Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer


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Hi Blog.  What follows is a template for how you can reverse an imminent “termination through contract non-renewal” decision made by a workplace (in this case, a university) that unilaterally decides you’re too expensive.  This sort of thing is SOP for NJ academics in Japan’s higher education, and it will continue to be so if NJ academics continue to roll over whenever faced with job adversity.  What did he do?  He got a lawyer, and the school rolled over instead.  Read on.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


April 11, 2010

This past December, just before winter vacation, the owner of the college where I teach called me into his office and announced in no uncertain terms that in 3 months, at the end of March, I would be fired.   After 24 years working for the school, with hardly any advanced warning, I was to be among the unemployed, and at an age (56) when it would be all but impossible to find a similar position in Japan.

The owner, not so generously, said he would allow me to continue as a part-timer at the bottom of the pay scale, with a loss of health care benefits, at an income which, unless I came up with something to supplement it, would impossible to live on.  In addition, he made it a point to explain, though I might have thought I was fulltime, for the first 5 years, (when I taught at both his high school and college) I actually was a part-timer, and that I could expect my retirement package to reflect it; no small thing as severance pay is weighted towards the last years of employment, those 5 years will cost me nearly $150,000.

Let me make it clear that I was employed at this school with the promise that it would be a permanent position, and that I would receive the same benefits as the Japanese teachers.  I never had a contract, and in fact, was told I did not need one because I was employed under the standard terms of employment (shugyou gisoku) that the Japanese employees received.   I paid into the pension plan, had health insurance, received bonuses.  I attended the meetings, worked the overtime.

On being transferred to the college, I was told, because the Japanese teachers had extra duties, I would be expected to teach a few more classes.  In time I found myself teaching twice the standard load of 6 classes (at 12 classes), and in addition to doing the teaching of two, because the part-timers they had employed to help out couldn’t be bothered, I was doing the testing and grading of four teachers.  I carried this kind of load for probably 15 years or so.  But in time, and after a few college presidents came and left, the school policy gradually shifted away from emphasis on English language education, and my classes slowly underwent a transformation from being required subjects for all, to elective subjects available to fewer than half of the students.  In short, over the past 5 years the school slowly phased me out.

As I believe that the circumstances I describe might apply to any number of foreign workers in Japan, I am writing in the hope you might gain from some of my mistakes.   First of all, verbal agreements mean nothing.   Insist on getting those promises in writing.   When I interviewed for my job at the high school, there were three people in the room, but 24 years later, two of them are dead, and the only person who might verify my story is the man I had to take to court.

If you believe in labor unions, better join up before you encounter any problems.  Or if you do try joining a labor union, don’t let them know of your predicament, or else they will have nothing to do with you.   (I couldn’t even get them to recommend a lawyer.)  Basically labor union resources are reserved for members of long standing who have paid their dues.

One little aside that was important for me.  For you teachers who are members of the private school pension plan, (Shigaku Kyousai), depending on your age, you do not need to work the full 25 years to qualify for your pension.  And for Americans (and other nationalities covered by similar treaties) if you have paid into your country’s social security system, you can get Japanese pension benefits depending on what you have paid into the system.

Don’t put off getting permanent residency.   Your school loves you now?  You just don’t know when they might turn on you.  That can change with the next high school principal or college president.

Finally, and most important of all, get a lawyer.  I simply would have been a dead man without one.  I was lucky enough to have a friend recommend one to me, and still luckier that he was willing to go to court.  It never seemed to even occur to my boss that I would or could litigate.  I had already received notice, the court date was set, and I was meeting with my lawyer.  It was March 30th and one day from termination, when I got a fax from my school’s lawyer rescinding it.  I’m back at work now as if nothing happened, though who is to say whether or not I won’t go through the same hell again next year.

And genuine thanks to Debito.  Outside of a friends and family, he was just about the only one to return my e-mails.   Not sure that I would have gotten through this without his advice and support.


Assn of Korean Human Rights RYOM Munsong’s speech text to UN Rep Bustamante, March 23


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Hi Blog.  What follows is a speech by Mr RYOM Munsong, read and presented to UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, Dr. Jorge Bustamante, just before I did on March 23 (my speech here).  I have offered as a space for Japan’s presenting NGOs to release their information to the general reading public.  Read on.  Arudou Debito in Tokyo.


Association of Korean Human Rights in Japan




報告者:廉文成(RYOM Munsong)

Good afternoon, Dr. Bustamante, thank you very much for sparing us time to introduce human rights situation of Koreans in Japan. Today, I would like to talk about xenophobic movements against Korean school at grass-roots level and current Japanese government’s decision to exclude Korean school from new high school tuition-free measures.

Let me show you video picture.

This is the picture of assault against Korean primary school in Kyoto by one of the grass-roots right-wing organizations named “Citizen’s Group against Special Rights for Zainichi (foreigners in Japan)”, shortened to “Zaitokukai.” This group opposed what it calls ‘special rights’ for Koreans in Japan.

As you can watch, they shouted abusive words just in front of primary school. At that time, primary school students were studying in the school building. They might be frightened by their dirty words and violent behavior. They terrified Korean school children based on xenophobia. It is the violation of the rights of children to study without any physical and mental persecution.

Such kinds of assault should not be taken place. Furthermore, Japanese authorities should keep such human rights violations under strict control. What is more serious is that not a single member of this group was arrested by the Japanese police, which means that such assaults are not illegal in Japan under the pretext of freedom of speech or something. Xenophobia and human rights violations against foreigners can be observed at the grass-roots level.

By the way, let me briefly introduce the reason why Koreans are living in Japan. We, Koreans in Japan, are the offspring of those who came to Japan during the colonial period. Some were forcibly conscripted or taken as manual labour, others came to Japan to find the way to live. According to the statistics of the then Ministry of Home Affairs, about 30,000 Koreans lived in Japan in 1920, the number had increased by 300,000 in 1930. In 1945, the population of Koreans in Japan had reached around 2,400,000. On the whole, the first generation of Koreans in Japan originated from Japanese colonial rule.

Having such history, Koreans in Japan have established many Korean schools. Now, there are about 70 Korean schools; including one university and 10 high schools. The forerunner of Korean school was “training school for Korean language”, established just after the liberation all over Japan. The main purpose of this school was to teach Korean children their own language, culture and history so that their children could live when they went back to their country. They just wanted to get back Korean identities as Korean education was prohibited during colonial period. Although many Koreans went back to their fatherland after liberation, 600,000 to 800,000 Koreans remained in Japan. As time goes by, “training school for Korean language” developed into Korean school of today. Now, the main purpose of Korean school is to educate Korean students to live in Japan as Koreans with Korean identities.

However, Korean schools are still legally categorized as miscellaneous school like driving school. Despite the fact that they are socially recognized as schools with the same level of educational contents as average Japanese ones, they receive quite fewer amounts of educational assistance than that of Japanese private ones. The biggest factor should be absence of state subsidy from the government.

Furthermore, despite the fact that preferential treatments in the taxation system on donation to schools (reduction and exemption of tax for donors) are adopted not only to Japanese schools but also to international schools of western countries, this qualification is not granted to Korean schools. In addition, parents of Korean schools remain being excluded from the object in many scholarship systems.

On this issue, the UN Human Rights Committee issued several recommendations. I will introduce the latest recommendation of 2008. When the UN Human Rights Committee considered the fifth periodic report on International covenant on civil and political rights submitted by Japan (CCPR/C/JPN/5), the members of the committee expressed their concerns on the situation of Korean school students saying that “The Committee is concerned that state subsidies for schools that teach in the Korean language are significantly lower than those for ordinary schools, making them heavily dependent on private donations which are not exempted or deductible from taxes, unlike donations to private Japanese schools or international schools”. And the committee made recommendation saying that Japan “should ensure the adequate funding of Korean language schools, by increasing state subsidies and applying the same fiscal benefits to donors of Korean schools as to donors of other private schools, and recognize diplomas from Korean schools as direct university entrance qualifications.” (CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5)

To my regret, despite several efforts for the improvement of status of Korean school in Japan, they still suffer from economic difficulty.

Last year, when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came into power, it declared their tuition-free subsidy program of high schools. It was one of DPJ’s central campaign pledges during last August’s general election. The Diet is deliberating on a bill to make public high school tuition free and provide ¥120,000 yearly to those attending private schools or certified educational institutions. Schools for foreign students are considered eligible for the subsidy if they are deemed “the equivalent of Japanese high schools”. At the beginning, Korean schools were also included as beneficiary of this program. Last month, however, Hiroshi Nakai, minister in charge of the abduction issue, asked education minister to bar Korea schools from the planned tuition-free subsidy program saying that “If the government decided to designate Korean schools as beneficiaries of the subsidy program in addition to others, it would be tantamount to providing effective economic aid to North Korea, although Japan has applied its own sanctions to that country (in addition to U.N. sanctions)”. (The Japan Times, February 22, 2010)[1]

At last, the government of Japan decided to exclude Korean schools from high school tuition-free measures, and left the ultimate decision up to an assessment body to be established before long. This assessment body seems to examine whether the curriculum of Korean schools are comparable to the standard high school curriculum despite the fact that most of universities in Japan have received Korean school graduates. Furthermore, all of Korean schools are classified as the miscellaneous school under School Education Act, and other foreign schools of miscellaneous category are included in this program. Only Korean schools are excluded because of diplomatic situation between Tokyo and Pyongyang. Abduction issues or nuclear weapons have nothing to do with Korean school students in Japan. We cannot help regarding this decision as racial discrimination toward Korean people.

Given such a situation, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed concern about discriminatory policy towards Korean school students. In a report, issued on 16th of this month, the CERD committee expressed concern on “the continued incidence of explicit and crude statements and actions directed at groups including children attending Korean schools.” Moreover, the committee expressed concern not only on “the differential treatment of schools for foreigners and descendants of Korean and Chinese residing in Japan, with regard to public assistance, subsidies and tax exemptions” but also “the approach of some politicians suggesting the exclusion of North Korean schools from current proposals for legislative change in Japan to make high school education tuition free of charge in public and private high schools, technical colleges and various institutions with comparable high school curricula.” The panel recommended the government of Japan to “ensure that there is no discrimination in the provision of educational opportunities”.

As a country which has ratified several human rights conventions, the government of Japan should respect and ensure the rights of minorities. Korean schools which were established to restore ethnicity which was deprived during the colonial period and to succeed it to the next generation should be the subject for positive support.

In my opinion, government’s decision not to grant any substitute to Korean school is made based not only on diplomatic relation between two countries but also on their discriminatory idea towards Korea.

Finally, let me introduce media reports on this issue. Some Japanese newspapers also oppose government’s decision to exclude Korean school from this program. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper (on February 24 and March 8 ) and The Japan Times (on March 14) carried their editorials to oppose government’s decision. These are the copy of them. I think their opinions are not pro-Pyongyang (and still contain bias), but quite reasonable and common-sense views from the perspective of universal value of human rights.

Thank you very much for your attention.



NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute requests information from, meetings with NJ Residents


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March 24, 2010

Mr SAKANAKA Hidenori, head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute in Tokyo (, author of books such as “Nyūkan Senki” and “Towards a Japanese-style Immigration Nation”, is looking for input from Non-Japanese (NJ) long-termers, and immigrants who would like to see Japanese immigration policy (or current lack thereof) head in a better direction?

Mr Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, has become a leading supporter of immigration to Japan, believing that Japan would be a stronger, more economically-vibrant society if it had a more open and focused immigration policy. More on his thoughts about “Big Japan vs. Small Japan” on in English and Japanese here:

Mr Sakanaka wants your ideas and input as how Japan should approach a multicultural future, and (sensibly) believes the best way is to ask people who are part of that multiculture. Please consider getting in touch, if not making an appointment for a conversation, via the contact details at, or via email at sakanaka AT jipi DOT gr DOT jp (English and Japanese both OK).

We would like to hold seminars, forums, and other convocations in future, working to make JIPI into a conduit for a dialog between Japan’s policymakers and the NJ communities. is proud to support Mr Sakanaka and his works, and has interned at JIPI with many an enlightening conversation. This proposal for community outreach is the product of one of those conversations. Please be in touch with JIPI.

— Arudou Debito, Coordinator, and NGO FRANCA

UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva. Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.


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Hi Blog. What follows is the full text of the GOJ’s meeting Feb 24-25, 2010, with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, something it faces for review every two years.

Media-digested highlights of this meeting already up on here.

Although it was noteworthy for having 14 Japanese delegates from five different ministries (something the UN delegates remarked upon repeatedly), quite frankly, the 2010 session wasn’t much different from the previous two reviews.  In that:  The CERD Committee tells the GOJ to do something, and the GOJ gives reasons why things can’t change (or offers cosmetic changes as evidence that things are changing; it even cites numerous times the new Hatoyama Government as evidence of change, and as a reason why we can’t say anything conclusive yet about where human rights improvements will happen). The 2008 review was particularly laughable, as it said that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination“.  I guess an actual law against racial discrimination isn’t a conceivable measure.  As the GOJ delegates say below, it still isn’t.  But it is according to the CERD Committee below.

In sum, the biannual to-and-fro has become Grand Kabuki.  And while things got bogged down in the standard “minority” questions (Ainu, Ryukyuans, Burakumin, and Zainichis — all worthy causes in themselves, of course), very little time was spent on “Newcomer” minorities (sometimes rendered as “foreign migrants”), as in, the NJ (or former-NJ) immigrants who are now here long-term.  People like me, as in racially-diverse Japanese, aren’t seen as a minority yet, even though we very definitely are by any UN definition.  Plus, hardly any time was devoted at all to discussing the “Japanese Only” signs extant throughout Japan for many UN sessions now, the most simple and glaring violation of the CERD yet.

I haven’t the time to critique the whole session text below, but you can look at the 2008 session here (which I did critique) and get much the same idea.  I have put certain items of interest to in boldface, and here are some pencil-dropping excerpted quotes:

UN:  I listened attentively to the [Japanese] head of delegation’s speech, and I can’t remember whether he actually used the concept of racism or racial discrimination as such in his speech. [NB: He does not.] It seems that this is something that the state in question prefers to avoid as a term.

UN: [T]he law punishes attacks on the honor, intimidation, instigation, provocation and violence committed against anyone. While that is what we want too. That is what we are seeking, to punish perpetrators of such crimes and offenses under article 4. What is missing is the racial motivation. Otherwise, the crime is punished in the law. So would the government not be interested in knowing what is the motivation behind such a crime? Should the racial motivation not be taken account of by the Japanese judges? […] I’m really wondering about whether you really want to exclude racial motivation of crimes from all of the Japanese criminal justice system.

UN: [S]hould I take that Japan is uncomfortable in the international sphere, and it would like to have as little interaction as possible with the rest of the world? […] [D]o you just want to trade but not to interact with other people? That is my worry taken the way you have been dealing with international instruments.

UN: I’ve been struck by the fact that, and this is what Mr. Thornberry called “technical points,” but it seems that these technical points are still unchanged. There has been no real change between 2001 and today.

GOJ:  With regard to the question of the establishment of a national human rights institution, […] there is no definite schedule in place.

GOJ: [T]o make a study for the possible punitive legislations for the dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination may unduly discourage legitimate discourse, […] we need to strike a balance between the effect of the punitive measures and the negative impact on freedom of expression. I don’t think that the situation in Japan right now has rampant dissemination of discriminatory ideas or incitement of discrimination. I don’t think that that warrants the study of such punitive measures right now. […]   And if the present circumstances in Japan cannot effectively suppress the act of discrimination under the existing legal system, I don’t think that the current situation is as such therefore I do not see any necessity for legislating a law in particular for racial discrimination. [NB:  The last sentence is practically verbatim from the 2008 session.]

GOJ:  For those persons who would like to acquire Japanese nationality, there is no fact that they are being urged to change their names. For those people who have acquired the Japanese nationality on their own will they are able to change their name. But, as for the characters that can be used for the name, for the native Japanese as well as the naturalized Japanese, in order not to raise any inconveniences for their social life, it may be necessary for them to choose the easy to read and write characters used in common and Japanese society.

UN: I think it would be difficult to say that the views of CERD and of the Japanese government have converged in any substantial degree since the time when we last considered the Japanese periodic report that initial report. […] I would on behalf of CERD respectively urge that our suggestions and recommendations for changes in Japanese law and practice to bring it more into line with the international norms in this matter.

Full text of the session follows.  Notable bits in boldface.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Transcription of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session)

Transcribed by Ralph Hosoki, Solidary with Migrants Japan

First Day[1]

(February 24, 2010 (15:00~18:00): Japanese government presentation and CERD questions)

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

For that reason and this will be followed by interventions of members of the committee in the order that they request the floor. After they have spoken which I expect which would take us to six o’clock this evening and even then I suspect there won’t be enough time but in the next morning that is tomorrow we will have the first round of responses from your side and for that you will have another hour and 15 minutes to respond to the questions and what I anticipate is that there will be so many questions that you will have to have clusters and probably you will have to have a working dinner, your delegation, going late into the evening in my experience, which I think you’re members of your delegation can look forward to and after that once again, members of the committee will ask a second round of questions, and then we will again give you time to respond whatever you can within the time that is available so I think we look forward to an extremely productive interactive dialogue and without further ado sir, I should like to give you the floor to introduce your report.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you, thank you Mr. Chairperson, in order to save time, I think I will omit the introduction of my delegation who came from Tokyo from various ministries. I think you have a list of our delegation at your hand. So I will start from the beginning, my sort of opening remarks.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, it’s great honor to be engaged in constructive dialogue today with the committee. I would like to extend opening remarks on behalf of the Japanese delegation at the beginning of the examination.

In September 2009, our Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama shortly after he took office, addressed the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and advocated the concept of “Yuuai” or fraternity as Japan’s new principle for dealing with domestic and diplomatic issues. This principle is a way of thinking that respects one’s own freedom and individual dignity while also respecting the freedom and individual dignity of others. The government of Japan will implement this convention based on this principle.

Furthermore Prime Minister Hatoyama in January this year, made a policy speech at the Diet under the main theme of protecting people’s lives. The Prime Minister stated as follows, “In order to prevent individuals from becoming isolated, and to create an environment in which everyone, the young, women, elderly, and those challenged by disabilities, can use their talents to play a full part in society with a sense of purpose and pride. We will work to obtain an accurate understanding of the employment situation and work to rectify the systems and practices that currently act as barriers.”

Japan believes that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal values and our legitimate concerns of the international community. It is with this belief that Japan is actively engaged in efforts to protect and promote human rights with the attitude of dialogue and cooperation.  As part as part of such efforts in August of 2008, Japan compiled and submitted to the committee the third to sixth periodic reports on Japan’s achievement in efforts with regard to human rights guaranteed by ICERD. In addition to the periodic reports, we made maximum effort in compiling and submitting answers to the list of issues to the committee.

The ICERD is the main mechanism for dealing with racial discrimination and all other forms of discrimination. And the universal implementation of the convention is important for creating a society without racial discrimination. It is needless to say that after ratification of international conventions, it is important to see to what extent the rights stipulated in them are protected and promoted by each state party. In this respect, we are glad to have the opportunity to be examined by the committee through which we can review the status of Japan’s implementation of the convention from an international standpoint, and reflect the findings in our diplomatic policies.  We are looking forward to listening to various views from the members of the committee in order to improve the human rights situation in Japan.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, I would like to take this opportunity to explain some of the major steps the government of Japan has taken in relation to the convention. First, Japan is working actively to establish comprehensive policies for the respecting of the human rights of the Ainu people. Following the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, the Japanese Diet, our Parliament, unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people in June 2008. In response to this resolution, the government of Japan recognized the Ainu people as an indigenous people who live in the Northern part of the Japanese islands, especially in Hokkaido, and established the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on Policies for the Ainu People with a representative of the Ainu people participating as a member. The panel members visited regions where many Ainu people reside and exchanged views with Ainu people. In 2009 the panel compiled a report and submitted it to the government of Japan. In this report, the panel expressed its views that the government of Japan should listened sincerely to the opinions of the Ainu people and make efforts to establish Ainu policy reflecting the situations of Japan as well as the Ainu people. This view is based on the recognition that Ainu people are an indigenous people and the government of Japan has a strong responsibility for the rehabilitation of their culture. The report identified three basic principles on implementing the Ainu related policies. That is one, respect for the Ainu people’s identities; Two, respect for diverse cultures and ethnic harmony; and three, nationwide implementation of Ainu related policy. The report also made recommendations on concrete policy measures including promoting education and public awareness about the history and culture of the Ainu. Constructing parks as a symbolic space for ethnic harmony and promoting the Ainu culture including the Ainu language.  Furthermore, the report advised the Government of Japan to conduct research on the living conditions of the Ainu people outside of Hokkaido and to implement measures for improving their living conditions throughout Japan. In August 2009, the government of Japan established the Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department to develop an all encompassing Ainu policy. The first director of this department Mr. Akiyama is sitting next to me. And in December 2009, decided to set up the meeting for promotion of the Ainu policy with the participation of representatives of the Ainu people. The first session of the meeting took place last month followed by the first working group next month, and that meetings are scheduled to be held regularly. The government of Japan will materialize policies and also follow up on the implementation of policy.  Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, Prime Minister Hatoyama in his policy speech at the Diet in October last year, committed “to promote culture of diversity to enable everyone to live with dignity by respecting the history and culture of the Ainu people who are indigenous to Japan.” In this direction, the government of Japan will create an environment which will enable the Ainu people to be proud of their identities and inherit their culture.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, secondly, let me explain our effort to promote human rights education and enlightenment. The government of Japan believes that everyone is entitled to human rights, should correctly understand other people’s human rights and respect each other. Under this belief, the government of Japan place importance on human rights education and enlightenment. In December 2000, the government of Japan enacted the Act for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement which led to the formation of the Basic Plan for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement in March 2002. According to the basic plan, the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice expand and strengthen awareness raising activities to disseminate and enhance the idea of respect for human rights. Various activities are conducted by the organs, with a view to fostering human rights awareness as appropriate in age of globalization for eliminating prejudice and discrimination against foreigners as well as for promoting at an attitude of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, religions, lifestyles, and customs of different origins. Human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice also have been endeavoring to protect human rights through other activities such as human rights counseling, investigation, and the disposition of human rights infringement cases. In particular, in April 2004, the government of Japan fully revised the regulations of human rights infringement incidents treatment to ensure quick, flexible, and appropriate enforcement of investigation and relief activities. Based on this revision, when the human rights organs recognize the fact of human rights abuse case, including acts of racial discrimination, they commence relief activities immediately and carry out the necessary investigation in cooperation with the administrative organs concerned. If it becomes clear as a result of the investigation, that human rights abuse including acts of racial discrimination has occurred, human rights organs take various steps to relieve individual victims. For instance, they admonish and order the perpetrator to stop such acts of racial discrimination, and request that those parties authorized to substantially respond to the case, take necessary measures for the relief of the victims and prevention of reoccurrence.

The human rights organs also endeavor to prevent reoccurrence of act of racial discrimination, by educating the persons concerned with regard to respect for human rights. Furthermore, from the perspective of remedying human rights issues, Japan is currently working on studies aimed at the establishment of a national human rights institution which independent of the government would deal with human rights infringements and remedy the situation as quickly as possible. The Human Rights Protection Bill which the government of Japan submitted to the Diet in 2002, provided that Human Rights Commission to be independent of the government take measures to remedy human rights infringements in a simple, quick, and flexible matter. However, the bill did not pass due to the dissolution of the House of Representatives in October 2003. Therefore, currently a new bill on a new human rights remedy system is under review under this new government of Japan.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, I would like to avail myself on this occasion to announce Japan’s new initiatives with regard to refugee related policies. As part of its effort to make international contribution and provide humanitarian assistance, the government of Japan decided to start a pilot resettlement program and admit Myanmarnese refugees staying in the ____ Camp in Thailand.  More specifically, Japan will admit 30 people once a year, for three consecutive years from this year. That means in total approximately 90 people. For this purpose, three weeks ago, we dispatched a mission to the camp to interview candidate refugees. Japan is proud that it will become the first Asian country to introduce a resettlement program. Japan will make the most effort in order to live up to the expectations from the international community. The government of Japan in cooperation with relevant organizations and NGOs will provide refugees substantial support for resettlement such as guidance for adjusting to Japanese society, Japanese language training, and improvement consultation and job referral. Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, Japan, on the basis of that spirit declared in the Constitution and the preamble of the convention disallow any discrimination against race and ethnicity, and continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation in Japan. The Japanese delegation is ready to most sincerely provide answers on any matters of concern you may have during this important examination. So it’s my hope that we will have constructive discussions. Thank you very much Mr. Chairperson.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you sir. Sir, would you like to give the floor to other members of his delegation at this stage or would you prefer to do that later? I thank you for your introduction and this gives us more time for the committee members to pose questions and I give the floor now to our distinguished rapporteur Mr. Thornberry.

Mr. Thornberry

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and again I would like to thank the delegation, the head of delegation very warmly for opening address and for the report and responding so promptly to the questions submitted by this rapporteur. It is a great privilege for me to act as country rapporteur on this occasion. This is the second occasion in which Japan has reported to this committee, and the first was in 2001 when I had just joined the committee. You ratified in 1995, you have not or not yet accepted the optional or____optional declaration in relation to the individual communications procedure of the committee nor indeed as I understand to the amendments to article 8. Both of which procedures I think in our previous meeting we commended or the article 14 procedure and the amendments to article 8. Nevertheless, you’ve consolidated many issues in your succinct report, and we are very grateful for that.

If I may start with perhaps a number of rather technical matters relating to the convention and the surrounding framework of human rights. 53 out of 173 states parties have accepted the individual communications procedure, and I note also that Japan has not yet accepted the optional protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights so it doesn’t engage with that system, but colleagues would commend article 14 to you as well as other procedures because it gets to the heart of issues about racial discrimination. Looking at your spectrum of human rights commitments there are in fact a number of cases in which instruments relevant to our convention perhaps would engage your further reflection, notably ILO Convention 111 on discrimination in employment, ILO Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, and the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education. All of these are related in one way or the other to the issues that CERD deals with so it might be interesting for you to reflect upon widening the circle of human rights commitments. I also note that you didn’t ratify the Genocide Convention of 1948, but that you have I think accepted the statute of the International Criminal Court which is interesting because of course, part of the jurisdiction, the substantive jurisdiction of the statute is precisely the crime of genocide. Of course the decision to accede or not to accede to a particular convention is a sovereign prerogative and we respect that, but certainly, some of the conventions I’ve referred to do serve as benchmarks of good practice and can in fact be very very helpful I think for a state in elaborating its policy, and I’ve only singled out those which are relevant to the issue of racial discrimination, and they also enable the state to engage with certain supervision systems which again can be I think a positive experience.

Before passing on from this review, the general situation, CERD and other relevant conventions, I would like to recall one historical very positive fact and that was Japan’s pioneering effort in the time of the League of Nations to try to insert a provision in the League system on the equality of nations and peoples, and following that the world had to wait until the United Nations Charter before we had the major reflection of the principle of nondiscrimination; in this case on the grounds of race, sex, language, or religion, and our convention and all other conventions stem from that important architectural aspect of the human rights program.

If I may take some very specific matters on the report, supplemented by your questions, the report and your responses contain many statistics including figures disaggregated by citizenship, nationality, but paragraph 4 of the report says that ethnic breakdown for Japan is not readily available, Japan does not conduct population surveys from an ethnic viewpoint. I must say this has caused the rapporteur some heartache in the sense of trying to get a grip on relevant figures. For example, in relation to Koreans, you say that 600,000 approximately, that’s just round up those numbers, foreigners who are Koreans; 400,000 of which are special permanent residents, but there is also a figure of some 320,000 naturalizations that I have come across, and in recent years up to 2008, so we are actually talking about a million, something roughly around a million Koreans and Korean descent. The committee often asks for statistics; we understand the difficulties that states may have for various reasons including reasons to do with privacy and anonymity and so on, not wanting to pigeonhole people in certain ethnic categories, but it can be tremendously helpful I think and also in many cases necessary to get a grasp of the situation by understanding its dimensions and if an ethnic question can’t be asked in a direct way in a census, we often encourage states to find creative ways around this, including things like use of languages we recommended to other states from time to time; social surveys, etc., and a number of other methods that are…this is essentially designed not simply to help the committee – that’s not the point – but to help the state, I think to understand the dimensions of a particular question, and enable them to focus their policy more appropriately.

Your response to question 1 regarding people of Okinawa and Dowa Burakumin, simply recalls that they are Japanese nationals under the law, but of course that is a legal position and doesn’t directly respond to a question on statistics. I mean all countries have some provision or other on equality before the law, but this does not prevent statistics, ethnic or otherwise, being offered preferably on the basis of self definition. I would simply say that identity in this world is a more complex notion than perhaps than nationality in the legal sense – nationality or citizenship. On some of the key issues that are of interest to the committee and we had extensive NGO information and other information. We don’t for example have information on Okinawan people, because you reference that case equally be equality before the law. So the question of visibility of minorities arises significantly in Japan, and we don’t have information on ethnic minorities who have Japanese citizenship. We have information on foreigners of various kinds which you have kindly provided. But we don’t really have adequate information to make our own judgments on ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship. We always have in some form or other a data question which we put to states and many different approaches to addressing this question are possible.

The second issue, rather technical one on the place of the convention in the law of Japan and the prohibition of racial discrimination, we have noted and it’s still the case that there is no general law in Japan prohibiting racial discrimination, and Japan has not regarded it as necessary to adopt specific legislation to outlaw racial discrimination, and the citation in defense of this position is article 14 of the Constitution whereby it talks about equality before the law and no discrimination on grounds of race, creed, sex, social status, or family origin. If I may just make a few brief points on this. In the first place, I think the list of grounds relevant to this convention in your constitution is narrower, and it doesn’t…we have five grounds, and it doesn’t cover them, of course there may be overlaps between the grounds – that is a possibility – but nevertheless, I think…it seems the Constitution is a more restrictive list than the convention.

The second, I’m not absolutely sure from responses and information we’ve received generally about the systematic application of this convention to private conduct in the situation of Japan. The convention directs itself in addition obviously to activities of the state, the state authorities and state organs, it directs itself to the activities of persons, groups, and organizations, and is a convention based on public life, which is more than the public administration of the state. We found some cases against actions against private persons they seem in some cases unsuccessful, but a comment would be welcome on this. I mean most cases, I would say these days, most states do not have direct discriminatory provisions it’s often the activities of private persons that the committee is dealt with as engaging responsibilities in gauging the obligations of the state under the convention. But following that, I’m also not absolutely clear if there is a prohibition on indirect discrimination in the law of Japan. The convention does not actually speak of indirect discrimination, it talks about intentional discrimination, discrimination in effect, but we have tended to translate that using contemporary language into the idea of indirect discrimination.

The other point on the question of how the convention reaches down into the law, it’s fairly clear that certain elements in the convention do require legislation. One may point out article 2, article 4, article 6 for example, clearly require legislation. Article 4 perhaps is in some ways the clearest. There’s an obligation to legislate under the convention in terms of racist speech and in terms of organizations. And we have elaborated that in general recommendation 15. We’ve talked about the convention in large measure being non-self executing; doesn’t apply to all of the convention, but certainly certain aspects of it do require legislation, so I would offer that thought for your reflection.

The other point is that there are cases we note where the convention has functioned as a criteria in the interpretation of laws, but only maybe as one criteria among others and perhaps that doesn’t have the same level of stability and predictability as a prospective law on racial discrimination. We would think it would guarantee a greater measure of legal certainty, and influence the conduct of potential perpetrators of racial discrimination and potential victims equally. And we note the various issues raised including today on the human rights protection bill; the one that lapsed and again we are always interested in current plans and projects to revive something similar, but I think…I can’t speak for the committee in advanced entirely, but the idea of a separate law I think does commend itself as very much the best way to implement the obligations under the convention.

On another technical matter, but one with a little more human content perhaps than I’ve been arguing so far. We asked you about one of the grounds of discrimination, namely the ground of descent, one of the five grounds for racial discrimination in article 1 with particular reference to people of the Dowa or Burakumin, and paragraph 8 of our previous observations made it clear that we felt that descent had its own meaning within the spectrum of grounds, and we’ve asked this again, and you’ve made a response – the response is a very interesting one. Since we asked this question last time, of course we’ve had General Recommendation number 29 on descent based discrimination.  Your response seems to claim that descent has no really separate meeting and is subsumed by the other grounds referred to in article 1. On the contrary the committee’s view is that while it is, we would say “in pari materia” of the same kind of substance as the others it does have a separate meaning and adds something to the convention. You also referred to the travaux préparatoires [the official record of a negotiation] of the convention and argued that descent was introduced to cover up confusions about the term national origin and so on, but there are also if one looks at the travaux just more widely, there are many references to caste and descent based systems in those travaux, particularly in the context of discussions on special measures.

My other maybe technical point is that, of course examination of the travaux of a treaty is important, but in the scheme of interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties for example, the travaux are supplementary means of interpretation, and the text and subsequent practice are the primary means of interpretation. We note with great interest that there was in fact for the Buraku Dowa program of special measures, for a long period of time, I think maybe 30 years, but they were terminated in 2002. But I think the groups concerned did hope that certain compensation as it were in legal terms in terms of policy and legislation would arise from that to make up for the termination of the special measures program. We issued a recommendation last August on special measures, and our view is that special measures may be terminated when sustainable equality has been achieved. So that they’ve done their job in a way that the community itself can sustain its position in society. But nevertheless, this again a rather technical discussion we welcome the embracing of the spirit of the convention as you put it in your response, and this is very welcome. But then again you have pointed that broad legal guarantees and so on and that legislation is there but of course legislation, as a committee says, always has to be implemented and not simply promulgated, so I think real action and continuing action in light of your good intentions would be much appreciated by the committee.

I would just ask one question perhaps, is there actually a government department or ministry that specifically addresses the Buraku question which is very specific to Japan but also has certain analogies with systems elsewhere, and if not special measures what kind of general measures, because we have quite a number of presentations to the effect that in the field of housing, education, gaps between Buraku and other members of the population of Japan have narrowed, but perhaps not necessarily sufficiently. I there are still issues to do with marriage and Buraku Lists, and also discriminatory acts of individuals and derogatory comments in the mass media, the Internet, and there are issues around housing and land values and so on, which I think do deserve attention. These are difficult matters and they reach down to the mores of society in a very deep sense, and the state clearly I think has good intentions, in this respect, there is also I think vigorous activity in civil society so that one hopes that action and cooperation will continue and intensify.

Sorry it is slightly back to technicalities again, but on the issue of reservations Japan has entered a reservation to articles 4a and 4b of the convention in the interest of freedom of expression. It does not cover article 4 paragraph c which is about public authorities and public institutions to promote or incite racial discrimination. So your reservation doesn’t in fact cover inflammatory statements by public officials, and NGOs have presented example of that. Article 4A and 4B are accepted only to the extent of the fulfillment of the obligations is compatible with the guarantee of the right to freedom of assembly, association, and expression and other rights in the Constitution of Japan.  That was the reservation.

If I can just unpack the reservation very briefly it doesn’t refer to international standards on freedom of expression and therefore one has a problem with many of these reservations and there are analogies elsewhere that they tie the reservation to the text of a constitution so that in inverse situations through the principle of international law, if the constitution changes does that imply that the international obligations change? Which should really be the other way. It is also potentially a very wide reservation because it not only talks about specified rights but also other unspecified rights in the Constitution. We’re not always clear why reservations are maintained; perhaps you might have more to say on this. We are certainly not going to enter a legal struggle with the state party though we can and have often commended states and recommended states to either reduce the scope of reservations or to remove them or at least examined very seriously about whether there is a continuing necessity to maintain the reservation and the reasons therefore.

Your legislation or understanding of your principles on hate speech is that you have a fairly tolerant approach in that most of the legal action as it were takes place in the field of defamation against private individuals, but perhaps class defamation or derogatory marks about a group as a whole might not be so easily caught within your present structure and also for example article 4 a deals with racist propaganda which deals with group; it is clearly expressed in article 4 as well as individual dimensions. And CERD has always regarded article 4 as a high importance in combating racial discrimination and an essential reinforcement for the educational value of an educational program or the educational value of other provisions against racial discrimination. Anyway we know that in international law freedom of expression is not unlimited and there are dangers to a society in what one might call a coarsening of public debate, and we have been presented with evidence of rather gross unpleasant statements directed against groups in Japan. I won’t go into that further perhaps colleagues might want to take that one through.

Turning to particular groups, and going slightly away from the technicalities on the Ainu we note the welcome change to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people and the support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Panel of Eminent Persons, the Consultation Forum, and the head of delegation has given us an update on these matters today. I suppose what we are interested in is the immediately proximate steps to be taken in conjunction with representatives of the Ainu to translate the good intentions of the government into practical programs, and indeed recognition as an indigenous group does bring with it in train quite a number of issues to do with identity, culture, language, land rights, sacred sites; there are a whole range and I’m sure you’re fully aware that any kind of legislative program based upon current standards of indigenous rights would in fact be a fairly extensive program, but anyway we note the positive change, welcome them greatly, and wish you well in your efforts to implement those good intentions.

On Okinawans, we note your response to question 18, and your reluctance to extend indigenous peoples term to natives of Okinawa. Okinawa, however has a fairly distinctive history – some of it I have to say from 1879 onwards was a very difficult history for the people of Okinawa who continue to be…live in a very heavily militarized part of Japan the with very small part of Japan’s total area but an enormous percentage of its military installations. They do seem to this member of this committee to be elements of a distinct culture, a distinct language, a distinct history, and certain prior presence in Okinawa, significant political and other presence before 1879.  We note that Okinawan language, or Ryukyu, is not taught in public education in Japan nor in Okinawa, and again you mention the people of Okinawa are Japanese nationals, but again that seems to me to be a citizenship question. We note the visit of the special rapporteur on racism a few years ago to Okinawa alleging lack of consultation and other matters; perhaps, if you have further comments on that it would be interesting to hear them. But I also note that UNESCO has regarded the Okinawan language as a distinct language so I think in this situation many countries would accept the Okinawans, an analogous group, either as an ethnic minority or an indigenous people.

On the Korean question I think I have puzzled over these statistics long enough and I think I’ve explained where I think I have arrived on this question. We did have a question about – we put this last time as well – on change of names in order to get naturalization and you have responded to that. The very interesting category in some ways this special permanent resident because they were people who actually lost Japanese nationality, and I have to say, when this happened in 1952, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations put it rather dramatically and said that with the withdrawal of citizenship, 500,000 foreign people suddenly appeared in Japan overnight. They are governed by the alien registration act.  I still puzzle over this term, special status; what exactly does it imply. It seems that there are significant differences between the special status residents from either of Korean or Chinese descent and the position of Japanese citizens. I mean, is there a special set of rules devoted to them that are different from Japanese citizens but also different from rules applying to other foreigners?

On the question of non-nationals generally, CERD has issued general recommendation number 30. All I can say on a whole is that on the whole we don’t see in the human rights field any great distinction should be made between nationals and foreigners.  There is room in international…we relate that out to international law generally. There is room often in the sphere of political rights to make those distinctions but otherwise human rights are human rights and I think as broad of framework as possible of human rights is always the most appropriate policy when we’re dealing with non-nationals. I mean, even in the political field we find that many countries permit non-nationals – give them a right rather – to vote in local elections. I’m not sure whether that applies either in the case of the special permanent residents in Japan or indeed, other non-citizens, non-nationals. On the Korean issue, Koreans in general, I’m not particularly confining myself to the special permanent residents, there is still the issue of names. I think your response…you said that the limited list of Japanese characters and everybody else has to comply with that but I think that’s the problem – that situations of people of Korean and Chinese ethnicity applying for naturalization are not the same as position of ethnic Japanese, and that’s a situation perhaps that one could have a look at.  I also noticed also in the figures, the fairly stable block in terms of numbers of special permanent residents, Korean, Chinese, and so on, who opt not to go for naturalization – not to become Japanese citizens, and I must say this rather set me puzzling a little bit as to why this is the case. First of all there is the names issue, but in a sense statistically and otherwise they appear if they do opt for Japanese citizenship, they open themselves a program of maybe effective assimilation in the education and other systems, because there’s not a great deal of recognition of ethnic minority rights in Japan as far as I can understand things, in terms of language, identity, culture, and so on. And it just occurred to me that if the gap, if there was a more open approach to the issue of ethnic minorities in Japan perhaps those who wish to conserve their identity might be more encouraged to opt for Japanese citizenship. It is simply a thought that I would actually commend for reflection.

The other point is on education. We had many presentations on education and in addition to issues like harassment of Korean and other non-ethnic Japanese in schools, there’s two things: Many Koreans and others opt for the, what I would call the regular school system or the public school system, it would be interesting to know in the public school system, how does the curriculum accommodate minorities and whether we are talking our Japanese citizens or noncitizens in terms of culture, history, background, language, and so on. What does it teach, the regular school system? In history classes for the regular school system, do they emphasize the contribution of various ethnicities to the construction of Japan? There is a double issue in the area of ethnic minorities here because the state on the one hand has the duty to equip the children with the ability to succeed in Japanese society, but secondly it also has the obligation to pay attention to history, culture, language, and it is a difficult balance to be attained. In addition to the public school system of course there are a number of non-accredited schools, in which it seems to us, and I can’t go through details now, that significant disadvantages compared with the public school system in terms of funding, in terms of treatment of taxation for taxation purposes, and other matters. So we would welcome perhaps a comment on this, and some of those schools do appear to be…particular reference is made to schools with people of Japanese descent from Brazil and Peru being in a particularly critical situation. There are all these many other issues related to minorities to do with identity, language, participation in national life, participation in decisions affecting them and so on, but in a way we haven’t been able to find, or haven’t been able to find out much about that because of the lack of data, this kind of screen of citizenship which really ends for all practical purposes ethnic data in the state party.

Two further issues very briefly. We have a lot of information on migrant woman. This is purely on the, I suppose, the noncitizen category. We welcome comment on that. Some hostile attitudes because of appearance, speech, dress. Particular criticism was referred to us on the revised immigration control act of 2009 and how it makes it rather difficult for women who are suffering domestic violence – they must continue as a spouse for more than six months, otherwise residence rights are revoked, and difficulties in accessing public services. Again, we don’t have real statistics on these matters and the committee doesn’t deal with gender issues directly, but when we feel there is an ethnic dimension to them using a principal we have called, and others too, “intersectionality,” we will deal with them. And finally, on this, there are some issues to do with refugee recognition, and in both cases there seem to be issues in and around lack of understanding, language questions, inhibiting access to services, and some kind of cultural disjuncture, lack of information in appropriate non-Japanese languages about procedures as mediated to the public, and so on. But anyway, we note positive remarks about a new program that you’ve made.

A couple of final comments, Chairman, and thank you for your indulgence, I think points have been made by a number of committees about a national human rights institution, and we note the positive approach expressed today by the head of delegation towards this development and welcome this very much. Your response actually, on this one was a rather interesting one because you said even in the response before today’s information, you would work towards a national human rights institution. You referred to a range of problems including Buraku, Ainu, Okinawa, and Korean issues which is I suppose precisely the issues that I’ve been trying to highlight today. So one hopes that the national human rights institution will enable a certain broadening of scope in relation to the human rights of these groups. I’m not aware, by the way, if there is any national plan in Japan or the plan of implementation of Durban Declaration in terms of elimination of racial discrimination, but I would be happy to be corrected on if that is incorrect.

Finally, a few brief comments, these are just my comments, the concluding observations are for the committee as a whole. On general social conditions, we have a certain focus on particular groups, but there’s also evidence of a widespread social difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese in both ethnic and citizenship terms. I mean, for example, we’ve had a number of evidences put forward to us about difficulties in discrimination in rights of access to places open to the public which is clearly referred to in article 5f of the convention. This is something that might be changed in due course by the adoption of the law, because I think the experience of many countries is that this kind of attitude, generalized attitude, can certainly be reduced in its scope and intensity by the passing a law which makes certain kinds of refusal of admission etc. clearly illegal and offers punishment or provides punishment for perpetrators and compensation for victims. It may also be that your approach towards hate speech is respectful of freedom of expression but perhaps over tolerant. CERD has mentioned many times that mass media and political class in general have special responsibilities here. And as I say in article 4 of the convention does require legislation, it is fairly clear in terms of racist discourse and racist organizations as to what must be done. I’ve made some suggestions on completing the network or widening the network of human rights obligation, including, I guess colleagues would also recommend adoption of our procedure under article 14.

Japan is a world-class economy and cultural power much admired for its goods for its cultural products and I think it’s important to match this prestige within arrangements in the human rights field because human rights arrangements influence the perception of countries. We construct our image of a society and people partly on that basis. And we’ve heard today much that is good and positive and perhaps there are more initiatives that will be referred to before the conclusion of our exchange, but I think a deepened engagement even on one’s first impression of reading the materials about Japan would be welcome and necessary, and I recall the very positive sentiments we’ve had related to us today by Prime Minister Hatoyama. So my observations are offered seriously and respectfully to the delegation to open a constructive dialogue with the state party even if the we do not eventually agree on all points, so again, many thanks for your information and apologies to the Chairman and my colleagues for overstaying, extending my speech, but I look forward to seeing what colleagues will comment, and I will try to draw the whole discussion to a brief conclusion at the end of tomorrow morning’s session. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Thornberry. I appreciate very much the depth of information and the hard work that has gone in preparing your comments which I think will be most useful for the state party’s delegation as well as to other members. I am going to give the floor now to the speakers who have requested the floor in the order that they requested, but before I do so, in view of the very importance of this debate, and the fact that we have so many speakers and I anticipate more, I would request, therefore, as much as possible to focus on questions, specific questions, related to the state party’s report. With that, I will give the floor now to the first speaker on my list, Mr. Amir followed by Mr. Avtonomov.

Mr. Amir

Thank you Chairman. I wish to thank and also congratulate the delegation from Japan chaired by the distinguished ambassador and also I wish to congratulate the head of the delegation and all the members of the delegation on the quality of their report which is before the committee members. I also thank Mr. Patrick Thornberry who has covered everything. He has covered all of the articles of the convention. Chairman, if I took it upon myself to take the floor during this debate, it was firstly and foremost to highlight by way of a comment, the exceptional nature and character of Japan. The first reforms did not just start now, the first reforms started at the end of the Second World War. They started when, as a wheat importer, Japan managed to build terraces across very volcanic terrain. We know that Japan is a country which has experienced earthquakes unfortunately, on a regular basis. But Japan has managed to master this natural phenomenon, to master this natural phenomenon from which all of the Japanese people could potentially suffer. And we know as well, quite to what extent Japan has been at the forefront of technical and scientific and academic advances and in all spheres on research, research which of course has increased productivity, production across all sectors of economic activity.

Chairman, Japan has also made major efforts on a human level because the former land owners in rural areas has seen their land nationalized and this land, this farming land, has gone directly to the peasants to the people who could not buy the land because they had no money and some of the production has gone back to the peasants themselves so that they could make sure they could feed their cattle and also feed themselves; and then of course there is also a share which was sent to the former land owners because they had to provide compensation for the nationalization of this land and this went on for several years before the Japanese peasants became real farmers in their own right, so having said that, Chairman, racial discrimination as seen in the report that we’ve read, and as seen as well in the alternative report which have been submitted by nongovernmental organizations is a matter of some concern. It’s not because we believe one side or another, that is not what I’m saying when I look at the reports. I’m concerned because I thinking of the history of Japan going back to what Mr. Thornberry said on the issue of education and the issue of training at all levels; mainly education and training for future generations. Japan has a certain past, it has a certain present, and it has a certain future, and it’s the future that today I would like to focus on.

And these are my thoughts as to your future. Discrimination against indigenous minorities living in Japan who have lived in Japan historically, the ancestral populations, in the 17th, 18th, 19th century, if we look at the history of Japan we saw that this populations as well as other indigenous peoples were quite simply discriminated against because of the vertical hierarchy of values. Let me look at the peoples which come from outside of Japan itself and here I am thinking in particular of Koreans and Chinese and Thai and Filipinos. Here I’m thinking about all the different minorities represented in Japan who have their own identity from their own origins. So there are these different indigenous minorities and then there’s also these minorities from outside. We see globalized discrimination which historically may have some raison d’être, may have some foundation, but history is now being transformed and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is raising issues to overturn history to establish these minorities in their full rights as enshrined in the convention, this international convention. Education, teaching, training well what programs do you have there? What do you teach young Japanese children today, apart from science and technology, of course? What else do you teach them? Do you teach history as part of your core curriculum in Japan – in particular, the history of your relationship with these minorities and also with your neighbors?

You asked me to be brief today, Chairman, given the number of experts who are to take the floor during this debate, so I decided to say, for example, we have the example of Australia with the Aborigines, we have the example of New Zealand, and how they work with their minorities. These parts of their population who are original inhabitants of the country, and these countries have apologized to these minorities, indigenous peoples who have historically been discriminated against and we should pay tribute to New Zealand for this; it is a matter of honor for them, we should pay tribute to Australia for the fact that they have officially presented their apologies to these minorities of their own cultural traditional identity. And in the United States as well we have the situation of Martin Luther King who has become a symbol of the fight against racial discrimination. Two centuries of slavery, while today we have Martin Luther King as a symbol, he is a symbol of freedom, freedom of the United States of America, freedom in their fight against racial discrimination. So it is a matter of honor for these countries such as New Zealand and the others I mentioned to say, “Yes, it’s true, it happened, it’s in the past, now it’s over.”

So education, education is a bridge, a bridge to bring together all the children in Japan, all the citizens of Japan, and the fact that you teach how to learn lessons from history that would limit all forms of racial discrimination in the treaty sense of the term, because it would teach unity, unity not based on identity, cultural ethnic identity, but social economic unity based on equal rights, and this kind of unity would give Japan greater resources to move forward towards further modernization to create Japan for tomorrow, you should make similar progress as you have made in science and technology in the development of your human resources in a very sensitive area which is that of research into human and social sciences to make sure that the discrimination that we have learned about in particular through the alternative reports will slow down and disappear so that Japan can once again be a cultural and multicultural model as well as an economic model and a political model and a humanitarian model. And I am sure that we will see great progress from Japan in this field of human rights. Thank you Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your intervention. Mr. Avtonomov, you have the floor, followed by Mr. Murillo Martinez.

Mr. Avtonomov

Thank you Chairman. Chairman, thank you for having given me the floor. I shall try to be as brief as possible but all the same before I start my comments I do wish to welcome the distinguished delegation from Japan; there are so many of you here, we do note that, we have an appreciation; it demonstrates your respect for the committee and demonstrates quite how important this dialogue is for you. And you know that this dialogue is really the most important part of our procedure for the examination of reports, it’s only through a dialogue that we can really identify the stance of a particular party to the convention. It’s only in this in this way we can really know what is happening in Japan, how matters are being settled to make sure that our recommendation are really targeted, they are concrete, and they are useful ones for you, And they’re not just general comments without the true knowledge of the country. And I’d also like to thank the distinguished country rapporteur Mr. Thornberry, as always, he has carried out an in-depth analysis, a broad ranging analysis of the situation in the country and of the report itself. Japan is a long way away from Europe so of course you have your specific country characteristics and it’s very important for us to learn more about this because our convention applies to all countries, but each country is different, and has its own characteristics, and so it is very important that this be underscored for us as members of the committee as the rapporteur has done. I would like to say that the report is highly informative. I was very interested indeed to read it and to read about the court decisions and so on contained in the report – not all countries provide such detailed information and in particular on the court decisions related to the fight against racism. All of this information is very useful indeed, so thank you. And it’s a very good thing that the report carries on from the initial and the second reports so there’s a clear progression here and we see here answers to specific comments made, so that’s very useful as well. Of course we are not always satisfied by the answers but they are there, that’s important. It is very important for us to see how the state is making progress, and I very much appreciate the introductory statement made by the distinguished ambassador. I have the greatest respect for all of the initiatives that you are implementing and your work with refugees, that new initiative from Japan, and the “Yuuai” concept as well that was mentioned and it was announced by the Prime Minister Hatoyama. I think these are very important initiatives; we see a new vision of Japan to cope with changing circumstances of the contemporary world and I think we need to take into account all of the information you have provided today when we analyze reports and prepare our concluding observations and recommendations. I’d like to thank you as well for your answers to the questions raised by the distinguished rapporteur, the questions, the list of issues that he sent prior to our meeting to the state party.

But having seen all this information, I do still have a few questions that I would like to put, and I won’t go into any detail right now because Mr. Thornberry has already covered most of the questions I had, I don’t need to go into any detail, but I do still have a few questions that I’d like to highlight. I have visited your wonderful country. I really do like your country, there’s a lot of things that we should learn from you I know, and I would say that we have special links I think between Russia and Japan, links that other countries might not have with your country, because there is a small Orthodox church in Japan; it was first founded by the Russian ministries in the beginning of the twentieth century, but it’s carried on, and it’s developed as a Japanese Orthodox church and so it has the Russian orthodox traditions and the Japanese culture as well, so it’s a very interesting example of cultural interaction, and I can see that our relationship is a very close one, and I hope that our peoples and our countries will become ever closer in the future.

Having said all that, I do have a few specific questions, and in particular on current developments in your country. Firstly, I draw your attention to the fact that there is a bill, a draft law on education, on ensuring education for children irrespective of their ethnic appurtenance. This is a draft law or bill which is currently being examined; it was initiated by the government before the parliaments now. I think it’s a very good initiative but all the same, I was wondering about the different ministers, who were saying that you should exclude the Koreans from the scope of this draft law given the diplomatic relations you have with North Korea. Well, the Koreans coming to study in Japan will be those who are resident in Japan; they won’t be those from outside. So I’d like to receive some further information from the distinguished delegation on this draft law, and to make sure that I have your reassurance that such discriminatory amendments will not be brought into the law, and irrespective of the relationship between the governments of Japan and North Korea here. I saw on the Internet, I think it was today, in the Asahi Shimbun, the editorial which criticized this kind of an approach to this draft, or this education bill. I understand a little bit of Japanese. I can speak a bit of Japanese and I can read a bit, so I was having a look at the newspaper website today. I can’t express myself that well in Japanese, I apologize for that, but I think I did pick up this issue, and Mr. Thornberry has raised the issue of the Koreans. I think that there is a long standing situation that some Koreans have remained foreigners; they have not acquired citizenship, and we can’t really understand that fully. If the Koreans have not taken on their citizenship of the Republic of Korea or of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, so South or North Korea, then can they then receive Japanese citizenship? I understand that sometimes they have decided, as Mr. Thornberry said, to do so, but what is stopping them from receiving citizenship now? So I’d like to ask the distinguished delegation what the situation is in citizenship laws in Japan on this matter. How can you acquire citizenship, are there any restrictions, limitations, are there any particular advantages for some or special fast-track procedures for some? I’d like to know about your laws on citizenship in the light of our convention, and sometimes there are traditions which are not in line with our convention – I’m not saying that’s the case with Japan – but I can’t really understand the situation fully here I’d like to note what legislation you have on citizenship in Japan which prevents these Koreans from receiving citizenship.

And Mr. Thornberry has already said that there are restrictions, there’s the different alphabet, and so on, so perhaps, there’s difficulties with the alphabet, I know that there are different alphabets, but there are the two different ways of writing; and what about Chinese language? They can read Japanese many of the same hieroglyphs are used; and so I’d like to understand what barriers there are for citizenship. I don’t know quite how to read all hieroglyphs, of course, but I do have to keep studying on this, but I think that it is something that is accessible to Koreans and to Chinese people living in Japan. So Chinese people live in Japan as well, and we know that there is a major part of Yokohama which is a Chinese district. It’s a real Chinese district, and I went there and I met with Chinese people, and I lived for some time in Ofuna City in Japan, and there are Chinese restaurants, and of course, there are Chinese people living and working for a long time in Japan, so why don’t we see this in the report? Does the Japanese government have a policy for Chinese people? Do they have special privileges? I don’t really see that reflected in the report, but I won’t go into any more detail on that right now.

And Mr. Thornberry mentioned these people living in Okinawa. They are from Ryukyu originally but now in Okinawa, and is there a position from the Japanese government on these people? I would be very grateful to receive further explanation on this situation. Is there a desire to recognize them as a distinct ethnicity, ethnic group, are there any particular measures for this ethnic group, for this group of persons; that are differences in culture and history, we know this. I won’t go into further detail now, you know the situation; there is linguistic and cultural issues. There was an independent state on those islands and so there is a certain culture and identity, so I would be very grateful indeed to the distinguished delegation to receive further explanation as to the state’s position on these parts of the population. I think it is very important indeed for us because they are in an indigenous people. I had a look at that in the report. I saw that the state party has moved away from using the word Utari to the Ainu to the name which they have decided they want to be called. That’s very important for us as a committee because it is very important for people to decide themselves what they want to call themselves. I think that is a basic right of any indigenous people to choose their own names, choose what they are called.

And then, my last question is on the Burakumin. We know that the Buraku people…we understand the position, well I know the position, let’s put it that way, I know the position of the state party, we’ve heard it, but all the same, in our convention we do talk about origins, and the Buraku are people of a certain family, and this is how they are defined, their origin is not just based on their social status. So I would be very grateful to the distinguished delegation for further explanation as to the situation with these people. I know that there is a long-standing tradition of family registration, so they register – people say well this is my family, this is where my family comes from, and everybody knows that in Japan, everybody knows where these Buraku people live, so if this information is accessible to third parties, that could be an issue. I’m not going to say whether this kind of family registration is right or not, but it could give rise to questions on whether all of this information should be shared or not – should this family registration be allowed or not, or with certain restrictions; this work is perhaps only just starting, but, maybe, of course every people has its own way of defining itself, and so it’s interesting to see further clarification on this, I’d be grateful indeed too, if you could give us more information on any work which might be underway to move on from this family-based registration or any other way in which you are creating the necessary conditions for the Burakumin be able to develop further, be further part of society.

Mr. Thornberry has already mentioned the special measures; we know that the special measures were in existence for 33 years, but I’d like to see more information about this. Did you achieve the objectives that you set when you introduced these special measures, and then what happened once these special measures were no longer in force. I won’t go into any more detail on this, you know that our committee adopted a general recommendation on special measures, but that was taken after you had done away with these special measures in Japan. But I’d like to know whether you achieved your objectives because we are concerned about special measures, so I’d like to receive further information to gain a deeper understanding of the issues. So thank you once again for all of your work, your introductory statements, your answers to the list of issues, thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you, Mr. Avtonomov. Obviously you’ve studied very hard and you are familiar with the issues, and I was pleased to hear also that you can speak a little Japanese. So anyway, distinguished members, I still have a long list of speakers, and being practical and giving equal opportunities to everybody, I would suggest you speak for eight minutes if possible. And of course, I won’t censor you, but I would like you to exercise self regulation rather than for me to interpose. I don’t wish to do so at all, so having said this, and this is a suggestion, I give the floor to Mr. Murillo Martinez, followed by Mr. Cali Tzay.

Mr. Martinez

Thank you Chairman, I will be brief. First of all, Chairman, I would like to join with other speakers, I would like to thank the distinguished delegation from Japan for their reports. This has been analyzed in detail by our rapporteur. Mr. Thornberry. Chairman, Japan certainly enjoys what I would call relative calm and tranquility. It’s true that there’s an awful lot of racial discrimination in the world; still, the committee has been very emphatic in highlighting, of course there is no country in the world that can escape from this phenomenon scourge of racism and intolerance. I listened attentively to the head of delegation’s speech, and I can’t remember whether he actually used the concept of racism or racial discrimination as such in his speech. [NB: He does not.] It seems that this is something that the state in question prefers to avoid as a term. There is a new government in Japan as we have heard. And recently, we’ve heard there is going to be a new vision adopted by this country. Perhaps the delegation could say a little bit about how this new view of your country is going to sort of tie in with the phenomena of racism – and I’m thinking particularly of the day to day life of the foreign population in your country, because we have heard that there are problems afflicting foreigners in your country.

For instance, the Koreans. It would also be useful to know a little bit more, and I’m thinking about this segment of the population. What is the impact of your educational policy? Do you have special support for instance, so that children from these groups or this population can be better integrated in the educational system in your country? And finally, Chairman, it would be useful if the Japanese delegation could say something about whether you have monitory mechanisms in your country monitoring the phenomena of racism and xenophobia in Japan. And I’m thinking here also of the Internet as well. Do you have any sort of observatory or monitoring center on racism and discrimination or any statistics that could give us a broader view of this phenomenon and how it has an impact on victims of racism and xenophobia? The rapporteur has referred to the human rights institution – again it would be useful to know how far you’re going in ensuring that this body is going to be in complete line with the Paris Principles. Thank you.

I thank you for your questions and your intervention. I give the floor to Mr. Cali Tzay, followed by Madame Dah.

Mr. Cali Tzay

Thank you Chairman. Thank you for giving me the floor. I would like to thank the distinguished delegation from Japan, and of course thank the head for the presentation. I would join with others in the committee for thanking Mr. Thornberry for this excellent in-depth report. I’ve also heard a lot from Mr. Avtonomov and learned a lot from him. I think, thanks to his intervention, he’s given me a better picture of Japanese culture as well. And to some extent, that’s taken words out of my mouth. I only have, therefore, one or two questions to make. First of all, I’d like to thank the delegation for your answers, the information you’ve provided in the report. I had many questions on the Ainu in your country, but you’ve provided a great deal of information in your report and also in your oral presentation this afternoon, and I’d like to thank you for that information on the Ainu. I would like to echo what’s been said by Mr. Thornberry on the Ainu, and I would like therefore to know a little bit more about the situation of the Ainu and how they are treated in Japan. In this Eminent Persons Panel, could you tell me first of all how many people are members of this panel related to the Ainu, and also, I’d like to quote here in English now, “An environment which will enable the Ainu people to be proud of their identity and inherit their culture.” Does this mean that the Ainu are not proud of their own identity?

And NGOs have also told us that a high level official made racist statements against immigrants, something which has whipped up discriminatory feelings in the country targeting certain individuals in the Japanese population. What measures therefore is Japan taking in line with article 2(1) indent a, and also article 4 of our convention? We welcome the government’s initiative to have a school quota covered for all children who are of school age, but as an expert, I’m worried about the attitude of some ministers; they seem to want to exclude students of Korean descent. Even today, in the editorial of one of the most renowned newspapers, it actually criticizes the attitude of the ministers and asks the Japanese government to look at this again, because this is something that is violating the right of education for these children. According to information we’ve got, only the Ainu have been recognized as an indigenous people, and naturally we’d like to congratulate you on that, and welcome that. The Okinawa as I understand it are also an indigenous peoples. As we’ve heard from Mr. Thornberry, in some areas there is discrimination and historic persecution of these peoples. I would therefore respectfully ask whether they can be recognized as an indigenous people – in other words, the Okinawa, they have their own history, their own culture, their own language. Precisely because of that, they were the subject of persecution. Many thanks Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you Mr. Cali Tzay. I give the floor to Madame Dah, followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Ms. Dah

Thank you Chairman. I would also like to welcome the Japanese delegation. I’d like to congratulate them on their presentation. Allow me also to thank Mr. Thornberry, really thank him for this very exhaustive analysis, and very precise analysis that he’s conducted, and as is his custom it is a brilliant analysis. Mr. Thornberry, I think, hasn’t left us really much to say because he has covered the ground so well, but I will try just to raise a few points if I may, Chairman. Also Chair, you have of course limited our speaking time, but I will do my best. It’s the second time that we’ve had Japan before this committee. They have come along this time with the very dense and informative report. It does raise a number of questions. The rapporteur has raised some issues already. We have others, but I don’t think we will have an opportunity to exhaust the subject. Since this is the second report from Japan it gave me an opportunity to re-read the initial report and also look at the analytical report and reports following that presentation.

I’ve been struck by the fact that, and this is what Mr. Thornberry called “technical points,” but it seems that these technical points are still unchanged. There has been no real change between 2001 and today. Now, when international commitments are made particularly in the area of human rights, it’s always difficult to change things and change them quickly, particularly when reservations have been entered, reservations entered to substantive provisions. I agree entirely with Mr. Thornberry as regards to the reservations in his particular analysis on the reservations and indeed his thinking on article 14. Having said that, I do think change can be brought about very cautiously if necessary but something that will make this convention and this convention is very dear to us and very close to our hearts, and which Japan also has studied very carefully before it acceded to this convention in 1995. We still believe that you would be in a position to remove that reservation. Japan has told us that you are still engaged in thinking on this particular point, and let’s hope that this thinking will eventually lead to a withdrawal of the reservation.

Chairman, in similar vein, there is no change in the ethnic composition in Japan and indeed as regards the definition of racial discrimination in this report. I’d like if I may to refer to some points, really just points for reflection as opposed to questions as such. First of all, on the Ainu, the Ainu people. They have been recognized as an indigenous people. You have started to take specific measures for the Ainu people. I have to agree with Mr. Thornberry that perhaps this needs to be taken further. We need to take these initiatives further so that you are also in conformity with all the international engagements and commitments you have signed up to, including the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, the ILO Convention, and to make these operational, and as regards the rights of these peoples. I know that in Japan, you give a lot of leeway to your municipalities, but I think for such important issues, it’s terribly important that the central government, the central state takes commitments and lays down very clear and targeted guidelines.

On the Buraku, this refers…thinking back to this notion of descent, and it is certainly something that sparked our thoughts in my mind. I certainly don’t need to tell my colleagues or the Japanese delegation how and why this definition came in, but I have to say that as regards to the Buraku, I have been struck by just how similar their situation is to those who are affected by the caste situation in Africa. And that really is something that struck me. We must get beyond any form of stigma, stigmatization, and it’s up to the government to do this. Now, I understand that this takes a great deal of time and energy; it boils down to education, it boils down to consciousness raising. But I do believe that the Japanese government is able to do this work in other areas, and I think they can certainly do more in this particular area.

Let me now turn to everything that has to do with the foreigners in and outside Japan. Mr. Thornberry has talked about immigration problems, other colleagues have talked about the place of foreigners. Again, it struck me that increasingly Japan is opening up to the world. It’s increasingly an open country, of course is no longer an island, it’s many islands, but increasingly it is opening up to the world, you’re getting people from Brazil from the other Asian countries, and from other regions of the world as well. And some of these people choose to remain in your country, and that is something that is, if you like, pushing Japan to a certain position in the sense that they need to take initiatives to ensure these foreigners are integrated, at the same time, their specific identities are preserved and protected. Brazil, for instance, is apparently the third source of immigration in Japan. I was struck by that figure. I have some doubts on some measures that have been taken. We’ve heard about these attempts to change names. I mean, it may well be that there is going to be an African wave suddenly coming in to Japan. I just wonder what you are going to do when it comes to changing African names, if that wave ever arrives in Japan. We’ve heard that some people have been forced to change names, and here I’m being the devil’s advocate. I take the example of somebody coming from say my region. If, for instance, somebody came from my region to Japan and they had to change their names, they would be doubly frustrated in terms of their cultural identity, and let me explain what I mean by that. We have been colonized; now, I don’t like talking about colonization because at the end of the day colonization was a failure of humanity, but I feel duty bound to talk about colonization in certain conditions. Our family names were changed…if, for instance, an African hand to change their name or their surname was simply struck out, deleted, I see this as a double humiliation, and it’s certainly not something that’s desirable. Therefore, I hope that Japan will be in a position to review its policy in this area. And should something like this happen in the future, by then you would have found a satisfactory solution, satisfactory tool.

Chairman, I would conclude with the amendment to article 8 of our convention [on the establishment of a Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, with oversight powers]. I’m concerned at the fact that Japan to date has not yet accepted that amendment. Japan, and we’ve heard this so many times this afternoon, Japan is a great country, it is a great power indeed, and a major contributor to the United Nations. If there are any questions of principle which prevent your government from accepting this, you can certainly tell us why. If it is not a question of principle, well, the ideal for the committee would be for Japan to accept the amendment to article 8 to the convention, thereby ensuring funding for…it would not be a problem for the United Nations nor would it be a problem therefore for members of the committee. But Chairman, before I conclude, I would like to thank the Japanese delegation for their presentation, and I am keen and impatient to hear answers to my questions. Many thanks.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Madame Dah. I give the floor to Mr. De Gouttes, followed by Mr. Huang.

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. I’d like to thank the Japanese delegation, a very numerous delegation, I think 20 or so have come along this afternoon. I’d also like to thank the head of the delegation for his oral presentation. I naturally like to thank Mr. Thornberry for his very in-depth and very precise analysis. Again, we are used to that form of analysis; it was an extremely useful presentation from Mr. Thornberry as well. We’re all well aware of the wealth and also the complexity of the historical and cultural and sociological situation of this great country that is Japan. The sixth report which often refers back to the initial report which is was examined in 2001. The sixth report I have to say still leaves some issues pending. There is an awful lot of information that we’ve got. A lot of information I have to say has come from the NGOs who are here present in the room as well.

The first question on the different groups of the population in Japan. Para. 4 of your report talks about the Ainu living in Hokkaido. You say that we’re talking about 23,782. The head of delegation said this afternoon, that the government has now recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people in conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, following on from a resolution of the Japanese Diet. This is extremely positive and we acknowledge that. But, and this is my question, what about the other groups? What about the other minorities? This question was addressed as part of the compilation drawn up for that UPR, the universal periodic review, and also in the conclusions of the UPR, the universal periodic review, in the conclusions of 2008. This is also an issue that was examined very closely by the special rapporteur, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism. This was back in 2005. The special rapporteur highlighted the situation of three minorities. The Ainu, but also the Buraku, and the inhabitants of Okinawa. Alongside these minorities, the special rapporteur also indicated the situation of the descendants of the former colonies, in other words Chinese, Koreans, and also the situation of foreigners and migrants in Japan from Asia or coming from other regions of the world.

Now, the question we all have in our minds, is what measures are being taken to protect the rights of other groups other than the Ainu? Because we’ve already heard there is recognition there. What is being done to protect their language, education, schooling, their identity more broadly? As to the Buraku community, the summary document – this again was part and parcel of the UPR – it highlights the need to protect this Buraku community. It said there, and this is what we have in this report, 3 million, 3 million peoples, in other words, one of the main minorities in Japan, descending from so-called pariah communities, if you like, a hangover from the feudal period. Because apparently, in the past, this population had professions linked to death or impurity, and this is a past that still weighs heavily, a taboo, although there has been an abolition of the caste since the 19th century. Mr. Thornberry quite rightly recall, and Madame Dah also pointed out that our convention in its first article, talks about descent-based discrimination and that our general recommendation 29 of 2002 has to do with descent-based discrimination or related to castes. We would like to know, therefore, what definition does the government intend to give of the Buraku people. How do you intend to define them? How do you intend to put an end to the discrimination of the Buraku? And also I would extend that comment to the Okinawan. So that’s my first question.

My second question is more specific. It has to do with the application of article 4 of the convention, and your penal legislation which criminalizes acts of racism. When I look at this report, it seems that there hasn’t been much by way of progress since the 2001 report. No new laws, no new legislation against racial discrimination, and in this jury system that you have in Japan, the convention therefore is not directly applicable. And this was said just now there has been no withdrawal of the reservation to article 4a and b. You also have problems with this idea of freedom of expression. This is something that is also highlighted in your report. Let me just recall however that the committee had clearly stated in its preceding concluding observations and in general recommendation 15 that provisions of article 4 are imperative and that there is compatibility between the prohibition of the dissemination of any idea based on racism and discriminatory…that is compatible still with freedom of expression.

My final question has to do with the implementation of article 6 of the convention – legal prosecutions when there is racial discrimination acts. 66 and 68 of your report give us some information on this. 71 also talks about complaints that have been dealt with by the Ministry of Justice human rights body. But out of the 12 rulings mentioned from 61 to 68, most of those were overturned, most of the complaints were rejected. Does this not illustrate therefore that you need to have more awareness, you need to better mobilize the police authorities, and broadly, the legal community on racism? I will leave my other questions to one side. Most of them have already been covered. They have to do with the importance of creating a national human rights institution which is independent in conformity with the so-called Paris Principles. Also the question of harassment of Korean children in Japanese schools, and also problems of non-nationals – foreigners – and according to information that we’ve received from NGOs, the fact that the Supreme Court refuses to accept the role of mediators for foreigners who had been specialized in settling and sorting out family disputes or other forms of disputes between foreigners, so I just wonder why the Supreme Court has rejected this idea of having a mediator for foreigners. I would like to thank the delegation, thank you Chairman, and again, I appreciate and look forward to the answers from the Japanese delegation. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you, Mr. De Gouttes. I give the floor now to Mr. Huang, followed by Mr. Diaconu.

Mr. Huang

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I express my warm welcome to the big Japanese delegation headed by the ambassador in charge of human rights and humanitarian affairs of the Foreign Ministry to have a dialogue with this committee. I would like to join my colleagues to commend his Excellency, Mr. Ambassador’s comprehensive remarks, and also thank Mr. Thornberry for his length, in-depth analysis and comments. Japan has acceded to the major international human rights instruments. We appreciate the Japanese government submit to the committee its third to sixth periodical reports which provide a good condition for our constructive discussion and dialogue. Mr. Chairman Japan is a very interesting Asian state. We all know that Japan is an industrialized developed country and is an economic power in the world. But the Japanese people keep living in their own way. In the Oriental people’s eyes, Japan is a quite westernized Asian country, but it is not difficult to see that there are a lot of good traditions have been well preserved and inherited by the Japanese people. Comparatively speaking, the Japanese national is not a complicated nationality like other Asian countries. In Japan, there are not many minorities and indigenous people, except as just mentioned, the Ainu; not like China. We have 55 national minorities. The major national minorities in Japan are the immigrants from the other countries, especially from the neighboring Asian countries and regions.

Mr. Chairman, beside what the other colleagues already mentioned, I would like to say something about this strengthening of education on the elimination of racial discrimination to the people carried out by the state party government according to article 4 and 7 of the convention of ICERD so that to protect the basic and the legal rights of the minorities as mentioned above. Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding, these kind of education through all means possible at least includes two aspects. That is, to make acknowledgment of the convention among the people of the state party; and through the education, to enhance the awareness of the state party’s citizens to fully implement the convention to act according to the regulations set by the convention. It is not deniable fact that there is racial discrimination phenomena still exists in the Japanese society. For instance, the attitude towards the people of the former colony origin is known to all, that due to historical reasons of the Second World War, there were a certain amount of people now live in Japan who came from the Japanese former colonies – mainly from the Korean peninsula and Taiwan and other Asian countries; although, most of these people have now become the Japanese citizens after 1952. Half a century has already passed. We found that these people, including their second and third generations, are still in difficulties to be integrated into the Japanese society. Some Japanese nationals, especially among some elder Japanese, still have the self feeling of superiority over these people of former colonies. These people are not equally treated as Japanese nationals, but being discriminated in the field of employment, education, and social life. I should say this is really unfair to these people because since these people resided in Japan, they have constantly made great contributions to Japan in its industrializing process. They should enjoy the same rights as of the other Japanese nationals. So I suggest that the state party government should enact a basic and comprehensive law to eliminate societal and administrative and legal discrimination against these people.

As stated in article 4 of the convention, I quote part of it. “States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination.” I noticed that Japan has made reservations on 4a and 4b, but I think that the concept and the spirit of this article should be accepted by the state party.

Mr. Chairman, another aspect, I should mention is that there were some reports about discriminatory incitements made by the Japanese officials. Some Japanese politicians and public officials and those Japanese extreme rightists, they use some occasions, stigmatize the foreign migrants as I quote, “a bunch of thieves” or “troublemakers” or “criminal factors” etc. Really, I was shocked when I heard this kind of ___ came out from the mouth of the public officials. This irresponsible nonsenses incite hatred of the Japanese national toward the foreign migrants. I believe that it is really necessary for the Japanese government to engage special human rights seminars for these politicians and public officials according to the article 4 of the convention. As cited in article 4 (this should be article 7), “States Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups.” By doing so, to eradicate their feeling of hatred and xenophobia toward the foreign migrants in Japan, and to get rid of their deep rooted colonial thinking.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, once again, I highly comment the great efforts made by the Japanese government in the field of promotion of human rights, especially of the elimination of racial discrimination in Japan; include also, as just now as the ambassador mentioned, the Japanese government has already made some new measurement to eliminate the racial discrimination. So thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your comments, Mr. Huang. I give the floor now to Mr. Diaconu, followed by Mr. Peter.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you Chairman. Chairman, the presentation of the report by the delegation of Japan and the presentation of his considerations by Mr. Thornberry have opened up the path for a very substantive in-depth dialogue with delegation and it is my feeling that such a dialogue is absolutely vital in the light of the report and in the light of the discussions we have been having up until now. We really do need this dialogue. Now, to turn to the indigenous populations…We see that the Ainu are recognized as an indigenous people, but there are still some problems that remain there. Nongovernmental resources tell us that there are still problems regarding access of the Ainu people to fishing in the coastal areas where formerly they had access. But other persons would have the right to access these fishing areas in the coastal waters, so I’d like to have some comments on this from the delegation please.

Then, on the Ryukyu Okinawan population. If this population speaks a different language whether it be a dialect or not, it needs to identify what is the difference between Japanese and this language. If they have distinctive traits, why are they not also recognized as being an indigenous people?

Then the Buraku. We have taken careful note of your position that this is not a problem of race. But our convention also refers to descent because the concept of the sentence exists in our convention and we can’t say that this is a mistake. We can’t say that this is a mistake to have this concept in the convention and there is no reservation to article 1 of the convention on the issue of descendance being contained in the convention. So 40 years later you can’t come to us and say it’s wrong. I don’t think that would be the right approach for us in this discussion, especially as regarding the Buraku, I have read in some document that there is still a system of family registration, so registration by family. Does this system still exist? Because this system really was used to demonstrate that these people are part of a caste, a separate caste, so that they would not be given access to certain roles and jobs in the civil service and public authority, and measures are taken until 2002, special measures were taken for the Buraku until 2002. Why were these special measures terminated? Are they not in the same situation? Are they not still in the same situation? Are they up to the same social, economic, cultural level as other Japanese citizens? We don’t see answers for these questions.

Then, another question I have for the delegation is on the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples. This declaration was adopted in 2007. What is the position of Japan on this declaration on indigenous peoples? And on Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on indigenous peoples, does Japan intend to ratify Convention 169 of the ILO?

And now, on the Koreans. Well, there are many things to say on this subject. It would seem as though they have been resident in Japan since the Second World War; they had Japanese citizenship but they lost it following the application of the treaty, the San Francisco Treaty in 1952. Some of them have maintained citizenship, have kept Korean citizenship, some have not. These people have lived in Japan for all this time, they remain in Japan and they have no intention to leave Japan, so is it not possible for these Koreans individuals to receive Japanese citizenship that they lost during the war?

The present report refers us to the former report saying that this would be possible. So have these people, Koreans, asked to regain their Japanese citizenship or have they not asked to regain it? And if they have requested the return of their citizenship, what is the Japanese authority’s position on this? I am surprised that there are schools which deal with North Korean and those that deal with South Korean. I am reminded of the situation in the past with German schools which were East German or West German schools. Well, it seems strange to me. What happens at these Korean schools? We’re told that a measure has been adopted recognizing the studies carried out in Korean schools as being equivalent with those studies carried out in other schools so that these children can go to university. But then we read later on that it’s only the Tokyo School which has studies which are recognized as being equivalent. So what happens to the other Korean schools in other towns and cities around Japan? I don’t think it is acceptable that you allow such schools to exist, but then to say to the students, the pupils, you don’t have access to university. Yes, the state can establish curricula, criteria to make sure that the level of teaching is the same as in Japanese schools, but if the state doesn’t do this well then, it’s my feeling that it is absolutely unacceptable to punish the pupils at these schools, these pupils and students who come from a certain ethnic group.

We’ve taken note of the racist attacks against Korean schoolchildren and also the measures that the state has taken to counter such attacks and acts of aggression to prevent them and to punish them. This has to be done, you have to ensure better protection of these schools, but I am surprised that the poor relations between Japan and North Korea, and the missiles which were set off by North Korea have had an impact on the Korean children. What are they guilty of? What are these Korean children guilty of? So here, I really think is an issue of education for the general population. So that what happens in international relations is not reflected in everyday life of the population and in particular, the everyday life of the children studying at these schools.

We also read in the documents we have that the Korean language schools are not exempt from some taxes, whilst others schools are exempt from these taxes, including the international schools. Well that’s discrimination then. Why, is this distinction drawn? We need to have some answers on that subject too.

Then on refugees. We are told in the report that refugees are accepted from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and the ambassador has told us that refugees from Myanmar are also accepted.  But what is the situation regarding refugees from other countries? Why not accept refugees from other countries? The 1951 Convention should be applied by Japan. Is it only applied for Asian countries? I don’t think so. So, I would like to see some answers on this from the delegation.

I’m coming to article 4, and of course I’d like to endorse what my colleagues have said. If we read about the Japanese reservation, well we see that Japan should ____ article 4 to the extent that this does not run counter to the obligations in its constitution. Well what does this mean? To what extent is article 4 actually applied in Japan? I’ve read through the report and the second report as well the former report, and I see that the law punishes attacks on the honor, intimidation, instigation, provocation and violence committed against anyone. While that is what we want too. That is what we are seeking, to punish perpetrators of such crimes and offenses under article 4. What is missing is the racial motivation. Otherwise, the crime is punished in the law. So would the government not be interested in knowing what is the motivation behind such a crime? Should the racial motivation not be taken account of by the Japanese judges? I’m really raising questions here. I’m really wondering about whether you really want to exclude racial motivation of crimes from all of the Japanese criminal justice system. I am wondering about this and I’ve really like to have some clarification on the subject. And if we note in the new report, the cases which have been examined by the judicial system in Japan, that judges have referred to racial discrimination in their judgments. They have referred to the racial connotations of such and such an act so that judges seem to feel the need to take account of racial discrimination as a motivation. Why does the state, the government itself, not want to take account of it when they are confronted with it in real life? So these are the immediate questions that I wanted to raise, and this is referred to others.

The report says that the Chinese have now come to Japan are more numerous than the Korean inhabitants. But we haven’t received much information about the Chinese population in this report. Are there Chinese language schools? What is their status if they exist? And the Chinese population, are they from Taiwan, are they from continental China, do they have separate schools? I’d like to know what their position is and what their position will be in the future in your country. But having of said all that, I would like to add to what Mr. Huang said, what is vital in a country is generalized education of the population to promote the elimination of racial discrimination. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Diaconu, for your intervention, and I give the floor now to Mr. Peter, followed by Mr. Ewomsan.

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I would also like to join my colleagues in welcoming the large delegation of Japan headed by his Excellency the ambassador in charge of human rights and humanitarian affairs. I would also like to thank most sincerely our colleague Professor Thornberry for his very thorough analysis of the report by Japan. Mr. Chairman, I would look at four issues very briefly. Some of which have been touched by my colleagues and also some of which have been touched by his Excellency the ambassador. The first issue, Mr. Chairman, relates to existence of a human rights commission in Japan. Mr. Chairman, as Madame Dah has said, Japan is a model in the world. It is looked at like other developed countries, and therefore it is a little bit unsettling to note that to date, we are speaking of not having a human rights commission in that great country, an institution where people can go for redress. We are told that the 2003 draft was shelved. There was a draft of 2005, but to date five years later, we do not have anything in place. Now, my worries, Mr. Chairman, is that whenever, from my reading, whenever there is a new change in government in Japan, there are also fundamental changes, changes relating to human rights, changes relating to military bases, and so on. Now, my question is that when can we expect, do we have a timeframe for when we can expect a human rights commission before another change comes in and then we don’t have a human rights commission. So I really want to hear a view and taking into account the importance of Japan in the world. And we thought that as a model, giving example, it should not only talk, but also walk the talk as well. Mr. Chairman, that is my first point.

My second point Mr. Chairman, leads to Japan and the international instruments relating to human rights. Let me say this and I may be wrong, I stand to be corrected by the delegation. Among the developed countries, Japan seems to have signed, ratified, and acceded to the least, and I am underlining the word, to the least international instruments if you combine conventions and protocols relating to human rights. Just take quick count gives a total of 13 conventions and protocols to which Japan…protocols and the conventions on human rights to which Japan is not a party to. And even where it is signed, there are several reservations including the reservation relating to our own convention, reservations relating to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, reservations relating to the rights of the child, and so on. And of course sometimes, Mr. Chairman, and again here I wish to be corrected if I’m wrong, that even the pattern of signing and ratifying international instruments by Japan is also sometimes contradictory. Contradictory in the sense that if you look at the report, Mr. Chairman, on page 18 paragraph 56, it’s about abolition of apartheid. It says, apartheid does not exist in Japan, such a policy is prohibited in paragraph 1 of article 14 of the Constitution, and then it goes on. And yet, if you look at the ratifications, Japan has not signed, ratified, or not acceded to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Japan has also not acceded to the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports and so on. So I think there is a contradiction between what is there in municipal law and the international pattern of Japan when it comes to ratifications. Now Mr. Chairman, my question here is that should I take that Japan is uncomfortable in the international sphere, and it would like to have as little interaction as possible with the rest of the world? Is that the picture that Japan would like to give us? Mr. Chairman, I’m saying that because that is the tendency in international interactions. But we see a different Japan when it comes to trade. Japan seems to be trading with everybody. Mr. Chairman, and Japanese products are household names. You talk of Sony, Honda, Toshiba, Suzuki, Yamaha, and so on. In my own country, every motorcycle whatever, where ever it is made is called a Honda, even if it is made in America, they would still call it a Honda. So, my question is, Japan do you just want to trade but not to interact with other people? That is my worry taken the way you have been dealing with international instruments.

Mr. Chairman, my third issue relates to application of international law in Japan. Mr. Chairman, Japan follows the monist school as opposed to the dualist school in appreciation of international law. That means that once Japan signs and ratifies an international legal instrument, that instrument becomes part and parcel of Japanese municipal law straightforward without the need of special legislation for domestication. Now, Mr. Chairman, what is strange is that individuals in Japan are not allowed to invoke these international instruments when they are pursuing their rights. It is alleged that ratification of instrument is a state-state issue which does not concern the individual. Now, Mr. Chairman I wanted to get a comment from the delegation, headed by his Excellency the ambassador, why can’t individuals invoke international legal instruments to which Japan is a party, in pursuit of their rights.

Mr. Chairman, the last point relates to article 14 of ICERD. Now that we don’t have a human rights commission in Japan, the way for the individual is narrow. I just wanted to know from the delegation are there any initiatives within the government sectors in Japan to make the necessary declaration relating to article 14 of ICERD so that individuals can have access to the committee, or should I take this to be a no-go-area when it comes to the government of Japan? Mr. Chairman, those were my worries which I believe the delegation will assist me in clearing them, but again I really want to take this opportunity to thank the delegation of Japan, headed by his Excellency the ambassador, for coming for this dialogue. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you very much for your intervention, and I give the floor now to Mr. Ewomsan, followed by Mr. Lindgren.

Mr. Ewomsan

Thank you Chairman. Similar to my colleagues, I’d like to welcome and congratulate the Japanese delegation on their report. I am not usually long, but I have to say that I very much admire Japan as a country. Japan is a country that has managed to make so much progress in the area of its economic development without losing its soul. And I know that Japan also is able to make the very most of its culture, the strength of its culture and its traditions. Having said that, I am very much struck by the consequences of social stratification and how that has an impact on the Buraku. Therefore, it would be useful to have more information on the situation of this community. I’d also like to know about the measures that the government intends to take to improve the situation of these people and to eradicate any discrimination against them. I’d like to congratulate Mr. Thornberry for his excellent analysis and I share his thinking. I’ve also taken note of what Madame Dah had to say as well. Let me say that I have a great deal of admiration for Japan, and it would be excellent if Africa could learn from such an example. I’ve tried myself to write some haiku, proof of my admiration for Japan, in fact haiku in my language means a, like a bean, the seed of a bean, literally. And of course if I went to Japan myself I would probably have to change my name. I wouldn’t be as lucky as Madame Dah, because I already have two first names which are apparently Japanese. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Ewomsan, and I give the floor now to Mr. Lindgren.

Mr. Lindgren

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, as you are aware, I am here today thanks to the strike of Lufthansa, which did not allow me to go back to my country. It is nothing against Japan, it’s because I had to go back to Brazil. So I am telling this in order to explain to the Japanese delegation that I really hesitated to ask for the floor because I don’t consider myself well prepared to comment in detail your report. I can easily join my colleagues and thank you for the report and for the amount of people that you brought to present their report and to defend its content and give explanations to us to the doubts that we have. But I decided after all to take the floor for two reasons.

One is a point of clarification, which was motivated by the statements by some colleagues including Mrs. Dah, because it’s true that the report refers several times to the large number of Brazilians who are immigrants in Japan. And I would like to tell to my colleagues because they probably are not aware of this, that in the end of the 19th century, Brazil received millions of Japanese immigrants and they were, and they are, a fundamental part of the Brazilian population. They are all Brazilians, they were essential for the establishment of the Brazilian nationality, and whatever positive development we have, we owe to a certain extent to the contribution of the Japanese. In the second half of the 20th century, mostly in the years in the 70s and from the 80s on, Brazil came into a crisis and then there was the reverse movement. The Brazilians went to Japan in large numbers and they are still in large numbers. They do not constitute what some countries call, even Mr. Thornberry and I myself don’t like the term, but they do not constitute a visible minority. They look very much like this delegation physically, so certainly they speak a kind of Japanese that by now must be at best laughable; Portuguese Brazilian slang and the very limited contribution from the original Japanese of their ancestors. They are as close to the original Japanese as I am myself Lindgren am to the Swede who was at the origin of my name, so I have nothing to do with them. When the Brazilians went to Japan at first, and because of the excellent opportunities they found there in the factories of Japan, even if their wages were smaller than those of the Japanese, they never complained, they lived quite well. They suffered – and this is not a complaint Mr. Ambassador because this is being resolved already, is already resolved by consular relations between our countries – but when there was this crisis which led several enterprises to dismiss people, of course the Brazilians as foreigners were among those who were the first to lose their jobs, and then there were planes that were chartered by Japan to send them back to Brazil. It was something strange, but please I repeat, it is no complaint, I do not envisage this from the point of view of racism, nothing like this. This is just an explanation that I wanted to give to my colleagues.

Now, I come to the point that I really would like to stress to the Japanese delegation, even though I didn’t prepare myself well for this interview with you. I remember that for the…since I first attended a meeting of this committee, it was eight years ago, there was a special session on the question of the pariahs, or the_____and so on. It was soon after the Durban conference, and there we learned, I learned for the first time about the Buraku people. And I noticed even though superficially, I noticed that your report speak about, for instance the Hokkaido Ainu people. It speaks about foreigners from other areas, Korean residents in Japan, and so on. But what I learned about the Buraku people in front of my eyes, is specifically from the Mission to Japan by the special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, at that time it was Mr. Doudou Diene in 2006. I would like you to explain to us what are these Buraku people? Why are there remnants of discrimination against these people? Even what is told here in this report by Mr. Doudou Diene is not so terrible, so you can speak freely about it so that we understand from the source instead of learning it from other people. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you Mr. Lindgren. It is our good fortune in a way that you were unable to return to your country so you have lightened our debate this afternoon and I certainly personally am very happy to see you here although it may be inconvenient for you and one trusts that you will be homeward bound in the not too distant future. And of course, I presume you will return thereafter. You won’t just say goodbye to us for good. Well, distinguished members and distinguished members of the delegation of Japan I have exhausted the list of speakers, and I think somebody else wants again to…Mr. Diaconu, did you want to say something?

Mr. Diaconu

No, no.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

We have exhausted the list of speakers for this afternoon. As you can see, it was a very rich debate on rather very rich commentary by members of the committee. So have about 10 minutes left, and we always like to utilize our time well, so if you would feel like responding to some of the questions now, I would request you to end your intervention about two or three minutes before the hour so we can conclude the session in an orderly way. You have the floor sir.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you Mr. Chairperson. First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the special rapporteur, Mr. or Thornberry, and other members of the committee. We received very inside depth and very positive comments from you. I appreciate first of all. And then of course we received your comments or your questions which I think we can answer after we sort of sort out question. Since I listened, there are many questions sort of shared by most members, so I think we can sort of sort out, and then make questions, I mean, the answer is clear, tomorrow, by our delegation members. And then, especially I was impressed by comment made by Mr. Thornberry referring to Japan’s first contribution to this question of discrimination against racism when the League of Nations was established, while we sort of___try to include the principle of nondiscrimination into the League of Nations’ major principles. But later on, this was achieved by the United Nations. That was exactly what I was thinking when coming back to this room in the Palais de Wilson, of course. Thank you very much.

That reminded us furthermore, one more time, that we, Japanese, have to be a sort of vanguard or sort of a forerunner to implement this convention and further sort of cooperate with you and other nations to promote the principles and spirit of this convention. As you saw our delegation, big numbers, we have 14 members from five different ministries and agencies. Despite of the difficulty, for example I faced yesterday, of the some labor difficulties by Air France and Lufthansa and so forth, you see our delegation composed of those young, prominent, future public servants of Japan. Since we experienced the almost first ever real change of government or change of government in 50 years time, now, so the questions relating to the…some aspect of your questions are indeed sincere sort of review on the new government. So some points, I think our delegation can give you a little bit more detailed explanation tomorrow. What kind of consideration, what kind of review are now taking place – although some of them are not yet materialized by parliamentary actions. But we are doing. So on specific issues of personal question, I think my deputy, Ms. Shino, can answer in broad sense. May I?

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)


Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Mr. Chairman and rapporteur, Mr. Thornberry, and the distinguished members of the committee, thank you very much for listening to us and giving us valuable comments. Since the remaining time is not that long, I would like to give you my overview comments. If I do remember correctly, from Mr. Thornberry, Madame Dah, as well as Mr. Peter, there was a question about what is the situation right now on the individual communication. Now, as Mr. Thornberry has pointed out, not only article 14 of the ICERD but also the ___ ICCPR, we have not adopted the amendment for the individual communications, and we have not yet accepted at all the individual communications for the other instruments, either. Now, at the present status of our study is, as the members have said, the individual communications, in order to ensure the effect implementation of the instruments, we are aware that this may be a significant means to ensure ____, but in order to accept it, and in order to make it a useful system for Japan, in what form would be the best form and way to accept this, there are many things that we need to further consider. So on this point, as Ambassador Ueda has mentioned, under the new government, this has been given a priority. We have been instructed from the new government that we should give priority to this issue. So we are making a very sincere study into this matter right now. But as of yet we have not arrived at a conclusion. That is the present status. So that was very briefly my comment on the individual communications. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The typical sort of situation now in Japan. So, tomorrow I think we can explain to you more in detail on some of your questions. So today, I repeat our sincere appreciation to those, all those members of the committee for such a constructive, very constructive exchange of views. I thank you very much Mr. Chairperson.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

It thank you Mr. Ambassador Ueda, and this actually shows how important we consider your country, and the interest that your country has aroused in members of our committee, which also reflects the interest of the international community. So with this, distinguished members, I will now conclude this meeting, and tomorrow morning we will take up Japan at 10 o’clock sharp.


Second Day

(February 25, 2010 (10:00~13:00): Japanese government response and interactive dialogue session)

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

…Of course it would be better to answer questions raised by members one by one but because of the time constraints I think I will ask my delegation members to answer in sort of a compiled way to similar questions from several members of the committee. So first, I think I would like to ask my colleague Mr. Akiyama, the director of the newly established department for Ainu policy, to answer on the questions of the Ainu people. I will ask my colleague Mr. Akiyama to answer. Thank you.

Mr. Akiyama (Japanese government delegation; Cabinet Secretariat)

Good morning distinguished members of the committee as I have been kindly introduced, my name is Mr. Akiyama. I’m the counselor of the comprehensive Ainu policy department. There has been a major interest shown by the distinguished members and I am truly appreciative of that. Let me now provide answers to your questions. First of all, to Madame Dah as well as Mr. Diaconu, for your questions. For the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the international covenants to do with the indigenous peoples in line with these incidents it is necessary to reinforce as well as expand the rights of the Ainu people. At the Diet of June of 2008 unanimously the resolution on the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people has been adopted. And with the Ainu, the member also participating under the chief cabinet secretary, the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on policies for the Ainu people was established. And in July the report of the panel was submitted to the government and in August of last year,_____the government to take the initiative in administering the Ainu policy under the cabinet secretariat, the new office was established which is the Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department. And in a comprehensive manner Ainu policies are being promoted and coordination and adjustments are being made with the other ministries. Based upon the report being submitted in July 2009 by the advisory panel on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to which we have participated in the consensus adoption, it is taken for granted that it should be based upon the Constitution which is the supreme law for Japan and also___as to the significance of the general international guideline for the policy of the indigenous peoples and also taking into consideration article 2 paragraph 2 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. We are able to take special measures in order to guarantee the equal human rights for certain people. In December of last year we have newly established the Council for the Promotion of the Ainu Policy headed by the chief cabinet secretary and we are trying to proceed with the Ainu policy in a comprehensive manner.

Let me now turn to the question from Mr. Cali Tzay. How will we be able to ensure the adequate participation of the Ainu people in the policy making? And there was also a question with regard to the proactive involvement by the central government in this issue as I mentioned earlier, the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons of Ainu policy which was established in July 2008, this advisory panel is made up of seven persons, and out of those seven, the Ainu representative was one. And in this advisory panel, the panel members made on site visits for three times into the areas where Ainu people are living in large numbers. And we also listen to the voices of Ainu people so that we could come up with discussions on how to promote Ainu policy in the future. Therefore, in this way, in the policy forming process, the government has paid much attention to the involvement of Ainu people themselves and last August the comprehensive Ainu policy______ cabinet and in December as well we set up the meeting for the promotion of Ainu policy which was headed by the chief cabinet secretary last December. Therefore, in this way, the government, the central government is taking the initiative in order to plan and promote Ainu policies. There were 14 members that participated in this meeting for the promotion of Ainu policies. Out of those 15, Ainu who represented themselves were numbered five. Mr. Abe vice president of Hokkaido Ainu Association who is observing the session is one of those representatives and members. And aside from those five Ainu members, the government of Hokkaido, the mayor of Sapporo, and the local community leaders and also experts on Constitution and experts on history in addition to Professor Yozo Yokota, a former member of the working group on indigenous populations, and Mr. ____ Ando, a former member of the UN Human Rights Committee. And this meeting for the promotion of Ainu people, the first meeting was organized and held last month. And in the following month we are going to start the working group under this meeting and in this working group we are going to look into the possibility of setting up a park as the ethnic harmony space and we are also considering the possibility of conducting a survey with regard to the living conditions of Ainu people.

And this survey at this point in time, the policies relating to the improvement of living standards of Ainu people are only located and practice in Hokkaido but the central government is trying to expand these measures nationwide, therefore aside from Hokkaido, how many Ainu people are located in what places, and what are their living conditions; we have not, we have no clear information about such status and situations. Therefore, as a preconditioned of the nationwide implementation of the policies we have to look into the status of those people living outside of Hokkaido, but in conducting such a survey there is going to be an issue relating to the protection of privacy, therefore with regard to the methodology, as I mentioned earlier, at this working group of the meeting of the promotion of Hokkaido (?) is going to take care of that. And Mr. Abe, who I mentioned, is also involved in this working group. Therefore, we try to listen to the views and voices of the Ainu people in conducting a national survey.

Therefore, in this way as far as the central government is concerned, it is always sensitive to listening to the views of the Ainu people. And on top of that, the government is already going to encourage Ainu people to be proud of their own identity and encourage them to be the bearers of their own culture, and such vision and concept has been captured in the address that was given by the Prime Minister at the Diet.

Next, I would like to turn to the points that were made by Mr. Cali Tzay and Mr. ____that Ainu people may not be proud of their identity and what may be the reason why the name has been changed from Utari to Ainu. On these points, Japan as the government policy modernization has been preceded with…as a consequence there has been serious damages had been imposed on the Ainu culture which has led to the discrimination as well as prejudice over the Ainu people that may have prevented the Ainu people to choose the life with pride as Ainu. Even though the intrinsic culture may have been significantly damaged, without losing the identity and thereby reviving its identity and maintaining such identity is still present in Japan as Ainu people is something very meaningful and the United Nations Declaration says that diversity in culture should be respected as common asset for mankind. We are fairly aware that we should take due note of that aspect. So government would like to create society whereby the Ainu people will be able to say with pride that they are of Ainu.

Next, the name for the Ainu people has been changed from Utari to Ainu. Let me explain the process. The Association of Ainu People which is the Hokkaido Ainu Association, in the past because of the discrimination as well as prejudice over Ainu people they did not use the name of Ainu. Instead, they used the name Utari which meant the compatriots in Ainu language. But in April last year, the name of the association was changed from Hokkaido Utari Association to Hokkaido Ainu Association. So it indicates, I believe, that social environment is gradually changing whereby the people of Ainu are able to say with pride that they are of Ainu.

The next question is from Mr. Diaconu, the access to fisheries is limited for Ainu people and that was the question, and we would like have an update on this question, and in a related question any special measures or any measures relating to the utilization of the land and natural resources for Ainu people. Ainu’s access to fisheries is limited, while it is not limited for other people, there was such a statement or a comment was made by the member.  But I think this comment was relating to catching of salmon in inland waters, but the catching of salmon in the inland waters is prohibited against all people based on the domestic law. So it is not the fact that it is only limited to…it is not the fact that the access is only limited for Ainu people.

Now with regard to the capture of salmon in the inland waters by Ainu people in so far____part of a traditional ritual,_______ special admission is applied in some rivers and with regard to the utilization of land as well as natural resources as part of the comprehensive measures for the rehabilitation of Ainu culture, in the advisory panel there was an extensive discussion involving Ainu people themselves. The traditional living environments for Ainu people which is now being regenerated at two locations in Hokkaido and that there are some actions taken in order to gather resources in nature in the national parks and also some exchange programs are also carried out according to the report by the advisory panel that says that because of the lack of sufficient utilization of the land and natural resources there are some hindrance in this regard for the continuation and the development of Ainu culture. There were such arguments that were made by Ainu people.

Therefore, we have decided to listen to Ainu people and the things are supposed…should be reviewed from the public policy viewpoint and going forward, we consider it very important to allow the necessary utilization of land and natural resources for the continuation of Ainu culture. As for specific policies in particular with regard to the regeneration and re-creation of Ainu traditional living environment we are going to consider the possibility of expansion of such areas based on the views from Ainu people. And also, necessary adjustment has to be carried out and put in place so that those national parks that could be used for that purpose, and this way we are considering a gradual realization of the continuation of Ainu culture by the utilization of land and natural resources and we are going to continue to listen to Ainu people’s views at such venues as Ainu policy promotion _____.

Lastly, as Mr. Thornberry has mentioned that legislation may be necessary in order to reinforce the rights of the Ainu people. As for the legislative measures, in the process of the policies that are to be formulated and implemented we would be looking at how the policies will be progressing and also based upon the results of the actual livelihood survey to be made of the Ainu people living outside of Hokkaido and also listening to the views of Ainu not only from the philosophical point of view, we also need to look at diverse viewpoints including the content of policies to be legally positioned. Now, as for the legislative measures in the report coming from the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons the resolve and the stance of the national government must be indicated specifically in the form of law. The legislative measures may have significant relevance in promoting in a secure manner Ainu policies going forward. So the government would like to duly base ourselves on such recommendations and study about the possible legislations. Thank you for the comments.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, the Foreign Office and Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the questions of people of Okinawa and Buraku. Please…

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Good morning. My name is Shino with the Foreign Ministry. Now, there are a series of questions and comments with regard to Okinawa people suggested by Professor Thornberry and others. Now, we are not professionals of ethnology and linguistics and so it is rather difficult for me to give you a clear statement on that the ethnicity of the Okinawan people and I hope that you will understand that position. As part of the government position, those people living in Okinawan islands have nurtured a unique and rich culture and tradition. And we can acknowledge the fact and at the same time it is the view of the government that there is no indigenous people other than Ainu in Japan.

However, ___we have to think in accordance with the spirit of ICERD is that to find out if there is any discrimination against Okinawan people and if it does exist, then what kind of measures, countermeasures should be put into place. And in this regard, what I would like to answer is in fact Okinawan people are also Japanese nationals, and they enjoy the equal rights as Japanese nationals and they can also rely on the same____which is available to Japanese nationals. At the same time, in Japan everybody is allowed to enjoy their own culture and they can practice their own religion and there is no prohibition with regard to the rights of using their own language. Therefore, based on this regard we are promoting Okinawan development plan in order to promote the traditional culture and lifestyle of the Okinawan people.

Now, on the interpretation that Japan had on the term descent, there have been several comments and questions have been asked. For the descent as included in the convention, the interpretation of Japan, it has been clearly had been given in the last review as well as in the periodic report submitted by the government of Japan as well as in our answers to the list of questions. Rather than having the exchange of views with the distinguished members on the interpretation of the term descent at this dialogue today, as I have already mentioned in the case of the Okinawan people whether any discrimination exist for the Dowa people and if there is discrimination what are the responses taken. It would be more befitting with the spirit of the ICERD in having such exchange of views. We have all been respecting to the maximum the principle of equity under the law which is being ensured in article 14 paragraph 1 to try to realize a society without any discrimination.

Ms. Aono (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Aono with the Ministry of Justice. Thank you very much for insightful views expressed in the last session. Mr. Avtonomov and Mr. Diaconu there was a question about the family register system, with regard to the current family register system, it is a system, a rational system which we can see the family relations. Therefore, with regard to any possibility of revising the method of organizing family relationship information or data we have no such idea at this point in time. Now there was also a question with regard to access to the family register database. And from the viewpoint of the protection of individual information, in 2008, on May 1 revised family register law was forced and as a result, the identification of the_____is to be made as part of efforts to prevent any wrongdoings and such measures have been in place.

Next, many members of the committee have asked the question but in particular from Mr. Diaconu, whether the specials measures law on the Dowa policies have met with success for its purpose. Because we deemed it necessary to take special measures for the Dowa issue, the law regarding the special fiscal measures of the government for regional improvement, the projects, and the other special measures law were established. However, the national government as well as local governments and other parties had been making efforts for more than three decades. The poor livelihood environments begetting discrimination again and again have been significantly improved and we have seen the promotion of education and enlightenment in eliminating the consciousness for discrimination. And based upon the major changes that are happening in the environment surrounding the Dowa district, special measures law was terminated at the end of March in 2002.

And also on the Dowa issue, the Ministry of Justice human rights organ is making the appropriate advice for the human rights consultations, and when there is a suspicious case for infringement of human rights investigation will be made as a case for the human rights investigation, and if we do find such facts of infringement then the appropriate measures will be taken to remove such infringements, and if the case is being found where messages and information is written on the Internet which is harmful then we will ask the Internet service provider to delete such messages. We are also conducting educational programs to resolve any discriminatory ideas.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, Ministry of Education and Science staff will answer on the question of the education related, school education related matters of minorities.

Ms. Konishi (Japanese government delegation: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)

My name is Konishi with the Ministry of Education. Now I would like to take the floor and talk about educational measures relating to minorities. There are two major questions. The first one, was raised by Professor Thornberry and Mr. Amir, the elimination of discriminatory attitudes in Japan and for that to be achieved education on the history with the neighboring countries, and what kind of education programs are being offered for that purpose at public schools. At elementary and junior high schools, in the subject of social studies, when the students learn about the history of our country, they are taught in connection with the history of neighboring countries. And at senior high schools history of the world is a compulsory subject, and the neighboring countries’ situations are also taught in connection with the global history. And in the history of Japan subject, the political relations with neighboring countries and also exchanges and contacts at the economic and cultural level have been provided as part of the education program. And aside from that, in the subject of geography, under the title of the research into the neighboring countries, that the relations have been established with the cultures and lifestyles have been intermingled. And in politics and economics study at senior high school, that there is also a wording that is contained in the course of the study that is aimed at promoting international law understanding including human rights.

Next, for the foreign children on education of the children there was a question that was raised. Allowed me to answer. From Mr. Martinez, especially in the educational area for foreign children what are the measures taken for their education and the recent situation needs to be informed. Now, for the foreign children, if they wish to enroll in the public compulsory schools, based upon the article 13 of ICESCR, as well as article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We do accept them on free of charge basis. If such children wish to enroll in school for foreigners, of course they can choose to do so. The Ministry of Education, in order that the foreign children will not miss the opportunity to enroll in the public compulsory educational schools, we are providing the school enrollment guidebook in seven languages which give the procedures for enrollment as well as educational system in Japan and we are disseminating such brochures at the educational board and others. Furthermore, for the projects promoting the acceptance of foreign schoolchildren, bilingual counselor is being located at the educational board to provide counseling and information and enrollment. We also have been allocating supporters who can speak the mother tongue of such foreigner children in order to assist them for the Japanese language education. We are thus assisting the enrollment of the foreign children into public schools and we would like to make further efforts to facilitate the acceptance of such children in the public schools.

Next, this is a question raised by Professor Thornberry. Education programs are offered to Peruvians of Japanese descent and Brazilians of Japanese descent. Currently, the number of Brazilian schools in Japan is 84. Out of that number, there are three schools were Peruvians. And out of that number 53 schools are accepted or approved by the government of Brazil. So in those schools, they are guaranteed to smooth the advance into higher schools for those Brazilian children in Brazil. In these schools services are provided to those Brazilian children and parents who are going to stay a short period of time in Japan and those schools are offering education programs and curriculums based on the Brazilian course of study. And the local governments are offering the special allowances subsidies in order to reduce the level of tuition and free medical check. And aside from that, in order to make improvements to the education status and the management of administration of the Brazilian schools, we are also conducting a research and survey on the immediate issues that face Brazilian children.

Next, the economic support provided to the schools for foreigners. Especially, economic assistance as well as for the tax incentives, Mr. Thornberry has asked us to inform him on those measures. And also from Mr. Diaconu, some international schools are allowed tax benefits that may lead to discrimination amongst the schools for foreigners. So let me answer those questions in one segment. First of all, for the schools for the foreigners, those miscellaneous schools which are authorized by the prefectural governors based on the school education law article 134, and the entities are in the form of school corporations or quasi-school corporations. Necessary support are given from the local governments and such. On the other hand, as for the tax measures, those schools for foreigners which are being authorized as miscellaneous schools, under the certain conditions, the consumption tax on tuition are being exempted. Furthermore, on the entity for establishing the school is in the form of school corporations or quasi-school corporations, income tax, corporation tax, local resident tax, enterprise tax, and others are being exempted. As for corporation tax and income tax benefits for further benefits offered these schools for foreigners for those corporations which are establishing miscellaneous schools which accept the foreign children which are in Japan only for the short stay, it has been approved to be given tax benefits from the point of view of policy____to promote inward foreign direct investment. So I don’t think that’s what constitutes an undue discrimination to the other foreign schools. Having said that, in order to expand the scope of schools for foreigners which are covered by the tax benefit measures, we need to consider new policy goals as well as to study the criteria for institutional systems in order to achieve the goal in an effective manner so we would like to continue to make study.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, there are so many questions about Koreans living in Japan. So, about their working conditions and improvement matters, that sort of things, Ministry of Welfare and Labor staff will answer and then harassment and that sort of thing will be answered from staff from the Ministry of Justice, and then about educational aspects the Ministry of Education staff will answer, so please, first about improvement of labor conditions. Please…

Mr. Hoshida (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

My name Hoshida with the Ministry of Health. There was a question raised by Mr. Huang. There was an____improvement in the area of education and employment and living conditions. And with regard to education, with regard to accepting Korean residents and other foreigners of other nationalities, so if they wish to enter a compulsory education in public school, they can be admitted without any charge, and if they would like to enroll in foreign school this option is also left to them. With regard to employment, for the purpose of elimination of discrimination, we are providing guidance and awareness raising programs targeting employers so that they can introduce a fair screening system and recruitment system. As far as those workers that are employed in Japan despite their nationalities, the labor related laws will be universally applied. With regard to the social security programs, not only those Korean residents, but also all those foreigners residing in Japan legally, the same rule and system is applied to them. Thank you.

Mr. Ehara (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ehara from the Human Rights Promotion Division of the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Diaconu, Mr. De Gouttes, and Mr. Thornberry have asked on the question of the harassments for the students of the Korean schools. For the children enrolled in Korean schools, and the question of harassment for such children, Ministry of Justice human rights organ has been engaged in a campaign to educate the___people. We have a slogan of respecting the human rights of foreigners as the major item for such annual campaigns. Throughout the year we have education activities on a nationwide basis. We also have established human rights counseling centers so that the children enrolled in Korean schools as well as the related people will be able to consult on the different questions and if we do find some suspicious cases of human rights infringements, we will expeditiously make investigations and take appropriate measures. In particular, when there is intermittent nuclear testing as well as launching of missiles, incidents by North Korea may trigger harassments to children enrolled in Korean schools. We will make the utmost efforts to continue our promotion and education activities and we tried to gather relevant information and if we do suspect that there may be infringement of human rights we will expeditiously investigate as to the case of human rights investment to take very strict measures and we will reinforce the human rights protection measures and provide guidance to the relevant departments. Recently, in April of 2009, North Korea launched a flying object and also in the same year in May, North Korea conducted underground nuclear testing. And the Ministry of Justice human rights organ provided necessary guidance on those occasions. Thank you.

Next, the question about Korean schools and what kind of curriculum programs are being offered. This was a question raised by Mr. Diaconu. First of all, there are schools for Korean residents, they are the ones the schools where they can learn their own culture. As for those schools that accommodate Koreans with North Korean nationality those schools are admitted as miscellaneous schools and they are relieved of the fixed asset tax and the corporation tax and the business tax except taxation on donations.

As for those schools for Korean residents with South Korean nationality, they offer learning and study about the Korean language and the Korean culture and there are some schools that are admitted or approved as formal school that is stipulated by article 1 of the School Education Law. And the course of study is applied to those schools when it comes to their teaching programs. Many of those schools for Korean residents, they have already been admitted or approved by local governments and there are many schools as such that receive subsidies from local governments. There was another question raised, out of those schools for Korean residents there are_____located in Tokyo that are eligible for the admittance into university. And there was also a comment made that the unfair treatment was applied to those schools because their eligibility was not admitted. Now with regard to the eligibility to be admitted into university in Japan, regardless of the Japanese nationality, anyone who has graduated from a senior high school or the students with the academic skill that is equivalent to a graduate they are admitted or they can be eligible. Therefore, it is not the fact that those graduates of the Korean schools for Korean residents are located in Tokyo, that there are five schools in Shizuoka Prefecture and eight schools and Aichi Prefecture which is famous for Toyota and there are two other schools in the prefecture and their eligibility is admitted. And we also softened the regulations relating to the eligibility to be admitted to university in September 2003 for those graduates of foreign schools located in Japan if those schools are admitted as equivalent to the academic achievement of the schools in their home countries. And those graduates of foreign schools that are accredited by international accreditation organizations, also those persons are judged eligible by each university, so those conditions were added to this regulation, therefore, the foreign nationals are widely admitted to be eligible to be admitted to university.

Now, let me answer to the question raised by Mr. Avtonomov which is on the bill to make free of charge the tuition for the senior high school that North Korean schools are to be excluded. There has been a newspaper report to that effect and what are the facts was the point of the question. As you may know the bill to make tuition free of charge for the senior high schools to not collect tuition for public senior high schools and to provide assistance the money for enrollment into senior high schools have been adopted by the Cabinet in January this year and the bill was submitted to the Diet. We are aware of the content of the newspaper report which was pointed out. In the bill for the miscellaneous schools including the schools for foreigners, the coverage would be for those____in the senior high schools which are similar to the senior high schools as stipulated under the ministerial ordinance. So we would like to make the appropriate decision based upon the deliberation to be done by the Diet.

Sorry for my long answer. This is going to be my last answer. Mr. Thornberry and Mr. Amir raised the following question relating to human rights education and awareness raising. This is going to be my last answer. Programs for human rights education and awareness raising targeting_____population more detailed information is needed and targeting in particular the younger generation in particular in public schools, what kind of human rights education programs have been offered in the curriculum. Now, I would like to put them together in my answer. First, human rights education and awareness raising programs, in March 2002, the Basic Plan for Human Rights Education and Encouragement, and based on that, the human rights, the respect for human rights and awareness raising should be pursued through school education and social education, elimination of prejudice and discriminatory attitudes and awareness raising activities in order to realize_____solution for discrimination related problems. And based on the Constitution and the Basic Law on Education, in school education and depending on the development level of the children, throughout school education, the government paid much attention to programs and educational programs that are aimed at raising human rights protection. And at the Ministry, from the viewpoint of the protection and the respect for basic human rights and together with the Board of Education, we have been promoting the comprehensive human rights education promotion_____designated to promote human rights education research that are focused on school functions to look into what kind of teaching instructions and methodologies should be employed for promoting human rights education. And we have been promoting those____programs and projects. With regard to human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice, they have identified Dowa problems, Ainu people, and foreign nationals. Those minority groups are picked up and selected as priority items throughout the year and they have been engaged in organized lectures and symposia and training sessions nationwide.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the question of the monitoring mechanism and statistics on the cases of racial discrimination or xenophobia, and also the question on the establishment of the human rights institute in Japan.

Mr. Ogawa (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ogawa from the Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Justice. First of all, from Mr. Murillo Martinez, there was the question on the monitoring mechanism and whether such a mechanism is in place for xenophobia. And in particular, what may be the situation for the xenophobic information as being placed in the Internet. Now, the Ministry of Justice human rights organs are dealing with various issues to do with human rights including discrimination on foreigners. We are providing through the human rights counseling, to provide appropriate advice as well as introducing the relevant institutions and the legal of affairs bureau and local legal affairs bureau on a nationwide basis. And when we find that there are some suspicions of infringement of human rights we will make investigation as to the case of human rights infringement. And when we acknowledge that there is a fact of infringement, we will take necessary measures to eliminate such infringements and also to take preventive measures for recurrence. As for cases of human rights infringement of foreigners, the cases opened up newly within 2008, the number was 121, of which the cases to do with discriminatory treatment number 97, and 16 cases for assault and abuse. Now, let me refer to the Internet situation. Ministry of Justice human rights organ have been put forth to stop human rights infringement abusing the Internet as the campaign slogan. For encouragement and promotion activities throughout the year we have encouragement activities on a nationwide basis for those malicious sorts of cases which infringe on human rights including the honor as well as privacy of others. When we can identify the senders of such information or message, through education and encouragement of those persons, try to eliminate such infringements. When we cannot identify the senders we will ask the Internet service providers to delete such information. We are always taking appropriate measures.

With regard to the question of the establishment of a national human rights institution, there were four members who asked this question. The government considers necessary to set up an independent national human rights institution in order to achieve effective remedy of human rights victims. Currently, with regard to the organizational structure, we have been looking into the issues relating to the establishment in earnest. This national human rights institution which will be newly established, will be set up in accordance with the Paris Principles. At this point in time, there is no definite schedule in place, but we would like to try and make efforts so that the draft, the bill, related bill will be presented to the Diet at the soonest possible date. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will answer on the question of article 4 a b of this Convention and the question of the political right of the foreigners.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Now, the number of conventions as ratified by Japan may be different depending on how you count it, but we try as much as possible to ratify those conventions.  As Mr. Peter that has rightly said for ICESCR as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Japan attaches reservations, and I also agree with Mr. Peter that reservations to be attached in ratifying the convention should be minimal as possible. But, in making precise study for the guarantee____required by the convention ____condition and method for ensuring the guarantee____in Japan of the need to clarify by attaching reservations. Now, as to specific question, the concept of what is being provided by article 4___of the convention includes the broad aspects for various situations and various types of conduct. For example, dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination and for all of such situations to try to apply punitive laws. For example, in view of freedom of expression where necessity and____of constraints should be strictly circumscribed as well as principle of legality of crime and punishment____specificity and clarity of scope and punishment____require may not be compatible with guarantees prescribed in the Japanese constitution and thereby we have attached a reservation for article 4 a and b. To withdraw the reservation, as to say to make a study for the possible punitive legislations for the dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination may unduly discourage legitimate discourse, so we need to strike a balance between the effect of the punitive measures and the negative impact on freedom of expression. I don’t think that the situation in Japan right now has rampant dissemination of discriminatory ideas or incitement of discrimination. I don’t think that that warrants the study of such punitive measures right now.

There was a question with regard to the voting rights, suffrage, that at the local government level, there was a ______ that argued for the suffrage right should be admitted in local governments, and since October 1998, as many as 15 bills were submitted to the Diet, in this regard. And the government would like to monitor what kind of actions will be taken at the Diet level.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, I ask the staff from the Ministry of Justice to answer questions on nationality or citizenship and refugee related matters.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

Please let me give answers to the questions from Mr. Thornberry as well as Mr. Diaconu, for the special permanent residents. Special permanent residents in accordance with article 2a and b of the treaty of peace with Japan, the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan have been separated from the territories of Japan from the day of entry of force of this treaty. In accordance with that, notwithstanding the will of the person those who had to leave Japanese nationality, but those people who continually reside in Japan before the ending of the second world war as well as their descendants. For these sorts of people, the special law, the name is, Special Law on the Immigration Control of Those Who have Lost Japanese Nationality and Others on the Basis of the Treaty of Peace with Japan, that has been promulgated. So compared to the other foreigners, by the provision of the law for the reasons for deportation is extremely limited and also the ceiling for the reentry permit is three years for the general foreigners but for the special permanent residents it is four years. So there are special considerations given to these people because of the historical developments as well as the fact that they have been long settled in Japan. Special permanent residents are able to acquire Japanese nationality through naturalization. For those people who have special territorial as well as blood relations with Japan, the conditions for naturalization are being relaxed.

Next, there was a question raised by Mr. Avtonomov. What are the advantages and disadvantages for those Korean residents who do not ask for naturalization? Now, basically naturalization obligation is based on individual will and so when it comes to their reasons for not applying for naturalization or for applying for naturalization, it is very difficult for us to make specific comments on those individual feelings. Now for those who have special territorial relations and bloodline relations the naturalization conditions have been relaxed in which I have already mentioned.

Next, I would like to give answers to the questions raised by many members including Mr. Thornberry whether the name needs to be changed at the time of naturalization. For those persons who would like to acquire Japanese nationality, there is no fact that they are being urged to change their names. For those people who have acquired the Japanese nationality on their own will they are able to change their name. But, as for the characters that can be used for the name, for the native Japanese as well as the naturalized Japanese, in order not to raise any inconveniences for their social life, it may be necessary for them to choose the easy to read and write characters used in common and Japanese society. Now, the name to be adopted upon the naturalization, it is not that you should use just the Chinese characters; you can also use phonetic characters like hiragana and katakana as well.

Next, there was a question raised by Mr. Diaconu, with regard to the acceptance of Indochinese refugees. Now, regardless of the nationality of those refugees, based on the Convention on the Status of Refugees and so forth they seek refuge in Japan escaping from political persecution, they are supposed to be recognized as refugees and in consideration of ______ situation facing those refugees, we will offer humanitarian considerations and services, and so it is not the fact that our refugee related policy is only limited or restricted to those from Vietnam, Indochina, and Myanmar.

Now, as to the procedures of recognition of refugees, there was a question raised by Mr. Thornberry as to the language and as to the lack of information. The application for recognition of refugees are being prepared in 24 languages as for brochures to inform the procedures for refugee recognition is being prepared in 14 languages and such documents are available in the local immigration control offices on a nationwide basis as well as through the Internet. Whenever an interview was conducted, for the application to be recognized as refugees, as a principle, we go through the interpreter in the language as required by the applicant. And in the interview, we would confirm whether the applicant adequately understands the languages by the interpreter. The procedure is always being a very careful procedure in selecting the interpreters as well. As for the translation of the document in order to make expeditious decisions the government pays for the cost of the translation.

Next, this is a question raised by Mr. Thornberry with regard to migrant woman exposed to domestic violence and Mr. Thornberry was paying attention to the revised immigration law which took place last February. And if there is no substantive marriage status for over six months, their status is to be revoked and there is a______. It is true, but this is for the purpose of targeting disguised marriage or false acquisition of the status of residence, and this is the purpose of the revised law. And as you raised in your statement when the migrant worker or migrant women in the process of divorce mediation and who is also exposed to domestic violence, and so she is not in the substantive marriage status, but with the justifiable reason, the revocation clause is not going to be applied. And under the revised immigration control law, if the revocation is to be applied to a certain person, that person who is subject to the possibility of revocation has to be presented with the alternative status of residence. And that kind of consideration should be given by the government and which is also stipulated in the law. And that ends my answer.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you. Again, from the Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the question of the specific… from the Ministry of Foreign affairs specific law or legislation on nondiscrimination and the question of the discrimination amongst private citizens.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Now, whether there is a necessity to adopt the law on racial discrimination, and implementing article 4 of the ICERD in Japan, article 14 paragraph 1 of the Constitution includes the equality under the law for which includes the forbidding the racial discrimination has the members____very well. For expression as well as dissemination of the ideas for discrimination if it is in the content of damaging the honor and credit of the specific individuals as well as groups, there are some punitive laws for instance, collective intimidation as well as habitual____these are the crimes which are punishable under the law concerning punishment of physical violence and others. And if the present circumstances in Japan cannot effectively suppress the act of discrimination under the existing legal system, I don’t think that the current situation is as such therefore I do not see any necessity for legislating a law in particular for racial discrimination. Furthermore, from Mr. Diaconu, raised the question on the relationship between the discriminatory motive and the criminal justice procedures. In the criminal justice trials in Japan, the malicious intent is an important element to be considered by the judge in sentencing. Therefore, whether the motivation is based upon racial discrimination or not it is being appropriately being considered under the criminal justice in Japan in the degree of sentencing.

Now, I take the floor. This is a question by Professor Thornberry. The question was relating to the prohibition of racial discrimination between private persons. Now article 14 of the Constitution is not directly applying to the behavior and acts between private persons, but it is covered and controlled by the civil code, and the implementation of the civil code, the objective of article 14 is supposed to be taken into consideration. To be more specific, in the private law any racial discriminatory acts that infringe on the basic human rights may be judged as invalid. And in relation to that, if there is any damage inflicted on others as a result of racially discriminatory acts, total responsibility should be borne by that person in the form of the payment of damages in certain conditions. Therefore, a fair and just compensation has to be made. And in addition to that, the Constitution stipulates that anyone is guaranteed the right to court and so any victim subject to racial discriminatory acts can apply for relief based on the abovementioned laws. Therefore, the provisions of the Constitution can be appropriately applied onto acts between private persons.

Next will be the last comment from the Ministry of Justice. Mr. De Gouttes has raised the point why did the Supreme Court refuse the appointment of a foreigner to the family court mediator. As a premise for this, to be engaged in an act of exercise of public power, or to participate in public decision-making for important measures, and also for the civil servants given the task to participate in such processes, we suppose that the persons having Japanese nationality are to be appointed. So under such a premise the family court mediators who are part-time staff of the court, will be engaged in the process of participating in the mediation committee. And they will be engaged in acts of exercise of public power. And also, may participate in the public decision-making, they would fall under the category of civil servants getting the task to participate in the public decision-making. So in order to be appointed it requires Japanese nationality. So we recognize that the Supreme Court has refused the appointment of foreigners to the family court mediators because such reason.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Finally, questions concerning on the amendment of the convention, and also questions relating to the ILO related treaties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Welfare and Labor will answer.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

First of all, the effectiveness of the treaty there was a question raised by Mr. Peter. As Mr. Peter mentioned, there are conventions that have been ratified by our government have the same effect as the domestic law, but if there is any misunderstanding on the part of Mr. Peter I just would like to make a correction. When an individual lodges a complaint, it is possible for him or her to invoke the international treaty. And there were such court cases and the specific example is contained in paragraph 66 of the periodic report.

Now we understand that for the amendment of article 8 of the ICERD is to have the contribution to become the main source of finance from the countries including the non-parties to the convention. That’s to say to be funded through the ordinary budget of the United Nations. On the other hand, we are of the position that the duties of the convention will bind, as a principle, only the parties so there is no plan for us to accept such an amendment because it should be the parties who should bear the expenses for the ICERD Convention.

Mr. Hoshida (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

I am Hoshida with the Ministry of Health. There was a question raised by Thornberry and Diaconu. Now with regard to ILO Convention 111, is aimed_____eliminating discrimination in wide scope in the areas of employment and occupation. And in concluding or ratifying the Convention, I should say that there should be scrutinization of the Convention and domestic laws and their compatibility between the two. So we would like to continue this study, but under the article of the Constitution basically in general terms, all people are treated equal under the law and in the areas of employment and occupation related labor laws are in place in order to carry out measures against discrimination. Now, next, ILO convention 169, this is relating to the indigenous peoples customary practice relating to punishment that should be respected and also that the measures in place of detention will take precedence over the punishment the detention____for indigenous peoples. But this should be reviewed from the viewpoint of the principle of legality of crime and punishment and the quality and fairness of punishment, I consider it involves a lot of problems before we can actually conclude this convention.

Next, there was a question raised on the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports. For the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid as well as the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports, Japan has not ratified those conventions. But consistently from the past Japan has not condoned apartheid because it oppresses racial equality as well as respect of basic human rights.

The last question, the Genocide Convention was not ratified by Japan. There was a question as such. The genocide crime for instance is a heinous crime that is committed in the international community and we should not stand idle on those issues. The reason why we joined ICC was exactly from that viewpoint and understanding. But when it comes to the Genocide Convention, the domestic law should be stipulated in order to punish them, and the punishable acts are quite wide in scope and so in our government actions we have to consider the necessity of the Genocide Treaty and also the domestic laws that should be put in place so we have to continue with careful consideration of the possibility.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

This concludes our answers.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Excellency, I am most grateful to you and your delegation for the replies you have given and the fact also that your delegation has done it with discipline and we have adhered to our time constraints so now what I propose doing is I’d explained I’d give the floor to speakers in the order that they have requested the floor and this will be followed by further responses from your delegation. May I request distinguished members to be direct in their questions and observations so that our dialogue is truly an interactive dialogue. I give the floor to Mr. Diaconu followed by Mr. Lahiri.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman, I would like to welcome the answers, as you said disciplined and well organized and to all our questions. Now, I noted very interesting developments concerning the Ainu people. Consultations have taken place, measures have been taken concerning the access to resources of land to fishing and the preservation of their culture. And I think this is a very important opening to any other measures concerning the implementation of our convention. Many things which were not clear for us resulting from the formulations in the report like for instance that concerning the Tokyo School or the refugees. Now, we have a clear picture on these issues from the answers given by the delegation. There are still issues on which we would like the delegation and the government to make efforts to make progress.

The issue of other indigenous peoples, I think that remains a permanent problem a permanent issue to be considered by the state party. And I would submit that the State party should organize consultations with the representatives of these people. As you have consultations with the Ainu representatives why don’t Japanese state bodies have consultations with the representatives of the Buraku or Ryukyu people to see what is and what do they want, what is their problem. And also why don’t you initiate studies on their culture, on their language to see what are the differences. Are these people different from the Japanese majority do they have a different culture and language because if they have one that is a minority with the meaning of culture and language and it should be taken care of if this is a people who were there for centuries then these are an indigenous people which is different from the Japanese majority. So one has to find out, but for this, dialogue is necessary talk to their representatives please.

As to the issue of descent, descent based discrimination, I looked at the answer given by the delegation to this issue, in the answers given to questions of the country rapporteur. And I can tell you that I am not convinced by this answer. I’m not convinced. So the issue of descent has to be placed somewhere but under our convention. Not outside. Some of the countries of the region consider that this is a social problem not an ethnic one. You don’t consider it even as a social one. And you don’t consider it as an ethnic one. Then what it is for you? It is in the convention. Find the place for it in the convention. And if it is considered to be a national or ethnic origin okay, but let’s deal with it under the convention. Look again at the situation of these people because this is the most important issue. Are they treated as people on the basis of social stratification as a group which is considered under social stratification as a caste according to a caste system. Then it is a people which is discriminated on the basis of descent.

As to schools, we received some answers and some of them are complete and good. I think this question should be given more attention in order to avoid any discrimination in terms of tax exemptions and in terms of recognizing studies in different schools and recognizing access to children of these schools to higher education.

As for the article 4, as I noticed already there is legislation in the country to punish these acts for everybody. What one could call a general criminal law. These acts are punished from the smallest let’s say the less difficult offenses to the violence. But what is missing is that racial motivation, there is no legislation which is asking the judge to take into account the racial motivation. And this is about racial discrimination. No country could tell us that there is no racial motivation in the country when such acts are committed. There is racial motivation in some cases not in all. It is up to the judge to find it, but give it the possibility to find it. And that is why I think that under malicious intent as it was said today here, discrimination and racial discrimination may come very well under malicious intent. But the judges have to be given the possibility under a piece of law for interpretation to take into account the racial motivation as a malicious intent among other malicious intents.

So these are my comments and thank you very much. Thank you again. I think this is a good dialogue we had and we are making progress, we are understanding better each other, and we see what are the issues to be dealt with. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for your comments Mr. Diaconu, and I hand the floor to Mr. Lahiri followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Mr. Lahiri

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Since I did not take the floor yesterday I would like to, like all the others, my colleagues, welcome the Japanese delegation of an impressive size and with young and bright faces and I’m sure you’ll do well in public service. I listened with great interest, or very closely to the long exchange that we had yesterday.

And while of course our exchange was informative and taken in very good spirit, I think it would be difficult to say that the views of CERD and of the Japanese government have converged in any substantial degree since the time when we last considered the Japanese periodic report that initial report.

The one issue that on which there is a clear indication of change and progress is the recognition by the Japanese government that an independent national human rights institution in accord with the Paris Principles would be helpful and desirable, and that it is working on it.

However, since 2001, I may be wrong but from what I can see, there has been little change in the absence of legal provisions which would allow the effective implementation of this convention in the way that we are used to dealing with it.

On information relating to the minority groups, the continued disadvantages of people of Korean stock and Chinese also to an extent and overall the absence of meaningful implementation of the recommendations and suggestions and CERD’s last report.

Mr. Chairman, Japan is a very unique country unlike much larger Asian countries like India which came under the thrall of British colonialism or China which easily lost or quickly lost the Opium War. Japan has had an entirely different trajectory. Within 50 years of the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and his black ships, Japan had developed into a modern and industrially advanced nation and had militarily defeated in much larger country like Russia – a Western country. My Japanese friends sometimes tell me that this is due in some measure to a spirit of__[sonnou jouhi?]__I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it correctly____translated loosely as “throw out the barbarians” which swept Japan during the Edo period; it’s a spirit based on chauvinistic ethnic pride, but it stood Japan in a very good state not just recently, but apparently also in the seventh century in its confrontation against the ____ Kingdom in Korea or the Tang Dynasty. More recently, this spirit of____to use a shorthand for it, allowed and you know which went on changed slightly during the Meiji Restoration. It allowed Japan to preserve its independence, to prevent the kind of national catastrophes which many other countries in Asia suffered, and in that sense it has been important in the Japanese nation’s, the way it has achieved its position which is widely admired in Asia.

However, times have now changed and Japan perhaps doesn’t face such threats. I think for a committee like CERD, I would on behalf of CERD respectively urge that our suggestions and recommendations for changes in Japanese law and practice to bring it more into line with the international norms in this matter. Are not rejected in the spirit of____but it is clear that we are both on the same side. There is no contradiction and we hope that our suggestions in this matter in terms of the various points that have been raised by my colleagues yesterday and today are given due consideration and perhaps we can express the hope that by the time we meet next time for an exchange there will be greater convergence not on the overall issue of racial discrimination I mean those that we have already but on the mechanisms for implementing the convention on which I suspect we still have some divergences. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your interesting remarks, and Mr. De Gouttes you have the floor followed by Mr. Peter and then Mr. Murillo Martinez. Sorry Mr. Prosper. After Mr. De Gouttes, it’s Mr. Prosper followed by Mr. Murillo Martinez. But perhaps Mr. Peter will also speak later.

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. My comments will go along the same lines to a great extent to what Mr. Diaconu has said. I’d like to thank the delegation for the replies given this morning which were very complete. Particularly the ____the Ainu people, the progress made and the consultations with that population group in Japan.

But there are other groups other than the Ainu which also seek respect for their cultures and languages and their rights. This is particularly true of the Burakumin. Once again then, I’d like to refer to the summary produced by the Office of the High Commissioner during the UPR in May 2008 in the report of the special rapporteur for contemporary forms of racism in 2005. According to those documents, the Burakumin are apparently very numerous apparently some 3 million people. These reports also state that they are descended from communities considered as being pariah during the feudal period. The report again states that it’s because they had they did work related to death for example, they had jobs which were considered impure, so it’s a difficult past for this population, although the castes have been abolished for a long time. Inevitably then there is the criteria of descent in terms of where they come from. And you’ve already said and Mr. Diaconu has noted that article 1 of the Convention deals with racism based on race but also descent and we have a general recommendation number 29 which refers to this concerning discrimination based on descent or caste origin. Now, I think there’s been a good opening up to the Ainu people so the question is whether you can also envisage consultations with other groups seeking promotion of their rights including the Burakumin who also live in Okinawa (this is incorrect). So I’d be very interested in continuing this discussion on the notion of descent and possible openings we could expect from your government on what seems to be a difference between the committee and yourselves on the criteria of discrimination based on descent. That’s what I wanted to add to the discussion. Thank you Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. De Gouttes. Mr. Prosper, you have the floor followed by a Mr. Murillo Martinez.

Mr. Prosper

Thank you Mr. Chairman. First, I want to thank the delegation for its presentation the information in the report provided both yesterday and today. I did not speak yesterday but I have to say that listening to the conversation and the dialogue we definitely learned a lot and received greater insights as to not only the situation in Japan but also your policies and your rationale for what you do and what you are doing. I would also like to thank the rapporteur for his thorough assessment yesterday really, for me it removed the need to intervene yesterday on many of the issues and I was able to have the luxury of listening to my colleagues ask the questions.

Today an interesting issue was raised which is relevant to the committee but it’s something that’s of personal interest to me and I just wanted to explore it a little bit more and that is the issue of the Genocide Convention as well as the issue related to the ICC the International Criminal Court. I remember I was involved in the negotiations from the beginning and I remember at the time in the late 90s when the United States was trying to assess and determine its position both under President Clinton which I was involved with and then later with President Bush we were looking to what Japan was doing and considering as you know there were conversations on the margins let’s put it, and you finally decided to join the ICC which the United States has not and there are reasons for that. But what I found interesting is that you felt comfortable enough to join the ICC but not comfortable enough to become a party for the Genocide Convention. In fact I would have found it to be the opposite such as we are, the United States is. I’m still struggling to understand why is it that you are able to be in that position or you feel comfortable in that position particularly because with the ICC as you are well aware of there is the principle of complementarity which obviously would grant you as well as other states parties the first bite of the apple if one of your nationals were accused of a crime under the ICC genocide crimes against humanity and war crimes. And part of the principle of complementarity is that state parties will enact legislation that would allow for them to punish those crimes found within the ICC so I’m just trying to understand the consistency because it is an apparent inconsistency and I’m sure you have an explanation for it whereby signing the ICC you’re basically saying that you are in a position to prosecute the crime of genocide yet you are not a state party to the Genocide Convention. If you could either now or we don’t need to take up the time just later or in the future reports just explain that a little bit more for our understanding because obviously the crime of genocide are acts which is as you said are reprehensible and it’s a fundamental protection that is consistent with the convention we are discussing here today, but again I would like to thank you for the dialogue, the information that you provided. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Prosper. I give the floor to Mr. Murillo Martinez, followed by Mr. Cali Tzay.

Mr. Martinez

Thank you Chairman. I too would like to thank the distinguished delegation of Japan for the very detailed replies they’ve given today. I’m pleased to hear that you have very detailed statistics on acts of xenophobia managed by the Ministry of Justice and it’s also very encouraging to know that you are making efforts to adopt a human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles.

Now, this is not so much a question, but yesterday we heard about Japan’s role, major contributions in international cooperation to promote human rights. And I am sure the delegation knows that last December, the General Assembly by acclamation, declared 2011 to be international year for persons of African origin. I’d like to take advantage of this opportunity then, just to note the importance of that commemoration and to express my optimistic hope that Japan like other countries will be very committed to that process and will make a very positive contribution to achieving the objectives which I’m sure will mean implementation of mechanisms for voluntary contributions. Thank you very much, Chairman, I do apologize to the delegation for taking advantage of this excellent opportunity for making that little speech.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for the intervention Mr. Murillo Martinez. I give the floor to Mr. Cali Tzay followed by Mr. Avtonomov.

Mr. Cali Tzay

Thank you Chairman. I too would like to join my colleagues in thanking you the distinguished delegation of Japan for the replies and the reply to my question about seven members of the panel discussing the policy for the Ainu. This reply will help me to understand the situation.

Since there are seven might it not be more feasible for an Ainu delegation on a parity basis so that this panel could really discuss the policy needed by all of the Ainu people; of course reflecting the willingness of the Prime Minister. Of course we’ve heard they’re going to listen to the Ainu but perhaps then the panel should have a parity representation of the Ainu people.

With regard to Okinawa, I greatly respect the opinion of the delegation but I note the study by the Ecuadorian expert Mr. Jose Martinez_____on the situation of indigenous peoples in the world. He noted that one of the forms whereby an indigenous population can define itself as such is self definition. But he also said that indigenous peoples are those which existed which were in place before colonialization or the formation of current states. As far as I understand, the Okinawan has its own culture and language and idiosyncrasies. So the opinion of that expert would be that since Japan gave its support to the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples it would be of course recommendable, and I respectfully I say this, that the Okinawa people also be recognized as an indigenous people. I repeat, I believe they have a different language, a language which is different from Japanese.

And I’d also like to say that I’ve received information concerning the policy of retirement. There is a law specifically referring to this we were told that in the legislation there is a particular gap because Korean citizens because of their nationality are not taken account of in this policy that is neither elderly nor disabled.

I recall an expression I learned in the US “a crack in the law can be small that nobody can notice, but also can be so big that a caterpillar tractor can pass through.” So I think these gaps in legislation may be not be noted by some people or anybody, but also may result in a large group not receiving the necessary benefits so I think that the government of Japan could probably resolve this gap in the legislation with regard to this particular issue. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I thank once again the distinguished delegation of Japan.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Cali Tzay for your remarks, and Mr. Avtonomov you have the floor now.

Mr. Avtonomov

Thank you for giving me the floor. Firstly, I’d like to apologize for not being here for the whole process of replies to questions because I have responsibilities as rapporteur on another country so I do apologize for this. I just wanted once again to welcome the delegation and I wanted to say good morning and say that in Japanese as well. I listened to the replies to questions, I heard them in Japanese, of course that doesn’t happen very often in this room, it was very interesting, and there were replies to questions that I raised yesterday. And I did hear some replies to those. I just wanted to make a few details clearer.

Of course we know the position with respect to the Burakumin group, nevertheless there was a partial answer to what I asked about registration of families. We know that there are difficult problems here. Because overcoming traditional stereotypes will be complicated in any country and Japan is no exception. No country is an exception. And we are well aware that basically this is related to the origin of such peoples not only their parents but their grandparents and so on,___these groups, and that’s what the discrimination arises from. Now I heard the answer about registration of families. I wasn’t actually asking for a change in the procedure on registration of families because I know that this is a rather long established system and has its advantages. The question of registration is not a question that we have to discuss here. Registration is not something that we are seeking to change. It has great significance for ensuring that people’s rights are enforced. But I did listen with interest to the fact that the new legislation on personal data and of course you shouldn’t close off access, somehow reduces access of all people universally to such data.

I therefore would like to ask whether there’s any…if there is a change in access to personal data, whether this has affected the Burakumin people, and whether discrimination with respect to these people is related let’s say to certain prejudices and stereotypes with employers. I would like to have more information about this, and it may not of course, not be conscious, sometimes people are not aware when they discriminate against someone, so as I say it may not be conscious. So I would like to know whether the situation of these people, the Burakumin, has changed following the change in legislation concerning access to personal data and if there are any positive moves forward with regard to reducing these problems. I think possibly, there needs to be further consideration as to how the access to data be arranged. It would be very interesting to hear whether then there is any additional information on this. If there isn’t any information available right now, perhaps it would be interesting to have that in the next periodic report. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Avtonomov. I would just like to interject a comment here. This arises from our discussions this morning, and that concerns indigenous people. You have stated that the Ainu people are the only one whom you recognize as the indigenous people. My understanding, my strict understanding of the situation would be that the Japanese people themselves are an indigenous people because ((Mr. Ueda: “Yes, of course.”)) I think they were there for as long as the Ainu but perhaps because of special circumstances they were isolated and underprivileged so we have of course Mr. Thornberry is our expert on the indigenous people and Mr. Cali Tzay, so this is I suppose the Japanese people are as indigenous as the Ainu and…because if you think in terms of time and continuity. So this is the only comment that I wish to make.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairperson. There are additional questions raised by members of the Committee and while our staffs are preparing sort of answers, possible answers to you, I will make a sort of general comment.

Of course there is no clear definition of indigenous people even in the UN Declaration or the UN resolution, so it’s difficult for us to identify or how can I say, define indigenous people as Mr. Chairperson stated. Different from the situation in Australia and New Zealand and the United States where indigenous people used to be there and then outsider came later. Our history is different, our history is different. That is true. I mean whether our ancestors come from southern China or from Siberia or from Polynesia we don’t know. From Africa maybe, we don’t know. There might be a sort of first wave arriving, and then second wave arriving, and then third wave arriving, all mixed and we now, we are Japanese. The Ainu, we recognized as an indigenous people because definitely they have their own culture, history, different from our, I mean so-called Japanese nationals.

But Okinawan people are Japanese. I mean, it’s difficult to identify, it’s difficult for you to identify say the people from Provence and the people from Ile-de-France. How do you identify themselves? The Okinawan people have a very of course a rich unique culture but their language of course, strong, how can I say, very probably a group of Japanese language, in broad sense they are Japanese language, I mean in comparison with say, Chinese or Korean or Taiwanese, they are Japanese language. Maybe, there are of course many many different, how can I say, theories and academic studies, but broadly speaking, people living in Okinawa are Japanese, in broad sense, so that’s the reason why are not identify them as indigenous people. Of course they have a sort of sometimes different history from mainland parts, and they had suffered heavily during World War II, they need economic development, so central government and prefectural government provided a great deal of assistance to Okinawa people to raise up their living standards, that sort of things, yes, we nurture the Okinawan culture, for example when the G8 summit was held in Okinawa, G8 leaders all enjoyed very beautiful culture of Okinawa as you know. Now, I’ll ask my deputy and other staff to answer as much as possible to your additional questions. Thank you.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; ?)

Well, there were some questions with regard to having consultations. Well, several or some members raised a question with regard to the possibility of having consultations with other groups, groups other than Ainu people. Now I’d like to respond to that. In formulating this the periodic report, in February 2006, through the website of the Ministry we asked for the submission of comments in written form, and in March 2006 targeting NGO groups we had an formal hearing, and in July 2006 and August 2007, we invited members of the community to organize a meeting to exchange views. In March 2006 there was an informal hearing as I mentioned. 16 NGO groups were represented and seven ministries were represented. And we had the opportunity of free discussion and exchange of views on the formulation of the periodic report. And in the first meeting in July 2007, about 60 people came to this meeting and also the seven ministries that were represented, and in the second meeting about 40 people attended and six government agencies were represented in that second meeting, therefore, through the website we asked for comments to be presented to us.


(?) (Japanese government delegation; Cabinet Secretariat)

The Cabinet Secretariat will respond. On the Ainu question, first of all, as to the membership of the Council for promoting the Ainu policy there are 14 members in total of which there are five Ainu people. Of the 14 of which two are the chief cabinet secretary and assistant to the prime minister so these two are politicians. So apart from those two politicians there’ll be 12, and of the 12, five are Ainu people. Now, under this Council there are two working groups. Of the six members, for both three are of Ainu people or representatives of the Ainu Association, so for the Council for the Promotion of Ainu Policy the 5 out of 12 – so there is not exactly parity – but we have five Ainu people participating. And the other members other than Ainu are academics who are well-versed on Ainu policies as well as representatives of the local governments in the districts where the Ainu people are residing. So____in fact, we will be able to duly hear the views of the Ainu people and the related persons. Next, on the indigenous people. Ainu people have been recognized as indigenous people. One thing is in Hokkaido in the Northern areas they are residing from the old times. The other factor is that Ainu language included there are distinct cultures and the traditions had been preserved and maintained by the Ainu people. So those are the factors in determining that they are to be recognized as indigenous people. Thank you.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

Next, the Korean residents. The pension issues involving Korean residents. The Ministry of Health will respond. First of all, with regard to the pension scheme, there is no nationality clause, therefore, the ___ program covers foreign nationals as well. However, in the past, before 1981 there was a nationality clause in place, and in 1982 and nationality clause was terminated, and on that occasion this regulation is to be applied in the future. Therefore at that point in time, the foreign nationals or the Koreans with the age of 84 and those handicapped people at the age of 48, they were not covered in the national pension scheme. As a result of that, they are taking a hard time and that is____, therefore welfare services should be applied, provided to that population and based on the discussion at the Diet level we would like to continue to look into this matter.

Next, on Buraku people, and the interpretation of descent. As for the interpretation of descent, in relation to the interpretation of the language as to the content of the government periodic report some of the members have said that it is not necessarily a satisfactory answer being given. But what we would like to say is, in the review of the periodic report from the Japanese government on the Dowa__question, this is not a question of descent, or this is not the question to be handled by the ICERD. If we are taken that position that we would not be reporting because of the positions, but that is not our position. For the specific aspects during the review, we have been always trying to engage in a constructive manner for dialogue, and this is more important, so I hope that we can continue with such a dialogue going forward. In any case, for ICERD based upon the spirit as mentioned in the preamble of the ICERD for the Dowa question, any kind of discrimination including the Dowa discrimination should never happen; that is always our position. In relation to this the Ministry of Justice would like to respond to the question of the family register and the general measures vis-à-vis the Dowa people. Please.

Ms. Aono (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name Aono with the Ministry of Justice. And there was a reference to the revised family register law in my comment, and I skip the background information. Therefore I just would like to make an additional comment that may overlap what I have just mentioned. In 2007, before the revision of the family register law, the professional organizations transferred the documents they received onto third parties and there were some illegal acts involved in such illegal actions were reported. And in order to prevent such_____application and a request and for the protection of individual and personal information, and in order to respond to such a situation, the family registration law was revised. And the requirement for making requests was made stricter. Identification of the person requesting a person, and the stricter punishment was put into the law against those who violate the law. And in practice as well, the actions are taken so that this law can be carried out properly. And my colleague will make an additional comment.

Mr. Ogawa (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ogawa from the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Diaconu and Mr. De Gouttes, I believe the intent of your questions are on the Dowa question that not necessarily the present measures may not be satisfactory or adequate enough that may be included in your questions so allow me to give some supplementary explanation. Earlier on, Ms. Shino from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already explained. Under the Ministry of Justice human rights organs for the human rights issues including the Dowa question for the human rights counseling as well as human rights encouragement we have taken remedial measures, relief measures. With that said, however, as for the measures of the government is not limited to these alone. In the list of questions paragraph 4, the government of Japan has given a response which alludes to the following. The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and other relevant ministries are competent in the different categories of administration and under their own competence various measures are undertaken. For example, earlier, Mr. Avtonomov has pointed out that for the employers, awareness of the Dowa question may be problematic. Now, at the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, for employment, in the employment screening done by the business corporations, the basic human rights of the applicants are being respected. And to prevent any discrimination over employment, the ability of the applicants are to be ____and the fair screening should be made for employment. And guidance and education are given to employers to make this a reality. Based upon the spirit as given in the preamble of the ICERD, for any discrimination including the Dowa question, in order to create a society without any discrimination is something that we are always striving to aim for. Thank you.

Mr. Otani (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

Next, the criminal procedure in relation to racially motivated acts. My name is Otani with the Ministry of Justice. Article 4 of the ICERD in relation to that racially motivated action there was some reference in the comments. With regard to that, as the official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I mentioned, I just would like to make an additional comment for clarification from the viewpoint of the Ministry of Justice. As was captured in a statement given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if the prime objective was motivated racially and the motive is considered malicious, therefore in the legal process, and if it is proved, in that case the judge, in the process of sentencing, will take that into consideration as an important factor. And such appropriate treatment is given in that regard. Thank you.

Lastly, to the question from Mr. Prosper, on the relationship with ICC and the genocide convention, unfortunately, we have come for the review of the ICERD, so we were not anticipating a satisfactory answer which would be fitting to such questions coming from their profound knowledge as held by the distinguished member, so I have to say that we have no knowledge over and above what we have already mentioned earlier. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

As you know, my predecessor for ambassador for human rights was Mrs. Saiga, who became an ICC judge later on, but unfortunately she passed away, and succeeding her, a new lady judge from Japan is now in ICC…Ozaki-san, Ms. Ozaki is now in ICC.  You know, of course our sincere approach to this question.  Mr. Chairperson, thank you very much.  I think our side tried to answer questions raised by the members of the Committee so far as much as possible.  So this is…if I have something to say…I think I said so far, enough.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you very much for your responses and the fact that we have a little time is indicative of the to the point responses that the delegation gave us and I saw no evidence of filibustering or trying to drag the answers. So members had the opportunity to ask as many questions as they wished, and does somebody wish to speak, Madame Dah or Mr. De Gouttes? Mr. Lindgren, would you like to say something before I give the floor to our rapporteur for his preliminary summing up?

Mr. Lindgren

Thank you Mr. Chairman it’s just a point of clarification. Of course I appreciate very much all the replies that were given to us by the Japanese delegation. But my original doubt concerning the Burakumin still remains. What are the Burakumin. If they speak the same language, if they speak Japanese, if they don’t have religious origins, what makes them different from the average Japanese? This is just a question that I want to make. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

There are no difference at all. No difference at all. They are us. Like us. I mean, we. We are the same. No difference at all. So you can’t identify. Unless you say I’m from Ile-de-France, I’m from Provence. And this he says.

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

I think this is something we mentioned in the previous examination that the Dowa policy, the council, came out with a report in 1965, and in that report the Dowa problems was the outcome of the class system that was borne out of the feudal system and it is a social problem. However, in recent years, with regard to the origin of the Buraku problems, there was a review of these problems being dated back to the Edo period, so it is rather difficult for us why the Buraku problem emerged, and who should be considered as a Burakumin or Buraku people. So the situation is very complicated, therefore, that was the comment that we made in the previous examination session, that we did not have more information that___provided to you at this point in time.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for your responses. And I have two more requests from the floor. Mr. Diaconu, followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you Mr. Chairman. And I am sorry for taking the floor for the third time. I’m interested to know as much as possible and to see as much as possible progress from the part of the state party because Japan is a big country, is a developed country, and we are waiting from Japan a lot of positive developments in the Asian space and in the world as such. Now, our preoccupation in this committee and according to our convention is that each and every person is protected against racial discrimination. And each and every group is protected. And this is let’s say these are the words of our Convention.

Now, you are telling us that there are no difference between the Buraku and the others, but they say that there is a difference. They say to us and according to sources we have they say that they have a different culture and a different language. Let’s clarify this issue and the way to clarify this issue is through consultations with them, with their representatives. Mr. Ambassador, you are telling us that there is no difference between you and them. Looking at them you, cannot distinguish them, but it happens in many countries. You cannot distinguish them according to physical features to the way they look but when you look more precisely into their culture, into their language, into their traditions, you will find distinctions. We don’t want to create groups where there are no groups. We don’t want to defend dead cultures or dead languages. No. But we want to preserve whatever is of interest for a group for a significant group of people. And it seems there is a significant group of people which wants to preserve their culture and their traditions and their language. So this is important this is important for us, I think it should be important also for the country. It is your richness, it is part of your richness, as tradition, as culture, as history. This is our preoccupation, and I think that the lady from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started giving us an interesting answer. She says the Buraku issue is a social problem. It comes from the feudal times. Okay. But that is what we want to hear about. It comes from the feudal times. Now, we want to know how much this social problem, coming from the caste system, has developed into an ethnic issue, into a differential group, culturally different group. How much remnants of that system of caste system are still in the Japanese society because if they are then you have to deal with them. And Japan has to deal with them under our convention. If this group is different you have to include it either as a minority group, either as an ethic group, or an indigenous group. You cannot say they do not exist. No, they are there. They are there, and they are citizens of Japan. So this is a comment that I wanted to make on this issue. This remains, I understand this remains an issue to be considered by the government and by ourselves, taking into account answers we could receive from the government on this issue, from all points of view, not only just, let’s see an interpretation of the text of article 1 and the travaux préparatoires, no. We want some data from the inside, from this group about this group of population. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Mr. De Gouttes (mistake?), I’d just like to mention there is a distinction between caste and ethnicity. You have one ethnicity and in that ethnicity there may be several castes. Mr. De Gouttes, you have…

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. I am a French expert but not of Provence origin. And I think the delegation did remind us that all countries have problems, specific issues affecting their populations, and that’s quite clear. I don’t think any country is exempt from questions and problems about its population. And I think that’s what’s so valuable in having this sort of forum, having an open direct dialogue which shows differences in approach between one delegation and our committee. But we are not judges. We’ve said this often. We’re a cooperation and dialogue body. What we hope to do through considering states parties reports is to see evolution, to see changes, progress made, with a view to ensuring full compliance with our convention, and I think that’s the benefit of a committee such as ours to have a dialogue to ensure compliance with our convention. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

My understanding of his Excellency’s intervention was that ethnically this group is Japanese, and this is the way I understood him, and in that spirit I took his intervention. So at this stage I would like to give the floor to our distinguished rapporteur who happens also to be… who has a very rich experience, he’s a scholar on indigenous people, so we can benefit from his summing up.

Mr. Thornberry

Thank you for kind words, chairman, and again I thank the delegation warmly for a generally interactive dialogue that you’ve provided a detailed account of your position in response to our many questions. And a large delegation came to visit the committee on this occasion which we are very grateful for. The remarks are personal. These are not necessarily shared by the whole committee though I will try to recall some of the consensus committee position on some matters. There was a huge range of issues raised.

And also in your responses today beginning with the question of the Ainu as an indigenous people which I think I said yesterday that recognition is the first step, there are many steps that must follow and certainly one of the key things in all of this process of engagement with indigenous rights and indeed with other groups is the question of participation and consultation.

The Okinawa situation was also raised and you’ve made your position very clear but nevertheless colleagues have proposed and urged a wider degree of consultation perhaps on this question without necessarily getting into technical arguments on description of status but certainly consultation with representatives would be welcome.

We had a lot of discussion on issues like education of minority groups and many issues were clarified, and discussions____of public schools and private schools. I must say that the public schools maybe we didn’t develop this point today, possibly demonstrate an insufficiently flexible curriculum in terms of ethnic diversity including for Japanese citizens, and this may of course encourage others to maintain systems outside the public school system. That’s just an impression that I have. But anyway, I think I’ve heard references today on the need for policy study and welcome this.

We’ve had discussions on education, Internet questions, article 4, the names issue, refugees, the question of the law on racial discrimination, and issues to deal with our convention including article 14 and amendment article 8. Those are just some of the issues.

And also the very interesting question raised by Mr. Prosper on the relationship between the Genocide Convention and the statute of the International Criminal Court. I did flag that one up yesterday but did not develop it as Mr. Prosper has done so very interestingly today.

These are the kind of things that will figure, I can’t speak for the committee in advance, but we will have to draw up our concluding observations on the basis of issues raised.

We have a certain broad agreement in some respects, including the importance of eliminating racial discrimination as far as humanly possible, and the importance of education against discrimination in this. We’ve had agreement also on the status of the Ainu, on the spirit of the convention, and I noticed a certain direction of movement as regards national human rights institution.

But certainly there are areas that the committee would probably recommend for further reflection. On the Buraku question, for example, we note your willingness to transcend the rather technical argument about the interpretation of the term descent in light of the spirit of the convention. We may not be in a position to agree on the interpretative matter, but we have our own position on that which has been developed in the committee over many years and is indeed acceptable to most states.

The nature of human rights education is something that perhaps we welcome the importance you give to education. We wonder sometimes and certainly I wonder if it has an adequate diversity component to what extent it includes the rights of specific groups. I’m not raising a whole lot of new questions now it’s just something that occurred to me.

It looks like we’re going to maintain respective differences on reservations, though the committee always invites states to seriously examine whether a reservation is needed and if possible minimize its scope or eliminate it. We note nevertheless that on issues like voting rights for foreigners, that certain matters are in progress. We disagree on this business about a law on racial discrimination, basically I think because you do not see a current necessity here, I’ll come to that in a moment, so we diverge I think even on issues to do with the names question and registration registers, we diverge on many issues.

But nevertheless, on some of the broader matters, there is at least a convergence of spirit if not necessarily in all of the details. In the committee’s view, the convention is something that has a fairly long reach, it reaches down, and this makes it difficult for states parties as I said yesterday it’s not simply about the state administration. It goes down to responsibility for the acts of persons, groups, and organizations and reaches deep down into social mores, including the conduct of private persons, and the committee has always insisted strongly that laws as such are not enough and there must be implementation to fulfill the obligations properly under the convention.

As colleagues have intimated I think very clearly there has always been care and concern for particular vulnerable groups, and although the convention does not use the term minority or indigenous people, inevitably, these are the groups that we have been concerned with a great deal because they are the natural focus of oppression. Majority populations or mainstream populations don’t necessarily have the need for the kinds of protection that minorities have, although in some cases there are issues about a majorities which have come before the committee.

And I think we always hope to unblock situations, to assist the state party to open thinking a little on these matters and discourage too much rigidity of positions based perhaps on legal considerations which might regard any intrusion of international standards as a kind of intrusion into domestic affairs. I think that kind of position, it is an exercise of sovereignty to ratify a convention like this, and it is not in any way a diminution of sovereignty and one would always hope state-by-state for a greater and broader embracing of letter and spirit of international norms bearing in mind the duty of this committee also which in a sense acts as a kind of ____of states and always has done to avoid the situation where states themselves get into mutual criticism so that is how I see the function of a committee like this.

The committee has taken very clear positions over the years I think I can at least say that on structural and substantial questions on respectful diversity of situations. Sometimes we are presented with a rather homogenizing approach for example to the idea of equality, but if there are different situations being treated by the same norm as it were, that’s not equality that’s inequality. One always has to have respect for history, tradition, culture, vulnerability, which makes a simple uniform application of norms not always appropriate, though of course we should always be aware of our commonalities as well as issues of diversity. We deal a lot with groups, and we privilege the notion of self definition. We argue for the need for laws against racial discrimination. We argue for control within the parameters of the convention of hate speech, we argue the need for remedies, and we argue the need for education which I think the state party clearly shares.

Education of groups including cultural and linguistic dimensions. Education, I think as Mr. Diaconu said yesterday, of the general population in matters to do with racial discrimination and tolerance and education of officials including those in this case perhaps in most regular contact in one way or another with non-Japanese. Now this is a large program for states, and of course we will look at evidence of responses when we come to your next report we will shorten the time lag I think by suggesting three or four issues for rather immediate follow-up.

If I can just give a couple of very broad points to conclude with, in the drafting of the convention, it was fairly clear and I have studied the travaux of the convention fairly extensively, there was a widespread feeling that racial discrimination applied only in a few places in the world. That it was not in fact a global phenomenon and truthfully it may also be the case that many states signed up to it on the supposition that it was never really going to affect them domestically. It would always be a matter of foreign policy. But I think the committee has demonstrated over the years that it is a global issue. It affects all states, of course in its details it has nuances of difference, but I think one of the functions of this committee and the convention is to see the commonalities so that we can actually see in what way the issues relate to the international norms and make appropriate recommendations on that basis.

Going back to what I said yesterday, and your response, I feel sometimes that if the international community had accepted the Japanese__at the time of the League of Nations we might have got to this realization a little bit earlier than we did… it’s a fairly recent understanding.

And in responding to the convention, just to conclude, that a number of steps, first of all, I think that awareness raising is very very important.

And a number of your responses today make the point that law is not needed in current circumstances. I think my immediate worry about that is that your information and statistical base in particular may not be entirely adequate to support that proposition. And I certainly think that the civil society will make its point clear, but that more study is required.

Education is also important and you have stressed education greatly, but again, if I may go back to the drafting of the convention, a number of countries insisted very strongly that education was the way forward. Others were equally determined to show that education itself was excellent but not enough and that the passing of laws itself has an educative value for the population. So following awareness raising then we get to re-organization in some cases quite drastic and basic legal structures and then to implementation in good faith of the convention.

All we can do a conclusion as to hope that the convention and the committee can assist in consolidation of process and direction and be a channel through which the good intentions of the state can flow. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Thornberry. We have come to the end of our discussion, a most interesting discussion it was, on Japan, and I think we have learned from each other and the future generation is here with us and I’m sure that under their leadership in the years to come, we will make greater progress in understanding each other and this exchange will lead all of you to reflect on the great diversity in our world and yet the similarity that we are all humans and we all originated, they now tell us – the scientists – we originated from a very small region of Africa and spread all over the world, I found it difficult to believe but after I read about it in depth, I realized this is a fact, a scientific fact, so thank you very much, and Excellency, and thank you Mr. Rapporteur of course for your excellent summing up, and distinguished members for your rich questions. Excellency, I think if you would like to say something at this stage, I would like to give you the floor.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, on behalf of the Japanese delegation I express sincere appreciation to your support and your very constructive comments. We will try to of course wait your final comment but in the meantime we will of course study and learn what you have said this occasion and of course if possible, we will try to take up your recommendations and try to sort of proceed farther to the future.

Taking this opportunity also, I’d like to express our appreciation to our NGO groups who attended, I mean who are present here, from Japan, together with as was explained by Ms. Shino, government side also of course appreciate their contribution, and we had a constructive consultations back home and we will have also continue this kind of consultations, exchange of views back home for the better implementation of this convention.

Once again, I’d like to express our sincere appreciation to all members of the committee and also the Secretariat staff who helped us very much.

And of course the interpreters who did a great job and also there are Japanese press present, and I think they will cover our activity to Japan and not only to Japan, but to all over the world, how we are working rigorously and how we are sort of effectively exchanged views.

In conclusion, I personally had a very good sort of a learning during this session. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you, Excellency Ueda, and that brings us to the conclusion of the session. Thank you very much, and to the delegation of Japan, those of you who are going across the ocean, I wish you a safe and happy journey and maybe we will see you at some later session. This meeting is concluded.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you very much.


Committee members:

Nourredine Amir (Algeria); Alexei Avtonomov (Russian Federation); Jose Francisco Cali Tzay (Guatemala); Anastasia Crickley (Ireland); Fatima-Binta Victoire Dah (Burkina Faso); Régis de Gouttes (France); Ion Diaconu (Romania); Kokou Mawuena Ika Kana (Dieudonné) Ewomsan (Togo); Huang Yong’an (China); Anwar Kemal (Pakistan) (Chairperson); Dilip Lahiri (India); Gün Kut (Turkey); José Augusto Lindgren Alves (Brazil); Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez (Colombia); Chris Maina Peter (Tanzania); Pierre-Richard Prosper (United States); Walilakoye Saidou (Niger); and Patrick Thornberry (United Kingdom)

Japanese government delegation members:

Hideaki Ueda (Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, MOFA); Kenichi Suganuma (Ambassador, Permanent Mission to Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Kazumi Akiyama (Councilor, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department, Cabinet Secretariat); Akira Honda (Official, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department, Cabinet Secretariat); Yumi Aono (Director, Office of International Affiars, Secretarial Division, MOJ); Junichiro Otani (Attorney, Criminal Affairs Bureau, MOF); Akira Ogawa (Human Rights Bureau, MOJ); Yukinori Ehara (Assistant to the Director, Human Rights Promotion Division, Human Rights Bureau, MOJ); Naomi Hirota (Section Chief, Office of International Affairs, Secretarial Division, MOJ); Yuki Yamaguchi (Official, International Affairs Division, Criminal Affairs Bureau, MOJ); Mitsuko Shino (Director, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Junko Irie (Attorney, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Shiho Yoshioka (Researcher, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Kanako Konishi (Official, International Affairs Division, MEXT); Junya Hoshida (Deputy Director, International Affairs Division, Minister’s Secretariat, MHLW); Akio Isomata (Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Yuji Yamamoto (Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Akira Matsumoto (First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Mirai Maruo (Attache, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva)

Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Forwarding.  Disgraceful.  Suggest those concerned send the day-care center my Japanese-language parody of the book where the shoe is on the other foot.  Arudou Debito in Calgary


From: Mark Thompson
Date: 2010/2/18
Subject: Teaching Children the Words of Hate in Tokorozawa, Japan

Dear Debito, I would like to bring the following matter to your attention.

A daycare center named Midori Hoikuen (みどり保育園), or Green Daycare Center, in Tokorozawa City in Saitama Prefecture, located just 30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro station in Tokyo, has been teaching hate speech to three-year old children daily, despite the protests of the parents of at least one biracial child in the class.

Although technically a private institution, the parents were originally instructed by the city of Tokorozawa that their child would have attend daycare there.

During the two years that the child has attended the daycare center, the parents had never once voiced a single concern about the operation of the daycare center until much to the their shock, the daycare center based a play / musical to be performed on Saturday, February 27th, 2010, on the book Little Black Sambo:

This is the very same book that several Japanese publishing companies had stopped printing due to public outrage in 1988. When the book was reprinted by one rogue publisher in 2005, many residents of Japan–foreign and Japanese–signed a petition encouraging the publishing company to use a different title and illustrations for the book due to their offensive nature:

Unfortunately, now that the book Little Black Sambo has been republished and widely distributed in Japan, it is apparent that the book is now being taught at Japanese daycare centers and quite possibly preschools and elementary schools across the country as well. At least two additional volumes of the book have also been printed by the same rogue Japanese publishing company:

In addition, another publishing company has also decided to get in on the action and has also decided to republish another version of Little Black Sambo:

It is important to note that the book Little Black Sambo was written by a white English woman during India’s colonial period, and at a time when slavery was still quite common. Although the use of the word “slavery” was in decline at the time in India, the population was routinely subjected to debt bondage by the British instead.

Here is a quick translation of some of the frightening lyrics from the song the children are being taught to enjoy singing daily at the daycare center in Tokorozawa:

“Little Black Sambo, sambo, sambo
His face and hands are completely black
Even his butt is completely black”

In the original Japanese:


Obviously, that kind of speech should never be taught to children by teachers at a daycare center. Those words are more akin to what might be taught by a white supremacist group.

Apparently, the book they daycare center is using even comes complete with demeaning picaninny images:

Now every time the 3-year old biracial child sees a black person he starts using the racial slur and mentions their black skin. The parents now fear taking their own child out in public or overseas. As the child is of such a young age, it also is not effective for the parents to tell the child not to use those derogatory words outside of daycare, as the child will only use them more.

In an attempt to be as understanding of cultural differences, as it was possible that perhaps the daycare center teachers were just not aware of the problems with the book, the parents of the biracial child both wrote letters in Japanese explaining the history of the book, why the title was discriminatory, and mentioning that they thought that illustrations showing demeaning racial stereotypes were not appropriate for young children.

The parents even showed the teachers that the term “sambo” was offensive and derogatory, both in English and in Japanese:

Beside being used as a disparaging reference to black people, the English dictionary above makes it clear that the word is also used to refer to people of “mulatto ancestry,” in other words, the offspring of parents of different racial origin.

After doing a little research, the parents soon found that the term had been in use and deemed derogatory as far back as 1748, 150 years before the book Little Black Sambo was even written. In addition, the derogatory word “sambo” has been prohibited from being broadcasted on TV or radio in Japan (放送禁止用語), which was also explained to the daycare center.

This fact that the book contains offensive slurs shouldn’t even be considered news to anyone in Japan, when when Little Black Sambo was republished in Japan in 2005, the website of the Asahi News reported that the book was said to “discriminate against black people” and the article can still be found online:

In an attempt to help the daycare center out of a sticky situation, the parents of the biracial child even had the two following books sent by express mail and took them to the daycare center:

The Japanese translation of “Sam and the Tigers”:

The Japanese translation of “The Story of Little Babaji”:

Both books above are modern, politically-correct retellings of Little Black Sambo that would not cause offense.

However, the daycare center said that they were not only already aware of the politically correct versions of the book, but has also refused to use them.

The daycare center’s excuse is that since all of the children have already learned the title Little Black Sambo, there will be no change in the title whatsoever. The staff have continued to teach the use of the discriminatory word “sambo” and encourage the children to enjoy using it.

In addition, at a meeting with one of the parents of the biracial child, the daycare center said that although they could not make any promises, they would “try” to change the lyrics of the song. However, it seems that additional lyrics were never actually taught and the biracial child and others in the school continue to use the hate speech filled one.

It appears that nothing has been done at all and that the daycare center is just trying to avoid the problem. Despite the parents’ protests, the daycare center still continues to use the racial slur in the presence of their biracial child and encourages the child’s classmates to enjoy singing the song which clearly contains hate speech.

Despite the daycare center’s claims, the fact is that there is no good excuse for racial discrimination.

It is shocking that a daycare center of all places, located just 30 minutes by train from downtown Tokyo, where the population includes a fair number of black people and numerous African Embassies, is teaching hate speech to small children. Tokorozawa’s sister cities include Decatur, Illinois in the United States (which has a 20% African American population), Changzhou in the People’s Republic of China and Anyang, Gyeonggi in South Korea. In addition, Tokorozawa is also the home of Columbia International School (コロンビアインターナショナルスクール) and several international dormitories for the international students of Waseda University:

As can be imagined, this has caused quite a lot of stress for the family with the biracial child. While understanding that this matter needs to be brought to the attention of the public, one of the parents of the biracial child has expressed concern for their family’s safety, and so wishes that the family not be further identified publicly.

Japanese society is based on shame and often slow to change. As a culture is appears that may Japanese people prefer to try to ignore problems and just hope they go away. Only by shaming organizations that discriminate and drawing the public’s attention to the problem of racial discrimination in Japan, will real change eventually come about.

Please take the time to contact the daycare center yourself, either in English or Japanese, and raise your concerns about the daycare center’s teaching of hate speech to young children. It will only take a minute of your time and contact information is provided below.

Midori Hoikuen (みどり保育園)

Tel: 04-2948-2613 (Monday to Saturday, 9 AM – 5 PM)
Fax: 04-2947-3924


Sayamagaoka 1-3003-52
Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-1161


Please also make your voice heard, by sending a carbon copy to Tokorozawa City Hall, Department of Daycare Services, which has been informed of this issue:


Thank you very much for your time. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.


Mark Thompson (

This message can be freely copied, distributed or published online. Please help raise awareness of racial discrimination.

Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.


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Hi Blog.  Back in December, exchange student Laura Petrescu offered a guest blog entry outlining the problems she had with Japan’s lack of support for NJ scholars coming on scholarships to Japanese universities, in particular Osaka University of Foreign Studies.  It was a very thoughtful essay which sparked a lot of discussion.  Now Laura has decided she’s just plain had enough, after three years here, and is getting out.  Here is an update on her situation and her reasons causing her decision.

This is bad news for Japanese institutes of higher education, which sorely need students due to the declining birthrate, and for Japan’s industrial prowess, which is poorly served by a system that cannot reap the benefits of international students being trained through our tax monies for our job market.  Arudou Debito in Calgary


Dated January 29, 2010

Hello, blog! This is Laura Petrescu again – the MEXT scholarship grantee who shared her studying experience with you all last year.

First of all, for those of you wondering why my story would be worth an update, here’s a little food for thought: what happened to me, and to other foreign students who were too bitter or too afraid to come out in the open, isn’t just a problem of one individual who couldn’t quite get used to living and studying here. It’s an entire system that rounds up gifted high-school graduates from around the world and brings them to Japan, but stops there; there are no follow-ups, no inquiries about students’ problems and general well-being, and everything is left to the universities where said graduates are placed. And, as I tried to point out in my other essay, some of these universities are not prepared to accommodate and deal with foreign students.

Before I go on, I want to thank the posters who offered their sympathy and support after the first article was published. To those who questioned my story or pointed out what I did wrong, that’s your opinion, and I respect it. Maybe my writing wasn’t clear enough… maybe different people perceive the same situation differently. Thank you for taking the time to read my story nonetheless.

On to the point: long story short, I’ve decided to waive my scholarship and return to my home country.

There are two reasons for my decision. Firstly, I’m sure that, at this rate, I wouldn’t be able to graduate. For one thing, I was failed through one of the mandatory courses to advance to the next year – by the teacher that wouldn’t acknowledge sickness as a valid reason to miss a class. Also, the research group I was assigned to for another mandatory class ignored me altogether and then complained that I wasn’t doing anything, so I would’ve likely failed that project, too. (Mind you, I tried to get involved – but being completely ignored when trying to offer a suggestion or improvement, or volunteer for a task, gets tiresome after a while.)

The second reason is that the quality of teaching overall is definitely not what I’d expected. I spent two years at my current university and I only learned a few things that could be considered useful for my field. I learned infinitely more through self-study and an online course.

It took me several months to come to this decision, and in the meantime, I started going to classes less and less. I just couldn’t bring myself to face it anymore. I doubt that my academic adviser or the people at the International Relations office noticed or bother to do anything. Thinking back, I think that by this point, they had already decided I was more trouble than I was worth. After all, I’m not the one to “humbly understand” that “these things happen” (from racist and inappropriate remarks to unjust grades, being excluded by my classmates and even one attempt of ijime that didn’t go down so well for the bully). Anyway, when I told them about my decision, they didn’t seem surprised. Quite the contrary. The International Relations people were very quick to agree that “this is probably the best thing for me” and one of then urged me to leave “as soon as possible” because it must be “so hard” (“tsurai desu ne?”) being someplace I didn’t want to be. Not one word was said about why I want to leave, or about what could be done to solve the problems on their end. I wasn’t asking for a top-to-bottom reform of the way they do things at the university or anything of the sort… just for a bit of help and understanding, and for intervention where it was needed (re: repeated inappropriate comments, etc.). Because sweeping a problem under the rug or pretending it never happened only makes it worse.

I’m off to file my papers on Monday and out of Japan in two weeks. Of course, MEXT won’t pay for my ticket, so that’s another few hundred thousand yen out of my family’s pocket. The only case in which they’d pay would be if I retired due to illness… I guess GAD (see below) doesn’t count as illness in their book, even though I largely suspect all the stress and pressure I’ve had in the last three years is what triggered it in the first place.

“But Laura”, some readers might ask, “why do we need to know all this?”

Prospective MEXT students need to know all this. Having this information can help them decide whether it’s worth to spend five years here, re-learn everything they thought they knew about Japan, struggle to fit in, be treated questionably time and again, and possibly not learn anything beyond the absolute basics of their field, just to get a piece of cardboard that says they graduated from a Japanese university. Not to mention that the allowance is hardly enough to get by once they get kicked out of their dorm – and everyone gets kicked out of their dorm after a year (or two, if they’re lucky), and most of the small university taxes are NOT paid by MEXT (I had to pay roughly 80.000 JPY when I enrolled, no idea what those were for, but there you go). Add that to the cost of moving to another city (which most foreign students have to do after their preparatory year) and later on, the key money, etc., required to move to an apartment or mansion, and it’s obvious that not only the students, but also their families will probably have to make considerable efforts as well.

Of course, I admit I’m biased here. I read the comments for my original story and I’m really happy for the people who actually had a fun and worthwhile experience here. Sadly, I’m not one of them.

I’ve wasted three years of my life here, and struggled every step of the way. I learned the language to the point where I could engage in fluent conversation and read just about anything. Writing was slow and difficult, but the important thing is, I could write (much to the astonishment of some professors). I studied the customs and mannerisms, relevant laws, and even keigo. I tried to make and keep friends, but ultimately got tired of the whole ‘petting zoo’ attitude most of the Japanese showed (“Hey guys, this is my gaijin friend! She can speak Japanese! And she can read, too!” “Wooooow…”). I’m giving up because I feel burned out. There’s only so much crap one can take before finally snapping.

Note: I was talking about GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) before. Back home, I only had a mild social anxiety problem which went away on its own. After I came to Japan (and especially after I moved from Osaka to Tokyo), it got much, much worse. Anyone who has suffered a panic attack knows how debilitating it can be – the bad ones can leave you disabled for a good few hours. Anxiety and panic attacks did me in for the first two years – that’s why my attendance was low to begin with (since it got brought up a lot in the comments of my previous post). The reason I didn’t include this with my original story is that it could probably be used to figure out who I am.

Tangent: LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”


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Hi Blog.  As a weekend Tangent, here’s a creepy article making the rounds of the non-Asian communities in Asia:  South Koreans tracking “troublemaking foreign English teachers” in Korea, and reporting their activities to the police before they can commit any further depravities.

COMMENT:  Sounds to me like a bunch of nativist busybodies with nothing better to do than stalk and spread rumor about “English teachers” (read: probably neighborhood white folks). I hope nobody has the balls to do the same thing in Japan.  And I wish some foreign press outlet wouldn’t give them a modicum of credibility by giving them a venue to express their views (viz. “To be honest,” he said, “a lot of our group members believe the teachers made [these threats of violence against them] all up.” with no counter.  LA Times, why report this as if it’s persuasive?)

In sum, these people are scummy vigilantes practicing racial profiling and public intimidation. If there is an issue of non-Koreans breaking the law, they should tell the police and let them handle it. Otherwise these are just more proactive racists, going beyond stores saying “Japanese Only”, and stretching the sentiment to the street and right up to the teachers’ front doors. It’s a means to drive foreigners paranoid and crazy.  Let’s hope it doesn’t give Japanese okaku any ideas.  Arudou Debito in Calgary


Korea activists target foreign English teachers
A South Korea group uses the Internet and other means to track foreign teachers, in an effort to ferret out illegal or unsavory behavior. The teachers say they’re victims of stalkers and rumors.,0,123114,full.story

By John M. Glionna
LA Times January 31, 2010

Reporting from Seoul
Sometimes, in his off hours, Yie Eun-woong does a bit of investigative work.

He uses the Internet and other means to track personal data and home addresses of foreign English teachers across South Korea.

Then he follows them, often for weeks at a time, staking out their apartments, taking notes on their contacts and habits.

He wants to know whether they’re doing drugs or molesting children.

Yie, a slender 40-year-old who owns a temporary employment agency, says he is only attempting to weed out troublemakers who have no business teaching students in South Korea, or anywhere else.

The volunteer manager of a controversial group known as the Anti-English Spectrum, Yie investigates complaints by South Korean parents, often teaming up with authorities, and turns over information from his efforts for possible prosecution.

Outraged teachers groups call Yie an instigator and a stalker.

Yie waves off the criticism. “It’s not stalking, it’s following,” he said. “There’s no law against that.”

Since its founding in 2005, critics say, Yie’s group has waged an invective-filled nationalistic campaign against the 20,000 foreign-born English teachers in South Korea.

On their website and through fliers, members have spread rumors of a foreign English teacher crime wave. They have alleged that some teachers are knowingly spreading AIDS, speculation that has been reported in the Korean press.

Teacher activists acknowledge that a few foreign English instructors are arrested each year in South Korea — cases mostly involving the use of marijuana — but they insist that the rate of such incidents is far lower than for the Korean population itself.

“Why are they following teachers? That’s a job for the police,” said Dann Gaymer, a spokesman for the Assn. for Teachers of English in Korea. “What this group is up to is something called vigilantism, and I don’t like the sound of that.”

In November, the president of the teachers group received anonymous e-mails threatening his life and accusing him of committing sex crimes.

“I have organized the KEK (Kill White in Korea),” one e-mail read in part. “We will start to kill and hit [foreigners] from this Christmas. Don’t make a fuss. . . . Just get out.”

Yie acknowledges that he has been questioned by investigators but denies any involvement in the threats of violence.

“To be honest,” he said, “a lot of our group members believe the teachers made this all up.”

The debate over foreign English teachers is symbolic of a social shift taking place in a nation that has long prided itself on its racial purity and singular culture, South Korean analysts say.

In less than a decade, the number of foreigners living in South Korea, with a population of nearly 49 million, has doubled to 1.2 million, many of them migrant workers from other Asian nations.

Also included are the foreign English teachers, most from the United States, drawn here by compensation packages that may include as much as $2,500 a month plus free rent and a round-trip ticket to teach a Korean population obsessed with learning from native speakers.

Yie’s efforts have the support of some educators who say many foreign teachers lack the skills to run a classroom.

“This has nothing to do with race. It is all about teaching,” said Kim Young-Lan, a sociology professor at Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul.

The government has tried to stem what it sees as a troubling number of racist incidents. A 31-year-old man was charged last year for a verbal outburst against an Indian man and a Korean woman traveling together on a city bus in Seoul.

But some teachers from abroad say Korean laws regarding their status remain discriminatory. Foreign English teachers must undergo HIV tests and criminal and academic checks that are not required of Koreans doing the same work, they say.

Yie says he has nothing against foreigners. Growing up near the city of Osan, he often rode with his taxi driver father and encountered foreigners who served at the U.S. military base there. “I learned to pick out the good guys from the bad guys,” he says

In 2005, by then living in Seoul, he joined the fledgling activist group after seeing an upsetting posting on a website: claims by foreign teachers that they had slept with Korean students.

Yie, who is single and has no children, volunteered to help organize an effort to rein in such behavior.

“People were angry; most of them were parents with kids,” he said. “We all got together online and traded information.”

Gaymer says he doubts that such a posting ever existed. Instead, he says, Koreans were angry about photos posted on a job website showing foreigners dancing with scantily clad Korean women.

“They were consenting adults at a party with foreign men,” he said. “They weren’t doing anything bad or illegal.”

Yie’s group, Gaymer says, has used the incident as a rallying call. “They’re posting online pictures of teachers’ apartments and whipping each other into a nationalist frenzy, creating a hysteria against all English teachers, troublemakers or not,” he said.

Yie, who says his group is managed by half a dozen key figures and has 300 other members, created a system for parents and others to report bad teachers. The group says it has contributed to several arrests, including the recent bust of several foreign instructors for gambling and marijuana possession.

“I’m being called a racist who judges the entire group by the mistakes of the few,” Yie said. “I’m trying to look at these teachers with an open mind.”

Saturday Tangent: Historian Howard Zinn, author of “People’s History of US”, dies at 87


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Hi Blog. It is with great sadness that I write to you about the death of one of my personal heroes, Howard Zinn. A person who departed from historical orthodoxy to write history books from the minority point of view. His “People’s History of the United States” is a must-read.  Good man. Already missed. Obits below.

That’s one less of the ideological lions out there who have made an impression on me, speaking up for the little guy as much as possible, and narrating against the grain with tireless activism no matter how ripe the age. Including Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Ralph Nader…

Arudou Debito in Sapporo


FILE – This 2006 picture shows Howard Zinn in New York. Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist “A People’s History of the United States” sold millions of copies to become an alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010. He was 87. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh) (Dima Gavrysh, AP / June 26, 2006)
HILLEL ITALIE AP National Writer
January 27, 2010

Howard Zinn, author of ‘People’s History’ and left-wing historian, dies at 87 in California

Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist “A People’s History of the United States” sold a million copies and became an alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday. He was 87.

Zinn died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, Calif., daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn said. The historian was a resident of Auburndale, Mass.

Published in 1980 with little promotion and a first printing of 5,000, “A People’s History” was — fittingly — a people’s best-seller, attracting a wide audience through word of mouth and reaching 1 million sales in 2003. Although Zinn was writing for a general readership, his book was taught in high schools and colleges throughout the country, and numerous companion editions were published, including “Voices of a People’s History,” a volume for young people and a graphic novel

At a time when few politicians dared even call themselves liberal, “A People’s History” told an openly left-wing story. Zinn charged Christopher Columbus and other explorers with genocide, picked apart presidents from Andrew Jackson to Franklin D. Roosevelt and celebrated workers, feminists and war resisters.

Even liberal historians were uneasy with Zinn. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. once said: “I know he regards me as a dangerous reactionary. And I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.”

In a 1998 interview with The Associated Press, Zinn acknowledged he was not trying to write an objective history, or a complete one. He called his book a response to traditional works, the first chapter — not the last — of a new kind of history.

“There’s no such thing as a whole story; every story is incomplete,” Zinn said. “My idea was the orthodox viewpoint has already been done a thousand times.”

“A People’s History” had some famous admirers, including Matt Damon and Affleck. The two grew up near Zinn, were family friends and gave the book a plug in their Academy Award-winning screenplay for “Good Will Hunting.” When Affleck nearly married Jennifer Lopez, Zinn was on the guest list.

“He taught me how valuable — how necessary dissent was to democracy and to America itself,” Affleck said in a statement. “He taught that history was made by the everyman, not the elites. I was lucky enough to know him personally and I will carry with me what I learned from him — and try to impart it to my own children — in his memory.”

Oliver Stone was a fan, as well as Springsteen, whose bleak “Nebraska” album was inspired in part by “A People’s History.” The book was the basis of a 2007 documentary, “Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind,” and even showed up on “The Sopranos,” in the hand of Tony’s son, A.J.

Zinn himself was an impressive-looking man, tall and rugged with wavy hair. An experienced public speaker, he was modest and engaging in person, more interested in persuasion than in confrontation.

Born in New York in 1922, Zinn was the son of Jewish immigrants who as a child lived in a rundown area in Brooklyn and responded strongly to the novels of Charles Dickens. At age 17, urged on by some young Communists in his neighborhood, he attended a political rally in Times Square.

“Suddenly, I heard the sirens sound, and I looked around and saw the policemen on horses galloping into the crowd and beating people. I couldn’t believe that,” he told the AP.

“And then I was hit. I turned around and I was knocked unconscious. I woke up sometime later in a doorway, with Times Square quiet again, eerie, dreamlike, as if nothing had transpired. I was ferociously indignant. … It was a very shocking lesson for me.”

War continued his education. Eager to help wipe out the Nazis, Zinn joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 and even persuaded the local draft board to let him mail his own induction notice. He flew missions throughout Europe, receiving an Air Medal, but he found himself questioning what it all meant. Back home, he gathered his medals and papers, put them in a folder and wrote on top: “Never again.”

He attended New York University and Columbia University, where he received a doctorate in history. In 1956, he was offered the chairmanship of the history and social sciences department at Spelman College, an all-black women’s school in then-segregated Atlanta.

During the civil rights movement, Zinn encouraged his students to request books from the segregated public libraries and helped coordinate sit-ins at downtown cafeterias. Zinn also published several articles, including a then-rare attack on the Kennedy administration for being too slow to protect blacks.

He was loved by students — among them a young Alice Walker, who later wrote “The Color Purple” — but not by administrators. In 1963, Spelman fired him for “insubordination.” (Zinn was a critic of the school’s non-participation in the civil rights movement.) His years at Boston University were marked by opposition to the Vietnam War and by feuds with the school’s president, John Silber.

Zinn retired in 1988, spending his last day of class on the picket line with students in support of an on-campus nurses’ strike. Over the years, he continued to lecture at schools and to appear at rallies and on picket lines.

Besides “A People’s History,” Zinn wrote several books, including “The Southern Mystique,” ”LaGuardia in Congress” and the memoir, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn that Damon narrated. He also wrote three plays.

One of Zinn’s last public writings was a brief essay, published last week in The Nation, about the first year of the Obama administration.

“I’ve been searching hard for a highlight,” he wrote, adding that he wasn’t disappointed because he never expected a lot from Obama.

“I think people are dazzled by Obama’s rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president — which means, in our time, a dangerous president — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.”

Zinn’s longtime wife and collaborator, Roslyn, died in 2008. They had two children, Myla and Jeff.

Howard Zinn dies at 87; author of best-selling ‘People’s History of the United States’
Activist collapsed in Santa Monica, where he was scheduled to deliver a lecture.

By Robert J. Lopez, Los Angeles Times,0,5610858.story

Howard Zinn, a professor, author and social activist who inspired a generation on the American left and whose book “A People’s History of the United States” sold more than 1 million copies and redefined the historical role of working-class people as agents of political change, died Wednesday. He was 87.

Zinn apparently had a heart attack in Santa Monica, where he was visiting friends and scheduled to speak, said his daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn. He lived in Auburndale, Mass.

Zinn’s political views were shaped, in part, by his experiences as a bombardier for the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.

“My father cared about so many important issues,” Kabat-Zinn said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I think the one he was really most eloquent about is that he thought there was no such thing as a just war.”

Indeed, in a 2001 opinion piece published in The Times, Zinn wrote about being horrified by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and equally horrified by the response of U.S. political leaders, who called for retaliation.

“They have learned nothing, absolutely nothing, from the history of the 20th century, from a hundred years of retaliation, vengeance, war, a hundred years of terrorism and counter-terrorism, of violence met with violence in an unending cycle of stupidity,” he wrote.

“A People’s History” was published in 1980 and had an initial printing of 5,000 copies. But largely through word of mouth, the book attracted a major following and reached 1 million sales in 2003.

The work, which hails ordinary Americans such as farmers and union activists as heroes, accused Christopher Columbus of genocide and criticized early U.S. leaders as proponents of the status quo. “A People’s History” has been taught in high schools and colleges across the nation.

The book was the basis for a History Channel documentary called “The People Speak” that aired in the fall.

The executive producer was actor Matt Damon, who was raised in Boston near Zinn.

“From the moment we had any influence in this town, we’ve been trying to get this project off the ground,” Damon told reporters in July. “It demonstrates how everyday citizens have changed the course of history.”

Zinn was born in 1922 to a working-class family in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was one of four sons whose father worked as a waiter, window cleaner and pushcart peddler.

In his 1994 memoir, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” Zinn recalled that his parents used discount coupons to buy the complete works of Charles Dickens. The novelist “aroused in me tumultuous emotions” about wealth, class and poverty, Zinn wrote.

Zinn received his doctorate from Columbia University.

He was a professor emeritus at Boston University, where he was a familiar speaker at Vietnam War protests. He also taught at a number of institutions, including Brooklyn College, the University of Paris and Spelman College in Atlanta in the late 1950s and early ’60s as the civil rights movement was taking hold in the South.

Former California state Sen. Tom Hayden recalled meeting Zinn while he was at Spelman, then an all-black women’s school.

“He was basically integrating himself into the world of black students,” Hayden said Wednesday.

Hayden said Zinn became actively involved in the movement as an advisor and leader. The two later protested the war in Vietnam and worked on other social justice issues, Hayden said.

“He had a profound influence on raising the significance of social movements as the real forces of social change in our country,” Hayden said. “He gave us our heritage and he gave us a pride in that heritage.”

Zinn was scheduled to speak Feb. 4 at the Santa Monica Museum of Art for an event titled “A Collection of Ideas . . . the People Speak.”

On its web page, the museum said that it was “deeply saddened” by Zinn’s death and that the event would go on as a tribute to Zinn’s life as a social activist.

Paramedics responded to a 911 call about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and took Zinn to Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, said Santa Monica Police Sgt. Jay Trisler.

Zinn was in a hotel when rescuers arrived, according to his daughter.

In addition to his daughter, Zinn is survived by his son, Jeff Zinn, and five grandchildren, according to his family. His wife Roslyn died in 2008.


Tidy free FCCJ Scholarship up for grabs, deadline Feb 15


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Hi all. This here’s a free scholarship from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan for people who are interested in journalism and who are undergraduate or graduate students. If any of your students (or you, if you qualify) are interested in applying, details are below, courtesy of Eric Johnston. Spread the word. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Each year, the FCCJ Scholarship Committee awards up to one million yen in scholarship funds to university students who have demonstrated a serious interest in journalism. The fund was originally established by former FCCJ member Swadish DeRoy and is now supported through generous donations from individuals and businesses dedicated to excellence in journalism. Our Committee also conducts student workshops in Tokyo and Kansai that have drawn hundreds of students seeking to understand the basics of our profession.

But the Scholarship Fund is the heart of our committee work and we are anxious to reach as many applicants for this year’s fund as possible. We would thus like to request that you let as many possible applicants as possible know about the fund. Students do not have to be journalism majors. They merely need to be currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate students who have shown a serious interest in pursuing journalism as a career. Both Japanese and non-Japanese may apply.

Details about the fund can be found on the FCCJ website at

But hurry. The deadline for entries is February 15.

If there are any questions, please feel free to contact either myself at or Hitoshi Kubo at: or at

Please help us make this year’s Scholarship Awards the best ever.

Sincerely Yours,
Eric Johnston
FCCJ Scholarship Committee


Japan Times on proposal to convert Itami Airport into “International Campus Freedom City”


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Hi Blog. Young-Turk Osaka Governor Hashimoto has been suggesting some interesting reforms recently, one of them, according to the Japan Times, is to close down Osaka Itami Airport (relocating all flights to KIX), and to use the land for creating an international campus, where international schools and universities would be located and the lingua franca English.

On the surface of it (regardless of the efficacy of essentially creating a Dejima for ideas and culture, nestled right next to Osaka proper), it’s an intriguing idea with great potential, and not one that in principle can oppose (what could a move like this hurt if successful, except the natural insular order of things, which does deserve some change).  It’s already incurring a lot of opposition from entrenched interests (read full article at JT site).  What do other Readers think?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Airport wars roil Kansai region
Osaka, Hyogo leaders clash over hub plans
The Japan Times Friday, Jan. 15, 2010

By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
(pertinent excerpt)

Under [Osaka Gov] Hashimoto’s plan, Itami [Airport]’s 400 hectares would be turned into what he calls the International Campus Freedom City. Up to 20,000 people, including many foreigners, would live in the area, which would be home to international schools and universities. The common language would be English.

“To turn out talented workers of international stature, all elementary, junior high and high schools in the international free city will be instructed in English,” the plan reads.

“Along with international schools and universities, home-stays with resident foreigners will provide practical education to students and all signs in the city will be in English. Young people from around Japan who want to improve their English will gather, and it will become a tourist spot, with shops and tourist facilities reminding people of overseas,”

The governor envisions an influx of highly skilled foreign workers in certain sectors who would serve as language tutors to interested Japanese students.

“Along with attracting highly skilled foreigners who specialize in biotechnology, new energy and other strategic industries like cutting edge medicine, incentives such as reducing income and residency taxes for foreigners who offer home-stays to Japanese wishing to learn a foreign language in a native linguistic environment could be given,” the plan reads.

Ido also sees an international future for Itami, but one where foreigners arrive and go elsewhere, not live, work or serve as language tutors and tourist attractions…
Full article at

Saturday Tangent: DNA checks of “hakujin” at my university (?!?)


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Hi Blog.  As a Saturday Tangent, let me relate something rather funny that happened to me two days ago at my workplace, a university (i.e., Hokkaido Information University, Ebetsu, Hokkaido):

It’s currently exam time (I did more than 110 individual 20-minute oral interviews over the past two weeks, which may explain my recent short-temperedness over things like overseas racist publishers).  And right in the middle of them we have this singular event.

One of my co-workers is this medical researcher who fancies himself internationalized, cos he says “hello” to me as we pass in the corridors (I answer back こんにちは, of course).   Well, yesterday, right in between two interviews, he pops in my office with a student saying he has a favor to ask (and sidles up to me as if it’s a given that I will oblige — his students had several vials in his hand all ready for my obliging).

Sez he (in Japanese): “We need a strand of your hair please. We’re conducting experiments.”

When I backed off a bit with amusement and asked what for, he said, “We will keep the results private, but we need to do some DNA tests.”

When I asked whatever for, and why me, he said, “We’re testing for a special “wild gene” (yes, he said that, in English) that white people (hakujin) have.”

I said, sorry, find yourself another hakujin. They slunk out.

You’d think they’d know by now not to bother a person like me with stuff like that. But no.  (And I just checked with one other “hakujin” in my school — he didn’t get asked.  So double points for effrontery.)

Anyway, the use of the “hakujin” here is what set me off. But then again, so would “gaikokujin” (especially since it would have been incorrect; they knew that much). In fact, any word would have set me off. The request to be guinea-pigged thusly for whatever reason was something I found quite offensive.

What a funny situation! No doubt my friend Olaf will say (as he should), “Why does this stuff keep happening to Debito?!”  Guess it’s my fate here in Japan.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Query: What to do about J children being rude towards NJ adults?


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Hi Blog. Got a question from Reader Kimberly who wrote this to The Community yahoogroups list yesterday. About kids in Japan who are rude (if not unwittingly racist) towards NJ adults, and they are not cautioned or taught not to be so by surrounding J adults? What do other Readers think or do? Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Kimberly writes:

Hello everyone, I’ve been meaning to ask for some advice on this for awhile… how do you deal with it when you get asked something inappropriate or hear a discriminatory comment from a child too young to have any real malicious intent? As my own kids get older I’m finding more and more situations where a child just has to give a smart-alecky HARO! or ask if we’re going to commute to yochien by airplane… and I’m torn between not wanting to hurt the kid’s feelings when I KNOW a four year old probably isn’t trying to be mean, and wanting to teach them something because I may be the only one who ever tries. If they just imitate what their parents or TV tells them to do, the next generation won’t be any more open-minded than this one. :S

Twice in the past couple of weeks this kind of thing has happened, and I dont think I handled either very well. The first was at my son’s swim class, an older child getting dressed for the class after his “whispered” (loudly enough to be heard across the room) to his mom “Hey mom, that woman looks like an English-person (eigo no hito, not a person from England) but she’s speaking Japanese!” The mom shushed him and gave me an apologetic look… which is better I suppose than encouraging it, but she didn’t come back with “Skin color has nothing to do with what language(s) a person can or can’t speak,” so I kind of wish I’d said something…. but would it have been inappropriate to try to discipline someone else’s kid?

The second was at the community center over winter vacation, a girl probably about 7 or 8 years old asked “Did you come from a foreign country?” And I said “Nope, I came from [town where I live]” Probably a good smart-alecky comment for an older kid or adult who knows better… but I probably could have actually told the kid that that was an inappropriate question instead of just leaving her confused.

With adults I’m so used to ignoring the person completely, or coming back with “If you’re looking for English lessons, there’s an Aeon in Parco” or something…. that’s probably not the best approach with kids, since they’re still young enough to learn to be more colorblind. I don’t know… my son’s about to start yochien so I’m sure there will only be more opportunities, any suggestions on how to be a POSITIVE influence on these kids, not by teaching them English or the history of Halloween, but by giving them an example of a mixed family who’s just… a normal family after all?

Thanks in advice for any suggestions. 🙂 Kimberly

Andrew Smallacombe, fellow Reader, replies:

Great question, Kimberly.

My eldest (ethnic Japanese mother, Caucasian father) goes to a regular kindergarten, which means that I occassionally have to go there. Fortunately, she has responded to kids’ questions on my behalf – “Are you a foreigner?”
“No, he’s from Australia.”

I have chewed out little kids on occassion.

I remember back 5 or so years ago when I was still at Nova. A particularly obnoxious kid responded to my instructions with “urusai, gaijin!” (“shut up, foreigner!”). I chewed him out there and then, and followed up with the procedures in place. Nothing was made of it.

A little over a year ago I took a complete stranger to task.
Two young kids, I assume brother and sister, were approaching me as I was returning home. The little boy suddenly burst out repeatedly “Taiheiyo sensotte nani?” (“What’s the Pacific War?”)
I ignored him, and the girl told him to stop because it was rude. He told her that it didn’t matter because I was a gaijin.
I turned around and blasted him for being rude, making racist comments and assuming that I wouldn’t be able to understand him.
I immediately smiled to the girl and told her everything was alright, and she seemed fine.
In hindsight, I would have liked to have handled this better, but I’ve run out of patience for this kind of thing.

I put part of the blame for the trouble we experience now on TV. Have you seen some of the images of foreign nationals on kids TV programming? NHK Educational boasts cartoons featuring big-nosed foreigners who speak in weird accents. A current early-evening show aimed at primary school kids depicts caucasians as lazy slobs. Earlier incarnations (which I have mentioned on this site) have featured Westerners merely as the instruments of punishment for the losing team.

And teaching a class of 7 year-olds was torture when every utterance was greeted with Taka and Toshi’s “Obei ka?”, or a “Mr. James” impression.

Kids have trouble grasping certain concepts. Like that I might actually NOT live at the school or in another country. Or that I have been living here since before they were born. This is not their fault, nor is it inherently bad.

But to think that the respect they are expected to show adults is suddenly vetoed by my ethnicity, well, that’s another matter.

Other responses?

Bern Mulvey on the odd MEXT university accreditation system (JALT 2009 powerpoint presentation)


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hello Blog.  Dr Bern Mulvey of Iwate University gave a presentation for PALE at the national JALT Conference last November.  Entitled “UNIVERSITY ACCREDITATION IN JAPAN: PROBLEMS AND POSSIBILITIES“, it outlines how Monkasho (the infamous Education Ministry in Japan) certifies universities as teaching institutions, and what measures it takes to ensure quality control. The presentation shows a lot of the tricks and sleights of hands the universities do to keep their status (particularly in regards to FD — as in that buzzword “Faculty Development”, and peer review) without actually changing much.  I asked his permission to reproduce his powerpoint on, so here it is as fifteen slides (jpg format, click to expand in browser).  Or if you prefer to download it in the original .ppt format, click here.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Kyodo: GOJ responsible for hardship facing Ainu, incl racial profiling by J police on the street!


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a little article about how other minorities have it in Japan — the Ainu indigenous peoples, for one.  According to this, people of Ainu descent are even being racially profiled by police on the street just like NJ!  Anyone still want to argue that the NPA is not training the police to target foreigners (defined as “foreign looking”, hence the Ainu getting snagged)?  Even the police themselves below justify their actions as ferreting out NJ overstayers.  Read on.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Former panel member says state responsible for hardship facing Ainu
Kyodo News/Japan Today Sunday 06th December 2009,
Courtesy SC
A member of a disbanded government panel on policies related to the Ainu said Saturday that the panel wanted to send a message to the government and the public that state policy has imposed hardships on the indigenous people and caused discrimination against them. ‘

‘We wanted to make it clear and tell the people in our report that the state was responsible for the suffering imposed on the Ainu and the disparities (between them and the majority group),’’ Teruki Tsunemoto, head of the Hokkaido University Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies, told a symposium on Ainu policy in Tokyo.

Tsunemoto was one of the eight members of the panel, which was set up after Japan recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people last year and issued the report in July this year. The panel urged the government in the report to take concrete steps to improve the lives of Ainu people and promote public understanding of them through education.

Stressing the need to take specific measures for the Ainu, Tsunemoto, also a professor in constitutional law, said, ‘‘The Ainu have existed uniquely as an indigenous people and they have become a minority group not because they wanted to be but because the majority group of the Japanese advanced into their native land.’‘

‘‘The Ainu did not agree to become minority, so the state must take responsibility for driving them into their current status,’’ he said. ‘‘The panel did not propose providing ‘benefits’ to the Ainu but enhancing Ainu policies, based on the state’s political responsibility.’‘

A survey has shown that Ainu people still lead underprivileged lives, with their income levels and university advancement rate remaining low, compared with the national averages.

At the symposium, some Ainu people living in Tokyo and its vicinity shared their experiences of discrimination and expressed hope for future policy.

Akemi Shimada said, ‘‘People do not know much about the Ainu. Some people in Tokyo said to me when they saw me wearing traditional Ainu clothes, ‘Do the Ainu still exist?’ and ‘Are you from the Ainu country?’ I responded, ‘Where is the Ainu country?’‘’

Tomoko Yahata said she was stopped and searched in Tokyo nine times over the six months through October. ‘‘Responding to my question as to why they had stopped me, the police officers said it is because there are many overstaying foreigners,’’ she said.

Many Ainu must be facing similar difficulties as they now live nationwide, she suggested.

The Ainu at the meeting said they want sufficient support to improve their livelihoods while seeking their own space where they can pursue cultural activities such as traditional dancing, embroidery and cooking.


One NJ exchange student’s rotten experience as a J MOE-MEXT ryuugakusei


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  What follows is a guest essay from a 3-year exchange student on the GOJ dime who has come to Japan to study and found it highly undesirable.  Others who have had similar experiences, please comment.  All names etc have been changed to protect the guilty.  If interested in getting in touch with the author, please contact me at and I’ll forward your enquiry.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo



My name is Laura Petrescu, and I am a Monbukagakusho-MEXT scholarship grantee that has been living in Japan for almost three years. When I came here, I was expecting a high-quality academic environment and an overall positive experience. I was disappointed time and again by irregularities, double standards, absurd situations and blatant displays of racism.

Therefore, I thought I’d share my ryuugaku experience so far. I think that by getting the word out I’m giving prospective foreign students a chance to learn ‘other’ truth about living and studying in Japan. On the surface, things might look good – after all, who would say no to going to college for free? Still, there are many things that can turn an average ryuugaku experience into a complete disappointment and a waste of time.

A little background information:

I came to Japan in spring 2007. I spent my first year in Japan at the former Osaka University of Foreign Studies (currently, the Foreign Languages division of Osaka University). Here, myself and other foreign students studied Japanese and other tangent subjects.

At the beginning of our second year here, each of us was sent to a university (supposedly) of his or her choosing. Things went downhill for a lot of us afterward, and plenty of people have already given up their scholarships and returned home. Those of us who stayed are still dealing with the ups and downs of an inherenty flawed system that seems to care more about pretty numbers on a sheet of paper, and less about the overall well-being of each of us, as a person.

What follows are the ten major reasons that essentially ruined the whole “Study in Japan! Free forever!” thing for me.

#1. Double standards for Asian and non-Asian foreign students at OUFS
At the OUFS foreign students’ dorm, Asian student groups were allowed to get away with pretty much anything, from shooting fireworks indoors and setting a curtain on fire (subsequently leading to foreign students’ parties being banned on campus grounds) to using shower stalls as public restrooms and even cheating on tests. Several students displayed an increasingly reckless behavior and walked away with a mild warning and nothing more.

On a side note, the regular Monbukagakusho newsletter that gets sent to all foreign students mostly features Asians and information for Asians looking for jobs, etc. I think I’ve only seen a non-Asian interviewed once.

Back to OUFS, non-Asian students were harassed and ridiculed by teachers and dorm staff on several occasions. One particular incident comes to mind, where a white girl’s Japanese language abilities were ridiculed in class by none other than her teacher, to the point where she broke down crying. The Asian students in said class (two Koreans and two Singaporeans) watched and laughed. For the record, the girl had passed the JLPT-1 examination and was one of the best Japanese speakers I know.

Half a year later, Asian students had a barbecue. When non-Asians did the same thing one day later, the dorm supervisor called the campus guards and we were forced to “cease and desist” immediately. We asked why there was no problem if Asians did it, but if we did it, we were somehow in the wrong. Mid-conversation, he turned, said something unintelligible in English (even though we’d all been talking to him in Japanese the whole time) and stormed off.

Another time, due to a faulty English translation of a notice, almost all foreign students ended up locked out of their rooms. All rooms were scheduled for a fire alarm maintenance, and al of us were notified. The Japanese notice (which most of us couldn’t read at the time) added, “出かけるときは鍵を持って行ってください”. The English translation was, “Please keep your key.” Guess who got yelled at when gingerly trying to point out the mistake: a native English speaker, who was told by the dorm supervisor something along the lines of, “I studied in the US for 10 years, I know English!” and promptly dismissed. I got yelled at too, when I politely asked the supervisor to please let me in my own room.

#2. Pressure and “mind games” at OUFS
As far as “mind games” go, myself and another student were in dire straits for having missed some classes (although it was never made clear that attendance mattered, and in both our countries attendance does NOT count towards a grade). On a side note, I missed most of those classes due to medical reasons. The program supervisor set up a “trial” with the two of us, himself and another teacher, and spent an hour and a half making us believe that we’d screwed up irrevocably and we’d face grave consequences, possibly even failing the year and being deported straight away.

At the end of the meeting, he gave each of us a paper that said we renounced our scholarship benefits then and there. And all we had to do was to sign on the dotted line and that would be “better for us, right?”. Naturally, we both refused, much to the supervisor’s bafflement. Ironically enough, an Asian student had an even worse attendance record, but they never attempted to pressure him into giving up.

#3. Poor-quality teaching and evaluation at OUFS
Some teachers at OUFS were, in my humble opinion, hardly qualified to teach. One spent most of the class time talking about anything but what he was supposed to teach, and even going so far as to ask inappropriate questions, such as, “So, do you have a boyfriend yet?”. He’d skip from topic to topic, ramble for a bit, then move on to another topic before just as suddenly going back to supposed “teaching”.

Towards the end of the year, the same teacher called me and another student to his office and proceeded to tell us that, due to poor attendance, he would be “forced” to fail us both. He then asked us why we missed so many classes. I answered first. “You weren’t teaching anything”, I said. “And also, your class has nothing to do with my major. It’s boring. And I don’t care.” The other student said nothing… and in the end, we both passed. The bottom line is, nobody failed their first year at OUFS. The program was simply made that way.

Exams were a major pain for hard-working students. Students who couldn’t speak a lick Japanese scored top grades, while people who actually studied everything there was to study scored 80% or less. The reason? Exams always consisted of the simplest possible Japanese language questions, so that everyone would supposedy pass with flying colors. It was easy enough to lose sight of simple Kanji characters when you spent weeks drilling complicated ones into your head. To make things worse, classes moved at a pace too quick for anyone to actually understand everything, and revision time was basically limited to one or two pop quizzes a week, with new stuff to learn following straight after. The bottom line is, students who couldn’t speak a lick of Japanese got into top-level Japanese universities, while fluent speakers / writers had to settle for the “average” ones.
Besides the language itself, we were taught Economy, Culture, History and Politics in Japanese from day one, even though more than half of us had zero Japanese knowledge (our orientation guide specifically stated that no previous knowledge of the language is required – apparently, that changed from 2008). Our textbooks were in intermediate or advanced Japanese with plenty of technical terms. Some of the teachers didn’t even speak English, so they couldn’t help us understand things better, either.

#4. Disregard of personal university choices
Myself and another student with poorer grades than mine both opted for Osaka University as our first university of choice. Inexplicably, he got in, while I was sent to Tokyo ○○ University (third on my list). I had solid reasons to stay in Osaka (Osaka University had the exact course I wanted to major in, while the other one did not; and also my fiance of that time lived in Osaka with his family).

I went through every possible avenue to try and overturn the decision, but what chances would I have against a system that just doesn’t care? I wonder what was the point in making us write our “choice list” (入学希望大学リスト) in the first place, when it was clear that: a- “advanced” students were among the only ones who got into their university of choice, and b- the selection criteria were shady to say the least.

#5. Misinformation by Tokyo ○○ staff at orientation meeting
At a university orientation meeting (大学説明会) at OUFS, I asked the Tokyo ○○ representatives whether I’d be able to obtain a practice license if I completed a bachelor’s degree . The answer was, “Yes, definitely”. This is what made me include Tokyo ○○ on my options list to begin with. I only found out much, much later – after my entrance examination – that this was not the case, and I would need to also complete a masters’ course in order to get my license – maybe.

#6. Injustice at Tokyo ○○ and no intervention by university staff
This one still stings, even though it’s been more than a year and I’ve passed the class (courtesy of a much more understanding teacher) since. In my first year, my Information Technology (情報処理) teacher failed me, even though:

– My highschool major was Information Technology;

– I knew more about computers, operating systems, standard programs, programming languages and the Internet than anyone in that class, including the teacher;

– I had a good attendance record that was not in violation of university rules;

– I completed all my assignments on time, including my end-of-year presentation;

– I’ve been using computers since I was 10, and sitting through half a year of, “This is a computer. To turn it on, you press this button… no, not that one!” was a sheer nightmare.

The teacher came up with an extraordinary set of rules so he could fail me. I wrote to the teacher, then went to the Student Affairs division, then all the way to the head of my faculty — where I was promptly told that it was “his class, his rules”. The IT teacher even made an error while tallying attendance records (and I had proof). That was never even brought into discussion. In the end, I had an uncontrolled burst out (a sarcastic equivalent of “O rly?” in Japanese), for which I naturally had to apologize afterward. Nobody apologized for the “discomfort” this situation had caused me.

#7. Little to no support for “gakubu” foreign students
I’m a foreigner. I was only given one year to master the Japanese language so I could take courses in Japanese. Is that enough? With a complex language such as Japanese, definitely not. Sadly though, most courses were exclusively in Japanese, with tons of references, print-outs and projects in Japanese. Some teachers were very supportive, yes. But other teachers were not.

Some didn’t even allow the use of electronic dictionaries (電子辞書) at end-of-term examinations. While my listening and understanding (聴きとり) are on a fairly good level, academic language has never been my forte. One particular teacher didn’t want to give me the extra time I needed to finish my paper (I write very slowly), and consequently, instead of getting an A, as I should have, I got a D. I knew all the answers. I just didn’t have time to put everything on paper.
To put it bluntly, my grades sucked, and I gave it my all. At least in my first year. By the second year, I’d already earned myself the “honorable” status of being the perpetual “dumb kid”. In my country, I graduated high-school with full marks and was among the top 10 students in my promotion country-wide and with several national and international awards under my belt. Go figure.

#8. Inappropriate (and sometimes racist) student attitude; teachers do nothing
My first-ever group project at Tokyo ○○ was a four-people effort to do some research on a key Buddhist figure. After groups were made, one Japanese student exclaimed, “I can’t work with a ryuugakusei! You’ll just mess things up!”

In my second year, on a different project, I became the resident ghost: I’d speak, and the others would pretend they didn’t hear a thing. Once, I gave a suggestion and was met with silence. A few minutes later, a Japanese made the same suggestion and was granted the standard “Oooooh, you’re so SMART!” response. On the same group, I was told, “You Americans don’t understand how the Japanese think, so your opinion means nothing.” Excuse me? I’m [Eastern European]. And my opinion should weight the same as everyone else’s – if not more, considering I’ve seen the world, whilemost of these kids have lived their whole lives in their own little fairytale bubble.

#9. “If you’re sick, that’s unfortunate, but I don’t care.”
This one nearly had me in tears. I missed a class twice, both times for medical reasons. I let my teacher know and brought proof from the clinic. His response after the second time? “If you miss one more class, you’ll fail the course” – which, by the way, is compulsory. At the time of my second absence, I was a flu suspect and was expressly told to go and get myself tested ASAP, and do NOT, under any circumstances, set foot inside the campus (this was during the swine flu hysteria). Hypothetically speaking, if I had any kind of flu, this could have started an epidemic at school. Guess who would’ve gotten the blame later.

#10. “Me” vs. “them”
I’ve had plenty of cases where I’d try to strike a conversation at university, only to be met with the standard “Wa~i! It talks!” response. Nearly all the conversations I managed to have were the invariable “gaijin”-themed discussions: where I’m from, what things are like “over there”, why I came to Japan, etc., etc., interlaced with the typical “Sugo~i! Your Japanese is SO good!” (and variations). This thing dragged on even with people I’d known for months. It gets tiresome after a while. I was never a part of my class, per say; always left out of conversations, decision-making in projects, “nomikais”, etc. And I tried. I really did. It’s almost like there is an invisible wall between me and the rest of the students in my class.

To sum up…

Some people might say, “You knew what you were getting into when you came to Japan! And if you didn’t, all you had to do was research!”. I got most of my information from the Japanese embassy and from general advice websites by MEXT and JASSO. I had no idea what I was in for. That’s part of the reason I decided to write this open letter.

Yes, throughout these three years, I met some extraordinary people at both universities who genuinely tried to help. As an old [Eastern European] saying goes, “One flower doesn’t bring springtime.” It seems to me that foreign students are little more than pretty numbers on a paper as far as MEXT is concerned. (Oh, on that note, last year they cut down our scholarships in an effort to get even more foreign students into Japan, when our current scholarship was not enough to cover living expenses in certain areas to begin with – especially in Tokyo, where rent alone is sky-high. And they got away with it. Naturally.)

On the outside, I may not seem like a “serious” student as far as the Japanese standards go. The truth is, I’m already starting to give up. I realized that even though I did my best, I would never raise to the expectations of my university – especially where written papers and attendance are concerned. It still puzzles me how Japanese students can drag themselves to class even when they’re  so sick they can barely stand. I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. Doctor’s orders. (Of course, I have no paper to prove it, because my physician back home is not Japanese).


Advice re Japan Law Society, Tokyo/Osaka association of NJ lawyers: they really won’t pay you if they invite you to speak


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a Sunday Tangent, let me express some long-overdue dissatisfaction with an organization that I gave a presentation to quite some time ago.

The Osaka-based Japan Law Society (AKA Kansai Attorneys Registered Abroad) invited me to speak for them on September 4, 2008.   I did just that.  According to their website:

September 4, 2008 Non-Japanese Residents and the Japanese Legal System: Cognitive Dissonances to Consider Arudo, Prof. Debito (David Ardwinckle) [sic] speaker’s home page Constitutional & Civil Rights

I spent a number of days on my powerpoint (see it here) and my handout (see it here), staying a couple of days in an Osaka dive hotel at my own expense working on it.  I tried to make a seminar worthy of overseas educational credit (which is what their Continuing Legal Education program is about, see FOOTNOTE below; I have emails indicating that they applied for it, and they had me fill out an application for it).  Thus I believe people would pay money for this class if it were offered overseas.

But after I gave the presentation, I was paid not a sou.  This was not made suitably clear to me in advance, and when I inquired about this situation last month, this is the exchange we had.  I sent:

2009/10/29 Arudou Debito wrote:
Tokyo Coordinator Ms. Akane Yoshida Licensed in New York
Legal Department Kao Corporation
Tel: 03-3660-7049 Fax: 03-3660-7942

CLE Coordinator
Mr. S. McIntire ALLEN (源 眞久)
California Bar License #210750 & New York Bar License #2785913 Not licensed in Japan
phone +81-(0)50-5806-8816 or +1 (310) 929-7256 facsimile: +81-(0)6-6131-6347 mobile: +81-(0)90-5469-7675
voice/video: Skype gaikokubengoshi

To Whom it May Concern

My name is Arudou Debito, and I spoke for the CLE on September 4, 2008 on “Non-Japanese Residents and the Japanese Legal System: Cognitive Dissonances to Consider”. Record is on your website at

I apologize for the lateness of this letter, but I have been checking over my records recently, and I have yet to receive payment for costs (transportation, accommodation) or for speaking honorarium for this occasion.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience how much we have outstanding, and I will send you remittance details.

Thanks very much for your attention.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo



Their response:

From: “S. McIntire ALLEN”
Date: October 29, 2009 5:46:36 PM JST
To: Arudou Debito
Subject: Re: To Japan Law Society: Some unfinished business from September 2008, from Arudou Debito


From the very beginning we explained more than once that there was no honorarium, and you acknowledged that in a phone conversation with me when asking me about where to find inexpensive accommodations. I told you we are a volunteer organization, and you were our second speaker ever, and we had a negative balance in the accounts. I don’t know where you got this idea that we would reimburse you for travel.

As a consequence of you bad mouthing us on your home page, we do have a questionnaire now that enables us to have a record of the speakers acknowledgement that there will be no payment:


S. McIntire ALLEN (源 眞久)
California Bar License #210750 & New York Bar License #2785913 Not licensed in Japan
Sent from Osaka, 27, Japan

More fool me, you might say, for accepting this invitation. But quite honestly, I have never given a speech in Japan where there was no remuneration whatsoever. Even those organizations who said it was “volunteer” paid me 5000 yen in travel expenses without telling me in advance.  It’s common practice in this society.  It’s what professionals do.

Moreover, lawyers are not a profession short of money.  Quite a few people attended the presentation (it was even video simulcast), and when I told a couple of them (including Japan Times reporter Eric Johnston, who also attended) I never got paid, they were quite shocked.  Even they said that it would have not put them out to chip in something like 1000 yen as an entry fee.

The biggest irony here is that we’re talking about lawyers.  They’re quite willing to sell their services to the highest bidder.  But it appears that some of them aren’t willing to pay for the services that will further the interests of their organization, and their own professional and educational experience and credentials.

Mr Allen even contacted me for research purposes on July 10, 2009, and about a separate legal matter on July 12, 2009 (which I will keep confidential), despite all this.  I declined to answer.

I guess the lesson to be learned here is that when the Japan Law Society invites you as a speaker and then says it will not pay you, take it seriously.  It won’t.  But that’s in my opinion quite unprofessional and deserves to be known about.  Professionals who want related professional assistance should be willing to compensate the provider for the service.  That’s how the system works when professionals are involved.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo


FOOTNOTE about CLE credit being applied for via using volunteer professional help:


JLS presents low-cost CLEs connected by video teleconference between Osaka and Tokyo. The CLEs permit Japan practitioners to exchange experiences in an informal setting.


JLS is an approved Multiple Provider under the auspices of the California Bar Association. Please check with your jurisdiction to see if they accept credit for CLEs approved by California, or the California Multiple Provider Rules. If you are licensed in a jurisdiction other than California, and you have information about your jurisdiction’s CLE recognition, or lack of recognition, of California CLE credits, please send that information to the CLE Coordinator so we can post the information on the Accreditation page so that other JLS members may easily find the information. Please indicate the source for your information.
California calculates credit based on 60 minutes of class time per hour.  Some jurisdictions, such as New York, accept 50 minutes of class time to qualify for one credit hour.  For instance, a two hour JLS CLE could be worth 2.4 hours of CLE credit in a 50 minute jurisdiction.  California attorneys participating in Japan in a CLE accredited by a 50 minute jurisdiction are permitted to claim a 50 minute hour of instruction as one hour of credit.  However, JLS CLEs are accredited by the Bar of California, so all credit hours must have one hour of instruction time.  Please check with your jurisdiction if you have questions about accreditation.


Holiday Tangent: Delightful Maure Memorial Museum in the middle of nowhere, Hokkaido


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a holiday tangent, I would like to pass along these brochures from the Maure Memorial Museum.  In the middle of East Boofoo, excuse me, Maruseppu, northeastern Hokkaido, is this hidden little gem of a place, a converted schoolhouse, with all sorts of lovely little artworks by handicapped people, as well as by other artists, that is definitely worth a look somehow, somewhere.  It also has a wonderful collection of butterflies, for some reason, and other bugs on pins (along with the occasional ammonite and other weird stuff) that will delight all ages.  Admission is free (there is a donation box you can ignore; I didn’t).  If you have any occasion, go out there and see.  Introduced me by James in Monbetsu just before it closed for winter.  Arudou Debito in Shizuoka

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Mainichi: Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan. IF already MOE “accredited”


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  JK comments:

Hi Debito:

On the one hand, it looks like there’s hope, yet on the other hand unaccredited / 無認可校 (e.g. schools for Brazilian, Peruvian, Indian, etc students) get left out in the cold:

Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan

文科省:高専も無償化…外国人学校なども 概算要求へ

Ok, I give up — what’s ‘wrong’ with the schools for foreign students that prevents them from being approved / accredited?

Barring a much-needed amendment to the Fundamental Law of Education, is there some hoop jumping that these schools can do to get the government’s 認可? -JK


Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan

Mainichi Daily News October 14, 2009

Technical colleges and schools attended by foreigners will be included in the Democratic Party of Japan’s pledge to make high school lessons free of charge, it has emerged.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has decided to make high school courses at technical colleges and vocational schools subject to the move, together with various schools for foreigners. It plans to include the necessary expenses in next fiscal year’s budget allocation request.

“We want to support learning chances for as many people as possible,” Deputy Education Minister Kan Suzuki said when questioned by the Mainichi.

The government plans to make lesson fees for public high schools free of charge from April next year. It also plans to provide 120,000 yen a year to households with private high school students, and raise the amount of support to a maximum of 240,000 yen for low-income families.

Suzuki said that since the average annual lesson fees at technical colleges exceeded 230,000 yen, the government planned to increase subsidies for low-income households in the same way as for students at private high schools.

Various schools operating under the School Education Law will be included in the measure, even if their students are of foreign nationality, meaning the DPJ’s move will apply to schools for Korean students and to international schools. However, Suzuki indicated that schools operating without approval — commonly seen among schools such as those for Brazilian children — would not be included.

“It is desirable that support is provided within the framework of the system,” he said, adding, “There is a need for revisions such as lowering the bar for approval.”

Across Japan there are 5,183 high schools with a combined roll of about 3.35 million students. There are also 495 vocational schools with high school courses, attended by 38,000 students, together with 64 technical colleges attended by 59,000 students.

It is expected that the budget figure will swell beyond the DPJ’s initial forecast of 450 billion yen as a result of the move.

The standard when determining whether to increase subsidies for low-income households will be an annual income of 5 million yen. The government will increase the amount of support in stages, coordinating measures with the Ministry of Finance.

Rather than the students or their guardians directly receiving financial support, the money will go directly to schools. When requesting increased support, applications are to be made to schools together with proof of the guardians’ income.

(Mainichi Japan) October 14, 2009

文科省:高専も無償化…外国人学校なども 概算要求へ











毎日新聞 2009年10月14日 15時00分(最終更新 10月14日 15時17分)

Greg Goodmacher’s EFL textbook on NJ issues: Why aren’t there more like these?


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog.  For a Sunday Tangent, I introduce the book below by Greg Goodmacher.  I have no financial stake, don’t worry.  Just wanted to point out that there is a book out there in the education sector which has information on NJ issues.

I think there should be more like these.  After all, if MOE isn’t going to help with assimilation by approving books that toe the monocultural “Japan is unique” line (not to mention deny ethnic schools official approval as education entities, so their NJ students can’t get subsidies and student discounts), then we international residents who write and sell books should inject multiculturalism into the private sector textbook market.  Hey, what’s being taught below is not unkosher, and thinking about the inevitability of Japan immigration (a tenet subscribes to wholeheartedly, natch) is actually a very good thing to get young people thinking about.

NJ textbook writers in Japan, get cracking.  Educate people.  Promote Japan’s future as a multicultural multiethnic society!  Cover front and back, table of contents, and sample below, excerpted with permission. Click on any page to expand in your browser.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Hello Debito,

Greg forwarded your message to me and noted that some readers have expressed interest in getting evaluation copies.

Would it be possible for you to add a link or a note that evaluation copies can be requested from Intercom Press.

Our website is:
fax: 092-726-5069

Thank you for writing about the text. We really appreciate it.

Edward Roosa
Intercom Press, Inc.
3-9-10-701 Tenjin
Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0001
Fax: 092-726-5069

(Click on any page to expand in your browser)






Speaking tomorrow, Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai 「法の下の平等と在住外国人」


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
Hi Blog. Speaking in Japanese tomorrow, FYI, at Sapporo Gakuin.
Thursday November 5, 2009 1PM. 札幌学院大学法学部公開講座リレー講義「人権・共生・人間の尊重 あらためてその理念と現実を考える」第7回「法の下の平等と在住外国人」。札幌学院大学D202教室にて。

Powerpoint here.

Have a look! Or come see. Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Demography vs. Demagoguery”


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Demography vs. demagoguery: when politics, science collide

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009

Last June, I attended a symposium sponsored by the German Institute of Japanese Studies. Themed “Imploding Populations: Global and Local Challenges of Demographic Change,” I took in presentations about health care, international and domestic migration, and life in a geriatric society.

Nothing surprising. The United Nations and our government acknowledged back in 2000 that Japan was heading for a demographic nightmare: a decreasing population, more old people than we can take care of, not enough young people to pay taxes, and economic decline.

Shocking, however, was the bad science: The presenting Japanese scientists were deliberately ignoring data fundamental to their field.

One panel was particularly odd. Panelists concluded, of course, that Japan must do something to stop this demographic juggernaut. A deputy director general at Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research even extrapolated that Japanese would be extinct by the year 3000! Yet the prospect of Japan’s decimation was no match for the fear of the foreign element.

During the Q-and-A, I asked: “Sir, only briefly in your presentation do you mention letting foreigners into Japan as a possible solution. However, you depict the process not as ‘immigration’ (imin), but as the ‘active use of the foreign working labor population’ (gaikokujin rodoryoku jinko no katsuyo). Why this rhetoric?”

The speaker hedged a bit, suddenly asserting that Japan is now a crowded island society. To paraphrase, “Immigration is not an option for our country. Inflows must be strictly controlled for fear of overpopulation.”

Afterward, one on one, I reconfirmed his intellectual disconnect. He further cited “a lack of national consensus” on the issue. When I asked if this was not a vicious circle (i.e. avoiding public discussion of the issue means no possible consensus), he gave a noncommittal answer. When I asked if “immigration” had become more of a political term than a scientific one, he begged off replying further.

Seems I opened Pandora’s Box. For the rest of the conference, whenever a Japanese presenter discussed every option for Japan’s future but immigration (they all avoided it), they played dodgeball with questions from other scientists. The ignorance was systematic — only one gave a begrudging acknowledgment that foreigners might be necessary for Japan’s future, although he personally couldn’t imagine it.

As a German expert of demographics told me afterward with consternation, “Demographics is the study of population changes: births, deaths, inflows and outflows. How can the Japanese demographers ignore inflows, even the possibility of them, in their assessments and still think they are doing good science?”

The reason is because this science in Japan has become riddled with politics. We know Japan’s population will continue to drop. Yet extinction still seems preferable to letting people in to stay.

Thus “immigration,” like “racial discrimination” (JBC, June 2), has become another taboo topic. One must not mention it by name, especially if you represent a government-funded think tank.

Then, when you have whole branches of government studiously ignoring the issue (even though last June the Health Ministry proposed training for companies to hire more foreigners, the former Aso Cabinet wouldn’t consider immigration as one of its top five priority plans), we can but say that the ostrich is in full burrow mode.

This is why I’m having trouble seeing any public policy — from the Nikkei workers being bribed to go home after two decades of contributions, to the proposed imports of Indonesian and Philippine nurses — as anything more than yet another “active use of the foreign working labor population.” Or, more honestly put, programs exploiting revolving-door employment regimes.

How seriously can we continue to tempt foreigners with the promise of a life in Japan in exchange for the best years of their labor productivity, only to revoke their livelihoods and pension contributions at the first opportunity, blaming globalization’s vicissitudes? How seriously can we make continued employment contingent upon a qualification hurdle (such as a tough nursing exam) that would challenge even native speakers?

This will only hurt us as a society in future. Again, we are on the cusp of a future in a society that can’t pay or take care of itself. It’s already happening in Japan’s depopulated countryside. Demographic science, if practiced properly, leads inevitably to that conclusion.

So here’s my reality check: Either way, people will come to Japan — even if it means they find an enfeebled or empty island to live in. With a new political administration in government, we might as well consider bringing in people now while we have more energy and choices.

Time out. Just like that guy at the think tank, time for me to be hit with a Debito-style question: “Who decides what Japan wants?”

Answer: We residents do, of course. But the people who represent or make decisions for us are not necessarily receptive enough (or all that developed as human beings) to understand one simple thing: People who appear to be different are not a threat. We cannot expect leaders and bureaucrats to guide us to a world they cannot envision.

So I will keep asking the Debito Questions, and argue that people like us are a viable alternative to Japan’s slow but inexorable decline. For Japan’s sake, we must save us from ourselves. I’ll suggest how next month.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month.
ENDS BANYAN column on DPJ moves to right historical wrongs


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Here’s The Economist’s Asia-focus “Banyan” column last week, on the DPJ’s attempt to try and redress the historical running sores that pass for diplomatic relations between Japan and the rest of Asia.

As I voted in the most recent blog poll, the DPJ keeps surprising me with their progressive plans and policies.  The proposal for a definitive joint-edited history book of the Asian region is precisely what UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene recommended as a salve years ago.

The Economist is right to express a certain degree of skepticism:  so many hopes for countries to act like adults, and own up to the bad parts of history (viz. former PM Abe’s call for official whitewashing in the name of promoting Japan as “beautiful” — i.e. shame about the past just gets in the way of training Japanese to love their country), have been dashed time and time again.  But as long as the DPJ can maintain the momentum of “not quite business as usual, folks”, I think we just might see decades of regional rhetorical logjam broken, and Japan discovering that international goodwill might be worth as much as good trade relations.   Arudou Debito in Sapporo



History wars

Oct 15th 2009
The Economist print edition

JAPAN’S nearest neighbours have long been less ready than has the rest of Asia to forgive and forget the country’s aggressive past: a brutal colonisation of Korea in 1905-45 and a creeping occupation of China from 1931 leading to total war. Both projects were pursued ruthlessly and entailed civilian massacres, torture and slavery in factories, mines and military brothels.

So Yukio Hatoyama, Japan’s new prime minister, has pleased the neighbours by promising that rule by his Democratic Party of Japan would transform Japan’s relations with them. He made the pledge in both Seoul, where he met South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, on October 8th, and then in Beijing at a three-way summit with China’s leaders. Unlike the weasel-worded Liberal Democratic Party, which long ran the country, Mr Hatoyama’s new government, he says, “has the courage to face up to history.”

Both Mr Lee and China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, were delighted. Dealing honestly with historical matters, they affirmed, would make it much easier to tackle contemporary challenges together—notably, getting North Korea to give up its nukes, and deepening economic co-operation. Mr Lee said Mr Hatoyama had opened the way for “future-oriented relations”. The talk now is of reviving old plans for an undersea tunnel linking South Korea and Japan. Emperor Akihito may visit South Korea, a first. Both South Korea and China have applauded Japan’s proposal for a jointly compiled history textbook.

If only it were so simple. For all the bonhomie now, past hopes for “future-oriented” relations have often been frustrated. One problem is disputed territory (see map). Japan contests Dokdo, a rocky outcrop controlled by South Korea, while China claims the Senkaku, held by Japan. In addition, Japan contests Russia’s control of four northern islands seized in August 1945. Over the years Chinese, Japanese, South Korean and Russian diplomats have all berated The Economist over our maps.

Japan insists Dokdo should be called “Takeshima”. The South Koreans insist on the “East Sea” in place of the Sea of Japan. Over Dokdo/Takeshima, the websites of Japan’s and South Korea’s foreign ministries wage a virtual war, with pop-up cyber “history halls” and the like (in South Korea’s case, in nine languages). Yet both sides look merely ridiculous. Japan’s justification glides over the fact that its 1905 claim marked a first step in imperial annexation. South Korea argues that Dokdo has been “Korean” since 512, but uses the name for a country that did not exist until 1948. Competing for legitimacy with North Korea, the South also insists on the “East” rather than the “Chosun” Sea, since “Chosun”, a much more common reference in old Korean documents, is these days associated with the North. Empty specks of rock do duty as stand-ins for wider and even touchier historical issues.

Things would be better if Japan were now readier to call a slave’s spade a spade. It has apologised many times for its brutal past, but only in vague terms, expressing “remorse” for ill-defined damage. Most apologies, including the one that has since become a template, by the then prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama, at the 50th anniversary of the war’s end, appear to say sorry to the Japanese people first. Mr Hatoyama does not call for the imperial family to break the so-called chrysanthemum taboo by admitting guilt on behalf of the wartime emperor, Hirohito. Nor does he suggest that the Diet (parliament) pass a law expressing national contrition instead of merely making statements. So, on this, he does not look like a mould-breaker. But then the leaders of South Korea and China may not want him to be. Being able occasionally to beat Japan for its lack of remorse is not all bad.

But Alexis Dudden of the University of Connecticut points out* that as vague apologies proliferate, the human victims of imperialism, though winnowed by old age, are ever less ready to accept them. The many wartime “comfort women”, or sex-slaves for the army, of whom South Koreans made up the biggest number, for example, want individual apologies and redress from the state. Despite abundant and harrowing testimony, Japan admits only general responsibility. The foreign ministry refers not to the women, but to “the issue known as ‘wartime comfort women’”.

When America’s Congress called on Japan in 2007 to apologise for the comfort-women system, Ichiro Ozawa of the DPJ, now the party’s secretary-general, threatened a Diet resolution damning the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His demeaning of the comfort women was grotesque but symptomatic: even today, many Japanese believe the atomic horror washed away any guilt for devastation in other parts of Asia.

Small comfort
But then the South Korean government gets more worked up about Japanese claims on a guano-flecked rock more than it does about the comfort women. After all, many of the men sending women to the front were, well, Koreans, working for the colonial authorities. Later, from 1948, the instruments and executors of Japanese repression were hitched to the new South Korean state—under American military tutelage to boot. That is all too inconvenient to highlight today.

So official versions of history tend to veer away from the truth, not towards it. You only have to look at the Chinese history on display at the extravaganzas for last year’s Beijing Olympics or this month’s National Day celebrations. The first (traumatic) 30 years of the Communist Party’s 60-year rule were airbrushed out. History, as Simon Schama, a master of the craft, says, should be the instrument of self-criticism, not self-congratulation. Not just in dictatorial China, but also in democratic South Korea and Japan, history still has far to go if it is to serve that aim.

* “Troubled Apologies: Among Japan, Korea and the United States”, Columbia University Press, 2008


Speaking at Japan Writer’s Conference Sat Oct 17, Doshisha Women’s Univ. On how to write quickly, concisely, & with panache


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  This weekend I will be speaking in Kyoto at Doshisha Women’s University at the Japan Writer’s Conference.  Saturday afternoon, October 17, to be exact.

All the details you need for who’s speaking and how to get there here:

My schedule and agenda:

16:00 ARUDOU Debito “Essaywriting: How I get something out quickly, concisely, and with panache” (short lecture with Q&A)

Summary: Want to write essays but suffer from “Writer’s Block”? No joy in writing exposition? Come listen to Arudou Debito, an essayist who writes a couple hundred per year, give some tips on how to become prolific.

Abstract: I’ve heard people say writing expository essays is a drag. Like the childhood injections that put us off needles for a lifetime, the first book reports for English class were likewise off-putting for many people. I will describe how I overcome that, to the point of becoming prolific. It’s not rocket science, but getting over a few bad habits will make your writing fun, not drudgery — because if you’re having fun writing, your reader will more likely have fun reading. This talk is geared towards more elementary-level nonfiction writers who experience “Writers’ Block” (I never do), but the seasoned writer is welcome to attend and share strategies as well.

Bio: ARUDOU Debito, 44, is a Japan Times columnist and an author of several books. He maintains a daily blog on life in Japan and human rights issues at He cannot imagine a day without writing something.

Now, for those who cannot make it, here is my handout.  And for those who can, I will provide step-by-step writing procedures I used for three essays I wrote (outline, first draft, final draft), so you can see how the sausages are made.

If you prefer, download the following presentation handout as a 2-page formatted Word file here:

This is how writing works for me, FYI.  Hope it helps other people too.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo



By ARUDOU Debito, Columnist, Japan Times and Sapporo Source

Japan Writers Conference Oct 17, 2009, Doshisha Women’s College Kyoto

I write a lot.  Five books, umpteen academic essays and chapters, a daily diary for more than a decade, and a blog entry basically every day for more than three years.  In addition to thousands of essays (all archived online at, I write two columns a month for newspapers plus exposition for other venues upon request.  I pound out a good 1500 words every day, never suffering from “Writer’s Block”.

Howcum?  Here are my tricks for writing QUICKLY:

1) Allow yourself to sketch.  When I have an essay rolling around in my head (sometimes for years), I just jot down ideas in no particular order on a piece of paper (or a bound notebook).  You’ll find time for it:  stoplights, mass transit, boring meetings, standing in line, waking up first thing in the morning.  But before you start typing, always outline (I prefer longhand), because it will free up your mind (you won’t have to hold the points in your head).  Once down you can order your bullets in importance; you can also add additional thoughts to the list that occur to you when typing.

2) Cut yourself some slack.  Don’t expect perfection the first time:  All artists sketch before they paint.  Nobody has to see your essay until you’re good and ready to show it, so don’t worry about mistakes, grammar, structure, flow, or anything that would make you want to go back and reread what you’ve just written.  Revisions will come later.  Just get the skeleton of your essay down from beginning to end.  It’s a lot easier to snip out words than it is to create them anew when editing.

3) Have confidence in yourself that it’ll all work out in the edit.  Just pound it down.  Generally speaking, it takes me about an hour to type down a typical 800- to 1000-word column.  Why?  Because I’m all “damn the torpedoes full speed ahead” until I have converted my entire outline to a rough essay.  Don’t expect the flow or even the conclusion to click yet.  But have faith that it will click later.

Now for writing CONCISELY:

4) Print the first draft up and leave it alone for a little while.  You’ve earned a break, so take it and come back afresh (I recommend at least an hour off, and suggest you allow a total of three days from start to submission; plan ahead so you’ll have that much time).   Be your own third-person editor.  With new eyes, you’ll be surprised how sapient you were at the start, and what you forgot to add back then.  Moreover, you can relax:  with a hard copy fresh out of the printer, you have no matter what something concrete in case of a computer crash.

5) After your break, begin the revisions.  If everything you want to say is already down at least skeletally, you can add a bit here, subtract a bit there, and move things around as your essay’s tack becomes clearer.  (It’s not usually clear from the start, mind; very often I have no idea how the essay will come out until I finish it.)  In fact, the essaywriting process is an excellent way to firm up your future opinions.  Feel free to scribble all over the hard copy — mine usually gets covered with red ink as time goes by in boring meetings or breadlines.

6) Be prepared to go through several drafts over a few days.  A typical 1500-word Japan Times article for me goes through at least 17 drafts before I submit.  Save each one if you want (I don’t; I might print them, however).  If you’re in a bind about whether or not to drop a paragraph or go down a certain rhetorical avenue, save both alternative paths as separate files and come back to them later.  Know your word limit and find ways to shorten sentences (tricks:  active voice takes fewer words than passive; use a big one-word instead of five colloquials — your audience has access to a dictionary; use online thesauruses and dictionaries to save time (Google “define: (word)”).


Panache is the spice that makes that article mine.  As frequent readers of my essays know, I have a rather “know-it-all”, slightly hectoring and scolding, tone (sorry:  I blame my US East-Coast college training and too much studying under Chalmers Johnson).  When I’m not pontificating on the state of the world, however, I take an avuncular, advisory tone.  Either way, panache comes through; people have picked my essays out as mine even when I write under a pseudonym.

But panache is the last thing I garnish the essay with, when I’m a good 95% done and I’m really “getting into” the points I’ve made.  I put a jibe here, bury a needle there, spray a whiff of sarcasm everywhere.  But matters of style (as opposed to structure or flow) come last for me, and I say don’t sweat them.  By Day Three or Draft Seventeen or so (especially after lots of breaks, meals, and online chat forums collecting potential counterarguments on the subject you’re writing), you’ll have the moxie to say, “Hey, this is what I think.  Dammit.  And it ain’t half-baked, neither!”

Finally, I suggest that writers maintain a number of good personal habits:  1) Avoid writing under the influence of anything (except maybe caffeine), or else you’ll feel dependent on it to write if, say, you were drunk and came out with a humdinger of an essay.  2) Allow enough time to write without undue stress (deadlines should help you organize, but work backwards schedulewise to allow for sufficient “cud-chewing” essaywriting over a few days).  And if possible, 3) try to write about something you’re interested in.  Tough, but steer yourself towards those subjects you enjoy.

And — I can’t stress this enough except through bigger fonts — ENJOY the act and the process of writing.  While typing and editing, don’t assume the character of your shredding sarky faculty advisor in high school or college (they’re very often stuck in their own cobwebby intellectual ruts and know-it-all Ivory Towerdom, defensively bashing you for not knowing as much, by definition, as they do):  Be the guy who likes reading what you wrote, amazed with how much you know and how clearly you said it (I very often go back and read what I wrote years ago — and, yes, enjoy it!)  In other words, during the editing process, try to make the conversation within yourself a partnership, not an adversarial relationship.  Because if you’re not enjoying your own writing, I bet that will also come across to the reader and reduce their enjoyment of reading. If writing is drudgery, it’s not sustainable.  And then Writer’s Block will set in and render your typing fingers immobile.

There you go.  Now go write something.  And have fun doing it, dammit.

RECOMMENDED READ:  Stephen King, On Writing, Pocket Books, 2002.  Now there’s a man who never has Writer’s Block! ENDS

SOUR STRAWBERRIES Cinema Debut Oct 10th-30th every day, Cine Nouveau Osaka Kujo


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Passing on this info.  (日本語のアナウンスメントは英語の下です。)Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are happy to announce that the critically acclaimed documentary “SOUR STRAWBERRIES – Japan’s hidden »guest workers«” will have its premier in a cinema in Japan at Osaka’s Ciné Nouveau in Kujo.

The first screening will be on Saturday, 10th October 2009 at 10:30 am. Director Tilman König will be present and happy to answer questions from 11:30 onwards.

The discussion will be held in Japanese. Questions in English and German will be answered as well.

“SOUR STRAWBERRIES – Japan’s hidden »Guest Workers«”, a movie by Tilman König and Daniel Kremers, G/J 2008, 56 min, color, 16:9. Original in German, Japanese, Chinese, English with English and Japanese Subtitles.

Everyday from October 10th to October 30th 2009

The film was supported by Stiftung “Menschenwürde und Arbeitswelt”, Berlin and CinemAbstruso, Leipzig.


“‘Sour Strawberries’ spotlights the plight of non-Japanese ‘trainees'” — Japan Times Online

“A must see!” – Kansai Scene








OTARU ONSENS 10th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: Index of online study aids of media on the event


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Good morning Blog, and happy holidays to readers in Japan. This week I will continue a retrospective on the Otaru Onsens Case, with links to media I collected nearly a decade ago, charting the course of the debate, and how it went down a path that in fact ultimately encouraged people to discriminate. The full arc in my book JAPANESE ONLY, but here is a list of primary sources for your viewing pleasure.

If possible (my friend KM is also supposed to be on holiday, but he’s the one who has kindly converted my analog recordings into digital and YouTubed it), I will put up a link to each media every day, the first one this evening. There is also a DVD I can burn for those who wish to use this for educational purposes (contact me at

Here’s an outline of the media I have when I first offered this as a study aid three years ago.  After that, the playlist, courtesy KM, on YouTube.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo



All TV shows in Japanese (no subtitles or dubbing) with amateur editing

By Arudou Debito (,

Total time:  2 hours 20 minutes.  Recorded on one VHS tape in 3X format.


1) TV ASAHI NEWS STATION on ANA BORTZ DECISION (Nationally broadcast October 12, 1999) (10 minutes).  National broadcast.  Describes the first court decision regarding racial discrimination in Japan, citing the UN CERD Treaty, and the fact that Japan has no law against racial discrimination.

2) HBC TV award-winning documentary on OTARU ONSENS CASE (Locally broadcast March 27, 2001) (1 hour 2 minutes).  Gives the most thorough rundown of the issue and expresses the issue from a more Japanese point of view (i.e. the issue less in terms of racism, more in terms of cultural differences).

3) TV ASAHI tabloid show “KOKO GA HEN DA YO NIHONJIN”, on exclusionism in Wakkanai, Monbetsu, and Otaru (Nationally broadcast Feb 28, 2001) (16 minutes).  Complete with brickbats for the Plaintiffs for filing suit from the screaming foreign panelists.  NB:  Panelists were apparently chosen depending on whether they had strong views about the case.  A special emphasis, according to media sources, was given foreigners who would oppose the lawsuit, as it would make for better television.

4) HBC NEWS (Locally broadcast March 27, 2001) on the OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT FIRST HEARING (3 minutes).  Otaru City claims impunity from CERD responsibilities due to local govt. status, while Yunohana Onsen tries to claim it was the victim in this case.

5) VARIOUS NEWS AGENCIES (Dosanko Wide, Hokkaido News, STV, and HBC) with various angles on OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT FILING (Locally broadcast February 1, 2001) (15 minutes total).  NB:  HBC contains the only public interview given by Defendant Yunohana Onsen owner Hashimoto Hiromitsu.  This interview was given live (the only way Hashimoto would agree to be interviewed, so that his comments would not be edited, according to reporter sources), where he states that he has never met us (of course; he always refused to meet us; the only time we would ever cross paths would be November 11, 2002, in the courtroom, when the Sapporo District Court came down in Plaintiffs’ favor).

6) UHB SUPER NEWS Beginning of the new year special on THE YEAR 2001 (Locally broadcast January 3, 2002) (15 minutes).  Discourse on the nature of internationalization.  Also brings in the spectre of foreign crime and terrorism, first brought up from April 2000 with the “Ishihara Sangokujin Speech”, and later used to justify further exclusionism towards foreigners.

7) NHK CLOSE UP GENDAI on FOREIGN CRIME (Nationally broadcast November 7, 2003) (26 minutes).  The fix is in:  Foreigners and the crimes they bring is now publicly portrayable as fearful, with no comparison whatsoever made to stats of crimes by Japanese (except those connected again with foreigners).  A PSA posing as a news special, to warn Japanese about foreigners and their specific methods of crime.

Apologies that there is no footage of the actual District Court Decision of November 11, 2002.

All details and transcripts of many of these and other shows are available for students and scholars in books:


●   ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽温泉入浴拒否問題と人種差別(単行本 明石書店2004年改訂版 ISBN: 4-7503-9011-9)

Ordering details at

Original documentation and articles in English and Japanese at

Other bilingual interviews and radio broadcasts/podcasts available at

More Japan Times articles on issues connected with rights of non-Japanese residents at

Thank you for your interest in this case and in this issue!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan

Free Japanese-language courses in Sapporo sponsored by GOJ (deadline for application Oct 2)


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

From: Hokkaido Insider
Date: September 14, 2009 5:27:37 PM JST
To: Hokkaido Insider News
Subject: Free Japanese Course for International Parents

FREE JAPANESE COURSE for international parents.

This program is sponsored by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs for FY 2009.

Please visit our site for more information:

A very detailed explanation and schedule of the classes being offered appear at the link posted above.
Here are some of the key points as to who they are looking to serve and the general requirements.

Target Participants:
Foreign residents currently raising children from toddlers through middle school students
Those who are able to attend at least 80% of the course.
*The 2nd and 3rd Periods teach entry-level Japanese.

Term: From Tuesday, October 13th 2009 through Tuesday, December 22nd (10 Days, 3 Periods / Day)
(As a general rule, all classes are held on Tuesdays, but exceptions may be made due to staffing circumstances.)

Location: IAY
060-0061 Sapporo-shi, Chuo-ku, S1W4 – Hinode Bldg. 6F (connected directly with Odori Subway Station, Exit #10)

Tuition: No charge

Participant Limit: 20 persons (participants will be selected randomly should the applicants exceed capacity)

Application form can be downloaded from the site. (Application deadline is October 2.)

Confirmed participants will receive information by Wednesday, October 7th.

Hokkaido Insider News is free for those who wish to receive the announcements.
Permission is granted to forward this on to others who may be interested.
If you wish to have your name removed, please send a request to me to do so.
If you wish to receive job information, advertise or post something to the list,
please visit for details.

Kyodo & JT: Osaka JH school reluctantly takes preteen NJ kid despite teacher opposition!


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Hi Blog.  This article has made a few waves.  Read and then I’ll comment:


Foreign schoolgirl’s admittance delayed due to teachers’ opposition

Kyodo News/Japan Today Tuesday 28th July, 02:35 PM JST.

Courtesy lots of people.  A more concise version in the Japan Times July 30

A 12-year-old girl from a Southeast Asian nation ran into problems earlier this year in trying to attend a public junior high school in Osaka due to opposition from some teachers who resisted her enrollment, the Osaka municipal board of education said Tuesday. She was ultimately enrolled in the school’s first-year level on July 1, a month after she applied for admission.

The girl, accompanied by her parents, visited the school in the city of Osaka on June 1 to say she wanted to be enrolled, but the school, whose name has been withheld, advised the girl to attend the sixth grade in elementary school, citing her inability to speak Japanese, board officials said.

On June 17, the parents again tried to enroll her in the junior high school, but several teachers expressed opposition at a faculty meeting, saying she should go to a different school and that their school could not make adequate preparations to accept her, the officials said.

The junior high school, acting on an instruction from the municipal board of education, finally gave an application form to the parents on June 24.

The girl was admitted to the school on July 1, but she could not attend any classes for the first 10 days, they said.

The municipal board of education said it is impermissible to reject a foreign student at a public school, noting that the school in question should have the girl receive lessons at a Japanese language school or depend on an interpreter.



COMMENT:  How nice.  A NJ kid tries to get an education and these teachers try to fob her off on another school (as if that changes the circumstances), claiming… well, let’s come up with something.  Oh, I know.  A language barrier!  We all know how difficult Japanese is for foreigners, and it requires that we be somehow certified in Japanese language training from the MOE to teach them!  (Even though kids, as we all know and gnash our teeth about, soak up languages like a sponge; she’ll adapt, wouldn’t you think?)

It’s times like these I wish we had a Hippocratic Oath for teachers too (not that it always binds Japanese doctors dealing with NJ patients).  For don’t these teachers feel any obligation to teach children regardless of background?   No, I guess not.  Compulsory education is only compulsory for citizens.  Not foreigners.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard about schools refusing NJ children, either.  Check out this report I released April 13, 2000 (almost ten years ago; I’ve been doing these things that long now), and witness the excuses made for local Hokkaido schools refusing children of missionaries (who were even born in Japan and speak Japanese):

Olaf Karthaus and Dave Aldwinckle confirm claims that policies excluding non-Japanese have gone beyond both Otaru as a place and the onsens as an industry. A fact-finding mission last weekend to Wakkanai found that not only does a bathhouse there deny entry to foreigners, but so does a sports shop and a barber. Longtime non-Japanese residents of Wakkanai also assert that the situation has worsened over the past few years, alleging that even Japanese public high schools hesitate or refuse missionary children due to “a lack of facilities” and “too much work for teachers”.


I’d give this Osaka school a coveted Dejima Award (reserved for only the most stupid of the stupid when it comes to exclusionists).  But the article decided not to tell us the school’s name.  Accountability, anyone?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Peace as a Global Language Conference Shimane Sept 26-7 calls for presentations, deadline July 31


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  I’ve presented at Peace as a Global Language Conferences a few times before, and you might be interested in attending or even presenting something yourself this year!  Deadline is fast approaching, however — July 31 for presentations — so download an application form (I’ve applied to show documentary Sour Strawberries) at

FYI.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Just a quick reminder to everyone that the Peace as a Global Language conference will be held at the University of Shimane (Hamada Campus) this year on September 26-27.

‘Nurturing Grassroots’
Welcome to the website for the 8th Annual Peace as a Global Language Conference. The theme of this year’s conference will be ‘Nurturing Grassroots’. Each year this conference continues to grow and change. We are all very excited to have a new venue for this year’s conference on the Sanin coast. This year the conference will be held at the University of Shimane, in Hamada.PGL conferences began in 2002, and are now an annual event for students, teachers and activists. Whether this will be your first time or your eighth, you are welcome to join us as presenters, participants or conference volunteers. The following issues are among the many that may interest you at this year’s conference:

  • peace
  • community
  • local activism
  • global issues
  • the environment
  • human rights
  • intercultural communication
  • values
  • health
  • gender
  • media literacy
  • foreign language education focusing on global issues

* This list is by no means exhaustive. If there is another area of importance you wish to see included, please reply to the call for papers and share your ideas. Thank you.

Full details at

Tangent: Japan Times on crackdowns on students at Hosei University


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog. I’m in Tokyo now and not really all that accessible online until Sunday night, so let me direct your attention to a pretty nasty thing brewing over at Hosei University. Not a NJ issue per se, but definitely one involving human rights, freedom of speech, and the ability of administrations to arbitrary police, detain, punish, and expel people within its charge. Worth a read. Sorry to be brief for now. Arudou Debito in Tokyo


PHOTO: “Outrageous”: Activists claim the photo above shows a student lying unconscious after being roughed up by security guards hired by Hosei University during a rally at its Ichigaya campus. COURTESY OF ZENGAKUREN
Rumpus on campus
Prestigious university in Tokyo has become a battleground in a war over freedom of political expression
Japan Times Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Illegal arrests, forced expulsions, “kidnappings” by security police and beatings by hired thugs. No, it’s not another dispatch from a violent banana republic. Those accusations come from the leafy back-streets of Ichigaya, Tokyo, home to a branch campus of the prestigious Hosei University.

Hosei authorities and a group of students are locked in a poisonous struggle that has turned the campus into something resembling a low-security prison.

Entrances are guarded by newly installed CCTV cameras and jittery guards equipped with Bluetooth headsets. Notices have been published at many sites naming and shaming “troublemakers” who have been expelled, and the police are on call in case things get out of hand.

A provisional injunction forbids students from “loitering, putting up banners and making speeches within 200 meters” of the campus.

Since the dispute began three years ago, 107 students have been arrested and 24 indicted, some of whom awaited trial in detention centers for up to six months. Last Friday, five more students were formally charged with offenses including trespassing and obstructing the police. Another is being kept in detention for at least two more weeks.

Supporters say some have been framed using a prewar law designed to crush labor protests…

Rest of the article at

Follow-up: NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog.  Second in a series of follow-ups.  Former Eikaiwa boss Saruhashi finally admits he done wrong.  But neglects to mention how all the unpaid teachers left in the lurch will still be left in the lurch.  This was once the largest employer of NJ in Japan?  Saru mo ki kara ochiru, as they say.  But this is a mighty fall by a money skimmer with a money spinner.  And a shady company from start to finish anyway, setting the business model for other eikaiwas out to screw over both their students and their teachers.  Throw the book at this guy, and make him cough up what he owes to his teachers.  So that others don’t do the same and think it’s “just regular business practice”.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


The Japan Times, Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nova chief admits skimming funds

Staff writer
OSAKA — The former president of Nova Corp. admitted Monday he siphoned off employment benefit funds just before the language school giant went bankrupt in 2007 but pleaded not guilty to embezzlement, claiming he used the funds for employees.
Nozomu Sahashi, 57, who once headed one of Japan’s largest and most popular English conversation school chains, is charged with funneling nearly ¥320 million from employment benefit funds in July 2007 by transferring the money to a bank account belonging to an affiliate, which has not been named.  

“I apologize to the students and employees for all of the trouble I caused, but it was not my intention to do wrong,” Sahashi told the Osaka District Court at the opening of his trial. “I don’t think I can judge whether what I did constitutes embezzlement or not.”

Oh yeah?  Rest of the article at:




Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar


Hi Blog.  Thought I’d tie up loose ends by writing a bit about the past few days.  

I just got back from Tokyo, where I had a very relaxing time for a change.  Came down to attend an academic conference sponsored by the German Institute for Japanese Studies, on Japan’s demographic crisis, and attended a number of interesting lectures (interesting in the sense for what some didn’t say, as I wrote about in yesterday’s blog entry).  It was also relaxing because I saw a lot of friends (and made new ones), and didn’t have to give any speeches.

Well, I tell a lie.  I gave one shortly after landing in Tokyo on the morning of June 2.  There was a sit-in demonstration against the new proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards (as there will be every Tuesday morning, contact Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuuren)’s ( Takaya-san at fmwj AT jca DOT apc DOT org for more information).  Since they said anyone could attend any time between 9:30AM and 12:30 PM, I made it by 12:15.  I was handed a mike.  Anything I’d like to say to Japan’s Dietmembers, whose offices were in front of us with their windows open?

Sure did.  I gave five minutes in slow Japanese (fast doesn’t work on megaphones well) about Japan’s future depending on immigration, how increasing the policing is counterproductive, how Japanese wouldn’t tolerate the same measures being foisted upon them, how cards will only increase the likelihood for Japanese of color such as myself getting racially profiled for not being remotely checkable, and the like.  It was fun and good practice.  And a bit scary as I hadn’t anything prepared (and people had recording devices and even a camera ready).

Never mind.  Speaking is not obligatory, so readers, choose a Tuesday soon to attend.  The Diet has extended it’s deliberation period for this session by nearly two months, and rumor has it that the IC Chip Gaijin Card bill just might pass the Lower House (which means that even if it doesn’t pass the Upper, it will probably become law with the Lower House overruling).  Do what you can about this, people.


Afterwards came the German Institute of Japanese Studies Symposium presentations over the course of three days.  I mentioned the gist of most of them yesterday:  Speeches on the demographics of nations are pretty standardized:  Show the audience what you know in the intro with graphs of population movements, aging over time, and bar charts of births and deaths (that population pyramid that looks like a nematode is so burned into memory it appears in my nightmares).  Then some original research, about health care, about dealing with geriatrics, about the options before us (putting more women and elderly to work, raising the pension qualifying and retirement age, a bit about robotics, and even less about immigration or even migration), etc.  

The best presentations were about the depopulation of the Japanese countryside and public policy to try to bring people back, with case studies of three towns and how their methods didn’t seem too effectual (and Mr Takahashi in yesterday’s blog entry worries about overcrowding??).  I confirmed during the Q&A that they still haven’t come up with the idea of the Welcome Wagon, to make newcomers (of any nationality) feel welcome for moving out to the countryside (how to overcome the “gaijin” syndrome’s application to Japanese too, since any outsider has to wait ten years or so before they have a voice in rural communities…)

The other ones were by a Dr Vogt and a Dr Kingma who talked about migration trends in general.  International migration has produced 195 million migrants.  They now number as a proportion of population 1 in 10 in industrialized countries, and 1 in 35 of the world labor force.  There are now 195 million migrants, 50% of them now women.  When it comes to the proposed import of nurses and caregivers from Indonesia and the Philippines, as per bilateral agreements with Japan under “Economic Partnership Agreements”, the goal is, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, of 1.5 million NJ caregivers in Japan by 2040.  But the program has gotten off to an inauspicious start.  

Only in its second year, the EPAs have had goals of only 1000 total NJ health care workers imported.  They would be trained in Japanese for six months (at the hiring company’s expense, of around 600,000 yen, then work the remaining four and a half years in the health sector getting their skills and standards up to speed.  The course is harsh, as it is a “tenure system”, as in “up or out”.  If they don’t pass the same caregiver and nurse tests that Japanese natives pass within five years, they lose their visas and get sent back home.  This test, by the way, has a 50% fail rate for native Japanese.  And salaries are not all that great for anyone working the severe hours required in this business sector (which may account for why there is a shortage of nurses and caregivers in Japan in the first place).

The number of applicants reflect the harshness of the program.  In 2008, only 300 NJ applied for the 1000 available slots.  And not all employers stepped up to the plate as planned to hire them.  Dr Vogt showed us a segment from NHK contrasting an Indonesian health care worker (who was not interviewed) with a laid-off Japanese salaryman (who, interviewed, said he was grateful to get the work), with the point that we really don’t need NJ to take the place of Japanese when domestic labor can fill the demand. 

Great.  Yet another bloody mess of a GOJ program.


Back to the personal stuff.  The evenings were just as special, meeting old friends such as Isabelle, Hippie Chris and Naoko, Dave G, and making new ones such as Joseph T, Alfie, Dave P, Dave S, Honor, and others in passing who stopped by to share some thoughts on what’s bugging them either about what’s going on or what I’ve written recently.  Particularly pleasant was an event at the Pink Cow in Shibuya (where owner Tracy has the nicest greetings), where Ken Worsley and Garrett DiOrio gave an open-mic live “Seijigiri” political commentary for their organization, Trans-Pacific Radio (  TPR has some great podcasts on current events, business, and even baseball trends.  Well worth subscribing to, especially since their content is not only informed, their banter is very college-roommate style, where they bounce ideas off each other with verve and humor.  And it was even better live with a good Pink Cow meal.  Look for their podcast this weekend.  I break the ice with a question about Aso’s economic stimulus packages….

This was probably the most relaxing trip to Tokyo ever.  And I’ll be there next Sunday (June 14) for a speech and a movie showing of SOUR STRAWBERRIES at Tokyo University all over again.  Details to follow.  Mark your calendars for now.

Arudou Debito back in Sapporo


DIJ Tokyo Symposium 2009: Japan’s Demographic Science overtaken by anti-immigration politics


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
Hi Blog.  I’ve been in Tokyo the past couple of days attending a symposium sponsored by the German Institute of Japanese Studies (DIJ), which has, as always, provided much food for thought.

This year’s theme is “Imploding Populations:  Global and Local Challenges of Demographic Change“, and I’ve seen presentations on health care, migration (both internal and external), geriatric treatment in the media, retirement options, and the like.  Good stuff, if a little tangental to what I research.

How it dovetails with is how the conclusions shared by all — that Japan needs to do something now about its demography — are studiously being ignored by the Japanese scientific representatives in attendance.

June 2’s series of talks by Japanese researchers was particularly enlightening.  Everyone concluded that Japan is facing a demographic juggernaut, given its aging society with low birthrate, depopulating countryside, and ever more populating cities.  Japan is not only greying, but also losing its economic prowess.

Yet these conclusions suddenly become null once you bring in the topic of immigration.

One speaker, a Mr Takahashi Shigesato, rendered in the program as “deputy director general at the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research” (kokuritsu shakai hoshou – jinkou mondai kenkyuujo fuku shochou — a big cheese), so glibly skipped over the issue that I just had to raise my hand at the end for a question.

Sez I:  “Thanks for your presentation.  You mention the entry of foreigners into Japan as an option only briefly in your presentation.  You also use the term ‘gaikokujin roudouryoku jinkou no katsuyou‘ (active use of the foreign working labor population) without any mention of the word ‘immigration’ (imin).  Why this rhetoric?”

Mr Takahashi gave a noncommittal answer, citing that Japan is (now suddenly) a crowded place, that immigration was not an option for our country, and that inflows must be strictly controlled for fear of overpopulation.  A follow-up with him one-on-one got him claiming there is “no national consensus” (he used the word in English) on the issue.  When I asked him whether or not this was a vicious circle (as in, no discussion of the issue means no possible consensus), he dodged.  When I asked him if this term was a loaded one, one political instead of scientific regarding demography, he begged off replying further.

This dodging also happened with every other Japanese speaker on the issue (one other person in the audience raised the same question with a second speaker, and he gave a begrudging acknowledgement that foreigners might be necessary for Japan’s future — although he himself couldn’t envision it).

This does not give me hope for the future.  There is a definite “deer in the headlights” attitude happening here, where we know that Japan’s population will drop no matter what (Mr Takahashi even extrapolated in his powerpoint that Japanese would go extinct by the year 3000).  Yet extinction is still preferable to letting in people to stay.  This is why I’m having trouble seeing any public policy (from the health-care givers from Indonesia and the Philippines on down) as anything more than a revolving-door labor exploitation effort:  offering the promise of a life in Japan in exchange for intensive labor, revocable after a few years either due to the vicissitudes of world economics, or if you don’t pass some kind of arbitrary and difficult test that even natives would find challenging.

It also does not give me hope for this branch of Japanese science.  As a doctor of demographics (a fiery researcher  to whom I could really relate) stated in a later conversation with me that day:

“Demographics is the study of population changes:  births, deaths, inflows and outflows.  How can the Japanese demographers ignore inflows, even the possibility of them, in their assessments?”

Because once again, science is being riddled with politics.  Immigration is another one of those issues which one must not mention by name.  Especially if you want to be a member of a national government thinktank.


Asahi: Foreign nursing trainees face unfair hurdles


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar

Hi Blog.  Here’s a good article (with excellent commentary from the place I first read it, at Mutantfrog; link here) on the hurdles even people that qualify as “skilled labor”.  Japan doesn’t want unskilled (tanjun roudousha), yet imported over a million factory workers over the past two decades (and is now even bribing them to go home).  Now here it is making it more difficult for people who have a skill to qualify to stay.  

What does the GOJ want?  Easy.  Revolving-door cheap foreign labor, which won’t stay and get expensive or start demanding its own rights.  Unfortunately, that’s not how immigration works, even though with its aging society, immigration is what Japan needs.  We’ve said this umpteen times before, but lemme just repeat it for the noobs, sorry.  What the GOJ wants and what it needs are working against each other.  Its unforgiving and inflexible policies such as these that are hurting Japan’s future.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


POINT OF VIEW/ Atsushi Takahara: Foreign nursing trainees face unfair hurdles


Courtesy of Mutantfrog, with excellent commentary

At hospitals and nursing homes for the elderly across the nation, 208 Indonesians have commenced work. They are trainees who came to Japan hoping to become nurses and certified care workers under the economic partnership agreement (EPA) signed between Japan and Indonesia. Having finished a six-month Japanese-language study program, they started working in January and February. All of them are qualified to work as nurses in their home country and many of them have a lot of nursing experience. But most of those I met expressed anxiety and frustration.

This is because of the system that requires them to pass Japanese state exams within specified periods. If they fail, they must return to their home country. Would-be nurses have three chances to sit for the exams in three years of their stay. Conditions are tougher for aspiring care workers. Since foreign trainees are required to have actual working experience in Japan for at least three years before they can take the exam, they only have a single chance to pass in four years.

The language barrier weighs heavily on them. In particular, learning kanji characters is very difficult. For example, they must struggle with such technical terms as jokuso (bedsores) and senkotsubu (sacral region) that are difficult to read and understand, even for the average Japanese. Holding a Japanese-Indonesian dictionary, one trainee lamented: “I feel as though my head is about to burst.”

Hospitals and nursing homes that accepted the trainees hoping they can serve as a new source of labor are also supporting them on a trial-and-error basis. Some of the facilities have the trainees write diaries in Japanese and correct them while others encourage them to speak in Japanese about what they did and saw during the day at the end of their shift. One hospital required the trainees to study hard for two hours every day using mock state exams and kanji tests. It reminded me of a cram school.

All the Japanese government did to help was to provide them with six-month Japanese-language training. After that, it practically left almost everything, including the contents of on-the-job training and preparations for state exams, to the hospitals and nursing homes that accepted them. Accepting facilities are disappointed by the wide gap between their expectations and the reality of using trainees to cover a labor shortage.

Under the comprehensive EPA, Japan accepts the trainees from Indonesia in exchange for the economic benefits, including abolition or reduction of tariffs on its exports of cars and electronic equipment. The government stands by the traditional policy of refusing to accept unskilled foreign laborers. Therefore, the government’s stance is that the acceptance of nursing trainees this time is a form of personnel exchange and is not meant as a measure to address a labor shortage. The government’s cold attitude seems to be a reflection of such a position.

In Indonesia, showing anger in public is considered disgraceful. When I studied in Indonesia, I came in contact with such Indonesian national traits. I had the impression that while Indonesians tend to be kind and amicable, even when they are inwardly unhappy, many of them keep their discontent bottled up.

Having sent young members of their workforce to Japan, the people of Indonesia are closely watching whether they can adequately reap the benefits of their investment. If the trainees go home feeling angry with Japan’s “cold policy” and such a reputation spreads, it could cause a deterioration in Indonesian public sentiment toward Japan.

The United States and countries in Europe and the Middle East are adopting policies to complement their shortage of labor in nursing and nursing care with workers from Asian countries. They are providing such incentives as granting them permanent resident status in a bid to secure competent personnel.

An operator of a facility I met during a reporting assignment told me: “Unless Japan accepts foreign workers, the nation’s welfare system is destined to eventually fail.” The fact is that Japan is lagging far behind other countries in this regard.

The first thing Japan should do to encourage highly motivated, competent trainees to stay on is to lower the hurdles that stand in their way and make their stay more comfortable.

Specifically, I urge the government to extend the period of stay and give them more chances to pass the required exams that would allow them to qualify as nurses and care workers. It should also embark on providing more detailed care and take advantage of the opportunity as a test case to advance harmonious coexistence with foreign workers.

* * *

The author is a staff writer at the News Center of The Asahi Shimbun Fukuoka Office.(IHT/Asahi: May 13,2009)


GOJ shuts down NJ academic conference at Josai University due to Swine Flu


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Hi Blog.  Turning the keyboard over to a friend who wishes to remain anonymous.  Debito

Dear Debito,

I’m an avid reader of your blog — thanks for all your hard work! I thought I’d pass this information along to you in the event you are hearing about similar cases.

A friend of mine was supposed to come to Tokyo from the U.S. for an academic conference next week. There would be around 800 mostly North American participants — good business for hotels and lots of tourism money in general in these tough economic times. Last week, the GOJ started pressuring the host university to cancel the conference. The host, Josai University, managed to negotiate the following conditions to have the conference:

1. Detailed location/contact info for participants during conference and 10 days after
2. Temperature taken every day of the conference; those with 100.4 F given additional test and possibly quarantined
3. Fill out health declaration every day
4. Wear masks every day
5. Participants are required to pay all quarantine and medical costs

Needless to say, many did not want to attend under these strict conditions, and the conference ended up being canceled:

So the GOJ in the end got its desired result.

Anyway, while I think that of course diligence is required in containing the flu epidemic, I find it a little disconcerting that the GOJ is coming down so strictly on NJs, especially in academic activities. I’m not even sure how legal it is for the GOJ to dictate terms and conditions of their private conference.

Perhaps this one case isn’t worth mentioning, (or perhaps I’m just upset because now I don’t get to see my friend!!) but if many things like this start to happen, it might be worth examining.




Dear Colleagues:

It is with a very great regret that we are announcing the cancellation of the SCMS conference in Tokyo scheduled for May 21-24, 2009.

Late last week we learned that the Government of Japan and the Chiyoda District Government had requested that Josai International University cancel the conference due to concerns about containing the H1N1 (“Swine Flu”) virus.  That request, and the conditions that were subsequently imposed under which the conference might occur, resulted in daily discussions among the officers of SCMS, members of the Board of Directors, the Society’s legal counsel, and representatives of Josai.

We have determined that proceeding with the conference under the conditions ordered by the government presents too many risks for our members and the Society.  These include the personal risks to individual members (including possible quarantine, additional expense, and considerable stress), potential liability to SCMS, as well as pressures on the Society’s small infrastructure.  Moreover, the survey conducted yesterday (564 of 748 registrants replied) indicated that almost one-third of those responding chose to withdraw from the conference.  Many of those who said that they would still attend indicated that they would do so out of a sense of obligation or said that they would spend minimal time at the conference.  It was also clear that some registrants who did not respond to the survey, but who communicated in other ways, were waiting for more information before making a decision.

We are extremely grateful for the efforts of JIU, on behalf of SCMS, for negotiating with the national and local governments to create conditions under which the conference could move forward.  But it is clear that members felt that those conditions would not be conducive to a satisfactory conference experience.  The high cancellation rate – with more likely – presented us with a depleted program rather than the robust intellectual and social experience our members have come to expect of the SCMS conference.

  1.     You are urged to cancel your hotel reservations and flights immediately, unless you plan to travel to Japan for pleasure.  You should contact your airline to arrange for credit on your airfare.  We will be working with Japan Travel Bureau to reduce or eliminate hotel cancellation penalties.

  2.     Conference fees will be refunded, or individuals may request that their registration fee be used for the 2010 conference in Los Angeles.  More details will follow.

  3.     We are working on plans to retain as much of the Tokyo conference as possible as a part of our Los Angeles conference.  We will provide more information as soon as possible.   

  4.     We will be creating a forum on the SCMS website for individuals to register their comments.

  5.     If you have already arrived in Japan and need assistance, please contact the SCMS office staff as soon as possible.  Others can expect their e-mail messages and phone calls to be answered in the order that are received as soon as the staff can respond.

This has been a severe trial for the SCMS leadership, and we realize that the uncertainty caused by this global health situation has created great confusion and anxiety among our members.

We are extremely disappointed that we have had to make this decision, especially in light of the tremendous amount of planning and work that our members, the SCMS staff, and our exhibitors committed to this conference.  Again, we offer our heartfelt gratitude to the Chancellor of Josai and Josai International Universities, MIZUTA Noriko, Dean EN Fukuyuki, SHINOZAKI Kayo and the rest of the staff at JIU who generously offered his or her services above and beyond any duties, responsibilities, or obligations and on top of their already considerable responsibilities at JIU.

We are saddened that we will not be able to meet in Tokyo, but when the dust settles, we look forward to a combined Tokyo/Los Angeles conference to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary, which will represent the very best of who we are and what we do.


Patrice Petro, President

Anne Friedberg, President-Elect

Stephen Prince, Past-President

Eric Schaefer, Secretary

Paula Massood, Treasurer

Scott Curtis, Member of the Board

F. Hollis Griffin, Graduate Student Representative

Michele Hilmes, Member of the Board

Priya Jaikumar, Member of the Board

Victoria Johnson, Member of the Board

Charles Wolfe, Member of the Board

Michael Zryd, Member of the Board


Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance


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Hi Blog.  On the theme of “bringing people over but not taking care of them” (a la the “Trainees” and the Nikkei), here we have GOJ entities beefing enrollment of depopulated Japanese universities with NJ students, then leaving them twisting in the wind when it comes to job searches.  This according to the Yomiuri.  Courtesy of Matt D.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Foreign students finding jobs scarce

Foreign students seeking work in Japan after graduation are facing difficulties in finding jobs as employment conditions deteriorate because of the economic downturn.

More than 120,000 foreign students study in Japan annually. Observers say the government should support the students’ job-hunting efforts to keep them from losing interest in Japan and returning to their home countries.

One foreign student looking for work is a 24-year-old graduate student from China’s Jiangsu Province who lives in Akita. She is currently looking for full-time work at a Japanese firm for after she graduates. But the search is proving difficult.

“Since I began spending my time looking for work, my standard of living has been deteriorating day by day,” she said.

With no financial support from her parents, she is living only on a scholarship and a part-time job to make ends meet. With graduation looming, she decided to quit her part-time job and focus on finding full-time work. By such methods as giving up her trips home to China, she has amassed 300,000 yen in savings. But she has found herself in a hard situation without her part-time income.

On March 8, she traveled halfway across the country to Tokyo, where she attended a job fair for foreign students held near JR Hamamatsucho Station in Minato Ward. Following the event, she stayed for a week with a friend living in the capital so she could call on companies in Tokyo, but she came away empty-handed, she said.

Savings wiped out, she can no longer afford to eat out, and is saving money by cooking and eating at home whenever possible.

“I’ve made it a habit to seek cheap foods at supermarkets. For example, I decided not to buy enoki mushrooms, whenever they cost more than 100 yen,” she said.

The student buys boxed meals at supermarkets only after they become discounted at night and takes them to school the next day for lunch.

Still, she said she is not considering returning to China. “The competition is even more intense in China than here. There are fewer jobs to go around because of the economy. I want to work in Japan to utilize what I have learned in university and graduate school during my stay here,” she said.

Similar difficulties have been experienced by a 31-year-old man from South Korea who now lives in Saitama Prefecture. After graduating from a private university here in 2007, he returned home and found employment. However, he returned to Japan after his wife decided to enter a Japanese graduate school, and he began searching for a job here this year. However, he has had no luck.

“There are far fewer companies hiring than there were before. I need to find a job as soon as possible to support my wife and me, but I haven’t found a good place to work,” he said.

According to the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), the number of foreign students studying in Japan at universities, graduate schools and junior colleges has been on the rise in recent years. As of May 1 last year, a record 123,829 foreign students were studying in Japan, up 5,331 from the previous year. About 60 percent of the foreign students came from China, followed by students from South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, according to JASSO.

Many students from Asia hope to work in Japan. However, only 10,262 students were able to obtain working visas in 2007 after finding jobs. Many students ended up returning to their home countries after failing to find work.

The employment situation for foreign students has gone from bad to worse due to the economic downturn. According to the Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners–a job-placement office for foreign residents–there were 252 job listings targeting foreign students graduating in March available at the center as of Jan. 31, down 54 from the same period last year.

According to the organization, it is mainly small and medium-size companies that seek employees through the center. However, general manager Kazuo Hirasawa said companies across the spectrum are cutting the number of foreign students they hire.

The government has announced a plan to increase the number of foreign students studying in Japan to 300,000 by 2020 to enhance the country’s international competitiveness by securing excellent human resources from around the world.

However, the government’s measures to support foreign students finding jobs in Japan are limited, even though this is supposed to be an integral part of the government’s plan. The government is now planning to host job fairs targeting foreign students and a meeting of universities and companies interested in recruiting foreign students.

But observers say the government measures are failing to keep up with rapidly deteriorating employment conditions.

Mitsuhiro Asada, chief editor of J-Life, a free magazine targeting foreign students published by ALC Press, Inc., said: “Foreign students are integral to the future of Japan. If the government really wants to increase the number of foreign students, it needs to focus its efforts on improving the status of foreign students after they graduate–including setting a target figure for the number of foreign students hired by Japanese companies.”

Foreign students receiving more assistance in job hunt

When trying to get a job in Japan after completing their higher education here, foreign students often struggle with the nation’s peculiar job-hunting procedures, under which students usually start such activities as early as the latter half of their junior year and submit “entry sheets” rather than resumes to prospective employers for the first round of screening.

Many job-hunting foreign students are uncertain about how to fill in these entry sheets or how they are expected to behave during interviews.

Therefore, some universities have been taking steps to help their foreign students find jobs.

For example, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), a private institution in Oita Prefecture whose foreign students accounts for 40 percent of the student body, regularly holds events called “Open Campus Recruiting,” in which companies are invited to the campus to hold briefing sessions for foreign students and conduct recruitment tests.

During the 2007 academic year, there were about 380 sessions of the Open Campus Recruiting program.

On the other hand, Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo started to offer job-hunting support to its foreign students in October last year. The private institution has asked for help from temporary staffing agency Pasona Inc., which provides advice to these students regarding how to fill in application forms and how to behave during interviews.

In addition to these two examples, many other institutions now offer special job-hunting seminars for foreign students.

In recent years, some companies have been willing to hire more and more foreign students. Starting with new recruits for the 2008 fiscal year, Lawson Inc., for example, has been hiring foreign students under the same working conditions as their Japanese colleagues. For the fiscal year starting this month, the major convenience store chain has about 40 foreign recruits.

“We value diversity [in our workforce],” a Lawson official says of why the company has hired an increasing number of foreign students.

Diversity in the workplace is thought to encourage people to respect different values that come from differing nationality, gender and age. This is also said to enhance their creativity.

“If companies can provide foreign employees with comfortable working systems,” says Masato Gunji, senior researcher at the Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, “it would become easier for them to hire other types of workers such as homemakers and the elderly.”

(Apr. 9, 2009)

Sunday Tangent: NPR interview with late scholar John Hope Franklin: feel the parallels


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Hi Blog.  Here’s Sunday’s tangent.  On March 27, 2009, NPR replayed a 1990 interview with the late  John Hope Franklin, historian of racism within the United States.  He died at age 94 on March 25.  The Economist ran this as part of their obituary on April 2:

…Academia offered no shelter. He excelled from high school onwards, eventually earning a doctorate at Harvard and becoming, in 1956, the first black head of an all-white history department at a mostly white university, Brooklyn College. Later, the University of Chicago recruited him. But in Montgomery, Louisiana, the archivist called him a “Harvard nigger” to his face. In the state archives in Raleigh, North Carolina, he was confined to a tiny separate room and allowed free run of the stacks because the white assistants would not serve him. At Duke in 1943, a university to which he returned 40 years later as a teaching professor, he could not use the library cafeteria or the washrooms.

Whites, he noted, had no qualms about “undervaluing an entire race”. Blacks were excluded both from their histories, and from their understanding of how America had been made. Mr Franklin’s intention was to weave the black experience back into the national story. Unlike many after him, he did not see “black history” as an independent discipline, and never taught a formal course in it. What he was doing was revising American history as a whole. His books, especially “From Slavery to Freedom” (1947), offered Americans their first complete view of themselves…

Now read this excerpt from the NPR interview, which I transcribed, and see if you get what I did from it:

Terry Gross:  In some of your essays in your new book, you talk about some of the obstacles that you faced as a Black scholar, and you wrote that you faced discrimination that goes beyond any discrimination you faced in the field itself.  For example, when you were chairman of history at Brooklyn College [New York City, in 1956], one of the problems you had was finding an apartment you wanted to live in, because a lot of neighborhoods refused to sell to you.  

JHF:  That’s right.  I spent more than a year trying to find a place I wanted to purchase.   My appointment was so spectacular that news of it with my picture was on the front page of the New York Times.  But when I set out to find a house near my college — I hoped to be able to walk to work — almost none of the real estate dealers in the area would show me any of the houses that they were widely advertising.  And when I finally found one being sold by the owner, I then had the problem of trying to find the money so I could purchase the house.  And that was another round of excruciating experiences.  I finally found it, but I could have spent this time so much better.

TG:  Let me ask you kind of a stupid question.  Did you ever take that New York Times article around to the real estate agents and say to them, “Look, don’t you know who I am?”

JHF:  No, I don’t believe in that.  I’m a human being, and that ought to be enough.  I’m well-mannered, I think I’m well-dressed, and I think that my conduct is above reproach.  I think that that should commend me.  And if it doesn’t, well, then I think they’re not interested in hearing anything about who I am.  I have no doubt that many of these people knew who I was.  And yet, I was still rejected.

COMMENT:  These sorts of things are mostly seen nowadays as unpleasant historical anachronisms, approached  and reflected upon with the attitude of “How could people do this sort of thing?  What were we thinking back then?”  And rightly so.

However, just try to rent as a foreigner in Japan, and get credit as a foreigner in Japan.  Bonne chance.  You simply are not going to resolve these situations until you make what happened to JHF illegal.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Friend requests advice on how to approach JHS PTA, regarding repainting rundown school


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Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard over to my friend in the Hokkaido outback, who is asking us for feedback about how to approach his local junior high school and help create a more positive learning environment for his child. Those with experience or advice, please let us know? Arudou Debito in Sapporo, less outback


I’m looking for advice here. I went to my child’s JHS today for about the 4th time in the last year. Again I was struck and depressed by how dingy it looked. It got me to thinking that the kids don’t take pride in the place and this leads to and has led to a lot of serious problems.

I came home and wrote the following and am wondering if it or I can do any good. Can I translate this and say this, to the School and Principal? to the School Board?, to the Mayor?, publicly to the PTA at their general meeting in 2 weeks? Is it too rude? Could you say it more diplomatically? How? Would you? Could you? Does it have a chance of succeeding?


Please feel free to comment on any one of the paragraphs numbered below.

1. I am sorry to have to mention this and possibly I am sorry to use this sort of strong and possibly rude language. In English it is okay in Japanese I don’t know and most people prefer to keep quiet because they don’t want the reputation of being “noisy”

2. Last year when I heard that some students here did not respect this building and were damaging things my initial reaction was “why is anybody surprised?” In my opinion any damage here will not make this building look any worse than it does.

3. I don’t think you could find a school in the entire country of Canada whose walls and ceilings looked as bad as this school. This place is dingy. The sarcastic comment that most Canadian parents would make in this case would be:

4. Does anybody here in authority know what paint is?…It comes in tins and 20 liter pails…It costs about 500,000yen per ton…It is quickly put on by brush, roller, or spray…It is great for making buildings look fresh and bright and clean. 2 of the buildings I went to school in were over 60 years old. They didn’t look this bad because they were repainted at least every 10 years.

5. In my opinion the walls and ceilings in this school need cleaning, patching and a new paint job! If this happened a great number of students would take more pride in this building. Most of them would treat it with much greater respect. There would be massive group disapproval of any one deliberately or accidentally causing damage. It would pay off in much higher student morale and thus effort towards listening to teachers, paying attention in class, and caring about what is taught and trying to learn.

6. I don’t think this was a problem for any of the parents or teachers in this room when you went to school. You were much closer in time to when coming to school meant sacrifices. Maybe your parents or grandparents couldn’t go to school. Maybe someone in their family skipped meals so they or someone else in their family could go to school.

7. Another thing is that maybe when you went to school the buildings were much newer and looked much better.

I am also quite sure that almost all of your homes look better than this school and that none of you would be happy living in a house that looked like this school without trying very hard to make it look better.

8. It would also pay off in much higher teacher morale. Teachers would find their days less stressful and if student morale improved they would of course be much happier.

9. I think that the PTA should make the effort to start the ball rolling to paint this school. We should try to do this for the teachers who teach here, our children who spend so much time in class and clubs and for the children that come after them when they graduate. We should try even if we have to raise the money for paint, and volunteer a lot to help out in preparing the walls for paint and doing the cleanup. IMO it would show our children and their teachers how much we care about the value of education.


10. Towards this goal here is 20,000 yen.


JASSO eliminating exchange student funding on medical expenses, meaning sicker ryuugakusei


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Hi Blog. JASSO (Japan Student Services Organization), the group which offers very generous packages for ryuugakusei (exchange students) to come and take up spaces in Japanese universities, is being less generous as of late.  This is a problem since how much those students are allowed to make up the shortfall is limited by visa status.   Here’s an essay from YYZ about what’s going on there and the impact it’s having on different nationalities.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Hi Debito.  Checking out my 留学生掲示板 today I had the shock to find that the JASSO assistance to foreign students medical expenses program, which had been cut from 90% to about 30% last year, is now being cut to ZERO as of this April.

Background in English: Ryugakusei are supposed to join National Health Insurance and pay 30% of the medical costs just like everyone else. Of course, this is quite hard, especially for students from less-wealthy nations, so JASSO had been reimbursing 80% or so of that 30%, leaving the ryugakusei to pay a more tolerable 6% of medical costs in the end. Last year that 80% of the 30% became about 30% of the 30%, more than tripling medical costs for ryugakusei. For my trips to the dentist [3000 yen out of pocket], it wasn’t really even worth the trouble to apply for the aid, as the bank transfer fee of 600 yen would net me 400 yen 3 months down the road for spending all the time doing the paperwork.

As of April, that won’t even be a factor. The support will be zero. I can manage, I’m a poor grad student, but I can make decent money teaching English/translating on the side. For the typical Chinese student, it will make life a lot tougher.

Normally I don’t support handouts in the first place. But, since the Japanese government limits the amount of hours a student can legally work [28 hours per week, no more than 8 per day] thus limiting our income, [especially rough if the only job you can get is washing dishes for 750 an hour] some government consideration is only fair. We can’t live rent-free with Mama and Papa nor count on them for free food or to bail us out in times of need like most Japanese students. Not to mention the desire to travel home even just once a year. [I already can’t do that.]

Many students must be already violating their visa work conditions just to scrape by. Now, more students will delay medical care, or work even more overtime in violation of their visas. Because when the government limits a self-supporting student to 21,000 yen/week in income [at 750/hr] and already takes about 5000/month just to join NHI, losing the medical expense subsidy is a kick in the teeth, as it’s already impossible to follow the visa work laws and live as a self-supporting student without a full scholarship and/or burning up one’s life savings.

This development is especially troubling regarding the claimed plan to greatly increase the number of ryugakusei by the central government. Apparently they only want ryugakusei who are healthy and wealthy enough to live comfortably in Japan, the most expensive country in the world.

I also thought that possibly this aid wasn’t entirely altruistic, as they government would rather have students reporting their medical problems to a doctor than hiding such things as TB, Chicken Flu and the like because they can’t afford a visit to a clinic. [This would be the angle to pursue to convince the powers-that-be to reinstate this system, the concrete result of cutting the aid might be money saved on paper, but a sicker foreign student population as a danger to Japanese citizens, yielding possibly more medical expenditures in the end. These students are the ones cooking your gyoza at the izakaya, and now they’re more likely to be sick.]

The Japanese source page, found in the display department, in the unlit basement, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying “Beware of the leopard” [pardon the Douglas Adams reference]

Probably English versions on individual university websites, as JASSO doesn’t seem to be prominently announcing this themselves. YYZ


Hi Debito.  Glad I could contribute.

Thoughts keep going through my head after the initial shock.

I always wondered why this program (like so many in Japan) was never “means-tested” in some concrete way (just as we would expect some income limit on the 12,000 yen Aso handout). A student from Saudi Arabia on a full Monbusho scholarship (full tuition plus 170,000yen a month) was just as eligible for the JASSO aid as someone from Vietnam who scrubs until 2AM 5 nights a week for 750 yen and lives in a slum.

As an aside, the Monbusho scholarship (among others) stipend has been going down for the last 2 years or so. [I can’t even apply because I’m over 35, but age discrimination is another issue.] But it seems the government is not putting its money where its mouth is regarding announced intentions to rescue Japanese universities by allowing a flood of ryugakusei. Although if their intention is flood the universities only with wealthy ryugakusei, perhaps these actions are right on target, but unrealistic. But that’s Japanese policy for you.

Keep up the good fight. YYZ

Japan Times Zeit Gist on Chinese/Japanese bilingual education in Japan


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Hi Blog.  Further festive good news:  A rupo in the Japan Times Community Page from a member of the Chinese Diaspora in Japan, on the Chinese Diaspora in Japan.  And how some are being educated to believe that they are bicultural, bilingual, and binational.  Good.  Debito in Monbetsu



School bridges China-Japan gap
Historic Yokohama institute seeks to nurture Chinese values, equip pupils for life in Japan
Special to The Japan Times

At first glance it seems to be a typical lunch break at a local Japanese school: Boys rambunctiously chasing one another and yanking at each other’s white polo shirts, little girls twirling so hard in their pleated gray skirts that they fall down with squeals of glee.

News photo
Bilingual, trilingual: Classes at Yokohama Yamate Chinese School are taught in both Mandarin and Japanese. Students learn English from fifth grade.EMILY CHO PHOTO

But look closer and you notice that although the signs on the wall are familiar, the Chinese characters are written in simplified form, unlike Japanese “kanji.” A group of lanky adolescent boys in navy blazers start kicking around a fuchsia-feathered shuttlecock, or “jianzi,” instead of a soccer ball.

“Ne ne, ore ne, hao chi de bing gan aru yo ne!” a little boy shouts, holding some biscuits up like a prize as he switches fluidly back and forth between Mandarin and Japanese.

Welcome to the Yokohama Yamate Chinese School, which boasts a more-than-century-old cultural tapestry steeped in Chinese values deeply interwoven with Japanese influences.

The Yokohama Chinese School was established in 1898 by Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, during his exile from the mainland. The school aimed to assuage the worries of parents that their children might lose their Chinese identity growing up in Japan.

In 1952 the school split into two factions due to the political tensions between mainland China and Taiwan. The supporters of Communist China broke off to form the Yokohama Yamate Chinese School at another site, while the supporters of Taiwan stayed behind at what became the Yokohama Overseas Chinese School. Both schools claim to be the first Chinese school in Japan. Of the five Chinese schools in the country, only the Yokohama Yamate Chinese School and the Kobe Chinese School are oriented toward the mainland.

One of the main differences between the two types of schools is that simplified Chinese is taught instead of traditional Chinese in pro-mainland China schools. They also teach Pinyin, a romanization system for standard Chinese, while the Taiwan-oriented schools teach Zhuyin, which uses phonetic symbols. However, the Taiwan-oriented schools are starting to teach simplified Chinese and Pinyin to offer a more well-rounded education.

Of the Yamate school’s 413 students, 30 percent are Chinese nationals, with the rest having Japanese citizenship. Ten percent of the student body is ethnically Japanese.

“Chinese people feel the need to be infused with the Chinese culture, logic and ideology,” Principal Pan Minsheng explains. “The Japanese people enroll because they realize what a big and powerful force China is. China and Japan are also closely intertwined in many aspects of life, politics and culture. It is therefore beneficial for them to learn more about the Chinese culture.”

Although separated only by a narrow strip of water, war and occupation have left China and Japan divided by a wider gulf, exacerbated by ongoing political, historical and territorial tensions. However, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, and great efforts are being made in both countries to build on growing ties. Perhaps both sides are finally heeding the wisdom of the Chinese proverb that says, “A good neighbor is a found treasure.”

During his state visit to Japan in May — the first by a Chinese president in a decade — Hu Jintao set aside time for the school, perhaps recognizing that the students may come to play a critical role in bridging the gap of understanding between Japan and China.

At the end of a worn-out hallway decorated with hand-painted artworks, Pan pulls open a sliding door to reveal a class of children reading out loud with perfect pronunciation from Chinese textbooks. Shutting the door behind him, Pan then pulls open another sliding panel; in this class the students are bantering with their teacher and each other in fluent Japanese.

In the school’s kindergarten, children are mainly taught in Japanese, while primary and secondary-level classes are taught in Japanese or Chinese depending on the subject. English is also taught from the fifth grade. Chinese schools also encourage student-initiated learning, where the children learn as much from themselves and fellow classmates as from teachers and textbooks.

“As you can see, in this class they are all learning Japanese,” explains Pan. “The students are proactive and discuss among themselves. They are learning when communicating with each other.”

He points to the nearest table, where two students are quietly eavesdropping on our conversation. “Hey! Discuss!” he barks good-naturedly, getting giggles in response.

The Yamate school only teaches up to junior-high level, but according to Pan all students go on to pass entrance exams for high-level Japanese senior high schools and transition easily into the Japanese school system.

Unlike other international schools in Japan, which tend to focus on readying students for life outside Japan, Chinese schools like Yokohama Yamate aim to prepare their students for Japanese society, while keeping their Chinese cultural identity intact. In effect, the school aims to teach each its students how to be both Chinese and Japanese.

When asked where they were from, a crowd of fourth-graders eagerly shared their varied answers.

“I’m Japanese, and Chinese,” said a serious-looking boy named Bozhi, a first-generation Japanese-born Chinese.

“We’re from China!” proclaimed two girls, Zhenxin and Chongmei, and another boy named Fangwei. All three were born in China and are being raised in Japan.

Mandarin and Japanese poured forth in a strangely comfortable cadence among the boisterous bunch, and there was no preference for either language. But the younger students tended to favor one language over the other, depending on which is spoken at home.

“I’m Japanese. I like Japanese class the best because it’s easy. I got 99 on my last test,” confided Akiyama, a shy 6-year-old who speaks Japanese at home to her Japanese father and Chinese mother.

A cheeky boy runs up to the principal and tugs his sleeve insistently. “He hit me, he hit me!” he hollers. The principal ruffles the boy’s hair. “This little boy can speak Cantonese too. He speaks three languages!” he says proudly.

The Yokohama Yamate school, like all other Chinese schools, encourages a tightknit community environment. The atmosphere in the school seems to be almost familial between faculty and students.

In the courtyard, a young teenage boy is seen playing down his basketball abilities with the eager primary students. All over the school, similar interactions suggest a close bond between the students.

“All the students clean their classrooms on their own,” says Pan. “But for the first-graders, the older students cleans the classroom for them.”

Mrs. Ogawa, a Japanese mother who sent her two daughters to the school, appreciates the strong bonds it fosters. Her husband worked in China for a brief stint, and upon his return the couple formed friendships with Chinese people.

“We thought that if it was possible, we should let our child mix with Chinese people from a young age and let them know that there are all sorts of people in the world, not just Japanese,” she explains. “It will make them more flexible and open-minded.”

Despite the fact that the majority of the parents are Chinese, Ogawa says she has never felt out of place. She even picked up basic Mandarin so she could pronounce the names of her daughters’ Chinese friends and teachers.

Looking at the sea of enthusiastic young faces, it is as impossible to pick out which student is Japanese or Chinese as it is irrelevant. Within the walls of the school there is no differentiation between the two ethnicities, only the celebration of both.

“In the school, we are all parents — we have the same worries and the same happiness. Japanese people have to mingle with the Chinese to truly understand them,” says Ogawa. “It is important to form opinions from interpersonal relationships, not just from what you see on television. At the end of the day, we aren’t that different after all.”

Send comments on this issue and story ideas to
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008

Japan Times: Eric Johnston on Gunma NGO stopping ijime towards NJ students


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  Here’s an article from the JT regarding bullying of NJ schoolchildren, and grassroots efforts to ameliorate it.  Yet another helpful bit of journalism from the Japan Times, well done.  Get in touch with these people if you’re having a problem in school.  Debito in Sapporo


An NGO reaches out to bullied foreign kids

By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
The Japan Times Friday, Nov. 28, 2008

KYOTO — Bullying is widely recognized as a problem affecting Japanese children. But non-Japanese kids and their parents who are also harassed can have a particularly hard time finding either sympathy or practical advice in their native language.

Now, the Gunma Prefecture-based nongovernmental organization Multilingual Education Research Institute is reaching out to non-Japanese parents and students throughout Japan, as well as to concerned Japanese who want to stop the bullying of foreign children.

The Ijime (Bullying) Zero campaign provides a number of services, including a telephone hotline and a Web page with advice in English, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.

“No one in Japanese education is talking about the xenophobic aspects of bullying. There is a need to train people to be aware and to do something,” said Cheiron McMahill, president of the International Community School in Tamamura, Gunma Prefecture, and head of the institute.

McMahill noted that while the government assists Japanese victims of bullying, there are fewer resources for foreign children in their native language. To fill the void, the institute is using its Ijime Zero campaign to offer three kinds of assistance.

First is a multilingual forum where foreign children and their families can disclose their concerns and help each other. Second, educators nationwide, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, who have foreign students can get information and assistance on dealing with bullies. Third, anybody who wishes may borrow, for the price of return postage, multilingual literature and DVDs on dealing with bullies. About 3,000 items are available for lending, McMahill said.

Nationwide, there are more than 25,000 foreign children in schools. The majority are believed to be Brazilians, followed by Chinese. Truancy among foreign children, who are often bullied because they are different or don’t speak Japanese, has become a concern in recent years, especially in prefectures like Gunma and in the Chubu region where large numbers of foreigners reside.

Local governments and the central government both say more needs to be done to integrate foreign children into Japanese schools. But they are often at odds over what exactly should be done and who should take the lead. The central government has long urged local governments to do more, while cash-strapped local governments say there is little more they can do unless Tokyo formulates a national policy and provides funds for assistance.

Human rights activists note a fundamental reason for truancy among foreign children is that they are not required by law to attend public school, which means those who drop out due to bullying or other reasons are not legally obliged to return. The education ministry’s position is that while public schools cannot turn away foreign children, they don’t have to make sure they’re in class.

“Revising the Compulsory Education Law to insure foreign children are covered is a top priority for Japan,” McMahill said.

Last year, a government survey revealed that at least 1 percent of foreign children living in Japan did not attend school, but because the whereabouts of 17.5 percent of children in Japan registered as foreigners was unknown, the real truancy figure is probably much higher.

“The different languages that foreign children speak need to be seen as a resource for Japanese society as a whole, not as a problem to be solved. Having foreign children in the classroom helps Japanese children become more multicultural, and that will pay benefits for all when they grow up and go out into the world,” McMahill said.

For more information on the Ijime Zero campaign and the kinds of assistance available to international parents and children, visit the Multilingual Education Research Institute’s Web site


Mainichi: Brazilian ethnic school closing due to NJ job cuts


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. Spent the afternoon asleep, feeling a bit better, thanks. Not used to being sick (only have gege illnesses once every few years or so), so it was a bit of a shock. Anyway, let me get to the article I meant to blog today:

I mentioned yesterday about how the NJ workers are the first to go in any wave of job cuts (no wonder — very few NJ ever get promotion beyond “temp”-style contract labor, despite working for years at full-time jobs). Now here’s an article in the Mainichi about how that’s having a negative impact on the NJ community, particularly the education of their children.  Ethnic schools are starting to close as tuition dries up.  What next for the NJ communities, always contributing yet kept as a mere appendage to the “real members” of this society?  Courtesy of Silvio M.

Arudou Debito convalescing.


Japan’s economic woes force Brazilian school to drop out
Mainichi Daily News, December 5, 2008

Students at Escola Prof Benedito in Naka-ku, Hamamatsu. (Mainichi)

Students at Escola Prof Benedito in Naka-ku, Hamamatsu. (Mainichi)

HAMAMATSU, Shizuoka — A Brazilian school in Hamamatsu, a city with a large population of foreign laborers, will be closing its doors at the end of this month. Escola Prof Benedito fell into financial crisis as the sharp decline in the economy forced many of its students’ parents out of factory jobs, leaving them unable to pay tuition.

As of Thursday, Escola Prof Benedito had 30 students between the ages of four and 15. Like most Brazilian schools in Japan, it is unaccredited and receives no public funding from local and national governments, operating on a monthly tuition of approximately 26,000 yen that it collects from each student.

Unpaid tuition began to increase in September when a growing number of parents started experiencing layoffs, and by October, the school had fallen into a serious financial rut. At the end of that month, the school found that 15 of its students — or half the student population — were planning to move back to Brazil or transfer to a less costly public school next year.

Principal Benedito Vilela Garcia, 55, says about his decision to close the school, “I’ve determined that the situation will be worse next year. Closing the school at the end of December, the same time the Brazilian school year ends, will cause the least trouble for students under the circumstances.”

Garcia started the school in his apartment in Hamamatsu in 1996. At its peak in 2002, the school had around 180 students. In 2006, the school purchased and relocated to the five-story building it currently occupies.

“It makes me sad when the children ask me why we’re closing.” The principal himself is planning to sell the building and return to Brazil with his family next January.



ブラジル人学校:年内で閉鎖…親が失業、月謝払えず 浜松
毎日新聞 2008年12月5日







JALT TLT: James McCrostie on NJ job insecurity at Japan’s universities


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  Here’s a nice short 500-word summary of one issue I’ve been covering for more than ten years now:  Academic Apartheid in Japan’s Universities.  Reprinted with permission of the author.  Arudou Debito in transit


Behind the Music: An explanation of the university shuffle
James McCrostie
Published in the April 2007 issue of JALT’s The Language Teacher
in the Job Info Center column (p. 45 – 46).

Working at Japanese universities resembles musical chairs. Every year the music starts and instructors with expiring contracts run around looking for a new job. Most universities hiring foreigners full-time offer one-year contracts, renewable three or four times. Contrary to popular belief, universities don’t cap renewals at three or four because if a teacher works long enough they can’t be fired. Schools remain safe as long as they state the number of renewals and a few have contracts renewable up to ten years.

To most thinking people, forcing instructors to leave every few years appears short sighted. Yet, university and government officials have their own reasons for preferring term-limits.

Keeping costs down is one reason. The penny pinching began in December 1992 when Ministry of Education officials phoned all the national universities and warned them against keeping foreign teachers in the higher pay brackets. Schools soon sacked foreigners over the age of 50 (most had been promised a job until retirement), replaced them with teachers on capped contracts, and refused to hire anyone over the age of 35 or 40 (Hall, 1994). Yet, despite a 1997 law allowing universities to employ Japanese faculty on term-limited contracts, the use of capped contracts to economize, while increasing, remains largely limited to foreign staff (Arudou & McLaughlin, 2001).

Attitudes towards foreign teachers reveal the more important reason for the caps. University and Ministry of Education bureaucrats regard foreigners as models of foreign culture with expiry dates stamped on their foreheads rather than real teachers who have a long-term role to play. For example, Niigata University’s president admitted wanting foreigners “churning over constantly” (JPRI Staff, 1996). In an Asahi Shimbun editorial, Shinichiro Noriguchi, a University of Kitakyushu English professor, contends “native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than ten years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers” (Noriguchi, 2006).

Ministry of Education officials justified firing older foreigners from national universities by arguing younger instructors would be better examples of American culture (Hall, 1998). Nearly a decade later, Ministry bureaucrats justified term-limits by contending they “encouraged the movement of teachers to other universities which was of benefit to both teachers and the universities” (Cleary, 2001). Exactly how they benefited anyone was left unsaid.

If nothing else such attitudes are at least consistent, changing little since the Meiji Era. Viewing foreigners as disposable goes back to the 1903 sacking of Lafcadio Hearn from what is now Tokyo University.

Are the caps discriminatory? While nearly every Japanese instructor receives tenure from the day they are hired and nearly every foreigner is shown the door after a few years the Supreme Court, with a little legal legerdemain, ruled that such hiring practices don’t violate the Labor Standards Law which applies only after someone has been hired (van Dresser, 2001).

Luckily, some universities do appreciate that employing foreigners permanently can benefit a school. So what’s a foreigner in search of job stability to do? Getting a doctorate couldn’t hurt but the key is Japanese fluency. According to activist Arudou Debito “you’ve simply got to understand what’s going on around you” (Arudou, personal communication). Then again, neither provided much protection during the purge of the 1990’s.


Arudou, D. and McLaughlin, J. (2001). Employment conditions in the university: Update autumn 2001. JALT Kitakyushu Presentation. Retrieved January 20, 2007 from

Cleary, F. (2001). Taking it to the Ministry of Education: Round three. Pale Journal. 7(1). Retrieved January 20, 2007 from

Hall, I. (1994). Academic Apartheid at Japan’s National Universities. JPRI Working Paper No. 3. Retrieved January 21, 2007 from

Hall, I. (1998) Cartels of the Mind: Japan’s Intellectual Closed Shop. New York: W. W. Norton.

JPRI Staff. (1996). Foreign teachers in Japanese universities: An update.
JPRI Working Paper, 24. Retrieved January 20, 1997 from

Noriguchi, S. (2006). English education leaves much to be desired. Asahi Shimbun, Sep. 15, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2007 from

van Dresser, S. (2001). On the employment rights of repeatedly renewed contract workers. PALE Journal, 7(1). Retrieved January 20, 2007 from

Asahi NP Op-Ed urges J to make education compulsory for NJ children too


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. Another column calling for the guaranteed education of NJ children. Good. Keep it up.  The more of these, the better. Previous one earlier this year here. Debito in Sapporo


POINT OF VIEW/ Takaaki Kato: Non-Japanese kids deserve an education, too


Among non-Japanese families residing in Japan, there are too many that do not enroll their children in public or other schools here. Whatever their reasons, this is a serious problem. These children of foreign nationality, some of whom were born in Japan, are being deprived of their right to an education.

As a Japanese-language teacher at an elementary school, I find this situation distressing. Not only do these kids lose out, but so do their families and the community in general.

The Council for Cities of Non-Japanese Residents, which comprises representatives from municipal governments that have a high concentration of foreign residents, has made proposals to the national and prefectural governments on how best to educate the children of foreign nationality.

I believe the main reason many children of foreign nationality are not enrolled in school is because Japanese law does not oblige them to receive compulsory education.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology says that when such children apply for enrollment at public elementary and junior high schools, they are accepted free of charge and are thus guaranteed educational opportunities.

However, that doesn’t prevent their parents or guardians from failing to enroll them, the first main problem.

Some non-Japanese parents or guardians prefer to send their children to international schools, such as those for Brazilians living in Japan. That is fine.

But others who don’t send their children to international schools also do not apply for their children to enter the Japanese school system. In some cases, they have pulled their kids out of school to baby-sit younger siblings.

This brings us to a second problem. Even when school officials try to persuade guardians to enroll their children, they fail because there is no law requiring enrollment. The School Education Law is not clear on whether children of foreign nationality fall within the definition of “mandatory school-age pupils and students.”

Still, Article 26 of the Constitution states: “All people shall be obliged to ensure that all boys and girls under their protection receive ordinary education as provided for by law.”

But since foreign residents are not Japanese citizens, they are not obliged to ensure their children go to school. That seems to be the general interpretation.

Does this mean children of foreign nationality in Japan have no right to an education?

No, it does not.

Under the spirit of the Constitution, under internationally accepted universal human rights principles and under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which Japan has ratified, every human being, regardless of nationality, has the right to a basic education.

Thus, a child’s right to an education means their parents or guardians are obliged to ensure they receive such schooling.

Therefore, foreign residents in Japan must be legally required to ensure the children under their care receive compulsory education.

So it seems obvious that a new clause must be added to the Fundamental Law of Education, for example, to ensure such children receive the education that is rightfully theirs.

If children of foreign nationality are legally obliged to receive compulsory education, local governments would have to check to ensure they have been enrolled in school.

The authorities would of course let guardians decide whether to enroll the children in international schools or Japanese public schools, but either way, they would have to ensure the children were actually attending school.

A revised system like this would also improve awareness among foreign residents about their children’s right to an education.

The government must tackle this problem seriously and implement measures to promote enrollment of foreign children in public or other schools.

Such steps might include providing subsidies to international schools, producing and distributing free Japanese-language learning textbooks and assigning Japanese-language teachers to teach Japanese as a second language to children of foreign nationality.

The future of these children is at stake. I strongly urge the government to make elementary and junior high school education compulsory for children of foreign nationality, too.

* * *

The author teaches international students at Imawatarikita Elementary School in Kani, Gifu Prefecture.  (IHT/Asahi: November 20,2008)

Kyodo: SDF’s Tomogami revisionist history shows cosiness between J military and right-wing nationalists


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Hi Blog.  Here’s an issue that is being fleshed out in a well-written, informative Kyodo article:  that of historical revisionism within Japan’s military, and its cosiness with the right-wing.  We had a general write a prize-winning essay (received from right-wingers, see below) denying that Japan waged a war of liberation against Asia during WWII.  How Japan treats or is treated by its neighbors is of import to, albeit tangentially, so let me reproduce Kyodo’s recap of the debate so far.  

I was asked for my opinion earlier this month in the Comments section of my blog.  In brief, this is how I answered:

–- Tamogami was forced to resign. Good. He did not capitulate. Fine with me (it is his opinion). But the media I’ve seen so far skirts the issue. It’s not a matter of whether what he said was appropriate for his position within the SDF. It is an issue about whether what he says is historically accurate. (It is not.) And until these historical issues are finally laid to rest (through, as UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene suggested, a history book of the region written and approved by scholars from all countries involved), this is just going to keep happening again and again. Exorcising the elephant in the room, i.e. the ghost of Japan’s wartime past (particularly as to whether it was a war of aggression or liberation), must be done sooner or later. It is still not being done and debunked, and that means the SDF person can just use “freedom of speech” as his cloaking device and compare Japan to the DPRK (as he has done) and just gain sympathy for the Rightists. There. Debito 

Unfortunately, I don’t see any diversion from this path even as the debate, as Kyodo reports below, goes to the Diet.  The debate has gone into issues of civilian control (meaning, to freedom-of-speechers on both sides of the political spectrum, mind control), and Tamogami is setting himself up to become a martyr to the right wing.  Again, the tack should also include, is what he saying historically accurate?  Again, it is not.  

The honest study of the history of any country is going to reveal things that a nation is ashamed of, and one must include that as part of the national narrative.  The Tamogamis, Obuchis, Abes, and Asos are just going to have to live with that.  And part of the process is bringing historical fact of Japan’s conquering, Imperialist past into the debate.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


FOCUS: Unapologetic ex-general’s testimony fuels civilian control concern

TOKYO, Nov. 11, 2008 KYODO, Courtesy of the Club

     Sacked air force chief Toshio Tamogami testified in parliament Tuesday over his controversial war essay but his unapologetic rhetoric only highlighted a large difference in perception with the government regarding Japan’s role in World War II.

     His testimony also posed a question even among Self-Defense Forces officers about whether the 60-year-old former general was ever fit for the post of Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff and prompted politicians to have second thoughts about the effectiveness of their efforts to maintain civilian control of the defense forces.

     ”Did I do such a bad thing at the end of my career?” the outspoken Tamogami told reporters after pressing his case over the essay as an unsworn witness during a 160-minute session before the House of Councillors Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense.

     Tamogami offered no apology or remarks that he would take a hard look at the release of the essay in which he denied Japan waged a war of aggression in other Asian countries before and during the war.

     ”I’m feeling good,” Tamogami said to TV camera crews and photographers on entering the parliament building earlier in the day for the testimony session.

     ”Mr. Tamogami has learned nothing (from this controversy),” a senior official of the Defense Ministry said. ”I cannot help doubting Mr. Tamogami properly understands the gravity of what he did as a top SDF officer.”

     The Chinese and South Korean governments have expressed their displeasure over Tamogami’s essay although the dispute has yet to develop into a major diplomatic problem.

     Adm. Keiji Akahoshi, the chief of staff of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, questioned Tamogami’s remarks in the upper house committee, telling a press conference, ”Again I recognized the gravity of the problem and that his releasing the essay was inappropriate.”

     Tamogami was dismissed as ASDF chief Oct. 31, the same day as his essay, which the government says clearly contradicts the position of successive governments, was made public.

     In the essay, Tamogami denied that Japan had waged a war of aggression in other Asian countries and challenged legal restrictions on SDF activities such as limits on the use of weapons overseas under the U.S.-drafted Constitution.

     Setting aside the essay’s content, the issue also shed light on whether politicians can properly control the expression of opinions by SDF personnel while being mindful of freedom of speech.

     Tamogami was known for his straight talk after becoming ASDF chief in March 2007 and wrote an article later that year in a magazine circulating only within the ASDF on the war and historical issues that contained views similar to those in the essay.

     Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, a legislator, admitted that the then leadership of the ministry missed the article ”because that was an in-house magazine.”

     This time, the essay Tamogami wrote while ASDF chief was made public as the winner of the 3 million yen top prize in a competition.

     But an SDF officer tried to defend Tamogami saying, ”I heard it was well-known in the ASDF that Mr. Tamogami held such views on the history of the war as he expressed opinions to that effect on various occasions without being clearly advised not to do so.”

     ”He may be puzzled, feeling, ‘Why am I being criticized so strongly only this time?” the officer said.

     Former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, known as a military wonk, has said that more SDF officers should come forward to express opinions from the viewpoint of defense experts to support the defense minister.

     Tamogami has also come under fire for his failure to notify civilian officials in the ministry in writing of his plan to publicize the essay, breaking an intra-ministry rule on the expression of opinions by ranking SDF officers.

     But Tamogami said, ”That should not constitute a violation of any rules,” arguing that writing the essay was not part of his official duties and that it was a product of his private studies on history.

     At the beginning of the session Tuesday, Committee Chairman Toshimi Kitazawa from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan urged members of the committee as well as Tamogami to be aware that sloppy civilian control over the old Imperial Japanese military forces resulted in the loss of more than 3 million lives in the war.

     The ministry is set to pay Tamogami a retirement allowance worth around 60 million yen. He was dismissed as ASDF chief but allowed to leave the ministry with a status enabling him to receive the benefit.

     ”I’ll use the allowance because I will have difficulty making a living,” Tamogami said, brushing off mounting calls to voluntarily return all or part of the money to the state coffers.

     But a top official of the ministry blasted Tamogami, saying, ”I hope he will better understand how much trouble he has caused for the ASDF for which he served for 30 something years and how seriously the already damaged confidence in the SDF has been lost.”

     The top official, who asked not to be named, also said that Tamogami was unfit for the top post in the air force and his behavior could suggest problems in the education programs at defense academies.

     ”We know there are some junior SDF personnel who don’t want to easily follow government policies on various matters. It’s OK. They have freedom of thought. But we do not usually expect a four-star-general-class officer like Mr. Tamogami to challenge the government in public,” the official said.

     Revelations about Tamogami’s cozy links with a nationalist real estate businessman who organized the competition was also among topics taken up by the committee.

     The essay contest was organized by hotel and condominium developer Apa Group and its head Toshio Motoya, a friend of Tamogami. Apa Group is also known for its support of hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

     On top of that, an orchestrated submission of essays by ASDF personnel is also suspected.

     Tamogami also denied in the parliamentary session that he received any inappropriate benefits from Motoya’s side and that he had played a role in the organized submission of essays.

     But the ministry has found that in addition to Tamogami, 94 of the 235 essay submissions came from the ASDF.

     Another senior official of the ministry questioned the fairness of the essay contest saying, ”It must have been fixed.”





“TALK A LOT” textbook (EFL Press) has a rotten caricature of a “strange foreigner” for an English lesson


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. Here’s a little something from a friend in Saitama.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Hi Debito. This comes from the book Talk a Lot: Book One. Second Edition.
(c) 2003 David Martin

Published by EFL Press
1-10-19 Kita
Okegawa City
Saitama 363-0011
(048) 772-7724


Feedback also to to:

I guess this is supposed to be funny, but it’s not. I don’t know what country this foreigner is supposed to be from, but I don’t know of any where a lot of what he is doing would be alowed at school, let alone in a STRICT Japanese one. What really makes me angry though is the damn katakana Japanese. Of course, no non-Japanese can speak Japanese well, so anytime a foreigner speaks, it ALWAYS has to be written in katakana. Also, gaijin are all very scary.

A little more background. At my high school, we get a lot of free books sent to us by publishers. One of my co-workers was looking through one a saw that page and showed it to the rest of the NJ staff. I took it and sent it to you. It’s hard to believe that the author is, I believe, from Hawaii.

On another page of the same book textbook, there is a list of adjectives for people with drawings to go with them. The people look European or Asian with words like skinny, tall, etc…. Out of all of them (there are 20 or so) there is one dark skined person and the word underneath is “black”. That’s a bit odd. I can scan the page on Monday if you’re interested.

Greg in Saitama




Here is the scan of the page I mentioned earlier.  I do think it’s a bit strange that “black” is the only adjective used to describe skin colour.  There is no “white” or “brown” or what have you.  Greg


From: [private email redacted upon request]
Date: November 10, 2008 2:53:49 PM JST
Subject: Re: Fwd: SUPPORT FORM
Mr. Debito,

Thank you for your email regarding the “stereotype” in Talk a Lot,
Book 1. I have had a look at your website and read the comments.
I want to explain this, not to defend myself or my actions but
just so you know. First of all, it’s NOT meant to be a stereotype
in any way whatsoever. Foreigners who live in Japan are not like this,
and everyone knows it. It’s done comically like this and is a gross
overexageration in order to motivate students to use a normally
dull grammar points.

For your information, very few people, students nor teachers have been
offended by this. Yes, if you think too hard and are too critical, it may
offend someone. Please relax, enjoy life and stop thinking too much.
Look at it in a different light and you may not be so upset. Also, keep in
mind that I, myself, am a foreigner and am poking fun at myself so
why would it be offensive. Offensive to whom?

By the way, what does it matter where I live now? It seems that you are
trying to stir up trouble for no reason. I do not live in Hawaii, by the way,
so your information is wrong.

Thank you and I hope I have not offended you but I am a bit upset at
your brusque style of writing.

Best Regards,

David Martin
EFL Press


From: [private email redacted upon request]
Date: November 10, 2008 7:56:00 PM JST
Subject: Re: Fwd: SUPPORT FORM

Mr. Debito,

Hello again. I forgot to mention that we do have a note in the Teacher’s Guide
for the activity which you mentioned. This is what is written there:

Page 62, The Strange Foreigner

This scene is obviously fantasy. It is exaggerated to increase student interest in an otherwise dull (but useful) grammar point.

I put this note just in case a few people might think we were trying to look down on
or stereotype foreigners, which is not the case.

Thank you,

David Martin
EFL Press

— Thanks for the replies, Mr Martin. I am sorry to have gotten your location (Hawaii) wrong (your IP indicates you are in Thailand). I am also sorry that you find my brusque style of writing “upsetting”. I find it a tad amazing how you can be upset by brusquely-worded letter of complaint (you might consider taking your own advice, and “look at it in a different light and you may not be so upset”, but never mind), yet have a thick skin regarding something put in a textbook destined for impressionable young people, portraying “gaijin” as people carrying weapons, drinking while driving, and being overtly “scary” and “strange”. I guess there’s no accounting for taste. Or for editorial rectitude when you’re on the publishing and profiting end, as opposed to the millions of “gaijin” being portrayed in proxy… Anyway, thanks for your replies. Arudou Debito in Sapporo



From:   [private email redacted upon request]
Subject: infringement of copyright on your website
Date: November 13, 2008 11:01:57 PM JST

Hi again,

I have nothing against you including criticisms of my book, Talk a Lot,
Book One on your website. That is up to you and is perfectly fine and
perfectly legal. But I was shocked when I first had a look at your website
to find you had allowed the posting of two pages from my book which had
been scanned. This is clearly an infringement of copyright since you have
not asked for our permission. Please take these two pages off of your
website as soon as possible!

I do not ask you to do this because of the possible damage you are causing
us. That is not the reason at all. I am asking you to do this for two reasons:

1. It’s illegal and thus bothers me.
2. We, as a rule, do not put PDFs or any images of our books on our website
because we want teachers to see our books as a whole and not just a part
because we feel they will be convinced to use our books if they see the whole book.

I hope you understand my thinking on this and will take them off. The criticism can
go on and you can even explain in detail what is on those two pages if you want.
I’m not against that at all..but you cannot legally copy pages from a book and
post them without prior written permission.

Cheers, David Martin EFL Press

– Mr Martin, I suggest you do some research on Japanese laws governing Fair Use.

MX on “Gaijin” harassment in Tokyo elementary school


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  Pursuant to yesterday’s Asahi article mentioning kids bullying a child with international roots, here’s a letter from a father who felt the diversity-stripping effects of the word “gaijin” firsthand, when his Japanese daughter first entered a Tokyo grade school.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


From:   MX

Subject: my 6-year-old (Japanese) daughter called “gaijin”

Date: October 24, 2008

Hello Debito,

You probably don’t remember, but I wrote you several years ago to ask about the complicated issue of children’s names in the case of “international couples” here in Japan, and you kindly answered that query. 

Well, it is about 6 years later and my daughter XXXXXX is getting ready to enter elementary school next April. We happen to live right between two schools in Tokyo, and my wife took XXXXXX to visit both of them yesterday. XXXXXX is quite excited to be an ichi nen sei next year and was looking forward to the visit, but it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. 

In one of the classes they were visiting, a boy pointed at XXXXXX and shouted 外人だ!外人がいる! The teacher went on “teaching” as if nothing was happening, while the shouts grew louder and soon the entire class was pointing and staring at poor XXXXXX, who was in complete shock. Ultimately, my wife had no choice but to leave the classroom and try to console XXXXXX.

I can’t say this came as a complete surprise, as XXXXXX does indeed look quite “European,” but it was depressing that the teacher saw no reason to intervene in some way to make the experience less mortifying for my daughter. If this had occurred on the street it would have been  bad enough, but it is even more disheartening that it happened at a school, a place that should be at the forefront of efforts to curb stupid racial discrimination. 

Anyway, the reason that I am bothering you with this sad little tale is that I was wondering if you happened to know anything about the Ministry of Education’s “policy” towards racial discrimination and what (if anything) the schools are doing to explain the simple fact that Japanese people now come in all shapes, sizes and faces. I suspect there is no effort being made whatsoever to counter the ignorance of students and teachers, but I thought if anyone was up to date on this subject it would be you.

So far, my wife and I have sent a letter to the Principal of the school and depending on the response (if any!) we receive I may pursue the matter further, whether writing to The Japan Times or to the Ministry of Education itself. Do you have any other suggestions on how to raise a bit of a stink about this (assuming, of course, you think that the incident is as stinky as it seemed to me and my wife).

I’m sorry to take up so much of your time with this, but any advice you might have would be much appreciated. 

Best regards, MX



2008/10/25 Arudou Debito <> replied:

Hello Michael.  Thanks for sharing this.  May I post this up on my blog?  I’ll anonymize it if you like.  It’s an important tale.  If you’d like to add anything more, please do.  Meanwhile, consider what I did in this situation here.

Do take it up with your school.  Schedule an appointment and meet with the people in charge with the school face to face.  Get in writing what the school intends to do about this.  The teacher was completely irresponsible.  Debito


Hi again,
Thanks for writing back. Please feel free to post it on your blog, but I would prefer the anonymizing (?). It’s been a couple days and no news back from the principal yet. I suspect they are having some endless (and probably fruitless) meeting about this, or it has been brushed off completely. Anyway, I will follow up on it.
It seems to tie in to the debate over the g-word in the Japan Times. I must admit to being somewhat on the fence about the word when it comes to myself, as it is at least factual accurate, but there isn’t much justification when it is directed against a “fellow citizen.” I thought the incident showed, though, that the word is less important the ugly sentiment that is often behind it, that is basically: We’re over here, and you (strange people) are over there. In fact, the kid in that class could have just pointed and said nothing and the effect would have been similar. I suppose my point is that the problem is not so much this or that word, but racial discrimation itself (not to mention the nonsensical concept of “race” itself). In that sense, the word g-word and the n-word do have more than a little in common, although to argue which is worse is sort of like saying that one atrocity is not as bad as this one.
I’ll stop rambling, though, and just thank you again for taking the time to write me. Take care, MX

Speaking at JALT this Sunday: PALE Keynote Speech


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  I’ll be speaking at the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT)‘s annual conference this weekend in Tokyo.  “The Professionalism, Administration, and Leadership in Education (PALE) JALT SIG — What’s Up, and What’s Next?”  

9:15 – 10:55 AM Sunday Nov 2 in Room 511 (I’m not too happy about the early hour, either).  

Download my powerpoint presentation here.

How to get there here.

If you’d like to find out more about or join our PALE SIG Group (more information on them here), please come to our Annual General Meeting on Saturday Nov 1 in Room 511, 5:25 – 6:25.  Otherwise, come down to the SIG tables in the general commons.  I’ll be there most of the time selling books and chatting (our table’s always the most fun, anyway).  

See you there!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Speaking this Saturday at Peace as a Global Language Conference, Seisen University, Tokyo


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Just wanted to call your attention to a conference this coming weekend at Seisen University, Tokyo.  The Peace as a Global Language Conference.  I’ve been to (and spoken at) more than half the conferences since they started earlier this decade, and I think they’ll be worth your time.

Sat Sep 27, 11AM-11:50, Peace as a Global Language Conference 2008:  Arudou Debito speaks on ”NJ:  From Visitor to Resident”, Seisen University, Tokyo.  More details:

7th Annual Conference

Peace as a Global Language
September 27-28, 2008

‘Imagining Ourselves in a World of Peace!

Seisen University,

Tokyo, Japan

Welcome to the website for the 7th Annual Peace as a Global Language Conference. We are delighted once again to be invited back to Seisen University – the third time that the conference has been held in this location.

PGL conferences began in 2002, and have quickly become an established part of the yearly calendar for students, teachers and activists. We encourage anyone interested in the following areas to join us as presenters, participants or conference volunteers.

  • peace
  • the environment
  • human rights
  • global issues
  • intercultural communication
  • values,
  • health
  • gender
  • media literacy,
  • foreign language education focusing on global issues.

The theme of this year’s conference will be:

Imagining Ourselves in a World of Peace!


Please do join us in celebrating PGLVII and share in the joy of contributing to peace and the advancement of global studies.

Presentation Schedule 2008  

Sat. Sep.27

9:00-  Registration

9:30-9:45  Opening


  • Human Rights
    • Presenter: Matthew Sanders (Room.1)
  • Break through of that Critical Barrier…Peace Education
    • Presenters: Hanaoka, Kusube (English/Japanese) (Room.2)
  • Poetry and Pedagogy
    • Presenter: Hugh Nicoll (Room.3)


  • Presumptous Pronouns: Examining Our Way of Life
    • Presenter: Philip Adamek (Room.1)
  • From Visitor to Resident
    • Presenter: Arudou Debito (Room 2)
  • Hidden Language: Hatha Yoga (M Lounge)
    • Presenter: Moira Izatt (Room 3)

12:00-12:50 Lunch Break (with poster sessions) for both days

            Poster session I

  • “Perigo Minas!” – Taking a Stand at Our School Festival
    • Presenter: Kirk Johnson and students from Kanda University of International Studies

13.00-14.50: Keynote I

Peace Boat: Sailing for a New World
Tatsuya Yoshioka


  • Stereotypes Everywhere
    • Presenter: Nicholas Degrego (Room 1)
  • Gender and Japanese Language”
    • Presenter: Barry Kavanagh (English/Japanese) (Room 2)
  • EFL Topics with Tibet
    • Presenters: Itoi, Inose (English/Japanese) (Room 3)
  • Using Cross-Cultural Idioms and Literature to Introduce Peace Studies”
    • Presenter: Charles Montgomery (Room 4)
  • The Global Nine Campaign” (English/Japanese)
    • Presenters: Meri Joyce and others (Room 5)


  • Danger: Patriotism
    • Presenter: John Spiri (Room 1)
  • Combining Peace Education with Business English
    • Presenter: Anthony Torbert (Room 2)
  • Global Issues in EFL around the World”
    • Presenter: Kip Cates
  • Am I Japanese or American?
    • Presenter: Yujiro Shimogori (Room 4)
  • The PGL 2007 Conference: A Report on the PGL Committe-Student-University Staff Collaboration
    • Presenters: Craig Smith, Yuiki Takenoshita, Junichiro Kawaguchi, and Albie Sharpe


17:30-19:30 PARTY!


Sun. Sep.28 

9:00- Registration


  • Using Student Activation and Social Awareness
    • Presenter: Kirk Johnson (Room 1)
  • Rm.2 The Wiki As A Collaborative Tool for teaching Global Issues
    • Presenters: Daniel Douglas, Barbara Stein


  • Promoting International Understanding through Asian Youth Forum
    • Presenter: Kip Cates (Room 1)
  • Using Songs in Language Class for a Global Understanding
    • Presenter: Mercedes Castro Yague (Room 2)
  • Support freedom of speech on NORTH-WEST of the Russia
    • Presenter: Rebrov Alexei (Room 3)
  • Citizens Initiatives for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education with an ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) Perspective”
    • Presenters: Kazuya Asakawa / Motohiko Nagaoka (Room 4)


12:00-12:50 Lunch Break (with poster sessions) for both days

            Poster session II

  • War Violence in the Media
    • Presenter: Josef Messerkliger

13:00-14:50: Keynote II

“Yasukuni” Documentary
directed by Li Ying


  • Panel Discussion on Yasukuni (Room 1)
  • Daitobunka University Education Dept. Fujita (Room 2)
  • Peace Pilgrim (Video & talk)
    • Presenter: Charles Kowalski (Room 3)
  • Art, social responsibility and activism
    • Presenter: Jane Joritz-Nakagawa (Room 4)


  • Light from the Shadows, Hiroshima Nagasaki Film
    • Presenter: Robert Kowalczyk (Room 1)
  • Daitobunka University British & American Literature
    • 2 graduate students (Room 2)
  • Peace Pilgrim (Video & talk)
    • Presenter: Charles Kowalski (Room 3)
  • “Video message project building a bridge between the Philippines and Japan”
    • Presenter: Naoko Jin(BRIDGE FOR PEACE) (Room 4)




More details, including information on how to get there, at


Reader AS voices concerns re Softbank regulations and Japanese Language Proficiency Test


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog. Finally got done with my marvelous class (a joy from start to finish, we went several hours overtime just discussing the issues), and been too busy to revise my blog every night revising my powerpoints to reflect the threads of our conversation. So let me forward this germane email and open a discussion about issues regarding Softbank and the JPLT.

Arudou Debito in Nagoya, tomorrow Saitama, then Nagano, Sendai, and Iwate on successive days…


Dear Mr. Debito Arudou,

Hello. My name is AS. Currently, I am living in Gifu Prefecture. I am long time reader of your blog and a great admirer of you and your work for the foreign community in Japan. I have two concerns that I would like to dicuss with you. If you want, you have my consent to publish these comments on your blog for an open discussion.

1) Questioning the request of the Japanese Proficiency Test to show a passport or a gaikokujin card as an ID. When a person applies for the JLPT, they recieve a manual regarding the way of applying for the test, how to take the test, and other various guidelines and rules that may apply to taking the test. One of these guidelines is that you must show either a passport or an alien registration card as a form of I.D. To quote the manual, under the topic of what to bring to the test.

  • 1. Test voucher
  • 2. Writing Instruments
  • 3. Lunch.
  • 4. Identification (passport or alien registration card)

I have no problems with numbers 1 to 3, but with number 4, I have a major problem. Why do they ask only for either a passport or an alien registration card? Why do I have to show either one of these to prove my identification? Isn’t either a Japanese driver’s license or a Japanese insurance card a form of valid I.D.? Also under Japanese law, isn’t illegal for someone to ask you for a alien registration card or a passport that isn’t a police officer or an immigration officer? I am just wondering about these questions because the JPLT is targeted to towards foreigners who want to measure their Japanese comprehension in form of a test. In my mind, it looks the NPA deputized another group of people (first one being hotels and their front desk) to gather information about foreigners. I am wondering what is your take on this and any advice to an individual that is more willing to show their insurance card instead of their passport or their alien registration card to the proctors of the test.

2) Questioning the policy at Softbank requiring long term foreign residents to pay a lump-sum payment for a cell phone if their period of stay in Japan is less then 27 months. Here is my story: Yesterday I want to a Softbank shop in order to get a new plan and cell phone. I wanted a new plan and cell phone for a while and current 2 year contract was about to expire. I want to shop and was looking at various cell phones. A sales associate came over to help with decide in choosing a new model. I choose a cell phone that I wanted to get and the sales assoicate with very helpful with decribing the current price structure for the phones. If I wanted a new phone, I would have a pay a x amount for over 24 months, the lenght of the contract. I said that was fine with me. She continued to laid out the cost of the phone over the 24 month period and the cost of the monthly phone bill in relation to my new plan with cost of the mobile phone. Up to this point, I was happy and pleased with the service of Softbank. When processing my order, the sales associate asked my lenght of my visa. I was surprised by this because I have been a customer with Softbank for over the lenght of stay in Japan ( a little over 4 years now) and I have never been asked once the length of my visa. So, I told here that my visa is going to expire next July. I have a currently a three year instructor visa that is going to expire next year in July. I am planning on renewing my visa next year and continue to live in Japan. At this point, I was surprised and little bit frustrated and angry at the sales associate. However, this is where things become surprising and frustrating for me. Before when discussing my the cost of my phone and the plan that I was going get, the sales associate informed that my cost cell phone is zero. It will cost me nothing. Howver now with the information of the current lenght of my visa, she informs that I will have to buy my cell phone for 40,000 yen. I was completely shocked and gobsmacked by this. She informed that since my visa is less then the lenght of my contract I will have to provide a lump sum payment of 40,000 payment in order to recieve my phone. I have never paid for my cell phones (currently 2 different models within 4 years and the last change happening about 2 years ago). I was not happy to put down 40,000 yen for a cell phone. It is a lot of money. At the end of the experience, I did not get a new cell phone but I got my plan.

My question to you: What can be done to make Softbank realize that their policies are downright racist and bias against foreigners that do not have a visa of 3 years or more? Of course I am assuming that marriage visas of any length are fine. Many of my friends and acquaintances have a visa of one year. My one friend who has been living in Japan for 3 years but is always getting a one year visa from immigration. What can my friend and I do in a situation in that we have to pay a lump sum payment for a cell phone now but in the past we could get a cell phone with no questions asked or paying for a cell phone? And also, when did Softbank (a company that has large long term foreign residents as customers) entacted a policy of asking the term of one’s visa lenght and requesting a lump sum payment for a cell phone if the customer a lenght of Japan under 27 months. Why 27 months and not 24 months (the lenght of the contract)? Why they have contract lenght of 24 months and not 12 months (the lenght of lot of visas issued by immigration)? What can be done about this?

Thank you for reading this lengthy e-mail.

Sincerely, AS, a 4 year long term foreign resident of Japan


Having a phenomenal experience at Nagoya University with multiculturalism


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi Blog.  Just a quick word tonight, since I have to prepare for tomorrow’s classes.

I just wanted to write that I’m having a phenomenal experience at Nagoya University at the moment teaching an intensive course on media professionality and responsibility.  (This is the first time I’m teaching this course, from scratch, with lots of powerpoint slides.)

I have two Japanese, two Chinese, and a Mongolian student attending.  All of them are sharp, interested, engaging, and so lively in discussion that I have trouble sometimes getting a word in to steer the lesson back to the current point!  (That alone is phenomenal, given my two decades of teaching quiet classes.)  Six hours flew by without pause to look at our watches.

But even more breathtaking is that two-thirds of the class, myself included, are not native speakers.  And of course, we’re doing everything in Japanese, from newspaper articles to reading sections of UN treaties and government statements out loud.  We’re communicating at an extremely high level in a second language that many of us (well, me, actually, back in the haughty Bubble years when I first arrived here) were once told that foreigners could never learn to speak, read, or write in any useful facility.  Boy, were the naysayers wrong.  

Moreover, having the perspectives of other Asians in the classroom is marvelous given the collective experiences we all bring of overseas media perspectives and attitudes.  Creates a dynamic that is collegiate and international in the best sense.  I think it’s one of the best classes I’ve ever taught, and it’s only been the first day.

Makes me hopeful for Japan’s future as a multicultural, multiethnic, quite possibly even multilingual society.  It’s gonna happen.  I feel as though I’ve got a front-row seat watching it emerge.

Arudou Debito in Nagoya