Debito.org post #3000: SNA Visible Minorities 38: Visible Minorities: “Queen Elizabeth, Monarchies, and Progressivism” (Sept 19, 2022), on whether royals should still be allowed to exist

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As I am inundated with classes this fall (it’s my busiest semester ever), I decided to write about what was on my mind with the passing of a historical figure.  Should monarchies still be allowed to exist when millennia have showed that there are much better forms of government out there?  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

(PS:  This is the 3000th post on the Debito.org Blog since it started more than 15 years ago.  This doesn’t of course include the posts made on Debito.org proper before this blog was started, since 1995.  Long may we run.)

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Visible Minorities: Queen Elizabeth, Monarchies, and Progressivism
Shingetsu News Agency, Sept 19, 2022, by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/09/19/visible-minorities-queen-elizabeth-monarchies-and-progressivism/

SNA (Tokyo) — On the death of Queen Elizabeth II, let’s talk about monarchies. Why do they still exist, and should they still be allowed to exist?

Monarchies are as old as civilization. Kings and hereditary power were once the norm worldwide, as they were the means to control land and offer protection for farming peasants, exchanging food supply for protection from invaders—when the system worked as promised.

But it often didn’t. “Good” kings were relatively rare and their legacies unsustainable. Sooner or later, the people got unlucky under some ruler whose only claim to power was divine right, suffering under a king or queen who had gotten a God Complex, or was being manipulated by an unscrupulous elite.

Either way, their regimes cared naught about the welfare of most people in their kingdom, forcing them to pay treasure to corrupt systems, sending them to die in meaningless wars, and leaving them dirt poor at the best of times or starving in the worst.

That’s the reason why today very few absolute monarchies remain in the world. You simply can’t trust kings and queens to look out for any interests but their own. It took a couple of millennia, but people eventually realized that a monarch, or any leader unaccountable for their actions, had to be reined in.

Most countries acknowledge that the best of all flawed systems is a government where people can choose their leaders. That’s why even one-party autocratic states have elections. Replacing leaders bloodlessly on a regular basis, under a franchise that expands suffrage to as many people as possible, on average produces a better minimum standard of living for all.

So why do so many stable advanced democracies, such as the United Kingdom, retain their monarchies?

Rest is at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/09/19/visible-minorities-queen-elizabeth-monarchies-and-progressivism/

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Debito’s SNA VM37: “Reforming Japan’s Dickensian Foreign Trainee Program,” Aug 22, 2022, and why I remain skeptical that reforms will actually happen

mytest

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Visible Minorities: Reforming Japan’s Dickensian Foreign Trainee Program
August 22, 2022, By Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — News Item: video footage surfaced in 2020 of a Vietnamese “trainee” being physically abused by Japanese co-workers at a construction company in Okayama Prefecture, resulting in injuries including broken ribs and a broken tooth. Despite a criminal complaint, the Okayama Prefectural Police Prosecutor’s Office declined to prosecute the four Japanese co-workers involved.

Here is the video footage that started it all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK1HhnvktOc&t=76s

This Vietnamese trainee is not alone. Despite the strict Covid border controls, currently 280,000 foreigners toil as temporary low-wage workers in Japan’s farms and factories nationwide. Given Japan’s often nasty work environments, which generally combine exploitative work ethics with a normalized bullying culture, this means that more than a quarter of a million foreigners are here and in harm’s way under a system of unfettered abuse…

[…]

Fortunately, there are some stirrings that reforms might happen. Even the conservative Yomiuri Shinbun said in an August 20 editorial that reforming the system is “unavoidable.” Moreover, the government announced last month a full-scale review of the program, intending to “bring this long-standing issue to a historical conclusion.”

I am skeptical these reforms will achieve what is promised, which is basically to resolve the ongoing human rights abuses which have always characterized the trainee system. One reason for my doubts is because…
==================================

Read the rest at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/08/22/visible-minorities-reforming-japans-dickensian-foreign-trainee-program/

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Asahi: Okayama public prosecutors drop co-worker violence claim by Vietnamese “Trainee” despite video evidence. No wonder Japan’s violent bully culture thrives! (UPDATE: Out-of-court settlement was reached)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a handy site I just found on Facebook (GoEMON Global) that offers news and translation of interest to Debito.org.  Something of note (with my comment afterwards):

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

OKAYAMA PREFECTURAL PUBLIC PROSECUTORS OFFICE DECIDES TO NOT CHARGE FOUR JAPANESE PEOPLE WITH THE ALLEGED ASSAULT OF A VIETNAMESE TRAINEE TWO YEARS AGO

Courtesy TT and GoEMON (https://goemon-jp.com/)

Two years ago, a 41-year-old male Vietnamese technical trainee was abused by his four Japanese coworkers while working. The act was then discreetly recorded by another Vietnamese trainee, causing a buzz within the public at that time. The result of the case was recently disclosed by the Okayama Prefectural Public Prosecutors Office.

The technical trainee filed a case to the Okayama Prefectural Public Prosecutors Office, claiming that he had been assaulted during the past two years working at the company, in which the four coworkers, all in their 30s, were referred to prosecution on suspicion of causing injuries and other charges. The Prosecutor’s Office, however, announced that the four cannot be prosecuted, due to a lack of information.

The indictments were dropped against two for injury, one for injury and violation of the Violent Acts Punishment Law, and one for violation of the Violent Acts Punishment Law.

Original article:

ベトナム人実習生暴行容疑で書類送検の4人、不起訴に 岡山区検

朝日新聞 2022年8月4日

https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASQ8466HSQ84PPZB012.html

Video evidence:


Courtesy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK1HhnvktOc&t=76s

技能実習生のベトナム人男性(41)が実習先の岡山市の建設会社で2年間にわたって暴行を受けたと訴え、岡山県警が同社の元従業員の男性4人(いずれも30代)を傷害などの疑いで書類送検していた事件で、岡山区検は4日、4人全員を不起訴処分とした。理由は明らかにしていない。
不起訴となったのは傷害容疑の2人と、傷害と暴力行為等処罰法違反容疑の1人、暴力行為等処罰法違反容疑の1人。

訴える(うったえる): Prosecute
暴行(ぼうこう): Abuse
不起訴(ふきそ): Cannot be prosecuted
違反容疑(いはんようぎ): Alledged
傷害(しょうがい): Injury
—————————————
GoEMON is a sharing and community connection platform in Japan. We want to build a community to help foreigners have a better life in Japan by sharing the real experiences of foreigners in Japan.
#GoEMON #News

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COMMENT FROM DEBITO: “A lack of information”!? [Well, in the original Japanese, it just says, “For reasons left unclear.”] Anyway, watch the video above.  Yet another example (see the McGowan Case for another) of how even when you have photographic or audio evidence of abusive behavior, the laws are only as good as the people enforcing them.  If public prosecutors will not do their job and prosecute, the laws specifically against violent acts mean nothing.

Consider this: How many of you out there have been in a situation where the bullying in Japan escalated from verbal to physical?  Personally, I have, many times.  And it’s no wonder why — as evidenced here, there’s nothing official to stop or hold abusers accountable.  This is despite all the public promises of reform of Japan’s already abusive, exploitative, and deadly “Trainee” system.  In a sense, this poor guy is lucky he didn’t end up laid up in the hospital or worse!  Debito Arudou, PhD

=====

PS:  I got out of my bullying situations by fighting back.  But that usually had mixed results — too many times in Japan the victim gets blamed for either “overreacting”, or for disrupting things by reacting at all.  And it’s one reason why Japan remains a society where bullies dominate.  Because who dares, wins.  D.

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UPDATE AUGUST 19, 2022:  Other media gave more detail that the case was dropped due to a settlement.  Article follows, translation mine:

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

ベトナム人技能実習生への暴行事件 建設会社の元従業員4人を不起訴に 岡山区検
YahooNews.co.jp, 2022.8.4(木), courtesy of LP
https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/faa361ab11a2bc6d7c7c865e7044a2e57d3eb716

岡山市の建設会社で働いていたベトナム人技能実習生に暴行し、けがをさせたとして書類送検されていた元従業員4人を岡山区検察庁は不起訴処分としました。

この事件は2019年秋に来日したベトナム人技能実習生の男性が、職場の岡山市の建設会社で約2年間、日本人従業員から暴行を受け肋骨を折るなどのけがをしたと訴えていたものです。

2022年6月、岡山県警は傷害などの疑いで当時従業員だった4人を書類送検していました。

岡山区検は不起訴処分とした理由について明らかにしていません。

実習生を保護していた労働組合によりますと、建設会社と監理団体から実習生に謝罪がありその後、解決金が支払われ示談が成立したとしています。ENDS
============================

Translation by Debito:

Violence against a Vietnamese Trainee:  Okayama Public Prosecutors decide not to prosecute four former [Japanese] employees at construction company

Yahoo News, August 4, 2022

A case sent to Okayama District Public Prosecutors, where four former [Japanese] employees at an Okayama city construction company were violent towards a Vietnamese Trainee co-worker, causing him injuries, has been dropped from prosecution.

The Vietnamese male Trainee, who had arrived in Japan in the Fall of 2019, reported that over the course of about two years, he had endured violence from Japanese co-workers at an Okayama construction company workplace, including injuries such as broken ribs.

In June 2022, Okayama Police sent the four Japanese workers to prosecutors for injurious damages.  Public Prosecutors did not give a reason why they decided not to prosecute.

According to the labor union protecting the Trainee, there was an apology from the construction company and the administering agency (kanji dantai), with restitution (kessaikin) paid through private settlement.  ENDS

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FURTHER COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Well, if the “Trainee” feels that honor has been satisfied through apologies and restitution, so be it.  And according to this article, his abusers seem to have gotten fired.

But let’s consider how this should have proceeded:

  1. The violence shouldn’t have gone on for two years.  There should have been a way to report it to authorities at the first sign of violence, particularly to those authorities who got the “Trainees” here in the first place, and gotten him transferred him out of there immediately.
  2. It shouldn’t have taken the painstaking amount of effort on the part of the victim to make a video and get a labor union involved before authorities sat up and took notice.  Even broken ribs wasn’t enough evidence?  How many months of everyday hell and pain did this poor “Trainee” have to endure?
  3. The workplace should have been screened better as an acceptable workplace, and then monitored afterwards.  This isn’t the first case of foreign “Trainee” or “Researcher” workplace abuse by any stretch.  Abuse, according to the labor unions, is in fact the norm.  According to labor union leader Torii Ippei, companies that are NOT abuse their foreign workers are “very rare” (goku mare).

This case shows just how much, despite calls for reform of the system for decades, things have NOT progressed.  By now, things like this shouldn’t still be happening.  But official negligence is the norm here. Again, good thing the “Trainee” had the video of the savage treatment that resulted in broken ribs and untold mental damage. But he shouldn’t have had to. Debito

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Even more detail here (excerpt):

ベトナム人技能実習生への暴行で示談成立 建設会社・監理団体が謝罪
西本秀 朝日新聞 2022年5月7日
https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASQ5675PYQ4XPITB003.html

ベトナム国籍の技能実習生の男性(41)が実習先の岡山市の建設会社で2年間にわたって暴行を受けたとし、動画を公表して訴えていた問題で、男性を保護した労働組合・福山ユニオンたんぽぽ(広島県福山市)は、会社や、実習生を仲介した監理団体との間で示談が成立したことを明らかにした。

ユニオンによると、建設会社シックスクリエイトは、暴行があったとし、監理団体の岡山産業技術協同組合は、保護責任を果たせなかったとしてともに男性側に謝罪し、補償金を支払うという。

シックスクリエイトの代理人弁護士は「取材は受けない」とした。監理団体は「示談により問題が円満解決に至った」としつつ、内容は「関係者のプライバシーに関わり、詳細を明らかにすることを差し控えさせていただきます」とコメントした。

国も問題視 計画認定取り消しに
男性は2019年10月に来… rest at https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASQ5675PYQ4XPITB003.html

======================
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Japan Times on neighborhood sento bathhouse restoration activists: Omits history of how Japan’s already-declining public bath industry hurt itself with “Japanese Only” signs

mytest

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Hi Blog. Particularly dear to my heart is the issue of public baths in Japan (onsen and sento), as racist exclusionism is something my friends and I have dealt with for decades (including a successful civil suit in Otaru that went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, a couple of books in English and Japanese, and even a doctoral dissertation). Despite all these years of recording their “Japanese Only” signs and activities, already people seem to be trying to forget, or remembering not to remember, how this industry already in decline did itself no favors by being racist.

The most recent example of historical revisionism was in a Japan Times article about “Sento Samaritans”, where it didn’t even mention that past.  The article is excerpted below. I wrote in their Comments Section in reply:

======================
Debito: I applaud the efforts of these movements to keep neighborhood sento open. However, the writer of this article (and perhaps the activists themselves) neglected to mention an important part of history, where public/private baths have refused entry to foreign and foreign-looking residents and customers. If offering this communal experience is “an important channel of communication between neighbors”, then it’s also important to recognize the fact that sometimes sento and onsen have undermined themselves by putting up “Japanese Only” signs, and not recognized “foreigners” as fellow neighbors. Openness to all members of the community should also be part of their slogans.
======================

The JT article is excerpted below.

Also, The Japan Times in general seems to be forgetful of this discriminatory history as an editorial policy, as their archive on recent articles regarding Sento demonstrates. The JT laments the decline of the industry (for example, here) without getting into how some of their decline is their own fault. That’s particularly galling, considering I wrote for the Japan Times for two decades a regular column, in addition to other stringer articles, on this very subject.

Seems The Japan Times doesn’t prioritize this type of issue anymore. So much for reporting “in the public interest”.  This is how history gets unlearned and eventually repeats itself.  Just wait for the next moral panic blamed on “foreigners”, and communal doors to a public service will shut all over again.  Even if if drives the excluder out of business.  Talking about preservation without including this issue is in fact counterproductive for the industry.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Sentō Samaritans: The fight to save urban bathhouses
Activists believe bathing for a coin means soaking up culture
The Japan Times, August 6, 2022 (excerpt)
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2022/08/06/general/sento-bathhouse-historians/

Dozens of elderly regulars, families with children and young Tokyoites from all over the city strip, shower off and soak.

This was the scene during a scorching weekend in July at Inari-yu, a rejuvenated sentō (public bathhouse) in Kita Ward’s Takinogawa neighborhood. Together in baths ranging from warm to very hot, bathers admired the bright blues and greens of a recently repainted mural of Mount Fuji over their heads.

Built in 1930, Inari-yu is a rare surviving example of the shrine-like miyazukuri architectural style typical of Tokyo’s prewar bathhouses. The main attraction for visitors, though, was the reopening of the century-old nagaya, a type of Edo Period (1603-1867) rowhouse, adjacent to the sentō. Inari-yu’s staff originally lived in this building, but it had been abandoned for decades — until three years ago, when Sento & Neighborhood, a nonprofit that aims to revive historic bathhouses, started working with Inari-yu’s fifth-generation owners to restore the nagaya.

At the inaugural event, Sento & Neighborhood organized activities such as a lecture by an architectural historian, a community breakfast and a neighborhood walking tour. Next to Inari-yu’s entrance, a market with local food vendors added to the colorful and festive atmosphere.

Unmissable for the attendees, of course, was also a visit to the bathhouse. Stepping out of the heat and into Inari-yu’s cool, soothing interior, bathers shed their clothes and their fatigue in the spacious changing rooms with simple wooden decor overlooking a small, outdoor koi pond.

“Bathhouses are a space where I can ground myself,” says Sam Holden, who first found solace in sentō when he was a graduate student in Tokyo.

Holden, who labels himself an urban activist, is a writer, translator and renovation specialist. He founded Sento & Neighborhood together with four associates in 2020 with the idea of “changing historic bathhouses as little as possible but finding a way for them to become sustainable,” Holden explains, hinting at the financial difficulties that many sentō face…

[History of Sentos redacted]

To Holden, visiting bathhouses means exploring the back alleys that embody a deeper layer of Japan’s urban fabric tucked away from busy and anonymous main streets — and one that has been part of Japanese cities for centuries.

“Across the street from the bathhouse you have the liquor shop where the grandpas gather, the vegetable grocer and tofu shop and all sorts of local eateries,” Holden says. “Preserving a bathhouse means not only preserving that building, but this neighborhood network.”

Read the full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2022/08/06/general/sento-bathhouse-historians/

======================
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Ministry of Foreign Affairs sets up “foreign media policing website” where anyone can report to J govt any foreign info “incompatible with our country’s standpoint”. Actually, quite within character.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something for the undergraduates taking classes on critical thinking and government censorship to write a midterm essay on:

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put up a website that enables anyone to submit to the government “information about any accounts in overseas [media] relating to our country that is based on misunderstandings of the truth/facts (jijitsu), or is incompatible with our country’s standpoint.”

https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/p_pd/pds/page22_003885.html

Here are some essay writing prompts.  Discuss:

  1. Why is the Japanese government, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, getting involved in policing foreign media?  Are they the new international media police?
  2. Why is there an assumption that “our country” has a defined “standpoint” that uniformly faces the rest of the world?  And whose “truth” is this?
  3. Where did the line-item budget come from to pay these MOFA bureaucrats to act as the media police?  Don’t they have enough on their plate already managing, y’know, our country’s diplomacy?

Actually, I might be able to answer the third one.  There’s a political dimension to all this.  Check out this tweet from SNA on Dietmember Onoda Kimi:

Yeah, we’ve talked about Onoda Kimi before.  She’s the American-born former dual-national American-Japanese MP who advocates for antiforeigner public policy that would go against her foreign father’s interests.  As I wrote for SNA back in 2020:

You can see how deep the pathology runs in Kimi Onoda, LDP Upper House Diet Member from Okayama. She similarly insinuated on March 30 that government subsidies should be denied Non-Japanese residents. But this is stunningly ironic because she was born in America to an American father. She even held American nationality until 2016 (when she was ratted out and gave it up), meaning she too was a foreigner in Japan.

That’s how deep Japan’s dehumanizing antibodies run — where even a self-hating haafu would effectively deny equal treatment to her own father! What immense psychological scars from childhood bullying have prompted her to deny any ties to her minority origins, and to pander for the approval of majority whim that Non-Japanese Residents belong on a separate and unequal tier in society?

If we ever meet, one question I’d like to ask is, “Who hurt you?”

Anyway, good job, Onoda Kimi.  Mission accomplished.

Actually, what MOFA is doing is very much within the Japanese Government (GOJ)’s character anyway.  The GOJ is very sensitive to how they are perceived abroad, historically stepping in many times to “correct misperceptions” in foreign media.  See herehere, here, here, here, and here, for example.  (And it’s a stark contrast to, for example, the Americans, who ignore outright disinformation even when it affects their own citizens abroad.)

Granted, compared to the US’s negligence (even making outright threats against their US citizens for not ignoring racial discrimination in Japan), I’d rather that a government step in to correct public misperceptions when their citizens abroad stand to get hurt.  But I’m also suspicious of the GOJ’s motives, as evidenced by the links above, as their “standpoint” towards historical and “factual” interpretation is riddled with ahistorical revisionism.

Moreover, asking for the public’s participation like this is redolent of the “Snitch Sites” the Immigration Bureau deployed in 2004, so that anyone could anonymously sicc the GOJ on any foreigner they thought could be an “illegal” — much to the delight of all the Zainichi Korean haters out there.

In sum, this “MOFA foreign media policing site” is yet another politically-motivated government-sponsored website that is encouraging online abuse and feeding the trolls.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 36: “Abe’s Assassination and the Revenge of History” (July 18, 2022), on how his historical revisionism created a blind spot that ultimately killed him

mytest

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Hi Blog.  After the Abe Assassination, people have been asking me what I think about it.  In short, I think Abe’s historical revisionism is what got him killed.  Opening of my latest SNA column 35:

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

Abe’s Assassination and the Revenge of History

By Debito Arudou,  Shingetsu News Agency, July 18, 2022

https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/07/18/visible-minorities-abes-assassination-and-the-revenge-of-history/

SNA (Tokyo) — The assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has occasioned a lot of valuable, eye-opening discussions in the media, but few if any have focused upon how Abe’s death could be seen as a form of karmic payback–-what happens when you ignore the lessons of history in the pursuit of raw political power.

The discussions have instead focused on the veneer of Japan’s “safe” society being blown away by a homemade gun; or about how the world’s democracies have been deprived of a Japanese leader comfortable on the international stage (while egregiously overlooking all the damage he did to Japan’s democracy).

A few intrepid journalists (starting with the SNA) have explored the swamp of Abe’s political connections with the “Moonies” religious cult, and how that probably gave motive to the killer.

To me the most absurd debate has been whether Abe’s death was an “assassination” at all –- the Japanese media have uniformly refused to use the corresponding word ansatsu, portraying it as merely a “shooting event” (jugeki jiken).

These important topics have been covered elsewhere by people with more expertise, so this column will take a different tack. It will discuss the role of national narratives in a society, how dishonest national narratives stunt the maturity of societies, and how a willful ignorance of history due to these national narratives circled back to kill Abe…

Read the rest at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/07/18/visible-minorities-abes-assassination-and-the-revenge-of-history/
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Tokyo Musashino City fails to get local referenda voting rights for its NJ Residents (Dec 2021). Absorb the arguments of the national-level xenophobic campaign against it.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Sorry to be getting to this issue so late, but here’s yet another example of a local government, a suburb of Tokyo called Musashino, trying to do what’s right for ALL of its residents (including those without Japanese citizenship) by getting their voice heard by voting in local referenda.

To stress:  These are votes on local, repeat, local referenda (they’re not actually *electing representatives*) — and the results are not even legally binding.  Moreover, according to the Takao source below, 73% of the public supported the move (that is, before the xenophobes and alarmists stepped in on a national level to bully and scare the public).

Witness the typical alarmism behind sharing any political power in Japan.  The tactic is simple:  portray the granting of any voice in governance to non-citizens as a security issue.  The assumption then becomes that enfranchised foreigners will inevitably use their power to hurt Japanese citizens.

(See other examples on Debito.org of local governments trying to help their foreign residents — since the national government refuses to — and their successes and failures here and here.)  

Substantiating articles follow.  Trace the arguments pro and con within and see what I mean.  The article from the right-wing rag Japan Forward is of particular notice, reprinting the right-wing Sankei Shinbun’s blatant xenophobic editorial policies; as always it gives us a distillation of intellectualized racism.  An academic article as counterweight to the Sankei follows that.  A quote of note:

Takao:  “This backlash [to the Musashino policy proposal] highlights the LDP’s intention to allow more foreign workers to stay in Japan — to address labour shortages — while also suppressing their rights to maintain the image of a ‘homogeneous’ nation. The Japan International Cooperation Agency has indicated that Japan will need to quadruple the number of foreign workers to over 6 million by 2040 to sustain economic growth.

“But the civic and political participation of foreign residents in Japan is necessary for the sake of smooth social integration. Despite conservative protests, it is local authorities who are forced to step up, fill the vacuum and cope with the increasing pressure of foreign workers’ needs, which are not well addressed by the national government. Prospects for the further protection of foreign residents’ rights in Japan will hinge on effective policy coordination and leadership at the local level.”

For the record.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Musashino’s foreign vote plan squeaks through assembly panel
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, December 14, 2021
https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14501973

A Musashino city assembly committee on Dec. 13 narrowly approved a proposal to allow short-term foreign residents to vote in local referendums, an issue that has divided this western Tokyo suburb.

The six members of the general affairs committee were evenly split on the plan. The committee chair then cast a ‘yes’ vote to break the tie.

The proposal will be sent to the city assembly’s floor for a vote on Dec. 21.

If approved by the assembly, Musashino will become the third municipality to allow foreign residents listed in a city’s registration system for three straight months to vote in local referendums, following Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture and Toyonaka in Osaka Prefecture.

The 108-seat public gallery at the assembly chamber was nearly full by the time discussions started just after 10:30 a.m. The talks continued until 8:30 p.m., with a rest break included.

Under the proposal, residents, including foreign nationals, who are at least 18 years old and have been listed in the city’s basic resident registration system for three straight months can vote in local referendums.

The main issue of dispute at the committee was the three-month requirement for foreign residents.

Two committee members belonging to a Liberal Democratic Party group of the city assembly strongly opposed the proposal.

“From a commonsense perspective, it is nonsense to treat people who have lived in Japan for a long time and foreigners who have only stayed in Japan for three months at the same level,” said one of the opposing members, Taro Kikuchi.

Kikuchi also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the opportunities for residents to hear the city’s explanation of the issue.

The proposal “is controversial and has divided the city in half,” he said.

Hidenori Dojo, another opponent, warned that the proposal could give short-term foreign residents a say on national security issues or energy policies in a public referendum.

The city’s public referendum ordinance proposal “is in a broad sense an enfranchisement,” Dojo said.

He explained that his stance is not about “excluding and discriminating against foreigners” but he believes “a distinction is necessary.”

A representative of the city government countered Dojo’s argument.

“It is not appropriate to prohibit a resident’s will to express a certain opinion on a matter even if the city does not have jurisdiction over that matter,” the representative said.

Shori Ochiai, the third opponent of the proposal who belongs to junior coalition partner Komeito, said various opinions were expressed over the issue of granting voting rights to foreigners when the basic autonomy ordinance was established to promote decentralization.

Ochiai said those discussions went nowhere.

He also questioned the timing of Musashino city’s proposal.

He noted that the city started designing institutional arrangements for public referendums after the basic autonomy ordinance took effect in 2020.

“Residents have since struggled in their daily lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, with all this hubbub, many of them are wondering for the first time, ‘What is going on?’”

A city representative acknowledged the need to pass more information about the ordinance to residents.

The three committee members who voted in favor of the proposal included a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and a member of the Japanese Communist Party.

They spent much of their time asking the city questions about how it can ease concerns about possible ramifications from granting voting rights to foreign nationals in referendums.

Taro Yabuhara, the CDP member, asked about the processes that Zushi and Toyonaka went through to establish systems that allowed voting by foreign nationals listed in the basic resident registration system for at least three months.

A Musashino representative said both cities did not face exceptional opposition to their plans from residents or assembly members, and the municipalities also did not see a sudden increase in foreign resident numbers.

Some xenophobic groups have argued that Musashino’s ordinance would result in an influx of special-interest foreign nationals seeking a say in Japanese policies.

But a Musashino official said that such an attempt would be unsuccessful “in a city with a high population density.”

Natsuki Sakurai, an independent politician on the committee, said of such criticism: “Residents of foreign nationalities are shared members of the community. I feel uncomfortable with discussions on whether they are suitable for acceptance in this community or not.”

Sakurai also asked Musashino officials if there are any administrative services that are limited to people with Japanese nationality, a requirement for voting in mayoral and city assembly elections.

“There is no distinction by nationality in terms of services,” a city representative said.

Shigeki Hashimoto, the JCP member, said statements made by city assembly members who oppose the proposal as well as certain media “have misled citizens” by saying that the right to vote in public referendums “is practically a right to vote in local elections.”

A city official agreed with Hashimoto, saying, “Public referendums are close to petitions, defined under Article 16 of the Constitution, and this is different from local election voting rights.”

Ultimately, Tatsuya Fukazawa, a CDP member who chairs the committee, voted for the proposal, making it a 4-to-3 win for the city.

The committee also rejected a petition with 5,277 signatures asking that the proposal be scrapped or tabled for further discussions.

Munenori Kaneko, who heads a group that organized the petition, said about 70 percent of the signatories live in Musashino.

The group has argued that granting foreign residents the right to vote could result in the adoption of opinions that are different from those of the electoral constituencies.

“It can lead to a decline in the functions of the city assembly, whose members are elected by residents with Japanese nationality,” the group said.

(This article was written by Keiichiro Inoue and Atsushi Takahashi.) ENDS

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Tokyo’s Musashino rejects proposal to let foreign residents vote
Kyodo News/Japan Times, Dec 21, 2021
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/12/21/national/politics-diplomacy/tokyo-musashino-rejects-foreign-residents-vote/

The municipal assembly of Musashino in Tokyo on Tuesday rejected a proposed ordinance that would have allowed foreign residents to vote in local referendums.

When first submitted, the proposal divided opinions in the assembly of the suburban city with a population of nearly 150,000. It also drew flak online, with critics saying it could be a step toward granting foreign residents the right to vote in national elections.

The city, which has the popular shopping and residential district of Kichijoji, failed to join two cities that have granted voting rights to foreign nationals in referendums without special conditions — Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture and Toyonaka in Osaka Prefecture.

The proposal was voted down by 14 to 11.

Following the assembly vote on Tuesday, Musashino Mayor Reiko Matsushita said spreading information about the proposal to residents in the city was insufficient, adding that she will listen to citizens’ voices and consider submitting a revised proposal in the future.

The city assembly’s general affairs committee gave the green light to the controversial proposal last week.

Matsushita submitted the proposal to the assembly in November for holding referendums that would have allowed foreign nationals age 18 or above to vote if they have lived in the city for at least three months — the same conditions that would apply to Japanese residents.

“I am aiming to create a city that accepts diversity,” Matsushita said during the committee’s deliberations last week. “Those who have just come to Japan are also part of the community.”

Assembly members with ties to the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan supported the proposal, while members associated with the Liberal Democratic Party opposed it, with one arguing the plan had been hastily decided.

“Explanations to citizens have been insufficient,” the LDP assembly member said.

Other than the cities of Zushi and Toyonaka, about 40 municipalities in Japan allow foreign nationals to vote in referendums, but with some conditions applied such as having the status of permanent residency. ENDS

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Musashino assembly rejects proposal to let foreigners vote
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, December 21, 2021
https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14507138

The Musashino municipal assembly in western Tokyo on Dec. 21 rejected the city’s proposal to allow foreign nationals, including short-term residents, to vote in local referendums.

Fourteen assembly members voted against the proposal while 11 were in favor.

The issue has divided the city.

Proponents said the plan would lead to a more diverse society and gives a voice to more people living in the city.

But critics argued that the required period of stay in the city was far too short for the right to vote. They also said information about the proposal had not been effectively distributed to the public.

The proposal said those eligible to vote in public referendums must be 18 years old or older and listed in the city’s basic resident register network system for at least three straight months.

The plan included foreign students and technical trainees.

“I have seriously taken the result of the vote to heart,” Musashino Mayor Reiko Matsushita said at a news conference after her proposal was rejected.

“I have listened to various opinions from the assembly and residents,” she said. “But I have noted that (such an effort) is not enough, and the issue needs more publicity before we can implement a public referendum system.”

Matsushita also addressed criticism of the three-month-stay requirement and indicated that she will submit another proposal after a review.

“There are voices that say certain conditions are needed, such as the length of stay or a permanent resident status,” she said. “I want to think about that together from now on and find a better way.”

In an earlier vote on Dec. 13, the city assembly’s six-member general affairs committee was evenly split on the proposal. The committee chair tipped the scale by voting “yes,” sending the proposal to a full vote from the assembly.

After the city announced the proposal in November, Diet members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and others voiced opposition. Some argued that such a plan “will grant quasi-voting rights to foreigners without any careful consideration.”

Xenophobic groups have also rallied in the city’s downtown area and around city hall, using a propaganda vehicle to blare out their opposition.

Supporters of the proposal said of such rallies, “Coercive promotions and extortion-like behavior have been prevalent.”

(This article was written by Keiichiro Inoue and Atsushi Takahashi.) ENDS

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EDITORIAL | Musashino City Council Did the Right Thing in Rejecting Foreigner Voting

Under the now-rejected ordinance, non-Japanese living in the city for only three months could have voted, raising fears of foreign influence on local decisions impacting national security.

December 28, 2021 By Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun
https://japan-forward.com/editorial-musashino-city-council-did-the-right-thing-in-rejecting-foreigner-voting/

A draft ordinance that would have allowed voting on local referendums without distinguishing between foreign residents and Japanese nationals was voted down in a plenary session of the Musashino City Council in western Tokyo on December 21, 2021.

The city council has shown good judgment, and we applaud the decision. If the proposed ordinance had been approved, its ripple effect could have spread to other municipalities.

Local referendums have the potential for exerting influence over issues affecting the national interest, such as national security and energy policy. In light of the gravity of the matter, it is only natural that the city council has rejected the draft ordinance. The city government of Musashino, which proposed the ordinance, must take the outcome to heart.

The ordinance would have granted foreign residents, such as students and technical intern trainees, the right to vote in referendums if they have lived in the city for three months or more, and are at least 18 years old. The council’s general affairs committee passed the city government-sponsored ordinance on December 13. Pros and cons of the draft were debated before the proposed ordinance was brought to a vote on December 21, with arguments divided on points such as whether it would “boost diversity” in Musashino, and the “need for certain standards” before voting. The outcome was that the proposed ordinance was rejected by a majority vote.

After the vote, Musashino Mayor Reiko Matsushita stated, “There was a view that the city government had done an inadequate job of informing citizens about the ordinance,” suggesting that she might push for its consideration again. The mayor, however, should abandon any such effort.

Although the mayor insisted that referendums voted on by residents would not be legally binding, the bill explicitly said, “Both the city council and the mayor should respect the result.” If the mayor and council look to the vote for guidance, fears that the referendum could impact the political decision making process would be realized, and non-Japanese would have acquired suffrage.

Fears arose of the city administration and council being swayed by the results of such referendums, impacting political decision making and ending in the foreigners acquiring voting rights.

Seventy-eight municipalities across the country have adopted ordinances on holding local referendums. Of those, 43 have granted voting rights to foreign residents. Unlike Musashino City, however, most have clear stipulations on who can participate in voting, such as limiting eligibility only to non-citizens with permanent resident status.

In its 1995 ruling, the Supreme Court declared that enfranchisement of foreign residents was not permitted under the Constitution. But at the same time the court acknowledged that voting at a local level should be allowed by “those having particularly close relationships with local entities.” The court also set limitations, such as permanent foreign residents of the city.

The Supreme Court decision did not pave the way for voting by foreign nationals, such as students and technical intern trainees who have lived in a city for only three months.

Some pointed out that there have been no particular problems with similar ordinances to the one proposed in Musashino, such as a 2006 ordinance in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture. In another case, however, a 1998 referendum in Okinawa Prefecture on the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement shook national security politics.

Moreover, there can be no guarantee that these ordinances will be non-problematic in the future simply because there have been no major problems so far.

Musashino City should instead place top priority on improving its own efforts to meet the diverse needs of its foreign residents. It could start, for instance, by increasing the number of services which offer access to interpreters. ENDS

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Civic rights for foreign residents sparks backlash in Japan
East Asia Forum, 12 February 2022
By Yasuo Takao, Curtin University
https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2022/02/12/civic-rights-for-foreign-residents-sparks-backlash-in-japan/

The number of foreign residents living in Japan has dramatically increased in the past decade, marking a change for a population traditionally perceived as ‘homogenous’. One local municipality’s debate on civic participation for its foreign residents recently sparked a nation-wide backlash from conservatives and nationalists.

The inflow of foreign residents into Japan increased from 287,100 in 2010 to 592,000 in 2019 — the fourth largest inflow in the OECD. As of October 2021, there were 2.8 million residents of foreign nationality registered in the country.

The debate on how to integrate these new residents into Japanese society is ongoing. By the end of 2021, 42 of Japan’s 1718 municipalities (excluding Tokyo’s Special Wards) had passed public ordinances establishing permanent local referendum systems and granted foreign residents voting rights in them. Zushi in Kanagawa prefecture and Toyonaka in Osaka prefecture even permitted foreign residents to vote without any special ‘period of stay’ conditions.

But in December 2021, the city assembly of Musashino in suburban Tokyo voted against (14 to 11) an ordinance that would have granted foreign residents such voting rights. Progressive Mayor Reiko Matsushita had proposed establishing a permanent local referendum system that would include foreign residents aged 18 or older who had been on the residential register for at least three months. While the referendum results would not be legally binding, the ordinance would require the mayor and the assembly to ‘respect’ them.

In March 2021, Musashino conducted a survey which found 73.2 per cent of respondents agreed that foreign residents should be able to vote in local referendums. Prior to the vote, the city was divided — a backlash from conservative and nationalist politicians and newspapers resulted in street protests against the proposal, while many grassroots community groups were supportive. Voting rights for foreigners had not been an issue in the national lower house election in October 2021, yet Musashino’s proposal gained the attention of the conservative mass media and soon became an issue of national import.

So, how did this whole controversy come about? The issue of non-citizen voting has its roots in the broader policy of local autonomy for Japan’s municipalities.

Ongoing decentralisation in favour of local councils was a key part of public sector reforms in the 1990s, and the Omnibus Law for Local Devolution came into force in 2000. This saw the first local autonomy ordinance (jichi kihon jorei) established in Niseko in 2001, and by 2012 there were 284 such laws — which are known as the ‘constitutions of municipalities’.

The dynamic changed in 2012 when national elections returned the old guard Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to power. In 2014 the LDP directed its local branches to ‘respond carefully’ to any initiatives for the enactment of basic local autonomy ordinances. In particular, the LDP Policy Affairs Research Council warned some discretionary power of local authorities went ‘too far’ beyond Japan’s constitutional framework. Consequently, the number of new ordinances dropped from 25 in 2014 to one in 2020.

After a basic local autonomy ordinance came into force, municipalities — including Musashino — regularly started making institutional arrangements for inclusive public referendums. Most proposals for the participation of foreign residents in local referendums were based on these laws.

While some local ordinances followed national guidelines released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, local authorities also drafted many on their own. The LDP tried to break this momentum by arguing ‘jichi kihon jorei represents a denial of the nation’.

In this political climate, Musashino’s proposal was singled out for attack by conservative groups. A group of LDP nationalist politicians, led by Seiichiro Murakami and Shigeharu Aoyama, warned that foreign residents’ rights to vote in referendums could undermine Japan’s national security as the agenda items for referendums are virtually unlimited. In opposing the city’s proposal, Murakami and Aoyama argued it ‘would lead to easily granting foreign nationals rights equivalent to suffrage’. Subsequently, 14 Musashino council members heeded these conservative attacks and voted against the proposal.

This backlash highlights the LDP’s intention to allow more foreign workers to stay in Japan — to address labour shortages — while also suppressing their rights to maintain the image of a ‘homogeneous’ nation. The Japan International Cooperation Agency has indicated that Japan will need to quadruple the number of foreign workers to over 6 million by 2040 to sustain economic growth.

But the civic and political participation of foreign residents in Japan is necessary for the sake of smooth social integration. Despite conservative protests, it is local authorities who are forced to step up, fill the vacuum and cope with the increasing pressure of foreign workers’ needs, which are not well addressed by the national government. Prospects for the further protection of foreign residents’ rights in Japan will hinge on effective policy coordination and leadership at the local level.

Yasuo Takao is Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University, Perth. ENDS

More articles and opinion on the subject at https://www.google.com/search?q=musashino+foreigners+voting

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My SNA VM35: “Visible Minorities: Torture and Murder in Japan Detention Centers” (June 20, 2022) including the Sandamali, Suraj, Fernando, Okafor, Ekei etc. Cases.

mytest

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Visible Minorities: Torture and Murder in Japan Detention Centers
Shingetsu News Agency, June 20, 2022, by Debito Arudou

https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/06/20/visible-minorities-torture-and-murder-in-japan-detention-centers/

SNA (Tokyo) — News Headline: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman.”

In August 2020, a Sri Lanka national named Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali was arrested for overstaying her visa, and detained in a Nagoya Immigration Detention Center. She had arrived in Japan in 2017, but her student visa was cancelled in 2019 because she couldn’t afford tuition fees. While in detention, she opted not to return to Sri Lanka, reportedly due to reduced flights during Covid and an abusive boyfriend back home.

During her seven months in custody, however, Sandamali’s health steadily declined due to a stress-induced stomach condition. According to the Straits Times, Sandamali “was vomiting blood in her final days, and was so weak that she had no control of her arms and legs. The immigration authorities allegedly turned a blind eye to medical expert advice to put her on an intravenous drip or to grant her provisional release to ease her stress. A report by public broadcaster NHK suggested that officials tend to suspect malingering for minor illnesses in their reluctance to grant provisional release.”

That’s a questionable decision, since she had lost 20 kilograms from her small frame over seven months—hard to dismiss as mere “malingering” or “minor illness.” And her decline was not sudden: According to the Asahi Shinbun, she had notified her jailers from mid-January about nausea and lack of appetite. Nineteen days before her death, a urine test indicated she was in a state of starvation. The New York Times noted that in her final days she could ingest little more than water, sugar, or morsels of bread, and could barely make a fist or speak. Yet she was again refused provisional release for hospital treatment.

On March 6, 2021, Sandamali died in her cell, aged 33. An August 2021 postmortem probe by Japan’s Immigration Services Agency ruled that Sandamali had been “mistreated” by the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau, formally reprimanding the bureau’s director and three other supervisors for not reporting her requests for examination and treatment to an outside doctor.

But overlooked was cruelty of her captors. According to Nikkei Asia, “one immigration officer allegedly mocked Wishma when she was unable to swallow her drink,” and the Mainichi Shinbun reported that other Immigration officers misled a doctor about her condition two days before her death, dismissing her illness as merely “psychosomatic.”

By the time Sandamali’s family received her body, “her skin was wrinkled like an old person, and it was stuck firmly to her bones.” In November 2021, Sandamali’s family lodged a criminal complaint against officials at the Nagoya facility, accusing them of murder through willful negligence.

Unfortunately, as noted above, last week the Nagoya District Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped the Sandamali case, citing an inability to establish criminal liability or even a cause of death, blaming it on “multiple factors.”

Multiple factors indeed. Sandamali’s case is not unprecedented. According to CNN, since 1997 at least 27 foreign detainees have died in Japan’s Immigration detention centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks,” because they detain foreigners only).

The main factor here is the cruel and unusual punishment by public officers, expressly forbidden under Article 36 of the Constitution.

Yet nobody has ever been held criminally liable for foreigner deaths in detention. That’s what makes Japan’s Gaijin Tanks so cruel and unusual.

Let’s consider a few more cases, then talk about the system that killed them…

Read the rest at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/06/20/visible-minorities-torture-and-murder-in-japan-detention-centers/

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Japan Today expose: How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants (Feb 22, 2022)

mytest

(Photo courtesy of Japan Today)

Hi Blog.  Since Japan Today has a history of “expiring” its articles (in addition to some irresponsible journalistic practices) and this one is important enough to warrant public archiving, Debito.org includes its full text below for the record.  As Japan’s xenophobic and extreme border controls continue to treat foreign outsiders like the plague despite some signs of opening (as we have discussed here, here, and here), officialdom treats foreigners it has incarcerated like animals or worse (as we have discussed here).  What follows is some excellent original reporting on yet another death in custody, and the political ramifications that conspired to maintain the deadly status quo.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Opinions
How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants
Japan Today, Feb. 22, 2022, By Dreux Richard, courtesy of JDG
https://japantoday.com/category/features/opinions/how-the-media-failed-japans-immigrants?comment-order=popular
TOKYO
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a strange institution. It’s responsible for the way Japan is perceived abroad, and it decides who receives the opportunity to immigrate. But its jurisdiction over the lives of immigrants largely vanishes when they reach Japan. It’s also the most influential agency that does not play a meaningful role in developing the government’s legislative agenda. Senior MoFA officials can only watch in dismay as less prestigious agencies, including some of Japan’s most corrupt, devise legislation that erodes the rights of immigrants and damages Japan’s international reputation.

A proposed overhaul of Japan’s detention system, scuttled in 2021 after the death of detainee Wishma Rathnayake and a resulting wave of protests, was especially unpopular with Japanese diplomats. The Kishida administration has revived it anyway, with parliamentary debate anticipated this summer. Until recently, MoFA relied on the press to guard against legislative aggression toward immigrants, quietly passing sensitive information to reporters who covered the Ministry of Justice, which enforces immigration law.

According to MoFA officials who acted as my sources during the 10 years I covered immigration, their current reluctance to cooperate with journalists is related to the sense, among the agency’s staff, that the media has become “much louder, but much less effective” on issues of immigration.

The officials I spoke with traced this problem to 2019, when a detainee starved to death at a detention center in Nagasaki, following a four-week hunger strike.

The Ministry of Justice cleared the detention center of wrongdoing, issuing a report that contained several defamatory statements about the detainee. He was not, as the ministry’s findings suggested, a hardened criminal or a deadbeat father—not according to court records, not according to his family.

The report went on to claim that it wasn’t possible to return the detainee to Nigeria because he refused to cooperate with the deportation process in January 2019. But the report also documented a meeting in May of 2019 where the detainee begged to be deported. As one MoFA official dryly observed, “May comes after January.”

The death was covered in Japan’s major newspapers, as well as a variety of global outlets. All of them printed the government’s claims without attempting to verify them. Not a single reporter succeeded in confirming the identity of the detainee, a native of southeastern Nigeria who came to Japan 19 years earlier to look for work in the leather tanneries of Hyogo Prefecture. His name was Gerald “Sunny” Okafor.

An important story about the destruction of a family was overlooked. Okafor’s widow, who is deaf, struggled to raise her daughter alone after her husband was detained, pushing her to the brink of psychological collapse. Immigration officials took advantage of her vulnerability, pressuring her to file for divorce and promising—disingenuously—that it would expedite Okafor’s release.

The media also failed to uncover administrative malpractice at the detention center, which led Mr. Okafor to believe that steps were being taken to expedite his return to Nigeria. After learning this wasn’t true, he refused to receive intravenous fluids, precipitating his death. The Nigerian embassy helped the Ministry of Justice cover up these mistakes, leaving a paper trail in Okafor’s immigration file.

The success of this cover-up has undermined the best opportunity to sink the proposed immigration reforms, which were developed in response to Okafor’s death. The reforms are based on the insulting notion that the detention center could have saved Okafor if it had possessed greater powers of coercion—the power to sanction his attorneys, for instance, if they pushed too aggressively for their client’s release.

But the press has helped to turn Okafor’s death into a non-story, by disseminating state propaganda that diminishes the death’s significance, then responding to that propaganda with opinion essays instead of investigations.

“The media approaches the immigration debate as an ideological matter, rather than a test of the integrity of Japan’s institutions,” observed one MoFA official who monitored Mr. Okafor’s case. “That’s not helpful to people in government who are trying to fix the system, because it doesn’t change anybody’s mind. It only inflames existing disagreements.”

If disobeying the instructions of immigration officials becomes a criminal offense, as the government has now proposed, it will be made possible by the collapse of non-partisan relationships between trustworthy elements of Japan’s government and their counterparts in the press.

Mr. Okafor’s body shortly after his death. “Japan never saw what starvation did to that man. It should haunt them,” said Stanley Egbogota, chairman of an Igbo civic association that raised money for Mr. Okafor’s family. Photo: With permission from the family of Gerald Okafor


In an era of journalism where editorial decisions are shaped by web traffic and algorithms, the loss of knowledgeable sources may not strike every media professional as a matter of concern. Reporters didn’t need to speak with anyone who knew Mr. Okafor in order to write about him, or to decide that it was no longer necessary to write about him — even as parliament debated legislation that resulted from his death.

“They got the answers they needed,” Okafor’s widow observed in our most recent correspondence. “And in such a convenient way: from no one, from nowhere.”

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

For six years, Dreux Richard covered Japan’s Nigerian community for a daily newspaper in Tokyo. His first book, Every Human Intention: Japan in the New Century, was published by Pantheon in 2021. ENDS

My SNA Visible Minorities col 34: “Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers, dies.” May 23, 2022, with ruminations on why foreign journalism in Japan has historically been so astray.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s an excerpt of my latest SNA column, discussing in part why journalism on Japan has historically had so many topical, “weird Japan” stories. Part of it is because some commentators on Japan remain willfully ignorant of the Japanese language. Others get duped by the industry of “Gaijin Handlers” designed to steer foreign perceptions of Japan in the “right direction”. And some commentators, like the late Henry Scott-Stokes, former Tokyo Bureau Chief at The Financial Times, Times of London, and New York Times, become willing abettors of the Japanese far-right, selling their reputations to maintain their privilege.

Have a read. It resolves one mystery I always felt when meeting numerous veteran foreign correspondents during the Otaru Onsens Case. They would often arrogantly question my standing to work within the Japanese system as resident, citizen, and activist. Yet they could barely read the menu. Time for me to question their standing too. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

//////////////////////////////
Visible Minorities: Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers
Shingetsu News Agency, May 23, 2022, by Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — Henry Johnstone Morland Scott-Stokes, patrician among Japan’s foreign correspondents since 1964, recently died in Tokyo at the age of 83, but not before he did untold damage by performing as a foreign handmaid to Japan’s fascists.

A man described as “tweedy” and “entertaining and congenial,” Briton Scott-Stokes was nonetheless a man of privilege, lucky enough to land in Japan as Tokyo bureau chief of the Financial Times only three years after graduating from Oxford.

Becoming bureau chief of a major newspaper at the wizened old age of 26 might seem odd today, but back then foreign journalism in Japan had lower standards, and the field was infused with neocolonial attitudes towards the “natives.” Fluency in your assigned country’s language was not required.

Nor was Japanese required at the other “Big Three” English-language newspapers in Japan, as Scott-Stokes later became bureau chief of The Times of London and the New York Times through the 1970s and early 1980s. For a man described as “someone who really understood Japan,” he spent his entire 58 years in Japan as a functional illiterate, unable to fluently read, write, or speak Japanese…

Most hacks in his station moved on to other countries or settled into a quiet life in Japan, living a harmless twilight existence as cottage consultants in their cups.

Scott-Stokes didn’t. He didn’t just continue to rely on his privileged access to Japan’s elite for his income; he decided to embrace their fascist tendencies…

Entire article at
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/05/23/visible-minorities-henry-scott-stokes-sell-out-to-gaijin-handlers/

My SNA Visible Minorities 33: “Why Progressives keep losing” (short answer: because they alienate their own allies), April 18, 2022

mytest

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Hi Blog.  My most recent SNA column is a think-pied about how the Left keeps losing out to the Right. Because working with the Left is like herding cats.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities: Why Progressives Keep Losing

Shingetsu News Agency, April 18, 2022

SNA (Tokyo) — Shingetsu News Agency President Michael Penn wrote about my previous column:

“Debito found a way to provoke them again, and I must say that I don’t understand the way a lot of people think these days. Those who read the article and interacted with what was written tended to say on social media that they largely agreed with it. But there was a more vocal cohort who, not really disagreeing with any specific arguments made, were outraged on the basis that Debito, a white man, had dared to give any advice to Naomi Osaka. Apparently, we are now supposed to live self-contained within our own little tribal identities, and universal humanity is no longer recognized as sufficient grounds to express an opinion, even for a news columnist whose job is to comment on public affairs.”

There’s a lesson here.

Yale historian Timothy Snyder said recently in a television interview, “The Left loses for the right reasons; the Right wins for the wrong reasons.”

One of the reasons why the Left, particularly the Progressives who have not enjoyed much power worldwide for more than a century, keeps losing is because of their fractiousness.

Just as soon as they gain an advantage or start making headway in the policy arena, they lose focus and begin turning on themselves. They alienate natural allies because they are not ideologically pure enough, or worse yet, as seen above, the wrong skin color.

Granted, the Left has always had a tougher time mobilizing people than the Right. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, the Left wants leaders they can fall in love with, while the Right wants leaders they can fall in line with.

Let’s unpack that. Voices from the Left are discordant and diverse, and expectations are high and sometimes uncompromising. It’s also a lot tougher for a Leftist leader to gain and sustain the “love” of their supporters since, no matter what else happens, there will always be winners and losers with every decision they make.

But for Rightists, it’s a lot easier to “fall in line” behind an ideological camp whose basic organizing principle is money (and the shameless acquisition of it). And once they gain enough of it, money in itself not only buys power, but also, oddly enough, credibility. […] Sadly, that’s why the Right understands power better…

But that’s Right vs. Left. Now let’s talk about Left vs. Left, and how they undermine themselves…

Read whole column at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/04/18/visible-minorities-why-progressives-keep-losing/ 

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My SNA Visible Minorities 31: “Shintaro Ishihara: Good Riddance to an Evil Man”, an honest obituary. Feb 20, 2022

mytest

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Visible Minorities 31: Shintaro Ishihara: Good Riddance to an Evil Man
Shingetsu News Agency, February 21, 2022
By Debito Arudou (abridged)

Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who died February 1, was an evil man. Any honest obituary would admit as such. Unfortunately, the media’s retrospectives have tended to eulogize him, using weasel words so as to not speak ill of the dead.

But that’s the wrong reflex. Evil should never be whitewashed, especially when it comes to a person as evil as Ishihara, and by doing so they are complicit in historical revisionism. I will try to rectify that with this column by recounting Ishihara’s actual record…

A hateful man who poured his hate into concrete policies, Ishihara eventually found himself in a position of real power, elected multiple times to the governorship of the world’s largest and richest city. Ishihara installed Japan’s first neighborhood surveillance cameras specifically in areas of Tokyo he claimed were “hotbeds of foreign crime,” and went on TV at regular intervals to propagandize that Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Roppongi at night were no longer Japan.

He also said that Japanese politicians who support more civil and human rights for foreign residents must have “foreign ancestors” themselves, and abetted political witch hunts and loyalty tests to root out politicians with international connections.

Essentially, Ishihara was trying to ethnically cleanse Japan, undoing the “internationalization” phase of the 1980s and 1990s of openness and tolerance. In its place, he sponsored overt racism and normalized xenophobia.

And it worked. To this day, entire political parties, candidates, and hate groups publicly rally for the expulsion of foreigners and the extermination of Koreans. That’s why current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida can’t easily lift the world’s longest, most draconian and unscientific Covid border policies–because polls say 57% of the fearful Japanese public want them kept…

Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/02/21/visible-minorities-good-riddance-to-an-evil-man/ 
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Japan Govt’s “Kizuna” magazine: “Beyond Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Leading the Way towards an Inclusive Society”, Winter 2021: Govt propaganda whitewashing history & rewriting exclusionary narratives

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Getting to this one a bit late, sorry. (Got two more new classes this semester; just starting to get into a semester groove now.)

Have a look at this Japanese Government article in their “Kizuna” Magazine trying to present the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a liberalizing force, allowing Japan to embrace “inclusivity”.

Of course, we here at Debito.org are all in favor of inclusivity.  But when even the data it presents below doesn’t substantiate the headline, you know even the Japanese government is indulging in propagandizing clickbait based on incomplete social science.  No surprises there, I guess, but let’s parse.  My comments interspliced within the article:

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

PORTRAITS OF JAPAN
BEYOND TOKYO 2020: LEADING THE WAY TOWARD AN INCLUSIVE SOCIETY

Kizuna Magazine, Winter 2021
https://www.japan.go.jp/kizuna/_userdata/pdf/2021/winter2021/beyond_tokyo_2020.pdf

The Tokyo 2020 Games, which reached a safe conclusion even under the difficult circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, made a significant step toward the realization of an inclusive society—one in which everyone respects one another regardless of gender, age, or ability.

(Comment:  So the inclusivity is restricted to gender, age, and ability?  Not nationality, minorities (who were in fact shut out of the Games), or other racialized characteristics for Visible Minorities in Japan?  Granted, those three items are good ones, but it’s a narrower scope for “inclusivity” than should be possible or laudable.)

It was precisely because the world had been facing great difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic that Japan determined to fulfill its responsibility as host country to hold the Tokyo 2020 Games, even without spectators, and to provide the world with a sense of solidarity and to offer hopes and dreams, especially to children, who hold the future in their hands. Firmly intent on making this happen, many people throughout Japan worked in unison, striving to implement measures for safety and security to ensure that Japan bring the Games to a safe conclusion.

(Comment:  Trope check:  We hardworking Japanese should take a bow for “working in unison” (echoing the wartime sentiment of all Japanese hearts beating in unison without exception) making everything safe and secure for providing the world with hopes and dreams and solidarity.  Especially the children.  And according to the first sentence, Japan did this for the world?  I think more for its sponsors, both foreign and particularly domestic.)

The Tokyo 2020 Games not only moved and inspired many people through sports, but also advanced the Games’ core concept of “Unity in Diversity,” serving to promote the further growth of this movement. The percentage of female athletes participating in the Olympic Games was a record 48.8. Moreover, the number of athletes who identified themselves as LGBTQ+ was reportedly over 180—-more than triple that of the Rio 2016 Games—-and they won more than 55 medals among them. In order to promote gender equality, the number of mixed-gender events was doubled to 18. Seeing men and women teaming up to compete for their country was like a breath of fresh air. The Paralympic Games, which was held in Tokyo for the second time, served as an opportunity to convey to the world and cultivate the “barrier-free mindset” that is at the foundation of an inclusive society, in which everyone, with or without impairments, can lead a vibrant life.

(Comment:  Ah yes, the “Unity in Diversity” trope that I critiqued for SNA last August.  I will excerpt that below and show how ironic that trope actually was.  But look at how the article categorizes “diversity”:  Females.  LGBTQ+.  Mixed-gender.  Paraolympics.  Nothing about, for example, Visible Minorities.

But again, this has nothing to do with Japan, and more to do with the Olympic-sponsored events themselves.  Claiming this as something that we Japanese created is like claiming that Japan promoted better chocolate because Japan hosted a chocolate festival that somebody else created and sponsored.  And that that better chocolate somehow created mindsets throughout society to make them more inclusive of chocolate, even for those who hate chocolate.  There’s simply no data to support this assertion that any mindsets changed here, there, or anywhere.  Then we actually get to their dataset for their claims:)

Supporting the success of the Games from behind the scenes were more than 70,000 Games volunteers, who ranged in age from 19 to 91. These volunteers, regardless of age, gender, or disability, played the vital role of actuating the concept of “Unity in Diversity” by providing hospitality and supporting athletes and staff from around the world. MIURA Hisashi, who has a hearing impairment, was one of these volunteers. Wanting to contribute in some way to this historic event, he performed reception and maintenance duties, among others, at the residential buildings and fitness center at the Olympic and Paralympic Village. “As I actively offered my own opinions and shared sign-language skills, my teammates also naturally started to communicate more openly, showing their care for one another using both spoken words and sign language. Ultimately, I felt that we made an excellent team, and were able to fulfill our role. It was also unforgettable to have the chance to communicate with players and staff visiting from all around the world using gestures and body language. I’m glad that I was able to support them, even if only in a small way”, says Miura.

(Comment:  Wow, Miura got a lot of space.  One guy with a hearing impairment who performed “reception and maintenance duties” leads the way with gestures and body language.  A diverse sample size of one proves the point that society’s mindsets are changing.  And that’s basically the meat of the article.)

Respecting and supporting one another regardless of differences is crucial to the realization of an inclusive society. At this year’s Games, this notion was reiterated to many people throughout the world. Miura says, “The Tokyo 2020 Games offered an opportunity to make great progress in terms of ‘Unity in Diversity.’ I am thankful that I was able to make my personal contribution as a volunteer at the Games, and I believe it is important to continue building up such experiences, not just at the Olympics and Paralympics.”

(Comment:  Even more space for Miura.  That’s lazy journalism.  And it repeats that trope that we Japanese unified to somehow welcome more diverse people, whoever they are.

Note there’s not even a mention of the truly diverse people involved, notably tennis champ Osaka Naomi lighting the Olympic Cauldron in the Opening Ceremonies.  I guess that’s not the diversity they’re looking for:  It doesn’t fall into the “gender, age, and ability” point they’re trying to prove, then don’t.)

Each of us embracing diversity will create a vitality that will lead to the realization of a world where everyone can live comfortably. The Tokyo 2020 Games were a sure, significant step in that direction.

ARTICLE ENDS

ARTICLE PHOTOS: Some 11,000 athletes from 205 countries and regions and the Refugee Olympic Team participated in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, giving inspiring performances and setting numerous records. (Photo: Closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, August 8) AFLO SPORTS

Top: MIURA Hisashi (left), who has a hearing impairment, participated in the Games as a volunteer. Through the assistance of the Nippon Foundation Volunteer Support Center, which provides support to volunteers with impairments, he worked on a team together with an individual (right) who was able to offer sign-language interpretation at the venue to support the athletes. THE NIPPON FOUNDATION VOLUNTEER SUPPORT CENTER

Bottom: With the help of volunteers, Slovenian sprinter Anita Horvat exits the venue after the competition. Volunteers offered their assistance to athletes and Games personnel not just at the competition venues, but also at various locations around the country. XINHUA/AFLO

Left: Tom Daley (foreground), an openly gay athlete who won the gold medal for Great Britain in the men’s synchronized 10-meter platform, told the press, “I’m incredibly proud to say that I’m a gay man and also an Olympic champion.”
PICTURE ALLIANCE/AFLO

Top: The Japanese duo of MIZUTANI Jun and ITO Mima won the gold in a new event, mixed doubles table tennis. REUTERS/AFLO
ENDS

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

As mentioned above, here’s an excerpt of my SNA column of August 16, 2021 critiquing that “Unity in Diversity” trope:

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

SNA Visible Minorities;  Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem (excerpt)

By Debito Arudou

…That’s why I had some pretty low expectations for Tokyo’s Opening Ceremonies on July 21. Scandal after scandal had erupted over Japan’s Olympic Committee abysmal leadership choices, including the creative head cracking fat jokes about a female entertainer, the composer of the ceremony bragging about his history of abusing disabled people, the director of the ceremony making wisecracks about the Holocaust, and, of course, Yoshiro Mori, the octogenarian chair, resigning after sexist remarks.

After this, how would Japan introduce itself to the world?

Surprisingly, as a land with some degree of diversity. In prominent positions were people in wheelchairs and Visible Minorities, including hoopster Rui Hachimura as Japan’s flag bearer, Zainichi Taiwanese baseball legend Sadaharu Oh on the torch relay, and of course tennis champ Naomi Osaka having the great honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron. This caused much media buzz about how Japan was finally changing, coming to terms with the reality of its own diversity.

Sadly, I disagree. I would say this represents less a contradiction of Japan’s “monoethnic society,” more an affirmation of the power of tokenism.

Remember how Tokyo got these Games in the first place: By wheeling out French-Japanese TV announcer Christel Takigawa to give a fluent gaijin-handling presentation about Japan’s mystical prowess in omotenashi hospitality. Once her purpose as a token of diversity was served, she essentially disappeared from the Games, and the old guard took over and reverted to its scandalous form.

The thing is, tokenism isn’t acceptance. At best it’s a way station to your acceptance as an exceptional individual, successful DESPITE your background, and even that depends on whether you’ve fulfilled your assigned purpose. For the Olympics, if we’re putting you center stage, you’d better do your job and win Gold for the nation.

Unfortunately, the tokens didn’t win. Osaka was defeated in her third tennis match. Hachimura’s basketball team placed eleventh. Despite Japan’s record haul of medals, as far as I can tell only two Visible Minorities (Aaron Wolf in judo and Kanoa Igarashi in surfing) made it to the podium.

And Igarashi, US-born resident of Huntington Beach, CA, indicatively promotes himself on his Olympics website entry in classic Olympic “thoroughbred-ism”: “I have so much support here in the USA and America will always be part of who I am. But I’ve grown up with a lifestyle and in a generation where things can seem a bit borderless. And so representing Japan felt like a solid, comfortable decision. My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.”

Good for his bloodline, I guess. But for mongrel non-medalists like Osaka, as the New York Times noted, Japan’s social media pounced, contesting her Japanese language ability, her standing to represent Japan, and even her Japaneseness, all of which mattered much less when she was winning.

The final straw was when The Daily Beast reported August 4 that Yoshiro Mori had lobbied against Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron in the first place, in favor of a “pure Japanese man.” With her lackluster performance, no doubt many bigots feel Mori has been vindicated.
EXCERPT ENDS

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

“Unity in Diversity” indeed.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

The article itself is available as a screen capture here (click to expand):

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Ruminations on Ishihara Shintaro’s death: Good riddance to an evil man.

mytest

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Hi Blog. It was with some measured amount of joy that I saw that a quintessentially awful man, Former Tokyo Governor and Political-Resident Racist Ishihara Shintaro, recently died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 89.

Predictably, the eulogies and hagiographies have minced their words about what an awful man this was, watering down their modifiers to call him a “brash” “hawk” “firebrand”, a ‘fiery nationalist” with “controversial views” etc.  (Check out the utter gloss job the NY Times Obits did here.)  Even after some admit that he deliberately used his political power to try to start a war with China over some island scraps, and to publicly denigrate and persecute people not only because they crossed him, but also because they were born a certain way. Simply saying he was not a force for good is to have a fundamental misconception of what evil is.

Debito.org has commented on Ishihara’s evil activities umpteen times (most famously here), so I see no need to dwell further. I think Kaori Shoji writes an excellent obit in the Japan Subculture Research Center (aptly titled “A Farewell To Japan’s King of Toxic Masculinity: Shintaro Ishihara“) where she sums up:

The man was a rightist, elitist, racist, misogynist, patriarchal pig. I hope I didn’t leave out anything.

But even she winds up succumbing to a begrudging admiration for a person in power who was granted even more power and wielded it. That’s a pity.  Yes, Ishihara had power — the power of yet another racist toxic masculinist born into rich privilege who did everything he could to make sure that privilege is perpetuated for his ilk. And his ilk have caused (and then denied) things like genocides, and should never be allowed to come near power and public service. Alas, an early showing with a prestigious literary award catapulted Ishihara into fame, and people are suckers for celebrities.

Returning to my opening, I say “measured amount of joy” because my joy was restrained by the fact that a recurrence of pancreatic cancer took Ishihara. I hope it hurt real bad in your final days, Ishihara. But no amount of pain you would ever experience would be enough payback for all the pain and suffering you caused other people.

Rot in hell, you monster. Arudou Debito, Ph.D.

======================
PS. Other Debito.org Readers have already commented on Ishihara’s demise in a separate blog post here.

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)

mytest

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Visible Minorities Column 30: US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, JAN 24, 2022 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/01/24/visible-minorities-us-military-should-combat-japans-xenophobia/

SNA (Tokyo) — Shingetsu News Agency has reported for two years on how the Japanese government and media have gone out of their way to blame foreigners for the domestic spread of Covid. Each time we’ve gone out of our way to point out that Covid was usually brought in by Japanese citizens disobeying lenient quarantines.

The government’s exclusionary border policies, treating people without Japanese passports as somehow more contagious, is routinely supported neither by logic nor science.

The latest mutation of this narrative has been the blame targeted at US military bases in Japan for community spread.

For example, Japan Times reported on January 8, stitching together wire reports from Jiji Press and Kyodo News, that “US military personnel are believed to have triggered a coronavirus resurgence in [Okinawa, Yamaguchi, and Hiroshima]. Many people in the three prefectures live in close proximity to American bases. Infection prevention measures taken by the US forces, which some have criticized as being too lax, are thought to be behind that explosion of cases.” […]. But this is contradicted by what the US Forces Japan say are their actual policies, claiming 92-98% vaccination rates and limitations on movement.

So is the blame game grounded in facts and science? Or are these reactions to people trying to find another foreign scapegoat for the latest Covid spike? We don’t know because US Forces Japan aren’t making their practices sufficiently loud and clear. As usual.

The upshot: How US Forces Japan are yet again ignoring being used for domestic political capital is irresponsible. USFJ has the duty to recognize that what they do affects Visible Minorities in Japan, whether it be inspiring “Japanese Only” bigots to slam shop doors in their faces, or giving more ammunition to reactionaries who seek to seal off Japan’s borders.

Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/01/24/visible-minorities-us-military-should-combat-japans-xenophobia/

Page with more sources at https://www.debito.org/?p=16964.

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Combating xenophobic rumors and media: Debito.org asks US Forces, Japan for clarification on their COVID testing and vaccination policies

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From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: From Debito.org: Questions regarding US Forces, Japan vaccination procedures.
Date: January 13, 2022
To: indopacom.yokota.usfj.mbx.pao@mail.mil (courtesy of this site)
Cc: Shingetsu News Agency <shingetsunewsagency@gmail.com>

To Whom It May Concern,
US Forces, Japan

Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Debito Arudou, Ph.D., coordinator for Debito.org (www.debito.org), an award-winning online archive for life and human rights in Japan for more than 25 years. We address issues that affect Non-Japanese Residents of Japan, particularly Visible Minorities, and have acted as a launching pad for hundreds of journalistic and academic articles, government and NGO reports, and actions that have changed the course of national narratives and public policies. I am also the author of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, Second Edition 2022), and am a columnist for the Shingetsu News Agency.

Debito.org has some questions we would like to ask about the policies of US Forces, Japan.

In recent weeks, the Japanese media has portrayed US Forces in Japan as a major vector for infection in Japan, portraying the US military presence in Japan as a leak in their otherwise tight border policies. Consider:

============================
“Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki told reporters on Thursday that ‘U.S. military bases are one of the major causes of the spread of infections,’ while Yamaguchi Gov. Tsugumasa Muraoka said, ‘The fact that (military personnel) were not tested before departure from the United States had a big impact.’ Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki also called the U.S. military’s measures ‘extremely regrettable.’”
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/07/national/anti-us-base-sentiment/
“U.S. military personnel are believed to have triggered a coronavirus resurgence in the three prefectures. Many people in the three prefectures live in close proximity to American bases. Infection prevention measures taken by the U.S. forces, which some have criticized as being too lax, are thought to be behind that explosion of cases.”
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/08/national/japan-coronavirus-january8/
============================
with a public advertisement in Okinawa published by Kyodo News in the Japan Times, showing a Westerner (not an Asian) sneezing:

From https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/08/national/japan-coronavirus-january8/

As you know, Japan’s border policies for most of the past two years have refused entry to most foreigners, including foreign residents regardless of visa status, while letting in Japanese under often lax quarantine conditions to spread Covid anyway. Yet media and policymakers in Japan have frequently portrayed Covid as an exogenous, “foreign” disease, with the highly problematic interpretation of seeing foreigners as more likely to spread Covid than Japanese.

The World Health Organization last month noted the lack of good science behind that claim, stating that “Epidemiologically, I find it hard to understand the principle there. Does the virus read your passport? Does the virus know your nationality or where you are legally resident? Our concern here is that we apply public health principles, not political principles, to selecting measures that are used to control the spread of diseases. The idea that you can put a hermetic seal on most countries is frankly not possible.” (https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/12/28670f8f00db-urgent-kishida-hints-at-review-of-japans-re-entry-restrictions-over-omicron.html)

My point is that the US Military in Japan has a responsibility to dispel rumors and reports that are playing a part in potentially increasing xenophobic attitudes towards foreign residents of Japan.

I understand that you have made an attempt to do so with announcements on your US Forces, Japan, website dated January 5 and 9, 2022:
https://www.usfj.mil/Media/Press-Releases/Article-View/Article/2889890/us-forces-japan-increases-to-health-protection-bravo/and
https://www.usfj.mil/Media/Press-Releases/Article-View/Article/2893181/us-japan-joint-committee-statement-on-measures-to-address-the-spread-of-covid-19/

But please permit me to ask some clarifying questions, for publication on Debito.org:

==================================
1) Pursuant to President Biden’s order that all federal employees and military be vaccinated and tested by February 15 (“as of early December, 92 percent of federal employees and military personnel had received at least one dose”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/11/biden-federal-coronavirus-mandate-testing-rules-unvaccinated/), does this mean that all US Forces in Japan, both incoming and resident, have been vaccinated and boosted, and tested for Covid, including the Omicron variant?

2) What happens when members of the US Military test positive for Covid? If in Japan, are they quarantined within the base? If outside Japan, are they denied entry into Japan and quarantined overseas?

3) Do you have any response to the claims within the following reportage in the Japan Times:

“It was revealed in December that U.S. forces had been lax in their border measures against the virus… But it was found that the U.S. side was not conducting pre-departure and post-arrival testing, as required by Japan, and that it had shortened the period of restrictions on arriving personnel’s movement from 14 days to 10. It also allowed people in the restriction period to move freely within U.S. bases.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/07/national/anti-us-base-sentiment/
==================================

I have heard unsubstantiated reports from American military members on social media that US Forces must be properly vaccinated and tested before they arrive in Japan. This would be at odds with what the Japanese media is saying.

Debito.org would welcome your clarifications for the record.

Thank you for reading and responding.

Sincerely, Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Debito.org
Columnist, Shingetsu News Agency (https://shingetsunewsagency.com)
ENDS

UPDATE JANUARY 23, 2022:  We received no answer.

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Why COVID keeps being seen as a “foreign” disease in Japan: Uncritical reportage in the Mainichi of Shizuoka Mayor blaming Omicron on “foreign nationals at work”, claiming it’s not “community transmission”. Wait, let’s parse that.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has talked about how Japanese officialdom keeps trying to construe COVID as something “foreign”, i.e., something exogenous that affects foreigners more than Japanese people (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for example).  To the point where there’s even a research institute (Riken) speculating that Japanese are genetically less susceptible to COVID.  Seriously.

And that unscientific attitude is reflected in Japanese government policy that treats anyone with a Japanese passport as somehow less contagious than somebody with a foreign passport, regardless of individual vaccination status. (That of course means that a porous border and more lax quarantine rules for VIPs and “Japanese” entrants — including those without Japanese citizenship but WITH Japanese blood — get in and spread the disease anyway.  Omicron is in Japan to stay, brought in by Japanese, no matter how much you’re trying to blame it on, for example, the US Military.)

It’s gotten to the point where even the WHO has decried these policies as unscientific:

(Kyodo News Dec 2, 2021):  Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said of Japan’s ban on new entries of foreigners, “Epidemiologically, I find it hard to understand the principle there. Does the virus read your passport? Does the virus know your nationality or where you are legally resident?  Our concern here is that we apply public health principles, not political principles, to selecting measures that are used to control the spread of diseases. The idea that you can put a hermetic seal on most countries is frankly not possible.”

But one other factor in all this gaijin-bashing is an uncritical media, even from foreigner-friendly media outlets like the Mainichi Shinbun. Where they report unconfirmed statements from a local mayor that people had contact “with foreign nationals” (“kaigai no hito“, or “overseas people” in the original Japanese), and scare the public all over again.

Article follows, then my comment:

//////////////////////////////////////
Central Japan prefecture’s 1st omicron case linked to contact with foreigners at job: mayor
December 28, 2021 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20211228/p2a/00m/0na/004000c

SHIZUOKA — Following the first confirmed coronavirus omicron variant case in the central Japan city of Shizuoka in Shizuoka Prefecture on Dec. 27, Mayor Nobuhiro Tanabe said at a press conference, “He (the patient) is confirmed to have had contact with foreign nationals at work, and community transmission is unlikely.”

According to the Shizuoka Municipal Government, the patient was earlier confirmed infected with the coronavirus and has mild symptoms. Genome analysis by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases revealed he was positive for the omicron variant. Two people who had had close contact with the man tested negative for the virus.

The patient has no recent history of overseas travel, and came into contact with foreign nationals at work. The city’s public health center explained that it determined the route of infection was strongly suspected to have been via contact at work.

The man received his second coronavirus vaccine by August. He developed symptoms on Dec. 23, was tested the following day, and hospitalized on Dec. 25. He was confirmed positive for the omicron variant the next day.

Other than the two people deemed close contacts, 12 of the 13 people involved in the same work tested negative. One still awaits their results.

(Japanese original by Hideyuki Yamada, Shizuoka Bureau)

静岡市でオミクロン株初確認 海外から来た人と接触 市中感染は否定的
毎日新聞 2021/12/27
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20211227/k00/00m/040/344000c
新型コロナウイルス感染症の変異株・オミクロン株への静岡県内初感染が静岡市で確認された27日、田辺信宏市長は記者会見で「業務上、海外の人と接点が確認されている。市中感染の可能性は低い」と説明した。患者は男性で軽症、市保健所で感染経路を調べている。
市によると、男性は新型コロナの感染が既に確認されていた。国立感染症研究所のゲノム解析でオミクロン株陽性と判明。濃厚接触者2人は陰性だった。
男性患者は海外渡航歴はなく、海外から来た人と業務で接触があった。市保健所は感染経路について「業務上の接触の方を強く疑う状況と判断している」と説明。8月までにワクチンの2回目接種を終えていた。23日に発症、24日に検査を受け、25日に入院。26日にオミクロン株の陽性と分かった。
濃厚接触者以外の仕事関係者13人のうち12人の陰性を確認。1人は検査結果を待っている。【山田英之】

ENDS

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

COMMENT: A few more simple questions needed to be asked of Mr. Mayor before his speculation got passed through by the Mainichi editors, and allowed to filter into the public sphere:

  • Were these “overseas people” freshly-arrived in Japan from overseas despite a near-blanket ban on any foreigners at the border?
  • Were these “overseas people” in fact foreign residents who were here anyway, therefore those people are in fact part of “the community” (meaning, yes, “community transmission”).
  • Is there any evidence that these individual “overseas people” were in fact COVID-positive? Were they tested? Was there any other vector testing of other people in the community? Or are we just simply assuming that foreigners are more likely than Japanese to have COVID and leaving it at that?

We should know.  But we don’t.  Why not?  Because the constant and uncritical assumptions that foreigners a) are vectors, and b) are not part of the “Japanese community” at large anyway, are precisely what I mean when I refer to Japan’s Embedded Racism. Presumptions like these are so normalized as to be embedded and unquestioned in Japan, even by media professionals who are supposed to be asking these questions before they let these racist ideas infect and spread throughout society.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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My annual “Human Rights Top Ten for 2021” countdown now at Shingetsu News Agency, VM 29 Dec 27, 2021

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Hello and Happy Holidays to all Debito.org Readers! Here’s my annual Top Ten, this year moved to the Shingetsu News Agency because The Japan Times isn’t in the market for articles like these anymore. Excerpt:

//////////////////////////////
Visible Minorities: Human Rights Top Ten for 2021
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, DEC 27, 2021 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN

SNA (Tokyo) — Since 2008, I have always devoted my end-year columns to counting down the Top Ten human rights issues as they pertain to Non-Japanese residents of Japan. This year I’m moving this feature to the Shingetsu News Agency. Let’s get started:

10) Debito.org Turns 25 Years Old…
9) Tourism to Japan Drops 99% Since 2019…
8 ) Vincent Fichot Hunger Strike against Japan Child Abduction…
7) Tokyo Musashino City Approves, Then Defeats, Inclusive Voting Proposal…

Full countdown with write-ups at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/12/27/visible-minorities-human-rights-top-ten-for-2021/

Enjoy!  More to come in 2022!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog.  While doing some research for my upcoming SNA end-year column, I found this interesting article from 2018 that deserves highlighting.  An important estimated statistic follows about the possible number of dual nationals in Japan (close to one million).  And also the fact that those dual nationals in Japan are probably under no credible threat of losing one citizenship.

International couples with dual national children in Japan, take note:  Do not let your children sacrifice one side of their identity merely for the sake of bureaucratic convenience, especially when they don’t have to.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

(PS:  Note how little the debate has progressed since dual nationality in Japan was proposed back in 2009!)

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

What does Japan’s Nationality Act really mean for its dual citizens?
Subtitle: Given the present “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude of the Justice Ministry, it would be highly unusual if Naomi Osaka was forced to relinquish her U.S. citizenship at the age of 22. 
BY CORY BAIRD AND SAKURA MURAKAMI
The Japan Times, Sep 19, 2018 (excerpt)
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/09/19/how-tos/japans-nationality-act-really-mean-dual-citizens/

How many Japanese citizens hold multiple nationalities?

The Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times in April that some 890,000 are in a position to be dual nationals, according to data from local municipalities from the years 1985 to 2016. This number includes those who have declared or forfeited Japanese citizenship, as well as those that are assumed to have multiple nationalities based on their birthright.

Has anyone been stripped of their dual nationality by the Japanese government?

There have been no reported instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked.

In April, the Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times that the justice minister had never issued a warning to a dual citizen by birth to decide upon one nationality, meaning that no such dual national has ever been stripped of their Japanese citizenship under Article 15 of the Nationality Act.

This lack of enforcement is a fact that Okuda says is often overlooked.

“For athletes like Naomi Osaka, the newspapers write under the impression that she must choose a nationality,” he said, “but many people do not know that (the Justice Ministry) has never warned people (for not declaring one nationality), although in the past the Justice Ministry has reportedly mailed the children from international marriages a notification about the obligation to declare one nationality.”

However, for those who have naturalized to other countries, there have been a few reported cases of citizens being stripped of their Japanese passport.

The Nationality Act states that Japanese citizens who naturalize to a foreign country will automatically lose their Japanese nationality upon obtaining foreign citizenship.

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/09/19/how-tos/japans-nationality-act-really-mean-dual-citizens/ 

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Debito’s SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2022), fully revised and updated, now on sale

mytest

Hi Blog. The new SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books, 2022), completely revised and updated with 100 extra pages of new material, is now on sale.

Information site outlining what’s new, with excerpts and reviews, and how to get your copy at a discount at

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

(Or you can download a flyer, take it to your library, have them order the book, and then borrow it for free at EmbeddedRacism2ndEdFlyer)

Read a sample of the book on Amazon here.

Front Cover:

Full cover with reviews:

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

My SNA VM27: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No’.” Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan. Oct 18, 2021

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Hi Blog.  As I am swamped with preparations for the release of my next book, here is a human-interest essay on Japan where, surprise!, I say something positive about what I learned from Japan about how to cope with the adversity of the global pandemic.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito, Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities 27: The Bright Side of Japan’s “Culture of No”
Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan.
Shingetsu News Agency, October 18, 2021
By Debito Arudou

https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/10/18/visible-minorities-the-bright-side-of-japans-culture-of-no/

SNA (Tokyo) — As the pandemic stretches into yet another season, the media is starting to assess how Covid is changing the world permanently. At least one pundit has called the situation “epochal,” with the ever-rising worldwide death toll causing disruptions to politics, government, economics, and social life in general. It’s no longer a matter of just getting everyone vaccinated and then everything going back to normal: for the foreseeable future, we’ll have to accept some form of deprivation as the new normal.

Some countries are coping with deprivation (or at least a deferred gratification) less well. The United States is a good example. Despite being one of the most advanced economies and developed civil societies in the world, it has botched the pandemic badly–and it is not only because the previous president was willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of people to maintain his power. It’s also because of a design flaw deeply embedded in America’s national psyche.

American society is oddly susceptible to charismatic frauds posing as leaders, inept at everything except the uncanny talent of playing off social expectations framed as “freedoms”: 1) “freedom from want” (i.e., in a land of plenty, you should be able to get whatever you want); and 2) “freedom from being told what to do by government” (better known as “liberty,” where, as long as it’s not specifically illegal, you should be able to do whatever you want).

Consider how Covid has devastated American expectations. In terms of want, supply chains worldwide have broken down, meaning Americans have had to defer consumer gratification in places where it hurts, from toilet paper to used cars to sudden exorbitant rents. In terms of government nonintervention, the audacity of a national vaccine mandate demanding people get a Covid shot is being denounced as “tyranny.” Not all societies have reacted like this…

This is where Japan comes in.

At a time of historic stressors around the globe, I realized that my decades living in Japan have come in handy. In fact, Japan has been an excellent training ground for deprivation and deferred gratification. They seem to lack the ability to keep things in perspective, particularly the one I gained from living under Japan’s “Culture of No.”…
=============================

Read the rest before it goes behind paywall at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/10/18/visible-minorities-the-bright-side-of-japans-culture-of-no/

Or read it anytime by subscribing to SNA and supporting your local progressive journalism for about a dollar a week!

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My SNA Visible Minorities 26: “The ‘Inconceivable’ Racial Discrimination Law”: Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty

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Visible Minorities: The “Inconceivable” Racial Discrimination Law
Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty.
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, September 20, 2021

SNA: The signature function of the United Nations is to promote world peace, and one way to do that is to encourage ethical standards of behavior from its member countries. They get people to agree on those norms and standards through signing international treaties.

One of the standards that matters most is human rights practices. After all, countries which want to belong to the respected club of “civilized” countries are expected to sign the treaties covering a whole host of noble issues: the elimination of torture; the protection of women, children, and people with disabilities; and the protections of people in general in terms of economic, political, social, civil, and political rights. Signatories are expected to submit periodical reports (usually about every two years) to UN Committees to demonstrate how they are progressing.

Japan has signed most of those treaties. My favorite one, of course, is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which protects people, especially our Visible Minorities, against discrimination by “race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.” But getting Japan to actually abide by CERD is one of the hobby horses I’ve been riding for decades.

When Japan signed the CERD in 1995, it explicitly agreed to “prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination,” and they were to do it “without delay.” Yet more than a quarter century later, Japan still has no national law against racial discrimination…

So when called upon to justify its record of nasty treatment of its foreign, ethnic, historical, and visible minorities, how does Japan get away with it? By delaying, of course. Let’s take a look at the last time Japan submitted its Periodic Report on the Implementation of the CERD, and reveal its pattern of reporting in bad faith…
///////////////////////////////////

Rest is at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/09/20/visible-minorities-the-inconceivable-racial-discrimination-law/

Read it before it goes behind paywall later this week, or subscribe and support your local progressive journalism for about a dollar a week!

All reports mentioned in this article can be found at

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Igarashi Kanoa, California-born athlete who won Silver for Japan in 2020 Olympics, rates himself worthy of representing Japan because “My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.” Dangerous old-school Olympian thoroughbred-ism.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Just a follow-up on my Shingetsu News Agency column of this week. When I was talking about the roots of the Olympics, I made the case there that the Games are less about athleticism than national demonstrations of power, particularly in the vein of racial superiority and thoroughbred-ism.  In my summary of their history, I wrote:

/////////////////////////////////
SNA: Thanks to my background in political science, I’m trained to view nationalism with a critical eye: How governments convince people to live, fight, and even sacrifice their lives for their country. The Olympics are rooted precisely in these attitudes, and forever filter athleticism through the lens of national representation and superiority.

Remember that the Olympics were first framed as a way for the ancient Greeks to assert their superiority over neighboring city-states.

When the Games were resuscitated by aristocrats in 1896, in spirit they were still grounded in contemporary attitudes equating national strength with physical strength. Thanks to the racialized social theories in currency at the time, including Social Darwinism and eugenics, the Games soon became a public demonstration of the social engineering of supermen, which depended on how racially “thoroughbred” an athlete and a society was. It’s not difficult to draw a straight line from the geneticist attitudes promoted by the prewar Olympics to The Final Solution.

Even in the postwar Games, despite all the emphasis on individual athleticism and sportsmanship, the legacy of national superiority still exists. You easily find it in the schlong-measuring national medal tallies, and the enormous pressure put on athletes to prove themselves worthy of all the national attention and hype they’re getting.

Japanese athletes in particular must get Gold (especially in sports Japan thinks it owns, such as judo or karate) or publicly apologize for taking Shameful Silver or Despicable Bronze. This culture of self-sacrifice for the sake of nationalism is one reason why, as I have written elsewhere, Japanese athletes live surprisingly shorter lives, and why I constantly wince at the nasty nationalistic coverage in NHK and Japan’s sports newspapers.

Full article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/08/16/visible-minorities-tokyo-2020-olympics-postmortem/
/////////////////////////////////

I want to highlight how one athlete, who won Silver for Japan in Surfing, decided to depict himself. Again, as I wrote for SNA above:

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

SNA: Kanoa Igarashi, US-born resident of Huntington Beach, CA, indicatively promotes himself on his Olympics website entry in classic Olympic “thoroughbred-ism”: “I have so much support here in the USA and America will always be part of who I am. But I’ve grown up with a lifestyle and in a generation where things can seem a bit borderless. And so representing Japan felt like a solid, comfortable decision. My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.”

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

His statement in context, courtesy of https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/surfing/athlete-profile-n1316618-igarashi-kanoa.htm#addInformation.

 

His bio in brief, courtesy of

https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/surfing/athlete-profile-n1316618-igarashi-kanoa.htm

COMMENT:  Now that’s playing to type. Blood type, in fact.  As I responded in my column:

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

SNA:  Good for his bloodline, I guess. But for mongrel non-medalists like Osaka Naomi, as the New York Times noted, Japan’s social media pounced, contesting her Japanese language ability, her standing to represent Japan, and even her Japaneseness…

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

In sum, I wanted to highlight one of the main arguments of my column:  how The Olympics also brings out racist attitudes not only in its governments but also in its athletes.

Again, you can self-identify with and play for whatever country will have you.  But a person like this who has benefited from both systems does not deserve respect for this throwback-Eugenicist attitude, and it should be challenged appropriately in public. Doing so here.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

UPDATE:  According to the Japan Times, Igarashi faced online hate during the Olympics. While I feel for Igarashi’s situation when it comes to online hate and racism, he doesn’t seem to have reflected on how his express pure-blood-ism further encouraged by Japan’s blood-oriented nationalism and Olympic attitudes encourages those hateful and tribal attitudes as well. Excerpt from the JT article in Comments Section below.

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My SNA Visible Minorities 25: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, where I argue the Games failed its goals of “Diversity and Inclusion” predictably and by design

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Visible Minorities: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, AUG 16, 2021 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN (excerpt)
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/08/16/visible-minorities-tokyo-2020-olympics-postmortem/

SNA (Tokyo) — The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are now past. This is a postmortem.

Last month’s column talked about the “evil” of the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) in forcing an unpopular Olympics upon Japan’s residents, all the while as Tokyo’s cases spiked during a global pandemic. But I also argued how host Japan in particular is trained by national narratives to see “outsiders” (including residents who don’t “look Japanese”—our Visible Minorities) specifically as terrorists, hooligans, criminals, and vectors of disease.

These fault lines have predictably exacerbated the endemic social disease of racial discrimination. International events just give people more excuses to create “Japanese Only” signs and rules.

That’s not to say that I boycotted the Olympics. In fact, given my background, I should be a superfan. […] But thanks to my background in political science, I’m trained to view nationalism with a critical eye: How governments convince people to live, fight, and even sacrifice their lives for their country. The Olympics are rooted precisely in these attitudes, and forever filter athleticism through the lens of national representation and superiority.

So despite all their promises to showcase “Diversity and Inclusion,” the Tokyo 2020 Olympics shirked that opportunity — predictably and by design…

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

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/08/16/visible-minorities-tokyo-2020-olympics-postmortem/. Go read it before it goes behind paywall. Or better yet, support independent progressive journalism and subscribe to SNA for as little as a dollar a week!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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My SNA Visible Minorities 24: “The Tokyo Olympics Trap”, on how these Games are harming Japan’s minorities, and how the IOC is harming Japan

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 24 is about the fiasco the Tokyo 2020 Olympiad has become. Introduction:

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

Visible Minorities: The Tokyo Olympics Trap
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 19, 2021

SNA (Tokyo) — On the eve of the Tokyo Olympics, let’s talk about the mess.

Much space has been devoted to the idiocracy behind spending record amounts of money on infrastructure that is not built to last, or even if it is, it often winds up abandoned. Further, holding a superspreader sports meet during a global pandemic is a surefire path to social discord and preventable death.

But it matters that Japan is hosting this mess. This column as usual will first focus on the Olympics’ impact on our minorities, and then talk about the IOC’s responsibility for scamming Japan…
//////////////////////////

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/07/19/visible-minorities-the-tokyo-olympics-trap/

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Mainichi: Japan wants its COVID vaccine passports accepted by foreign countries, but won’t accept foreign countries’ versions; does the GOJ understand the concept of comity?

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Hi Blog. Time for a quick statement about a news event that is “low-hanging fruit” in terms of civil rights and international relations, but instructive enough for a mention on Debito.org.

Check this out: According to the Mainichi below, the Japanese Government (GOJ) wants foreign countries to recognize its “COVID vaccination passports” (i.e., proof that a person has been vaccinated).

But it will still subject every foreigner (including, as usual, foreign residents) to quarantine. Meaning it won’t recognize FOREIGN versions of COVID passports.

Funny, that. It’s yet another example of how Japan’s authorities expect to have their cake and eat it too. Like how institutions in Japan can discriminate against foreigners without much if any international sanction. But woe betide anyone who seems to discriminate against Japanese overseas. Japan has gotten away with this for so long (e.g., more than 25 years since it signed the UN CERD without passing any laws against racial discrimination) that the GOJ has accepted it as normal transactional behavior for Japan in the international arena. (That, or the bureaucracy is so silo-ed off that getting a coordinated vaccine passport policy across all of the veto gates would involve discomfiting ministerial turf battles. Boo hoo.)

Well, tough. Let’s hope that overseas negotiators have the sense to not be taken in by the “unique Japan” arguments as usual, and demand comity. You don’t get without giving back in kind. But given how lenient the outside world has been regarding, say, the overt racism of Japan’s exclusionary border policies during the pandemic (and now the “Japanese Only” Olympics), it’s not a slam-dunk conclusion as of this writing.

Thoughts, Debito.org Readers?

(FYI, I’ll be vacationing the blog shortly for the summer.) Debito.org, Ph.D.

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

Japan seeks to have vaccine passports accepted by over 10 nations
July 4, 2021 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of AW
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210704/p2g/00m/0na/034000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan is making arrangements for its COVID-19 vaccination passports to be accepted by over 10 nations, including Italy, France and Greece, after the certificate program begins in late July, government sources said Sunday.

If the agreements are reached, certificate holders will be exempt from quarantine or showing negative test results for COVID-19 when traveling from Japan to those countries, the sources said.

But the Japanese government plans to continue requiring travelers entering Japan, including returnees, to quarantine for two weeks even if they have been vaccinated. The position has complicated negotiations with countries such as Singapore and Israel, which have called for mutual exemption, the sources said.

So-called vaccine passports are official documents showing a person has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The certificate, to be issued by municipalities, will include the holder’s name, passport number and date of vaccination.

Business circles in Japan have been calling for the introduction of vaccine passports. The country’s largest business lobby, the Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren, proposed in late June that such certificates be in digital format.

Japan has lagged behind the United States, Britain and Israel, among others, in its rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations. However, it has stepped up efforts to inoculate citizens ahead of the Tokyo Olympics starting on July 23.

A quasi-state of emergency is in place for urban areas like Tokyo amid fears of the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“Until we see the spread of the Delta variant subside, it will be difficult to allow the mutual exemption of quarantine,” a Japanese government source said.

Japan has a sweeping entry ban on foreign nationals to cope with the pandemic, except those with approval given under “special exceptional circumstances.” Travelers entering Japan are asked to stay at home or a designated facility for 14 days after arrival.

The European Union has its own digital vaccination passport for EU citizens and residents. Certificate holders are exempt from testing and quarantine when traveling to a different country within the bloc.

The World Health Organization does not endorse making vaccine passports mandatory for travelers as equal access to COVID-19 vaccines has not been ensured.
ENDS

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My SNA Visible Minorities column 22: “Interrogating the Discriminatory Covid Self-Quarantine Scandal”, May 17, 2021

mytest

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Hi Blog. Hello Debito.org Newsletter Readers. This month’s SNA Visible Minorities column 22 updates us on how Japan’s discriminatory border policies disproportionately punish Non-Japanese residents, even when things that are going wrong are due to government mismanagement. Paraphrased excerpt:

==============================
Visible Minorities: Interrogating the Discriminatory Covid Self-Quarantine Scandal
By Debito Arudou, May 17, 2021 (condensed intro)

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometimes government-designed policies lack sense. Or, in places where the government is as unaccountable as Japan’s, policymakers ignore cautions—-or don’t get cautioned at all because a docile mass media is mobilized behind a national goal. So when things go wrong, very bad things can happen, especially when punishments for noncompliance only go one way and hurt innocent people.

That is what’s in the cards yet again with Japan’s Covid border controls. The current policy is that if you are a resident of Japan returning from overseas, you face a mandatory self-quarantine system. Everyone, regardless of nationality, signs must notify the authorities of their current location each day. If not, authorities will contact them via Skype, WhatsApp video call, or by voice cell phone number.

If you are found to be breaking quarantine as a Japanese, you get your name exposed to the public. However, foreign residents will lose everything—their lives, livelihoods, and anything they ever invested in Japan—by getting deported. So with punishments this disproportionate, the government had better make sure nothing goes wrong. Guess what? Things are going wrong, and it’s the government’s fault…
==============================

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/05/17/visible-minorities-interrogating-the-discriminatory-quarantine-scandal/

Links to sources cited in the full article:  Kyodo News May 1, Japan Times May 12, MOFA self-quarantine pledge.

Enjoy! Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
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Problematically racialized Education Ministry-approved primary-school “Morals” textbook: “Shōgaku Dōtoku: Yutaka na Kokoro 1-nen” (Kōbun Shoin, 2020)

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Hi Blog. We’ve talked numerous times before about GOJ-approved (and other) textbooks in Japan’s primary education (particularly in regards to teachingmorals“), and their issues with racializing “foreigners” and people of diversity in Japan. Here’s the latest version in a new textbook, from Debito.org Reader XY, who is facing an uphill battle in teaching his young child how to view diversity in society. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: XY
Subject: Problematic depictions of race in a dōtoku textbook for first graders
Date: April 26, 2021
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Today I’m contacting you because I’ve to share something problematic concerning the dōtoku (morals) class taught in Japan’s schools. My child just entered primary school and because of the questionable reputation the dōtoku class gained during the last two decades, I put the dōtoku textbook under scrutiny. As I suspected it didn’t disappoint me and provided two sections I find highly problematic when it comes to race images and relations in Japan.

But first I want to provide the bibliography of the textbook in question.

Shōgaku Dōtoku: Yutaka na Kokoro 1-Nen, Tokyo: Kōbun Shoin, 2020 (“Primary School Morals:  Having a Heart Full of Plenty, Year One”, approved by MEXT in 2019) (click on images to expand in browser).

The first two photos are of the cover and the imprint, including a list of authors.

And now to the two problematic sections I found.

The first one stretches from pages 26 to 29.




It shows a story of a lumberjack who lost his axe in a pond. A goddess appears from the pond, shows him a golden axe, and asks him if it’s his one. He declines. Next, she brings him a silver axe, but he declines again saying that his axe is made of iron. The goddess is impressed by his honesty and gives him his iron axe together with the golden and silver ones as reward for his honesty. The neighboring lumberjack hears what happened, gets envious, and wants those precious axes, too. He goes to the pond and throws his axe into the pond on purpose. The goddess appears and offers him a golden axe. The envious lumberjack immediately claims that this is his lost one, but the goddess knows that it’s a lie and disappears, leaving the envious lumberjack without any axe. The textbook then asks the pupils how they feel about the behavior of the envious, lying lumberjack.

The story is a classic and the questions raised are fair enough, but I think the depiction of the characters is literally begging for criticism. The goddess is obviously modelled after something stereotypically Ancient Greek, but that’s not a big deal. To me the problem lies within the looks of the two lumberjacks. While the honest one could pass as an ordinary J-salaryman if you draw him in a suit, the dishonest one looks like a stereotypical Western lumberjack, complete with a very pronounced large nose to convey the “proper” racial stereotype of a white person to first graders. Not very flattering.

The second problematic section stretches from pages 100 to 103.




It deals with a blonde, white foreign girl called Emma from Australia transferring to the class of the protagonist. But if you go on and read the text, you’ll quickly find out that this “foreign” girl (and the text blatantly says gaikoku no hito) from Australia is actually a “hāfu”, having an Australian father and a Japanese mother (tick the box for the stereotype of a white man marrying a J woman).

So, the girl isn’t a gaikoku no hito, at all, but would have Japanese citizenship by bloodline through her mother in the real world. A barefaced, unjust gaijinization of a certain type of birthright Japanese. The story goes on with the description how Emma marks correct answers (with a check rather than the Japanese circle) emphasizing differences and that Emma is not able to speak Japanese properly, yet (tick box for the next stereotype about “foreigner’s” language skills). The story concludes with the typical anticipation of the Japanese girl – the protagonist – looking forward to converse with Emma in English after the start of English classes.

I identified three major problematic points in total:

  1. Gross gaijinization of a birthright Japanese just because of having a foreign father instead of doing the morally correct thing and teach that the so-called “hāfu” are as Japanese as any “pure” Japanese.
  2. The claim that Emma is bad at Japanese because of her “foreignness”, which can easily proliferate the stereotype that “foreigners” can’t speak Japanese (properly), even if they have a Japanese parent (and therefore aren’t gaikokujin (or gaikoku no hito, wording that is more about origin than legal status) in the first place).
  3. A strong focus on differences rather than similarities as human beings no matter what race someone belongs to.

Overall an extraordinarily poor example, sidelining mixed-race Japanese to gaikokujin status and planting this legally false and socially outdated idea into the minds of first graders. A G7 member should do away with the proliferation of such bs. It’s 2021, not 1921.

In conclusion, I think that these two texts sneak in stereotypes into the minds of Japanese first graders that are detrimental to foreigners and international (racially diverse) Japanese. The first one subtly conveys a “foreigners can’t be trusted” kind of message, the second one treats legal Japanese with international heritage as genuine gaikokujin and overemphasizes differences over similarities, and also proliferates the obnoxious gaikokujin = blonde eigojin stereotype.

Best regards,
XY

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Weird new Govt term to firewall naturalized and mudblood Japanese off from “real” Japanese: “Honpougai Shussinsha”: racist AND patriotic, ironically found on Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights site

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Hi Blog.  In anticipation of Japan becoming a less avowedly monoethnic society over time, what with international marriages, more Visible Minorities becoming prominent, and naturalized citizens, the Powers That Be are coming up with new terminologies to keep a firewall between the “real” pure-blooded Japanese and the mongrels.  We’ve had the “Mixed-Blood Children Problem” (Konketsuji Mondai) as a Postwar Japan issue for policymakers to “fix”, the offsetting epithet “Haafu” for generations, and recently the official term “Gaikokujin Shimin” used throughout Japan’s local government offices and ministries to lump anybody (including Japanese citizens, born and naturalized) into the “foreigner” category if they have any foreign connections. (Official definition of GS: “In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within [our jurisdiction], this includes people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”)

Not to be outdone, creative purists are coming up with new terms.  Check out this screen capture from a Ministry of Justice site (courtesy of CJ, click to expand in browser):

From http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken02_00025.html.

Check out the first word of the message: “honpougai shusshinsha” (本邦外出身者) , or “people originating from outside our homeland state”.

Yes, that is being used by the Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights (Jinken Yougo Kyoku) website, and this fresh, new term creates another (this time very nationalistic) definitional line a non-Wajin cannot cross. After all, “shusshin” (origin) is something you’re born into, and a new legal status (such as a new citizenship) cannot change it.  Even naturalized Japanese (such as sumo wrestlers) are forever stuck with “gaikoku shusshin” in official categorizations.

But note the invective this time.  It’s not even “nippongai” (outside Japan) or “kaigai shusshin” (overseas origin).  It’s “Honpougai” (outside the real homeland of Japan), adding a “motherland/fatherland/our country” patriotic flavor.

Finally, note the occasion for using it: “Kokusai jinshu sabetsu teppai dei ni muketa jinken yougo kyoku kara no messeiji” (A message from the Bureau of Human Rights on the International Day for Eliminating Racial Discrimination).  Wow, TPO.

COMMENT:  I’m actually not all that shocked that this is coming from the MOJ BOHR. We’ve talked about them many times on Debito.org (see for example here, here, here, here, here, here, and here)  It’s an organization technically assigned to investigate and defend our human rights in Japan, but it is in fact a Potemkin system. It has no enforcement powers (as they will tell you in every conference you have with them), only existing to deflect international criticism of Japan’s human rights record. Remember this the GOJ agency that actually violated UN Treaty on racial discrimination (CERD), specifically advising the City of Otaru during the Otaru Onsens Case that passing legislative measures to eliminate racial discrimination were “okay if necessary”, and that “there would be no penalties” for not doing so. Lest we forget, here’s the actual document about it, courtesy of the Otaru City Government:

(From Arudou Debito, “Japanese Only” 2nd Ed. in Japanese, all editions in English.)  

This is how the GOJ will delay the erosion of Japan’s ethnostate by the mudbloods and interlopers for as long as possible. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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German media Tagesschau on what it’s like to be Covid-quarantined in Japan (basically a prison run by sweaty-headed bureaucrats)

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Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. Here’s is a German TV show reporting on what life is like in Japanese Covid quarantine. At first, it seems like an April Fool’s article, but it rings all too familiar when one deals with Japanese bureaucracy, especially when it gets paranoid about contact with the outside world and contagion. (I remember once on an NHK news broadcast during the Avian Flu scare in 2003, where bureaucrats were filmed positioning chairs 2 meters apart in an international airport quarantine zone, measuring down to the millimeter (yes, with a measuring tape) the distance between them. Phew! That one millimeter makes all the difference.)

Anyway, read what the German media has to say about current life in quarantine in Japan (which TV news show Tagesschau compares to a prison, but with very Japanese-bureaucracy touches), and how Olympic participants will be bypassing it all. “Measuring-tape Science” at work again. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: Maximilian Doe
Subject: Great and nauseating article by “Tagesschau” (Review of the Day), Germany’s apex TV news, on the latest quarantine rules for overseas travelers returning to Japan
Date: April 1, 2021
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Maximilian Doe here. I wanted to draw you attention to a great and nauseating article by the “Tagesschau”, Germany’s apex TV news broadcasting (Germany’s equivalent to Britain’s BBC News). It deals with the current quarantine rules for incoming travelers and how they are enforced.

Here is the link: https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/asien/tokio-einreisebestimmungen-corona-101.html

And here is my translation. Comment from me follows:

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

Corona-Entry to Japan
Jail-like quarantine
Tagesschau April 1, 2021, 12:17 p.m., translation courtesy of MD

The government of Japan gets seemingly nervous a couple of months to the Olympic Games: Many travelers from abroad have to go to a quarantine hotel – and that is a ripsnorter: No fresh air, roll call in the morning, cold food.

By Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Studio Tokyo

Lively singing of birds – that sounds nice at first glance, but the truth is that it is a sudden insolation forced upon the guests in a Covid quarantine hotel in Tokyo. And it is cynical, because all incoming travelers are sealed off from the outside world starting with boarding the plane for Japan. The windows of the hotel cannot be opened, the air-conditioning does not work. Those you want to exchange air by opening the door of the room just a crack wide will cause a crisscross of voices. The telephone will ring. Japan is watching you – and is scolding you as if you are a school child.

Roll call in the morning with spit test

There are roll calls at 6:30 in the morning. All who are captive the third or the sixth day have to do a Covid spit test. It will be collected one hour later, but that way you have plenty of time to collect your spit. And it wakes up everyone else, too.

Japan has decided two important things just a couple of weeks ago. First: Those who enter the country have to undergo three days of publicly financed mandatory quarantine and have to self-isolate afterwards for eleven days. Everything is rigidly double-checked with Apps, Skype, and written inquiries twice daily.

Second: The internationally accepted PCR-test is not enough for Japan’s bureaucracy any more. Now Japan demands swabs from the nose and throat. Those who do not agree to these swabs by signing and stamping must spend six days of quarantine without fresh air. Many travelers were affected by this during the last days, because these new rules were only mentioned in small print, a practice that also enraged multiple European embassies according to our information.

Food supply under surveillance

Three times a day a young Japanese voice wordily informs, that food will now be hanged at the doorknob and that it is prohibited to open the door in any case. Another announcement comes after the delivery has ended. Then you can take the food in, provided you are wearing a mask, and it is watched by a guard at the floor, who is standing there the entire day wearing a mask and face shield.

At the first time people curiously look into the bag with the food, but the joy dissipates already with the dinner at 6 p.m.: The food is always cold, it is always a pile of dry rice, always three snippets of white cabbage, often thin slices of pork with a rim of fat, and half a liter of water to gobble it down.

Alcohol is prohibited unless you coincidentally have some in your luggage. It is said that those who are hungry can – after extensive checks, of course – call friends to bring them dry food to the hotel.

Complicated way home

When the last gong rings after three or six days and multiple Corona tests the people affected are not allowed to take a taxi home. To not bother the neighborhood everybody has to go back to the airport first – probably with a colored rubber band at the arm again – and then they can go home.

Many Japanese are so embarrassed by this treatment of the bureaucracy towards incoming travelers that they apologize.

Participants in the Olympic Games are exempt from this

Participants in the Olympic Games and their teams are reportedly exempt from all of this next summer. According to current planning they can enter without any quarantine – and if they cannot bring the correct corona test Japan will probably welcome them anyway. After all, Japan wants to showcase itself as a tomodachi, a friend.
ENDS
////////////////////////////////

Comment from MD: I first hoped that it’s a very bad April Fools, but it wasn’t, since the article is still up today. It ranked #2 in the ranking of the most read articles at the time of translating, so people are curious about it, and rightly so.

This policy apparently applies to all returnees regardless of nationality, so the treatment is not necessarily racial discrimination. But it’s nonetheless a very problematic arrangement, basically punishing returnees with jail-like confinement. Also the part about food supply is dire. (sarcasm warning) I suppose Jewish and Muslim returnees will be extremely delighted by a bag of cold pork. Best regards, MD

======================
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“Foreign nationalities OK” apartments bin at Century 21 Saitama realty, and “We’re sorry about our foreign staff’s language & cultural barriers” notice in Family Mart Kyoto (SECOND UPDATE with answer from Century 21 Japan)

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. One important job Debito.org has been undertaking for more than two decades is the cataloging of “Japanese Only” exclusionary signs (and in this case, signs that also publicly denigrate foreigners), to make sure that evidence of Japan’s racial discrimination does not disappear into the ether. Starting with the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments , the Debito.org Blog you’re reading now is also putting up cases we receive from Debito.org Readers spotting them about town.

It’s important to do this so that everyone can see that this is an ongoing issue. Racists and xenophobes can put up these signs and notices because they are not illegal. Japan has no law against racial discrimination, the only one of the G7 developed countries, and now more than a quarter century after signing the UN CERD (in 1995, where it promised “without delay” to take all measures, including laws, to eliminate racial discrimination), Japan still has not and will not. Let’s put up another treaty violation, shall we?

And please feel free to send me more: debito@debito.org. In addition to the Rogues’ Gallery, the Debito.org Blog’s past record of “Japanese Only” signs and rules is here. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Place: Century 21 Realty Saitama Kawagoe Ekimae (Century 21不動産、川越駅前, 埼玉県川越市脇田町105) March 28, 2021, Submitted by ARW, who notes “The photo of the staff was taken after I called their attention to the ‘box’.”

Comment: How nice of an American company to play by Japanese rules by assuming the default for rentals is “Japanese Only”, with a special box that “foreign citizenship OK”.  Not the first time I’ve seen this.

Anyway, I’ve contacted Century 21 USA to report this issue as discrimination.  (Oddly, there was no option to select “Japan” under their list of countries they do business in.)

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

Place: FamilyMart convenience store, Kawaramachi-Takoyakushi
295 Narayacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8033
075-229-6322

On Jan 17, 2021, RM says: I saw this just now and thought you should have a look. Found that little nice racist notice on the entrance door on a Famima in Kyoto Kawaramachi. Basically says “I deeply apologize for troubling you with my foreigners” in essence. Unbelievable.

The sign says (Debito’s translation):  Regarding the foreign staff at this branch:  We have a large number of foreign staff at this branch. Customers may find their language and cultural barriers to be a nuisance. Employing them was at our discretion, and we are sorry for the inconveniences.  We will soon be focusing our efforts on coaching staff in the proper manners for Japan’s customer service. Your understanding and forbearance would be much appreciated.  BRANCH MANAGER.”

Comment:  Wow, how arrogant and dehumanizing. Please cue the shakuhachi soundtrack before you teach your foreign minimum-wage workers how to unlock the “Secrets of the Orient” — to overcome foreigners’ presumed “language and cultural barriers” interfering with proper “Japanese customer service” in a konbini!   I wonder what happened to inspire the Manager to put up a notice publicly shaming his pet foreigners? (And for the record, I’ve seen plenty of taciturn, indifferent, and unmannerly Japanese staff working for next to nothing in Japanese convenience stores; would I have gotten a sign up if I’d reported their lack of “Japanese manners”?)

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

UPDATE: CENTURY 21 USA answers:

Begin forwarded message:

From: C21 Customer Relations <CustomerRelations@century21.net>
Subject: FW: Complaint notification email (Consumer: Debito Arudou)
Date: March 28, 2021
To: “debito@debito.org” <debito@debito.org>

March 28, 2021

Debito Arudou
debito@debito.org

Dear Debito Arudou:

Thank you for contacting Century 21 Real Estate LLC. We received your complaint involving your experience with CENTURY 21 Japan.

While the goal of all CENTURY 21® franchise offices is always to meet and exceed the customers’ expectations, we recognize that there may be circumstances where any office or salesperson can fall short of expectations or where the parties may not communicate perfectly. As the franchisor of the Century 21 Real Estate System, we ask CENTURY 21 affiliated brokerage offices to address consumer complaints respectfully and promptly to protect the goodwill of our service marks, but as independently owned and operated businesses, the franchisee must handle any complaints or issues directly with the consumers. Accordingly, Kunihiro Osada the franchisee, is the appropriate party to address your concerns.

We will, of course, advise Kunihiro Osada, Master Franchisee of CENTURY 21 Japan about your complaint and request that they address your issue directly with you. When they have received our communication, we expect that the office will reach out to you to discuss the matter. It is our hope that your complaint will be resolved quickly and amicably, but we cannot provide any assurances as to the outcome.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Sincerely,

Customer Relations
customerrelations@century21.net

Century 21 Real Estate LLC.
175 Park Avenue
Madison, NJ 07940
ENDS

/////////////////////////////////
ANSWER FROM CENTURY 21 JAPAN

From: 酒井 秀敬 <h-sakai@century21.jp>
Subject: Complaint notification email (Consumer: Debito Arudou)
Date: March 31, 2021
To: “‘debito@debito.org'” <debito@debito.org>
Cc: “‘CustomerRelations@century21.net'” <CustomerRelations@century21.net>, 経営企画部 <japan@century21.jp>

Dear Mr. Debito Arudou:

We acknowledge receipt of your email regarding the issue involving one of our franchisees in the Kawagoe area. It has been forwarded to us by the Customer Relations Department of CENTURY 21 Global Headquarters in the US (C21 US), which you have initially contacted regarding this matter.

Firstly, in case you are not familiar with how a global franchise system works, please allow us to offer an explanation. CENTURY 21 Real Estate of Japan, Ltd. (C21 Japan) is the Master Sub-franchisor of the CENTURY 21 brand in Japan. We serve as the administrative headquarters of our franchise operation in Japan.

CENTURY 21 offices in Japan are franchisees and not branches of C21 Japan nor C21 US. Our franchisees in Japan are all independently owned and operated. Therefore, we are not directly involved in the advertisement of listing properties of our franchisees’ businesses. Also, as Japanese real estate brokerage, our franchisees are governed by Japanese law such as Real Estate Brokerage Act, which is known as “Takuchi-Tatemono-Torihiki-Gyouhou” in Japanese.

Having said this, however, we take very seriously any actions or behaviors of our franchisees and agents that might be less than the professional standards that we set and, in any way, tarnish the reputation and integrity that our brand has attained over the past decades. All of the regional headquarters within the CENTURY 21 global network are obliged to follow specific policies and procedures that are set by the Global Headquarters to maintain a uniform standard of excellence.

There are certainly cases where an “expectation gap” arises between the prospective customer and the agent, and oftentimes this gap grows wider during the course of interaction between the two. This is particularly true when different cultural norms, sets of regulations, and industry practices exist. For example, in the US there is the wide-reaching Fair Housing Act (FHA) that bans pretty much all forms of discrimination. Japan does not. Therefore, what could be a violation of the FHA in the US would not necessarily be one in Japan.

Having said this, however, C21 Japan HQ believes it is never good for business to practice and kind of intentional discrimination and caution our franchisees accordingly. We will, therefore, request the office you have identified to remove the subject bin to avoid any semblance of discrimination, no matter how unintentional the original reason might have been. We apologize for any unpleasantness that you felt because of the bin’s existence.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Best regards,

Hidetaka Sakai
Global Business Relations Office
CENTURY 21 Real Estate of Japan, Ltd.
ENDS
======================
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My SNA VM column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excerpt of my latest Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 20. Have a read before it goes behind paywall, and please subscribe if you want to see the rest of their articles — it’s but a dollar a week, and it supports progressive journalism. Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities: The World’s First “Japanese Only” Olympics?
Shingetsu News Agency, March 15, 2021, By Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — Reuters and Kyodo recently reported that Japan is banning “foreign spectators” (or “overseas spectators”) from the Tokyo Olympics: “The government has concluded that welcoming fans from abroad is not possible given concerns among the Japanese public over the coronavirus and the fact that more contagious variants have been detected in many countries.”

Blogging about this at Debito.org, I worried aloud that excluding all “foreign spectators” would be interpreted to mean all foreigners, including Non-Japanese living in Japan. But commenters (some of whom already have tickets or will be volunteering to help) were quick to stress that the “overseas” wording meant only foreign tourists, not them.

But I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Granted, the original wording in Japanese is kaigai kara no ippan kankyaku (regular spectators from overseas), not “foreigners” (gaikokujin). But words matter, especially when you’re categorizing people, and doing it wrong will lead to discrimination.

I think Japan will do it wrong, due to linguistics and force of habit…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/03/15/the-worlds-first-japanese-only-olympics/

(Read a rough draft of the contents of this article before it became my SNA column at https://www.debito.org/?p=16480)

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

UPDATE MARCH 20, 2021: The NYT reports that it’s a done deal now. The IOC has approved the exclusion of all “spectators from overseas”. And it’s just being passed off as a “concession to the realities of the pandemic”. Its possibly problematic enforcement in terms of NJ Residents is not touched upon — more focus is on the plight of overseas ticket holders. — Debito

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

Spectators From Overseas Are Barred From Tokyo Olympics
The move, announced Saturday, is a significant concession to the realities of the pandemic, even as organizers remain determined to hold the Games this summer.

By Motoko Rich and Ben Dooley
New York Times, March 20, 2021
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/20/world/asia/tokyo-olympics-spectators.html

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

JOC’s official statement on this:

ABOUT THE GAMES
Statement on Overseas Spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020
Japan Olympic Committee 20 MAR 2021, courtesy of BM
https://tokyo2020.org/en/news/statement-on-overseas-spectators-for-the-olympic-and-paralympic-games-tokyo-2020

======================
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Reuters: “No foreign spectators at Tokyo Olympics”: Japan takes the Gold Medal for Discrimination with a “Japanese Only” Olympics? (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Check this out.  According to Reuters below, Kyodo News (full article now in Comments Section) is saying that “overseas spectators” will not be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. I would hope that means that Non-Japanese Residents of Japan are allowed to get tickets and spectate.  But I’m not at all confident that will happen.

First, how will authorities enforce that, given the “Japanese Only” practices widespread in Japan that historically have barred entry or participation to anyone who is foreign, moreover doesn’t “look Japanese”? (This includes Japanese sports; see for example here, here, herehere, here, and here.)  After decades of studying these practices, my educated guess is that this entry ban will be applied to any person considered to be “Non-Japanese”, not just NJ tourists from overseas; and that includes online ticket sales.  Meaning anyone with a foreign-sounding name online will be denied a ticket, and a foreign-looking face denied entry at the door.

Second, what completely astonishes me is the poor physical and social science happening here.  Authorities have once again missed the point is the fact that ANY gathering during a pandemic is potentially a super-spreader event.  The virus is already in Japan, spread by Japanese, and thus Japanese spectators will infect each other, of course.  So if safety is a concern, why aren’t they barring ALL spectators?

Why are they targeting foreigners? Well, partly because the Wajin spectators are already doing it.  According to opinion polls cited in the article below, the “public concerns” officials are pointing to indicate that 77% of respondents are against allowing “foreign fans” to attend (while less than half want all spectators banned regardless of nationality).  But wait — isn’t this a form of “manufactured consent” — where the government and media continue to portray the issue as “It’s the foreigners who are contagious, not us hygienic Wajin“, and then that becomes a “public concern”?  Olympics + Pandemic + Racist Government Policies = Reified Embedded Racism.

Enough.  First the unprecedented cost overruns that have made this the most expensive Olympics in history.  Then the Mori sexism debacle.  And now the potential for a “Japanese Only” Olympics?  If you can’t postpone the Games until after the pandemic, I say cancel them already.

This is why Debito.org was always against Japan getting the Games.  Hosting international events brings out the worst in Japan’s ethnostatist governing practices, and now it’s clear it encourages the Wajin population at large to become even more racist as well.  SITYS.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

NOTE:  The JOC and IOC have since agreed to exclude all “overseas spectators” from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  More on that in my SNA column of this month at https://www.debito.org/?p=16504.

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

Reuters
Japan to keep foreign spectators away from Tokyo Olympics, Kyodo says
Reuters, Tue, March 9, 2021, By David Dolan and Chris Gallagher, courtesy of NM and MG

https://www.yahoo.com/news/japan-stage-tokyo-olympics-without-122947237.html

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing officials with knowledge of the matter.

The Tokyo 2020 games organising committee said in response that a decision would be made by the end of March.

The Olympics, postponed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

Kyodo said the government had concluded that welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, Kyodo cited the officials as saying.

The opening ceremony of the torch relay would also be held without any spectators, Kyodo said.

“The organising committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima behind closed doors, only permitting participants and invitees to take part in the event, to avoid large crowds forming amid the pandemic,” Kyodo said, quoting the officials.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on March 25.

“Five parties, the IOC, the IPC (International Paralympic Committee), Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the national government, came together for a meeting via online just last week,” the organising committee said in response to the Kyodo report.

“The decision regarding allowing spectators from overseas to attend the Tokyo 2020 Games will be made by the end of March based on factors including the state of infections in Japan and other countries, possible epidemic-prevention measures, and expert scientific advice will be considered.”

‘TRADE-OFF’

Sebastian Coe, the man behind the 2012 London Olympics which enjoyed sell-out crowds, and now President of World Athletics, said the goal was always to ensure “the best possible games for the athletes and having full stadiums of passionate people”, preferably with a “good global presence”.

“With all the work being done around vaccinations and the huge sacrifices large parts of the world have made over the last year, I would hope that fans (international and domestic) will be able to attend (the Tokyo Olympics), of course it would be better,” he told Reuters.

“However, if local communities are concerned, then athletes will accept that and it is a trade-off they are prepared for.”

In the last Olympic Games, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, local fans accounted for 80 percent of all ticket sales, with international fans buying 20 percent.

Most Japanese people do not want international visitors to attend the Games amid fears that a large influx could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed.

The survey showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18% in favour.

Some 48% said they were against allowing any spectators into venues and 45% were in favour.

While coronavirus infection numbers have been relatively low in Japan compared with the United States and many European countries, the country has been hit hard by the third wave of the pandemic and Tokyo remains under a state of emergency.

Japan has recorded more than 441,200 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with the death toll at more than 8,300.

(Reporting by David Dolan, Ossian Shine and Chris Gallagher; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Nick Tattersall, Andrew Heavens, Alex Richardson, William Maclean)

ENDS

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

UPDATE MAR 10:  Here’s some original text from Kyodo giving the original terminology in context.  (There is no full Kyodo article like the one in English (reproduced below in Comments) referred to in the Reuters article above.  That’s a composite.)

五輪・パラ、海外観客見送りへ
政府、今後5者協議で確認
共同通信 2021/3/9 22:48 (JST)
https://this.kiji.is/741995959420239872
政府は、東京五輪・パラリンピックで海外からの一般観客の受け入れを見送る方針を固めた。複数の関係者が9日、明らかにした。来週にも政府、大会組織委員会、東京都、国際オリンピック委員会(IOC)、国際パラリンピック委員会(IPC)の代表による5者協議を再度開き、確認するとみられる。

新型コロナウイルスの変異株が確認され、現在は外国人の新規入国を原則、認めていない。今後の感染状況も見通せず、世論の不安も強いことから一般観客の入国は難しいと判断した。政府高官は9日、海外観客の対応を速やかに決める必要があるとの認識を示した。
ENDS

COMMENT: So now it’s a matter of practical application. Here’s hoping public outrage will force policymakers to make it clear that NJ Residents are not included in the term “海外からの一般観客” (“regular spectators from overseas”).

But that’s not going to come from within Japan, since Reuters noted above that a Yomiuri poll “showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend” (which again doesn’t have that firewall between NJR and tourists).  And now we have to find that Yomiuri poll to see what the original rendering of “foreign fans” was.

My point remains that in practical application, unless the government steps in to clearly distinguish between NJR and tourists, the public won’t, and discrimination will ensue. And as the terminology is rendered in the media, it’s not clear enough. Based upon precedent I have written about for decades, there must be outrage about this. Hence this blog entry.  — Debito

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

UPDATE TWO MAR 10:  I found the Yomiuri poll cited in the Reuters article.

東京五輪「観客あり」賛成45%、反対48%…読売世論調査
読売新聞 2021/03/07 22:00

https://www.yomiuri.co.jp/election/yoron-chosa/20210307-OYT1T50193/
読売新聞社が5~7日に実施した全国世論調査で、東京五輪・パラリンピック大会組織委員会の橋本聖子会長が観客を入れた形での開催を目指す考えを示していることについて聞くと、「賛成」が45%、「反対」が48%と拮抗きっこうした。
一方、観客を入れて開催する場合に海外からの観客を受け入れることは、「反対」の77%が「賛成」の18%を大きく上回り、否定的な意見が多数を占めた。
ENDS

COMMENT: Again, the term used in the poll is “海外からの観客” (again, “spectators from overseas”) is a poor translation of “foreign fans” on the part of Reuters. — Debito

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SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest Shingetsu News Agency column recounts former Prime Minister and professional bigot Mori Yoshiro’s tenure as Japan representative, and the mystery behind Japan’s consistent waste of talent in favor of hopelessly incompetent and elitist old men. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

/////////////////////////////////
Visible Minorities 19: Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 15, 2021
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

SNA (Tokyo) — When I started writing this month’s column, Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old fossil of Japanese politics, was still president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, where he had come under fire for comments claiming that women in leadership positions “talk too much,” cluttering meetings with competitive chatter. He has since resigned, but in the wake has come much media commentary about Japan’s sexism and women’s disenfranchisement.

Photos appeared showing meetings of top-level Japan business organizations (such as Keidanren) that look like old-boy clubs. Pundits noted that Japan has slipped in the World Economic Forum’s gender-empowerment index to 121st place out of 153 countries measured (the lowest amongst the developed countries, behind China, Zimbabwe, Brunei, and Myanmar). And my favorite: Japan idiotically sending a man (Kono Taro) to the world’s first meeting of women foreign ministers in 2018.

All this has occurred despite former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-touted policy of unlocking the women workforce as the “greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy.” He would create “a society in which women can shine.” Mori’s sexist comments make clear that hasn’t happened.

So let’s focus on what Mori himself represented: the worst of Japan’s politics, melding misogyny with racism…
/////////////////////////////////

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

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Reuters and ABC News: Tokyo 2020 chief Mori makes sexist remarks at Olympics meeting. It’s been within character for decades now, so retire him.

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Hi Blog. President of the 2020 Japan Olympics Committee (JOC), former abysmally unpopular PM, and professional geriatric grouch Mori Yoshiro has put his foot in it again. He’s gone off on the women allegedly cluttering his committees (he even got the number of them wrong), after there was a suggestion from somewhere that the gender imbalance on the committee be addressed. Articles follow, then comments:

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

Tokyo 2020 chief Mori makes sexist remarks at Games meeting – newspaper
Reuters, Wed, February 3, 2021, courtesy of MG

https://sports.yahoo.com/tokyo-2020-chief-mori-makes-144553091.html

TOKYO (Reuters) – The president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee told a meeting on Wednesday that female directors talked too much, which was “annoying”, according to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister, made the comments, some of which were greeted with laughter, at a meeting with members of the Japanese Olympic Committee, the Asahi reported.

Tokyo 2020 could not be immediately reached for comment.

“If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” Mori said, according to the report from the Asahi, one of Japan’s leading daily papers. “We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place.”

The JOC board has 25 members, of whom five are women.

According to the committee’s governance code, established in 2019, it should be aiming to make sure that 40% seats on the board are filled by women.

The 83-year-old Tokyo 2020 chief was already facing criticism for comments he has made about the Games, amid growing public opposition in Japan to holding the postponed event this summer while the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging.

On Tuesday, Mori had told a meeting with Japan’s Sports Research Commission that “we will hold the Olympics, regardless of how the coronavirus (situation) looks”.

In response to those comments, Japanese comedian Atsushi Tamura, who was set to be an Olympic torchbearer, said he would decline to run in the torch relay due to begin March 25.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant and Mari Saito; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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

ABC News adds (excerpt):

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

Tokyo Olympics chief apologizes for sexist comments that women talk too much in meetings
“I deeply regret it,” he told reporters Thursday.
By Anthony Trotter and Morgan Winsor
ABC News (USA), February 4, 2021, Courtesy of the Author
https://abcnews.go.com/International/tokyo-olympics-chief-apologizes-sexist-comments-women-talk/story?id=75677674

Mori, an 83-year-old former prime minister of Japan, made the remarks during an executive meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee that was held online Wednesday. When giving his “private opinion” about the committee’s goal of increasing the number of female board directors from 20% to more than 40%, Mori expressed concern about how that would affect the length of meetings, according to a report by The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest daily newspapers. […]

“A meeting of an executive board that includes many women would take time,” Mori was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “Women are competitive. When someone raises his or her hand and speaks, they probably think they should speak too. That is why they all end up making comments.” […]

Speaking at a hastily-prepared press conference on Thursday, Mori confirmed he made the comments and offered an apology.

“It was an inappropriate remark that went against the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics,” he said. “I deeply regret it and would like to sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have offended.”

When asked about the calls for his resignation, Mori told reporters: “I’m not considering resigning.” […]
//////////////////////////////////////

Rest of the article with more contextualizing information than the Reuters’ piece at
https://abcnews.go.com/International/tokyo-olympics-chief-apologizes-sexist-comments-women-talk/story?id=75677674

COMMENT from Submitter MG: “Just wanted to send another bit of good Debito fodder from our ol’ buddy Mori Yoshiro. Just another reminder of what a terrible choice it was to hire this jerk to head an Olympics that really should just never have been handed to Japan in the first place when there was still a ruined Tohoku that needed rebuilding. Were it not for the long-term economic consequences that will follow my beloved adopted home country due to folly of these Games, I would surely enjoy the schadenfreude of a group of elites getting egg all over their face.”

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Let me explain why this is a Debito.org Issue. First, Debito.org came out against Japan holding the Olympics because a) international events bring out the worst in Japan’s media and policing tendencies, and b) Japan played dirty pool to get them (including racist comments about fellow contender Istanbul being unsuitable as a venue because it is “Islamic”).  Because beating out other candidate countries, and getting reaffirmation that Japan still matters on the world stage, is what Japan’s leaders care about, not sports.  Heck, Japan can’t even play fair when there are “foreign competitors” within its DOMESTIC sports (see here, here, and here).

But then we get to Mori. We’ve covered him quite a bit on Debito.org for his racist comments (for example, about Japanese Olympians Chris and Cathy Reed, where he attributed their inability to medal because they were “naturalized”, not Real Japanese). Then we get to his bigoted statements about how Japan (aka the “Kokutai”) is the “Land of the Gods” (Kami no Kuni), a sentiment that belongs in the rhetoric of Prewar Japan leaders destined for defeat.

I called this entitled old man “a mould for gorilla cookies” long ago because even then I saw him as a waste of space.  He’s the type of Japan elite dinosaur zombie politician (in the same vein as equally useless Former PM Aso Taro) who feels like he can say whatever pops into his “shark brain” and not be held accountable for it.  Because he never really has.  Despite being a lousy leader, he just keeps on getting jobs leading things — in his case, high-profile sports committees (such as the Rugby World Cup in 2019) that turn into international embarrassments.  As it has again today.

To Japan, tolerating Mori Yoshiro is like tolerating gaffes from the UK’s Prince Philip.  But Mori is not royalty, endured only because his position is essential upholding an apparently sacrosanct system.  He should be retired from public service immediately even if he refuses to resign.  It’s obviously long overdue.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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Kyodo: Japan developing GPS tracking system for foreign travelers as “anti-virus measure”. So Covid is now another international event, justifying more policing of foreigners only?

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Hi Blog.  In a development that Debito.org has been anticipating for quite some time (see, for example, the remotely-trackable RFID chipped Zairyuu Kaado ID cards the Government rolled out in 2012 to keep better tabs on NJ Residents), according to a Kyodo article below the Government is using the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an excuse to enact programs digitally tracking all foreign tourists.  Read on:

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Japan developing tracking system for travelers from overseas as anti-virus measure
Kyodo News/Japan Today Dec. 27, 2020
https://japantoday.com/category/national/Japan-developing-tracking-system-for-travelers-from-overseas-as-anti-virus-measure

TOKYO (KYODO) — Japan is developing a system aimed at keeping track of travelers from overseas as part of efforts to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus within its borders, a senior government official said Sunday.

“There will be no point if we don’t implement it, so you will not be allowed to enter the country unless you use it,” Takuya Hirai, digital transformation minister, said on television.

Hirai said the government wants to complete the development of the monitoring system by the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, due to be held next summer.

Without providing in-depth detail, he said it will function by using global positioning system technology.

His comments on Fuji TV’s “The Prime” news program came a day after Japan said it will ban nonresident foreign citizens from entering the country, which has been seeing record daily numbers of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

The measure, which will take effect from Monday through January, was announced following Japan’s detection of a new and seemingly more contagious variant of the virus.

Among other measures to tighten its borders, Japan will require its nationals and foreign residents to quarantine for two weeks, show proof of a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of departure for the country and undergo another test upon arrival.
ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Nothing quite like being forced to wear the equivalent of a GPS criminal tracker for your entire stay.  And it’s not a stretch to see it being applied beyond tourists to NJ Residents after that, as Covid is providing a pretense to “track and trace” those “foreign clusters“.  As CNN notes, “If visitors are allowed [to attend the Olympics], their experience will likely be high-tech. The government is developing a contract tracing app for attendees using GPS that will reportedly link visas, proof of test results, tickets and other information, authorities said.”

Visas? So we’re getting Immigration involved? As Submitter JDG notes, “Obviously, it’s just a matter of time until the Japanese demand all NJ are 24/7 tracked legally in real time with an automated alert popping up on some koban monitor the minute their visas expire. That ought to end that nefarious den of crime right there!  Whew.”

Finally, note how this proposed contract tracing and tracking is only being applied to foreigners, not Japanese:

“In doing so, [Kanagawa] prefecture would spend much less time pursuing contact history for what it described as the second most cluster-prone demographic — namely, kindergarten, day care and school teachers — and would completely stop investigating others. With the announcement, Kanagawa became the nation’s first prefecture to forge ahead with such a drastic scaling down of contact-tracing, which had been the linchpin of Japan’s battle against the pandemic.” (Japan Times, Jan 19, 2021, courtesy of JDG, emphasis added)

So with the advance of technology, the dragnet further tightens on “the foreign element” in Japan. As we have seen with the G8 Summits, the 2002 soccer World Cup, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, “Visit Japan” tourism campaigns in general, and now the 2020 Olympics, international events in Japan serve to inflame its knee-jerk “safety and security” reflexes, and justify all manner of bad overpolicing habits. They essentially become an excuse to invite foreigners in, then police them further.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities column 18: “Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner” (Jan 18, 2021), on how Covid countermeasures disproportionately target Non-Japanese against all science or logic

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column’s point is this: Even after political leadership has finally shed Shinzo Abe, the Japanese government has found new ways to discriminate against foreign residents of Japan. This is no accident, as NJ were in no way protected, considered, or involved in this policymaking that profoundly affects them.  Soon, any foreign resident of Japan may be under threat of immediate deportation. Excerpt follows, full article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

“Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner”

Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities column 18, January 18, 2021

[…] New year, new salvo of foreigner bashing: Last week, the Suga administration unveiled re-entry rules that permit non-Japanese residents to re-enter the same as Japanese, as long as they completed the same paperwork and fourteen-day quarantine.

Good, but here’s the wrinkle: If you are found in violation of any quarantine regulations, you don’t just get in trouble like Japanese by, err, having your name made public. You may lose your visa status and get deported from the country. You read that right.

This policy was in reaction to the discovery of the United Kingdom mutation of Covid within Japan this month. But like most policy created in times of shock, it has hasty assumptions: that a foreign variant meant that foreigners were somehow responsible. In fact, the Patient Zeroes who came back from England and went out partying instead of quarantining were Japanese.

This new policy is ironic. In addition to the past year of Japanese media blaming foreigners for creating “foreign clusters,” it also ignores the lazy government response to Covid. Nobody at the national level wanted to take the responsibility for declaring a blanket state of emergency. But since infections have now reached record numbers, here comes the crackdown—and once again foreigners are being disproportionately targeted.

Granted, the government is now threatening to mete out jail time and fines for Japanese who don’t cooperate with measures to reduce Covid’s spread. This has occasioned the perfunctory hand-wringing about the effectiveness of punishment in curbing infections and “infringing too much on personal freedoms” for Japanese. I see that as part of the healthy give-and-take of political debate, to make sure things don’t go too far. But where is the parallel debate about the “freedoms” of non-Japanese residents who are receiving unequal treatment under the law?

A Japanese getting a fine or a spell in the clink is one thing, but it’s incomparable to a foreigner losing their legal status gleaned after years or decades of residency, followed by deportation and permanent separation from their lives, livelihoods, and families in Japan.

We know that one of the reasons Covid became a pandemic is because of asymptomatic transmission. So what if a person who doesn’t know they’re sick and hasn’t left the country gets linked to a cluster by contact tracing? If that somebody happens to be a foreigner, his or her life in Japan may well be over…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/
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Japan Times: J Govt’s pandemic border policy highlights their taking advantage of insecure legal status of foreign residents

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Hi Blog. In more remarkable reporting, Magdalena Osumi brings out the background thought processes behind Japan’s Covid measures that have constantly targeted foreigners in particular as vectors of infection. I will be talking more about this in my next SNA column out tomorrow, but before that, let’s get some insights into the mindsets of our government, which takes full advantage of the fact that foreigners in Japan have no guaranteed legal, civil, or even human rights under the Constitution in Japan because they don’t have citizenship. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Tokyo’s pandemic border policy highlights insecure status of foreign residents
By Magdalena Osumi, The Japan Times, Dec 30, 2020
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/30/national/japan-pandemic-foreign-residents/

Excerpt:
[…] Inequity between the treatment of Japanese and non-Japanese residents, including those with established residency status and decadeslong careers here, brought back to the surface long-standing frustrations over apparent struggles with multiculturalism in the nation, stirring debate on the status of foreign residents here and the extent of Japan’s preparedness for an influx of foreign workers that had been anticipated before the pandemic struck.

As questions linger over the government’s intentions behind the controversial rules, records and reports from behind the scenes of Japan’s fight against the pandemic have begun to emerge.

They highlight the limits of the nation’s immigration strategy, with decisions apparently made ad hoc amid chaos, and reveal the insecure status of foreign nationals in Japan and underlying discriminatory attitudes within society toward immigrants and expatriates.[…]

Japan’s handling of border control in the first months of the year was more chaotic.

That changed on April 3 when Japan introduced a draconian border control policy, banning entry by nearly all foreign residents from 73 countries and regions affected by the spread of the virus.

What prompted some of the most intense criticism of the policy was its failure to distinguish between short-term visitors and long-term residents — a decision that made it the only member of the Group of Seven that refused to allow residents with foreign passports to return to their homes in Japan from overseas.

What turned out to be the decisive factor in Japan’s implementation of the strict entry ban — and its reluctance to ease the restrictions — was a lack of preparedness to control entry procedures, together with poor testing capacity at airports. […]

Reports from government meetings do not show any sign of vigorous debate on the consequences of imposing strict restrictions on non-Japanese residents with legal residency status in the nation, despite concerns about international ties and a long-term impact on Japan’s economic interest. […]

On top of that, the government faced a challenge in implementing further restrictions on Japanese citizens, who are protected by a constitutional right to enter Japan. Foreign nationals, meanwhile, do not have such protection under the Constitution. […]

Throughout the year, health care experts on the government’s coronavirus task force expressed concern that they were unable to gain a comprehensive view of the attitudes held by foreign nationals toward the pandemic.

Officials were worried that language barriers, for example, may hamper access to information on basic anti-infection measures, such as avoiding the so-called Three C’s of closed spaces, crowds and close-contact settings.

But that their remarks suggesting inability among foreign nationals to adhere to health protocols were made alongside words of encouragement regarding the promotion of domestic tourism instilled a false perception that the pandemic in Japan was under control, in contrast to the situation abroad, while contributing to a narrative that foreign nationals may have posed a threat…

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/30/national/japan-pandemic-foreign-residents/
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My SNA Visible Minorities 17: NIKE JAPAN Advertisement on Japan’s Visible Minorities does some good (Dec 21, 2020)

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Hi Blog. As promised in a previous blog entry, I would be giving my opinion on a recent advertisement from Nike Japan that got a lot of attention. We’ve already debated the ad itself on Debito.org here. Thanks for your feedback. Now here’s my take, as part of my latest Shingetsu News Agency column. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: Nike Japan Does Some Good
Shingetsu News Agency, DEC 21, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

SNA (Tokyo) — Nike’s television advertisement depicting a multiethnic Japan stands out as a bright spot to close out the dreadful year of 2020.

Entitled “We Will Continue Moving: Myself and the Future,” the two-minute ad depicts a series of diverse Asian youths pensive about their lives in Japan.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G02u6sN_sRc

Some are running about and kicking soccer balls while musing about their identity and their abilities. A voiceover has them wondering if they’re “normal,” or living up to expectations. One girl, shown in closeup in a school uniform, is clearly a Japanese with African roots. Another boy, after eating a Korean meal with his family, looks up the Zainichi issue late at night on his cellphone. Tennis champ Naomi Osaka’s photo makes a fleeting appearance, with a question about whether she’s American or Japanese. A girl finds Japan’s culture of cuteness doesn’t resonate with her, and wishes she could just ignore it all. Another girl gets glares for going out in public in her Korean school uniform. After more cuts to kids practicing their sports skills, scenes follow of school crowds staring and group-bullying minorities. One lad, drawn attention to by the teacher in class as a new transfer student, feels pressure to be liked by everyone. Another isolated kid feels pressure to tolerate her ostracisation, and then the African-Japanese girl reappears, trying to ignore the other kids who are making a fuss about her kinky hair in a school bathroom. As the music swells, these kids then seek solace in sports, becoming appreciated by their peers for their talents as star athletes—to the point where one girl tapes “KIM” over her Japanese name on the back of her jersey.

The takeaway message in a final montage of voices is the treatment they’re getting is not something they should have to tolerate. They shouldn’t have to wait for a world where they can live “as is,” without concealing themselves.

Now, before I say why this advertisement is important, let’s acknowledge some caveats. One is that this is from Nike Japan, and like all corporations their motivation is to make money. It is a stunt to attract attention and sell products.

Moreover, Nike taking a high road with social justice issues is a bit ironic, given their history of child labor and sweatshops. Above all, human rights and business do not always mix well, and businesspeople are essentially opportunists. So let’s first not delude ourselves to think Nike is primarily motivated by altruism.

The other point worth mentioning is the attention that the ad got: 11 million views so far on YouTube. Naturally, internet trolls, xenophobes, and haters got triggered. Unfortunately, even responsible media (such as the AFP and BBC) gave them oxygen by reporting their overblown calls for a boycott, then fumbled the issue by getting soundbites from unqualified “experts” with no real training in Japan’s history of civil rights, social movements, or race relations issues. These rubes missed the mark by denouncing Nike Japan as a “foreign brand,” or dismissing these kids as “outside voices.”

This is worse than just lazy journalist hackery. This fumble was a missed opportunity to highlight issues that have long been ignored in Japan’s media—the existence of a growing number of visible minorities. So let’s make up for that in this column by acknowledging that Nike Japan’s ad was a big step in the right direction.

First, let’s recap how big 2020 was for minorities in Japan sports:

Rest of the article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

Read it before it goes behind a paywall on Friday.

======================
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NIKE JAPAN ads featuring Japan’s Minorities and Visible Minorities taking solace and courage from doing sports

mytest

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Hi Blog. Reader JK sent me this link to the following NIKE JAPAN advertisement for discussion:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G02u6sN_sRc

Entitled “動かしつづける。自分を。未来を。” (Lit: We will continue moving. Myself. And the Future.”, which is a bit different from the official title of “The Future Isn’t Waiting”), the subject is of Japan’s school-age Minorities and Visible Minorities facing social othering in Japan, and finding solace and courage in themselves by becoming good at sports.

It’s dated November 27, 2020, and been viewed nearly 10 million times as of this writing. According to the Japan Times, it’s inspired a “fiery online response”: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/02/national/social-issues/japan-nike-ad/

The BBC adds, a bit disingenuously: “Many Japanese do not like to be told by outside voices to change their ways,” said Morley Robertson, a Japanese-American journalist. “But if a foreigner demonstrates a deep understanding of Japanese culture or Japanese rules, then those same Japanese who would otherwise take offence will gush forth with praise.”

[NB:  Morley Robertson is listed in his Japanese-only Wikipedia entry as a “タレント、DJ、ラジオパーソナリティ、ミュージシャン、ジャーナリスト、コメンテーター”. “Journalist” seems a bit of a stretch.]

Steve McGinnes, the author of Surfing the Asian wave: How to survive and thrive in the new world order, believes the advert is an “own goal”. “Endemic racism is going to be a sensitive topic in any culture. But Nike should not think, as a foreign brand, that it is appropriate for them to point it out to their hosts. “They are crudely putting a spotlight onto a subject that many feel should be off-limits to guests. It’s a huge own goal for Nike.”… “In 2020, should America or an American brand be taking the high ground on racism and telling the rest of the world what they are doing wrong?” adds Mr McGinnes. “Clearly, a lot of Japanese people think they shouldn’t.” https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55140846

Despite the pretty flawed English translation in the CC function, I think it’s worth critique by our Readers. JDG has already said: Interesting comment reported by JT:Nowadays, you often see one or two people of different nationalities going to school perfectly peacefully. The one that’s prejudiced is Nike,” wrote one user named “hira1216.” No, ‘hira1216’, those ‘one or two people’ aren’t ‘different nationalities’, they are JAPANESE! I guess hira1216 doesn’t understand what racism is, so they can’t see it, and are responsible for perpetuating it.

I’ll reserve my comment for later.  But I don’t believe this is an “own goal” for Nike.  And how self-assured can these pundits be that these are “outside voices”?  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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United Nations human rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation

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Hi Blog.  I wrote back in January in my Shingetsu News Agency column that Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan’s gaijin gulag was the right move — not least because Japan’s heavy-handed prosecutorial powers and treatment of criminal suspects is in itself a violation of human rights.  Now it turns out the United Nations would agree.  An AP article follows, courtesy of lots of people.  As Debito.org Reader JDG points out, “How’s that effort to turn Tokyo into an international financial hub going, BTW? Attracting much elite foreign talent? I guess Japan will be back in touch with the U.N. when it wants some more UNESCO listings…”

Given that Japan has been shamed for decades over its human rights record, and still has not passed a criminal law against racial discrimination as promised under international treaty it signed a quarter century ago (yes, way back in 1995!), I doubt this will mean much. But at least it’s a delicious vindication for our advocacy camp. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Crime
Human rights panel: Japan was wrong to detain Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation
Associated Press/Japan Today, Nov. 24, 2020
By JAMEY KEATEN
Courtesy https://japantoday.com/category/crime/Human-rights-panel-Japan-was-wrong-to-detain-Carlos-Ghosn-owes-him-compensation

GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.

The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country’s legal process.

In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.

While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.

Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.

In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.

The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”

The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.”

The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.

The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.

Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called daiyo kangoku system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.

“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”

“Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn,” it added.

Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr Ghosn, “specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media…”

Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said.

“He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.

Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.

Ghosn’s lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.

Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.
ENDS

======================
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My latest SNA VM column 14: “Visible Minorities: Weaponizing the Japanese Language”, on how Foreign Minister Motegi’s discriminatory treatment of Japan Times reporter Magdalena Osumi is part of a bigger phenomenon, Sept 21, 2020

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Hi Blog. My latest Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 14 discusses how Japan weaponizes its language to require “perfect Japanese” from non-native speakers only, and when they can’t speak it perfectly, they get discriminated against. Consider this:

===================================
Visible Minorities: Weaponizing the Japanese Language
Shingetsu News Agency, SEP 21, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/09/21/visible-minorities-weaponizing-the-japanese-language/

On August 28, Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s foreign minister, was giving an official press conference to reporters in Japanese. A foreign reporter for Japan Times, Magdalena Osumi, asked some questions in Japanese. When Osumi followed up on a point he left unclear, Motegi responded to her in English.

Osumi then retorted in Japanese, “You needn’t treat me like I’m stupid. If we’re talking in Japanese, please answer in Japanese.” Damn right.

How many times has this happened to you? You ask a question in Japanese of a shop keep, clerk, passerby, or somebody on the other end of a telephone, and they flake out because you got some words in the wrong order, had an accent, or just have a foreign face? Many automatically assume that because you’re foreign-looking or -sounding, you must be able to speak English. So they reply in English.

Or how many times, as a budding Japanese language learner, were you told that what you just said “is not Japanese,” not “it’s not correct Japanese”? Just a flat-out denial, as if your attempt is in some alien tongue, like Klingon.

This phenomenon, where it’s either “perfect Japanese” or you get linguistically gaijinized, is odd. It’s also based upon a myth…
===================================

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/09/21/visible-minorities-weaponizing-the-japanese-language/

The video of that Motegi press conference is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdlt9n5FDUU (watch from around minute 2 onwards)

Other sources within the SNA article:

Japan Times: In case you missed it: Trump’s awkward response to a Japanese reporter:
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/08/world/politics-diplomacy-world/in-case-you-missed-it-trumps-awkward-response-to-a-japanese-reporter/ 

Mainichi: Minister under fire for questioning foreign journalist’s Japanese at press conf.
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200902/p2a/00m/0na/009000c

======================
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Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities 13: “Japan’s Cult of Miserable Happy”, Aug 24, 2020, questioning whether “omotenashi” Japan is actually all that hospitable to anyone, what with such a strong “culture of no”

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest column. Enjoy the rest of your summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

/////////////////////////////////////
Visible Minorities: Japan’s Cult of Miserable Happy
Shingetsu News Agency, Column 13, AUG 24, 2020
By DEBITO ARUDOU
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/08/24/visible-minorities-japans-cult-of-miserable-happy/

…These are sobering times for Japan fans. Thanks to the pandemic, even the most starry-eyed and enfranchised foreigners are having their bubbles burst, realizing that their status in Japan, no matter how hard-earned, matters not one whit to Japan’s policymakers.

As covered elsewhere, current immigration policy dictates that Japanese citizens can leave and re-enter the country at will, as long as they subject themselves to testing and quarantine upon return. But that doesn’t apply to Japan’s resident non-citizens.

Despite widespread protest (and some token revisions), they still generally get barred from re-entry, meaning thousands of foreign workers, spouses, and students are either stranded overseas, watching helplessly as their Japan livelihoods and investments dry up, or stranded in Japan unable to attend to family business or personal tragedy, at a time when thousands of people worldwide die of Covid daily.

Targeting all foreigners only as vessels of virus makes it clearer than ever that Japan’s requirements for membership are racist. It strips yet another layer of credibility from the “Cool Japan” trope, such as the overhyped “culture of hospitality” (omotenashi) during Japan’s buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Since this is an opportune time to remove layers of lies from Japan’s narrative, let’s address another one: That Japan is an unusually hospitable place…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/08/24/visible-minorities-japans-cult-of-miserable-happy/

======================
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Cabby on “Ten Days in May: A Memorable Japan Hospital Experience during the COVID-19 Crisis”

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Hi Blog. Continuing the August semi-vacation where I am commenting less and letting Debito.org Readers take the helm, here’s some good news for a change, where Cabby writes about a good experience he had in Japanese hospital in Okayama, Central Japan. With all the stories Debito.org has covered about how COVID has affected NJ Residents adversely, this story comes a welcome respite. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Ten Days in May: A Memorable Japan Hospital Experience during the COVID-19 Crisis
By Cabby, Exclusive to Debito.org, May 17, 2020

As if submerged in a deep dark viscous pool and slowing ascending to the surface, I awoke in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital with doctor and two nurses in attendance. My vision was unfocused and mind disoriented. I saw I was enclosed in some type of clear vinyl box with what seemed like a wooden frame.

The first external sound was that of a doctor asking if it was all right. My first mumbled utterance, “Where am I?” was answered with Okayama University Hospital I.C.U. The next words from the doctor were, “Is it okay for us to remove the ventilator? We need it for another patient.”

My confused reply . . . “What ventilator? What time is it? The doctor informed me it was Saturday afternoon and that I had been unconscious for about 26 hours. He asked once more about the ventilator. I now assume there was a matter of urgency to the request but at the time I was still quite groggy and did not even understand why I was on a ventilator. I answered, “if you think it is OK. You’re the doctor.” It was removed and in it’s place a large clear plastic oxygen mask was positioned over my nose and mouth.

As I began to regain a semblance of mental clarity I could see that I was in a large room with many patients. At the foot of the bed was a large blue and gray high-tech machine of some sort and a nurse sitting behind it. She was focused on a laptop computer resting on the surface of a tray in front of the mass of the machine.

Before long the doctor returned and informed me that they were going to move me to a different part of I.C.U. to lessen the threat of COVID-19 infection. He also told me that I had been tested upon admittance and the results were negative. This was not my primary concern at the time. The very professional staff proceeded to wheel my bed along with the blue and gray machine down a short hallway to a somewhat more secluded section of the ward.

I was placed into what to me resembled the most sanitary stable stall I’d ever seen. It was enclosed on three sides from floor to ceiling with the entire section at the foot of the bed open. For the next 24 hours, as with the previous, I remained flat on my back with a nurse in attendance the entire time as she monitored the reading on the machine and checked the laptop. I mainly slept the first evening and slowly became aware that both wrists were secured to the side rails of the bed, forcing me to remain almost completely immobile. I could see a line running into my left wrist. I later found it ran directly to an artery. There was a surgical tube through a hole in my right side over my ribcage. I was unaware of its existence until Sunday morning when a very competent doctor with a bushy black beard removed it and used stitches to close the open hole. He then removed the large oxygen mask, replacing it with a smaller one. Later that day it too was replaced by a small light nasal cannula.

During my stay in the ‘stall’ my only complaint was that my back hurt. I repeated this numerous times in English and Japanese. I knew it was because I couldn’t move from this fixed position and that nothing was broken, but the attentive and caring nurse had someone from radiology come up with a portable X-ray machine to X-ray my back. I’d never seen anything like it before. Naturally the results were negative. This was just one indication of the high degree of professionalism and concern exhibited by all staff I came in contact with during my ten-day stay at the hospital.

At the time I was unaware that there was a tube through my left nostril that went to my stomach for forced feeding. Honesty, I’m not certain when it was removed and only became aware of it when I misunderstood a nurse later in the week and thought they wanted to put a tube down my throat to my stomach. “I’m sorry but I get panic attacks and I couldn’t take having a tube go down my throat”, I said excitedly. Yukari, my nurse, smiled and calmly said, “Don’t worry. There was a tube in your nose that went to your stomach. It was already removed.” It was actually a humorous exchange. I was happy to have been completely unaware of the nasogastric incubation having taken place.

There was a need for more bed space in the I.C.U. on Sunday, and the attending doctor who removed the tubing returned with what seemed like a ream of documents for me to sign. I couldn’t focus well, and the bed could only be raised slightly, so I am certain all of my signings are illegible. I made a feeble attempt at humor with the doctor. Instead of the word “signature”, the English version of the forms had “autograph”. I told him before I gave an autograph it would cost ¥500 per autograph but I would provide my signature for free. Being competent in English as well as medicine, he smiled.

I then asked him, “What happened to me on Friday afternoon?” He said, “You had a light case of pneumonia.” I said, “a light case?” To which he responded, “Along with a collapsed right lung.” Now that one got my attention. Although I didn’t feel it, my condition must have been improving because he informed me that I’d be leaving I.C.U. in a few hours and explained the current room situation and costs. Due to the crowded conditions in the respiratory ward, my first choice, whether it be a private or four-person room, might not be available. I opted for a private room, at least, for a few days and was fortunate to get it and remain there for the rest of my stay.

The next part of our conversation was mildly confrontational since I was informed that I would probably have to move to a different hospital due to the need for beds. This hospital is one of the four in the prefecture designated to treat COVID-19 patients. I was adamant about not wanting to move, knowing that I would receive the best available treatment right where I was, since I was already an outpatient there for my COPD condition. The doctor told me not to get too stressed over it as any other hospital would have to approve my transfer, even though I tested negative for COVID-19. Many hospitals in the area were refusing patients due to the epidemic.

At about 2:00 in the afternoon I was moved to a private room in the respiratory ward. I could never have anticipated the reception I received when my bed was wheeled past the nurse’s station. I actually had a nurse assigned to me for both day and night shifts. However, this does not mean that she remained in the room. Of course I was aided by many different nurses every day. It being Golden Week (a week of national holidays), the conscientious nurses were working with a full ward of patients and a skeleton crew. Somehow they managed to remain cheerful and attentive at all times. Their constant positive demeanor amazed me.

Afraid of being moved to another hospital, I did something I am not accustomed to doing. I told the nurse assigned to me that I did not want to move to another facility and then began name-dropping. I told her that I have been teaching nurses in this hospital for the past three years. I quickly learned she was aware of this and had wanted to take my class last year but it was full. The next time I saw the doctors I did the same thing and let them know that fifth year students at the Dental Hospital all use a textbook that I wrote and edited with university dentists.

Every day as my condition improved there were small changes. After two days of nothing but soft foods three times a day, I was able to change to a regular diet. It was a pleasant surprise that the most meals tasted good. I devoured every morsel served to me as I wanted to regain my strength and return home as soon as possible. My only complaint was that there wasn’t enough food, but I understood why. As is currently the case in most hospitals across Japan due to COVID-19, no visitors were allowed, so receiving food from outside was not an option. The ban on visitors placed an extra psychological strain on patients. It also caused additional work for the nurses. Since I arrived by ambulance I had none of the many things needed for a prolonged stay in a Japanese hospital. When I arrived in the ward I was able to get my phone and wallet that my good friend, Tony, brought to the hospital. I felt bad about having to impose on the nurses who needed to go to the first floor convenience store to buy me a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, chopsticks, etc. at a time when they were so busy and short staffed. The shops were only open a few hours a day during Golden Week. Another good friend, Paul, went to my apartment to gather some clothes and a few other needed items and was able to bring them to the nurse’s station for me. I now had my Kindle to read from, which made passing the time much easier.

When the nurses came to check my condition, administer medications through IVs and injections through a hole in my neck that had three different lines, they were always cheerful and we had fun in mixing Japanese and English. They would often bring a tablet that they could speak Japanese into and English text would appear on the screen. As one might expect with translation software, it wasn’t very accurate. At times the errors were truly funny and when I’d explain what the translation meant we’d all crack up laughing. 0ne said, “After you stop breathing, how do you feel?” At one point a nurse was trying to find a medical expression in English and I began to laugh. She didn’t understand and I asked if I could see the laminated sheets of paper she was holding. I flipped through them to the correct page and explained they were the pages of bilingual expressions used in my lessons. We both enjoyed that one. I noticed that there were corresponding pages in Chinese, too.

By Monday I could brush my teeth in bed and stand up next to the bed for a short time. Tuesday I got up and into a wheelchair with an oxygen tank attached, and a nice young nurse took me to a room with a beauty salon type chair and shampooed my hair. I was beginning to feel human again. Later we went to the first floor radiology center for a chest X-ray. On Wednesday they removed both the catheter and oxygen line. A nurse bought a card that allowed me to use the room TV and ward washers and dryers, so I was able to wash clothes right on the ward. It felt so good to be untethered again. I met with doctors a few times on Thursday and Friday and they changed my tentative release date from the following Tuesday to Sunday.

Once free of all tubes and hoses I began to wander the ward trying to get some circulation through my legs and build up their strength. I met a few interesting old gentlemen during my laps around the ward. One was a retired merchant marine captain who had been around the world many times. Friday I had a brief explanation about the new daily medication I would be taking at home and continued my walking. It felt nice not to burden the nurses with taking away my food tray after meals or having them go to the vending machine for all the bottled water I consumed. I had the stitches removed from my side where the tube had been inserted, only to have them replaced on Saturday as the hole reopened slightly during the night.

Saturday morning, I met with the head of the respiratory rehabilitation therapy section, answered some profile questions and later in the afternoon a very nice young therapist, Sho, met with me about breathing exercises. He was excited to be able to communicate in English and we talked about music for a bit. I was very happy to learn that he and all the doctors felt the QiGong, Louhan Patting, stretching and Tai Chi I’d been doing every morning since October were all good for my lung conditioning and recommended I continue my daily routine.

Sunday morning was interminable as I awoke at 5:00 and was counting the minutes until my 10:00 release time. The last 30 minutes seemed like an eternity as I didn’t get to leave until 10:30. When I got to the nurse’s station, two friends whom I’ve known for more than thirty years were waiting for me. It took all the restraint I could muster not to run up to them and give them a giant hug. Instead we did a Corina shoe tap. Hardly sufficient. In addition to the fantastic care and encouragement I received from doctors and nurses, being able to use FaceTime to connect with my daughter and friends was invaluable in keeping my spirits up at a difficult time. The online support and well wishes from so many friends made through both my career as an educator and a lover of music were unbelievable.

I would be remiss in completing this saga without describing what had happened before waking up on a ventilator. On Friday afternoon, May 1, I was feeling great and about to take a shower and go for a 6km walk as I had the two previous afternoons. Suddenly I felt as if I were experiencing the onset of a panic attack. Since talking usually helps to relieve the anxiety and get back to normal, I phoned my best friend, Tony. After a few minutes the conversation ended. Almost immediately I hit the high anxiety level and called him back. During the conversation I became very frightened and asked him to please get a cab to my place. He knew where I lived but not the address. I texted that quickly and told him I’d leave the door open. That was my last memory until waking in the hospital the next afternoon. My friend found me slumped on the sofa, eyes open but glassy and breathing, but barely. After I couldn’t respond in a coherent manner to a few questions he called 119 and had an ambulance sent. Within five minutes the excellent three-member team from the Okayama Fire & Rescue Department arrived in what could be termed hazmat suits, and together with my friend carried me in a body sling down the building steps to the ambulance. At first the driver was unsure the university hospital would accept me as I was exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, so we slowly made our way toward town and as soon as they received approval, the driver hit the siren and sped to the ER.

I owe so much to so many for saving my life and providing highly professional treatment and care. I am quite fortunate to be here to write this and to have so many friends who were there when I needed them most.

CABBY (2,618 words)

======================
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SNA Visible Minorities Column 11: Advice to Activists in Japan in general (in the wake of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Japan Movement), June 22, 2020.

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Visible Minorities: Advice to Activists in Japan
Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities Column 11, June 22, 2020
By Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/06/22/visible-minorities-advice-to-activists-in-japan/.

SNA (Tokyo) — Sparked by the George Floyd murder by police in America last month, street protests against official violence towards minorities and disenfranchised peoples have sprung up worldwide.

Japan has been no exception. Within recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a wider range of people are finally decrying, for example, the Japanese police’s racial profiling and violence towards visible minorities.

I’ve talked about these and other issues for years, devoting significant space both on Debito.org and in my book Embedded Racism: Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. That said, it should be noted that my position in Japan as a white male with naturalized Japanese citizenship has provided me significant privilege; in all humility I am not in the best position to offer advice to people who have the right (nay, obligation) to create their own identities, narratives, and agendas as they see best.

Nevertheless, this column would like to point out some of the pitfalls that activists may face in Japanese society, based upon my experience fighting against racial discrimination here for nearly thirty years. Please read them in the helpful spirit they are intended:

1) Remember that, in Japan, activists are seen as extremists

Japan has a long history of activism and protest. However, the historical narrative generally portrays activists (katsudouka) as radical, destructive elements (kagekiha), most famously the Japanese Red Army; the Revolutionary Communist League, National Committee (Chukakuha); the Japan Revolutionary Communist League, Revolutionary Marxist Faction (Kakumaruha); or even just labor unions like the Japan Teachers’ Union (Nikkyoso). If you’re out there protesting, you’re automatically seen by many Japanese as angry, unapproachable, and unable to be reasoned with.

Furthermore, public demonstrations are treated with undue alarm. They’re not, for example, normalized as a phase college kids go through and grow out of. In fact, youth might become unemployable if they carry on beyond college. That’s why high-profile student group Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) disbanded as soon as their leaders approached the job market.

Additionally, the government has a long history of suppressing voices from the left more than the racket from rightwing conservatives and reactionaries, as seen in their regular rounds of unfettered sound trucks. It’s not an even playing field for human-rights advocates. That’s why there arguably isn’t a successful example of leftist protests ever decisively changing the course of government in Japan. (Contrast that with, say, the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s, so romanticized in Western media, which even undermined presidents overseas.)

The result is that the average person in Japan, especially your employer, will need to be convinced that what you’re doing is at all necessary, not to mention has a snowball’s chance of succeeding. Be prepared to do that.

2) Keep the debate focused on how discrimination affects everyone in Japan

One problem with protests for equal rights for “foreigners” is an assumption that the problem must be exogenous. It runs deeper than the sentiments of a) “foreigners are only ‘guests’ here, so they shouldn’t be rude to their ‘hosts’ by protesting,” or b) “if only you weren’t here disrupting our homogeneous society, your problem would just go away.” It’s again a problem with narrative.

Discrimination, particularly “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu), is generally taught in Japanese schools as something other countries do towards people with different skin color, notably US Segregation and South African Apartheid. Thanks to the daily mantras about our alleged monocultural, monoethnic “island society” closed off from the world for a zillion years, Japan generally doesn’t see how “race” could be a factor here. The logic is that homogeneous Japan has no races, therefore no “race relations” problems like other countries. The Japanese government has made precisely this argument to the United Nations.

That’s one reason why Japanese media reflexively deflects the issue into terms like “foreigner discrimination” (gaikokujin sabetsu), “ethnic discrimination” (minzoku sabetsu), or merely “cultural differences” (ibunka no chigai). All of these concepts miss the point that racial discrimination is in fact a longstanding domestic issue.

So refocus the issue back on the process of racialization. Reiterate at every opportunity that this is “racial discrimination,” and stress how, thanks to generations of naturalization and international marriage, there are plenty of Japanese citizens with diverse roots. Thus discrimination against “foreigners” also affects hundreds of thousands of Japanese people.

After all, Japanese society gloms onto “racial discrimination” against Japanese citizens abroad with a surprising amount of passion. So point out that it’s happening here too. And you’ll have to do it again and again, because you will have to convince a surprising number of people who refuse to believe that racism even exists in Japan.

3) Be wary of being fetishized

Remember that a certain degree of social resonance you may be feeling in your crowd is likely not the feeling of acceptance you might want; it is not equal footing with Japanese citizens. People often join in since protesting is “cool” because “foreigners are cool” or “pitiable” (kawaisou).

There is plenty of scholarly research (read Marvin D. Sterling’s Babylon East, for example) on how Japanese adopt “foreign cultures” only on a topical level, meaning without much interest in the actual mindset or experience of being a visible minority in Japan.

Collaborate with whoever shows up, of course. Just don’t get your hopes up too far. Some people who seem like supporters might only be fair-weather groupies. So don’t rely on them too much when it comes time for them to commit their names or faces in public.

4) Be ready for the long haul

Success, of course, requires not only widespread support in Japan, but also assistance from fellow Japanese human-rights activists. They are very practiced and determined, having done this sort of thing for decades. But remember: Activist groups in Japan are very cliquey. Often the barriers for entry and being accepted as “one of us” are pretty high.

Even though, at first, being seen as “pitiable” works in your favor, remember that the default attitude towards people seen as “foreigners” is “someone here only for the short-term.”

What I mean is “foreigners” are often treated like exotic birds, as something to study because you alighted on their balcony and have interesting plumage to look at. So they give you their attention for as long as you’re around. But once it seems you’ve flitted off, you’re quickly forgotten as merely a phase or a pastime. Then things reset back to the ingrained narratives of Japan as homogeneous and foreigners as temporary.

The only way you can defy that is by showing how deeply you’ve committed yourself to this issue for as long as possible, as people in those activist groups have. They’ve made this rallying cause a life mission, and they’ll expect you to as well. Otherwise, you’re just a fickle foreign hobbyist and doors slam.

Moreover, be careful of the “get in line” attitude that one (rightly) receives from other minorities in Japan (such as the Zainichi Koreans). They have been here much longer, fought much harder, and sacrificed more simply to exist in Japan. Avoid the one-upmanships over “who’s the bigger victim here?”

Instead, focus on what you all have in common: perpetual disenfranchisement, and how you have to work together to overcome that to make Japan a better place for everyone. Remember that power surrenders nothing without a fight, so dissolving into disagreeing leftist factions is precisely what the powerful want. The status quo wins by default that way.

5) Control your own narrative

Finally, don’t rely on people who aren’t in your position to understand or promote your narrative. Do it yourselves. Organize your own press conferences. Make sure that everything you release to the public and media is also in Japanese, and have some prominent public spokespeople who are minorities. It’s your voice. Don’t let even the best-intentioned interpreters and interlocutors inadvertently dilute it.

For example, last month, the people of diverse roots who spoke out fluently against the Shibuya police roughing up a Kurdish person were excellent examples of how to do it right. They were very effective in getting the message out both to print and broadcast media. More of that, please.

There you go: five pitfalls I might suggest you avoid. I hope you find them useful, even if I have a very limited understanding of what you’re going through. In any case, it’s your time and your social movement. I wish you success, and thanks for reading.  ENDS

For breaking news, follow on Twitter @ShingetsuNews

======================
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Mainichi: Japan, US academics demand NHK explain offensive BLM anime. And how about all the others (including NHK) in the past?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Japanese TV has once again put their foot in it for racist stereotyping.  We’ve already covered here on Debito.org:

Now we see NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) commenting on Black Lives Matter in perhaps the most insensitive way possible. Submitter JK comments, then I comment:

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

JK:  Hi Debito.  Looks like NHK is actually getting heat for their understanding (or lack thereof) of the world now:

Japan, US academics demand NHK explain editorial choices behind offensive BLM anime
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200613/p2a/00m/0na/011000c

June 13, 2020 (Mainichi Japan) Japanese version follows.

PHOTO CAPTION: An NHK animated explainer on Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. which was widely condemned as racist and subsequently removed by the broadcaster, is seen in this screen capture. (Mainichi)

With translation:

TOKYO — Academics in Japan and the United States submitted a letter to NHK on June 12 demanding the Japanese public broadcaster clarify why it broadcast an anime explainer of Black Lives Matter protests that was subsequently condemned as racist, and that it also outline its views on the matter and possible preventive measures.

【Related】Japan’s NHK apologizes for clip on US BLM protests after racism accusations
【Related】Black Lives Matter goes mainstream after Floyd’s death
【Related】Tennis star Naomi Osaka all-in on Black Lives Matter movement: Reuters

In their five-page letter to the NHK, the experts in U.S. studies describe the video as “including content that cannot be overlooked.” Among its 13 signatories are professor Fumiko Sakashita of Ritsumeikan University in Tokyo and professor Yasumasa Fujinaga of Japan Women’s University, also in the capital. The letter is addressed to the NHK president, as well as the heads of the international news division and the News Department. The writers say they will recruit supporters in both the U.S. and Japan.

The around 1-minute-20-second animated video that the letter discusses was originally shown on NHK news program “Kore de Wakatta! Sekai no Ima” (Now I Understand! The World Now) and shared on the broadcaster’s official Twitter account on June 7. It was intended as an explanation for the demonstrations that began in the U.S. after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck. It features a muscular, vested black man shouting about economic inequality in the U.S., and makes no reference to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

The letter to NHK described the depiction of the man as stereotypical, saying, “He is given an excessively muscular appearance, and speaks in an emphatically coarse and violent way.” It added that in the U.S., “This stereotype has a history of being used to legitimize lynching of black people and the loss of their lives from police brutality.”

It also criticized the program itself for suggesting that one cause of violence by police toward black people is “a fear of black people,” and for offering a “completely insufficient” explanation of issues around “the historic background of police brutality, from slavery to the modern prison industrial complex.”

It then mentioned that by the time the NHK show was aired on June 7, rioting and looting had already waned, and that the mostly peaceful protests were also being joined by many white people. Referring to this, the writers said the content of both the program and the animated explainer were “not an accurate reflection of the current state of protests.”

The letter also says the program didn’t give enough consideration to anger toward systemic racism as one of the causes of the protests. It also puts forward questions as to why the content wasn’t checked internally and corrected.

On June 9, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast, and we apologize to those who have been offended by it.” The program was removed from its online streaming services, and the tweet sharing the video also deleted.

Regarding its response, the letter says NHK has not clearly elucidated what was problematic about the program, and criticized the broadcaster strongly for “trivializing the matter as a case of viewer interpretation.” It went on to ask that NHK clarify both its understanding on the issue and the events that led to the problematic content being broadcast and tweeted.

(Japanese original by Sumire Kunieda, Integrated Digital News Center)

黒人差別の解説動画「看過できない内容」 NHKに米国研究の学者らが検証求め る要望書
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200612/k00/00m/040/247000c

黒人差別の解説動画「看過できない内容」 NHKに米国研究の学者らが検証求める要望書

NHKがニュース番組「これでわかった!世界のいま」などで発信した米国の抗議デモに関する解説について、日米の米国研究者が12日、「看過できない内容が含まれている」として、問題認識や経緯、再発防止策を明らかにするよう求める要望書をNHKに送付した。【國枝すみれ/統合デジタル取材センター】

要望書は全5ページ。坂下史子・立命館大教授や藤永康政・日本女子大教授ら日米の大学に所属する研究者13人が呼びかけ人となり、NHKの会長、国際部部長、報道局長宛てに送付した。今後、日米で賛同者を募るという。

要望書が問題としたのは、白人警官による黒人男性暴行死事件への米国の抗議デモについてNHKが解説した6月7日の放送内容と、公式ツイッターの発信内容。番組は、デモの背景を解説するアニメ動画を放映し、ツイッターにも同じ動画を投稿していた。

要望書はこの動画について、黒人が「過度に筋肉質な外見で、乱暴で粗野な言葉づかいが強調された男性」というステレオタイプで描かれているとし、米国では「これ…

(rest behind paywall).

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

NHK responded (full text available here in Japanese and here in Tokyo Weekender translation):

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

“We at NHK would like to sincerely apologize for a computer animation clip posted on our Twitter account. The clip was part of a segment in the program “Kore-de-wakatta Sekai-no-ima” broadcast on Sunday, June 7th. The 26-minute segment reported that the protests in the US were triggered by the death of George Floyd after he was pinned to the ground by a white police officer. It also reported the background on how many people are angered by the case, handling of the matter by the Trump administration and criticism against it, as well as division in American society. The one-minute-21-second clip aimed to show the hardships, such as economic disparity, that many African Americans in the US suffer. However, we have decided to take the clip offline after receiving criticism from viewers that it did not correctly express the realities of the problem. We regret lacking proper consideration in carrying the clip, and apologize to everyone who was offended.” 

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

DEBITO COMMENTS:  Apology not accepted.  As I said, this is well within history and character for Japanese media, and the fact that it appeared on NHK (on a children’s program, no less) makes it all the more mainstream.  It’s not even Embedded Racism.

I will note that the people that produced this anime are the same ones (in terms of inflammatory style, caricature, and even voice talent) that produced the racialized imagery used in landmark TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago (which we also appeared in during the Otaru Onsens Case).  Witness this segment from February 28, 2001.

So in my view, for all NHK’s claims that it “lacked proper consideration”, I call BS.  They knew full well what these subcontracted segments are like.  That’s what that subcontractor has done for years.  They just expected that this would be for “domestic consumption only” and the Gaijin wouldn’t see it (because after all, “foreigners” don’t watch Japanese TV because Japanese is too hard a language for them to understand).  That’s also BS.  NHK (not to mention most of Japan’s other media) still hasn’t learned their lesson after all these decades.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
======================
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Kyoto Nakagyou-ku issues comic book on local street safety to grade schoolers, created by Kyoto Seika Univ & Kyoto International Manga Museum, portraying “foreigners” as unintelligible ill-mannered tourists!

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

Hi Blog. As I recently said in an interview with the Shingetsu News Agency, people who live in Japan (including NJ Residents) have to speak up if they feel they are being unfairly treated or depicted in public.  And they do, sometimes with success.

Consider the case of RJO below, who writes that he saw a Kyoto Government comic book (ironically, scripted and edited by Kyoto Seika University, in conjunction with the Kyoto International Manga Museum! ) issued to local grade-school children about traffic safety (a concern in Kyoto for commuting kids). Amidst other concerns, the booklet veered off on a tangent to target and alienate “foreigners” (not to mention Visible Minorities) as loud, ill-mannered loiterers and litterers.

That’s the NJ Community’s only appearance in the comic — as guests (not Residents).  Of course, according to eyewitness reports (and personal experience), this is in spite of ill-mannered loud littering Japanese around Kyoto as well.  (Those kind of manners, you see, are exogenous to Japan.  Even an elementary school student knows that.  Now!)

The good news is that RJO and a friend took this up on Facebook, then directly with the City Government. Within hours the downloadable link to this booklet disappeared!

Turning the keyboard over to RJO now to tell his story. Good job, you two. Again, if you live here as a Resident, you have to make yourself known as one sometimes. Demand non-differential treatment. And definitely demand not to be alienated in a primary school setting! Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

To: debito@debito.org
From: RJO
Date: April 26, 2020

Dear Debito, I am a French national living in Kyoto, Japan for 12 years now. I have a Japanese wife and two daughters.

My older daughter is studying at Kyoto International French School (LFIK), but she is allowed to attend classes at our local elementary school, one of the few in Kyoto where the head of school accepts students from international schools during the holidays.

We did not attend the school’s “nyûgakushi” (annual opening ceremonies), but managed to meet the teacher and grab some documents.

I noticed later, at home, that they had given us a booklet about “street safety”. The reason why is because downtown Kyoto is not very safe for children. No sidewalk, narrow streets, “nagara unten” from both cars and cycles, tobacco, etc…

[“Taking Back the Streets: A city where people can enjoy walking” produced by the Kyoto City “Nakagyou-ku Traffic Problems Project Meeting” Issued March 2020. Publisher details follow.  Click to expand in browser.]

Scripted and edited by the Kyoto Seika University (Kyoto International Manga Museum Jigyou Sokushin Shitsu)

Anyway, I started reading it, and found a depiction of Non-Japanese tourists, namely how they loiter and throw rubbish around. The young Japanese protagonists of the manga are all distressed, and go “Oh, such bad manners. I wish I could tell them something in English.”

[Right side bottom left quadrant shows racialized people making loud “Wai” noises.  The girl below says, “Boy, there are a lot of tourists here!”  The grandmother agrees.  Then the top left has unintelligible foreigners that are commented on for eating while walking, then throwing their garbage down a drain to the kids’ immense shock.  Just before the kids almost get hit by a car, they say, “What awful manners.  What would I say to them to caution them?” “Uh… in English!?  Uh, I dunno.  As you said, in English, where to start?”  Translations by Debito. Click to expand in browser.  The entire booklet can be read here as a PDF: Toori-no-fukken]

And I’m like, “What!?”

The thing is, “ill-mannered foreign tourists” are often in the news and in public communications. But actually I see lots more “local” people with bad manners everyday, and I tell them directly: “Koko wa tabako dame desu yo”, “Nagara unten yamete kudasai”, etc. I’m brave, I don’t care, and I show my daughter that you have to stand up for yourself.

So the authorities have made a booklet about street safety in Kyoto, a very relevant issue, but the only time Non-Japanese people appear in it, they are depicted as having bad manners.

Again, what’s the booklet about? Street safety.

If they want to bring in Non-Japanese people for some reason, they should show all kind of Non-Japanese people, not just the ill-mannered, loitering people. Or not just focus on the bad manners of “foreigners”. It’s a very bad association.

Plus, remember that this booklet is handed out to elementary school children. So they’ll see that depiction, the frustration of the child protagonist, and how “English-speaking people” don’t respect the rules and stuff.

Mixed-roots children (like my daughter) are part of Japanese society. They go to elementary school like everybody else. Some of them speak English, but not all do.

When my daughter used to go to a Japanese kindergarten (before the French school), I was often greeted by groups of kids shouting “Eigo no hito da!” while pointing their finger at me.

It was unsettling. I let their teachers know that, but they just said, “They’re kids, they don’t know any better.” So I said, “I know, it’s your job to teach them. I’ll be happy if they just say ‘konnichiwa’, like they do with everyone else.” (It worked, in the end.)

The street safety booklet reminded me of that, and I put a few pictures of it up on FB with English and Japanese comments.

A Japanese FB friend with English ancestry named Mariko picked up on it immediately, shared it with others, and called the City Office.

The City Office actually took everything off their website the next day (the booklet was downloadable) and promised to recall the booklet.

[Here’s the original link, and a screen capture of how it appeared on Facebook:]

https://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/digitalbook/page/0000000899.html 

It had just been published in March. They had just started giving it out and showing it in a few places.

I feel bad for the street safety campaign, but I’m happy with the result. We (Non-Japanese) are not outsiders, strangers, or just “ill-mannered tourists”. We live here. We understand Japanese. We also have to stand up for our kids.

Mariko made a good example of that. She wrote later on FB how her own kids were next to her the whole time she tried to reach the City hall. She said, “They need to see how we can defend ourselves. A phone call can change things.” She’s active against all kind of injustices.

I also believe in action. I sent letters to Combini chains to ask them to remove ashtrays close to my daughter’s kindergarten. I called the City services to urge them to put “no tobacco” signs in public parks where kids go. When I ride my daughter to school, we frequently have troubles with taxi drivers that break the speed limit or ignore the stop signs. I take picture of their plate and contact their company. I also go to the kôban to ask them to patrol the streets where such incidents happen frequently. That kind of thing. It’s not much, but I often get positive results.

I believe that many people, Japanese and Non-Japanese alike, feel the same about all of these issues (from street safety and tobacco control to racial discrimination), but they don’t think they can make a change. I think they can, we can.

Thank you Debito for your advice, and for sharing the story. Sincerely, RJO.

======================
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Calling Debito.org Readers: How is life for you in COVID Japan?

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Hi Blog.  Instead of me writing an essay, this time I’d like to hear how life during pandemic is going in Japan from you.

After all, I can talk all I like about what officialdom is up to, but in the end, we are a community, and hearing about how government policy and civil society affects Debito.org Readers is just as important.

Let me open the floor for discussion in the Comments Section by asking a few prompt questions:

1) Have you witnessed the effects of Japanese Government policy, especially when compared with what’s being put into effect in other countries (such as official calls at the local level for social distancing, the state of emergency in several prefectures, etc.)?  How would you gauge their effectiveness?

2) Have you been or do you know of anyone who has been sick with COVID? Has anyone you know been tested yet?  How were they processed by officials and treated by their peers/neighbors?

3) How is your workplace reacting to this pandemic?  Are your bosses giving you space to distance, or is it still basically business as usual with rudimentary PPE (i.e., masks etc.)?  Is there any resistance to working from home?  If so, what and why?

4) Is there still panic buying of products, and if so, what are there currently shortages of?  Any pet theories as to why?

5) Do you see much difference in your treatment by Japanese society or media for being NJ (or a Visible Minority) due to the pandemic?  Are things better, worse, or basically the same?

6) What (national and local) media messages are you seeing about NJ in Japan?

Again, these are just prompts.  Answer as many questions as you like.  Or tell us something else about COVID Life in Japan if you’re inspired.  And if you’re not in Japan, please tell us where you are and what’s going on around you, too (and if you can, compare it with Japan).  Of course, in all cases, be comfortably vague about your whereabouts.

Thanks.  We’re looking forward to your stories.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020 (full text archived)

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Hi Blog. I know everyone’s talking about the Coronavirus (and I do here too, for a bit). But my latest column backs the lens up to see this all in a larger context of Japan’s perpetual bad habits, and how they get a “free pass” even when those habits have adverse effects on the rest of the world. Especially when Japan is being held up as a model by many as a system that helps the powerful evade responsibility and transfer blame. Have a read.

One more note: Nowhere else in Japan but an independent news press like the Shingetsu News Agency would publish an article like this. This article will be behind a paywall in a few days, so please chip in $5 a month (I pay more) at the venue for access.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: No Free Pass for Shirking Responsibility
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, VISIBLE MINORITIES COLUMN 8
MARCH 16, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/03/16/visible-minorities-no-free-pass-for-shirking-responsibility/

SNA (Tokyo) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s COVID-19 response.  I mentioned last column the cruise ship Diamond Princess, still docked at Yokohama harbor, where thousands of passengers are quarantined in what became a fast-breeder petri dish for Coronavirus.  Official dithering and silo-ing resulted in unsafe containment conditions (and the silencing of a medical-specialist whistleblower), exacerbating an international incident.  It got so out of control that respective governments had to swoop in and extract their citizens.  So far, seven passengers have died from these bureaucratic games.

But still responsibility has been evaded.  To this day, the Japan is the only country to exclude cruise ship passengers (many if not mostly Japanese citizens) from its national patient tallies.  It’s been inspiration to some:  Trump tried to get away with the same thing when another cruise ship recently docked in Oakland, California, when he decried, “I like the numbers being where they are.  I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”

In Japan, sekinin tenka is normalized enough to be a reflex, and it has a long history.

Consider Japan’s attitude towards its colonialism.  Despite two generations occupying and exploiting other Asian countries, it eschews any special ties that other colonists, such as Great Britain and the Commonwealth, have.  In fact, Japan so disavows any responsibility for its past that it classifies former Japanese citizens of empire (the Zainichi, whose ancestors worked, fought, and died for Japan) as “foreigners” even though their descendants have been born in raised in Japan for generations.

This is legitimized by Japan’s academia and intelligentsia.  Japan is the only modern former imperial power that has essentially evaded the self-reflections of postcolonialism, never truly coming to terms with its role as occupier and aggressor in two world wars.  Instead you get Japan’s narrative of self-exoneration and victimhood—so strong that some quarters even blame America for allegedly forcing Japan to attack Pearl Harbor.  This unchecked historical revisionism and denialism perpetually angers Japan’s neighbors and remains a destabilizing narrative in the region.

Finally, sekinin tenka approaches the absurd when you look at Japan’s race relations.  To this day, educators and opinion leaders (including even many overseas academics) see Japan’s racism as something exogenous, adopted from “Western concepts of race”.  Their argument runs that Japan was just mimicking other Western Imperialists, meaning the onus is somehow on Westerners for inspiring Japan.  Even today, Japan’s clearest examples of racism are excused with the logic that Japan’s discrimination can’t be “racial in the Western sense” because Japan apparently has no other races. 

But this is no accident.  Japan’s education system still teaches the concept of racial discrimination as something that only happens elsewhere, such as in the American South under Jim Crow or South Africa under Apartheid.  Result:  A society that won’t see and can’t address its own racism, and furthermore gets defensive when pointed out.

However, some might say, so what?  Who cares what Japan does as China becomes Asia’s leader?  But that overlooks how Japan’s bad habits continue to affect the world. 

How about Japan’s head start on global warming, after decades of unsustainable deforestation of other parts of Asia (such as Indonesia and The Philippines) for the sake of the continued practice of cosmetic overwrapping of products and disposable chopsticks?

How about Japan’s overmedication practices that spawned antibiotic-resistant superbugs that plague hospitals worldwide? 

How about Japan’s sponsorship of overseas university Japan Studies departments (now mimicked by China’s Confucius Institutes) as a means to blunt critical analysis of Japan?

How about Japan’s creation of unfettered anonymous internet forums (such as 2-channel) that have inspired online troll factories and bullying worldwide, to the point where they now polarize societies and influence elections?

And most importantly, how about Japan being used as a template for creating viable “ethnostates” worldwide, inspiring radical conservatives and xenophobes (most famously Steve Bannon and Trump)?  Japan has demonstrated how to keep a country racially “pure” by curbing immigration and blaming foreigners for multiple social ills (while happily importing foreigners as cheap disposable labor with few civil or political rights).

In fact, what’s been happening in the United States for the past three years has been happening in Japan for decades.  Japan’s ruling-elite kakistocracy has led the current “populism” wave undermining liberal democracies worldwide.

Ironic is that whenever China or Russia do the things that Japan does, they are quickly vilified as untrustworthy and antithetical to the values of liberal societies.  And rightly so.

But even a generation after the end of the Cold War, Japan is still getting a “free pass” under the legacy of anticommunism, what with Japan being the unshakable Asian ally of the “free world”.  Even President Obama’s “Pivot to East Asia” strategy chose to overlook Shinzo Abe’s revisionism and willful remilitarization of Japan.

Again, some might say, it really doesn’t matter.  Karma’s a bitch.  Senescent Japan will get theirs as students worldwide study China instead, and Japanese Studies fades into the sweetmeat pursuits of observing a soft-power superpower.

That would be a mistake.  Japan’s free pass on its bad habits is still hurting the world.

It is incumbent on people who still know a lot about Japan, such as our generation of scholars from the 1980s-1990s who studied Japan as an economic powerhouse (not an anime factory), to keep pointing out the bad habits.  How Japan is poisoning not only the oceans but also international relations in Asia.  How it is offering succor to xenophobes and megaphoning their intolerance.  And how it is fostering political systems where unaccountability is normal and shifting responsibility to others is a viable practice.

Allowing Japan to show the world how things are done will in fact help undermine liberal societies and democracies.  Let’s keep an eye on that.  Call out the sekinin tenka.

ENDS

 

======================
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2020 Tokyo Olympics drops Ainu performance from its Opening Ceremonies, despite 2019 law officially recognizing and promoting them as an indigenous people in Japan

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Hi Blog.  One thing I’ve been meaning to mention, now that it’s finally made the international news, is the fact that the Tokyo Olympics have decided to showcase Japan’s latent bigotry after all.  Despite being the first officially-recognized ethnic minority in Japan, the Hokkaido Ainu indigenous people, once included in the 2020 Opening Ceremonies, have found their performance dropped due to “staging production issues” (enshutsu no tsugou).

Debito.org’s take is that including the performance for the world to see would have too clearly contradicted the (postwar-created and carefully-curated) narrative of Japan as a homogeneous monocultural monoethnic society.  In contrast to how numerous Opening Ceremonies have showcased the diversity of the hosting country, this is an enormous slap in the face to the Ainu not only socially, but also legally, given the 2019 law that finally recognizes them as Japan’s indigenous people, and promises to help promote their culture. First chance they get, the GOJ fumbles it.

We’ve started talking about this on Debito.org elsewhere, but let me open up a dedicated blog entry for discussion.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

I first saw this terse article in the Hokkaido Shinbun in early February:

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東京五輪開会式でアイヌ舞踊不採用 「演出の都合」
北海道新聞 02/07/2020, courtesy of EJ
https://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/article/390859?fbclid=IwAR1Oy88_R4RjR2oO8zqDzqublXZwu9J4CAbfCV57XDQryXBfXDsO8klZK4s

今夏の東京五輪開会式のプログラムで、アイヌ民族の伝統舞踊が採用されない方針であることが6日、関係者への取材で分かった。内閣官房アイヌ総合政策室が道アイヌ協会側に1月末に説明した。五輪開催決定後、道や同協会が舞踊の披露を政府に要望。前向きな感触を得て、道内各地で練習会も行われているが、演出上の都合としてプログラムに盛り込まれない見通しとなった。

政府関係者や大会組織委員会関係者は「時間も限られており、演出の都合上、難しい」としている。一方、マラソン・競歩の札幌開催(8月6~9日)に合わせ、発着点となる大通公園の西1丁目広場でアイヌ民族が舞踊を披露する機会が設けられるよう、札幌市と協議するという。

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Weeks later, the overseas media finally picked up on it:

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Tokyo Olympics: dance by Japan’s indigenous people dropped from opening ceremony
Move raises questions about status of Ainu ethnic minority, whose cultural identity Japan is legally obliged to protect
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
The Grauniad, Fri 21 Feb 2020 (excerpt)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/21/tokyo-olympics-dance-by-japans-indigenous-people-dropped-from-opening-ceremony

Japan’s commitment to the rights of its indigenous people has been questioned after organisers of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics dropped a performance by members of the Ainu ethnic minority from the Games’ opening ceremony.

Members of the Ainu community, originally from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, had been expecting to showcase their culture to the world in a dance at the Olympic stadium, but learned recently that the plans had been scrapped.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee said the performance had been dropped from the ceremony due to “logistical constraints”.

“Unfortunately, this particular Ainu dance performance could not be included because of logistical constraints related to the ceremonies,” it said in a statement to the Guardian.

“However, Tokyo 2020 is still deliberating other ways to include the Ainu community. We are not able to provide further details of the content of the opening and closing ceremonies.”

The public broadcaster NHK said last week that an Ainu ceremonial dance would be included in a cultural exposition at the Tokyo National Museum in March, but Ainu representatives said performers, who had already started rehearsing, had been anticipating an appearance on a much bigger stage.

“Everyone was looking forward to performing at the Olympic stadium,” said Kazuaki Kaizawa of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, which started discussing the inclusion of an Ainu element in the opening ceremony with organisers three years ago.

“We are willing to talk to the organisers about how Ainu culture can be represented during the Olympics,” Kaizawa told the Guardian, adding that the Games’ organising committee had yet to explain its decision. “We’re hopeful something can be worked out.”

The decision sits uncomfortably with recent moves by Japan’s government to improve the status of the Ainu. In May last year, parliament passed a law that legally recognised them as Japan’s indigenous people, obliging the government to protect their cultural identity and ban discrimination in employment, education and other areas.

The law was intended to officially end more than a century of discrimination that began in the late 19th century, when Japan’s Meiji-era government took control of Hokkaido, where the Ainu had been hunting, fishing, practising an animist religion and speaking their own language since the 1300s, according to experts.

But after opening the island to Japanese settlers, the government forced the Ainu, who it referred to as “former aborigines”, to assimilate.
Rest of the article at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/21/tokyo-olympics-dance-by-japans-indigenous-people-dropped-from-opening-ceremony
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Now Reuters via The Japan Times:

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Olympic snub: Dance of Japan’s indigenous Ainu dropped from opening ceremony
REUTERS, FEB 22, 2020, courtesy of JDG
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/22/national/ainu-dance-olympics/

Olympic organizers have dropped a dance by Japan’s indigenous Ainu people from the opening ceremony of this year’s Summer Games, a representative of the minority group said on Friday.

“Ainu dancers will not be included in the opening ceremony in Tokyo,” said Kazuaki Kaizawa, an official at the Hokkaido Ainu Association in Sapporo.

They were told there wasn’t room to fit the dance into the July 24 performance, Kaizawa said.

“We had been preparing and it is a disappointment, but we hope there will still be a chance for us to show Ainu culture elsewhere.”

Officials at the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rest of the article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/22/national/ainu-dance-olympics/
///////////////////////////////////

Debito.org Reader HJ is critical of the portrayal of the issue:
======================================
HJ:  What an atrociously shoddy article, full of double-speak and outright mistakes. Reuters should be ashamed.

“The Ainu people, a hunting and gathering people thought to be descendants of early inhabitants of Japan…”

“Thought to be?” What nonsense! They are an ethnic minority that has unequivocally been present in Japan just as long or perhaps longer than Wajin.

“…who were later displaced mainly to Hokkaido…”

Good grief, what painful abuse of language. They were not “displaced.” They were murdered and had their land stolen, then forcefully assimilated into Wajin society, much the same as the native peoples of North America were done by white invaders.

“The Ainu people…have recently been getting more official attention from a state that had once colonized them.”

Again, egregious misuse of language. They were murdered in droves, had their land stolen, then were forcefully assimilated, then had their very existence denied all the way up to the level of the national government. Referring to that as “colonization” is maliciously dishonest.

“…many Ainu fear identifying as other than Japanese…”

How did this make it past an editor? Newsflash: ALL AINU ARE BOTH AINU AND JAPANESE. “Ainu” and “Japanese” are not mutually exclusive terms. How incompetent must one be to write an article about a (finally) state-recognized Japanese ethnic minority group and simultaneously describe members of said group as if they were somehow not Japanese? […]
======================================

ENDS
======================
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