Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 3: “Activism vs Academia”



The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 6, 2008
“Beyond Activism vs. Academia”
Article three for the JUST BE CAUSE column

Back in January, I was a panelist at Waseda University’s Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration, invited to give an “activist’s perspective” to an academic crowd.

Academics are a tough audience. In a way, they’re the activist’s antithesis. Researchers must offer “dispassionate” analysis — looking at data without taking any sides or showing any “bias.” This means academics often view the fight for human rights fundamentally differently.

For example, when I talk about the nationwide spread of “Japanese Only” exclusionary signs, academics often become doubting Thomases. To them, a few signs up are not necessarily indicative of a trend. Their issue is a matter of degree — i.e. are there enough signs up to demonstrate, say, “statistical significance”? For the activist, however, it’s a matter of incidence. One “Japanese Only” sign is too many. Even one sign is enough to violate the Japanese Constitution and United Nations treaty.

So naturally, some academics have been rather skeptical when I claim racial discrimination here is growing in magnitude and scope. One even asserted at this forum that my online “naming and shaming” of discriminators ( www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html ) is counterproductive — that too much “attacking Japan” alienates potential allies. Again, I understand why never the twain. The academic observer, particularly in the social sciences, is bound by a “prime directive” — not to interfere with their object of study when collecting data; plus there is an incumbent resistance to making value judgments (think of “cultural imperialism” etc.; to an anthropologist, I’m probably the Antichrist). In sum, academics observe societal or global “standards.” Activists, however, try to create or adjust them.

So during the Q-and-A, I made the case that praxis makes perfect — that academics also need to be more “activist.” The following essay, taken almost verbatim from a recording, sprung from nowhere:

“Let’s do a meta-discussion here about the whole ‘global standards’ thing, because this is really the bedrock of our argument. Whenever we look at ‘globalization’ and ‘global standards’, who sets those? It’s not really clear.

“If we look at America (as an example of a world standard-setter), we might say, ‘Oh, well, they’re having a xenophobic wave. They’re actually instituting fingerprinting for other people, so other countries might start doing it too. Look at Britain, they’re bringing it in voluntarily for people that want to go through the border smoothly.’

“Yes, but just because a couple of other countries in the world do it does not mean; a) it’s happening everywhere so it’s indicative of a trend; or b) that it’s justifiable. We as activists don’t say, ‘This is OK because other people are doing it.’

“Our starting point is more, ‘What’s the better way for people to reach a good potential within the society they live in? What will help people live more successful, more fulfilling lives?’ as opposed to, ‘What’s the best way to observe, control or monitor?’

“I’m afraid the Japanese government still has the attitude of not ‘making things easier for non-Japanese to integrate and associate.’ It’s a matter of policing and control.

“Especially when you hand over issues of immigration over to police forces. They will always look at it from the point of view of, ‘How do we keep order? How do we make sure laws are being followed?’

“The problem is that the police’s rubric is not, ‘Foreigners are also being legal and following the laws too.’ They focus on the bad things. It’s almost constantly an attack. And as a person in the audience commented earlier tonight, he is the victim of that attack. Whenever he walks out of the supermarket, the police check on him, thinking: ‘He might be a lawbreaker.’

“And that’s what I was talking about at the very beginning of this presentation: Let’s talk about the good things that foreigners do too. Don’t just attack.

“We have to untie this attitude of making the enforcement of law based upon physical appearance. There are ways to untangle that, but you have to break out of the whole meta-argument of; a) any criticism of Japan is a bad thing; or b) global standards are encouraging this right now.

“As researchers, of course, we can only look at the trends . . . But our steps as activists is to say, ‘What is the better path to choose?’ and to give advice. And I think that is what our research should also be leaning towards: how to nudge things in a more positive direction.

“Because if we don’t, and we just sit back and look at trends as dispassionate academic observers, saying, ‘Things are getting bad, ah well,’ that’s really a half-measure. It doesn’t really help anyone.

“Even corporations are talking about corporate social responsibility. I think there’s a certain degree of ‘academic social responsibility’ we can engage in, when we are advising people in these difficult times of globalization, to try and find ways to help people lead better lives.”
Listen to the entire speech at www.debito.org/?p=1224. Debito Arudou’s coauthored book “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants” (Akashi Shoten Inc.) is now on sale (see www.debito.org). Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp


Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan


Hi Blog. I’m on the road from tomorrow, so let me put this article I wrote for the Japan Times up today. It also feeds into the current series subtext of policing in Japan. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


The G8 Summit gives nothing back, brings out Japan’s bad habits
By Arudou Debito

Column 43 for the Japan Times Zeit Gist Community Page
“Director’s Cut”, Draft 19, as submitted to the JT, with links to sources
Article as appeared in Japan Times Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You’ve probably heard about July’s G8 Summit in Toyako, in my home prefecture of Hokkaido. If you’re unfamiliar with the event, a primer from the Foreign Affairs Ministry (http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/summit/toyako08):

“The Group of Eight (G8) Summit is an annual meeting attended by… Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the President of the European Commission; …leaders freely and vigorously exchange opinions on a variety of issues facing the global community centering on economic and social problems.”

While I do support people (especially those with armies behind them) talking things over peacefully, let’s consider the societal damage this event is wreaking upon its host.

International events tend to bring out the worst in Japan. Given the “control freak” nature of our bureaucracy (exacerbated manifold when the world is watching), the government opportunely invokes extralegal powers in the name of “security”.

A good example is the 2002 World Cup, where I witnessed firsthand (given Sapporo’s England vs. Argentina match) the overreaction by the police and the press. We had months of “anti-hooligan” media campaigns, several thousand riot police ferried up from the mainland, and Checkpoint Charlies on every downtown corner. Police were systematically stopping and questioning off-color people (such as your correspondent) regarding their roots and intentions. Not to mention “Japanese Only” signs appearing on businesses (some still up to this day).

It spoiled things for the locals: Not only were foreign-looking peoples subjected to fearful and derisive looks at curbside and coffee shop, but also shopkeeps, hunkered down behind shuttered doors, missed business opportunities. Despite no incidents of Non-Japanese violence, official apologies for the inconvenience never came.

This is not unprecedented in Japan. Flash back to 1966 when The Beatles performed in the Budokan. 10,000 spectators had to share seats with 3000–yes, 3000–cops. The Fuzz allowed no more than measured applause; cameras were readied to photograph anyone waving a banner or even standing up to cheer.

It spoiled things back then too. According to interviews from the Beatles Anthology, the Fab Four felt like prisoners in their hotel rooms. George compared the atmosphere to “a military maneuver”; Ringo said people had gone “barmy”. They never came back to Japan as a group.

Now factor in the omnipresent “terrorist threat” rocking our world. Remember last November when Immigration regained power to fingerprint almost all foreigners, including Permanent Residents? It was first justified as a means to control terrorism and infectious diseases. Then foreign crime. Now for the Summit, according to last December 31’s Yomiuri Shimbun, the Justice Ministry has expanded the catchnet to “antiglobalization activists” (whatever that means).

The dolphin in the tuna: According to Kiyokazu Koshida, Director of the Hokkaido Peoples’ Forum on G8 Summit (http://kitay-hokkaido.net), earlier this year South Korean activist Kim Aehaw, of the Committee of Asian Women, was denied entry into Japan for advocating women workers’ rights. She later got in as a private citizen, but this demonstrates the government moving even months in advance to thwart infiltration.

Meanwhile for those already here, The Summit is eroding civil liberties. It’s not just that Toyako and environs are closed to the public for the duration. The Sapporo City Government, at the behest of the Sapporo Police, announced last December that between July 1 and 11, the three major parks in Sapporo would be off-limits to “gatherings” (“shuukai”). This was, after protests, amended to ask gatherers to “restrain themselves” (“jishuku”), but the effect is the same.

Needless to say, these parks are public spaces, and about 80 kms from the Summit site. So it’s like saying an event in the Imperial Palace forbids public gatherings in Hakone; in fact, a security radius this big covers just about all of Tokyo Prefecture.

So what of the alternate summits (http://g8ngoforum.sakura.ne.jp/english/) under the Hokkaido People’s Forum–on world poverty, indigenous peoples, peace studies, even economic and environmental issues that matter to host Hokkaido? Tough. Deemed equally dangerous are coincidental Sapporo fests, such as the Flower Festival, the Pacific Music Festival, the Nakajima Koen Flea Market, and the Sapporo Summer Festival.

But who cares about the needs of the local yokels, as long as the world’s leaders can enjoy their sequestration in distant hotels, dinners uninterrupted by potential unpleasantries.

Look, I’m all for bringing international events to impoverished Hokkaido. As long as we get something back from our hard-earned taxes to enjoy. We don’t from a Summit. It is not, for example, an Olympics, where in 1972, Sapporo got games, buildings, arenas, and a subway to enjoy. Nor a World Cup, where we inherited one of Japan’s best stadiums for our champion baseball team. With a Summit, little will remain in Toyako except an afterglow; according to the Hokkaido Shimbun (Sept. 4, 2007), even the Summit’s International Media Center will be razed.

Officially, the Hokkaido Business Federation does somehow estimate a 37.9 billion yen income over the next five years (no doubt including the unrelated ski bum boom in Niseko). But seriously now, will people flock to Toyako to buy, say, “G8-Summit manju”? Who even remembers the past five Summit sites? Go ahead. Name them. See what I mean?

But in terms of expense, the Summit’s three days of leaders in love is projected to cost, according to Yahoo News last year, 18.5 billion yen (about 180 million US dollars). Fine print: 14 billion of it is earmarked for “security”. Therefore who profits? Security forces, which get the lion’s share of the budget, and the government, which creates another precedent of cracking down on the distrusted public.

That’s the biggest irony of these Summits: Despite the Great Powers’ sloganeering about fostering democracy worldwide, their meetings employ very anti-democratic methods to quash debate and public participation. If the Great Powers are this afraid of dissidents spoiling their party, might it not be opportune for a democratic rethink of their policies?

Especially when you consider what these bunker mentalities encourage in Japan.

Even a relaxed Japan has the trappings of a mild police state. For example, extreme powers of search, seizure, interrogation, detention, and conviction already granted the prosecution in our criminal justice system. Moreover, something as fundamental to a democracy as an outdoor public assembly (a right guaranteed by our Constitution) requires permission from police and local businesses (Zeit Gist March 4, 2003).

Furthermore, Japan’s biggest police forces–Tokyo’s–can at times like these slip the leash of public accountability. To quote Edward Seidensticker, an author not given to intemperate criticisms:

“The chief of the Tokyo prefectural police is appointed by a national police agency with the approval of the prime minister and upon the advice of a prefectural police commission, which is ineffectual. None of these agencies is under the control of governor and council. Tokyo becomes a police city when it is thought necessary to guard against the embarrassment of having someone shoot at a president or a queen or a pope.” (TOKYO RISING, page 169)

Now send 1000 Tokyo “security police” (plus 300 “advisors”, according to April 14’s Yomiuri), along with another 2000 planned cops to Hokkaido, and watch what happens. Dollars to donuts the same outcome as Japan’s G8 Summit in Nago, Okinawa:

“Of the 81 billion yen Japan spent on hosting the summit–ten times more than any country ever spent before–about half went for security. Some 22,000 policemen specially flown in from across Japan, backed up by twenty aircraft and one hundred naval vessels (including destroyers), patrolled the land, sea, and sky of Okinawa,” reported the Japan Policy Research Institute in September 2000.

JPRI continued: “Swimmers and divers were flushed from surrounding seas, the cavernous insides of ancient tombs were carefully inspected, and elaborate security precautions around all major roads used by the G8 motorcades made it virtually impossible for local Okinawans to leave their homes, let alone get near the precincts of the summit conference.

“If anyone tried, police were quick to take down name and license number, and secret service officials in black suits stealthily recorded on camera the faces of local demonstrators conducting an innocuous ‘Nago peace walk.'”

Finally, citing a Manchester Guardian reporter, the report concluded, “Holding the G8 meeting in a remote island setting, briefly converted into a deluxe version of Alcatraz, did the trick.”

Hokkaido, with 20% of Japan’s land mass, is clearly too big to Alcatraz. But the bureaucrats are giving it a good old college try. They aren’t just stifling social movements in Hokkaido’s biggest city. According to the Yomiuri (April 14), the police are deputizing about 3000 amateur “local residents” and “neighborhood associations” in Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, to “watch for suspicious people” around “stations and important facilities”. That now widens the security radius to 800 kilometers!
Source: Yomiuri News podcast April 14, 2008, from minute 13

Point is, international events bring out bad habits in Japan. And now we have Tokyo bidding for the 2016 Olympics? Cue yet another orgiastic official fear and crackdown campaign foisted on the Japanese public, with the thick blue line of the nanny state the biggest profiteer.

Conclusion: I don’t think Japan as a polity is mature enough yet to host these events. Japan must develop suitable administrative checks and balances, not to mention a vetting media, to stop people scaring Japanese society about the rest of the world just because it’s coming for a visit. We need to rein in Japan’s mandarins converting Japan into a Police State, cracking down on its already stunted civil society.

Otherwise, Japan will remain amongst its G8 brethren, as scholar Chalmers Johnson put it, “an economic giant, but political pygmy.”

1640 WORDS
(Previous five G8 Summits: Heiligendamm, Saint Petersburg, Gleneagles, Sea Island, Evian. How many did you remember?)

Terrie Lloyd reviews HANDBOOK positively on Daijob.com


The Handbook for Life in Japan
By Terrie Lloyd, Daijob.com, March 29, 2008

I don’t review many books because to be honest I don’t have a lot of free hours in the day. But when I heard that a new handbook intended to help foreigners learn and understand the regulations of life in Japan, and how to plan ahead for unexpected situations, I jumped at the chance to get a preview copy. The Japanese don’t make it that hard for foreigners to come and work in Japan, but once you get here, you soon find that no one really seems to know what the actual rules are – whether for visas, finding and keeping a job, taxes, getting married, retirement allowances, etc. Visiting the many Internet information boards can yield some information, but it is often out of date or wrong due to the writer’s lack of legal knowledge.

Well, there is now an authoratative guide to how to get to and live in Japan. It is called HANDBOOK for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan (“Handbook” for short) and is written by Arudou Debito, a well-known blogger and writer who naturalized as a Japanese citizen in 2000, and his cohort, Higuchi Akira, a certified Gyosei Shoshi (Administrative Solicitor).

This is a rather unique book because it takes the view that the reader is at some progressive point in their life in Japan, somewhere prior to first arrival right through to having your remains back home! It gives a general framework of major regulatory issues that each of us as residents in Japan have to deal with in our daily lives. In that respect it is an ideal manual for new arrivals wanting to know what they should and should not do in this rather opaque society. It’s also good for general updates for old hands like myself.

In several chapters, the Handbook gets quite specific, offering advice on what to do if something not so positive happens to you – such as if you get arrested, need to get divorced, get fired unfairly, get discriminated against, etc. These are things that are not spelled out in an authoratative way anywhere else that I can think of, and thus make the publication something you’ll want to keep handy all the time.

The Handbook starts out by defining exactly what documents you need to get into Japan and be legal for various types of activities – in particular for work. It does a good job of clarifying just what documents are needed to get into Japan and how a visa is not the actual certification that lets you stay here, a Status of Residency (SOR) is. It personally took me years to find out how the immigration system works – now you can read about it in just 12 pages.

There is a whole chapter on Employment, covering all the basics such as the labor laws, termination, salary and holidays, deductions and taxes, how the social insurance system works, what the difference is between full-time, part-time, and contract workers, and where to go when you need to get help. I have covered many of these topics over the years, but nonetheless found some materials relating to contract workers which covers new ground. While reading, I found myself making a mental note to follow up on this and get more information about it.

Indeed, this is one of the outcomes of reading the Handbook – it prompts you to want to find out more. Although the book has 376 pages, half of it is written in Japanese so that someone who you might be seeking advice from (a lawyer or Japanese friend or “senpai”) can quickly grasp the nature of what you are asking, and give you a more specific answer. This means that the Handbook is not only a quick read, but also is intended to be a framework rather than an exhaustive reference manual. Arudou addresses this fact by providing copious notes on where to go to get follow up help.

By the time you read this, you should be able to pick up the Handbook at your local bookstore. But just in case you can’t, Arudou maintains a pretty comprehensive website at www.debito.org, and right on the front page there is a link with instructions on how to order a copy. I checked Amazon.com, but obviously the book is still too early to have gone through their registration process yet. The retail price is JPY2,415, and my personal opinion is that it is worth every yen. A necessary read for newcomers, and useful “gap filling” information for longer-term residents.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 2, “Public Forums, Spinning Wheels”


Hi Blog. Here’s the text of my second new JUST BE CAUSE Japan Times Column, out at the beginning of every month. Enjoy. Debito

Public forums, spinning wheels
Column Two for the Japan Times, Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A friend sent me a Yomiuri article (Feb. 10) about a neighborhood forum in Kanazawa. Its title: “Citizens consider how to live together with foreigners.”

I’m pleased this event was deemed worth a write-up. After all, I’ve witnessed plenty of forums over the years that have been ignored.

But it wasn’t really what I’d call “news.” I couldn’t help feeling that attendees were just “reinventing the wheel” rather than developing a vehicle that would actually get us anywhere.

The Kanazawa forum was reportedly warm and fuzzy: Seventy people discussed how to make the area a nicer place, with Japanese and non-Japanese participating in good ol’ “machi zukuri” (town-building). “International communication starts with us, inside us” sorta thang.

It had the bromides about how people find it difficult dealing with different languages and cultures, giving birth to all sorts of dreadful misunderstandings. The conclusion: It’s best to get together and talk more often.

Kum ba yah. I’ve been through these gabfests before, and it’s made me a tad curmudgeonly. It’s like karaoke where the only song available is “Yesterday”; a conversation that never gets beyond talk of food and chopstick use; a class full of “permanent beginners.” In other words, a constantly repeating cycle without progress.

I was a panelist at another one of these get-togethers recently in Saitama. Organized by some very earnest and eager people, it was bursting with panelists to the point where we had too many cooks, stewing over how nice ‘n’ peaceful yet standoffish Japanese society can be.

It was a cookie-cutter of Kanazawa, except for the presence of a snooty young local Diet member who mouthed platitudes about how tough things must be for everyone, including the Japanese who have to clean up after foreigners.

At that point I began woolgathering — recalling all the warm-fuzzy forums I’d seen turn into woolly-headed worry sessions — and arrived at a sad conclusion: They are wasted opportunities.

For even if these events are put on by people genuinely concerned about the welfare of non-Japanese residents (not by the local-government “internationalization Old Boys,” justifying budgets for parties and overseas trips), if one is not careful the agenda will go on autopilot, bogged down in banalities.

For example, the discussion invariably focuses on the cultural differences rather than similarities: the conflicts that arise when foreigners enter the picture (after all, people love drama). A perennial hot topic is the consequences of juxtaposing gaijin with burnable garbage sorting (they go together like steak and eggs). And gee whiz, Japanese language is “muzukashii” and people can’t speak goodly. The hopeful undercurrent is that communication will ultimately fix all.

Communicating will indeed fix most. But not all. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s “matsuri” (as these forums are indubitably good things) but someday they must get beyond the “permanent beginner” and “cultural ambassador” stage, because there are situations where mere talk will not work.

Bona fide racists and paranoid shopkeepers exist out there, as they do in any society. They will not accept people under any terms who, in their eyes, look or will potentially act “different.” Sometimes just appealing to a xenophobe’s better nature simply will not work.

This is why we need laws against racial discrimination — yes, actual laws with enforceable punishments — to deal with the stoneheads who won’t see sense and accept that people should be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin or national origin. Until more people realize this, the ill treatment of non-Japanese residents discussed in these forums will continue unabated.

Thus these forums miss the point when they pass the problem off as mere cultural misunderstanding. Culture is not the core issue here: One can learn culture, but one cannot change race.

The point should be that Japanese society must stop the common practice of using race and physical appearance as a paradigm for pigeonholing people. And until we reach a common understanding (and an enforceable law) on that issue, talking shops like these will just keep spinning their wheels.

Are you going to one of these forums? Then bring this issue up from the floor: How local governments should protect local rights by passing local ordinances (“jourei”). Kawasaki City has passed one against exclusionary landlords, and so can anyone else. But it’s not going to happen until more people call for it.

Don’t just jaw — we need a law. And I said so on the panel in Saitama. I dare readers to copycat if you ever get the chance. Double dare ya.

Debito Arudou’s coauthored book “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants” (Akashi Shoten Inc.) is now on sale (see www.debito.org). Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to: community@japantimes.co.jp



Hi Blog. I still haven’t quite gotten into the groove of blogging once per day, so please me punt for today (if I have any more energy tonight, I’ll write another entry) and just blog a link to an excerpt of our new book HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS. It came out on academic website JAPAN FOCUS about a week and a half ago.


If you want a peep inside the book’s covers, here’s the place to go! Arudou Debito still recovering in Sapporo

Quick note to readers: Book tour is going exceptionally well…


Hi Blog. Been quiet the past couple of weeks as the HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS Book Tour reaches its home stretch. Just a quick word to tell everyone it’s been a life-changing experience, with boxes of books selling out, warm receptions, and good attendances everywhere. Quite simply, I’m not used to a book selling so quickly and reviews so universally positive. I enter the home stretch today, finishing up in Kansai tomorrow and heading due West to my final venues in Okayama and Fukuoka (see next post for full tour schedule). And if you want more information about the book, the reviews, feedback from readers, and bookstores I’ve personally visited nationwide to get the book stocked, please click here.

I anticipate the Debito.org blog will return to its regular schedule of daily updates by April 3. And my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column will be out April 1. Thanks to everyone as always for reading! Arudou Debito in Osaka

“HANDBOOK for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants”: info site on how to buy (Paypal OK)


Hi Blog. Just put up a new website on Debito.org with information on how you can buy our new book, HANDBOOK for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants, within Japan or internationally. Paypal possible.

Please see:

More on the book and upcoming national book tour at http://www.debito.org/?page_id=582

Arudou Debito in Sapporo



======== 出版・ブック・ツアー発表 ========

有道 出人です。ご無沙汰しております。しばらく連絡していない理由は単行本を共著したのです。明細(まえがき、書評、ブック・ツアー日程、目次)はこれから発表します。宜しくお願い致します。

タイトル:「ニューカマー定住ハンドブック 日本で働き、暮らし、根付くために」
英語タイトル:Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan
ISBN: 978-4-7503-2741-9
著者:樋口 彰 と 有道 出人

カリフォルニア大学バークレイ校社会学部教授国際・地域研究所長、「MULTIETHNIC JAPAN」著者








— 樋口 彰、行政書士
(higuchi DOT akira AT gmail DOT com)
— 有道 出人、JAPANESE ONLY著者 
(www.debito.org, debito@debito.org)

有道 出人のブック・ツアー(3月15日から4月1日まで):
3月15日(土) 仙台FRANCA 福祉プラザにて
3月16日(日) 東京新橋 NUGW本部にて
3月17日(月) Roppongi Bar Association, Century Courtにて
3月18日(火) 外国特派員協会(FCCJ) Book Break 有楽町にて
3月19日(水) アムネスティ インタナショナル 高田馬場にて
3月21日(金) 長野 亀清(かめせい)旅館にて
3月22日(土) 長野 亀清(かめせい)旅館にて
3月23日(日) Good Day Books 東京都恵比寿にて
3月25日(火) 大阪FRANCA 大阪市立市民学習センターにて
3月27日(木) 滋賀大学にて
3月28日(金) 日本全国語学学会(JALT) 神戸支部 国際会館にて
3月29日(土) 日本全国語学学会(JALT) 和歌山支部 ビッグアイにて
3月29日(土) 日本全国語学学会(JALT) 大阪支部 生涯教育センターにて
3月30日(日) 日本全国語学学会(JALT) 岡山支部 表町サンカクAビルにて
4月1日(火)  福岡 福岡ゼネラル・ユニオンにて
開催場所へのリンク先は http://www.debito.org/?page_id=582

目  次
第1章 来日のための手続
1 - 日本のビザ制度を理解する(ビザ、在留資格(SOR)、在留資格認定証明書(COE))の違い   
2 – 日本に来るための手続
  - 在留資格認定証明書を国外から取得する
  - 在留資格を日本国内で取得・変更する
  - ビザ、在留資格、在留資格認定証明書のまとめ
3 – 日本に来てからの手続
  - 家族を呼び寄せる
  - 一時出国する
  - 滞在期間を延長する
  - 転職する
  - 就職のため在留資格を変更する
  - 入国管理局での手続のまとめ
4 –  どんな在留資格があるのか?
  - 全27種類の在留資格の一覧
  - 職種にあわせた在留資格の例
  - 在留資格をとるための条件の例
5 -  オーバーステイや資格外の活動をすると?
 - 最近の入管法の改正
  - 知らずに違反してしまう例
  - オーバーステイした場合のアドバイス
6 – 永住許可と日本国籍
  - 違いと取得のための条件
7 –  まとめと安定した在留資格に向けてのアドバイス

第2章 安定した仕事と生活のために
1 - 日本の労働環境の特徴
2 – 労働に関する法律
3 - 労働契約
4 – 給料の制度
5 – 源泉徴収と税金
6 – 労働者のための労働保険と社会保険
7 - まとめ

第3章 事業を始める
1 – なぜ起業か
2 – 個人事業か法人事業か?
3 – 会社の種類
4 – その他の事業形態(NPO、LLP)
5 – 株式会社を設立して事業を開始する方法
6 – 事業の許可
  7 – 事業を続けていくために必要な定期的な手続
  8 – 事業を成功させるためのアドバイス
  9 – 用語集

第4章 こんなときはどうするか? トラブルへの対処法
警 察:

差 別:
(差別の定義については、 )

裁 判:
(日本の裁判制度については、 )


(家族について、結婚や子供の入学といった一般的なことは、  章参照)

(日本で生活するうえで障害克服や生活改善についてよくある質問。銀行口座開設などの一般的な内容は  章参照)


第5章 こんなときはどうするか? トラブルへの対処法

第6章 社会へ還元する: シビルソサエティーの発展
1. 団体を探す
2. 新たに自分で団体を設立する
3. 団体を正式なものにする
4. 行動から主義・主張へ
5. 「日本は決して変わらない」という主張を前向きにとらえる
6. 結論

第7章 まとめとアドバイス

Debito.org Updates: First JUST BE CAUSE Japan Times Column, Journal of Int’l Health, NY Int’l Law Review


Hello Blog. Some articles I added to the Debito.org Publications Page recently:

Very pleased with how this essay turned out–some good ground covered in 850 words. (And yes, that is THE onsen in the background of this picture). See “Director’s Cut” with links to sources at


I was invited to contribute a little something following my speech at the Japan Association for International Health last October 8 (see my Powerpoint presentation for it here). It’s a very brief summary of my talk, in simple English for non-native speakers.

“Medical Care for Non-Japanese Residents of Japan: Let’s look at Japanese Society’s General ‘Bedside Manner’ First”, Journal of International Health Vol.23, No.1, 2008, pgs 19-21.


This article was written not by me, but by researcher Canon Pence. He says it won an award (congrats!), which certainly helped his career. Glad Debito.org was of some assistance.

Pence, Canon, “Japanese Only: Xenophobic Exclusion in Japan’s Private Sphere”. New York International Law Review, Summer, 2007, pages 1-73.

Enjoy! Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PRESS RELEASE for Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants


For the record… released March 4, 2008:
////////////////// PRESS RELEASE //////////////////


////////////// FREELY FORWARDABLE //////////////

Akashi Shoten Inc, Japan’s biggest human rights publisher, will sell “HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN”, by Administrative Solicitor HIGUCHI Akira and author ARUDOU Debito from March 15. Details in brief:

ISBN: 978-4-7503-2741-9
Authors: HIGUCHI Akira and ARUDOU Debito
Languages: English and Japanese (on corresponding pages)
Publisher: Akashi Shoten Inc., Tokyo (http://www.akashi.co.jp)
372 Pages. Price: 2300 yen (2415 yen after tax)
Goal: To help non-Japanese entrants become residents and immigrants
Topics: Securing stable visas, Establishing businesses and secure jobs, Resolving legal problems, Planning for the future from entry into Japan to death.

Interested in living in Japan? Not visiting. Actually living here, perhaps permanently? In recent years, hundreds of thousands of Non-Japanese residents have come here for good. However, there is often insufficient information on how to make your life more secure. HANDBOOK will help–offering advice on topics like stabilizing your visa and employment, establishing your own business, dealing with frequent social problems, writing your Will, even working with Japan’s Civil Society. Buy this book and start planning your future in this wonderful country!

Ordering details at http://www.debito.org/?page_id=582

Further Information follows:
(including the FCCJ, Good Day Books, and Amnesty International)

Advance book reviews (excerpts):
“Higuchi and Arudou’s HANDBOOK promises to be the second passport for foreigners in Japan. It provides a map to navigate the legal, economic, and social mazes of contemporary Japanese life. Practical and affordable, clear and concise, the Handbook should contribute not only to a better life for newcomers to Japan but also to a more humane society in Japan.”

–Dr John Lie, Dean of International and Area Studies, University of California Berkeley, and author of MULTIETHNIC JAPAN.

“Finally, the book I always wished I had, explaining in clear and precise language the legal labyrinths that make life interesting and sometimes treacherous for non-Japanese trying to find their way in Japan. This is the A-Z what to watch out for and how to do it guide that will help all non-Japanese living in Japan… I can think of no other book that comes close in promoting mutual understanding, one that is grounded in the law and brimming with practical advice.”

–Dr Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan, and author of JAPAN’S QUIET TRANSFORMATION

“If there weren’t an Arudou Debito, we would have had to invent one… Arudou and Higuchi’s Handbook is an indispensable reference for all outsiders who live here for any length of time.”

–Alex Kerr, author, DOGS AND DEMONS and LOST JAPAN

(specific details on locales and times at http://www.debito.org/?page_id=582)

Sat March 15 Sendai FRANCA
Sun March 16 NUGW Tokyo Nambu, Shinbashi
Mon March 17 Roppongi Bar Association
Tues March 18 Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Tokyo
Weds March 19 Amnesty International Tokyo
Fri March 21 Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano
Sat March 22 Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano,
Sun March 23 Good Day Books Tokyo Ebisu
Tues March 25 Osaka FRANCA
Thurs March 27 Shiga University
Fri March 28 JALT Kobe
Sat March 29 JALT Wakayama
Sat March 29 JALT Osaka
Sun March 30 JALT Okayama
Tues April 1 Fukuoka General Union



Migration of labor is an unignorable reality in this globalizing world. Japan is no exception. In recent years, Japan has had record numbers of registered foreigners, international marriages, and people receiving permanent residency. This guidebook is designed to help non-Japanese settle in Japan, and become more secure residents and contributors to Japanese society.

Japan is one of the richest societies in the world, with an extremely high standard of living. People will want to come here. They are doing so. Japan, by the way, wants foreigners too. Prime Ministerial cabinet reports, business federations, and the United Nations have advised more immigration to Japan to offset its aging society, low birthrate, labor shortages, and shrinking tax base. Unfortunately, the attitude of the Japanese government towards immigration has generally been one of neglect. Newcomers are not given sufficient guidance to help them settle down in Japan as residents with stable jobs and lifestyles. HANDBOOK wishes to fill that gap….

1 – Understanding the structure of the Japanese Visa System (the difference between “Visa”, “Status of Residence” (SOR) and “Certificate of Eligibility” (COE))
2 – Procedures for coming to Japan
– Acquiring SOR from outside Japan
– Changing or acquiring SOR from inside Japan
– Chart summarizing Visa, COE, and SOR
3 – Procedures after you came to Japan
– Bringing your family over to Japan
– Leaving Japan temporarily
– Extending your stay in Japan
– Changing jobs in Japan
– Changing SOR so you can work
– Chart summarizing Immigration procedures
4 – What kinds of Status of Residence are there?
– Chart outlining all 27 possible SOR
– Recommendations for specific jobs
– Requirements for select Statuses of Residence
5 – What if you overstay or work without proper status?
– Recent changes to Immigration law
– Examples of unintended violations
– Our advice if you overstay your SOR
6 – Getting Permanent Residency and Japanese Nationality
– Chart summarizing the requirements and differences between the two
7 – Conclusions and final advice on how to make your SOR stable

1 – Characteristics of Japanese labor environment
2 – Labor law
3 – Labor contract
4 – Salary system
5 – Deduction and Taxes
6 – Labor insurance and Social Insurance for workers
7 – Summary

1 Why start a business?
2 Sole Proprietorship (kojin jigyou) or Corporation (houjin jigyou)?
3 Type of corporations
4 Other forms of business (NPO, LLP)
5 Procedures for starting a business by setting up a kabushiki gaisha
6 Business license
7 Periodical procedures to keep your business going
8 Advice for a successful business
9 Terminology

(These are frequently asked questions about overcoming obstacles and improving your lifestyle in Japan.)
if you want to study Japanese
if you want to open a bank account (and get an inkan seal)
if you want a credit card
if you want insurance (auto, life, property)
if you want a driver license
if you want to buy a car
if you are involved in a traffic accident
if you want Permanent Residency (eijuuken)
if you want to buy property
if you want to sell your property, apartment or house
if you need counseling or psychiatric help
if you want to take Japanese citizenship (kika)

if you are asked for a passport or ID (“Gaijin Card”) check by police
if you are asked for a passport or Gaijin Card check by anyone else
if you are arrested or taken into custody by the police
if you are a victim of a crime

(What we mean by “discrimination”, pg ##)
if you are refused entry to a business
if you are refused entry to a hotel
if you are refused an apartment
if you have a problem with your landlord, or are threatened with eviction
if you are refused a loan
if you want to protest something you feel is discriminatory

if you want legal advice, or need to find a lawyer
if you want to go to court
if you want to go to small-claims court (for fraud, broken business contracts, etc.)

if you want government support for labor dispute negotiations
if you want to join or form a labor union
if you want to find another job

if you want to get married
if you want to register your children in Japanese schools
if you want to register your newborn Japanese children with non-Japanese names
if you have a problem (such as ijime bullying) in your children’s schools
if you want to change your children’s schools
if you suffer from Domestic Violence
if you want to get divorced
if you are having visitation, child custody, or child support problems
if you are a pregnant out of wedlock by a Japanese man

– Corporate Retirement Benefits (taishokukin)
– Pension (nenkin)
– Private annuity (kojin nenkin)
– Long-term investment
– Elderly care and Nursing Care Insurance (kaigo hoken)
– Medical care and Medical services for the aged (roujin hoken)
– Guardian for adults (seinen kouken)
– Inheritance (souzoku) and taxes
– Last Will and Testament (yuigon, igon)
– Japanese rules regarding family inheritance
– Culturally-sensitive funerals (osoushiki)
– Japanese cremation rules
– Repatriating a body for ceremonies overseas
– Maintaining a funeral plot in Japan

1. How to find a group
2. Starting your own group
3. Formalizing your group (NGOs etc.)
4. Making activism more than just a hobby.
5. Running for elected office
6. Staying positive when people claim “Japan will never change”
7. Conclusions



////////////////// PRESS RELEASE ENDS //////////////////

My new Japan Times Column, “JUST BE CAUSE”, starts tomorrow


Reprinting this as a separate blog post because I don’t want it to be buried at the bottom of my last newsletter…


That’s right–the Japan Times has kindly given me 800 words’ space for a regular column the first week of every month. Pleased as Punch about it.

Topic: On Activism in Japan

Get yourself a copy of the Japan Times on March 4 (i.e. tomorrow), March 5 in the provinces!

Debito in Sapporo

Reuters: Study says Immigrants commit less crime (in California)


Hi Blog. Let me just quote somebody else, since she put it so well on The Community List:

Did anyone happen to catch this story on Yahoo today? I wonder if Japan will get a clue and follow with similar (i.e. realistic) statistics or if they will continue hyping “increase in foreign crime” for political purposes? Tina Koyama, Niigata

Given how the J NPA is using completely unscientific methods to portray foreign crime (even calling another recent drop in foreign crime a “comparative increase”, as further justification for yet another crackdown), she has a very good point. Arudou Debito in Okinawa


Study finds immigrants commit less California crime
Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:39 AM ET SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters)

Immigrants are far less likely than the average U.S.-born citizen to commit crime in California, the most populous state in the United States, according to a report issued late on Monday.

People born outside the United States make up about 35 percent of California’s adult population but account for about 17 percent of the adult prison population, the report by the Public Policy Institute of California showed.

According to the report’s authors the findings suggest that long-standing fears of immigration as a threat to public safety are unjustified. The report also noted that U.S.- born adult men are incarcerated at a rate more than 2 1/2 times greater than that of foreign-born men.

“Our research indicates that limiting immigration, requiring higher educational levels to obtain visas, or spending more money to increase penalties against criminal immigrants will have little impact on public safety,” said Kristin Butcher, co-author of the report and associate professor of economics at Wellesley College.

The study did not differentiate between documented immigrants and illegal immigrants.

The question of what to do about the millions of undocumented workers living in the United States has been one of the major issues in the U.S. presidential election. Mexico, which accounts for a high proportion of illegal immigrants in California, was deeply disappointed at the U.S. Congress’ failure to pass President George W. Bush’s overhaul of immigration laws last year.

When Butcher and her co-author, Anne Morrison Piehl, associate professor of economics at Rutgers University, considered all those committed to institutions including prison, jails, halfway houses and the like, they found an even greater disparity.

Among men 18 to 40, the population most likely to be in institutions because of criminal activity, the report found that in California, U.S.-born men were institutionalized 10 times more often than foreign-born men (4.2 percent vs. 0.42 percent).

Among other findings in the report, non-citizen men from Mexico 18 to 40 — a group disproportionately likely to have entered the United States illegally — are more than eight times less likely than U.S.-born men in the same age group to be in a correctional institution (0.48 percent vs. 4.2 percent).

“From a public safety standpoint, there would be little reason to further limit immigration, to favor entry by high-skilled immigrants, or to increase penalties against criminal immigrants,” the report said.

(Reporting by Duncan Martell; Editing by Adam Tanner and Bill Trott)

Interesting forthcoming book: “Another Japan is Possible”, citing Tony Laszlo of long-defunct “Issho Kikaku”


Hi Blog. Speaking of books…

We have another book on Japan’s internationalization coming out. Press release below. It looks to be a serious and interesting study of the forces of minority voices in Japan. Well done Professor Chan.

There is one thing I found odd. Chapter 42 below reads:

42. Issho Kikaku
Tony Laszlo
Ethnic Diversity, Foreigners’ Rights, Discrimination in Family Registration

Hang on. Tony Laszlo of “Issho Kikaku”? Issho Kikaku has been a moribund organization for more than two years now (its archives taken offline for “site renewal” December 4, 2005! Here’s today’s screen capture:).

By taking the work of hundreds of activists offline like this, Laszlo in fact has a history of deleting the historical record of Japan’s internationalization. Likewise, the Shakai Mailing List Archives, which he was also involved in, also mysteriously disappeared about a year ago. Substantiation for all these assertions here.

How can a “non-active” activist representing a non-existent organization pop up like this in a serious academic work? Well, Jennifer by sheer coincidence contacted me a couple of weeks ago for some introductions into Japan’s Muslim Community. When queried about this situation, she said she conducted the interviews with Laszlo about two years ago. Probably before Laszlo deep-sixed his site. So she probably didn’t know about his impending conversion to cartoon character and cute keitai mascot (beats sullying his hands in real activism, anyway, or tainting his cutie-pie salability with any connection to controversial topics). I wish Jennifer had done a follow-up check before publication, though. Perpetuates an incorrect job description for other serious researchers.

Anyway, without any sarcasm, I think this looks to be a great book. Bonne chance. I’ll be getting a copy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Another Japan is Possible: New Social Movements and Global Citizenship Education
Edited by Jennifer Chan, Stanford University Press 2008.
ISBN: 0804757828
Price: USD 27.95

Book summary:
This edited volume, a sequel to my first book – Gender and Human Rights Politics in Japan – looks at the emergence of internationally linked Japanese advocacy nongovernmental networks that have grown since the 1990s in the context of three conjunctural forces of neoliberalism, militarism, and nationalism. It connects three disparate literatures on the global justice movement, Japanese civil society, and global citizenship education. Through the narratives of 50 activists in eight overlapping issue areas—global governance, labor, food sovereignty, peace, HIV/AIDS, gender, minority and human rights, and youth—this book examines the genesis of these new social movements; their critiques of neoliberalism, militarism, and nationalism; their local, regional, and global connections; relationships with the Japanese government; and their role in constructing a new identity of Japanese as global citizens. Its purpose is to highlight the interactions between the global and local—that is, how international human rights and global governance issues resonate within Japan and how in turn local alternatives are articulated by Japanese advocacy groups—and to analyze citizenship from a postnational and postmodern perspective.

Advanced Praise
“A surprise for observers who view Japan as a developmental state, run by a powerful central bureaucracy and aligned with a conservative party whose policies often override public interest, this book casts new light on a vital aspect of Japan’s emerging political economy. A remarkable group of scholars, professionals, and citizen activists reveal the growing numbers of committed Japanese participating energetically in local and global organizations.”
˜Daniel I. Okimoto, Stanford University

“Jennifer Chan vividly illustrates the recent flourishing of nongovernmental organizations in Japan. With good contextualizing narratives and rich, informative examples of the thinking and sentiments nongovernmental organizations generate, she delivers a must-read in the study of globalization and localization.”
˜Inoguchi Takashi, University of Tokyo

“This book is rich in primary material on the human side of NGO activity in Japan, along a wide spectrum of organizations. This is a nuanced view of advocacy, strategies, and institutions, sometimes against the grain of existing views, and it adds the perspectives of new global citizens of Japan, engaged in knowledge production.
˜Merry White, Boston University

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Global Governance and Japanese Advocacy Nongovernmental Networks
I. Global Governance
1. AM-Net/Advocacy and Monitoring Network on Sustainable Development
Kawakami Toyoyuki Global Governance Monitoring and Japan
2. Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society
Sakuma Tomoko Education, Empowerment and Alternatives to Neoliberalism
3. Peoples’ Plan Study Group
Ogura Toshimaru Building a People-based Peace and Democracy Movement in Asia
4. Association for the Tobin Tax for the Aid of Citizens, Kyoto
Komori Masataka Tobin Tax, Kyoto Social Forum and Pluralism
5. Pacific Asia Resource Center
Fukawa Yoko Education for Civil Society Capacity Building
6. Japan International Volunteer Center
Takahashi Kiyotaka Community Development, Peace and Global Citizenship

II. Labor
7. Japan Trade Union Confederation (Rengo)
Kumagai Ken’ichi Globalization and Labor Restructuring
8. Shinjuku Homeless Support Center
Kasai Kazuaki Corporate Restructuring and Homelessness
9. Equality Action 21
Sakai Kazuko Gender, Part-time Labor and Indirect Discrimination
10. Filipino Migrants Center Nagoya
Ishihara Virgie Migration, Trafficking and Free Trade Agreements
11. Labor Net
Yasuda Yukihiro Neoliberalism and Labor Organizing
12. All-Japan Water Supply Workers’ Union
Mizukoshi Takashi Water, Global Commons and Peace

III. Food Sovereignty
13. No to WTO – Voice from the Grassroots in Japan
Ohno Kazuoki Agricultural Liberalization, World Trade Organization and Peace
14. Food Action 21
Yamaura Yasuaki Multifunctionality of Agriculture over Free Trade
15. No! GMO Campaign
Amagasa Keisuke Citizens’ Movement against Genetically Modified Foods
16. Watch Out for WTO! Japan
Imamura Kazuhiko Self-sufficiency, Safety and Food Liberalization

IV. Peace
17. Grassroots Movement to Remove US Bases from Okinawa and the World
Hirayama Motoh “We Want Blue Sky in Peaceful Okinawa”
18. World Peace Now
Hanawa Machiko, Tsukushi Takehiko and Cazman World Peace Now
19. No to Constitutional Revision! Citizens’ Network
Takada Ken Article 9 and the Peace Movement
20. Japan Teachers’ Union
Nishihara Nobuaki Fundamental Law of Education, Peace and the Marketization of Education
21. International Criminal Bar
Higashizawa Yasushi Japan and International War Crimes
22. Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines
Kitagawa Yasuhiro Landmine Ban and Peace Education
23. Peace Depot
Nakamura Keiko Nuclear Disarmament, Advocacy and Peace Education
24. Asia-Pacific Peace Forum
Ôtsuka Teruyo Building a Citizens’ Peace Movement in Japan and Asia

25. Japan AIDS and Society Association
Tarui Masayoshi HIV/AIDS from a Human Rights Perspective
26. Place Tokyo
Hyôdô Chika HIV/AIDS, Gender and Backlash
27. Africa Japan Forum
Inaba Masaki Migrant Workers and HIV/AIDS

VI. Gender
28. Japan NGO Network for CEDAW
Watanabe Miho International Lobbying and Japanese Women’s Networks
29. Japan Network Against Trafficking in Persons
Hara Yuriko Gender, Human Rights and Trafficking in Persons
30. Soshiren/Starting from a Female Body
Ohashi Yukako Gender, Reproductive Rights and Technology
31. Regumi Studio Tokyo
Wakabayashi Naeko As a Lesbian Feminist in Japan
32. Sex Workers and Sexual Health
Kaname Yukiko Sex Workers’ Movement in Japan
33. Women’s Active Museum of War and Peace
Watanabe Mina Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace
34. Feminist Art Action Brigade
Shimada Yoshiko Art, Feminism and Activism

VII. Minority and Human Rights
35. Japan Civil Liberties Union Subcommittee for the Rights of Foreigners
Fujimoto Mie A Proposal for the Law on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
36. The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR)
Morihara Hideki Antidiscrimination, Grassroots Empowerment and Horizontal Networking
37. Buraku Liberation League
Mori Maya Multiple Identities and Buraku Liberation
38. Citizens’ Diplomatic Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Shimin Gaikô Centre)
Uemura Hideaki Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Multicultural Coexistence
39. Association of Rera
Sakai Mina On the Recognition of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights of the Ainu
40. Association of Indigenous Peoples in the Ryûkyûs
Taira Satoko “I would like to be able to speak Uchinâguchi when I grow up!”
41. Mirine
Hwangbo Kangja Art Activism and Korean Minority Rights
42. Issho Kikaku
Tony Laszlo Ethnic Diversity, Foreigners’ Rights, Discrimination in Family Registration
43. Japan National Assembly of Disabled Peoples’ International
Hirukawa Ryôko Disability and Gender
44. Japan Association for Refugees
Ishikawa Eri The UN Convention on Refugee and Asylum Protection in Japan
45. Center for Prisoners’ Rights Japan
Akiyama Emi Torture, Penal Reform and Prisoners’ Rights
46. Forum 90
Takada Akiko Death Penalty and Human Rights

VIII. Youth Groups
47. Peace Boat
Yoshioka Tatsuya Experience, Action and the Floating Peace Village
48. A Seed Japan
Mitsumoto Yuko Ecology, Youth Action and International Advocacy
49. BeGood Cafe
Shikita Kiyoshi Organic Food, Education and Peace
50. Body and Soul
Takahashi Kenkichi “Another Work is Possible”: Slow Life, Ecology and Peace

Conclusion: Social Movements and Global Citizenship Education

Target audience:
Japanese studies, Asian studies, feminist studies, human rights and globalization researchers, transnational and local social movement studies.

To order:
Chicago Distribution Center
11030 South Langley Ave.
Chicago, IL 60628
Tel. 1-800-621-2736
Fax: 1-800-621-8471
E-mail: custserv@press.uchicago.edu
or through

For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Chan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Education; and
Faculty Associate, the Centre for Japanese Research, the Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies; and Institute for European Studies.
University of British Columbia
2125 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
Tel: (604) 822-5353
Fax: (604) 822-4244

Advance reviews for forthcoming HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS, by Akira Higuchi and Arudou Debito


Hi Blog. In Tokyo doing some finishing touches on our forthcoming book. Here are some things we can announce now: the book cover, advance reviews, and a nationwide book tour March 15 to April 1:

Japan’s biggest human rights publisher Akashi Shoten will publish my third book (first two are here), coauthored with Akira Higuchi. Table of contents follow after advance book review, cover image, and quick notice of the book tour:

Advance book reviews:
“Higuchi and Arudou’s HANDBOOK promises to be the second passport for foreigners in Japan. It provides a map to navigate the legal, economic, and social mazes of contemporary Japanese life. Practical and affordable, clear and concise, the Handbook should contribute not only to a better life for newcomers to Japan but also to a more humane society in Japan.”

–Dr John Lie, Dean of International and Area Studies, University of California Berkeley, and author of MULTIETHNIC JAPAN.

“Finally, the book I always wished I had, explaining in clear and precise language the legal labyrinths that make life interesting and sometimes treacherous for non-Japanese trying to find their way in Japan. This is the A-Z what to watch out for and how to do it guide that will help all non-Japanese living in Japan. Whether it is visas, workers’ rights, starting a business, pensions, naturalizing, divorcing, etc. this is essential reading. For non-Japanese this is truly a godsend, but even better the entire text is bilingual so Japanese who have extensive dealings with non-Japanese can also better understand the rules of the game and avoid mishandling what can be difficult situations. I can think of no other book that comes close in promoting mutual understanding, one that is grounded in the law and brimming with practical advice.”

–Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan
(semifinalized cover, click to see full image)

Arudou Debito will be traveling around Japan during the latter half of March 2008 to promote his co-authored new book. If you’d like him to drop by your area for a speech, please be in touch with him at debito@debito.org. (This way travel expenses are minimalized for everyone.)

Tentative schedule follows, subject to change with notice on this blog entry.

March 15-23, Tokyo/Tohoku area.
Sat March 15 7PM FRANCA Speech Sendai Fukushi Plaza #2 Kenkyuushitsu) (FIXED)
Sun March 16 5PM National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu HQ, Shinbashi, Tokyo (FIXED)
Mon March 17 Roppongi Bar Association (being finalized)
Tues March 18 6:30-8:30 PM, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, Tokyo BOOK BREAK (FIXED)
Weds March 19, 7:30-9:30 PM Amnesty International Tokyo Group 78 Meeting (FIXED)
Fri March 21, 7PM, An evening with Debito, Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano (FIXED)
Sat March 22 Noon Lunch with Debito, Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano, Sponsored by 千曲(ちくま)市国際交流協会 (FIXED)
Sun March 23 6:30 PM Good Day Books Tokyo Ebisu (FIXED)

March 24-April 1, Kansai/Chubu area.
Tues March 25, FRANCA Speech Osaka (being finalized)
Thurs March 27, Speech at Shiga University (FIXED)
Fri March 28 Speech in JALT Kobe 5PM (FIXED)
Sat March 29, afternoon, Speech in Wakayama (being finalized)
Sat March 29, evening, Speech for JALT Osaka (FIXED)
Sun March 30, Speech at JALT Okayama 2-4 PM (FIXED)
Tues April 1, Speech in Fukuoka (being finalized)

Due back in Sapporo by April 2, so three weeks on the road. Interested? Please drop him a line at debito@debito.org

More information on the contents of the book at

See you at one of the venues! Please consider buying a book? Thanks for reading. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

Links to Waseda Jan 22, 2008 speech materials


Hi Blog. As advertised in my previous blog entry, I gave a speech at Waseda today. You can download my Powerpoint presentation at


And the paper grounding this presentation at


It went very well. I should have a recording of the event, and I’ll release it as my next podcast. Arudou Debito in Meguro, Tokyo.

Speech at Waseda Jan 22, 5PM, on Japan’s Immigration and Human Rights Record


Hi Blog. As promised, here are the details of my upcoming speech Tuesday evening, speaking with Amnesty and Waseda professor in a joint roundtable. Attend if you like. I’m speaking for 20 minutes… Debito in Tokyo

JANUARY 22, 2008 5PM

Implications of Japanese domestic human rights record (for foreign residents or Japanese) on Asian Integration

Implications of Domestic Human Rights Practices on Asian Regional Integration

ARUDOU Debito (BA Cornell, 1987; MPIA UC San Diego, 1991) is a naturalized Japanese citizen and Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University. A human rights activist, he has authored two books, Japaniizu Onrii–Otaru Onsen Nyuuyoku Kyohi Mondai to Jinshu Sabetsu and its English version (Akashi Shoten 2003 and 2004, updated2006), and is currently at work on a bilingual handbook for immigrants to Japan. He also puts out a regular newsletter and columns for The Japan Times. His extensive bilingual website on human rights issues and living in Japan is available at http://www.debito.org

Japan is at another one of those crossroads–where it could either head down the path of other developed countries, accepting migration and immigration as a natural part of global interdependence (preserving an economic and demographic vitality), or else become an economic backwater with an aged society, leapfrogged by China as Asia’s regional representative to the world. Official trends, including increased registering, policing, and scare campaigns towards non-Japanese entrants and residents, have tended towards the latter. However, the last two decades of economic and labor policy have been clearly towards importing unskilled workers to replace Japanese in the less savory 3K industries. This gap has made work and living conditions for many non-Japanese in Japan unequal and difficult, as they receive few constitutional or legal protections against discrimination. Moreover, many receive no labor rights whatsoever by dint of their visa. The speaker, an activist, columnist, and author on issues of discrimination, will discuss his research and activism. He will also allude to how Japan’s treatment of migrants and immigrants is a reflection of its attitudes towards its Asian neighbors, and towards regional cooperation and integration in this age of globalization and economic interdependence.
Presentation in English


「Implications of Japanese domestic human rights record (for foreign residents or Japanese) on Asian Integration from the perspective of an NGO and in particular Amnesty International Japan」

Sonoko Kawakami, Official Representative, Amnesty International Japan
川上園子 (E-mail:ksonoko@amnesty.or.jp)
社団法人アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本 (ホームページ:http://www.amnesty.or.jp/)
★アムネスティ・メールマガジンのお申し込みはこちらから! http://www.amnesty.or.jp/) http://secure.amnesty.or.jp/campaign/
Presentation in Japanese



Associate Professor Yasushi Katsuma
Field of specialization:
Peace and Human Security; International Human Rights; Theories of Social Development; United Nations Studies

Prof. Katsuma was a consultant for Japanese ODA, conducting development research in Asia and Latin America. After obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, based on his dissertation study in Bolivia, Prof. Katsuma joined the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and worked in Mexico, Afghanistan/Pakistan and Tokyo, as international civil servant. Based on his experiences both in the academia and in the practice of international cooperation, Prof. Katsuma hopes to support the academic training necessary for those who wish to contribute to the international community. He also believes that it is important to approach the global issues from the perspective of the most vulnerable people, linking academic theories with empirical data from the field.

日時 :   2008年 1月 22日(火)   午後 5時~7時
Date :   Tuesday January 22     17:00~19:00
会場 :   西早稲田 ビル 19号館 710号室  
Venue :   Sodai-Nishiwaseda Bldg 19 Room 710    
主催 / Organized by :  WUDSN  協力 / Supported by :  GIARI
申込不要、自由入場  /  Open to public, Free of Charge

ABC Radio Australia: “Expatriates concerned by plans for Japanese language tests”


Here’s another one for your consideration. Debito

Expatriates concerned by plans for Japanese language tests
ABC Radio Australia 18/01/2008, 14:11:18
Listen to it at http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/s2141423.htm

Text from http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/stories/s2141423.htm

Plans to introduce language tests for foreigners wishing to live and work in Japan has prompted concerns from the expatriate community.

Japan’s foreign minister, Masahiko Komura, made the announcement on Tuesday, and the foreign ministry told Radio Australia the department should pursue the terms of the new requirement quickly.

The plans, announced just months after the country began photographing and finger-printing all foreign nationals on entry to Japan, have not been taken well in many quarters of Japan’s expatriate community.

Dave Aldwinckle has been a permanent resident in Japan since 1996, and is married to a Japanese with two children.

The author, columnist and human rights campaigner, who goes by the Japanese name, Arudou Debito, told Radio Australia over a million people will be affected by the move.

“And millions more if you include their families as well that are Japanese,” he said.

“To pass them all off as potential terrorists is worse than callous, in my view, it’s unappreciation for the work that people have done over here already,” Mr Aldwinckle said.

‘Another arbitrary hurdle

He says while he believes anyone wanting to live in Japan should be able to read, write and speak Japanese, it will be difficult to test and enforce.

“It’s another potentially arbitrary hurdle to put up in front of foreigners that, given the past government enforcement of policy, I’m a little bit concerned about how this is going to be enforced as well,” he said.

Dr Chris Burgess, of Tsuda College in Tokyo, says the proposed language test for foreigners is going to harm Japan in a multitude of ways.

“The new regulations, supposedly aimed at eradicating illegal residents, is just going to push them underground more than anything,” Dr Burgess told Radio Australia.

“I think, in some ways this is a poorly thought out policy and just a knee-jerk reaction to public attitudes which demand more to be done to tackle the foreign crime – a myth that you see in newspapers all the time, that foreigners are criminals; unfounded statistically, but that’s the myth.”

The Secretary General of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Professor Mushakoji Kinhide, has another theory about the language test.

“It is, more or less, a general position of the Liberal Democratic Party leadership about the so-called overseas, Japanese-origin, Latin American migrants,” Professor Kinhide said.

The ‘Nikkei-jin’ factor

The deputy director of the Foreign Nationals Affairs Division in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Terasawa Genichi, told Radio Australia that ‘Nikkei-jin’ – returning Japanese emigrants and their descendants living outside of Japan – are indeed a focus in the proposed language test.

Declining an interview, Mr Terasawa did, however, stipulate that the test was not targetting any particular ethnic group.

Professor Mushakoji says the group has caused problems before.

“Unfortunately the Japanese-descent, young people who come do not necessarily speak Japanese and have very genuine cultural habits which are quite different from the Japanese and so there has been a few cases of cultural problems – Brazilian-Japanese will tend to sing and dance and be quite different in their behaviour at night,” he said.

In 2006, the then-foreign minister, Taro Aso, described Japan as “one nation, one civilisation, one language, one culture, and one race”.

Professor Mushakoji is therefore concerned about the comments of the new Foreign Minister, Masahiko Komura.

“If Komura has repeated the statement already made by Aso it is a manifestation of the Japanese government not to admit that Japan will gradually have to turn into a multicultural country and insist on keeping Japan as a homogenous society,” Professor Mushakoji said.

Naturalised Japanese citizen, Dave Aldwinckle feels, like many others, unduly targeted.

“Well, foreigners aren’t like Japanese, there’s no commonality, the Japanese are unique, etc,” he said.

“If you keep playing that button the Government can keep getting budgets for anti-terrorism moves which will eventually target disenfranchised foreigners – hey, foreigners can’t vote.”

Full story available on the Connect Asia website: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/connectasia/

Christian Science Monitor: “Japanese youth help compatriots embrace diversity”


Hi Blog. I’m going to be off to Tokyo from tomorrow, and have some serious writing to do over the next few days. I’m probably not going to be able to do much on this blog (except if and when I come up for air when writing), so let me put out a couple of recent articles you might find interesting. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japanese youth help compatriots embrace diversity
By Takehiko Kambayashi | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
January 18, 2008 edition

In a country that has long prided itself on homogeneity, it’s becoming cool for youth to embrace the growing number of foreigners in their midst.

Oizumi, Japan: Miharu Tanaka hands out fliers in Tokyo advertising Brazilian eateries in Oizumi, a city two hours away by train. The young woman makes the commute to encourage people to visit the country’s most diverse city, with its 16 percent non-Japanese population.

Her efforts are part of a generational shift toward becoming more receptive to a multicultural Japan. But in a country that has long prided itself on homogeneity and is seeing a rise in Japanese-centric nationalism, it will take some persuading for most people to embrace the growing reality of a more diverse population.

Japan has long been wary of – even hostile to – foreigners in its midst. Some say the media perpetuate a stereotyped image of foreigners as criminals.

Japan’s bias against foreigners shows in its immigration laws. It is virtually impossible for immigrants to find work here and become citizens. Most foreigners are reduced to low-level “3K” jobs – kitanai, kiken, and kitsui, or “dirty, dangerous and hard” – that most Japanese were no longer willing to take. The country wants to maintain its “racial homogeneity,” critics say. Officials recently began considering ways to tie long-term residency permits and work visas to Japanese language ability.

Certainly, the self-image of a homogeneous society remains strong. But some say that perception is incorrect. The official count of registered foreign residents is 2 percent of the nation’s total population of 128 million; but that represents an increase of 47 percent in the past 10 years and excludes many non-Japanese residents. While Japan has witnessed more international marriages – 21,000 children are born to these couples every year – its census figures do not show ethnicity.

Moreover, the number of registered foreigners does not include naturalized citizens, indigenous people, or those who overstay their visas, argues Debito Arudou, a US-born social activist who became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 2000.

Brazilian Japanese are thought to number around 300,000. The descendants of Japanese who immigrated to Brazil in the early-1900s, they returned to the land of their ancestors in recent decades. But since immigration reforms in 1990 granted only the descendants of Japanese the right to live and work in Japan, Japanese Brazilians mostly serve in 3K jobs in Oizumi and similar drab, industrial towns.

These areas have become non-Japanese enclaves – as well as microcosms of the racial tensions that have arisen with diversity. In Oizumi, where most non-Japanese residents are Brazilian, more Brazilian flags hang from buildings than Japanese ones. Brazilian restaurants, grocery stores, and video-rental shops dwarf Japanese sushi bars and noodle shops.

Japanese Brazilians in Oizumi complain about being called gaijin, or “outsiders,” and treated as such. When they run into Japanese colleagues, some Brazilians complain, the Japanese pretend not to recognize them. A majority of foreigners who live in neighborhoods alongside Japanese would like to interact with them, a 2007 opinion poll found. But only 10 percent of Japanese in these areas felt the same.

But a growing number of Japanese – mostly youths, such as Tanaka – are trying to persuade compatriots to embrace ethnic minorities. Unlike in previous generations, young adults tend to be more welcoming of diversity. Some analysts argue that, in a country with a dwindling birthrate – 1.32 as of 2006, down from 1.66 two decades ago – and a rapidly aging population, Japan should roll out the red carpet for foreigners.

In Oizumi, young Japanese are teaming up with Brazilians, cracking barriers among communities. Tanaka formed a group named Kimobig (“daring”) to energize exchanges such as language classes between Japanese and Brazilians.

Not everyone is pleased with the group’s efforts. Tanaka receives prank calls and harassing e-mails from Japanese and Brazilians. Still, she says, more locals have gotten acquainted with Brazilian residents. Urbanites have been entranced by Brazilian music, dance, and food. “So great is what one person can do,” she says. “One person can help change his or her parents’ views and their friends.’ ”

Japan Times: My Dec 18 Zeit Gist column on premeditated xenophobia in Japan


Hello Blog. Here’s the last Japan Times column I’ll do this year–and it’s a doozy. I’m very happy with how it came out, and judging by the feedback I’ve gotten others are too.

It’s about how Japan’s xenophobia is in fact by public policy design, due to unchallenged policymakers and peerage politicians, and how it’s actually hurting our country. Have a read if you haven’t already.

Best wishes for the holiday season, Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan



Fingerprint scheme exposes xenophobic, short-sighted trend in government



Column 42 for The Zeit Gist, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007

“Director’s Cut” of the article with links to sources at


Excellent illustration by Chris MacKenzie at the Japan Times website at


We all notice it eventually: how nice individual Japanese people are, yet how cold — even discriminatory — officialdom is toward non-Japanese (NJ). This dichotomy is often passed off as something “cultural” (a category people tend to assign anything they can’t understand), but recent events have demonstrated there is in fact a grand design. This design is visible in government policies and public rhetoric, hard-wiring the public into fearing and blaming foreigners.

Start with the “us” and “them” binary language of official government pronouncements: how “our country” (“wagakuni”) must develop policy for the sake of our “citizens” (“kokumin”) toward foreign “visitors” (rarely “residents”); how foreigners bring discrimination upon themselves, what with their “different languages, religions, and lifestyle customs” an’ all; and how everyone has inalienable human rights in Japan — except the aliens.

The atmosphere wasn’t always so hostile. During the bubble economy of the late ’80s and its aftermath, the official mantra was “kokusaika” (internationalization), where NJ were given leeway as misunderstood outsiders.

But in 2000, kicked off by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s “sangokujin” speech — in which he called on the Self-Defense Forces to round up foreigners during natural disasters in case they riot — the general attitude shifted perceptibly from benign neglect to downright antipathy….






Arudou Debito’s new book tour March 2008. Want me to come speak?


Hi Blog. Japan’s biggest human rights publisher Akashi Shoten will publish my third book (first two are here), “GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS”, advice for NJ on how to get a more secure lifestyle in Japan, coauthored with Akira Higuchi. More details on it here.

But first, news of a book tour to promote:

I will be traveling around Japan during the latter half of March 2008 to promote a co-authored new book. If you’d like me to drop by your area for a speech, please be in touch with me at debito@debito.org. (This way travel expenses are minimalized for everyone.)

Tentative schedule follows, subject to change with notice on this blog entry.

March 17-23, Tokyo/Tohoku area.
Applied for speaking engagements at Good Day Books and the FCCJ.

March 24-30, Kansai/Chubu area.
March 27, Speech at Shiga University (FIXED)
March 28-29 Speech in Kyoto and/or Kobe
March 29, evening, Speech for JALT Osaka (FIXED)
March 30, Speech at JALT Okayama (FIXED)

Due back in Sapporo by April 2, so three weeks on the road.

May I come speak? Please drop a line at debito@debito.org
Thanks for considering. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Book brief with link to synopsis follows:

“GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS” (tentative title)

Authors: HIGUCHI Akira and ARUDOU Debito
Languages: English and Japanese
Publisher: Akashi Shoten Inc., Tokyo
Due out: March 2008

Goal: To help non-Japanese entrants become residents and immigrants

Topics: Securing stable visas, Establishing businesses and secure jobs, Resolving legal problems, Planning for the future through to death…

Introduction and table of contents at

FCCJ No.1 Shimbun interviews Prez Ogasawara of Japan Times.


Hi Blog. Working on my next Japan Times column, due tomorrow (and this one is pretty tough going–I’ve got too much to say).

But here’s something you might find interesting. Interview with Yukiko Ogasawara, President of the Japan Times, in the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan’s “No.1 Shimbun”. Even a citation from Debito.org, thanks!  Debito in Sapporo
The future of print: “The newspaper business still has a few years left here”
by Tony McNicol. Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan No.1 Shimbun December 3, 2007

Courtesy of the author.

Things could hardly have been worse when Yukiko Ogasawara became president of the Japan Times last March. She faced the aftermath of wide-ranging job cuts, a precipitous drop in the newspaper’s circulation, and fierce, growing competition from Internet news sites, expat bloggers and the rest of the so-called new media.

Her father, Toshiaki Ogasawara, the chairman of plastic parts and components manufacturer Nifco Inc., bought the Japan Times in 1983. This year The Japan Times celebrated its 110th anniversary. Daughter Ogasawara says she is determined to increase circulation and put the paper back on a firm financial footing. But with the Japan Times losing money, and far more commercially successful print media also feeling the pinch, is it even worth trying?

Blogger Debito Arudou recently triggered a lively debate with an impassioned plea for the Japan Times’ survival. He argued that the broadsheet had a special role to play as the “only independent newspaper in Japan.” Putting the opposite case, Mark Devlin, publisher of the Japan Today news website recommend people “just let the damn thing die … there is a slim possibility that some new blood would come along and resuscitate it.”

So which is it? Is the Japan Times a dinosaur doomed to extinction or a phoenix about to rise from the ashes of the print media? The No. 1 Shimbun recently spoke to Yukiko Ogasawara in her office.


Rest at http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/2993

John Spiri reviews Gregory Clark’s book “Understanding the Japanese”


The Japanese and Ware Ware Non-Japanese
A review of UNDERSTANDING THE JAPANESE by Gregory Clark
By John Spiri, former Assistant Professor at Akita International University

(written for a mass media outlet, unpublished)

UNDERSTANDING THE JAPANESE: Gregory Clark. First published 1982 by Kinseido, Tokyo

It is difficult to imagine a book written by a Japan “expert” having as little of substance to say as Understanding the Japanese by Gregory Clark. The book, awash with trivial generalizations, simplistically attempts to dichotomize everything—brains, societies, and the entire world—while presenting “theories” that would be better left to barrooms and pubs.

The mother of all Clark’s dichotomies is between “Japanese” and “non-Japanese.” Clark writes, “For us non-Japanese peoples the identity of a nation lies in its ideas and culture.” Clark even goes so far as to title a section, “The Non-Japanese Nation” citing stereotypes about the French (who are happy to accept even millions of refugees and workers), Chinese (who have even refused to accept Western technology), and Americans (who exclude homosexuals since they are seen as a threat to Christian ideology). The conclusion is “culturally advanced non-Japanese peoples are more exclusive to foreign ideas and culture than they are towards foreigners” while Japanese are the reverse.

Later, after generalizing that Japanese have a “dual morality” (with his evidence being banal inconsistencies that exist within every human), Clark claims, “With non-Japanese it is not possible to admit to such a dual morality. Our behavior is supposed to be guided by law and principles.” One example of Japanese morality that Westerners supposedly lack is the “generosity” of booksellers who allow customers to read books for free. Clark might be a little shocked to see evidence of this “Japanese morality” in any Barnes & Noble bookstore in the United States, where customers sit around in lounge chairs reading unbought books.

Towards the end of the book readers are told the Japanese negotiate “heart to heart” while all the other peoples in the world negotiate “mind to mind.” “It is as if Japan were to insist on playing shogi while the rest of the world plays chess.” Oh, those Japanese are so, so, what’s the word?, different!

As the thin book wears on, we learn that “non-Japanese” might not really be meant to include everyone; only the “advanced” peoples are worthy of the ultimate comparison. After telling his readers again that “the Japanese seem to be very different from other peoples” Clark claims the reason is that all the other “advanced peoples” had protracted conflict with foreign nations. “Meanwhile,” readers are told, “the rest of us, for the past thousand years or much more, have been constantly involved in fighting each other.” Besides the historical falsity, Clark doesn’t bother to explain how the experience of warring samurai factions of generations past has failed to affect modern Japanese in the same way that warring knights in medieval Europe has supposedly affected modern Europeans.

Clark’s efforts to engage readers in Socratic dialog are juvenile: “Do the Japanese lack a sense of morality?” (answer No! their morality is different from ours), and, “Why does (Japanese flexibility) exist?” (answer: Japan is a nation without ideology!). Then, Clark resorts to citing “someone” to modify: “Someone once said that the ideology of Japan is Japanism!” One would think an “expert” would be held to higher standards.

However, readers learn that if a writer tosses around enough unsupported opinions and generalizations, some will resonate. My favorite was the section about the Japanese propensity for booms. Clark notes that when he first came to Japan there was a “hula hoop boom,” followed by the bowling boom. “The businessmen had convinced themselves,” he writes using his finest prose, “that the Japanese people wanted to do nothing else for the rest of their lives except throw large balls at distant pins, and the relics of their emotionalistic judgment still dot the nation in form of unused bowling parlors.” Hopefully, one day the same can be said of pachinko parlors.

The Japanese, according to Clark, are comparable to one other nation. The Chinese? Never! They are like Westerners. The Koreans? Perish the thought. The Mongolians? They’re not “advanced.” It may come as a surprise, but the one nation that resembles the Japanese are Cretes! Like Japan, the Cretes could “borrow the ideologies of the advanced rationalistic societies around it” and was also a “very durable civilization, lasting almost 1,500 years.” Of course, concrete comparisons are tough to make considering the fact Crete society perished 2,500 years ago in a massive volcanic eruption. “Perhaps there is a message there for Japan,” Clark tells readers, without elaborating.

Some of the stereotypes are downright mean-spirited. “Under the Christian ethic stealing is forbidden,” Clark tells readers, “But that does not stop taxi drivers from trying to short-change their passengers.” The recent stories of the New York city cabbies would undoubtedly surprise Clark. One returned a bag of diamonds; a second sped to the airport to return a forgotten wallet containing thousands of dollars.

The book, constantly hammering home the theme that “Japanese are unique,” is clearly trying to cash in on a writing style, and topic, that appeals to Japanese. Clark frequently tosses in yokeina (superfluous) Japanese: tanitsu minzoku, gyousei shidou, and nantai doubutsu, to either benefit the Japanese reader or put his knowledge of the Japanese language on display, and ends with 13 pages of notes in Japanese.

If Clark weren’t writing with apparent seriousness, the book might be amusing; the illustrations, however, give a hint that the book is not to be taken seriously. As Clark himself has (according to Brad Blackstone, a former associate professor at AIU) been heard to say, “I milked that baby (Understanding the Japanese book) for 20 years, going to speaking engagements around the country.” So, in a sense, it’s “hats off” to the author for getting away with elevating barroom blather to social theory and still maintain status as a culture commentator and Japan expert.

More on Gregory Clark, columnist at the Japan Times, on Debito.org at

Japan Times on Gaijin Carding in workplace, and downloadable wallet-size Gaijin Card laws from Erich Meatleg


Hi Blog. I had an article come out in the Japan Times last Tuesday Nov 13 (Wednesday outside the metropolises), which you can read with notes and links to sources at http://www.debito.org/japantimes111307.html.

Excerpting from the conclusion of the article (in mufti–go to the whole article above if you want to see links):

You know, Japan needs more lawyers, or at least more lawyerly types. Anyone who reads the actual laws will in fact find a natural check and balance.

For example, even if the cops issue their classic demand for your Gaijin Card on the street, under the Foreign Registry Law (gaitouhou) (Article 13), you are not required to display unless the cop shows you his ID first. Ask for it. And write it down.

And believe it or not, under the Police Execution of Duties Law (keisatsukan shokumu shikkou hou) (Article 2), cops aren’t allowed to ask anyone for ID without probable cause for suspicion of a crime. Just being a foreigner doesn’t count. Point that out.

As for Gaijin Carding at hotels, all you have to do is say you have an address in Japan and you’re in the clear. Neither foreign residents nor Japanese are required to show any ID. The hotels cannot refuse you service, as legally they cannot deny anyone lodging under the Hotel Management Law (Article 5), without threat to public morals, possibility of contagion, or full rooms.

And as for Gaijin Carding by employers, under the new law (Article 28) you are under no obligation to say anything more than what your visa status is, and that it is valid. Say you’ll present visual proof in the form of the Gaijin Card, since nothing more is required.

If your main employer forces you to have your IDs photocopied, point out that the Personal Information Protection Law (Kojin Jouhou Hokan Hou) governs any situation when private information is demanded. Under Article 16, you must be told the purpose of gathering this information, and under Article 26 you may make requests to correct or delete data that are no longer necessary.

That means that once your visa status has been reported to Hello Work, your company no longer needs it, and you should request your info be returned for your disposal.

Those are the laws, and they exist for a reason: to protect everyone–including non-Japanese–from stretches of the law and abuses of power by state or society.

Even if the Foreign Registry Law has long made foreigners legally targetable in the eyes of the police, the rest of Japanese society still has to treat foreigners–be they laborer, customer, neighbor, or complete stranger–with appropriate respect and dignity.

Sure, Japan’s policymakers are treating non-Japanese residents as criminals, terrorists, and filth columnists of disease and disorder–through fingerprinting at the border, gaijin-apartment ID Checkpoints, anonymous police Internet “snitch sites” (ZG Mar 30 2004), “foreign DNA crime databases” (ZG Jan 13 2004), IC Chips in Gaijin Cards (ZG Nov 22 2005), and now gaijin dragnets through hotels and paychecks.

But there are still some vestiges of civil liberties guaranteed by law in this country. Know about them, and have them enforced. Or else non-Japanese will never be acknowledged or respected as real residents of Japan, almost always governed by the same laws as everyone else.

More information on what to do in these situations, plus the letter of the law, at http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html

To this end, Erich Meatleg has provided a very valuable service–wallet-sized copies of the original text (plus hiragana and English translations) of pertinent sections of the laws for you to download and carry around. For the next time you get racially-profiled on the street and Gaijin Carded by cops:

Download plain version of text of laws regarding Gaijin Card Checks here (pdf format).

Download color-coded version of text of laws regarding Gaijin Card Checks here (pdf format).


Other laws that you can use (such as for Gaijin Card Checkpoints at hotels and in the workplace) are also up linked from the whattodoif.html article, but Erich hasn’t gotten to them yet! 🙂

Great thanks to Erich for his assistance! I’m sure the cops will be nonplussed from now on re how legalistic their gaijin patsies have become. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan Focus.com: Japan’s Future as an International, Multicultural Society: From Migrants to Immigrants


Japan’s Future as an International, Multicultural Society: From Migrants to Immigrants
By Arudou Debito. Japan Focus.com, October 29, 2007


Despite an express policy against importing unskilled foreign labor, the Government of Japan (GOJ) since 1990 has been following an unacknowledged backdoor “guest worker” program to alleviate a labor shortage that threatens to become chronic. Through its “Student”, “Entertainer”, “Nikkei repatriation”, “Researcher”, “Trainee”, and “Intern” Visa programs, the GOJ has imported hundreds of thousands of cost-effective Non-Japanese (NJ) laborers to stem the “hollowing out” (i.e. outsourcing, relocation, or bankruptcy) of Japan’s domestic industry at all levels.

As in many countries including the United States, France and South Korea, immigration has become a hotly-debated subject. While Japan’s immigrant population is much smaller than that of many European and North American countries, there is growing reliance on foreign labor resulting in a doubling of the number of registered NJ in Japan since 1990.

Despite their importance to Japan’s economy, this has not resulted in general acceptance of these laborers as “residents”, or as regular “full-time workers” entitled to the same social benefits under labor laws as Japanese workers (such as a minimum wage, health or unemployment insurance). Moreover, insufficient GOJ regulation has resulted in labor abuses (exploitative or coercive labor, child labor, sundry human rights violations), to the degree that the GOJ now proposes to “fix” the system by 2009. The current debate among ministries, however, is not focused on finding ways to help NJ workers to assimilate to Japan. Rather it has the effect of making it ever clearer that they are really only temporary and expendable. The most powerful actor in the debate is the Justice Ministry. Its minister under the former Abe administration proposed term-limited revolving-door employment for NJ workers. Meanwhile, one consequence of the present visa regime is a growing underclass of NJ children, with neither sufficient language abilities nor education to develop employable skills and adjust to Japanese society. Nevertheless, immigration continues apace. Not only does the number of foreign workers grow, but Regular Permanent Residents (RPRs) also increase by double-digit percentages every year. By the end of 2007, the number of RPRs will surpass the number of generational Zainichi Permanent Residents of Korean and Taiwan origins. In conclusion, Japan is no exception to the forces of globalization and international migrant labor. The GOJ needs to create appropriate policies that will enable migrant workers and their families to integrate into Japanese society and to find appropriate jobs that will maximize their contributions at a time when Japan faces acute labor shortages that will increase the importance of migrants.

Full essay at:

Recent Media from Arudou Debito: J Times, TPR, Metropolis, and Japan Focus


Hi Blog. Here are some links to a few articles that have come out recently, and notice of a few more in store this week:

Human rights survey stinks
Government effort riddled with bias, bad science
Special to The Japan Times, October 23, 2007

On Aug. 25, the Japanese government released findings from a Cabinet poll conducted every four years. Called the “Public Survey on the Defense of Human Rights” (www8.cao.go.jp/survey/h19/h19-jinken), it sparked media attention with some apparently good news.

When respondents were asked, “Should foreigners have the same human rights protections as Japanese?” 59.3 percent said “yes.” This is a rebound from the steady decline from 1995 (68.3 percent), 1999 (65.5) and 2003 (54).

Back then, the Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Bureau publicly blamed the decline on “a sudden rise in foreign crime.” So I guess the news is foreigners are now regarded more highly as humans. Phew.

No thanks to the government, mind you. Past columns have already covered the figment of the foreign crime wave, and how the police stoked fear of it. If anything, this poll charted the damage wrought by anti-foreigner policy campaigns.

But that’s all the poll is good for. If the media had bothered to examine its methodology, they’d feel stupid for ever taking it seriously: Its questions are skewed and grounded in bad science….


Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20071023zg.html
Or up at Debito.org with an unpublished cartoon at http://www.debito.org/japantimes102307.html

Next, my most recent podcast hosted by Trans Pacific Radio, reading my October 20, 2007 Newsletter (sandwiched by Duran Duran excerpted tracks):

Finally, Friday sees my next Metropolis article (on fingerprinting), and somewhere in the next few days an article on Japan’s immigration in Japan Focus (http://japanfocus.org/)

I also got interviewed today for the Metropolis podcast, should be up by Thursday evening. I listened to their last one–it’s a really pro job, I hang my head in shame…

Speech tomorrow, off to bed. Arudou Debito in Shinagawa, Tokyo

J Focus on PM Abe’s Fundamental Education Law reforms


Hi Blog. Let me post this before I put up my July 17, 2007 Japan Times article, since it has bearing on Japan’s fundamental attitude towards education.

Japan Focus.com online academic site has just put up (July 9) an excellent analysis of PM Abe’s “teach primary students patriotism and love of Japan” reforms to the Fundamental Law of Education, passed December 2006.

Entitled, “Hammering Down the Educational Nail: Abe Revises the Fundamental Law of Education”, by Adam Lebowitz and David McNeill, the conclusion of the article is the most excerptable part:

Changes to the Fundamental Law of Education: From Citizens to National Subjects?

Much criticism of the amended education law has focused on statements clearly privileging the state over the individual; that is, statements affirming civil liberties still appear, often unchanged, from the original version, but are often undercut and diluted by new language. Perhaps more importantly, however, what makes the amended version of the law appear less a legal document than an expression of authoritarian will is not so much what is said, but how it is said. That is, the language of mystique and belief makes the very notion of individual rights seem anachronistic at best. For this reason the amended version is not a reflection of a democratic and constitutionally law-driven society but resembles in content and in intent the Edict, a product of a wartime regime.

The article contains an unofficial translation of the changes to the Fundamental Law of Education, side-by-side with the original 1947 document, at http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2468

Of course, left out of the article (as it is tangental) is the issue of how Japan’s children of international roots–including both the children of immigrant workers and the children of international marriages–will be affected by these revisions.

Even from the change in the word “we” (meaning Japan’s residents/citizens–still not completely overlapping), I see great problems in interpretation and exclusion. Excerpting again:

Old: Warera

Amended: Wareware Nihon Kokumin [We the Countrymen of Japan]


Warera is a non-partisan and generalized grammatical subject written phonetically. The new form in kanji is long and bombastic, and most notably conceptualizes “Japan” in an essentialist manner eliding a legalistic framework. The Constitution is not mentioned until the third paragraph. In short, the “we” of the old law were citizens of a constitutionally based body politic; now, “we” are in effect national subjects.

Thanks to PALE’s Robert Aspinall for notifying me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Asian Pacific Law Journal on Japan as haven for parental child abduction.


Hi Blog. I included this as part of my previous newsletter on Japan’s judiciary, but it warrants a blog entry all its own. Don’t want it to get buried.

From Mark at Children’s Rights Network Japan. Debito


I would like to tell everyone about a new law journal article about Japanese family law that is now available. It’s written by a law professor in Japan who himself has been through the family court system all the way up to the Supreme Court.

First sentence: “Japan is a haven for parental child abduction.”

Need I say more? If you are married to a Japanese partner and have children, its a must read, even at 100 pages. Look for it here:


Colin P.A. Jones
Asian Pacific Law and Policy Journal
University of Hawaii
Volume 8, Issue 2, Spring 2007.

Happy Reading.


UPDATE June 27: My week speaking in Tokyo and facing the madding crowds


UPDATE JUNE 27, 2007

Hello Blog. I’ve left you fallow for a week now, my apologies. I’ve just come through what is probably my busiest speaking schedule yet. I gave what amounted to six speeches in as many days, all of them brand new, with Powerpoint presentations in two languages. Phew.

Backing up a bit on the timeline, I have had an incredible June, in the sense that there was no letup. From my mind-blowing trip to the USA and my Cornell 20th Reunion, where I discovered that bullying can become trans-generational (http://www.debito.org/homecoming2007.html), to coming home with jetlag only to be smacked by a car while riding my bicycle to work (http://www.debito.org/?p=453 –finding myself still able to cycle and walk but not climb stairs unassisted for awhile), I’ve had to deal not only with hospitals and insurance companies, but also deadlines that were constantly nipping at my heels. Finish one speech, start preparing another. Every day for about a week.


Early on Tuesday morning June 19, I finally started the paper I would be delivering on Friday and Saturday at Waseda University and the 2007 Asian Studies Conference Japan. Topic? Immigration’s effects on Japan, and how lack of governmental oversight has created Frankenstein’s Monster in the labor market. By Tuesday evening, I had pounded out seventeen pages with footnotes and references, and by Wednesday night I was on my third draft and 19th concluding page. I was still writing it on the plane down to Tokyo the next day, and by Thursday evening the fourth and final draft was finished (see it at http://www.debito.org/ASCJPaper2007.doc). I forwent catching up on any Internet or blogging, getting started on my concomitant Powerpoint presentation right away before any sleep (speeches I do nowadays are never only just reading from a printed document anymore; I find using Powerpoint to create visuals from the computer, instead of the Mind’s Eye or the OHP, to be very effective. Sadly, this means my workload is doubled.) Staying with friends Leisa and Stephen Nagy, I found myself striking a decent (but slightly worried) balance between being social, and wondering if I hadn’t taken outdone myself by saying “yes” to everyone who asked me to speak on this trip.


So Friday morning June 20, I went to Waseda early and used the graduate student facilities to pound out my Powerpoint in four hours (see it here at http://www.debito.org/japansmulticulturalfuture.ppt). I gave my speech to several grad students (even the American Embassy showed, thanks), and found that the presentation (with questions from the audience during) stretched what had to be a 20-minute talk into well over an hour (which earned tuts from timekeeper Stephen). A couple of grad students said I lacked data (naturally, the Powerpoint is a capsule summary; I suggested they download and read my whole paper), and one asked what percentage of Non-Japanese workers have working conditions as bad as I was citing from the newspapers.

I answered that it’s not a matter of degree–what percentage of exploitation and slavery by nationality would be the proper threshold for saying the system needs improvement? 1%? 5%? 20%? And anyway, we’ll never get reliable stats on this topic when many workers, legal or illegal, won’t come forward to bad-mouth their bosses or get deported. It’s like trying to guestimmate the amount of rape or DV in a society. To me it’s a red herring anyway, since horrible work conditions, even child labor and slavery, being inflicted upon even one laborer in Japan is too many. It’s illegal, too, but poorly enforced–both created then left to forge its own cruel realities by our government.

Anyway, yes, I didn’t have that data, and I could sense the glee in the grad students’ eyes. Gosh, they got me, the big bad speaker who for some reason needed to be shown he’s not all that smart or impregnable, without discussing the problems brought up. Such is one weak spot of academia. Not only does the “dispassionate view” that the academic must take suck the humanity out of issues of human rights, but also the trauma inflicted upon the researcher, suffering constant supervisor and peer vetting of theses in the name of “rigor”, creates a pecking order of nitpicking questions and data for data’s sake. After all, in an arena like this, it’s always seen as better to have data than not, right?, even when it’s irrelevant. “I don’t know” (rather than the consideration of “it doesn’t matter”) in a forum like this becomes an unforgivable weakness.

Then, ironies upon ironies, right afterwards I went to a series of lectures at Waseda on “Cool Japan”. There we had people discussing the intricacies of candles on the heads of certain manga characters, and musings on how Pokemon creates a self-actualizing world for children. Culture vulture stuff, nonrigorous hooey, but received with heavy-lidded adulation out of politeness. Lousy Powerpoint too. Left early.


Saturday June 23 was the Asian Studies Conference Japan at Meiji Gakuin University, and quite frankly, I found few papers all that interesting (and even fewer papers available for reading–made me wonder why I tried so hard to get my paper done on time). Some stuff on disaffected youth made me think, but nothing made me blink. And I used some of the time in droning presentations to whittle down my upcoming Powerpoint presentation to its bare essentials. Our roundtable (which had been gratefully preserved by people despite having one of our panelists drop out) had the torture of doing five papers in a two-hour period; each person got 24 minutes including Q&A. Stephen clocked in at 21 minutes with his interesting presentation on the official openness of local governments in different Tokyo Wards towards NJ residents (Adachi-ku sounded pretty progressive, whereas Shinjuku-ku ironically didn’t care–in fact was disinclined to see foreign residents as much more than a potential source of crime). Then I stampeded through my 35 slides and clocked in at 23 minutes just. We had a full house, no questions about data or lack thereof. Probably no time, alas.

Evening was spent catching up with old friends Ken, Garrett, and Alby from Transpacific Radio (http://www.transpacificradio.com –I’ve asked them if they’ll let me read the news sometime), plus newfound friend Aly who surfaced from the Internet to tell me about his woes getting stopped by the police all the time in Saitama (it’s getting worse; the cops apparently target foreigners more than the increasing number of shops with “JAPANESE ONLY” signs…). Stayed out too late and had one beer too many.


Sunday June 24 was even busier, if you can believe it. First thing in the morning (as in 9AM, running all the way to deserted downtown Tokyo), I met an Italian journalist (a lovely former fashionista named Stefania with a lovelier accent) who interviewed me for more than three hours for a 5000-word article on activism in Japan. Then taxied back to the ASCJ Conference, since I had been specially invited to attend a post-lunch talk by Nikkei Americans and Canadians about their feelings returning “home” to Japan.

Humph. With even less “rigor” (but good media), we had talks of what I call the genre of feel-good “baachan essays” (or conversely whiney ponderings about defeated expectations–i.e a “Japan don’t treat me right, despite” sort of thing). A love-in for those genetically-admitted, we received a talk about the narratives of older Japanese Americans and Canadians in the Kansai (which, since there were no narrative samples taken from younger women, or from any men at all “because they would disrupt the flow of information”, essentially became a survey of nattering older housewives shooting fish in a barrel). When I asked about if there were any plans to include the no doubt fascinating narratives of Nikkei Brazilians etc. (their factory schedules and language barriers notwithstanding), the answer was no, since, it was claimed, the study of Nikkei North Americans is far more underresearched. This surprising claim was based upon the fact that the Nikkei North Americans had fought or been betrayed by Japan in WWII, adversely influencing research of them. Aha. When the last speaker even asserted that Nikkei should being a White person to Japanese restaurants to get better service, I said, “It cuts both ways. There’s no science here.”

This confirmed a number of things I have been mulling over about these so-called Nikkei “returnees” (kibei) to Japan: How they seem to forget that their ancestors generally left Japan for perfectly good reasons, often because they didn’t fit in economically or socially. And they expect to come back and fit in now? I think it’s best to come here with no expectations or any trump cards due to genetics and make do as individuals, not Nikkei. But I’m sure they wouldn’t agree. To them it’s somehow some matter of birthright. Ah well. Enjoy the questionable social science from identity navel gazing and defeated expectations. It makes for exclusive ideological love-ins all over again, which happen to be just as exclusive as they feel they are facing in Japanese society.

Then in the late afternoon I carted my monolithic suitcase (full of books and T-shirts, http://www.debito.org/tshirts.html) through the subways (surprisingly unbarrier-free; I really feel sorry for people in wheelchairs), and found my way out to Tokai University, out in Odawara, an hour west of Tokyo. Hosts Charles and Yuki Kowalski had invited me out for two speeches care of their E-J translation ESP Classes in the International Studies Department. I had fortunately pounded out an 8-pager on “What is a Japanese?” shortly before I went to America weeks ago. I couldn’t even remember what I wrote, but as soon as we finished our home-cooked meal and some homeopathic remedy for my aching bike leg (it worked, actually–my leg hasn’t hurt since!), I went off to a deserted stay-over teacher’s dorm (I felt like I was walking the halls of the Overlook Hotel in THE SHINING, expecting to find twins behind every corner), was given two nights in a lovely old corner room with big windows overlooking trees, and got started on my Tokai speech Powerpoint (see it at http://www.debito.org/tokaispeech062507.doc)


Rising early the next morning (5AM), Monday, June 25, I put the finishing touches on a few visuals, was escorted at 9:30AM into a full classroom of perhaps 150 students, and asked to read my speech in English (without the E-J translation department there to help). I looked at the list of keywords carefully prepared by several teachers (who had done a hell of a lot of groundwork for my speeches–with classroom exercises on Japan’s internationalization, their opinions on who qualifies as a Japanese, and Japan’s future), and saw a full small-print page with words that were second-nature to me by now, but challenging to even advanced non-native speakers. Oops. Wound up paraphrasing the hard stuff, throwing in translations for difficult concepts, and finishing my talk early to power the rest of the presentation with Q&A. Anything to keep people from falling asleep. They didn’t. The questions came easily and quickly, and people of all langauge levels seemed to enjoy the conversation about Japan’s future.

But that’s not all. Later on in the afternoon, we were seated in a 500-seat auditorium with our ten translators, all raring to go, dreading the Q&A, but doing just fine on the prepared statements. I had prepared even more Powerpoint visuals in the interim (see the full version at http://www.debito.org/tokai062507.ppt), and we had a grand old time–especially since the hall had actually filled to 600 souls!, containing the crowded tension and interest when jokes come up and the speaker gets a little bombastic with his points.

But the questions were hell for the interpreters. One asked, “What do you think is the definition of ‘country’?” (as in nation–kuni). Another asked if my demand for Japan’s Census to measure for ethnicity was not a form of privacy invasion, even discrimination. Still another asked if I objected to the word “haafu” for international children (going instead for “double”), then how do Nikkei fit in? Having interpreters was lucky for me–their time taken to interpret gave me time to consider my answer, but when my answer go too tough to translate, I wound up giving my full ideas in fast Japanese like SNL’s Subliminal Man–to quite a few laughs. In the end, we had a wonderful time, and an audience, according to the ESP coordinators, more numerous, engaged, and thoughtful about the topic at hand than any other guest speech they had ever hosted.

Much merriment followed that evening over beers with the interpreters (two of them were actually Chinese, with excellent Japanese skills and even higher tolerance for alcohol), so much so I realized I had stayed out too late again and drunk too much. And I hadn’t even started my Powerpoint presentation for my last speech to be given in less than 24 hours. The problem was this time it was entirely in Japanese…


Rising even earlier (4AM) on Tuesday, June 26, I set to work. Major publisher Shogakukan in Jinbochou, Tokyo, had invited me as part of their guest lecturer series for raising the awareness of their writers, inviting minorities and interest groups to give their perspectives on the mass media. They asked me to speak on a dream topic–“Language that Japanese don’t notice is discriminatory”–and believe you me I had a lot I’ve wanted to say.

So much so, however, that my Powerpoint slides kept growing and growing. By 9AM I had finished a first draft of 45 slides. On the train back to Tokyo I started getting more ideas, and by the time I camped out for two hours at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Library, I had put together 51 slides (see them all here at http://www.debito.org/shougakukan062607.ppt), proofreading and checking text animations just once more with 30 minutes to go. Grabbed a sandwich and a cab, sailed into Shogakukan (in my daze I remembered that I had tried to sell them both my novel MS in 1994 (excerpts at http://www.debito.org/publications.html#FICTIONAL), and my children’s comic book two years ago (more on that later sometime)), and with T minus ten I was hooked up and let fly. It was not the first time I’ve finished my Powerpoint presentation less than an hour before I gave it, but it was the first time I’d ever done it without any help from a native speaker. And from what I was told afterwards, the Japanese was just fine.

I won’t get into what I said here, as this essay is long enough, (read the Powerpoint–maybe I’ll get around to translating it some day), but two hours later I was back on the street, having accomplished my goals completely. I headed back to the FCCJ, had a big dinner of comfort food (nachos and fish and chips, washed down with Grolsch), and attended a compelling Book Break by Roland Kelts (http://www.fccj.or.jp/~fccjyod2/node/2272), author of “JAPANAMERICA: How Japanese Pop Culture has invaded the US”, who very articulately spelled out how manga and anime are influencing both American society and international print media. And in passing he described how Pokemon really affects kids, without lapsing into jargon or faffing about with personal impressions. Well done. We exchanged books (or actually, he’ll send me a copy of his later), and someday I might even get around to reviewing it for Debito.org.

Then friend and Amnesty International Group 78 Coordinator Chris Pitts (http://www.aig78.org), gave me a room to crash in in West Tokyo, and we stayed up nursing beverages until the wee hours. I was up this morning at 5AM to beat the morning rush hour and catch my 9:50 flight back to Sapporo. Then I taught a class, writing this up before and after.   I’m going to leave the keyboard now and sleep, thank you very much…


Again, I don’t think I’ve been this busy since grad school. Well, okay, once or twice since then. I can see that my daily grind of one paper per day back then was indeed good training. I’ll be down again in Tokyo in late July for yet another speech–if more don’t pop up like dandelions like what happened this trip. Keep you posted.

Returning to my regular blog schedule, I hope. Sorry for the hiatus. Arudou Debito back in Sapporo, Japan

Upcoming Tokyo Speeches: Waseda, Meigaku, Tokai, Shogakukan


Hello Blog. Quick note to tell you more about some speeches I’ve got coming up over the next seven days. Hard to believe, but four. Details as far as I know as follows:

Speech on Japan’s Immigration and Internationalization 2 to 4PM
Waseda University, Tokyo, International Community Center
Speech given in English, Q&A in English and Japanese
(More details at very bottom of this blog entry)

Paper Brief on Japan’s Immigration and Internationalization 3:30 to 5:30 PM
(One of five presenters, in English)
Part of the weekend-long Eleventh Asian Studies Conference, Japan
Meiji Gakuin University, Shirogane Campus
More on the conference at http://www.meijigakuin.ac.jp/~ascj/
Summary of the paper at the very bottom of this blog entry
Link to Draft Two of the paper (will be updated as revisions are completed) at http://www.debito.org/ASCJPaper2007.doc

“What is a Japanese?”, Simultaneous interpretation speech
Tokai University’s ESP Classes, International Studies Department.
International Students Lecture 9:20 to 10:50 AM
Interpretation Speech 3:10 to 4:40 PM
Hosted by Charles Kowalski of Tokai University

小学館 法務・考査室主宰
Speech in Japanese to Shogakukan Inc. on “Unwittingly Discriminatory Language in Japan’s Mass Media”.


Just to let you know I’m not going to be able to keep up the pace of one blog update per day. I have to get cracking writing all these speeches and papers, so I’m going to be offline until I’m in the clear.

More details on these venues if and when they become available, so check back here later. Meanwhile, you should be able to find out the whereabouts based upon the data above should you want to attend.

Thanks for reading, and in this case, for listening. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Topic: Immigration and Internationalization in Japan
Speaker: Debito Arudo, Associate Professor, Hokkaido Information University

I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to this meeting of the Waseda University Doctoral Student Network which hopes to promote more dialogue among students, chances to share their ideas with Professors and colleagues and create a stronger network of scholars at Waseda University.

Please see below for details on presentation and the aims of the Waseda University Doctoral Student Network.

Finally, I would like to invite professors to recommend students to present as well as students to contact me if they are interested in presenting in this forum in the coming months.

Stephen Robert Nagy
PhD Candidate
Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies.
Waseda University

Location: Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies, Waseda University
Building 19, Room 310, 2PM to 4PM June 22
For map see: http://www.wiaps.waseda.ac.jp/

Speaker Information:
Debito Arudou
Associate Professor
Hokkaido Information University
Home page: http://www.debito.org

ARUDOU Debito (BA Cornell, 1987; MPIA UC San Diego, 1991) is a naturalized Japanese citizen and Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University. A human rights activist, he has authored two books, Japaniizu Onrii–Otaru Onsen Nyuuyoku Kyohi Mondai to Jinshu Sabetsu and its English version (Akashi Shoten 2003 and 2004, updated 2006), and is currently at work on a bilingual guidebook for immigrants to Japan. He also puts out a regular newsletter and columns for The Japan Times. His extensive bilingual website on human rights issues and living in Japan is available at http://www.debito.org

Presentation Title: Immigration and Internationalization in Japan

SUMMARY: Despite an express policy against importing unskilled foreign labor, Japan since 1990 has been following an unacknowledged backdoor “Guest Worker” program to alleviate its labor shortages. Through its “Student”, “Entertainer” “Nikkei Visitors” and “Trainee” Visa programs, it has brought in hundreds of thousands of cost-effective Non-Japanese laborers to stem the “hollowing out” (i.e. outsourcing, relocation, or bankruptcy) of Japan’s domestic industry. This has since doubled the number of registered Non-Japanese in Japan, but has not resulted in Japan’s acceptance of these laborers as “residents” or regular “full-time workers”, entitled to the same social benefits as Japanese under labor law (such as a minimum wage, health and unemployment insurance, and mandatory education of their children). Moreover, insufficient governmental regulation of these programs has fomented labor abuses (exploitative or slave labor conditions, child labor, human rights violations, even murder), to the degree where the Japanese government is now reviewing the process, with a discussion on “fixing” the system by 2009. The current debate between ministries is not on finding a way to help Non-Japanese workers live and assimilate better in Japan, but rather of making it clear they are really only temporary–making the visas more clearly term-limited revolving-door employment. Meanwhile, not only are labor abuses continuing, there is an emerging underclass of uneducated Non-Japanese children with neither sufficient language abilities nor employable skill sets. Immigration, however, continues apace, as the number of Regular Permanent Residents grows by double-digit percentages every year; by the end of 2007, this paper forecasts that it will surpass the number of generational Zainichi Permanent Residents for the first time ever. Surveying the most recent data available as of this writing (June 23, 2007), this paper concludes with a caution that the longer Japan delays its inevitable internationalization, the more likely that it will change, as Sakenaka Hidenori (Director, Japan Immigration Policy Institute) writes, from a “Big Japan” into a “Small Japan”, no longer Asia’s leader and regional representative.

Link to Draft Two of the paper (will be updated as revisions are completed) at http://www.debito.org/ASCJPaper2007.doc

Jun 27 Sophia U Film Showing: “Refusing to Stand for the Kimigayo”


Hi Blog. Little something which might interest you. Debito back in Sapporo


From: David Slater
Subject: Film Showing at Sophia U: “Refusing to Stand for the Kimigayo” (June
Forwarded by Robert Aspinall

Institute for the Study of Social Justice at Sophia University
Invites you to a film screening:

AGAINST COERCION:Refusing to Stand for “Kimigayo”
(87 minutes/in Japanese with English subtitles)
Directors: Matsubara Akira and Sasaki Yumi (Video Press)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Room L921, 9th Floor, Central Library
Yotsuya Campus, Sophia University
Free Admission

Since the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education issued
a decree to strictly enforce the hoisting of Hinomaru
and the singing of Kimigayo at school ceremonies in
2003, over 340 public school teachers in Tokyo have so
far faced disciplinary actions for “negligence of
duties.” Although the Tokyo Local Court ruled such
coercion unconstitutional in September 2006, the Tokyo
Metropolitan Board of Education took disciplinary
measures against a further 35 teachers in March 2007
and appealed to Tokyo High Court. The punitive
measures of the Tokyo Board of Education are
cumulative, and as a consequence, it looks quite
possible at this point that some teachers will face
dismissal in March 2008 –if they continue to refuse
to stand for Kimigayo.

Such developments are not limited to Tokyo public
schools, and are indeed of particular relevance to
those who are in teaching professions at school as
well as university levels. The new Law on National
Referenda that the Abe government enacted last month
contains a stipulation that prohibits teachers (and
public servants) to “utilize their positions” during
future campaigns on constitutional revisions –in
other words, a school teacher or university professor
who expresses a view that does not conform with the
government proposal may very well face similar
disciplinary measures for “negligence of duties.”

This documentary film follows the school teachers, and
their students, as the teachers refuse to stand for
Kimigayo and face pay-cut, suspension, and re-training
programs. The doors open at 17:00, and the movie
screening is followed by a Q&A session with Ms.
Kawarai Junko, who is currently suspended from her
position at a school for the disabled in Tokyo.

This event represents the first part of a program
entitled “Is Freedom in Danger?” organized by the
Institute for the Study of Social Justice, Sophia
University. It will be followed by a symposium on
October 11, where Prof. Takami Katsutoshi (Sophia Law
School) will speak on the subject of constitution and
freedom, Father Tani Daiji (Bishop of Saitama,
Catholic Church) on freedom of religion, and Koichi
Nakano (Sophia University) on the contemporary
politics of illiberalism (all in Japanese).





上智大学 中央図書館9階L921号室
(With English Subtitles)



「憲法と自由」 高見勝利・上智大学法科大学院教授
「信教の自由と政教分離」 谷大二・さいたま教区司教
「反自由の政治」 中野晃一・上智大学国際教養学部准教授

David H. Slater, Ph.D.
Faculty of Liberal Arts
Sophia University, Tokyo

Kevin Dobbs: Judge rules that overloading foreign faculty is legal


Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard over to Kevin Dobbs, with a report on his temporary court defeat earlier this month over a workload around twice that given regular full-time faculty… Debito in Sapporo


Judge rules that unequal work loads on foreign faculty is legal
By Kevin Dobbs, Full-time educator at IUHW

More background on the case on the Blacklist of Japanese Universities at

Hi Debito,

Our court experience was called “Kari Saiban” or Temporary Court, so our judge made his decision in 33 days. Following are the three main points that the judge said swayed him in favor of my workplace, the International University of Health and Welfare in Tochigi:

1) There was a “work agreement” (not a contract) that all charter teachers had to sign in 1995, the year IUHW opened. This agreement theoretically assured that teachers would stay at IUHW for 4 years, Monkasho’s trial period. All teachers signed this agreement including myself.

Teachers would not, however, have to sign any other “work agreement” thereafter. I, of course, did not. Even though that “agreement” expired in 1999, the judge deemed it admissible even though it expired 8 years ago and even though we stated in a plea that I do not remember signing the “agreement.” The one they submitted conveniently says in Article 4, “B shall teach as many hours as A requires, and shall teach English effectively to A’s students. . .”

On that day in 1995 that I was supposed to have signed this agreement, I was moving my family from Kanagawa to Tochigi. Even though we have asked for the original copy of this “agreement,” IUHW has not produced it. I strongly suspect it has been doctored. But of course this expired piece of paper shouldn’t even be valid, anyway. Curiously, I never received a copy of this “agreement” after I was supposed to have signed it.

2) Stated in our Labor Board settlement of 2006, IUHW awards Zheng Tan Yi (my wife) a decent payoff for getting unfairly fired and another “contract” colleague slightly better working conditions. As for me, the settlement states that “IUHW should carefully consider the number of my koma and make an effort to balance that number with other teachers’ koma at the university.” The average number of koma at IUHW is 6, but the judge believed the university when they said that other teachers’ committee work and other duties equaled 6 additional koma per week, which is just insane. Anyway, this provision in the settlement is really what bunged things up. . .and it was our labor union people and our lawyer who allowed that provision as a part of our overall settlement (I think they were in a hurry to finish things up)—could it be the provision that destroys me? As IUHW officials told us at a recent collective bargaining: “Because of this provision, we can give Kevin Dobbs 15 or 20 koma if we want.” Think they want me to quit?

3) A 1-year-renewable contract teacher (the one I mention above) at IUHW, and the only other union member still at IUHW, stated at a recent collective bargaining that 12 koma was acceptable for him. But that number was in his contract, anyway, and always has been, so he had no choice in the matter. Even though this teacher is a koshi with no publications or presentations to his credit, the judge decided to perceive me and this other teacher as qualitatively the same. The judge said, “If this teacher agrees with 12 koma, then so should Kevin Dobbs”—this, even though I have well over 100 highly competitive publications and some presentations to my credit, not to mention the fact that I was director of up to ten native-English speaking teachers for 10 years. At a recent collective bargaining, however, IUHW said: “If Kevin Dobbs wants to publish, he should quit and get a job at another university. His accomplishments mean nothing to us.”

Anyway, this judge totally ignored our evidence: indisputable Monkasho documents, letters from primary sources, and labor law. It was an abomination of Japanese law and basic decency.

We’re a little hesitant to appeal since we’ve been told that we might get the same judge as before—mind you, in the first town, Otawara, in Japan to allow that awful text book that recently fabricated what happened in WW II. We just don’t know what to do at this point. We’re reeling. Even though we’ve been fighting hard for 3 years, and have become hardened and tough, we’re at a loss here.

Oh, you’ll find this interesting: our union people fear that, if other universities hear about this judge’s decision, they’ll think it’s okay to give teachers more koma. As always, thank you so much for your support.

Your Tochigi Friend, Kevin Dobbs (kdobbs329@yahoo.co.jp)



Professional Bio
Kevin Dobbs

Since 1995, I have worked as an Associate Professor of English at International University of Health and Welfare in Japan. Up to 2006, I was Director of Communicative Strategies and was in charge of up to ten native-English speaking instructors. Now we have only two regular native-English speaking instructors; the other three are from local language schools. The two native-English full-timers who remain have been officially isolated—in other words, our names do not appear on any university literature whether it be hard copy or on the school’s website.

At IUHW, when management considered me a “professional,” I served in many supervisory, public relations, and administrative capacities: these duties included graduate student selection; foreign graduate student advisor; departmental budget management; scheduling; curriculum design; test design; faculty advisor for several student extracurricular clubs (for example, the English Speaking Society); committee for festival coordination; design and implementation of CALL workshops; design and implementation of a university-wide, public speaking program; design and implementation of community outreach, English language workshops; coordinator for sharing outreach with nearby NGO’s and NPO’s; English-speaking host for many of our guest scholars from such countries as Kenya, Cambodia, China, Sweden; international committee; university curriculum committee; hiring committee; committee for foreign student admittance; and many others.

My research and publishing has been interdisciplinary in nature, an accepted way of publishing in Japan since anyone can remember. I’ve published academically in the specialties of EFL public speaking, EAP/ESP writing across the curriculum, and in cross-cultural communication and aesthetic sharing within the classroom. In the 1990’s, I published several book reviews in the Asahi Shimbun, and I’m proud of the fact that later on I was primary essay writer for Shigeru Matsumoto’s text book, Rakku Raku Eibun Kaishaku (Understandable English Essays). Also, I have published primary source literature—short stories, essays, and poems—in dozens of highly competitive, North American literary journals including The New York Quarterly, Carolina Quarterly, Raritan: a Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review, Chelsea, Beloit Fiction Journal, Florida Review, Gulf Stream, Karamu, Poet Lore, Sou’wester, Madison Review, and many others. Within these venues, I’ve published on numerous occasions with Nobel and Pulitzer Laureates, National Book Award winners, and many other literary luminaries. Once, I was featured with one of my favorite novelists, Ken Kesey, in Whiskey Island Magazine, Cleveland State University Press. By the way, if you’d like to take an easy look at some of my poems, go to Maverick Magazine, a leading online journal in which I’ve been published in four issues: maverickmagazine.com. If you’d like to check (verify) my publications, Google me by writing into the search box, “Kevin Dobbs, poetry,” or just “Kevin Dobbs” should get quite a few listings.

Although I’m an accomplished writer, I’m obviously not, by any means, famous, but most of IUHW’s Japanese full-timers, who teach English, have had few or no publications at all. There was never a time since 1995 that I didn’t have more publications than all other Japanese English teachers put together.

As for my graduate degree, I have a terminal Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Creative Writing, Arizona State University, which consisted of 48 semester hours: 24 in literature and 24 in various forms of writing. This kind of degree usually takes three and a half to four years to complete. My four and a half years in graduate school left me with 58 graduate semester hours. My undergraduate degree was in English literature.

I’ve taught ESL/EFL since 1986: composition, public speaking, conversation, listening, basic reading, American culture, basic literature, ESP (medical English), traditional grammar and usage, creative writing, film criticism, critical reading and writing and research, and research methods.


Kyodo on LEE Soo Im, ethnic Korean-J activist and scholar


Now here’s something more in depth from the Japanese media. Thanks Kyodo.

I know Lee Sensei as she cites Debito.org in:
Lee, Soo im; Murphy-Shigematsu, Stephen; and Befu, Harumi, eds., “JAPAN’S DIVERSITY DILEMMAS”. iUniverse Inc. 2006. ISBN 0-595-36257-5. Two citations, in Chapter 4 (Murphy-Shigematsu, “Diverse Forms of Minority National Identities in Japan’s Multicultural Society”, pp. 75-99) and Chapter 5 (Lee, “The Cultural Exclusiveness of Ethnocentrism: Japan’s Treatment of Foreign Residents”, pp. 100-125).

Read on. Debito in Sapporo


FOCUS: Koreans’ struggle casts fresh light on Japanese immigration debate
NEW YORK, March 28 2007 KYODO NEWS

Thanks to Matt Dioguardi for notifying me.

Debates over whether or not to import more foreign workers have always been a thorny issue in Japan, but it came to bear an extra sense of urgency when the country’s total fertility rate dropped to a new record low of 1.25 in 2005.

While foreigners still comprise about 1 percent of Japan’s population, the number of new arrivals has been steadily rising, especially from South America and China.

As these newer immigrants struggle to settle into the Japanese society, the decades-old struggle of the zainichi, or the ethnic Koreans in Japan, has come into clearer focus, says Lee Soo Im, professor at Ryukoku University.

A third-generation ethnic Korean, Lee was born in 1953 in Osaka Prefecture. Like hundreds of thousands of their compatriots, Lee’s grandparents emigrated to Japan in 1921 after losing their farmlands following Japan’s colonization of Korea in 1910.

Her maternal grandfather had a job in Tokyo, but never returned after the massive 1923 Kanto Earthquake. Through various contacts, the family learned that he was among about 6,000 Koreans killed by vigilantes acting on rumors that Koreans were planning a riot.

At the end of World War II, Korean population in Japan totaled over 2 million, swelling through forced conscriptions to make up for labor shortages in the Japanese mainland.

For a few years after 1945, Koreans in Japan were still considered Japanese citizens. But their citizenship was revoked abruptly in 1952 as Japan regained independence that year.

Becoming foreigners in the country they have already settled in, Koreans in Japan faced enormous hurdles in the coming decades, denied a variety of rights including social welfare and national pension.

While Japan’s ratification of the 1982 refugee recognition treaty, which barred nationality-based discrimination, improved the situation to some extent, unspoken discrimination in jobs, bank loans, housing and marriages persisted.

Growing up in Osaka, home to a large ethnic Korean community in Japan, Lee said she had grown immune to racial slurs, including the neighborhood kids’ yelling at her, ”You stinking Korean!”

But Lee was unprepared for her first encounter with an ”institutional discrimination” when she was about to graduate from Kyoto’s renowned Doshisha University.

”My grades were good, and I wanted to work for a municipal bank…and the teacher said, ‘No, they won’t hire Koreans.”

”I lost all my hope. I graduated from my university in 1975 and decided to immigrate to this country (the United States),” Lee spoke recently at New York’s Korea Society.

Financing her tuition with money she saved by teaching English and mathematics in Japan, Lee taught English to immigrants’ children in the United States, majoring in teaching English as a second language at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at Boston State College.

”I got a lot of hope, and courage from these immigrants, especially Korean children. They were telling me, ‘Teacher, one day we want to be like you.”

While in the United States, Lee also met her Iranian husband and gave birth to a daughter in Boston. Having little desire of returning to Japan, the family was set to move to Iran, but the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980 made this impossible.

Back in Japan, Lee decided to apply for Japanese citizenship to safeguard her family’s visa status. But the immigration office was not convinced that she would become the ”head of a family” under Japan’s quintessentially paternal family registry system.

”They didn’t even give me an application form,” Lee said.

Fortunately, demand for English teachers was growing at the time, and Lee managed to find a secure job as a general director at an English language institute.

Her career bloomed, but seeking a fresh challenge, Lee applied for a teaching post at Ryukoku and was hired by the university in 1996. The move opened up her world to the study of ethnic Koreans and a host of human rights issues ethnic minorities face around the world.

Regaining her confidence, Lee went back to the immigration office in 1999 to apply for citizenship. The office was initially reluctant, but gave in after she threatened legal action, Lee said.

Lee became a Japanese citizen in 2002. Unlike most Koreans who naturalize, however, she decided to retain her Korean name, a decision questioned by an official in the process.

”I was told, ‘Why don’t you become a pure Japanese? That way, you could avoid discrimination, and your life will be better off,”’ Lee said.

”I said no. I want to naturalize, of course, to make my status more established, but I want to naturalize to make my presence become more visible in the society.”

Growing up, Lee used a Japanese name and hid her ethnicity until she was 18, when she decided to receive a high school diploma in her Korean name after a long struggle over her identity.

”I have to be a living example, teaching the domestic internationalization to Japanese people,” Lee said.

Lee, who recently co-edited ”Japan’s Diversity Dilemmas: Ethnicity, Citizenship, and Education” to highlight issues surrounding the country’s immigrant population, says there are no such thing as pure Japanese. A homogenous Japan is a myth built upon foreigners forced to live ”invisibly,” she says.

While the Japanese perception toward Koreans got a lift in recent years thanks largely to the Korean pop culture, there is a backlash by nationalists, in addition to a move to reinstate patriotic education, a trend she is particularly concerned about.

Lee forecasts that the Japanese attitude toward immigrants will not change unless the situation ”really hits the bottom.” But she believes Japan can no longer expect foreigners to choose between assimilation and exclusion under the forces of globalization.

”I love Japan and fighting against the system is my way of showing patriotism to my country,” Lee said.

Takahashi speech at U of Chicago: “Militarism, Colonialism, Yasukuni Shrine”


Hi Blog. Great speech (available as a podcast from the link below) from the University of Chicago’s International and Area Studies Multimedia Outreach Service (CHIASMOS) (Thanks to Fiona for notifying me):

“Postwar Japan on the Brink: Militarism, Colonialism, Yasukuni Shrine”
by Professor Tetsuya Takahashi, University of Tokyo
March 6, 2007

Professor Takahashi’s writings, including his 2005 bestseller, The Yasukuni Issue, make unmistakably clear that the role of the Shrine is antithetical to democratic values in Japan and to reconciliation with Asia, which requires acknowledgment of the harms inflicted through colonialism and war. The subject of his lecture is Japan at a crossroads today, its hard-won postwar democratic values at stake as never before.

Professor Takahashi teaches philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo.

Available as a podcast and/or video at:

Delivered in Japanese, with excellent translation by Dr. Norma Field (author, “In the Realm of a Dying Emperor”), there are no excuses for not listening on either side of the linguistic fence!

EXCERPT (minute 120):
“At the outset of my talk, I referred to the Tomita Memorandum as having been used by those who wanted to criticize the Prime Minister’s official visits to Yasukuni Shrine. However, I think that in the medium future, it is possible that that memorandum could be used in the opposite way–i.e. to clear the way for official visits by the Emperor himself. This past summer, in 2006, Foreign Minister Aso, an extremely influential politician, proposed that in order to revive the path for Imperial worship, the [Yasukuni] Shrine should be nationalized again. Such a proposal by such an influential politician is one we can not afford to overlook.

“It is the case that between 1969 and 1974, the LDP proposed legislation that would remove Yasukuni Shrine from its non-special status and make it again subject to State support. However, in that period, from 1969 to 1974, there was too strong a worry that this would lead to the revivial of militarism, and this legislation was not enacted. However, now, thirty years later, influential politicians in the LDP are stating that the State should remove, according to its own judgment, the Class-A War Criminals from Yasukuni Shrine, secure the understanding of China and Korea, and then make it possible to nationalize Yasukuni Shrine, make it possible for Yasukuni Shrine to have regular visits from the Prime Minister and the Emperor.

“I think that what I laid out earlier is that Triadic System stands a very good chance of being revived now. Namely, with the revision of Article 9, and the establishment of a force that is openly recognized to be an army, with the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education already effected in December of 2006 building in patriotic education. And then, the possibility of nationalizing Yasukuni Shrine–so that if there are deaths on the battlefield that occur, given the newly-established army, then these people will be enshrined in the national shrine and honored by the Prime Minister and the Emperor.

“I hope that you can understand now why I cannot accept that the problem of Article 9 is merely a problem with the Class-A War Criminals. I should have added that all these things could be happening according to this scenario with no objections coming from China and Korea–because the Class-A War Criminals have been disposed of.”
(Transcript by Arudou Debito)

Japan Focus on public perceptions of crime in Japan


Hello Blog. Trapped in Miyazaki at the moment with a newsletter to mail out but no emailability.  Meanwhile, let me cite a marvellous article dealing with crime and crime perception in Japan.  From Japan Focus (an academic site run out of Cornell University in the US, thanks to Mark for the notification), some selective quotes:


Crime and Punishment in Japan: From Re-integrative Shaming to Popular Punitivism    

By Thomas Ellis & Koichi HAMAI



SUMMARY: In the late 1990s, press coverage of police scandals in Japan provoked policy reactions so that more ‘trivial’ offences were reported, and overall crime figures rocketed. The resulting ‘myth of the collapse of secure society’ appears, in turn, to have contributed to increasingly punitive public views about offenders and sentencing in Japan.

The NPA policy shift since 2000, toward encouraging greater reporting of minor offences has produced a large increase in overall recorded violent crimes that are virtually unsolvable and this has devastated the police clear up rate. In reality, International Crime Victims Surveys show that the risk of becoming a victim (including of violent crime) between 2000 and 2004 was generally reduced, but the proportion reported to and recorded by the police increased. These surveys also show that Japan has the lowest victimization rates for robbery, sexual assault and assault with force. Further, the homicide rate, which is one of the most reliable crime statistics, shows a downward trend since the 1980s, and the clear up rate has remained consistently above 90%. However, like the public elsewhere, the Japanese public rely more on media sources for opinions on crime than they do on objective sources. As Figure 4. shows, there is no clear relationship between the trends in homicide rates and the number of press articles relating to them, again supporting a notion of moral panic.

As with most comparable nations, the Japanese public’s fear of crime is not in proportion to the likelihood of being victimized. What is different is the scale of this mismatch. While Japan has one of the lowest victimization rates, the International Crime Victim Surveys (ICVS) indicate that it has among the highest levels of fear of crime. The Japanese moral panic about crime has been extremely durable in the new millennium. Some now claim that the panic perspective has become institutionalized in Japan and that there has been collapse of the pre-existing psychological boundary dividing experience of the ordinary personal world where crime is rare, and another hyper-real world where crime is common….

However, rather than the rise in relatively trivial crimes, the press focused on homicide and violent crime, which are the types of stories with high “news value” in Japan and elsewhere.


Rest at http://www.japanfocus.org/products/details/2340

The full version of this article was published in International Journal of the Sociology of Law (2006, Vol. 34 (3) pp.157-178.) Posted on Japan Focus on January 29, 2007.


COMMENT:  So as this article demonstrates, the perception gap between real and imagined crime in Japan is one of the highest in the world, and the media has been helping it along.  Meanwhile, the National Police Agency zeroes in on foreign crime, since it is a softer target.  The public perception there (cf. GAIJIN HANZAI mag re Fukuoka Chinese murder) is that it is more diabolical (i.e. something Japanese would never do as heinously), more organized and terroristic (cf. Embassy of Japan in Washington DC’s website on this at http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/english/html/033005b.htm  –also includes mention of infectious diseases, of course exclusive to foreigners…).

And just plain unnecessary from a sociological standpoint.  For if Japanese commit crime and the rates go up, the NPA will come under fire for not doing their job.  But if foreigners commit it (in their unpredictable ways, so lay off our poor boys in blue), they shouldn’t be coming to Japan in the first place now, should they?  Zeroing in on foreign crime is a great way to open the budgetary purse strings while deflecting criticism. 

Pity the Japanese media has to play along with it too for the sake of “impact”. (cf http://www.debito.org/?p=218)  As you can see, it reassures nobody and far divorces the debate from reality.

Arudou Debito in Miyazaki









MEDIA GAIJIN HANDLING (i.e. significantly different headlines and reportage depending on which side of the linguistic fence you report to) DURING KOIZUMI’S 2003 FOREIGN CRIME PUTSCH


JAPAN TIMES MAY 24, 2005 ON THE “ANTI-TERRORIST” CRIME BILL (which did get passed)





Hello everyone. Arudou Debito back in Sapporo brings you another:

FEBRUARY 3, 2007

and finally…


Updates in real time and RSS at http://www.debito.org/index.php


To many devotees of the blogosphere, this is already old news. But just in case readers have lives outside of cyberspace:

A major publisher has just released a scandal-style magazine entitled “GAIJIN HANZAI URA FAIRU” (Gaijin [sic] Crime Underground Files), which would draw howls from many an anti-defamation league if this were on sale in most other developed countries.

Given that it is being sold on Amazon and in major Japanese convenience stores (Family Mart, for one), it is in my view worth making a fuss about. More on what you can do in my comments below.

But what’s the fuss? Let me turn the keyboard to the person who initially notified me two days ago, Steve. I made some edits to his post (and Romanized the Japanese–original available at ) so that this newsletter doesn’t get snagged by your profanity filters. Sorry for the language, but it is germane:

============= STEVE’S REPORT BEGINS ====================
My curiosity got the better of me [and I bought this awful book.]
I’ve scanned some pages as links at the bottom of this email:

Publisher: Eichi Shuppan 150-001 Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-38-4
Publisher-in-Chief: Joey H. Washington (I wonder who this guy is?)

Available online at
Or at Amazon.co.jp at

Here are some “highlights”:
Back Page:
47,000 crimes by foreigners each year!!
There then follows a “danger rating” (kikendo) of each country, scattered on a world map surrounded by knives, guns and syringes:
China: 14 Russia: 5 Korea: 9 Brazil: 8 Colombia: 3 Etc.
None for the USA, Canada, Australia or the whole of Europe.
[And of course no stats for Japanese criminals for comparison.]


Article about crimes by Iranians:
iranjin o tsukamae!!
Catch the Iranian!!

Article lamenting Tokyo’s demise into lawlessness:
furyou gaijin bouryoku toshi!!
City of Violent Degenerate Foreigners!!

Article about foreigners scamming Japanese for money:
mushirareru nihonjin. (katakana for accented Japanese): “shachousan, ATM kotchi desu”
Japanese getting conned. “Theesaway to ze ATM, Meester Managing Director”


Feature of foreign guys picking up Japanese women (What this has to do with “crime” is unclear)
[NB: “Yellow Cab” is Japanese slang directed at Japanese women who will let any Non-J man, ahem, ride them.]

omaera sonna ni gaijin ga ii no ka yo!!
You sl*ts really think foreign guys are so great, huh!!

soryaa nihonjin wa chiisai kedo…
We know Japanese guys are small, but..


Picture of black guy touching a J.girl’s ass in Shibuya (obviously consensual too)
oi nigaa!! nipponfu joshi no ketsu sawatten ja nee!!
Oi N****r!! Get your f****n’ hands off that Japanese lady’s ass!!
(yes. It really does say “nigaa”)

Picture of dark-haired [White?] foreigner kissing J.girl in Shibuya (again, obviously consensual)
koko wa nippon nan da yo! temee no kuni ni kaette yari na!
This is Japan! Go back to your own f****n’ country and do that!


Picture of foreigner with hands down a J.girl’s knickers in Shibuya (definitely consensual)
chotto chotto chotto! rojou de teman wa yamete kureru?
Woah! Woah! Woah! Stop with the f*ng*r*ng a girl’s p***y in the street, huh?

Links to scanned images referred to above:
============= STEVE’S REPORT ENDS ====================

One more report from another blogger in Tokyo:

============= BLOG COMMENT BEGINS ===================
There’s also an extremely puerile article about Korean “Delivery Health”
pr*st*t*t*on services, which give the lowdown on some of the “myths” that
surround them, entitled “Korean Delivery Health: True or Lie?”

Myth number 6 or 7 is “Is it true that Korean wh*res’ v*g*n*s smell of
kimchii?”. This is discussed at length, the basic conclusions being that no,
Korean wh*res’ v*g*n*s do not especially smell of kimchii but you can expect
a general aroma of kimchii on her body.

Debito, this is one of the most irresponsible and mean-spirited pieces of
journalism and publishing I have ever had the misfortune to come across. It
truly is at least as bad, if not worse, than any underground right-wing
literature you’d find in Austria, France, Germany or the UK. But this isn’t
“underground”–it’s sold in Family Mart convenience stores apparently
nationwide and published by a firm that by all accounts sees itself as being
part of the mainstream.
============= BLOG COMMENT BEGINS ===================

COMMENT: The magazine is already making waves overseas (I just got called tonight by The Guardian (UK) for a quote), as it should. And the blogosphere is suggesting creative ways to sabotage the sales (such as sticking chewing gum in the copies on the newsstand).

You can also exercise your power as consumer by letting the stores in your area which stock this magazine know how you feel (be polite about it). Or if you’d like to head for the source, try these outlets (thanks Craig):

Family Mart Japan:
http://www.family.co.jp/english/company/index.html (has postal address)

Family Mart USA (known as “Famima!” in the USA):

Comments to Amazon.com USA can be made via

And to Amazon.co.jp:

I will make sure the United Nations gets a copy of this report by email, and a hard copy of this magazine when I meet Rapporteur Doudou Diene later on this month…



I reported to you last November about that Eikaiwa “E R English School” in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture

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


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

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

I did get an answer from the YIA on December 12. Letter (Japanese) scanned at:
They said sorry, and would be more careful to not let this happen again on their bulletin boards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



My trips down south these days are turning into very heady affairs, with full schedules and fascinating conversations. Some updates:

I mentioned last week that our newest book “GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS” to help people immigrate and settle down in Japan,
will be out this summer, with a contract signed last Friday.

Well, something I didn’t mention is that I’m planning on helping out with another book, on naturalized Japanese, co-written with a naturalized former Chinese professor friend of mine. Tentatively titled “KIKASHA NO KOE” (Voices of the Naturalized), we have proposed some essays for Japanese-language readership on the views of people who take out Japanese citizenship. I have contacted a few naturalized friends I know to contribute writings, but if anyone out there can refer me to a few more, that would be very helpful, thanks. debito@debito.org


I also met for several hours with a non-Japanese long-term resident who suffered a severe beating and head trauma after an altercation in a Tokyo crosswalk, with him on foot and his assailant in a car. After the victim showed me the police report and medical records, I became convinced that the local police did a very lousy (if not deliberate) job of covering up the finer details of the case, so that the assailant got off with a relatively light fine, while the victim received not a penny in damages or medical costs. Over the years I have heard plenty of opposite cases, where non-Japanese assailants are hit with heavy fines and jail time (one example at http://www.debito.org/?p=83) for public spats, many of which don’t result in the Japanese side getting hurt much or at all. I am trying to build a case that non-Japanese do not enjoy equal protections of criminal law in Japan, but that’s going to take a lot more cases for me to plot points and draw conclusions. Meanwhile, my interviewee suffers from wounds both physical and mental. I hope someday he will let me make his case public on debito.org.


I also met with United Nations representatives in Japan (in Aoyama Doori, Tokyo), particularly Ms Nathalie Karsenty, Senior Legal Officer for the Tokyo Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, see http://www.unhcr.org) and her staff. She invited me for tea and discussion in her office about issues brought up on debito.org and this newsletter. Inter alia, she wanted to know if any refugees in or coming to Japan were getting in touch with me. I said no (although I get about 3 to 5 emailed requests for information on average daily). If I do get any, I’m to refer them to her from now on (so let me know).

I also gave her my opinions on the chances of Japan as a country being more receptive to outsiders and the dispossessed (low), and the probability of Japan becoming an international society (high). She got copies of JAPANESE ONLY in English and Japanese (http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html) as well as some Hokkaido chocolates (natch). Let’s hope she and her staff enjoy both.


Finally, this also came to pass last week: I will probably be down in Tokyo for a full year (2008-2009) for a research sabbatical at a Tokyo university. Lobbying and researching politicians in the Japanese national Diet (Parliament). More on that later, but toriaezu, hurrah!!

If life in Tokyo will be anything as whirlwind as last week, I have the feeling I’m going to be exhausted long before the sabbatical ends. My publisher has expressed an interest in publishing my research findings as well (which will mean book #5 with them). So now it’s time to start looking for funding and scholarships. Would welcome suggestions from people in the know. debito@debito.org



The Japanese University Greenlist is a list of institutions of higher education in Japan which hire non-Japanese faculty on the same permanently-tenured terms as Japanese faculty. These are the places you oughta look at if you’re looking for a stable, secure job in Japanese education.

Joining the 32 universities currently on board is Hirosaki University
with primary-source testimony from faculty member a Dr James Westerhoven. Thanks!

Meanwhile, I realized just how much impact the opposite list, the Blacklist of Japanese Universities (places you probably wouldn’t want to work), has in the field.

A friend of mine tried to get me a speaking opportunity this month at a university I recently blacklisted: Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Kyushu.
Turns out the (tenured, of course) faculty knew who I was and decided I was not a desirable speaker. Ah well.

But I have a feeling the same thing happened with another school in the Kansai area, which was recommended to me by friends as a legit tenured job in the field of human rights. My job application there was summarily rejected, with no follow-up interview despite all the credentials, activism, and publications.

Then–of course! I remembered that I have Blacklisted them too…! Such is the blowback from speaking out.


and finally…


I will be on the road next week for ten days, travelling between Nara, Hikone, Wakayama, Kurashiki, Okayama, and Miyazaki. I will be making speeches (schedule follows), so attend if you like.

But before I give the schedule, please let me say thank you to the people out there who bought a “JAPANESE ONLY”T-shirt (details and ordering information at http://www.debito.org/tshirts.html A friend in Tokyo is also stocking them, so if you want details where, please contact me). The response has been overwhelming, and I’ve already sold out of some stock and will have to order more.

I will, however, be carrying along with me my remaining inventory (as well as my JAPANESE ONLY books in English and Japanese) as I travel around the Kansai. If you’d like a shirt, please stop me and buy one, and I’ll knock off 500 yen from the list price of 2500 yen (which means the price is 2000 yen), since this way I don’t need postage. My luggage just seems to keep growing and growing, so feel free also to lighten my load of books as well…!

Anyway, my speech schedule:

Nara Gaikokujin Kyouiku Kenkyuukai sponsors speech on Otaru Onsens Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Speaking to 350 primary and secondary educators in Nara Prefecture (Japanese)
Venue: Nara-Ken Shakai Fukushi Sougou Center

THURS FEB 8 1PM to 4:30PM
Annual speech to exchange students at Shiga University, Hikone (English)

FRI FEB 9 9:30AM to 3 PM
Panelist on 21st Annual Jinken Keihatsu Kenkyuu Shuukai in Shirayama-cho, Wakayama Pref
Speaking on what local governments can do to help their local foreign population (Japanese)
Conference sponsored by the Burakumin Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute (http://www.blhrri.org)

SAT FEB 10 3PM to 5PM
Speech for JALT Wakayama on Onsens Case etc. (English)
More at http://www.eltcalendar.com/events/details/3443

MON FEB 12 1PM to 3PM
Speech for JALT Okayama on what you can do to improve your life and work in Japan. (English)
More at http://www.eltcalendar.com/events/details/3458

That’s all for this trek. I will be in Tokyo again at the end of February for more speeches, sponsored by the Roppongi Bar Association, Amnesty International, and the National Union of General Workers. Also a meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene. I’ll send you that schedule later.

Thanks very much for reading, and maybe I’ll see some of you next week on the road!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo



皆様おはようございます。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。

さてさて、きょうのいいニュースがあります。「ジャパニーズ・オンリー」和英版 (http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html) に相次ぎ、人権に関する日本一の出版社明石書店は私たちの新しい単行本を出版するのを決定しました!

日本に定着するには 」
樋口 彰 と 有道 出人 共著



宜しくお願い致します!有道 出人









–(ーー) 樋口(ひぐち) 彰(あきら)、行政(ぎょうせい)書士(しょし)
–(ーー) 有(あり)道(みち) 出人(でじん)、JAPANESE ONLY著者(ちょしゃ) 
(www.debito.org, debito@debito.org)

日本(にほん) 札幌市(さっぽろし) において 2006年(ねん)12月(がつ)


目  次


第1章(だい1しょう) 日本(にほん)にやってくる
1 - 日本(にほん)のビザ(びざ)制度(せいど)を理解(りかい)する(ビザ(びざ)、在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)(SOR)、在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)認定(にんてい)証明書(しょうめいしょ)(COE))の違い(ちがい)   
2 -(−) 日本(にほん)に来る(くる)ための手続(てつづき)
  -(−) 在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)認定(にんてい)証明書(しょうめいしょ)を国外(こくがい)から取得(しゅとく)する
  -(−) 在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)を日本(にほん)国内(こくない)で取得(しゅとく)・変更(へんこう)する
  -(−) ビザ(びざ)、在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)、在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)認定(にんてい)証明書(しょうめいしょ)のまとめ
3 -(−) 日本(にほん)に来て(きて)からの手続(てつづき)
  -(−) 家族(かぞく)を呼び寄せる(よびよせる)
  -(−) 一時(いちじ)出国(しゅっこく)する
  -(−) 滞在(たいざい)期間(きかん)を延長(えんちょう)する
  -(−) 転職(てんしょく)する
  -(−) 就職(しゅうしょく)のため在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)を変更(へんこう)する
  -(−) 入国(にゅうこく)管理局(かんりきょく)での手続(てつづき)のまとめ
4 -(−)  どんな在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)があるのか?
  -(−) 全27(ぜん27)種類(しゅるい)の在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)の一覧(いちらん)
  -(−) 職種(しょくしゅ)にあわせた在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)の例(れい)
  -(−) 在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)をとるための条件(じょうけん)の例(れい)
5 -  オーバーステイ(おーばーすてい)や資格外(しかくがい)の活動(かつどう)をすると?
 -(−) 最近(さいきん)の入管法(にゅうかんほう)の改正(かいせい)
  -(−) 知らず(しらず)に違反(いはん)してしまう例(れい)
  -(−) オーバーステイ(おーばーすてい)した場合(ばあい)のアドバイス(あどばいす)
6 -(−) 永住(えいじゅう)許可(きょか)と日本(にほん)国籍(こくせき)
  -(−) 違い(ちがい)と取得(しゅとく)のための条件(じょうけん)
7 -(−)  まとめと安定(あんてい)した在留(ざいりゅう)資格(しかく)に向けて(むけて)のアドバイス(あどばいす)

第2章(だい2しょう) 安定(あんてい)した仕事(しごと)と生活(せいかつ)のために
1 - 日本(にほん)の労働(ろうどう)環境(かんきょう)の特徴(とくちょう)
2 -(−) 労働(ろうどう)に関する(かんする)法律(ほうりつ)
3 - 労働(ろうどう)契約(けいやく)
4 -(−) 給料(きゅうりょう)の制度(せいど)
5 -(−) 源泉(げんせん)徴収(ちょうしゅう)と税金(ぜいきん)
6 -(−) 労働者(ろうどうしゃ)のための労働(ろうどう)保険(ほけん)と社会保険
7 - まとめ
8 - 労働(ろうどう)に関する(かんする)用語(ようご)

第3章(だい3しょう) 事業(じぎょう)を始める(はじめる)
1 – なぜ起業(きぎょう)か
2 – 個人(こじん)事業(じぎょう)か法人(ほうじん)事業(じぎょう)か?
3 – 会社(かいしゃ)の種類(しゅるい)
4 – その他(そのた)の事業(じぎょう)形態(けいたい)(NPO、LLP)
5 – 株式(かぶしき)会社(がいしゃ)を設立(せつりつ)して事業(じぎょう)を開始(かいし)する方法(ほうほう)
6 – 事業(じぎょう)の許可(きょか)
  7 – 事業(じぎょう)を続けて(つづけて)いくために必要(ひつよう)な定期的(ていきてき)な手続(てつづき)
  8 – 事業(じぎょう)を成功(せいこう)させるためのアドバイス(あどばいす)
  9 – 用語集(ようごしゅう)

第4章(だい4しょう) こんなときはどうするか? トラブル(とらぶる)への対処法(たいしょほう)
警(けい) 察(さつ):

差(さ) 別(べつ):
(差別(さべつ)の定義(ていぎ)については、 )

裁(さい) 判(はん):
(日本(にほん)の裁判(さいばん)制度(せいど)については、 )


(家族(かぞく)について、結婚(けっこん)や子供(こども)の入学(にゅうがく)といった一般的(いっぱんてき)なことは、  章(しょう)参照(さんしょう))

(日本(にほん)で生活(せいかつ)するうえで障害(しょうがい)克服(こくふく)や生活(せいかつ)改善(かいぜん)についてよくある質問(しつもん)。銀行(ぎんこう)口座(こうざ)開設(かいせつ)などの一般的(いっぱんてき)な内容(ないよう)は  章(しょう)参照)


第5章(だい5しょう) こんなときはどうするか? トラブル(とらぶる)への対処法(たいしょほう)

第6章(だい6しょう) 社会(しゃかい)へ還元(かんげん)する: シビルソサエティー(しびるそさえてぃー)の発展(はってん)
1. 団体(だんたい)を探す(さがす)
2. 新た(あらた)に自分(じぶん)で団体(だんたい)を設立(せつりつ)する
3. 団体(だんたい)を正式(せいしき)なものにする
4. 行動(こうどう)から主義(しゅぎ)・主張(しゅちょう)へ
5. 「日本(にほん)は決して(けっして)変わらない(かわらない)」という主張(しゅちょう)を前向き(まえむき)にとらえる
6. 結論(けつろん)

第7章(だい7しょう) まとめとアドバイス(あどばいす)



“HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS” to be published March 2008


Hello Blog. Japan’s biggest human rights publisher Akashi Shoten will publish my third book (first two are here), coauthored with Akira Higuchi. Details follow after quick notice of the book tour:

Arudou Debito will be traveling around Japan during the latter half of March 2008 to promote his co-authored new book. If you’d like him to drop by your area for a speech, please be in touch with him at debito@debito.org. (This way travel expenses are minimalized for everyone.)

Tentative schedule follows, subject to change with notice on this blog entry.

March 17-23, Tokyo/Tohoku area.
Applied for speaking engagements at Good Day Books and the FCCJ.

March 24-30, Kansai/Chubu area.
March 27, Speech at Shiga University (FIXED)
March 28-29 Speech in Kyoto and/or Kobe
March 29, evening, Speech for JALT Osaka (FIXED)
March 30, Speech at JALT Okayama (FIXED)

Due back in Sapporo by April 2, so three weeks on the road. Interested? Please drop him a line at debito@debito.org

“HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS” (tentative title)

Authors: HIGUCHI Akira and ARUDOU Debito
Languages: English and Japanese
Publisher: Akashi Shoten Inc., Tokyo
Due out: March 2008

Goal: To help non-Japanese entrants become residents and immigrants

Topics: Securing stable visas, Establishing businesses and secure jobs, Resolving legal problems, Planning for the future through to death…

To give you an idea of what this book is about and is trying to achieve, let me enclose a draft English Introduction and Table of Contents from the manuscript:


Setting Down Roots in Japan

(Draft Seven, dated September 25, 2006)

Migration of labor is an unignorable reality in this globalizing world. Japan is no exception. In recent years, Japan has had record numbers of registered foreigners, international marriages, and people receiving permanent residency. This guidebook is designed to help non-Japanese settle in Japan, and become more secure residents and contributors to Japanese society.

Japan is one of the richest societies in the world, with an extremely high standard of living. People will want to come here. They are doing so. Japan, by the way, wants foreigners too. Prime Ministerial cabinet reports, business federations, and the United Nations have advised more immigration to Japan to offset its aging society, low birthrate, labor shortages, and shrinking tax base. Unfortunately, the attitude of the Japanese government towards immigration has generally been one of neglect. Newcomers are not given sufficient guidance to help them settle down in Japan as residents with stable jobs and lifestyles. WORKING HANDBOOK wishes to fill that gap.

Divided into seven chapters closely reflecting the stages of assimilation into any society, WORKING HANDBOOK takes the reader through 1) entry procedures, 2) securing employment, 3) establishing one’s own business, 4) addressing possible problems, 5) planning for the future and retirement, and 6) participating in the development of civil society. We offer the information in easy grammatical English (for readers of English as a second language) and furigana Japanese on opposing pages. We hope this will serve a wide readership.

WORKING HANDBOOK is not an exhaustive fount of information. It is meant to be a concise and affordable reference book to help people find information efficiently. If there is more thorough data in other “Survival Manuals” or websites (such as lists of government phone numbers), we point you to them instead of duplicating the information here. We also assume that readers are not breaking any Japanese laws (if you are, then sorry, we cannot help you). We wish to provide everyone concise advice as veterans of the system, to save readers time and trouble, and help them find out their options for living in Japan.

The 2007 edition is the first version of WORKING HANDBOOK. All advice within it is based on the opinions of the authors. We doubt we got everything right the first time, so we hope to have your input on how to make future editions more attuned to your needs. We welcome feedback, and hope that readers can assist us in creating future editions in other languages, including Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Tagalog, Hindi, and Urdu.

May you make a good life for yourself in this fine country.

HIGUCHI Akira, Administrative Solicitor
Sapporo, Japan


1 – Understanding the structure of the Japanese Visa System (the difference between “Visa”, “Status of Residence” (SOR) and “Certificate of Eligibility” (COE)) (page ##)
2 – Procedures for coming to Japan (from page ##)
– Acquiring SOR from outside Japan
– Changing or acquiring SOR from inside Japan
– Chart summarizing Visa, COE, and SOR
3 – Procedures after you came to Japan (from page ##)
– Bringing your family over to Japan
– Leaving Japan temporarily
– Extending your stay in Japan
– Changing jobs in Japan
– Changing SOR so you can work
– Chart summarizing Immigration procedures (page ##)
4 – What kinds of Status of Residence are there? (from page ##)
– Chart outlining all 27 possible SOR
– Recommendations for specific jobs
– Requirements for select Statuses of Residence (from page ##)
5 – What if you overstay or work without proper status? (from page ##)
– Recent changes to Immigration law
– Examples of unintended violations (page ##)
– Our advice if you overstay your SOR
6 – Getting Permanent Residency and Japanese Nationality (page ##)
– Chart summarizing the requirements and differences between the two
7 – Conclusions and final advice on how to make your SOR stable

1 – Characteristics of Japanese labor environment (see page ##)
2 – Labor law (see page ##)
3 – Labor contract (see page ##)
4 – Salary system (see page ##)
5 – Deduction and Taxes (see page ##)
6 – Labor insurance and Social Insurance for workers (see page ##)
7 – Summary (see page ##)
8 – Labor related terminology (see page ##)

1 – Why start a business? (page ##)
2 — Sole Proprietorship (kojin jigyou) or Corporation (houjin jigyou)? (page ##)
3 – Type of corporations (page ##)
4 – Other forms of business (NPO, LLP) (page ##)
5 – Procedures for starting a business by setting up a kabushiki gaisha (page ##)
6 – Business license (page ##)
  7 – Periodical procedures to keep your business going (page ##)
  8 – Advice for a successful business (page ##)
  9 – Terminology (page ##)

(These are frequently asked questions about overcoming obstacles and improving your lifestyle in Japan.)
…if you want to study Japanese (pg ##)
…if you want to open a bank account (and get an inkan seal) (pg ##)
…if you want a credit card (pg ##)
…if you want insurance (auto, life, property) (pg ##)
…if you want a driver license (pg ##)
…if you want to buy a car (pg ##)
…if you are involved in a traffic accident (pg ##)
…if you want Permanent Residency (eijuuken) (pg ##)
…if you want to buy property (pg ##)
…if you want to sell your property, apartment or house (pg ##)
…if you want to start your own business (see Ch 3 pg ##)
…if you need counseling or psychiatric help (pg ##)
…if you want to take Japanese citizenship (kika) (pg ##)
…if you want to run for public office (see Ch 7 pg ##)

(For visa overstay and other Immigration issues, see Ch 1. pg ##)
…if you are asked for a passport or ID (“Gaijin Card”) check by police (pg ##)
…if you are asked for a passport or Gaijin Card check by anyone else (pg ##)
…if you are arrested or taken into custody by the police (pg ##)
…if you are a victim of a crime (pg ##)

(What we mean by “discrimination”, pg ##)
…if you are refused entry to a business (pg ##)
…if you are refused entry to a hotel (pg ##)
…if you are refused an apartment (pg ##)
…if you have a problem with your landlord, or are threatened with eviction (pg ##)
…if you are refused a loan (pg ##)
…if you want to protest something you feel is discriminatory (pg ##)

(Types of courts in Japan, pg ##)
…if you want legal advice, or need to find a lawyer (pg ##)
…if you want to go to court (pg ##)
…if you want to go to small-claims court (for fraud, broken business contracts, etc.) (pg ##)

(For labor laws, legal working conditions, and other workplace issues that are not specifically problems, see Ch 1 pg ##)
…if you want government support for labor dispute negotiations (pg ##)
…if you want to join or form a labor union (pg ##)
…if you want to find another job (pg ##)

…if you want to get married (pg ##)
…if you want to register your children in Japanese schools (pg ##)
…if you want to register your newborn Japanese children with non-Japanese names (pg ##)
…if you have a problem (such as ijime bullying) in your children’s schools (pg ##)
…if you want to change your children’s schools (pg ##)
…if you suffer from Domestic Violence (pg ##)
…if you want to get divorced (pg ##)
…if you are having visitation, child custody, or child support problems (pg ##)
…if you are a pregnant out of wedlock by a Japanese man (pg ##)

– Corporate Retirement Benefits (taishokukin) (pg ##)
– Pension (nenkin) (pg ##)
– Private annuity (kojin nenkin) (pg ##)
– Long-term investment (pg ##)
– Elderly care and Nursing Care Insurance (kaigo hoken) (pg ##)
– Medical care and Medical services for the aged (roujin hoken) (pg ##)
– Guardian for adults (seinen kouken) (pg ##)
– Inheritance (souzoku) and taxes (pg ##)
– Last Will and Testament (yuigon, igon) (pg ##)
– Japanese rules regarding family inheritance (pg ##)
– Culturally-sensitive funerals (osoushiki) (pg ##)
– Japanese cremation rules (pg ##)
– Repatriating a body for ceremonies overseas (pg ##)
– Maintaining a funeral plot in Japan (pg ##)

1. How to find a group
2. Starting your own group
3. Formalizing your group (NGOs etc.)
4. Making activism more than just a hobby.
5. Running for elected office
6. Staying positive when people claim “Japan will never change”
7. Conclusions


I hope you will consider getting a copy of this book when it comes out.
Thanks for your support! Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Ivan Hall Speech text JALT Nov 3 06


Hi Blog. Dr. Ivan P. Hall is author of seminal work CARTELS OF THE MIND (Norton 1997), which described the systematic ways Japanese “intellectual cartels” in influential sectors of thought transfer (the mass media, researchers, academia, cultural exchange, and law) shut out foreign influences as a matter of course.

It was he who coined the important phrase “academic apartheid”, he who inspired a whole generation of activists (myself included) to take up the banner against imbedded “guestism” in the gaijin community, and he who has been a great personal friend and encourager in many a dark hour when all seemed hopeless in the human rights arena.

Now in his seventies and entitled to rest on his laurels, we at JALT PALE proudly invited him to speak and bask in the glow of the next generation of activists.

He gave a marvellous speech in Kitakyushu on November 3, 2006. It is my pleasure to premiere the full text to the general public on debito.org:


Choice excerpts:
[By writing CARTELS] I wanted to advertise the striking parallel to Japan’s much better known market barriers. In an era of incessant trade disputes, the foreign parties seeking to open Japan’s closed market were for the most part unaware of this complementary set of “softer” intellectual barriers that powerfully reinforce those ‘harder’ economic barriers. They do so by impeding the free flow of dialogue and disputation with the outside world, and through their encouragement of a defensive, insularist attitude on the Japanese side…

What about the attitude involved here? The way of thinking behind the exclusionary system of 1893 was best stated by Inoue Testujiro, the well-known Tokyo University philosopher and Dean of the Faculty of Letters in the 1890s, reflecting back on that time:

“In principle…professors at Japanese universities should all be Japanese. Accordingly, we managed to dismiss the foreign instructors from the Faculties of Medicine, Law, and Science, so that there was not one of them left.” “…every field should be taught exclusively by Japanese staff…the number of foreigners should gradually be reduced and ultimately eliminated altogether.” [Cartels of the Mind, p. 102]

Foreigners, Inoue continued, were to be hired only for the one thing they presumably could do better than the Japanese – to teach their own native languages…

One university trend clearly in sync with Japan’s rightward ideological swing is the now well-advanced barring of native speakers from the decades-long practice in many places of having them — as enrichment to their language instruction — convey some substantive knowledge about their own countries and cultures as well.

One of the leaders of university English language instruction in Japan is the Komaba campus at Todai, where there is great distress about the way PhD-holding foreign scholars are now strictly forbidden to digress from the new textbook. I have a copy here — it’s called On Campus — and it’s full of lessons on subjects like “Walking off Your Fat,” “Coffee and Globalization,” or “Why is Mauna Kea Sacred to Native Hawaiian People?” Not only are these teachers being forced to serve up something close to intellectual pap, but, more significantly, a pap that is devoid of any reference to the history, society, or culture of the English-speaking countries themselves– matters which I understand are deliberately downplayed if not off limits…

There is one area, however, where those of us fighting these issues are constrained only by our own lack of intellectual resourcefulness, honesty, and courage—and that is precisely this crucial arena of ideas and public persuasion. This means, more than anything else, writing – and, above all, the writing of books, for the simple reason that only books can be so thorough, so long-lasting, and so widely disseminated and reviewed (as long as you and/or your publisher work hard to promote it)…

In a word, what I am urging here is a much more active “protesting against the protest against protest” – if you follow me! That is to say, a much more active counter-attack on the apologia for continued discrimination – including all those special pleadings, culturalist copouts, and wacky non-sequiturs (some of them even from the judicial bench) that have gone without challenge for so long as to have gained the status of common wisdom – thereby inflicting real damage to the cause….


Read it all to see how the history of thought unfolded towards the foreign community in Japan, afresh from a world-class scholar and an eyewitness. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Asia Pacific University Blacklisted


Hi Blog. Have just updated the Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a website which warns the public about limited employment opportunities in Japanese academia. Joining the 99 universities up there is the following entry:

NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Asia Pacific University (a division of Ritsumeikan University, also blacklisted) (Private)
LOCATION: 1-1 Jumonjibaru, Beppu City, Oita Prefecture, 874-8755
EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Contract employment with caps. And they will enforce them in court. Let’s quote the university:

“In relation to the demand for a preliminary injunction in order to preserve the position outlined in the employment contracts of former full-time Japanese language lecturers originally hired in April of 2002 and who had fulfilled their 4 year period of employment, the Oita District Court (presiding judge: KAMINO Taiichi) handed down its verdict on November 30th, unequivocally dismissing the suit launched by the former lecturers.

The Court in its ruling confirmed that Ritsumeikan, in its efforts to improve language education at APU, was both reasonable and had cause in abolishing the positions within the lecturer system in order to plan for the creation of a new lecturer organization. As to whether the decision to halt the employment of the lecturers was fair and just, the Court ruled that:

1. There was no truth to the allegation that Ritsumeikan, at a Japanese language workshop held in 1999, had indicated that it would endeavor to allow full-time Japanese language lecturers to extend their period of employment should they wish to do so.
2. That it was possible to infer that expectations for a continuation of employment stemmed from the 1999 Japanese language workshop, yet there was no reason for such expectations.
3. That the employment contracts in question (for full-time lecturers) outlined an employment period of 4 years (the period of guaranteed employment), that the contracts provided a period of employment of 1 year, and that although this touched upon Article 14 of the former labor standards law, it was appropriate in this case.
4. That in accordance with the completion of the period of employment, the decision to halt the employment of the former lecturers did not constitute abuse of the right to dismissal.

The Court acknowledged that the response of Ritsumeikan was fair, and thus summarily rejected the former lecturers’ demand.”

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Gloating announcement from the university Vice President on the APU website, dated December 25, 2006, indicating that they had vanquished the “former full-time” employees in court. Merry Christmas to you, too. Original link here. In case that disappears, downloadable webarchive here.


Asia Pacific U gloats over its court injunction victory over dismissed workers


Hello Blog. Nice how the school is so up-front about how total the victory over its employees is. Sounds like a real pleasant place to work. Yet another case of labor rights being chipped away… Debito in Sapporo

From the Asia Pacific University website:
Notices : Dismissal verdict for the demand for a preliminary
injunction on the preservation of status launched by former full-time
Japanese language lecturers.:

2006/12/25 9:48:00 (325 reads)

In relation to the demand for a preliminary injunction in order to
preserve the positions outlined in the employment contracts of former
full-time Japanese language lecturers originally hired in April of
2002 and who had fulfilled their 4 year period of employment, the
Oita District Court (presiding judge: KAMINO Taiichi) handed down its
verdict on November 30th, unequivocally dismissing the suit launched
by the former lecturers.

The Court in its ruling confirmed that Ritsumeikan, in its efforts to
improve language education at APU, was both reasonable and had cause
in abolishing the positions within the lecturer system in order to
plan for the creation of a new lecturer organization. As to whether
the decision to halt the employment of the lecturers was fair and
just, the Court ruled that:

1. There was no truth to the allegation that Ritsumeikan, at a
Japanese language workshop held in 1999, had indicated that it would
endeavor to allow full-time Japanese language lecturers to extend
their period of employment should they wish to do so.

2. That it was possible to infer that expectations for a continuation
of employment stemmed from the 1999 Japanese language workshop, yet
there was no reason for such expectations.

3. That the employment contracts in question (for full-time
lecturers) outlined an employment period of 4 years (the period of
guaranteed employment), that the contracts provided a period of
employment of 1 year, and that although this touched upon Article 14
of the former labor standards law, it was appropriate in this case.

4. That in accordance with the completion of the period of
employment, the decision to halt the employment of the former
lecturers did not constitute abuse of the right to dismissal.

The Court acknowledged that the response of Ritsumeikan was fair, and
thus summarily rejected the former lecturers’ demand.

December 2006
Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University Vice President

PALE: 朝日:派遣労働者の直接雇用、政府の義務撤廃を検討 経財会議


Blogging this for PALE (http://www.debito.org/PALE) for posterity. Asahi article is about how the government wants to remove the right of dispatch workers (haken roudousha) to claim regular full-time job status (seishainka gimu) after a certain number of renewals. This development will undermine people on perpetually-renewed contracts (such as foreign academics) and their legal right to claim permanent employment. Hope to have time to translate, or have the IHT/Asahi feature this in official translation someday. Anybody else find it, send it to me. debito@debito.org Debito in Nagoya

派遣労働者の直接雇用、政府の義務撤廃を検討 経財会議











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

This post is organized thusly:

and finally…

This and future material available in real time by subscription at


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re the developing tendency towards racial profiling in Japan:
“Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents”
Japan Times May 24, 2005

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

On that note:



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

============== LETTER BEGINS ====================
Obstacle to increased tourism
The Japan Times, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

and finally…



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan

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


Friday, November 3, 2006, 1:15-2:50 PM, Room 21A, Kitakyushu International Hall
Full details on both organizations respectively at
http://www.debito.org/PALE and http://www.jalt.org
By PALE Members, collated by Arudou Debito

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Noriguchi is reachable at
He says that most people support his views than not, so if you want
to show him differently, write him.

Now for the article:


POINT OF VIEW/ Shinichiro Noriguchi: Why the focus on English as a language skill?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fluency difficult to acquire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s use retired teachers, too

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

Let me summarize my suggestions as follows:

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

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

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

・Businesses with deceptive English education materials should be reprimanded.

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

* * *

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

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

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


(From a major professor in academia, anonymized upon request)
November 15, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Hi Blog. Just a quick note before bedtime:



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



Email from a friend:

Dear Debito,

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

Masao Sasaki (americansforequaltreatment@yahoo.com)

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

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



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


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

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

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

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

We are looking for the following:

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

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

Lee-Sean Huang
260 Fifth Avenue, Level 9
New York, NY 10001

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


Enough for tonight. Thanks as always for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Bern Mulvey, Miyazaki, Kyushu

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



debito.org NEWSLETTER OCT 24 2006

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

Debito.org newsletter dated October 24, 2006
Freely Forwardable


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

——————–ARTICLE BEGINS————————–
Special to Debito.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Thanks to Steve for keeping up the fight! Send best wishes to him at



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

—————-EXCERPT BEGINS————————-
Operator of notorious bulletin board lost in cyber space

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

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

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

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

[ED’S NOTE: Huh???]

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

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

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

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



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

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

I’ve come to see Japan as a benign police state. Remember–this is the land of the prewar Kempeitai thought police, “katei houmon” home visits by school teachers (with the express aim to snoop on students’ lifestyles, see http://www.debito.org/kateihoumon.html), and neighborhood watch systems still visible as the defanged “chounaikai”. Well, this new police putsch is receiving news coverage with advice. Excerpt follows:

—————-EXCERPT BEGINS————————-

Police shakedowns on the rise
Original article appeared in Weekly Playboy (Oct. 16)
Translation appeared in The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006

Last January, I was rushing past the koban [police box] at the west exit of Shinjuku Station en route to a meeting and suddenly this cop halts me, saying, ‘Will you please submit to an inspection of what you’re carrying on your person?’ ” relates editor Toshikazu Shibuya (a pseudonym), age 38. “I happened to be carrying this Leatherman tool, a pair of scissors with a 3-cm-long folding knife attachment in the handle. The next thing I knew, he escorted me into the koban.”

Shibuya vociferously argued that he used the tool for trimming films and other work-related tasks. “There’s no need for that gadget, you can find something else,” the cop growled, confiscating it.

Several weeks later Shibuya was summoned to Shinjuku Police Station to undergo another round of interrogation. After an hour, he was let off with a stern warning that possession of such scissors was illegal, and made him liable to misdemeanor charges.

Weekly Playboy reports that police have been conducting these shakedowns of the citizenry as part of an “Emergency Public Safety Program” launched in August 2003. In 2004, the number of people actually prosecuted for weapons possession misdemeanors uncovered during these ad hoc inspections, referred to as shokumu shitsumon (ex-officio questioning), reached 5,648 cases, double the previous year, and up sixfold from 10 years ago.

“I think you can interpret it as an expansion of police powers,” says a source within the police. “They are taking advantage of citizens’ unfamiliarity with the law to conduct compulsory questioning.”

In principle, police are not empowered to halt citizens on the street arbitrarily. The Police Execution of Duties Law, Section 2, states that an officer may only request that a citizen submit to questioning based on reasonable judgment of probable cause, such as suspicious appearance or behavior.

Moreover, Weekly Playboy points out, compliance to such a request is voluntary, i.e., you have the right to refuse….

What should you do if you’re stopped? Weekly Playboy offers several suggestions, including recording the conversation and carrying a copy of the relevant passage of the law to show you know your rights. Since cooperation is voluntary, you can refuse; but an uncooperative attitude might be regarded with suspicion. Raising a ruckus in a loud voice might cause a crowd to gather and convince the cop you’re more trouble than it’s worth….
—————–EXCERPT ENDS————————–
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=47

Hm. Good advice. Exactly the advice I’ve been giving for close to a decade now on debito.org, as a matter of fact. See
But I wouldn’t recommend you raising a ruckus if you’re a foreigner. I’ve heard several cases of people (foreigners in particular) being apprehended and incarcerated for not “cooperating” enough with police, so beware. Point is it’s getting harder to argue racial profiling when Japanese are also being stopped and questioned. However, the difference is that the article’s advice doesn’t apply as well to foreigners–all the cop has to do is say he’s conducting a Gaijin Card search and you’re nicked.

Enjoy life in Japan. Keep your nose clean and short.

Finally, put last because this is the most personal part of the newsletter…


This was my second excursion abroad to talk about issues in Japan (last March was the first, at U Michigan Ann Arbor, NYU, Columbia Law et al), and on this eighteen-day journey I gave a total of seven presentations (two of them papers), at Temple University Japan, Tokyo University, Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops, Canada), University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies. You can see what I said where on this trip, along with other links to older speeches, powerpoint presentations and papers (now totalling 100 since 1995) at
They all went really quite smoothly–well-attended, full of questions and comments, accompanied by great hospitality from all my hosts (and I had hosts and places to stay in every port of call; thanks forthcoming to them individually).

Of particular note was the atmosphere at the Japan Studies Association of Canada (JSAC) annual meeting in Kamloops. Despite some initial trepidation, people turned out to be welcoming of an activist (I guess it made a difference from often bone-dry academia); I sold more books there (more than thirty) than ever before. Also, in addition to presentations on “communities within communities in Japan (my aegis), JSAC hosted sections on demography and future welfare, education, security issues, history, and artsy-fartsy stuff. It was enjoyable to coast between presentations and feel the different atmospheres depending on disciplines: Luddite handouts and OHPs with the “continuous-retread touchy-feeley” cultural studies, cloak-and-dagger “what if” theories of the security hawks (North Korea, after all, had just been confirmed as nuclear), and the “See I’m telling you so! Here comes the brick wall” portentous presentations of the demographers. Kudos to friend (and host) Joe Dobson and company for putting this thing on.

The best part of JSAC for me was the fact that the Canadian Ambassador of Japan, Joseph Caron, not only put in an appearance–he stayed two nights and even chaired two sessions at the conference! (Imagine the American Ambassador doing that!) Ambassador Caron proved himself a true gentleman at our farewell dinner, where I got to ask a question and got an impressive answer. But first a segue for context:


When I first arrived in Vancouver on October 8, I was met by Murray Wood, his partner Brett, and two cameramen. They were all here to film a documentary on the Murray Wood Case, a cause celebre gathering steam in Canada as a major human rights case.

I have mentioned this case briefly in previous newsletters, but let me synopsize again: The Murray Wood Case started when Murray and Ayako Maniwa met, married, and had two children. A former flight attendant at Air Canada, Ayako was by all accounts (Murray’s family was most open with their criticisms as we enjoyed Canadian Thanksgiving dinner in front of the cameras) unconcerned with the welfare of her children–so much so that even the Supreme Court in British Columbia awarded Murray custody of their kids after they split up. However, Ayako, under a ruse to visit her family in Saitama, abducted the children and severed all contact with their father. This is not a matter of he-said she-said: The Canadian police have a warrant out for her arrest if she ever comes to Canada again.

Given Japan’s unenforcable or nonexistent child-custody and visitation laws after divorce, and the dubious honor of being the only G7 country not to sign the Hague Convention on the Rights of the Child, Japan has become a safe haven for international abductions. However, what makes this case interesting is that Murray actually tried to work through Japan’s judicial system to get custody back. However, Saitama’s Family District and High Courts were unaccommodating. They ignored Canadian court judgments in their entirety and awarded Ayako custody–essentially because a) the children should not be uprooted from their present surroundings, and b) “fairness”. Judges claimed in their ruling (which I read but cannot provide a link to at this time) that Ayako had not said her piece in Canadian court (she never showed up to give it); but since she appeared in Japanese court, the judges ruled that their opinion (in her favor) more adequately reflected both sides! The Government of Canada is not happy with this outcome, and Murray has gotten a lot of press across Canada. As so he should. More substantiation on all these claims from
Murray Wood reachable at amw@telus.net.

The case has garnered enough attention for two cameramen, one named David Hearn (reachable at david@ghosty.jp), to come all the way from Los Angeles and Tokyo to film it. Over the course of three days, they interviewed more than a dozen people of authority, family members, and friends (even me) on what happened and what this meant to them. We have a good feeling about what got captured on video, and I’ll keep you posted on any developments. In the age of the powerful documentary, this could be a good thing indeed.

————————–SEGUE ENDS—————————–

Back to JSAC’s final dinner with Ambassador Caron speaking. The Consul General of Japan at Vancouver and his staff were there (I happened to be seated next to Consul Assistant Keith Fedoruk, a rather chinless local hire, and we talked, however briefly and uncomfortably, about the Otaru Onsens Case and racial discrimination in Japan. He said, “Can’t you use your language abilities and position as a citizen in Japan more constructively?” as he broke off conversation.) It was clear that people wanted things to remain nicely, nicely. Perfect timing for one of my questions. Something like:

“Thank you Ambassador Caron. As you know, it is my job to raise the difficult issues, so let me not act out of character. The Consul General mentioned in his earlier speech tonight about the communality between Canada with the high regard for human rights and the rule of law. I would like to raise the issue about the Murray Wood Case. Given that this case involves Canadian court decisions ignored to deny custody to Canadian citizens, I would like to know if your office will continue to pursue this. Your government has been very publicly supportive or human rights. Your predecessor, Ambassador Edwards, kindly gave us a strong letter of support during the Otaru Onsens Case. Child abductions after divorce are a serious problem which affects the rights of both of your countries’ citizens. What will you do in future to promote human rights between your countries?”

Yes, it was a long question, and I had no time to develop Murray’s Case. I expected a standard answer of “We know nothing. We’ll look into it.” But no!

Ambassador Caron actually knew Murray’s case, and even took time to describe it in more detail to the audience! He mentioned how important he considered it in particular and the issue in general, and he said that he would continue pushing Japan to sign the Hague Convention!

Breathtaking. When the party ended, chinless wonder sitting next to me (who had earlier agreed to at least show my donated J and E JAPANESE ONLY books to the Consul General for consideration for the Vancouver Japan Consulate library) simply walked away, leaving the books behind on the dinner table. Bit of a shock, but again, not out of character. I sold them later that night anyway. Ambassador Caron (who also knew the Onsens Case) gladly took a copy as well.

Let’s hope the Murray Wood Case continues to build up steam, since like the Otaru Onsens Case, it’s a watertight representation of a problem with all other alternatives at resolution exhausted.


Lots more happened during this trip, but that was the highlight which is germane to this debito.org newsletter. If you want me to spin a few stories for the Friends’ email List (I still haven’t written out what happened on last March’s World Tour I), let me know at debito@debito.org. Always helpful to know if people out there are enjoying what they read.

Enough for now. I hear my plane back to Sapporo revving its engines.

Arudou Debito
Narita, Japan
October 22, 2006

NB: If you wish to receive updates in real time on important issues and articles, you can view and/or subscribe to my blog at http://www.debito.org/index.php Newsletters will necessarily lag as they collate important information for the general public and media.






Back issues, archives, and real-time updates at
This post is freely forwardable.



These are some important developments in the future of immigration to Japan. Some proposals are quite sensible, if done properly. Article excerpts with comments follow:

“Foreigners to need ‘skills’ to live in Japan
Justice panel takes aim at illegal aliens”
Japan Times, Sept 23, 2006

A Justice Ministry panel discussing long-term policies for accepting overseas workers said Friday the government should seek out those with special skills and expertise to cope with the shrinking labor force in Japan….

The proposal by the panel headed by Kono also claimed that reducing the number of illegal foreign residents will help the country regain its reputation as “the safest country in the world,” ultimately creating an environment where legal foreign workers can become a part of society. As suggested in the panel’s interim report released in May, the panel said foreigners who want to work in Japan, including those of Japanese descent, must have a certain degree of proficiency in the Japanese language to be granted legal status.

COMMENTS: I am largely in favor of these proposals, as long as the government (as I said in previous writings) keeps the language evaluation independently certifiable–not letting it become another means for labor force abuse (by allowing bosses to wantonly decide whether or not workers are “jouzu” enough).

Also glad to see they dropped the hitherto proposed “3% foreigner population cap” as unworkable. Inevitably they would end up kicking foreigners out as the Japanese population dropped. See the original proposal and a critique at

Also, got this comment from a friend:
Did you see the results of the public comment drive for the Kono report? According to the report (available on the Justice Ministry website at http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51-2-1.pdf), they got 437 responses (well, that they officially validated, but that’s another plate of sushi).

Of these, 426, or 98 percent, were opposed to expanding the number of foreign workers. Even those few who wanted to expand the the number of foreign workers apparently said that solving the problem of “public safety” was a condition for their agreeing. Proof, as if we need more, that the foreigners-as-dangerous-criminals-propaganda over the past five years or so has been chillingly effective.

I’d be curious to learn how many people you know or know of wrote in. If it was more than a dozen, I think a fair question to Mr. Kono would be whether the opinions of resident foreigners were included in the survey.

Did anyone else respond to the MOJ request for info?
Please let me know at debito@debito.org.

Now for the next article concerning immigration:

“Govt to check foreign staff situation
Plans to have firms report worker details”
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept 23, 2006

By making it obligatory for companies to report foreign workers’ details, the government hopes to keep track of people on an individual basis, and to enhance measures for clamping down on those working illegally. In addition, it is hoped the measures will encourage foreign workers to take out social insurance, and allow central and local governments to offer better support to workers who have to change jobs frequently due to unstable contracts.

The government’s three-year deregulation program, finalized in March, discusses making it mandatory for firms to submit reports on their foreign employees and whether reports should include detailed information such as workers’ names and residence status. The policy is likely to prove controversial in light of the protection of foreign workers’ privacy and the impact of the new system on the economy.

COMMENT: Quite honestly, I am of two minds on this proposal. Depends on who the true target of this policy is: The employer (to force them to employ legal workers, and force them to take responsibility when they don’t? It would be about time.), or the foreign employee? (in another attempt to “track” them constantly, an extension of the proposed “Gaijin Chip” IC Card system? See my Japan Times article on this at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes112205.html )

It’s a wait-and-see thing for me, as there is no way to determine how it will be enforced until it is enforced. Witness the April 2005 revisions of hotel laws, requiring passport checks of tourists, which gave the NPA license to order hotels nationwide to demand passport checks of ALL foreigners (regardless of residency):



Story about frustrated player making anti-gaijin remarks about his coach, our own Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters Trey Hillman, who has had a simply incredible season (and may take the pennant for the first time for this new team). Excerpt follows:

At this stage of the season, the only thing any player should be thinking about is winning the pennant…

However, that was vastly overshadowed by the actions of Fighters starter Satoru Kanemura, who threw a major hissy fit due to being pulled by manager Trey Hillman in the fifth inning needing just one out to become the first Nippon Ham hurler to rack up five straight ten win seasons since Yukihiro Nishimura.

After the game, he told the press that. yanking him was “absolutely unforgivable” and then took a racial shot at Hillman, grumbling that, “because he’s a foreigner, he doesn’t care about players’ individual goals.” He then challeneged reporters to print his remarks. “I don’t even want to look at him,” Kanemura said of Hillman.

[Original Japanese: “Zettai ni yurusanai. Gaikokujin wa kojin kiroku wa dou de mo ii n deshou. Shinユyou ga nai tte iu koto. Kao mo mitakunai.”) (Doshin Sept 25)
http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/Php/kiji.php3?&d=20060925&j=0034&k=200609254200 ]

In addition, he accused the former Rangers farm director of being more indulgent with Iranian-Japanese righthander Yu Darvish than him. In the context of this little explosion, that also has a racial tinge to it. Kanemura also beefed that he didn’t think Hillman trusted him….

Kanemura… was immediately taken off the roster for the duration of the playoffs and told to not even show up at practice Monday…
Entire article at

Funny to hear a Japanese accuse a foreigner holding the group in higher regard than the individual…

Where this went next:

Kanemura suspended, fined Y2 million for criticizing Hillman
Japan Today, Tuesday, September 26, 2006

TOKYO Nippon Ham Fighters right-hander Satoru Kanemura received a suspension until the end of the playoffs and a 2 million yen fine Monday for criticizing the decision of team manager Trey Hillman, officials of the Pacific League club said. Nippon Ham removed Kanemura from the active roster the same day, following the 30-year-old’s comments from the previous day…. (Kyodo News)

COMMENT: While I support the sanctions meted out (for “criticizing the manager’s decision”, not for a “gaijin coach slur”, note), why am I not surprised by this development? Is it a given or a natural law that sooner or later, somebody’s foreignness is inevitably made an issue of here? I know Japan isn’t alone in this regard by any means, but one can hope that things can improve. Especially given the degree of fan service and overall relaxedness that the Fighters under Hillman have displayed–and still look likely to win the pennant! Nice guys can finish first. It’s just a shame that in the heat of the moment, the race card (or gaijin card, whichever interpretation you prefer) has to surface.

Bravo to showing zero tolerance for this sort of thing. Kanemura apologized on his blog (not for the “foreign coach” thingie, however–see http://satoru-kanemura.cocolog-nifty.com), and the apology was accepted by Hillman.

But let’s go deeper. There are plenty of books and articles out there talking about how foreign players, umpires, even coaches are treated in Japan without the due respect they deserve, suffering great indignities due to their “gaijin” status.

And it wasn’t just Hillman last week. During the September 25 high school draft picks for professional teams, one of the stars, Ohmine Yuuta, got his hopes up to be picked by Softbank Hawks. It was supposed to be a done deal, but Bobby Valentine, coach of Chiba Lotte, put in a bid as well for him. As is the established precedent, both Softbank and Lotte drew from a lottery, and Lotte by chance won. Suddenly. Ohmine declined to join Lotte, which is quite a scandal in itself.

But you just gotta pick on the gaijin. The HS coach of Ohmine’s team, a Mr Ishimine Yoshimori, refused to even meet with Valentine on September 26, citing the following reason:

“Americans won’t comprehend our words or feelings.”
(amerikajin to wa, kotoba mo kimochi mo tsuujinai)

Thus Coach Ishimine publicly rebuked Valentine due to some kinda foreign “language barrier”. What an example to set in front of his students! Courtesy Sports Houchi September 27, 2006:

Amazing. Major coaches with worldwide reputations, like Valentine, are thus in the end still just gaijin, shown rudeness unthinkable between Japanese in this context. Remember who Valentine is: He brought Lotte to its first pennant win last year in a generation–31 years–the first foreign coach ever to do so.
It looks like Trey Hillman may be the second, two years running.

Final word: Shortly after I posted about Hillman, a friend brought up the argument that he didn’t see anything particularly racist or xenophobic about Kanemura’s comments. I answer that on my blog at

If the World Cup 2006 can explicitly make “no racism” an official slogan, isn’t it time for Japan’s sports leagues to stop sweeping this issue under the carpet, and make an official statement banning it as well?



This matters to this newsletter because enforced patriotism (particularly in the ways emerging under the creep towards the right wing in Japan) is anathema to multiculturalization and multiethnicity. What are the children of immigrants to say when asked how much they love their country, and be graded on it? (As is happening in grade schools in Saitama and Kyushu.) The “Kimigayo” Issue, where here people are exposed to punishment and job dismissal if they don’t stand and sing the national anthem, is a bellwether. Fortunately, some people are willing to stand up for themselves. Consider some Tokyo educators:

“City Hall to appeal ‘Kimigayo’ ruling”
Japan Times, Sept 23, 2006
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060923a2.html

In Thursday’s ruling, presiding Judge Koichi Namba said the Tokyo school board cannot force teachers to sing “Kimigayo” before the flag or punish them for refusing to do so, because that infringes upon the freedom of thought guaranteed by the Constitution…

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said Friday that City Hall will appeal Thursday’s 12.03 million yen district court ruling against the “Kimigayo” directive, which obliges Tokyo’s teachers to sing the national anthem before the national flag at school ceremonies.

He also said punishing teachers for not obeying the directive from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government board of education was “only natural because they neglected their duties as teachers.”

COMMENT: Quite a blow — Tokyo District Court, usually quite conservative, actually ruled against the government. Bravo. No word, however, on whether this ruling actually reinstates the suspended teachers or reverses their punishments (I suspect not).

More on this issue in the LA Times at



The Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Businesses, excluding customers by race and nationality (or a salad of the two), has just had an update. Joining the 19 cities and towns with a history of exclusionary signs is:

“Pub Aliw”, Iida-Chou, Ohta City, three blocks from JR Ohta:
This in a town full of Japanese-Brazilians, and a Filipina pub to boot (looking for foreign arubaito, according to a notice on the lower part of the door–in English!). No foreigners allowed–unless they work here!

Nice lettering on the exclusionary sign, though. Nothing like being told “Get lost Gaijin!” in a nice font.

But all is not bad news replete with irony. Also added a photo of a yakiniku restaurant in egregious excluder Monbetsu City last summer (“Mitsuen”–Monbetsu Ph 01582-4-3656). You can see a picture of me tip-top condition (having cycled 800 kms to get there) getting a “JAPANESE ONLY” sign down from there. You can also see a cat posing with me, as she had just been fed by the owners. Cats welcome, foreigners not.

Luckily, when we asked owners to take the sign down, they quickly complied! Pity it only took six years and a personal coaxing from us.

Also, and I might have mentioned this before, but what the heck: It’s irony that works in our direction…

An exclusionary sign also technically came down in egregious excluder Wakkanai City as well. Actually, public bath Yuransen (which not only illegally refused foreign taxpayers entry–it opened a segregated “gaijin bath” with a separate entrance, and charged foreigners more than six times the Japanese price to enter!) technically took its sign down because it went out of business. Photo at

So much for the claim by the management that letting foreigners in would drive them bankrupt…



The Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a list of institutions of higher learning which refuse to provide permanent tenure to their foreign full-time faculty, has been revised again for the time being. It is a good indicator of how language instruction in Japan is being even further ghettoized in Japan’s tertiary education.

Joining the crowd of 98 Blacklisted universities is world-famous RITSUMEIKAN UNIVERSITY, which is upping its own ante to show the world how rotten they can make things for their foreigners. According to their most recent job advertisement, they are disenfranchising their foreign faculty further (with “shokutaku” positions), adding more languages to the roster of disenfranchised positions, and even cutting their salary (compared to a job ad of few years ago) by nearly a third!

KYOTO SANGYO UNIVERSITY is doing much the same thing, with contract positions containing a heavy workload and unclear extra duties:

Finally, long-Blacklisted KITAKYUSHU UNIVERSITY has arguably improved things, revising its job description to offer longer contract terms, with the possibility (they say) of permanent tenure for foreign faculty.

We’ll just have to wait and see, as the programs were inaugurated in April 2006. Fortunately, according to foreign faculty at the school, KU does currently have tenured foreigners, which means that it has also been moved to the Greenlist.

If you want an example of how things could be done more equitably in Japan’s university system, go to the GREENLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES at

A good example of a nice job offer can be seen in the job advertisement for AIZU UNIVERSITY, which joins 31 other Greenlisted schools.

Bravo. Submissions to either list welcome at debito@debito.org.
Submission guidelines available on the lists.
(It may take some time for me to get to listing things, sorry. Volunteer work is like that.)



Got some spare time on Saturday, October 7? Come to the Tokyo University Komaba Campus and see me and others speak on language issues. The Japan Times even covered it last weekend:

Personality Profile–Frances Fister-Stoga and Linguapax Asia
Japan Times Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006

The Linguapax Institute, located in Barcelona, Spain, is a nongovernmental organization affiliated with UNESCO. Linguapax Asia, associate of the Linguapax Institute, carries out the objectives of the institute and of UNESCO’s Linguapax Project, with a special focus on Asia and the Pacific Rim. The objectives cover issues ranging over multilingual education and international understanding, linguistic diversity, heritage and endangered languages, and links between language, identity, human rights and peace. Frances Fister-Stoga, lecturer at Tokyo University, is director of Linguapax Asia…

This is the third annual international symposium organized by Linguapax Asia. It is open to the general public as well as to those with professional interest. Registration is not in advance, but at 8:30 a.m. on the day, Oct. 7, in building 18 of the Komaba campus of Tokyo University. The fee is 1,000 yen. The session will begin at 9 a.m.

Keynote speaker in the morning session will be Charles De Wolf, professor at Keio University, translator, writer and expert on East Asian and Oceanic languages. He will discuss multilingualism and multiculturalism. The afternoon keynote speaker will be Arudo Debito, a professor at Hokkaido Information University and author on human rights issues. He will discuss the question of language and nationality. A dozen other distinguished speakers and two workshops will round out the day.

Web site: http://www.Linguapax-Asia.org

For those who are unable to make it, you can download my paper (still in draft form) in Word format at

Download my accompanying Powerpoint Presentation at

My paper’s abstract:
============ABSTRACT BEGINS=============================
In Japan, a society where considerations of “nationality” and “language possession” seem to be closely intertwined, the author finds from his personal experience that having Japanese citizenship is an asset to communicating in Japanese to native Japanese. More indicative is the author’s survey of over two hundred Japanese college students on “What is a Japanese?” over the course of ten years. His findings are that people who have Japanese language ability are more likely to be viewed as “Japanese” than if they do not–even if the fluent do not have citizenship. The author feels this non-racially-based construct for determining inclusion in a society is a very hopeful sign for Japan’s future as a multicultural, multiethnic society.
===========ABSTRACT ENDS================================

I think that’s about enough for today. Thanks as always for reading! I will be slower to respond while I’m on the road for the next three weeks…

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan


Temple U Prof: “Japan’s Criminal Libel Laws vital for police intervention and arrest” (???)


Here’s something I don’t quite understand: A Temple University professor is publishing a paper in the University of Colorado Law Review asserting that, quote, “In Japan, however, criminal libel laws have become vital tools in policing injurious speech on the Internet. Defamatory posts lead to police intervention and even arrest.”

Not according to the 2-Channel Lawsuit, which I think proves Dr Mehra’s assertions quite inaccurate. I haven’t read the entire paper (I don’t have it), but the abstract is enclosed below. If he is aware of our case (it came down last January, and we offered an update in September), not to mention the many others cases successful against 2-Channel BBS, yet to this day unpaid and unprosecuted, how can he assert this?

I have contacted Dr Mehra, Temple University, and the University of Colorado Law Review. I hope Dr Mehra can reply with a clarification.

Arudou Debito, Plaintiff, 2-Channel Lawsuit
Full documentation on the case in two languages at

Dr Mehra’s Abstract: (Courtesy http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=802887)
Post a Message and Go to Jail: Criminalizing Internet Libel in Japan and the United States

Temple University – James E. Beasley School of Law
University of Colorado Law Review, Forthcoming

In the United States, criminal libel is, to paraphrase Ross Perot, the crazy aunt we keep in the basement. American law professors write about it to denounce the continued existence of rarely enforced criminal libel statutes. In Japan, however, criminal libel laws have become vital tools in policing injurious speech on the Internet. Defamatory posts lead to police intervention and even arrest. Because the United States is considering regulation of online speech, including, potentially, criminal penalties, we can learn from the experience of Japan. From a positive perspective, this Article explains why Japan would apply such laws to the Internet. From a normative perspective, the Article addresses why criminal libel is not a good choice for Japan. Finally, from a comparative law perspective, this Article also discusses why criminalizing online libel would be an even worse choice for the United States than Japan.

Keywords: Defamation, libel, cyberlaw, criminal, private ordering, social norms, Internet, police


From: smehra@Temple.edu
Subject: Re: Civil law enforcement in Japan–Cannot understand Dr Mehra’s argument
Date: October 1, 2006 2:14:14 AM JST
To: debito@debito.org
Cc: shibaike@hg-law.jp, tlawrev@temple.edu, cololrev@colorado.edu

Mr. Debito,

Thanks for your input.

Respectfully, I think you are misreading the sentence you quote.

The point is not that defamatory posts “always” or “universally” lead to police intervention and even arrest. Similarly, I do not say that “ALL 2Channel” defamatory posts lead to police arrest. The point is that THERE ARE reported cases where defamatory posts DO lead ot police intervention and even arrest. I cite these reports and statistics within the paper; they are also publicly available.

I think you are having a problem of perspective. In other developed countries, such as the US and the EU nations, criminal libel is completely dead. For example, in America, nobody gets arrested for criminal libel, Internet-based or otherwise. The divergence of the Japanese experience is interesting. That is the point of the article, and that is why it is aimed at a Western audience.

For an unsatisfied plaintiff such as yourself, enforcement probably looks half-empty of consequences. For someone from a background where libel is no longer a criminal matter, it looks decidedly half-full.

Best regards,
Salil Mehra

From: debito@debito.org
Subject: Re: Civil law enforcement in Japan–Cannot understand Dr Mehra’s argument
Date: October 1, 2006 9:17:52 AM JST
To: smehra@Temple.edu
Cc: shibaike@hg-law.jp, tlawrev@temple.edu, cololrev@colorado.edu

Good morning from Sapporo, Japan, Dr Mehra, and thank you very much indeed for your answer!

I am admittedly not a specialist in this topic, as you are of course, and I would indeed be happy to be corrected.

However, in my cursory study of the subject for use in my own case, I’ve not heard of a single case of Internet libel resulting in criminal arrest. If there was a procedure in place (to enforce contempt of court through the police, for example), I’m sure I could have implemented it in my case (and in all those other court victories against 2-Channel which still remain unenforced and unpaid). 2-Channel owner and administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki, as you know, continues to speak, write, and publish without any serious repercussions, let alone arrest. Given that this is Japan’s largest BBS (the world’s actually), employing every existent legal loophole possible in Japanese law, this appears a stark and seriously undermining exception to your assertions (in your abstract, anyway) regarding criminalization of Internet libel.

I’m not sure if your paper is available yet, but please may I read it? I would like to see the reports and statistics publicly available as well. Do you cite our 2-Channel case?

Again, thank you very much for your answer, Dr Mehra. The reason I even heard about your report was because of a student who contacted me to ask why my lawyers hadn’t contacted the police and had them enforce our court decision. I replied that I’m sure my lawyers, being professionals, had thought of that, and knew that it was meaningless–which means the information on the ground over here in Japan seems to contradict your paper’s thesis. If I am in any way misreading it, I would enjoy the correction, as I would certainly like to have Nishimura arrested, the court award paid, the offender’s IP address released, and all the libelous statements (which remain online to this day, proliferating) deleted, as per the court decision.

Sincerely yours, Arudou Debito
(Arudou is my last name, and if you had heard of me and our case, you might have known that.)
Sapporo, Japan

NO IMMEDIATE ANSWER FROM DR MEHRA. (he answers later at the very bottom)

In regards to the concepts discussed, I believe there may be a misunderstanding regarding the meaning of enforcement of criminal libel. You had an successful experience in winning a civil libel suit brought by a plaintiff (yourself) but have had difficulty in seeing enforcement of that civil judgment against the defendant.

Criminal libel, on the other hand, can only by handed by the police and by a public prosecutor in a very similar way to a crime of theft. The most a citizen can do is to point it out and ask them to investigate (just like for any suspected crime). The result might be that the case is dropped or, if it goes to trial, the defendant might get a prison sentence, have to pay a fine, or have his sentence declared to have been met by the prison time he has already endured (after arrest).

Essentially, these are two completely separate and non-exclusive avenues towards addressing libelous speech (one initiated by a citizen and another initiated by the government). The police never have anything to do with a civil case unless the plaintiff can get them to enforce a judgment against a deliquent defendant. My understanding is that criminal libel cases are still rare, but the fact that there are some is a marked difference from the United States.



Yes, quite. I appreciate very much the clarification. I wished that Dr Mehra could have been bothered to explain that to me, or better yet send me a copy of his paper (or at least explain why he cannot) so I can see exactly what information the thesis is based upon.

Instead, I got from him what I felt to be a half-baked response about glasses being half-full, and the insinuation that I was just a sore loser with a limited, unimportant experience. I do not like incorrect information being perpetuated about Japan in US academia (lordy knows, I’ve seen enough of it over the years!), and Dr Mehra’s response struck me as diffident and irresponsible.

I have not invested more than a year and 360,000 yen in this case (so far) just to be told by an overseas academic (who seems so unfamiliar with the case that he gets the Plaintiff’s name wrong), when it seems that evidence contrary to his thesis is dismissable as a problem with the Plaintiff’s perspective!

I have done plenty to bring this case to the fore, including putting all original documentation and commentary in two languages online to show how Internet libel goes unpunished in Japan. When a thesis states exactly the opposite without any mitigators, I would like to know how that conclusion was arrived at. Here’s hoping that Dr Mehta will kindly share his research with a person who would like to know more. –Arudou Debito, October 2, 2006.


From: smehra@Temple.edu
Subject: Re: Civil law enforcement in Japan
Date: October 3, 2006 1:00:51 AM JST
To: debito@debito.org
Cc: cololrev@colorado.edu, shibaike@hg-law.jp

Hello Prof. Debito,

The full text of the paper is available at the link below.


There have been a number of cases involving arrest due to online libel in Japan. Probably the most famous (in the sense that it got news coverage) involved an individual in Kochi who was arrested in 2003 after maligning a local politician on a local government message board.

I had heard of your case. If I understand correctly, I think it is a civil case and not a criminal case and that you are pursuing the Nishimura, the founder of 2-Channel because he provides a forum where you are defamed. Also, if I understand correctly, you are not alleging that Nishimura himself makes defamatory statements against you. Based on Criminal Code 230 and the Internet Service Providers Law in Japan, he probably escapes criminal liability because there is no “contributory criminal libel” and because the ISP law may limit 2Channel’s exposure since, like an ISP, it does not actually have prior knowledge of what participants will post.

Also, if I understand correctly, you have a civil judgment in your favor which Nishimura ignores. You may already know that there is a debate about how weak Japanese judges’ injunctive power is — weak or very weak.

Best regards,
Salil Mehra


From: debito@debito.org
Subject: Re: Civil law enforcement in Japan
Date: October 3, 2006 1:08:45 AM JST
To: smehra@Temple.edu

Hello Dr Mehra. Thank you very much for your response, and for clarifying your point. I will enjoy reading your paper and look forward to learning something, which I hope will help me bring Nishimura to bear for the forbearance he’s shown for years now regarding online libel. With best wishes, Arudou Debito in Sapporo