than it was then. We need to seriously ask if schools in Japan are doing all they can to protect the children in their care, and if they can learn from best practice in other school systems.

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

From CB:

“Hai sai” (Okinawa dialect for konnichi wa) from Okinawa, everyone.

I think EF shares some good points (RE: it is always possible to overprotect children by erring too much on the side of safety…in fact, Stephen Pinker in his new book “The Better Angels of Our Nature” posits that one of the unfortunate side effects of the worldwide decline in violence is that kids are coddled and overprotected too much – e.g., being discouraged from playing outside due to kidnapping fears…child kidnapping by strangers is in fact extremely rare in developed nations).

However, 108 judo-related deaths in what are supposedly supervised classrooms still raises some alarms for me…namely, how qualified are the judo teachers, and what, if any, nation-wide mechanisms are in place to ensure adequate qualifications and quality control of said judo instructors? In fact, I think that someone brought up in a similar thread on PALE a number of months ago some stats showing that there are a fair number of unqualified judo instructors in Japanese schools. This wouldn’t surprise me – remember when the MonKaSho rushed English into elementary schools a few years ago without ensuring adequate EFL teacher training for the homeroom instructors who were expected to add English teaching to their already ridiculously busy schedules?

This compulsory judo has similar potential to be problematic (though with more serious consequences than a lack of EFL training of course!) if the new teachers in schools where judo instruction introduced for the 1st time are being rushed into these classrooms without proper training.

My daughter attends a private jr. high school in Okinawa where karate instruction has been mandatory for many years (as a way to promote Okinawan culture – this prefecture is the birthplace of karate). I doubt that karate will be replaced any time soon by judo, given the high pedigree of karate here, which also ensures that all instructors – 3 or 4 black belt teachers per class of 35 students – are well-qualified…I observed one of my daughter’s karate classes and was duly impressed by the teachers…in fact, Sakura-chan seems to think that some of them are “too strict” with regards, for example, to how the kids tie their belts. This is a good sign to me that they are watching kids very closely for safety, etc…indeed, that seemed to be the case during the class I observed.) Cheers, CB

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

From: JT

I’ve done martial arts for almost 30 years, my first martial art was judo, when I was in second grade, and my father went with me (he received his black belt in an alternate system to Kodokan judo, Kodenkan in Hawaii, under Seishiro Okazaki) and I have a sandan in judo, so I’m more sympathetic to EF’s points.

As for learning how to fall, one usually first learns ukemi, which is how to take breakfalls. Having taught adults how to take breakfalls, it is much better to teach it to students when they are young. Less mass so less chance of injury, and more youthful flexibility. I do think some things should be done to make it safer. I have been told and I pass it on to my aikido students that learning how to fall is probably a bigger safety factor than thinking how martial arts is going to protect you from being mugged because whenever you don’t see a curb, or miss a step, you may need to fall correctly. I remember when I was a kid and my father got tripped by the dog running just in front of his feet at the top of 6 concrete steps at our house. He went down doing a judo style breakfall and got up afterwards. Later found out that he had cracked two ribs, but that is far better than breaking his neck.

I also think that there should be some compulsory sport in school. While the ideal would be to have several sports that students can choose from, judo has a number of advantages in terms of cost, facilities and participation. Judo also has an advantage in that it permits students of all sizes and builds to adequately participate. Team sports would have problems not only from the nature of the sport (how can you be sure students are getting the exercise they need), but also from the fact that students of particular builds are favored, while I can’t think of any other individual sports that provide exercise over the full range of body movements, with the possible exception of wrestling, though that is problematic for women (especially with male teachers) and has many of the same injury possibilities as judo. Swimming might be the ideal, but that is season dependent and requires specialised facilities.

I do worry that poor teachers, both those with inadequate training and those with behavioral problems are a worry, but I think that is more a problem with the way Japanese schools are staffed and their hierarchical nature. However, I don’t think that should be an indictment of judo.

For high schools, the compulsory sport is either judo or kendo iirc. I’m not sure about numbers, but kendo has the possibility of some particularly horrific injuries, specifically shattered shinai (practice swords made up of 4 bamboo slats) blinding or, in the worse case, killing practitioners when they go thru the eye and enter the brain. Furthermore, the gear makes it difficult to assess student injuries or problems like heatstroke until it is potentially too late.

I do think there are some things that should be done to improve safety as RA suggests. In junior judo in the US, chokes and armbars are not permitted and tsutemi waza (sacrifice techniques) are generally not taught. I realize that Japanese might balk at ‘watering down’ judo, but in the glance over the listed fatalities caused by judo, shime waza (chokes) seems to be a big factor. In addition, many of the other fatalities in the longer list occurred in tournament competitions. This problem arises when a match is fought and the person who is being thrown doesn’t want to lose the match and so refuses to take the ukemi and is thrown so that they hit their head or techniques that are even more risky (in that they don’t permit the uke (the person being thrown) much option in the ukemi) are used. While it is a judo fatality, I see it as the result of competition rather than the inherent nature of judo.

Again, I am biased, but judo is a great sport to learn as a kid, it lets you develop balance and strength without over emphasizing any particular part of the body, it requires very little money and ideally gives you a certain amount of confidence. Yours, JT

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From: MP

I too am biased. I haven’t done it for years but I like judo. My
first introduction was in college and I recall that the teacher had
us loosening up and only practicing falls for the first classes.
(Note: Most universities in Japan do not have mandatory PE classes
but the University of Tsukuba does. Some students like this. Some
don’t.) Our small university has one campus for the visually
impaired. Judo is one of the main sports (the others are sound table
tennis, floor volleyball and blind soccer) and this year one of our
girls went to the Paralympics in London. Also, some of our students
join the U of Tsukuba clubs. It’s a great sport for the blind
because they can compete on an equal basis. But having said that,
after watching the Al-Jareeza program that was done in Osaka, and
listening to the interviewed parents and doctor, and seeing the boy
in the hospital bed, and reading the postings on this list, I have
some real concerns about the compulsory classes.  Yours, MP

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

From: EF

First, let me thank JT and MP for their input and insight into the world of judo. I’ve never played judo but my brother did in university and for a bit thereafter (he stopped when he moved to an Indian Reservation due to lack of partners). I agree, Robert, that it’s a very dangerous sport and the causes of death bear witness to this fact (thank you for directing me to the details).

In reviewing the list, there did seem to be about 25 or 30 which were incidental deaths not directly attributable to the sport itself but occurred in proximity to practice or competitions (heat stroke, dehydration, other medical issues, etc.). One pattern which was readily apparent was that the vast majority were due to the judoka’s head striking the mat and them suffering brain injuries / hematomas. I hope that this organization is able to push for the possibility of having the students wear headgear (similar to that worn in wrestling) to protect against such injuries. Doing so would add cost to the sports program (which I’m sure is already underfunded) so the likelihood may be low, but I do think it best to support this move as a group.

Anyway, thanks for raising this discussion and for everyone who added their two cents. I will definitely raise my concerns at the PTA meeting should I hear that my daughter’s school adopts compulsory judo in PE.

DEBATE ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 57, November 6, 2012: “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE
If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106da.html or
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106ad.html, whichever you prefer
By ARUDOU Debito
Column 57 for the Japan Times Community Page

On Oct. 25, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced his resignation from office. He now plans to stand for election to the Diet as head of a new conservative party. He suggested political alliances with other conservative reactionaries and xenophobes, including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2, 2010). And all before a Lower House election that must be held within two ten months.

I say: Bring it on. Because it’s time for somebody to make clear which way Japan is heading.

The world’s media has largely misunderstood — or misrepresented — what kind of an elected official Ishihara is, often portraying him as a “nationalist” (which sounds like a patriot). He is in fact a hate-mongering racist bigot.

This is the man, remember, who began his governorship by calling for foreigners to be rounded up on sight in the event of a natural disaster — for they might (unprecedentedly) riot! Cue one natural disaster in 2011: No riots. Yet no retraction. Thus he got a free pass.

This is also a man who goes beyond the standard right-wing denials of the dark side of Japanese history, such as the Nanjing Massacre and the “comfort women.” He has called the 2011 tsunami “divine retribution” for Japan’s sins, insinuated that Africans in Japan are unintelligent, said commentators on Japan “don’t matter” if they’re foreign, likened foreign judo practitioners to “beasts,” claimed Chinese are criminals due to their “ethnic DNA,” called parts of Tokyo with higher foreign populations “hotbeds of crime” too scary for even Japanese crooks to enter, and stigmatized Japanese politicians who support more rights for foreigners by saying they must have foreign roots themselves (as if Japanese with tainted bloodlines are somehow unpatriotic).

He has also stated that old women are “useless” and “toxic” to civilization, gays “gadding about” are “pitiable,” French is unqualified as an international language because of its counting system — and so on ad nauseam, painting grotesque caricatures of foreigners and minorities in broad, bigoted strokes. Just listing them all would take up my entire column.

Yet, instead of pillorying this piece of work out of office, the media has generally dismissed his statements as “gaffes.” But a gaffe is technically an error or an unintended misstatement — and Ishihara’s are too frequent to be anything but deliberate.

Sadly, due to the limited attention span inherent in media cycles, Ishihara managed to out-stare the press. They then excused their own lack of tenacity by treating his outrageous comments like a personality quirk, as if he suffers from a particularly offensive form of Tourette’s — effectively handing him a free pass.

Passes got freer after one re-election. Then another. Then another. The default theory became: Ishihara must be doing something right. Either voters actually like him, or they are just overlooking his bigoted outbursts because they have no other viable choice (or are sick of sloganeering milquetoast politicians in general).

My take is simply that Ishihara chooses his targets wisely. He never goes after the majority (who might vote him out). Good at sensing the weak minority voice behind any issue, he makes himself appear powerful at their expense — especially when he targets foreigners, who can’t vote anyway.

I also think people (including reporters) are generally suckers for celebrities and power-brokers, especially when they’re charismatic bullies picking on people. It’s amusing to watch people squirm — as long as you’re not the one being bashed.

Bearing all this in mind, Ishihara quitting his job can only be a good thing — for two reasons.

One is that the fool is giving up his self-legitimizing bully-pulpit-for-life. He’s lost the power to threaten to raid Metropolitan Tokyo’s tax coffers for bank bailouts, purchases of geopolitically sensitive ocean dots, relocation of the world’s largest fish market to a polluted empty lot, or hosting Olympic Games.

He also no longer has Japan’s most centralized police force (keishichō) at his disposal — one which, as Edward Seidensticker noted, can convert Tokyo into “a police city” whenever necessary (Zeit Gist, Apr. 22, 2008). Ishihara can no longer target people he dislikes with the same degree of public authority.

But the other, more important reason is because it’s time for the world to stop doling out free passes and realize just how far rightward Japan is swinging.

The Japan Times has reported many times (ZGs, Oct. 4, 2002, May 4, 2005, Feb. 20, 2007, Aug. 28, 2007, May 4, 2010, etc.) how Ishihara and his ilk have egregiously blamed outsiders for Japan’s domestic social ills (including crime, terrorism, subversive activities and a general undermining of all things “Japanese”) and gotten xenophobic public policies to match. However, these gradual developments have been largely ignored by outside observers and decision-makers.

Remember, the only thing that can really shame Japan into clamping down on xenophobia and chauvinism is the feeling they’re being watched by the world — i.e., gaiatsu (outside pressure). Yet international organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee, still treat Ishihara’s proposals as if they are legitimate. Again, where are the international boycotts to protest this man’s history of hate-mongering?

So, Ishihara putting his cards on the table will speak definitively about Japan’s future direction. If Ishihara gets his way (and he will win election to the Diet, comfortably) and gets, say, a Cabinet post or the prime ministership, he will legitimize a path for all the young budding Rightists (such as Hashimoto, who is half Ishihara’s age) to push their agenda of remilitarizing Japan and rekindling an ahistorical love for its fascist past.

This will finally get people to sit up and realize how much of a threat postmodern Japan — a state addicted to a discourse of self-victimization while scapegoating others for its own problems — is to stability in Asia.

If Ishihara doesn’t get his way (and becomes one of the many grumbling parliamentary pinheads within a fringe party, hamstrung by the omnipotent bureaucracy Ishihara himself so loathes), this will take the wind out of the sails of Japan’s Rightists — who are so desperate for attention they’ve reinstalled Shinzo Abe as leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (even though he lacked the stomach for the job the last time he was prime minister).

Either way, I say again: Bring it on. By abdicating his otherwise permanent job, Ishihara is making one last gamble at age 80. And he’s doing it out of the hubris and addiction to power seen in other old men (such as former Peruvian President and Ishihara crony Alberto Fujimori), who have spent too long in self-affirming sound chambers surrounded by sycophants.

These megalomaniacs have convinced themselves that as part of an elite ruling class, whatever they want they will get. In Fujimori’s case, the twit gave up his extradition-proof safe haven in Japan to seek re-election back in Peru (JBC, May 5, 2009). He is now serving life in a Peruvian jail.

In Ishihara’s case, a seat in the Diet may wind up being his final sequestration. It certainly ain’t no Tokyo governorship.

Go for it, Ishihara! Let’s see what you’ve got in the time you have left. Show us clearly, once and for all, how Japan intends to position itself for the future — so the rest of the world can start making plans.

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

Debito Arudou’s latest writing is the Hokkaido section of the Fodor’s Japan travel guide. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Something very important happened a few days ago when Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro made a surprise announcement that he would resign his governorship, launch a new political party, and run for a Diet seat in the next Lower House election due in two months.

I say bring it on.  This xenophobic old bigot (now 80) has fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book:  self-delusion, brought on by decades of megalomania and ideological sound-chambering within a cadre of sycophants — which Alberto Fujimori (an old friend of Ishihara and his elite ruling circles) similary fell for when the self-deluded demagogue buggered off back to Chile (forfeiting his unextradictable safe haven in Japan) to stand for reelection in Peru.  Fujimori, as you know, was then extradited to Peru for trial and is now doing essentially life in prison.  But I digress.

I say bring it on for two reasons.  One is that even if elected (which he will be, under Japan’s Proportional Representation system — the main avenue for celebrity schmoes to pad their resume and stroke their egos), Ishihara can do less damage as a Dietmember of a fringe party (analysts already are beginning to doubt the strength of the Rightist alliance between other fringe parties) than as Governor of Tokyo, with an entire Metropolitan Police Force (the strongest and most influential in all of Japan) at his disposal to target people he doesn’t like.  One of the reasons he says he resigned his Diet seat in 1995 after 25 years in office is because of his frustration with the powerlessness of the Diet in the face of the pervasive Japanese bureaucracy (which, as he correctly claims, rules the country).  Now he’s going right back to that same Diet, and I think he thinks he’ll stop at nothing short of becoming PM (He won’t.  He won’t live long enough.  Osaka Mayor Hashimoto is the bigger threat at half the age.)

The other reason is because it’s time to put some cards on the table.  The Center-Left in Japan (in the form of the DPJ) tried their liberalizations (with NJ PR local suffrage, etc.) and lost badly due to the hue and cry over how NJ, if given any power in Japan, would automatically abuse it and destroy Japan).  The image in Japanese politics nowadays is of a rightward swing.  Alright, let’s see just how rightward.  Japan’s bureaucrats like things just the way they are (their sole purpose is to keep the status quo as is, even if that means Japan irradiates itself and strangles itself to death demographically).  It would take a miracle (something I think not even Ishihara is capable of) to dismantle that system.  If Ishihara wins, Japan’s rightward swing is conclusive, and the world will have to stop ignoring a resurgent militarist xenophobic Japan.  If Ishihara loses, that will take a lot of wind out of Rightist sails and push the country back towards centrism.

In this poker game, I believe Ishihara will lose.  And NJ in Japan have already won a victory by having that bigot abdicate his throne/bully pulpit as leader of one of the world’s largest cities.

The clock is ticking, Ishihara.  How much more time you got?  Do your thing and then shuffle this mortal coil.  Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 26, 2012
Ishihara to resign, form new political party
Outspoken nationalist says he wants to take his case countrywide
By MIZUHO AOKI Staff writer

In a surprise move, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced Thursday he will resign and return to the national arena by launching a new political party that can battle the Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party in the next Lower House election.

Later in the day, Ishihara submitted his letter of resignation to the chairman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, in effect giving 30 days’ notice. However, he can leave office earlier if the assembly gives its approval. The election to replace him will be held no more than 55 days from Thursday.

The 80-year-old former author said he would launch the party with Diet members later in the evening, and he plans to run in the next Lower House election on the proportional representation segment of the ballot.

Ishihara said he will be the leader of the new party, which is expected to include members of Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan). He said at least five Diet members, the minimum required to be recognized as a national political party under election laws, will join up with him.

How much influence the party will have on the national level remains to be seen.

Ishihara was once regarded as a key player in a possible realignment of existing political parties, but public attention shifted to Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) led by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who has gained popularity among voters frustrated with the DPJ and LDP.

Ishihara said he wants to cooperate with Nippon Ishin no Kai but didn’t elaborate.

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121026a1.html

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The Japan Times, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012
ANALYSIS
Ishihara-Hashimoto tieup seen as difficult
Hawkish allies share nationalist bent but differ on nuclear future
By ERIC JOHNSTON and NATSUKO FUKUE, Staff writers

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s announcement Thursday that he is resigning to form a new national party marks the first step in his final major political push.

But one of Ishihara’s key assumptions, that his new party will team up with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), remains problematic due to unresolved differences, especially on the future of nuclear power.

Ishihara, 80, and Hashimoto are close personally and have long hoped to form a third political force able to challenge the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party. But political experts say the influence Ishihara’s envisioned party would wield in Nagata-cho could be far more limited.

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121027a1.html

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Japan Times Editorial of October 28, 2012 on this issue here.

ENDS

Sakanaka in Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed, only immigrants can save it

mytest

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Hello Blog. My old friend Sakanaka Hidenori, who has had his writings featured on Debito.org in the past, has bravely spoken out once again to talk about Japan’s inevitable decline into oblivion if present trends continue. He calls for a revolution through immigration and… well, let me excerpt from the Japan Times article on him that came out yesterday.  Says things that have also been said here for a long, long time.  Arudou Debito

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‘Only immigrants can save Japan’
The Japan Times, October 21, 2012
By MICHAEL HOFFMAN, Special to The Japan Times

PHOTO CAPTION: Face of change: Hidenori Sakanaka, the former Justice Ministry bureaucrat and Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief fears the nation is on the brink of collapse, and says “we must welcome 10 million immigrants between now and 2050.”

Japan as we know it is doomed.

Only a revolution can save it.

What kind of revolution?

Japan must become “a nation of immigrants.”

That’s a hard sell in this notoriously closed country. Salesman-in-chief — surprisingly enough — is a retired Justice Ministry bureaucrat named Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the ministry’s Tokyo Immigration Bureau and current executive director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a private think tank he founded in 2007.

It’s an unlikely resume for a sower of revolution. Sakanaka clearly sees himself as such. His frequent use of the word “revolution” suggests a clear sense of swimming against the current. Other words he favors — “utopia,” “panacea” — suggest the visionary.

“Japan as we know it” is in trouble on many fronts. The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, and the subsequent tsunami and nuclear disasters, struck a nation whose economy had been stagnant for 20 years while politicians fiddled and government floundered. But that’s not Sakanaka’s point. He is focused on demographics. “Japan,” he said in a recent telephone interview, “is on the brink of collapse.” […]

No nation, barring war or plague, has ever shrunk at such a pace, and as for aging, there are no historical precedents of any kind. The nation needs a fountain of youth.

Sakanaka claims to have found one.

Japan, he said, “must welcome 10 million immigrants between now and 2050.” […]

It sounds fantastic, and in fact, Sakanaka acknowledges, would require legislation now lacking — anti-discrimination laws above all.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121021x3.html
ENDS

The first version of my Oct 2012 JT JUST BE CAUSE column (rejected for publication) blogged for your comments, on “sanctioned reality”: Do you “get” it?

mytest

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Hi Blog. Before I wrote my monthly Japan Times column on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes published on Oct 2 (see it here), I wrote a completely different column that approached the issue from the back door:  How Japan’s enormous focus on “genuine” and “legitimate” leads  to diversity getting subsumed.  And when it leads to diversity in opinion being subsumed, you get a society that is particularly susceptible to top-down control of not only the dominant social discourse, but also the very perception of reality within a society. And that leads us to crazy ideas such as a few far offshore rocks being worth all this fuss.

Heavy stuff. Unfortunately, the people who approve columns at The Japan Times didn’t “get” it, even after two major rewrites and sixteen drafts. (Actually, in all fairness it wasn’t only them — two other friends of mine didn’t “get” it either. But two of my friends in academia did. And we suspect that it was just too “Ivory Tower” for a journalistic audience.) So eight hours before deadline, I rewrote the damn thing entirely, and what you saw published is the result.

But The Japan Times suggested that I blog it and see what others think. So here it is: The column on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes that I wanted to run. I think there are plenty of ideas in there that are still worth salvaging. But let me ask you, Debito.org Readers: Do you “get” it? Arudou Debito

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ON SANCTIONED REALITY, MAJORITARIANISM AND JAPAN’S DEMOCRACY
By ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 for the Japan Times Community Page
To be published October 2, 2012
DRAFT SIXTEEN – version submitted for edits and rejected for publication

I recently attended an interesting talk. It discussed Japan’s cultural conceit with the “real,” “genuine,” and “legitimate” as governed by the kanji “hon.” For example, genuine articles are “honmono,” the home of a famous product “honke”, one’s genuine feelings, intentions and character include “honki”, “honne,” “honshō” and “hongoshi,” you get the idea.

That made me think: What makes something legitimately “genuine” or “real” in Japan? Public acknowledgment of authenticity, of course. Certification could be an official government document, strong media attention, or even positive word of mouth.

For example, an artist or writer instantly becomes worthy of attention and accolade after becoming a “Living National Treasure” or an Akutagawa Prize winner. (Remember, this is how future Tokyo Governor Ishihara got his start.)

Of course, by definition one needs public support to become popular, and popularity begets more recognition as celebrity.

But Japan takes the “popularity = recognition” concept one step further, to “popularity = more trustworthy.” Unrecognized things tend to be seen as less legitimate in terms of quality or as a source of information.

For example, a restaurant without a write-up in the local tour guidebook can’t be any good. If something’s apparently unpopular, there must be something wrong with it. This is why tourist traps overseas pay big bucks to be featured in the Japanese “Hato Bus” media circuit.

So what is this column’s epiphany? If popularity means something is more “real” and “legitimate,” sole individuals and their opinions will have less influence over reality. This has a profound effect on Japan’s democracy. Seriously.

Start with an everyday interaction: Remember when you asked a group their opinion (particularly in classrooms). What’s the first thing most respondents do? Turn to their neighbors for affirmation.

Few are brave enough to immediately offer their “own opinion” because it might “not be commonly acceptable” (tsūyō shinai). There has to be a “consensus” before anyone declares anything definitive.

One exception, of course, is an opinion about Japanese behavior or culture. Ever notice how answers like, “because we’re an island nation” or “we have a long history of being a closed society” are immediate and standardized? Because they are the “consensus responses” – commonly-held, thus legitimate. This is one reason why Japanese society is so susceptible to talking in stereotypes.

Point is, people here have to “read the air” (kūki o yomu) first to determine reality, which takes time, energy, and guesswork to concoct. Moreover, people who buck the trend with an unpopular opinion merely look like troublemakers. This tedious dynamic forces people to default into silence.

The exception to the silent default is when someone has enough power in the group to be a sempai. Or a bully. Both will if necessary browbeat people into their mode of thinking.

Thus, reality depends on the dominant group hierarchy maintaining the dominant discourse.

One problem with a “certified reality for mass consumption” is that minority views are unacceptable. By definition, if a majority does not support a minority view, then tsūyō shinai. After all, if enough people don’t say or do it, it’s not “The Real Japan.” This majoritarianism acts as a natural brake on Japan’s diversity.

But the bigger problem is the brake on dissent.

If people are more likely to “take seriously” a fact or opinion (and, due to a lack of training in critical thinking, people often have trouble telling the difference) just because they saw that fact or opinion on TV or in a newspaper, then people who control media outlets can create “consensus” by “changing the air.”

This means that Japanese society, whose most trusted and ubiquitous media outlet is government-run, becomes more easily manipulated by officialdom.

Of course, the media manufactures public consensus in all societies. But in Japan’s case, a hierarchical social dynamic enforced at all levels of society makes people particularly susceptible to top-down decision making.

This can be taken too far. We’ve witnessed a decade of “rampant foreign crime” grounded in police media campaigns instead of careful statistical analysis (Zeit Gist Oct. 7, 2003).

But now consider the current claims that a few faraway “islands” are sufficient reason to hate the local ethnic shopkeeper. Volume has shouted down reason.

Now add one more thing to the mix: “koe.” In Japan, disembodied voices are often taken as legitimately as official voices. That’s how Japan’s media justifies rumor through anonymous sources, and how officials justify public policy by saying “koe ga atta” (there has been talk of…). This is further amplified by Japan’s anonymous Internet culture, a bullying and outrage industry in its own right (JBC Feb. 3, 2009).

Eventually any bubble of commonly-held lies and distortions will pop. But when it pops in Japan, there is little denouement. Rarely are the brave individuals who initially offered dissent commended. Most dissenters realize it’s too mendōkusai (bothersome) to pipe up and so in future just pipe down.

In sum, this social dynamic helps the ruling elite keep control of the status quo. And it’s one reason why conservatives have spent their lives dismantling liberalized education (yutori kyōiku) – for heaven forbid that Leftist teachers ever indulge in critical thinking or encourage students to question authority!

There are consequences: Every now and then Japan’s debate arenas fall into an echo-chamber “reality trap,” where circular logic based on bad social science becomes mutually-reinforcing. We’ve seen the logical excesses in public outrages about, say, human rights, gender equality, foreign suffrage, and now Japanese territorial integrity with the Senkakus and Takeshima.

Once mired in this “reality trap,” the most effective way to adjust the prevailing “reality” (aside from total defeat in a war) is by appealing to Japan’s legitimacy overseas.

Since the Meiji Era, Japan has always wanted be taken seriously by the club of powerful countries. Due to the enormous cultural value placed upon hierarchy, Japan has aspired to join the club in a superior, respected position.

Yet most people know Japan as the “fragile superpower,” and Japan’s ruling elites know well that there is much to lose by creating trouble: Not only in terms of hard-won (and paid for) international esteem, but also economic resources if bullies and zealots irritate the neighbors.

Bully celebrities and zealots have gained much ground these past decades, legitimizing jingoistic interpretations of history in mainstream media. But I think the browbeaten public is betting that reason will soon prevail amongst ruling elites.

Why? Because Japan never wants to be seen as the aggressor in any conflict, or the bad guy in any situation.

Consider the dominant discourse in postwar Japan: We didn’t engage in military conquest during WWII – a rapacious military leadership inflicted great suffering on all Japanese. Then we were subjected to horrific atomic bombings. After that, we had decades of miraculous prosperity generated from our own hard work. But then things slowed down even though we did our best. It’s not our fault: Even our current mess was caused by force majeure – our volcanic archipelago, against which we stoically persevere. We are all victims.

What about dissenting opinions to this discourse, including the public’s complicity in rooting out prewar Leftists, the wartime responsibility of the Showa Emperor, the granting of favorable terms of trade for reconstruction, and generations of government-industrial corruption through unaccountable bureaucratic rule? All drowned out under Japan’s majoritarianism, delegitimizing unpopular opinions in favor of perpetual victimhood.

But not this time. It’s pretty difficult to justify Japan’s victim status with the Senkakus and Takeshima. The rocks are just an official distraction from the irradiating food chain and accelerating economic tailspin.

Back to the concepts of “genuine” and “legitimate.” What good is this “islands” dispute if the other rich countries, looking increasingly to China as Asia’s leader, won’t see Japan as a “genuine” victim with a “legitimate” grievance?

Sooner or later the ruling elites, perpetually looking over their shoulder at world opinion, will tell the jingoists to tone it down — for business’ sake. It’s the effect of gaiatsu, or outside pressure.

Gaiatsu is basically the only way that Japan, once it gets into these ideological bully-pulpit spirals, will be calmed down. Because Japan’s general public, structurally defanged by a culture of being unable to say or think anything is “real” or “legitimate” without certified permission, cannot stop itself when domestic bullies get too powerful. It needs somebody else to put the jingoism genie back in the bottle.

Outside world, it’s nigh time to do it again.
1396 WORDS
ends

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

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times
Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE
Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place
By ARUDOU DEBITO
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121002ad.html

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

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

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

But the larger question remains: How could these far-flung rocks get so much domestic political traction? Bully-pulpiteer Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara managed to raise $18 million from the general public for buying bits of the Senkakus. This in turn forced Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to nationalize them with $26 million of public funds, entangling the government in this imbroglio (and no doubt giving Ishihara a chuckle over all the mischief he’d caused).

(NB:  Total money raised by Ishihara according to Yomiuri Sept 7, 2012: 1.4 billion yen.  Purchase price 2.05 billion yen.) http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120906004354.htm

After all, Japan has a lot to lose in these disputes. Known as the “fragile superpower,” Japan depends on the outside world both for raw materials and export markets. (China is, remember, Japan’s largest trading partner.)

Japan also has a reputation for being diplomatic towards everyone for business purposes (with its foreign policy sardonically known as happō bijin gaikō, “like a woman who appears beautiful viewed from any angle”). Why now so out of character?

Some might argue that Japan is “growing up” and “acting like a normal country.” Ishihara himself co-wrote the book “The Japan That Can Say No,” which among other things called for Japan to be more “assertive” on the world stage.

But that was in 1989. Now much older and more powerful (as head of a megacity), Ishihara has clearly revised “assertive” to mean “belligerent.” This isn’t Japan just saying “no.” It’s Japan saying, “Gimme. Or else.”

And this is not limited to Ishihara anymore, meaning the fundamental character of Japan’s leadership has shifted. The heads of Japan’s three main cities (Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya) have all expressed “revisionist” views of history, doubting the legitimacy of Asian claims of Japan as aggressor and plunderer during World War II. Revisionists seem determined to fan passions against outsiders for demagogic purposes.

For example, in what historian Tessa Morris-Suzuki (Japan Focus, Sept. 3) calls “foreign policy by tweet,” Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto capriciously stirred up historical matters largely settled a decade ago. Through glib texts to the general public, he stated in essence that the “comfort women” wartime sexual slavery issue had not been resolved by Japan’s official acknowledgment of the historical evidence in 1993 (something Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also asserted but later retracted).

The subtext is that Hashimoto’s ilk wants a government-authored history that paints Japan in a “hopeful” light. Indicatively (and ironically, considering his family background), he is pulling funding from Japan’s only human rights museum in Osaka next year, on the grounds that displays are “limited to discrimination and human rights” towards Japan’s minorities. In his view, they fail to inspire Japan’s children with a future full of “hopes and dreams” (Mainichi Shimbun, July 25).

How did this cabal gain such political leverage? I think we can understand their appeal through the lens of rekindling national “hopes and dreams.”

First, as Japan’s “lost decade” of economic woe stretched into two, a public hungry for hope and inspiration became receptive to the message of reliving past glories — not only in terms of wealth and international prestige, but also in terms of military might (as can be seen in the popularity of jingoistic manga like “Gomanism”). At last, there was something to be proud of amidst the interminable bad news.

Second, Gov. Ishihara, in cahoots with Japan’s police forces, banged the alarmist drum of foreign crime and terrorism so loudly and successfully that other political hopefuls could chime in and get (re-)elected. The ensuing suspicion of “outsiders in our midst” helped stem the tide of Japan’s internationalization and diversification, as Japan’s foreign-resident population, after an unbroken 48-year rise, began falling.

Third, hopes for liberalization were dashed when, for the first time in Japan’s postwar political history, a viable opposition party took over from the perpetually-ruling, corrupt Liberal Democratic Party. A mere three years later, people seem disappointed that the Democratic Party of Japan couldn’t undo a half-century of embedded LDP cronyism.

This all plays into the hands of zealots who wish to “restore” Japan (To what? A bubble economy? A regional military power?) without a clear template — except past precedent. The small print is that those past systems won’t work without the exercise of military power, or favorable overseas terms of trade designed for a reconstructing economy (neither of which are viable for present-day Japan).

No matter, say the Revisionists, let’s march backward: Last month, not only did the LDP reelect staunch historical revisionist Shinzo Abe as its party leader, but Hashimoto also launched his ominously named Japan Restoration Party, which has few policy aims except the proactive defense of Japanese sovereignty and territories.

It’s laughable how far removed all this is from what the Japanese public really wants. I believe most Japanese are not looking for trouble with any neighbor — in Japan or abroad. They just want to lead a quiet, prosperous life.

But now that even the Japanese media have started adopting the jingoistic tone of “restoring” Japan, the current discourse of belligerency is normalized and irresistible. Only true patriots dare say anything in public, while the silent majority hunkers down and waits for the fracas to pass (hopefully without any shots fired).

In a few months, this may all amount to a storm in a teacup. But I don’t think so. Political movements such as these (even if promoted by a very loud minority) do real social damage, setting precedents that legitimize the next wave of nationalism and antiliberalism.

As I’ve discussed on these pages before (e.g., Zeit Gist, July 8, 2008), extreme positions have eventually justified quiet but radical and illiberal reforms. For example, officially sponsored fears about foreign crime and terrorism have created a surveillance society that affects everyone. Since the DPJ took office, alarmist (and successful) invective against, say, granting local suffrage to foreign permanent residents also emboldened conservatives to defeat other liberalizing proposals, such as granting separate surnames to married couples and more civil rights for children. Several attempts at getting a universal law against discrimination have been defeated because of allegations that foreigners would abuse Japanese with it.

Thus foreigners are the perpetual wolf at the door, and have been used very effectively to mobilize the nation against both putative internal and external threats.

Now with boats clashing prows and loosing water cannon at each other because of ocean specks, soon there will be very normal-sounding calls for revisions of our “Peace Constitution.” Revisionists will argue (Ishihara already has) that like any “normal” country, Japan needs an actual “military,” able to defend its sovereignty from the wolves.

Therein lies the cognitive dissonance of any historical revisionist: Somehow “hope” is generated by forgetting a regrettable history.

This must not happen, because the proponents of this view simply do not wish to learn from history. And you all know what George Santayana said about “those who cannot remember the past (being) condemned to repeat it.”

I will conclude with the thoughts of M.G. Sheftall, professor of modern Japanese cultural history at Shizuoka University:

“Postwar Japan wanted to be welcomed back into the community of responsible countries and membership in the United Nations. So as a condition, the government acknowledged a ‘we were wrong’ narrative of the war experience. I think bearing guilt for a few more generations for the 20 million Asians killed under Japanese imperialism is necessary before the words ‘army’ or ‘navy’ inevitably return to the official Japanese lexicon. It’s just the decent thing to do.

“As a historian, it’s discomfiting having anything smacking of wartime ideology making a comeback while men who committed atrocities for the Imperial Japanese military still live. While they deserve some sympathy for what they endured under an ideology they were unable to resist or reject, I don’t they deserve the satisfaction of leaving this mortal coil feeling that Japan’s war has been historically vindicated. There’s justice in that, I think.”

By then, history will have taught Japan’s governing elites the folly and waste of clashing over petty nationalistic goals. If there is any hope.

============================
Debito Arudou’s latest writing is the Hokkaido section of the Fodor’s Japan travel guide. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Mainichi: Japan’s only human rights museum likely closing after Osaka Gov Hashimoto defunds, says doesn’t teach Japan’s “hopes & dreams”

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something quite indicative about the conservatives in Japan.  As I will be alluding to in my next Japan Times column (due out October 2), there is an emphasis on making sure “hopes and dreams” are part of Japan’s future.  Fine, but for Japan’s conservatives, fostering “hopes and dreams” means obliterating things like the shameful bits of Japan’s past (which every country, doing an honest accounting of history, has).

For Osaka Mayor Hashimoto (who just launched his ominously-named “Japan Restoration Party”), that means killing off Japan’s only human-rights museum (which, when I visited, had a corner devoted to the Otaru Onsens Case).  Because talking about how minorities in Japan combat discrimination against them is just too disruptive of Japan’s “dreamy” national narrative.  Read on.  Arudou Debito

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Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a ‘New Japan’

By Tessa Morris-Suzuki
(Recommended citation: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, “Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a ‘New Japan,’” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 36, No. 1, September 3, 2012.)

Hopes and Dreams
They exist all over Japan, like tiny sparks of light, flickering and fragile, but somehow surviving against the odds: the peace museums, the reconciliation groups, the local history movements that work to address problems of historical responsibility neglected or denied by national politicians. As Kazuyo Yamane notes, according to a UN survey, Japan has the highest number of peace museums of any country in the world (Yamane 2009, xii). But the heritage created at the grassroots by ordinary Japanese people is constantly under threat from the hostility of nationalist politicians and sections of the media: and never more so than today (see Chan 2008; Morris-Suzuki, Low, Petrov and Tsu 2012).

Among the sparks of light is Osaka’s Human Rights Museum, also known as Liberty Osaka.

Founded in 1985, Liberty Osaka is Japan’s only human rights museum. It features displays on the history of hisabetsu buraku communities (groups subject to social discrimination), the struggle for women’s rights, and the stories of minority groups such as the indigenous Ainu community and the Korean minority in Japan. An important aspect of the museum is its depiction of these groups, not as helpless victims of discrimination, but rather as active subjects who have fought against discrimination, overcome adversity and helped to create a fairer and better Japanese society. By 2005 more than a million people had visited the Liberty Osaka. (See the museum’s website (Japanese) and (English).)

Today, the museum faces the threat of closure. The Osaka city government has until now provided a crucial part of themuseum’s funding, but the current city government, headed by mayor Hashimoto Tōru, has decided to halt this funding from next year, on the grounds that the museum displays are ‘limited to discrimination and human rights’ and fail to present children with an image of the future full of ‘hopes and dreams’ (Mainichi Shinbun 25 July 2012)

Rest of the article at:
http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3818

A message to that effect from Liberty Osaka, then the Mainichi Shimbun articles being referred to, follow for the record:

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お知らせ

4月末から大阪市長は8月から当館への補助金打ち切りを表明し、皆様方にはご心配をおかけしています。大阪市は6月2日の公開ヒアリングにおいて、来年度の補助金打ち切りを前提としつつ、8月から約20%削減して補助金を組む方針を示しました。たいへん厳しい状況ではありますが、当館は来年3月まで事業と運営をおこなってまいります。来年4月からの事業と運営のあり方については関係諸機関・団体と協議してまいりますので、引き続きご支援・ご協力いただきますよう、よろしくお願い申し上げます。

2012年6月8日

大阪人権博物館

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

大阪人権博物館:存続の危機 府市の補助金打ち切り 問題知る場なくせば差別は消える?
毎日新聞 2012年07月25日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/feature/news/20120725dde018040097000c.html

国内で唯一の人権に関する総合展示施設、大阪人権博物館(リバティおおさか、大阪市浪速区)が、存続の危機に直面している。年間1億4000万円の収入のうち約85%を占めていた大阪府・市の補助金が、今年度で打ち切られるためだ。行政が人権問題についての施設費用をまかなう意味と、補助金打ち切りの背景を、識者らの言葉から探った。【鈴木英生】

同博物館は、1985年開館。部落差別を筆頭に、アイヌ▽在日コリアン▽沖縄▽女性▽ハンセン病▽薬害エイズ−−など、さまざまな問題を取り上げる。展示資料は約2000点。文書やパネルを並べるだけでなく、実物大で再現したアイヌのチセ(家)、沖縄や朝鮮半島などの民族衣装が着られるコーナーなどもあり、多面的だ。

橋下徹・大阪市長と松井一郎・大阪府知事は今春、展示が「差別と人権に縛られている」「子供が夢や希望をもって将来像を描く施設になっていない」などとして、補助金打ち切りを決めた。

博物館の関係者らは、補助金打ち切りを「人権教育の危機」と憤る。以前は橋下市長自身、「僕は、人権という教育は絶対必要だと思ってますので、ここはもう崩さず」(府知事時代の2009年に博物館リニューアルを求めた際の府議会での発言)などと語っていた。

そもそも人権問題の展示施設を、行政が支えてきたのはなぜか。人権博物館の元理事長でもある元木健・大阪大名誉教授(社会教育学)は「『社会教育法』で説明ができます」と話す。

一般的に、博物館の設置運営は、同法に基づく社会教育の一環とされる。同法は、国や地方公共団体が「市民の自主的な社会教育活動のための環境醸成」をしなくてはならないとする。「同法は、博物館など施設の設置運営どころか、集会の開催や資料の作成・配布までも、行政の責務としています」(元木さん)

ENDS

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

大阪人権博物館:存続の危機 府市の補助金打ち切り 問題知る場なくせば差別は消える?
毎日新聞 2012年07月25日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/feature/news/20120725dde018040097000c3.html

在日コリアン2世でもある姜尚中・東京大教授(政治学)は「橋下氏がターゲットとする施設に、人権博物館と、住友財閥の寄付で戦前に建った府立中之島図書館が入っているのは象徴的だ。さまざまなマイノリティーやマジョリティーが形作ってきた複雑な世の中全体を否定して、競争原理だけに基づく社会をつくりたいという思考が、背景にある気がする」と話している。

◇反対署名など展開
人権博物館は今後について「来年4月からの博物館のあり方は、関係諸機関・諸団体と協議する」としている。

部落解放同盟大阪府連などは「リバティおおさかの灯(ひ)を消すな全国ネット」を設立し、補助金打ち切り撤回を求めて運動している。同ネットは署名活動のほか、昨年度より2割削減された今年度の補助金を穴埋めするためのカンパ活動も展開中だ。
ENDS

Discussion: JDG, Harumi Befu et.al on the end of Japan’s internationalization and swing towards remilitarization

mytest

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Hi Blog.  There’s a case that can be made nowadays that Japan is not only in decline, it’s falling back on jingoism (beyond the standard nihonjinron and historical revisionism) to support the image of a Japan that was once better when it had fewer foreigners (or none, which was historically never the case).  As my current research (more on this in future) has sought to demonstrate, Japan’s (Postwar, not Prewar, cf. Oguma Eiji) national narrative of “monoculturalism, monoethnicity, and homogeneity” has sponsored an ideological ethnic cleansing of Japan, thanks in part to revolving-door visa regimes and all manner of incentives to make sure that few “visibly foreign” foreigners stay here forever (hence the prioritizing of the Nikkei) for they agitate for more rights as generational residents (consider the visas that can be cancelled or phased out pretty much at government whim; we’ve seen it before with, for example, the Iranians in the late 1990s).  And if you ever thought “the next generation of younger Japanese will be more liberal”, we now have Osaka Gov Hashimoro Touru (younger than I) also supporting historical revisionism (see below) and forming the “Japan Restoration Party” (the poignantly and ominously named Nihon Ishin no Kai) on September 12, 2012.  With the recent saber-rattling (which nation-states indulge in periodically to draw public attention away from larger social problems, in Japan’s case the issues of nuclear power and the irradiating food chain) and the overblown flaps over the Takeshima/Tokdo and Senkaku/Diaoyu ocean specks, we have an emerging vision of Japan as a remilitarized power in Asia, courtesy of Debito.org Reader JDG.  I thought we’d have a discussion about that here.  Take a look through the resource materials below and consider whether or not you share the apprehension that I (and some major academics overseas, including Ted Bestor and Harumi Befu, at the very bottom) have about Japan’s future.  Arudou Debito

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

August 23, 2012
Hello Debito, I hope that you are well, and enjoying your sumer break.  I was wondering if I might suggest a JBC topic for you?

The Economist link I sent to you before, combined with the earlier war-crimes denial by the mayor of Nagoya, the ever-irritating blinky [Ishihara Shintaro], and now this:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120822x3.html

===========================================
The Japan Times Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012
No evidence sex slaves were taken by military: Hashimoto
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer (excerpt)
OSAKA — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said there was no evidence that the Imperial Japanese Army forced Korean women and girls into sexual servitude at wartime military brothels.

In response to a question Tuesday about South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s visit to the disputed Takeshima islets, which are called Dokdo in South Korea, which controls them, Hashimoto touched on Lee’s recent demands for Japan to apologize to the forced sex workers — now often described as “sex slaves” by the media — who were euphemistically called “comfort women” by the Japanese.

“There is no evidence that people called comfort women were taken away by violence or threat by the (Japanese) military,” Hashimoto said. “If there is such evidence, South Korea should provide it.”…

In August 1993, after more than 1½ years of government research into the issue, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued a statement saying the Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of “comfort stations” and the transfer of comfort women.

“The government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments,” the statement said.

“It is deeply regrettable that the politician (Hashimoto) made remarks that run counter to the official position of the Japanese government,” said a South Korean government spokesman in an email to The Japan Times. “Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono issued a statement acknowledging the forcible recruitment of the so-called comfort women, sexual slavery victims drafted for the Japanese Imperial Army. As such, we believe the Japanese government has already acknowledged the forced nature of the recruitment of comfort women.”
Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120823a6.html
===========================================

Hashimoto denying J-war crimes is giving me massive pause for thought about the future of Japan. J-politicians have done this since the reverse course, but the fact of Hashimoto doing it proves that even the ‘next’ generation of J-politicians can’t stop the denial, and abandon Imperial era ideology.

Why does this bother me (beyond the obvious)?

Power is (as I am sure you know) based on three ‘legs’ in international relations terms. The first is political power (you can influence countries because they agree with your policies). Post-war Japan has never had any clout in this area. The second form is economic power (you can influence other countries with cash incentives). Until now Japan has been quite adept at quelling ruffled neighbors feathers with large amounts of ODA. But now China and Korea are ‘catching up’ economically, and Japan is falling behind, so this economic power is seen to be escaping from Japan’s grasp.

The third type of power in international relations is military power (when you can’t convince or buy concordance, smack them in the face). Recent comments by J-politicians named above, the continued visits to Yasukuni by the insensitively flippantly named ‘Let’s Visit Yasukuni!’ group of Diet members, the recent changing of the constitution to ‘ensure Japan’s nuclear safety’ (a move that specifically does not exclude the development of nuclear weapons- ‘Self Defense Force’ type word games), are causing me and others, great apprehension about Japan’s future.

Whilst I have no doubt that Japan will not embark on a series of expansionist wars, it seems to me that increasing Japanese insecurity with economic stagnation (read as: ‘Economic failure=losing the post-war peace’), is forcing J-politicians to fall back increasing on the verbosity of the third leg of international relations power. The purpose of this verbosity is to garner domestic support rather than exert any real international influence, and in this sense, it is of great concern for NJ residents in Japan.

Whilst I hope sincerely that a significant majority of the Japanese public would resist such endorsement of Imperial-era Japanese militarism, I am not encouraged. Given that it is unrealistic to suppose that Japan could successfully take military action against it’s powerful neighbors free from the risk of retaliation, my fear is that (as in 1930’s Germany), we are seeing a ‘renaissance’ of Japanese nationalistic ideology, rather than it’s much prolonged demise. An ideology that can only find a vent for it’s frustration on the NJ living in Japan.

The implications of this for NJ is that Japan will certainly not become more open and less discriminatory, but rather the drastic opposite.

At present, it’s all rather in the balance, but the fact that 67 years after the end of WWII the Mayors of Japan’s first, second, and third cities can still deny war crimes whilst calling for a militarily ‘stronger’ Japan should certainly make any NJ think twice about even visiting.

I have had enough, and will be leaving with my family. Japan, I sincerely believe, will get much worse for NJ as the economy fails to right itself. I think that the case can be made that the chance for Japan to become an internationalized country (in the Western sense) passed some 20 years ago, and instead of looking to the future, the Japanese are raging at the passing of glory days gone by.

Sincerely JDG.

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

September 10, 2012

As a postscript to the mail I sent you before, have you seen this?
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120911a1.html

===========================================
The Japan Times, Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012
Tanigaki out, Ishihara likely in LDP race
Party angling for return to power; Noda kicks off DPJ campaign
By MASAMI ITO and NATSUKO FUKUE Staff writers

Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki gave up his bid Monday to seek re-election in the Sept. 26 LDP leadership race, paving way for his right-hand man, Nobuteru Ishihara, as yet an undeclared candidate, to vie for the helm…

[Current DPJ PM] Noda, 55, vowed to create a nuclear power-free society, without saying when this may be achieved, and pledged 1 percent inflation within a year to overcome deflation.

He also vowed to protect Japanese sovereignty, including over the Senkaku Islands, which Japan controls, and the Takeshima islets, which are held by South Korea. He pledged to pave the way for the return of the Russia-held islands off Hokkaido. Noda also noted the government will buy three of the five Senkaku Islands, which are currently owned by a Saitama businessman.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120911a1.html
===========================================

Son of blinky as the next PM, combined with The Economist’s insiders’ take on future LDP policy? Does not bear thinking about for NJ.

I believe that Japan has been stringing the world along all along, just so that we would be happy to buy their cars and VCRs and other crap. In it’s heart Japan has never changed because it doesn’t want to, and now that we aren’t buying enough of their products, they have no reason to pretend to have changed.

I think that the time is coming for a change in strategy. Working from inside to educate the Japanese about the issues is having no real effect, maybe the next phase is just to shove evidence of Japan’s disgraceful behavior into the face of the international community until Japan is shamed into taking action.

After all, what should the headline of the NY Times be on the day that PM Son-of-Blinky shakes hands with the President of the USA?

////////////////////////////////
The Japan Times, Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012
Hashimoto launches party amid workload, universal appeal doubts
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer (excerpt)
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120913a3.html
OSAKA — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s new national political party, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), was officially launched Wednesday with the aim of fundamentally changing the way the nation is governed…

The event boasted a map of Japan that included not only the four main islands and Okinawa, but also the Japan-controlled Senkaku islets, which are also claimed by China, the Takeshima islets, which are held by South Korea, where they are called Dokdo, and the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that Japan has wanted back since Soviet forces seized them at the end of the war.

Hashimoto’s party platform calls for proactive defense of Japanese sovereignty and territories. It did not specify how it would deal with territory Japan claims but no longer has control over….

There is also concern among Hashimoto’s advisers over how broad, nationally, the new party’s appeal will be. His biggest supporters are socially conservative urban males in their late 20s through late 40s, and media are already dubbing the party a “boy’s club.” Of the 105 local-level politicians in Osaka Ishin no Kai, only nine are women, and there were no female participants in Sunday’s discussion.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120913a3.html

////////////////////////////////
日本維新の会、結党を宣言 衆院選350人擁立目指す
朝日新聞 2012年9月13日
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/news/OSK201209130004.html

大阪維新の会(代表・橋下徹大阪市長)は12日、大阪市内で政治資金パーティーを開き、橋下氏が国政政党「日本維新の会」結党を正式に宣言した。次期衆院選に向けて350人程度の擁立を目指し、候補者の公募も週内に開始する。設立時期は、新党に参加する衆参国会議員7人の離党時期を踏まえ、今月下旬以降になる見通し。

パーティーで橋下氏は「我々大阪維新の会は国政政党をつくることに決めた」と、大阪市内に本部を置く日本維新の会結成を宣言。「これから日本の大いくさが始まる。今日そのスタートを切る」と、次期衆院選に向けた候補者擁立などの準備を本格化するとした。

橋下氏は、新党に参加するため11日に離党届を出した民主党の松野頼久元官房副長官(衆院熊本1区)、自民党の松浪健太衆院議員(比例近畿)ら衆参国会議員7人を紹介。次期衆院選での擁立を検討している前横浜市長の中田宏氏らのほか、維新の会との連携を模索する河村たかし名古屋市長や大村秀章愛知県知事も参加した。
ENDS
////////////////////////////////

September 12, 2012 3:45 am
Japan’s not ready to be a reliable ally

The Financial Times (London), Letter to the Editor
From Dr Jean-Pierre Lehmann. Courtesy DH
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/99321782-fb4d-11e1-87ae-00144feabdc0.html

Sir, Ian Bremmer and David Gordon’s suggestion that “Japan must be the new indispensable ally for the US in Asia” (September 10) is an absolute non-starter; going down that road would be disastrous for the US and for the region.

First, Japan has become more than ever since the end of the second world war, and more than any other major country, an inward looking-nation. There is no Japanese world view. The number of Japanese students in the US has significantly declined, in contrast to the growing numbers from many other Asian countries. Japan scores last but one (North Korea) in TOEFL (tests of English as a foreign language). Since Sadako Ogata served as the UN high commissioner for refugees there has been no prominent Japanese holding an international position. There is no visibility, let alone influence, of Japan at the World Trade Organisation. On this, as in respect to many other issues, no one knows what Japan stands for. At international policy forums, the Japanese, apart from a tiny handful of regulars, tend to be conspicuous by their absence. Japan remains a very closed country to foreigners: there are very, very few foreigners (and especially few non-Japanese Asians) in prominent positions in Japanese companies, Japanese universities, Japanese think-tanks, Japanese non-governmental organisations (of which there are very few internationally inclined), and so on. The picture of Japanese corporate diplomacy they present is a throwback to a vision of the 1980s, which was pretty much a mirage already then.

Second, and far more critical as recent events so sadly demonstrate, Japan, unlike Germany, has still not made peace with its neighbours. Relations are terrible with the Koreans and with China, but they are also bad with many other Asian countries or entities, including Hong Kong and Taiwan. Not only has Japan shown no leadership in Asia, it has been seen to behave in a highly mercantilist fashion and with a stunning lack of conscience of its past atrocities. The Japanese have shown themselves, at best, to be amazingly insensitive.

For the moment, unlike in the 1930s and 1940s, Japan poses no military threat. However, its behaviour vis-à-vis the world in general and its Asian neighbours in particular poses a serious security threat. There can be no peace in the Asia of the 21st century if the peace of the 20th century in Asia has not been restored. By whitewashing the past (as the US did vis-à-vis Japan and Asia in the aftermath of the second world war) and embracing Japan as an indispensable ally in Asia, the US will be seriously exacerbating the already explosive regional condition.

Japan should be encouraged to make peace and open up. Then prospects for a peaceful and prosperous Pacific will be greatly enhanced.

Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Emeritus Professor at IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland

ENDS

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

From: “Bestor, Theodore” XXXXXXX@WJH.HARVARD.EDU
Date: September 3, 2012 6:10:57 PM
To: EASIANTH@LISTSERV.TEMPLE.EDU
Subject: FW: China & Korea relations with Japan 中国〜日本/韓国〜日本
Reply-To: East Asia Anthropologists’ discussion

Dear Colleagues,

With Harumi Befu’s permission, I am forwarding his email of earlier today regarding the crises among various Asian nations over nominal control of tiny rocks in the several oceans and seas around East Asia. I entirely agree with his position that nationalist rhetoric is ramping up in very disturbing ways on all sides.

I send this along in the hope (both Harumi’s and my own) that those of us who study and write about East Asian cultures, societies, polities might help create spaces in which to engage in creative and productive dialogue that could contribute to a diffusing of tensions.

Harumi and I agree that the current heated rhetoric over the various specks in dispute are serious threats to regional peace and stability.

Perhaps EASIANTH could be a forum for discussion on this set of issues.

With best wishes, Ted

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

From: Harumi XXXX@stanford.edu
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2012 19:56:30

Subject: China & Korea relations with Jpan 中国〜日本/韓国〜日本

Dear Colleagues in East Asian Studies:
(Apologies for multiple mailing.)

This communication is being sent to my colleagues who might be concerned as I am with the current developments in the border dispute between Korea and Japan and between China and Japan, created by respective governments’ hardened positions. These disputes are unnecessarily escalated by the support of nationalist sentiments of all sides and are further flared by the media.

I hope at least some of you share my view that the current developments are counterproductive to the lasting peace in East Asia and are dangerously degenerating into belligerent diplomacy, and that it is time and it is the duty of us academics making our living by studying this area to undertake a concerted effort to make our voices heard, trusting that our collective wisdom has the power of persuading the public and the governments of the three countries.

Our academic endeavor is an effort in futility if we cannot exert any influence on the larger society in time of crisis.

I have no preconceived agenda, formula, or program of action. You must have your own take and preferred course of action. Some might like to act alone; others might like to underscore the Durkheimian belief that collective action is more than the arithmetic sum of parts. Whatever you wish to do, time is of essence. Dark clouds are gathering fast. I beseech you to act.

Respectfully submitted by your colleague,
Harumi Befu, Stanford University
p.s. My mailing list is woefully inadequate. I hope you will feel encouraged to utilize your own lists of contact.

ENDS

Diet session ends, Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions endorsement bill not passed

mytest

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Hi Blog. After much political gridlock (the likes of which have not been seen, since, oh, the LDP was in power and the DPJ controlled the Upper House — not that long ago), the current Diet session is over, and one bill that matters to Debito.org did not pass: The one endorsing Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions. You know — the treaty that just about everyone else in the club of rich developed nations has signed, and the one that stops you at an international border if you’re traveling single with a child, demanding proof that you’re not abducting your child from the other parent. It’s a good idea, since divorce in Japan due to the Koseki Family Registry System results in one parent (regardless of nationality) losing all legal ties to the child, and leads in many (almost all, it’s estimated) cases to the child growing up with no contact whatsoever (since Japan does not allow joint custody) with the noncustodial parent.  It’s even worse for international marriages, and Japan has gotten a lot of pressure from other countries in recent years to sign.  Now unsuccessfully.

Entire movie at http://crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-sbfaja.html

Well, so Japan will remain a haven for child abductions, both domestic and international. But the interesting thing I’m seeing concrete evidence of these days is overseas Japanese taking advantage of this system, banding together to assist each other in abducting their children to Japan, and the Japanese embassies/consulates cooperating with them as they spirit them into Japan.  (I’ll blog about that someday once I receive permission to make that information public.)

But as I have argued before, I’m not sure it really matters if Japan signs the Hague. The GOJ has signed other treaties before (most notably the Convention for Elimination on Racial Discrimination), and refuses to enforce them under domestic laws with criminal penalties (or in Japan’s case regarding the CERD, now signed 17 years ago, refuses to create any laws at all).  In the Hague’s case, the GOJ was looking for ways to caveat themselves out of enforcing it (by creating laws of their own advantageous to Wajin spiriters of children that would trump the HCICA, or finding loopholes, such as claims of DV (that only NJ inflict upon us gentle, mild, weak, peaceful Wajin), that would allow the children to stay in Japan out of fear.)

Or, true to character, we’ll have people claiming that it’s a matter of “Japanese custom” (shuukan) the last resort for any unjustifiable situation (only this time coming from elected Japanese Dietmember Ido Masae who herself abducted her kids):

http://www.crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/blg-jldpac.html

It’s pretty messy, by design, so visit the Children’s Rights Network Japan Website to try and untangle it.

So I guess the question I’d like to open up for discussion is:

Is it better for a nation-state to be bold-faced about it and just say, “We can’t enforce this treaty due to our culture, so we’re not going to sign it, and if you don’t like it, don’t marry our citizens”? Or, is it better for a nation-state to sign it, not enforce it, and face the (geopolitically mild) pressure of a broken promise? I know which route the GOJ has taken so far. Arudou Debito

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

Rocky, extended Diet session over; bills, treaties left in lurch
Hague, vote-value, deficit bond measures fail to clear grudge fest
The Japan Times, September 8, 2012
By MASAMI ITO Staff writer
Excerpt, rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html

The extended 229-day Diet session closes with a whimper Saturday, with piles of important bills and treaties left unaddressed and voters left only with an image of lawmakers engaging in political maneuvering for their own goals — particularly those over the contentious sales tax hike and over the next Lower House election.

And now both the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party are focused on one thing — the presidential elections for both parties to be held this month to choose the leaders who will guide their parties in that next general election…

During the current Diet session, which started in January, only 66 percent of newly submitted government-sponsored bills cleared both chambers.

Political squabbling took center stage last month when the nonbinding censure motion against Noda was approved by the Upper House, stopping almost all Diet deliberations.

Thus the government also failed to live up to its promise to the international community to pass a bill to endorse the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to prevent estranged parents from spiriting a couple’s children across borders.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html

H-Japan on “Apartheid or Academic Accuracy: Japan’s Birth Rate”, Tohoku U Prof Yoshida’s demographic research methodologically excludes “foreigner births”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  One social statistic that is very politically-charged in Japan (along with the unemployment rate, which is according to some kept low due to methodological differences in measurement) is Japan’s birth rate.  I have already argued that Japan’s demographic science is already riddled with politics (in order to make the option of immigration a taboo topic).  But here is another academic arguing that how the birth rate is measured differs from time to time, sometimes resulting in not counting NJ women giving birth in Japan!  In other words, Japan’s demographic science is methodologically leaning towards only counting births of Japanese citizens, not of births of people in Japan — and a prominent scientist named Yoshida at Tohoku University is actually advocating that NJ births be excluded from Japan’s birth rate tally, for the purposes of formulating “appropriate public policy”!  Application of the Nationality Clause to demographics to systematically exclude them from public policy considerations?  The author of this piece from H-Japan calls it “apartheid”.   So would I.  Have a read.  Arudou Debito

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

Apartheid or Academic Accuracy: Japan’s Birth Rate
From: JFMorris
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2012 
Venue: H-Japan Website, courtesy of LB

Dear List Members,

On 12th July 2012, Professor Yoshida Hiroshi of the Graduate School of Economics, Tohoku University, made a press release of research conducted under his direction. So far as I can ascertain, this press release was ignored by almost all mainstream media, but NHK reported the content of his team’s findings on its TV news programmes in detail, and featured a detailed interview with him on its evening radio news show.

The starting point for Professor Yoshida’s research is the discrepancy between the official birth rate announced by the Japanese government. The birth rate for years when a census conducted is higher than that for years when there is no census. The reason for this is that in census years, the birth rate is calculated on the basis of women of Japanese nationality resident in Japan, whereas in non-census years the birth rate is calculated using the total number of women in the relevant age cohort; i.e. including women of foreign nationality resident in Japan. Professor Yoshida recalculated the birth rate for 2011, a non-census year, excluding women of foreign nationality from his figures and compared it to the birth rate for 2010, a census year, for various levels of local governmental bodies across Japan. His press release demonstrates that when comparing 2011 and 2010, the official figures for the birth rate show either no change (10 prefectures ) or a decline across the prefectures of Japan, whereas when the 2 years are compared using his equivalent data, the birth rate shows a decline in only 8 prefectures (of which 5 are most likely affected by the events of March 2011), and actually shows an increase (albeit small) in 30 prefectures.

Professor Yoshida’s research is very important in any discussion of the birth rate and population issues in Japan. It is extremely important in formulating pubic policy on matters concerning population, and the related issue of women’s issues, especially at the level of local government, as regional discrepancies between the local birth rate and the national average are large. In his long radio interview with NHK, Professor Yoshida emphasised the importance of collecting statistically valid and meaningful data in order to formulate and evaluate the effectiveness of public policy, particularly in an issue so delicate as the birth rate.

So far so good. However, in the pursuit of statistical consistency, Professor Yoshida has committed a form of apartheid, and NHK by uncritically reporting the methodology and ‘significance’ of Professor Yoshida’s research, has amplified his methodological error across Japan, and given it quasi-official sanction by reporting it on the ‘national’ news network.

Professor Yoshida’s work contains two problems. If he wishes to point out the methodological inconsistency in the way the current Japanese birth rate is calculated, he has an important and very valid point. All scholars who use the official figures for the Japanese birth rate should be aware of his research. However, if he is going to claim (as he does in his press release and on public television and radio) that his figure are the objectively ‘correct’ figures for the Japanese birth rate, than his calculations are just as methodogically flawed as the governmental figures that he criticises. His calculations assume that all children of Japanese nationality born in Japan are born by women of Japanese nationality. The rate of marriages of Japanese men to women of foreign nationality has accounted for 3.2 to 4.6% of all marriages in Japan over the past 10 years or so. The overwhelming majority of children born from these marriages will be registered as ‘Japanese nationals.’ The gist of Professor Yoshida’s criticism of the official figures for the birth rate in non-census years is that they are lower than the reality. However, the figures that he claims are the objectively correct figures, by the same token, will always produce a figure for the birth rate that is higher than the reality, because it denies that there are children born to mothers of foreign nationality throughout Japan. If Professor Yoshida merely wished to demonstrate the inconsistency of the official figures for the Japanese birth rate then his research would be valid. However, to claim that his figures are objectively correct is not as invalid as the data that he criticises and for exactly the same reason that he criticises the government figures, the gross insult that he has committed by denying the existence of 10’s of thousands of women of foreign nationality married to Japanese men and bearing Japanese children is unforgivable.

To add insult to injury, Professor Yoshida in his radio interview claimed that statistics for foreigners resident in Japan should be excluded from all public calculations of population within Japan, in order to formulate appropriate public policy. The example he used to make his point was Gifu Prefecture, which has a relatively large concentration of foreign workers. After the depression following the Lehman Brothers’ Shock of 2008, the majority of foreign workers remaining in Japan are people who have lived here for 20 years or more, and are not likely to conveniently return to their home country. By claiming that foreigners/foreign workers should be excluded from all statistics for population in Japan and any formulation of policy based on these statistic, Professor Yoshida is doing nothing other than advocating a form of apartheid.

I have submitted a letter directly to Professor Yoshida pointing out the methodological shortcomings and social implications of his research and public statements. I have also submitted an email to NHK outlining the problems involved in their reporting, and have not received an answer from either.

John Morris
Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University,
Sendai, Japan

For reference:
Tohoku Uni press release of Professor Yoshida’s research
http://www.tohoku.ac.jp/japanese/newimg/pressimg/tohokuuniv-press20120612_01.pdf

Professor Yoshida’s web site
https://sites.google.com/site/economicsofaging/

Official governmental figures on marriages by nationality within Japan
http://www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/jinkou/suii10/dl/s05.pdf
ENDS

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

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

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

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

I was sent a copy of this shortly after it came out, and was asked what counterarguments to it, if any, I would present if I could. Here’s most of what I said:

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December 18, 2010
1) Why is it necessary to express our opposition to this? Is there a petition out there expressing our support of this? No, because calmer heads do not see any alarm in giving NJ the vote. Responding in this way is just alarmism (kiyuu in Japanese, use this word in specific — I’ve found it makes people shudder in shame at themselves). Why ride the wave of panic and xenophobia being created by the xenophobic right-wing into passing a petition we will regret later? It looks bad for our international city of Tsukuba, with so many educated NJ residents, contributors, and taxpayers, to do so.

2) “Naturalization” is offered as a solution for the right to vote. But as you and I know as naturalized citizens, naturalization is a difficult procedure, with arbitrary rules, judgments, and treatment of candidates differing by nationality. Other countries have allowed their Permanent Residents to vote in local elections and suffered no ill-effects, including New Zealand, Canada, and parts of the United States. Do not think that this is something you can cite in support of this petition.

3) As for the constitutional issue, the Asahi wrote on July 5 in an editorial:

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Some say foreigner suffrage goes “against the Constitution.” However, it is only natural to construe from the Supreme Court ruling of February 1995 that the Constitution neither guarantees nor prohibits foreigner suffrage but rather “allows” it.

The decision on foreign suffrage depends on legislative policy.

In an age when people easily cross national borders, what kind of society does Japan wish to become? How do we determine the qualifications and rights of people who comprise our country and communities? To what extent do we want to open our gates to immigrants? How do we control social diversity and turn it into energy?

「憲法違反」との主張もある。しかし、1995年2月の最高裁判決は、憲法は外国人地方選挙権を保障も禁止もしておらず「許容」している、と判断したと読むのが自然だ。付与するかどうかは立法政策に委ねられている。

カネやモノ同様、ヒトも国境を軽々と越えゆく時代。日本はどんな社会をめざすのか。国や地域をかたちづくる構成員の資格や権利をどう定め、どれだけ移民に門戸を開き、多様性をコントロールしつつどう活力に変えるか。

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Sources for the Asahi and more here:

http://www.debito.org/?p=7147

http://www.debito.org/?s=suffrage+constitution

Other related articles of note, for more inspiration:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091201i1.html

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html

In sum, I suggest people appeal to common sense and level-headedness. Why do we need a negative petition like this at all? This is mere alarmism fomented by right-wing xenophobes who do not even consider naturalized citizens to be “real Japanese” (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html). Do we want them to tell our city government to join in the beying anti-foreign chorus, when one of the beneficiaries of your open-minded public was your very election? Can we betray them by passing this? Don’t give in to fear. We don’t need to say something nasty about our foreign residents and taxpayers. We don’t need to say anything about this issue at all. Just don’t pass this petition. Is what I would argue. ENDS

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Unfortunately, the petition did pass, and Tsukuba City joined the ranks of the alarmists after being scared by the xenophobes; the suffrage proposal had gone down in flames nationally during 2010 anyway, so this was but a capstone.  Sad, really. Despite the opposition to the petition that people like Jon mounted, people fell for the shouting down, and it just demonstrated just how disenfranchised and unable to answer alarmist accusations NJ in Japan are.

Here’s hoping Tsukuba City unpasses this petition. (They can, you know, if Tottori Prefecture is any guide.) Arudou Debito