Tangent: AFP/Jiji: “Workaholic Japan considers making it compulsory to take vacation days.” Good news, if enforceable

mytest

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Hi Blog. As a tangent to what Debito.org usually takes up, let’s consider something interesting that affects everyone in Japan: the pretty insane work ethic.

Caveat: Having a society that works hard pays out enormous benefits in terms of convenience. Who can grumble about being able to, say, get a good meal at any time from a convenience store, or have bureaucrats and postal workers working on weekends? Well, those people working those kinds of jobs. And while I see a similar erosion of working hours in the United States (according to the OECD, both Americans and Japanese work fewer hours per year in 2013 than they did in 2000, but Americans still work more hours than Japanese — not surprising seeing how inhumane the amount of time people in retail have to work, especially here in Hawaii), one big issue is the ability to take vacations. I see people working full-time around here able to take sick days and even vacations without much blowback from their colleagues. Not in Japan, according to the article below. That’s why the GOJ is considering making the vacations mandatory.

This is good news. However, a closer consideration of the stats given below show an disturbing tendency: Western Europeans take almost all of their mandatory paid holidays off (up to more than a month), while Japanese take less than half of the half of the paid holidays days off they possibly could (i.e., around nine days a year, according to the article below). And what are the labor unions pushing for? Eight days. How underwhelming. Earn your dues, unions!

I think anyone reading Debito.org (since so many of us have worked for Japanese companies) understands why Japanese workers take so few days off and sometimes work themselves to death — peer pressure. Hey Kinmu Taro, how dare you duck out of the office for a vacation and thereby increase the workload for everyone else? How dare you even try to leave “early” on a daily basis. After all, “early” is defined as ahead of anyone else — you even have to embarrassingly announce “Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu” (“Excuse my rudeness for leaving ahead of you.”) as you walk out the door as an apparent show of good manners (it’s more a mutual policing strategy). So you work late, even if that means you just sit at the office until 7 or 8 PM waiting for the boss, who often has no real interests outside of the company, to leave first (or ask you out for drinks, although that Bubble-Era experience is probably a dying phenomenon). So you find make-work or skiving strategies to look busy, and thus the company soaks up the overwhelming majority of your waking hours, for six or even seven days a week.  To the point where the overwheming majority of Japanese workers are reportedly bored to bits on the job. I’m not saying anything here you probably don’t know already.  I’m just explaining why I opened this blog entry with calling Japan’s work ethic “insane”.

So of course, what with all this embedded bullying, making the holidays mandatory is the only way to go. If it’s enforceable, that is: you’ll have to be brave enough to take it up with the Labor Standards Bureau if your employer won’t play ball (given how many people already work on national holidays anyway, employers don’t). So this development is good news for everyone, except that it’s not really asking for more than what the average person takes off anyway. Not until people demand Western-European standards of vacationing culture will things change.  Clearly even Japan’s worker-representative labor unions are not about to do that (especially given the argument that the United States works even more hours).

I think Japanese corporate culture has immense trouble understanding that working longer does not equal working harder. Being able to take proper vacations is important in understanding how to work smarter — in order to increase worker productivity during the actual hours worked.  By being able to duck out for a vacation recharge when necessary without the stress of guilt interfering, I think the Americans have a bit more leeway to do that.

Labor productivity studies is not exactly my field, and I’m sure plenty of Debito.org Readers have their own opinions and experiences about the work ethic in Japan.  Opening this topic up for discussion.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Workaholic Japan considers making it compulsory to take vacation days
Japan Times/AFP-JIJI, FEB 4, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/04/business/workaholic-japan-considers-making-it-compulsory-to-take-vacation-days/

Who wouldn’t want a holiday?

In Japan, plenty of workers fail to take their paid vacation allowance. The Abe administration is now considering making it compulsory for workers to take at least five days of paid holiday a year, in a bid to lessen the toll on mental and physical health.

Workers typically use less than half their annual leave, according to a survey by the labor ministry that found employees in 2013 took only nine of their 18.5 days average entitlement.

A separate poll showed that one in six workers took no paid holidays at all that year.

The administration wants to boost the amount of paid leave used to 70 percent by 2020 and is planning to submit legislation in the current Diet session mandating holidays.

In early discussions, employers’ groups have proposed limiting the number of compulsory paid holidays to three days, while unions have called for eight.

The culture of long working hours and unpaid overtime is regularly criticized as a leading cause of mental and physical illness among employees.

The term “karoshi,” which means “death by overwork,” entered the lexicon a few years ago amid a surge in the number of people dying because of stress-related problems or taking their own lives.

According to a poll by the Japanese unit of Expedia, a U.S.-based online travel agency, workers in France enjoyed 37 paid holiday days in 2010 and used 93 percent of them.

Spain had 32 paid vacation days and Denmark 29, with the average employee using up more than 90 percent.

As well as the health benefits, days off encourage workers to spend money on leisure activities, thereby boosting the economy.

Japan has a relatively high 15 statutory holidays annually. In recent years there has been a move to shift the days so that they fall adjacent to the weekend, making domestic holidays more of a possibility.

This year for the first time there will be a five-day weekend in May and in September, to which it is expected some employees will add a few days’ leave to make their vacations longer.
ENDS

Japan Times JBC 84 Feb. 5, 2015, “At age 50, seeing the writing on the wall”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Thanks to everyone for putting my seventh-anniversary Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (yes, JBC has completed 84 columns now) once again in the Top Ten Trending articles on the Japan Times online for the umpteenth month in a row.  Here’s the full article now with links to sources.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
At age 50, seeing the writing on the wall
BY DR. DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, FEB 4, 2015  

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/02/04/issues/age-50-seeing-writing-wall/

This past month heralded two timely events. One is the seventh anniversary of JBC, with 84 columns out and counting. The other was my 50th birthday on Jan. 13. To commemorate, please indulge me this musing on the passage of time. Just because.

I’ve lived more than half a century now. Fortunately last month, no sudden fear of mortality prompted me to have a mid-life crisis or buy a sports car. I’ve actually been aware of the aging process for decades.

I first noticed it in college, astounded that some supermodels were already younger than I was. It became impossible to ignore in my mid-20s, as my metabolism changed and I grew inexorably fatter despite all exercise. I later became alarmed when colleagues of a similar age and density were losing legs to diabetes and dropping dead of strokes. I dodged that bullet by shedding the weight a few years ago, but regardless, death amongst my peers became less anomalous and more normalized as I watched whole generations succumb.

Consider this: Anyone you see in a silent film is dead — and I mean long dead. So is almost everyone from any movie predating the 1950s. People from the “Greatest Generation” of World War II veterans are now in their 90s. Close behind are the Korean and Vietnam War vets (my growing up in a country that habitually wages war offers easy milestones). Even the people who protested their actions, the famed hippies of the 1960s, are wrinkly and retiring. Soon it’ll be the Desert Storm vets, who are already into paunchy middle age, as time marches on.

I was born at an odd time. Just 13 days shy of what the media calls the baby boomers, people my age aren’t part of Generation X either. I don’t really understand, for example, why people insist on getting tattoos or body piercings, or find public humiliation funny (e.g., “Borat”? “The Office”?), but I do understand why they keep stealing from their elders’ music (rock, psychedelic and progressive — all genres I grew up with and still listen to). But it eventually dawns on us fogies just how derivative popular culture is, and always has been. Straddling two media-manufactured generations meant I more easily saw an arc.

Now permit me to make you feel old too: We are now well into the 21st century, 15 years since Y2K, over 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. No children in developed countries know a time without the Internet; some can’t imagine submitting their homework offline, and some are no longer learning cursive. Google a recent photo of any media personality you grew up with and you’ll see their wrinkles either starting or becoming well-pronounced. Then look in the mirror yourself and trace.

Despite what music CDs at Tower Records say, nobody remains “forever young.” Even ageless Keanu Reeves, Nicholas Cage, Takuya Kimura, Madonna or Prince — they’ll get theirs too. Just as timelessly beautiful but still old Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve and Raquel Welch did.

I’m no vampire, but I’m lucky in terms of aging: I’m still mistaken for somebody at least 10 years younger. Part of it is because I avoid stress and let my hair grow, and I am in a place where I can wear age-vague clothes, but I believe another part is down to not having seen proximate others change over time. I didn’t watch parents, siblings, wife, children, classmates or neighbors grow older.

My vocation has always involved college-age students, and I’ve never quite distanced myself from them mentally. I’ve rebooted my career and lifestyle many times — even changed my name — and never lived under one roof for more than eight years. Never being rooted to one spot meant I didn’t stick around to watch the trees grow and the paint peel.

Nevertheless, history will always catch up and remind me how many years have passed. I look at beat-up old coins in my pocket and see they are usually newer than 1965. Things I remember very well as part of my normal world — the Cold War, Nixon and Watergate, Iran-Contra, two Germanys, a jumble of European currencies, even a smoggy Tokyo — are already increasingly forgotten. They are being tersely rendered as boring history-book timelines, as remote as the Suez Crisis, the Amritsar Massacre or the Spanish-American War.

Japan, on the other hand, constantly recycles yore as lore. For example, 70 years since WWII, it still defines itself in terms of a war with few eyewitnesses left, carefully filtering out the evil that inevitably happens in wartime and revarnishing the near-destruction of a nation-state as something glorious.

Japan’s media operate a powerful nostalgia mill for our growing population of conservative elderly. And they are receptive to it: Eldsters, I am discovering myself, find happiness by forgetting bad stuff that happened to them. What good is there in remembering things that make you unhappy?

Of course, that’s fine on an individual level. But for a whole society? The perpetual gerontocracy of Japan’s leadership has happily expanded that into a national narrative and redefined “history” as only “beauty.” Living in a meticulously sanitized past has its uses — even if that means you’re likely doomed to repeat its mistakes.

But back to the individual level. When I turned 40, I realized I had reached a new vantage point on life: I could look both backward to see where I had come from, and forward to envision where things would end. Now 50, I only look forward — to see how much time is left before my clock runs out.

For me, time is actually accordioning. I regularly skip a decade; 1990 feels like 15 years ago. The years are accelerating too, like a toilet paper roll that spins faster the closer you get to the end.

It’s understandable, really. In my 20s, I could not imagine living another 30 years because I hadn’t lived my first 30 yet. I had no sense of scale. Now I can imagine living another 50, because I already have. Sadly, I probably won’t, and I won’t be as genki even if I do. I have so much work to do and such limited time and energy left.

Let me leave you with an image: Watch Madonna and Justin Timberlake’s 2008 music video “Four Minutes” (hey, I’m hip!), where characters go about their lives oblivious to a black pixelated wall steadily encroaching and obliterating them.

That’s how I see time now. Read your college’s “class notes” about alumni (or for that matter, Facebook) and you’ll see that people who graduated in the 1960s and before mostly report on who’s died. In less than a decade, that will be the focus of the 1970s classes. Then it’ll be my decade’s turn. Then yours. That black pixelated wall is forever approaching.

I hope to keep writing for you until the end. Thanks for reading.

ENDS

IPC Digital et al.: Shizuoka Iwata City General Hospital doctor refuses care to Brazilian child, curses out parents and tells them to “die” (kuso, shine)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Sorry to have gotten to this so late (projects loom), and thanks to all of you to sending me this information.

Have a look at this.  A Japanese doctor in Shizuoka, Iwata City General Hospital (shiritsu sougou byouin), is extremely unhelpful and disrespectful towards his Brazilian patients (not to mention refuses treatment).  It has made the news.  Unlike, say, this “Japanese Only” hospital reported on Debito.org back in 2012, which wound up being ignored by the local media.  It pays to video these things — they go viral, and force apologies.  Not sure how this will stop it from happening in future, but glad that somebody is paying attention this time.

Portuguese videos first, then Portuguese article, Google translated English version, and finally Japanese articles.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

(NB:  I do not endorse the quality of the commentary given by vlogger Gimmeaflakeman.  I am not a fan.  I include it here only because it is cited in the Portuguese article below.)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnme3ldROow


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR6ZkFcyrd4&feature=share

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

Vídeo de suposta discriminação em hospital repercute entre internautas japoneses
ComunidadeJapãopor Paulo Sakamoto – IPC Digital 26/01/15
http://www.ipcdigital.com/japao/video-de-suposta-discriminacao-em-hospital-repercute-entre-internautas-japoneses/
Courtesy of lots of people.
O vídeo que mostra um brasileiro acusando um médico de ter recusado o atendimento e ofendido a sua filha com xingamentos, desejando a sua morte (Kuso, Shine), repercutiu em fóruns de discussões e blogs japoneses.

Dezenas de postagens em blogs do livedoor.biz e outros fóruns, destacaram o acontecimento com o título:(ブラジル人が子供の病態悪化のため夜連れて行った病院先で、日本人医師が子供に「クソ、死ね」という暴言を吐く) “Brasileiro leva filha doente ao hospital durante a noite e médico japonês diz “morra,****” para a criança”. A grande maioria dos comentários foram contra a suposta discriminação.

Alguns internautas japoneses destacaram que, mesmo diante da aparente exaltação do pai, o médico deveria ter atendido o pedido de transferência e que jamais deveria ter usado essas palavras com a criança.

Mesmo em fóruns anônimos, onde não é necessário se identificar para postar um comentário, a maioria dos internautas mostraram indignação com a suposta atitude do médico, dizendo que “certamente, deveria ser despedido” e que “a universidade deveria ser responsável pelas atitudes erradas dos médicos”.

O canal do YouTube Gimmeaflakeman, de cultura e língua japonesa, usou o vídeo como tema para uma aula de japonês. O autor do vídeo usa as palavras ditas pelo brasileiro e pelo médico como exemplos. Confira o vídeo abaixo:

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

(Google Translate version follows)

Video of alleged discrimination in hospital resonates with Japanese Internet
Community Japan by Paul Sakamoto – 01/26/15, IPC Digital

The video shows a Brazilian accusing a doctor of refusing care and offended her daughter with curses, wishing his death (Kuso, Shine), reflected in forums of discussions and Japanese blogs.

Dozens of posts in livedoor.biz blogs and other forums, highlighted the event with título: (ブラジル人が子供の病態悪化のため夜連れて行った病院先で、日本人医師が子供に「クソ、死ね」という暴言を吐く) “Brasileiro takes sick daughter to the hospital overnight and Japanese doctor says “die, ****” for the child. ” The vast majority of comments were against the alleged discrimination.

Some Japanese netizens pointed out that, despite the apparent exaltation of the father, the doctor should have attended the transfer request and that should never have used those words with the child.

Even in anonymous forums where it is not necessary to identify to post a comment, most Internet users showed outrage at the perceived attitude of the doctor, saying that “certainly should be fired,” and that “the university should be responsible for the wrong attitudes of physicians. “

The YouTube channel Gimmeaflakeman , culture and Japanese language, used the video as the theme for a Japanese class. The author of the video uses the words spoken by the Brazilian and physician as examples. Check out the video below:

[as above]

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

The Asahi:

医師がブラジル人患者家族に「クソ、死ね」 静岡・磐田
朝日新聞 2015年1月28日22時47分
http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH1X3GHYH1XUTPB009.html

静岡県磐田市立総合病院の20代後半の男性医師が緊急外来で受診したブラジル人の女児(6)や家族と応対中に「クソ、死ね」と口にしていたことが、28日明らかになった。医師は不適切な発言を認め、家族に謝罪したという。

病院によれば、昨年12月24日午前0時過ぎ、同県菊川市在住の女児が両足の不調を訴えて緊急搬送され、受診した。血液検査などの結果、治療や入院の必要はない軽度のウイルス性紫斑病と判断し、当直医だった医師は十分な栄養と安静を求めて帰宅を促した。

父親は「入院させてほしい」「万一のことがあったら責任を取れるのか」などと医師に詰め寄り、2時間以上にわたって押し問答となった。その際に医師が不適切な言葉をつぶやいたという。

病院は朝日新聞の取材に対し、「当直医は他の緊急患者にも対応しなければならず、なぜ分かってくれないのかといういらだちからつぶやいてしまったようだ。差別する意図はなかった」と説明した。医師はその日のうちに家族に謝罪し、院長から厳重注意を受けた。
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////

The Sankei via Yahoo:

搬送女児のブラジル人父に医師が「くそ、死ね」
産経新聞 1月28日(水)7時55分配信
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150128-00000114-san-soci

静岡県の磐田市立総合病院で昨年12月、呼吸器内科の20代の男性医師が、救急搬送されてきた女児に付き添っていたブラジル人の父親に「くそ、死ね」などと暴言を吐いていたことが27日、病院への取材で分かった。病院側は事実関係を認め、「男性に事情を説明して謝罪したい」としている。

病院側によると、昨年12月24日未明、同県菊川市に住む女児(6)が足の不調を訴え、同病院に運び込まれた。当直医だった男性医師が診察し緊急を要しないと判断、付き添いの父親に診察時間内に来るよう指示した。だが、父親は納得せずに口論となり、その中で男性医師が「死ね」などと発言したという。

男性医師は「片言の日本語でコミュニケーションがうまく取れず、腹が立ってつぶやいてしまった」などと話しているという。

男性医師の暴言をめぐっては、動画投稿サイト「ユーチューブ」にやり取りを記録した動画2本が配信され、インターネット上で話題になった。暴言の場面はないが、男性医師が「小児科に行け」と語気荒く指示する姿が記録されている。

同病院によると、男性医師は病院長から厳重注意を受けた。同病院医事課の担当者は「医者として不適切。再発防止に向けて教育を徹底したい」と話した。

ENDS

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

Others.

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

ブラジル人が娘を病院へ連れて行き日本人医師が”クソ 死ね”と発言して問題に

日本在住のあるブラジル人男性が娘の容体が悪化したために病院へ
日本人医師が患者に向かって”クソ 死ね”と発言したことがネット界を騒がせている
これは絶対あかんぞ!

静岡県の磐田市に住むあるブラジル人男性が22日に2つの動画を自身のFACEBOOKで公開し、病院と医師たちを訴えるとコメントした

1つ目のビデオ

Medico Japones Humilha Filha de Brasileiro(日本人医師がブラジル人の娘を侮辱、クソ死ねと発言)
というタイトルでアップされた動画はブラジル人男性が通訳に”医者が患者に向かいなんと発言したか?”を確認する場面から始まっている

動画の中では問題の”クソ 死ね”発言の瞬間は映ってはいないが、医師たちが皆頭を下げて謝罪している様子がうかがえる

このブラジル人男性は牧師である
ある夜礼拝から帰る途中に娘(6歳)の容体が悪くなり、救急車でこの病院に搬送

私たちはとても雑に扱われ、差別された。これは偏見である。真夜中2時に訪れたが帰るよう要求され、他で診察してくれる病院を紹介して欲しいと頼んだがそれも聞き入れてくれなかった

動画の中では娘の体中から内出血のような症状が確認できる

その後他の病院へ連れて行き感染症と内出血により入院
3週間後に容体は回復したものの、診察した医師によるともう少し遅ければ命を落としていた可能性もあったとのこと

2つ目のビデオ

今回なぜ私がこの件をブログに書こうかと思ったか?
実は私もかつてブラジル人の通訳で同行した際に、まさしくここと同じ病院で同様の扱いを受けたからである!
某掲示板では既に病院名や医師名までもが特定されているようです
私の場合は女性医師でしたが、私は後日病院へ抗議の電話を入れ女性医師にちゃんと謝罪させました
我々の命と健康を救ってくれるお医者様は偉大ですが、横柄な態度は許せません!
ENDS

Yomiuri: GOJ sky-pie policy proposes to deal with rural population decrease with resettlement info websites, and robots!

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Getting back to issues of Japan’s future, here is the GOJ once again last August offering another trial-balloon half-measure to reverse Japan’s population decline (especially in its rural areas):  A database!  And robots!

Of course, the Yomiuri diligently types it down and offers it up uncritically, with the typical pride of showing off “Japan’s stuff”.  The policy assumption is that if you offer people information, they’ll magically want to move out to the countryside — up to now they were just chary because they didn’t know where they could get an onigiri in Nakamura-son, Inaka-Ken.

That’s unrealistic.  It’s not a matter of lack of information.  It’s a matter of lack of economic opportunity for Japan’s largely white-collar labor force (the “potential migrants” being mentioned, of course, are Japanese) being offered out in The Boonies.  Hasn’t the GOJ gotten the memo yet after more than a quarter century of Japanese turning their noses away from 3K blue-collar work?  Not to mention the inevitable “Taro-come-lately” outsider treatment from the locals that greets many Japanese urbanites deciding to move out of the cities?  Fact is, Japan’s ruralities are even giving their land away for free, and it’s not stemming the exodus from.

No matter:  Just build it and they’ll come.  Hasn’t the GOJ learned anything from the Bubble Era?

Moreover, how about that other proposal below of introducing more robots in service areas to produce the 3K stuff?

Laced within that Industrial Policy is an appeal to national pride, as in Japan’s future as a world leader in robot use (without the actual substance of practicality behind it).  Ooh, our robots can produce bentos?  Can yours, France?  Then what: build robots to consume what robots produce?  No matter what, offering robots as replacements for humans in the labor market inevitably overlooks how this does nothing to revitalize Japan’s taxpayer base, because ROBOTS DO NOT PAY TAXES.

There is another option, the unmentionable:  Immigrants assuming the mantle of Japan’s farming economy and rural maintenance.  No, you see, that would be a security risk.  Too high a local foreign population would mean those areas might secede from Japan!  (Seriously, that is the argument made.)

Anyway, another pavement stone in the road to policy failure.  As we start a new year, I’d just mention it for the record.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Japan in Depth / Govt tackles population decline
The Yomiuri Shimbun
August 26, 2014, courtesy of Peach
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001522944

Migration info database eyed

In an effort to address population declines in provincial areas, the government plans to create a database to provide people thinking of moving from urban to regional areas with information about potential destinations, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The government hopes to encourage more urbanites to move to regional areas by making it possible for them to extensively search for information on such issues as residency and welfare services anywhere in the country, according to informed sources.

Expenses to set up the database reportedly will be included in the fiscal 2015 budgetary request.

Using the database, potential migrants would be able to quickly obtain information on workplaces and job offers; schools and education; medical institutions and social welfare services; and shopping, the sources said.

Information provided directly from regional areas will be input into the database by Hello Work job placement offices and other entities, as well as by municipal governments trying to encourage urbanites to take up residency in their cities.

Municipalities facing serious population declines have individually offered information about job offers as well as available accommodation. The planned database will enable people thinking about moving to regional areas to view this information collectively, the sources said.

For example, if a resident of an urban community is considering a move to a prefecture in the Tohoku region, the database could be used to find areas meeting their needs by comparing information, such as what kind of jobs are available or the locations of schools.

Along with the database, the central government reportedly plans to establish offices to help people living in large cities move to provincial areas. The government hopes potential migrants will consult with counselors or obtain more detailed information at the offices, the sources said.

Among people interested in moving to regional areas, some are believed to be hesitant about making the move because of a lack of information about life outside major urban areas. The database is aimed at addressing that concern, they said.

More robots in service industry planned

The government plans to promote the development of robots for use in the service industry, such as at hotels and pubs, to cope with the industry’s worsening problems of labor shortages and heavy workloads, according to sources.

In September, the government is expected to establish a panel dubbed the “committee for the realization of the robot revolution,” which will comprise manufacturers and users of robots, and plans to subsidize programs judged to have bright prospects.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry intends to include ¥5 billion in its budgetary requests for fiscal 2015 for robot development and related projects.

The government envisages robots for such jobs as cleaning the stairs and bathrooms of hotels and changing bed sheets. It is also considering developing robots for use at factories, such as robots that pack bento boxes. The plan is to have such robots on the market within three years, the sources said.

The utilization of robots in the service industry has been lagging behind the manufacturing industry, as robot makers have made development for the manufacturing industry a higher priority because of higher prices.

Even so, some robots are already in use in the service industry. For example, some Japanese-style inns have introduced a robot capable of automatically delivering a large amount of meals near guestrooms, which has helped improve the efficiency of the inns’ services.

The government believes the widespread use of robots could dramatically reduce the burden of service industry workers.

It has set a goal of expanding the market size of robots for the nonmanufacturing sector, such as the service industry, to ¥1.2 trillion in 2020—about 20 times larger than that in 2012. The development of robots in nursing care and agriculture is progressing, so the government is aiming to expand robot development to other industries so Japan can lead the world in the utilization of robots.

ENDS

Japan Times: Japan’s “Omotenashi” (“selfless hospitality”) not in tune with what visitors want, NJ expert warns

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Let’s start 2015 with a discussion about Japan’s tourism policy and some of the memes within.  Submitter JDG offers these thoughts about a recent Japan Times article:

===================================
JDG: Hello Dr. Debito, First of all, a happy new year to you. I wondered if you had chanced upon this article in the JT:
Now boastful Japan not really in tune with what visitors want, foreign expert warns | The Japan Times
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/25/national/now-boastful-japan-really-tune-visitors-want-foreign-expert-warns/

It’s really interesting, since it was written about a guy who has no connection (AFAIK) to the debate about NJ human rights, and is not a scholar of Japan. However, he has independently reached a conclusion that you yourself have expressed several times on Debito.org; Japanese deciding amongst themselves what NJ want/need/have difficulty with, is a sign of cultural arrogance aimed at controlling NJ.

I think this is important external reinforcement of your point of view. It shows that you are not alone and paranoid (as the apologists always try to portray you), but rather shows that in a totally different field of expertise, another observer has witnessed the same phenomena as you.

There are many interesting points that he raises, and I agree with him, but the main takeaway from the article is that the concept of ‘omotenashi’ is being used as a system of control over NJ in Japan (and we know how much the Japanese establishment believes that NJ need to be controlled), whilst at the same time serving a very racist nihonjinrongiron function of reassuring the Japanese themselves that they are unique and superior to NJ. Nice win for your logic. Sincerely, JDG.

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

Let me open this up to discussion on Debito.org. Article excerpt first. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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NATIONAL
Now boastful Japan not really in tune with what visitors want, foreign expert warns
BY SHUSUKE MURAI, STAFF WRITER, THE JAPAN TIMES, DEC 25, 2014

Japan’s self-professed “omotenashi” (spirit of selfless hospitality) is often misinterpreted to force predetermined services on foreign visitors, says one longtime observer.

Cultural services expert David Atkinson, 49, says the nation’s confidence in what it offers the world is misplaced: Many foreigners who visit leave unfulfilled…

Atkinson says it is troubling to see Japanese increasingly lauding their own culture and that the trend could even become an obstacle to the government’s goal of getting 30 million tourists to visit annually by 2030…

“Originally, omotenashi means leaving the choices to the guests, not forcing foreigners with a different set of values to behave the way Japanese people expect,” he said.

Omotenashi became a buzzword in August 2013, when television celebrity Christel Takigawa used the term during Tokyo’s final presentation to the International Olympic Committee’s general assembly in Argentina for permission to host the 2020 Olympics…

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/25/national/now-boastful-japan-really-tune-visitors-want-foreign-expert-warns/

ENDS

My Japan Times JBC 83 Jan 1, 2015: “Hate, Muzzle and Poll”: Debito’s Annual Top Ten List of Human Rights News Events for 2014

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

A TOP TEN FOR 2014
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 83 for the Japan Times Community Page
Published January 1, 2015 (version with links to sources)

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/01/issues/hate-muzzle-poll-top-10-issues-2014/

 | 

Hate, muzzle and poll: a top 10 of issues for 2014

BY DEBITO ARUDOU, The Japan Times, January 1, 2015

As is tradition for JBC, it’s time to recap the top 10 human rights news events affecting non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan last year. In ascending order:

10) Warmonger Ishihara loses seat

This newspaper has talked about Shintaro Ishihara’s unsubtle bigotry (particularly towards Japan’s NJ residents) numerous times (e.g. “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2012). All the while, we gritted our teeth as he won re-election repeatedly to the National Diet and the Tokyo governorship.

However, in a move that can only be put down to hubris, Ishihara resigned his gubernatorial bully pulpit in 2012 to shepherd a lunatic-right fringe party into the Diet. But in December he was voted out, drawing the curtain on nearly five decades of political theater.

About time. He admitted last month that he wanted “to fight a war with China and win” by attempting to buy three of the disputed Senkaku islets (and entangling the previous left-leaning government in the imbroglio). Fortunately the conflict hasn’t come to blows, but Ishihara has done more than anyone over the past 15 years to embolden Japan’s xenophobic right (by fashioning foreigner-bashing into viable political capital) and undo Japan’s postwar liberalism and pacifism.

Good riddance. May we never see your like again. Unfortunately, I doubt that.

9) Mori bashes Japan’s athletes

Japan apparently underperformed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (no wonder, given the unnecessary pressure Japanese society puts on its athletes) and somebody just had to grumble about it — only this time in a racialized way.

Chair of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics committee Yoshiro Mori (himself remembered for his abysmal performance as prime minister from 2000 to 2001) criticized the performance of Japanese figure skaters Chris and Cathy Reed: “They live in America. Because they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.” This was factually wrong to begin with, since through their Japanese mother, the Reeds have always had Japanese citizenship. But the insinuation that they weren’t good enough because they weren’t Japanese enough is dreadfully unsportsmanlike, and contravenes the Olympic charter on racism.

Mori incurred significant international criticism for this, but there were no retractions or resignations. And it isn’t the first time the stigmatization of foreignness has surfaced in Mori’s milieu. Since 2005 he has headed the Japan Rugby Football Union, which after the 2011 Rugby World Cup criticized the underperforming Japan team for having “too many foreign-born players” (including naturalized Japanese citizens). The 2012 roster was then purged of most “foreigners.” Yet despite these shenanigans, Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup right before the Tokyo Olympics.

8) ‘Points system’ visa revamp

In a delicious example of JBC SITYS (“see, I told you so”), Japan’s meritocratic Points-based Preferential Treatment for Highly Skilled Foreigners visa failed miserably in 2013, with only 700 people having even applied for the available 2,000 slots six months into the program.

JBC said its requirements were far too strict when it was first announced, predicting it would fail (see last year’s top 10, and “Japan’s revolving door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” JBC, March 6, 2012). Policymakers arrogantly presumed that NJ are beating down the door to work in Japan under any circumstances (not likely, after Japan’s two economic “lost decades”), and gave few “points” to those who learned Japanese or attended Japanese universities. Fact is, they never really wanted people who “knew” Japan all that well.

But by now even those who do cursory research know greater opportunities lie elsewhere: Japan is a land of deflation and real falling wages, with little protection against discrimination, and real structural impediments to settling permanently and prospering in Japanese society.

So did the government learn from this policy failure? Yes, some points requirements were revamped, but the most significant change was cosmetic: The online info site contains an illustration depicting potential applicants as predominantly white Westerners. So much for the meritocracy: The melanin-rich need not apply.

Good luck with the reboot, but Japan is becoming an even harder sell due to the higher-ranking issues on our countdown.

7) Ruling in Suraj death case

This is the third time the case of Ghanaian national Abubakar Awadu Suraj has made this top 10, because it demonstrates how NJ can be brutally killed in police custody without anyone taking responsibility.

After Suraj was asphyxiated while physically restrained during deportation in 2010, for years his kin unsuccessfully sought criminal prosecutions. Last March, however, the Tokyo District Court ruled that immigration officials were responsible for using “illegal” excessive force, and ordered the government to pay ¥5 million to Suraj’s widow and mother.

The case is currently being appealed to the Tokyo High Court. But the lesson remains that in Japan, due to insufficient oversight over Immigration Bureau officials (as reported in United Nations and Amnesty International reports; four NJ have died in Immigration custody since October 2013), an overstayed visa can become a capital offense.

6) Muslims compensated for leak

In another landmark move by the Tokyo District Court, last January the National Police Agency was ordered to compensate several Muslim residents and their Japanese families, whom they had spied upon as suspected terrorists. Although this is good news (clearly noncitizens are entitled to the same right to privacy as citizens), the act of spying in itself was not penalized, but rather the police’s inability to manage their intelligence properly, letting the information leak to the public.

Also not ruled upon was the illegality of the investigation itself, and the latent discrimination behind it. Instead, the court called the spying unavoidable considering the need to prevent international terrorism — thus giving carte blanche to the police to engage in racial profiling.

5) ‘Japanese only’ saga

If this were my own personal top 10, this would top the list, as it marks a major shift in Japan’s narrative on racial discrimination (the subject of my Ph.D. last year). As described elsewhere (“J.League and media must show red card to racism,” JBC, March 12, 2014), the Japanese government and media seem to have an allergy when it comes to calling discrimination due to physical appearance “discrimination by race” (jinshu sabetsu), depicting it instead as discrimination by nationality, ethnicity, “descent,” etc. Racism happens in other countries, not here, the narrative goes, because Japan is so homogeneous that it has no race issues.

But when Urawa Reds soccer fans last March put up a “Japanese only” banner at an entrance to the stands at its stadium, the debate turned out differently. Despite some initial media prevarication about whether or not this banner was “racist,” J.League chair Mitsuru Murai quickly called it out as racial discrimination and took punitive action against both the fans and the team.

More importantly, Murai said that victims’ perception of the banner was more important than the perpetrators’ intent behind it. This opened the doors for debate about jinshu sabetsu more effectively than the entire decade of proceedings in the “Japanese only” Otaru onsen case that I was involved in (where behavior was ruled as “racial discrimination” by the judiciary as far back as 2002). All of this means that well into the 21st century, Japan finally has a precedent of domestic discourse on racism that cannot be ignored.

4) Signs Japan may enforce Hague

Last year’s top 10 noted that Japan would join an international pact that says international children abducted by a family member from their habitual country of residence after divorce should be repatriated. However, JBC doubted it would be properly enforced, in light of a propagandist Foreign Ministry pamphlet arguing that signing the Hague Convention was Japan’s means to force foreigners to send more Japanese children home (“Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents,” JBC, Oct. 8). Furthermore, with divorces between Japanese citizens commonly resulting in one parent losing all access to the children, what hope would foreigners have?

Fortunately, last year there were some positive steps, with some children abducted to Japan being returned overseas. Government-sponsored mediation resulted in a voluntary return, and a court ruling ordered a repatriation (the case is on appeal).

However, the Hague treaty requires involuntary court-ordered returns, and while Japan has received children under its new signatory status, it has not as yet sent any back. Further, filing for return and/or access in Japan under the Hague is arduous, with processes not required in other signatory countries.

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction, and JBC hopes that respect for habitual residence continues even after international media attention on Japan has waned.

3) Ruling on welfare confuses

Last July another court case mentioned in previous top 10s concluded, with an 82-year-old Zainichi Chinese who has spent her whole life in Japan being denied social-welfare benefits for low-income residents (seikatsu hogo). The Supreme Court overturned a Fukuoka High Court ruling that NJ had “quasi-rights” to assistance, saying that only nationals had a “guaranteed right” (kenri).

People were confused. Although the media portrayed this as a denial of welfare to NJ, labor union activist Louis Carlet called it a reaffirmation of the status quo — meaning there was no NJ ineligibility, just no automatic eligibility. Also, several bureaucratic agencies stated that NJ would qualify for assistance as before.

It didn’t matter. Japan’s xenophobic right soon capitalized on this phraseology, with Ishihara’s Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) in August announcing policies “based on the ruling” that explicitly denied welfare to NJ. In December, in another act of outright meanness, Jisedai made NJ welfare issues one of their party platforms. One of their advertisements featured an animated pig, representing the allegedly “taboo topic” of NJ (somehow) receiving “eight times the benefits of Japanese citizens,” being grotesquely sliced in half.

You read that right. But it makes sense when you consider how normalized hate speech has become in Japan.

2) The rise and rise of hate speech

Last year’s list noted how Japan’s hate speech had turned murderous, with some even advocating the killing of Koreans in Japan. In 2014, Japanese rightists celebrated Hitler’s 125th birthday in Tokyo by parading swastika banners next to the Rising Sun flag. Media reported hate speech protests spreading to smaller cities around Japan, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered little more than lukewarm condemnations of what is essentially his xenophobic power base. Even opportunistic foreigners joined the chorus, with Henry Scott Stokes and Tony “Texas Daddy” Marano (neither of whom can read the Japanese articles written under their name) topping up their retirement bank accounts with revisionist writings.

That said, last year also saw rising counterprotests. Ordinary people began showing up at hate rallies waving “No to racism” banners and shouting the haters down. The United Nations issued very strong condemnations and called for a law against hate speech. Even Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto confronted Makoto Sakurai, the then-leader of hate group Zaitokukai (which, despite Japan’s top cop feigning ignorance of the group, was added to a National Police Agency watch list as a threat to law and order last year).

Unfortunately, most protesters have taken the tack of crying “Don’t shame us Japanese” rather than the more empowering “NJ are our neighbors who have equal rights with us.” Sadly, the possibility of equality ever becoming a reality looked even further away as 2014 drew to a close:

1) Abe re-election and secrets law

With his third electoral victory in December, Abe got a renewed mandate to carry out his policies. These are ostensibly to revitalize the economy, but more importantly to enforce patriotism, revive Japan’s mysticism, sanitize Japan’s history and undo its peace Constitution to allow for remilitarization (“Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2013).

Most sinister of all his policies is the state secrets law, which took effect last month, with harsh criminal penalties in place for anyone “leaking” any of 460,000 potential state secrets. Given that the process for deciding what’s a secret is itself secret, this law will further intimidate a self-censoring Japanese media into double-guessing itself into even deeper silence.

These misgivings have been covered extensively elsewhere. But particularly germane for JBC is how, according to Kyodo (Dec. 8), the Abe Cabinet has warned government offices that Japanese who have studied or worked abroad are a higher leak risk. That means the government can now justifiably purge all “foreign” intellectual or social influences from the upper echelons of power.

How will this state-sponsored xenophobia, which now views anything “foreign” as a security threat, affect Japan’s policymakers, especially when so many Japanese bureaucrats and politicians (even Abe himself) have studied abroad? Dunno. But the state secrets law will certainly undermine Japan’s decades of “internationalization,” globalization and participation in the world community — in ways never seen in postwar Japan.


Bubbling under:

a) Jisedai no To’s xenophobic platform fails to inspire, and the party loses most of its seats in December’s election.

b) Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Japan’s biggest drugmaker, appoints Christophe Weber as president despite the Takeda family’s xenophobic objections.

c) Media pressure forces Konsho Gakuen cooking college to (officially) repeal its “Japanese only” admissions process (despite it being in place since 1976, and Saitama Prefecture knowing about it since 2012).

d) All Nippon Airways (ANA) uses racist “big-nosed white guy” advertisement to promote “Japan’s new image” as Haneda airport vies to be a hub for Asian traffic (“Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad,” JBC, Jan. 24, 2014).

e) Despite NJ being listed on resident registries (jūmin kihon daichō) since 2012, media reports continue to avoid counting NJ as part of Japan’s official population.

ENDS

Holiday Tangent: Hanif Kureishi on UK’s Enoch Powell: How just one racist-populist politician can color the debate in an entire society

mytest

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Hi Blog, and Happy Impending Holidays. As a Holiday Tangent, the Guardian offers an excellent account of life for migrants, immigrants, and citizens of color in a society in flux (Great Britain in the 1970s, as it adjusted to the effects of a post-empire Commonwealth).  It depicts well how one racist-populist politician, Enoch Powell, could affect an entire society, and though fear-mongering invective effectively accelerate the othering and subordination of residents.

But that was just one person.  Imagine the effects of a proliferation of Enoch Powellesque racists and fearmongerers throughout a society, such as the leader of a party (Hiranuma Takeo), the governor of the capital city (like Ishihara Shintaro), or the Prime Minister of an entire country (like Abe Shinzo), or Japan’s entire national police force (see here, here, and here in particular).  Enoch had his effects, and Kureishi can now look back with some degree of “the past is a foreign country” relief.  Japan cannot.  Not right now.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Hanif Kureishi: Knock, knock, it’s Enoch
The novelist and screenwriter remembers the effect of Enoch Powell – it’s impossible not to summon his ghost now that immigration is again centre of the political stage
The Guardian, Friday 12 December 2014, courtesy of PKU
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/12/enoch-powell-hanif-kureishi

I was 14 in 1968 and one of the horrors of my teenage years was Enoch Powell. For a mixed-race kid, this stiff ex-colonial zealot – with his obscene, grand guignol talk of whips, blood, excreta, urination and wide-eyed piccaninnies – was a monstrous, scary bogeyman. I remember his name being whispered by my uncles for fear I would overhear.

I grew up near Biggin Hill airfield in Kent, in the shadow of the second world war. We walked past bomb sites everyday. My grandmother had been a “fire watcher” and talked about the terror of the nightly Luftwaffe raids. With his stern prophet’s nostalgia, bulging eyes and military moustache, Powell reminded us of Hitler, and the pathology of his increasing number of followers soon became as disquieting as his pronouncements. At school, Powell’s name soon become one terrifying word – Enoch. As well as being an insult, it began to be used with elation. “Enoch will deal with you lot,” and, “Enoch will soon be knocking on your door, pal.” “Knock, knock, it’s Enoch,” people would say as they passed. Neighbours in the London suburbs began to state with some defiance: “Our family is with Enoch.” More skinheads appeared.

It was said, after Powell mooted the idea for a Ministry of Repatriation, that we “offspring”, as he called the children of immgrants, would be sent away. “A policy of assisting repatriation by payment of fares and grants is part of the official policy of the Conservative party,” he stated in 1968. Sometimes, idly, I wondered how I might like it in India or Pakistan, where I’d never been, and whether I’d be welcomed. But others said that if we were born here, as I was, it would be only our parents who would be sent back. We would, then, have to fend for ourselves, and I imagined a parentless pack of us unwanted mongrels, hunting for food in the nearby woods.

Repatriation, Powell said, “would help to achieve with minimum friction what must surely be the object of everyone – to prevent, so far as that is still possible, a major racial problem in the Britain of AD2000.” It was clear: if Britain had lost an empire and not yet recovered from the war, our added presence would only cause more strife – homelessness, joblessness, prostitution and drug addiction. Soon the indigenous whites would be a “persecuted minority” or “strangers” in their own country. It would be our turn, presumably, to do the persecuting.

The influence of Powell, this ghost of the empire, was not negligible; he moved British politics to the right and set the agenda we address today. It’s impossible not to summon his ghost now that immigration is once again the subject of national debate. Politicians attack minorities when they want to impress the public with their toughness as “truth-tellers”. And Powell’s influence extended far. In 1976 – the year before the Clash’s “White Riot” – and eight years after Powell’s major speeches, one of my heroes, Eric Clapton, ordered an audience to vote for Powell to prevent Britain becoming a “black colony”. Clapton said that, “Britain should get the wogs out, get the coons out,” before repeatedly shouting the National Front slogan “Keep Britain White”.

A middle-class, only child from Birmingham, socially inept and repressed, Powell had taken refuge in books and “scholarship” for most of his life. He was perhaps happiest during the war, spending three years in military intelligence in India. Like a lot of Brits, he loved the empire and colonial India, where he could escape his parents and the constraints of Britain. Many Indians were intimidated by and subservient to British soldiers, as my family attested. Like most colonialists, Powell was a bigger, more powerful man in India than he’d have been in England. No wonder he was patriotic and believed giving up the empire would be a disaster. “I had always been an imperialist and a Tory,” he said.

On his return in 1945, Powell went into politics. Like the grandees he aspired to be, he took up churchgoing and fox-hunting. Before his speeches on race, he was an obedient, relatively undistinguished servant of the state. But he was also, in fact, a proto-Thatcherite: a supporter of the free market and lower taxes with a utopian vision of unregulated capitalism where, miraculously, everything people required would be provided by the simple need for profit. Soon, as Thatcher said, there would be no alternative.

But, in 1968, that great year of newness, experimentation and hope, when people were thinking in new ways about oppression, relationships and equality, there was a terrible return. This odd Edwardian figure popped up into public life, and decided to became a demagogue. Richard Crossman, in his diary of 1968, worried about Powell’s celebrity appeal to “mass opinion, right over our parliament and his party leadership”.

Appealing to the worst in people – their hate – is a guaranteed way to get attention, but it is also fatal. Powell talked in whole sentences and was forever translating Herodotus, so was known for his cleverness. But he wasn’t smart enough to resist the temptation of instant populism for which he traded in his reputation. Racism is the fool’s gold, or, rather, the crack cocaine of politics. The 1970s was a dangerous time for people of colour – the National Front was active and violent, particularly in south London, and it was an ignoble sacrifice for Powell to attack the most vulnerable and unprotected, those workers who had left their homes to come to Britain. He elevated his phobia to a political position, and there was no going back.

Like many racists, Powell was nostalgic in his fantasies: before all this mixing, there was a time of clarity and plenitude, when Britishness was fixed and people knew who they were. Powell refused to allow his certainties to come into contact with reality. He had wanted to know India, but barely troubled himself with Britain and, apart from some weekends in Wolverhampton, lived most of his life in Belgravia.

In contrast to the crude caricatures of people of colour perpetrated by Powell, the Guyanese-born, Cambridge-educated writer ER Braithwaite – who served in the RAF before becoming a teacher in the East End because he couldn’t get a job as a engineer – writes in detail about race between the late-40s and the mid-60s. Three important works in particular, To Sir, With Love, Reluctant Neighbours and Choice of Straws engage with this era. From this clear-eyed, brave novelist we learn about the everyday humiliations, abuse and remarks that people of colour had to face after being invited to help run the NHS and transport system. To make the future it wanted, Britain needed the best doctors, engineers, architects, artists and workers of all kinds, and it imported them, before insulting them.

Powell liked to complain about every vile “imputation and innuendo” made about him; he was keen to be a martyr and victim. Braithwaite, for his part, really suffered. He catalogues the systemic and degrading exclusion from jobs and housing that so disillusioned immigrants about the British with their babble about fairness, liberty and the mother country. His books describe the rage and hate that relentless humiliation inevitably engenders – as colonialism did, in its time. Powell probably intuited the simple idea that tyranny creates resistance, and grasped that future conflicts would be caused by the tyranny he supported, hence his apocalypticism.

Powell developed his own schoolmasterish look. Always in black, sometimes in a long overcoat and occasionally in a little homburg, he was punky and subversive, and came to enjoy making everyone furious with his provocations. And he had the cheek to call us “a roomful of gunpowder”. He didn’t fit in; but he certainly liked to disorientate and traumatise us. After he spoke, we were in freefall; we didn’t know where or who we were. Powell wanted to confirm us as outsiders, as unintelligible and unwanted, but this helped us clarify things and created resistance. Out of Clapton’s statements, for instance, came Rock Against Racism, created by artists, musicians and activists to combat fascism. Then there was identity politics. We were not nothing; we had histories and, unlike him, we had futures.

Powell was creating the conflict he claimed to be the solution to. He soon found himself supported by the National Front. Powell had called himself a Nietszchean as a young man, but Nietzsche would have hated the wretched appeal to the mob or herd. Powell was merely addressing the bitter rabble, and, for so fastidious a man, this would have been distasteful, and he must have considered how incapable our intelligence can be when it comes to protecting us from the temptations of self-destruction.

He cheated his followers, because all he gave them was the brief thrill of superiority and hatred. Nothing substantial altered in the world, and the wild, amoral capitalism that developed from his Hayek-inspired economic vision created wealth for some, but otherwise had no respect for the homes or jobs of Powell’s followers, nor for the other things he cared about – tradition, national borders, patriotism or religion.

Although he was attacked and condemned by students wherever he went, he didn’t trouble himself to think about the profound social changes sweeping the country, as young people attempted to liberate themselves from the assumptions of the past. Britain wasn’t decaying, it was remaking itself, even as it didn’t know how the story would end.

In London now, if you stroll through the crowds on a bright Sunday afternoon near the museums and decorated shop fronts, even for those of us who have been here for years, this multiracial metropolis – less frantic than New York, and with more purpose than Paris, and with its scores of languages – seems like nothing that has ever been made before. And it grows ever more busy, bustling and compelling in its beauty, multiplicity and promise, particularly for those of us who remember how dull and eventless London could seem in the 70s, especially on Sundays.

Britain survived Powell and became something he couldn’t possibly have envisioned. He was a pessimist and lacked faith in the ability of people to cooperate with one another, to collaborate and make alliances. The cultural collisions he was afraid of are the affirmative side of globalisation. People do not love one another because they are “the same”, and they don’t always kill one another because they are different. Where, indeed, does difference begin? Why would it begin with race or colour?

Racism is the lowest form of snobbery. Its language mutates: not long ago the word “immigrant” became an insult, a stand-in for “paki” or “nigger”. We remain an obstruction to “unity”, and people like Powell, men of ressentiment, with their omens and desire to humiliate, will return repeatedly to divide and create difference. The neoliberal experiment that began in the 80s uses racism as a vicious entertainment, as a sideshow, while the wealthy continue to accumulate. But we are all migrants from somewhere, and if we remember that, we could all go somewhere – together.

ENDS

DEBITO.ORG ELECTION SPECIAL DECEMBER 2014: A clear LDP victory, normalizing Japan’s Rightward swing

mytest

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Hi Blog. As is by now tradition on Debito.org, we offer a briefing on the recent Japanese Lower House election in a way that is germane to our Readers — with analysis on angles affecting our lives in Japan that might not otherwise be covered. For the record, I do this as a college-degree holder in Political Science with decades of interest (and training) in Japanese political processes. I also have great interest in this field (especially in Hokkaido politics, because I know many of the politicians due to working with them from the Otaru Onsens Case onwards).  I’ll skip the basics of how Japan’s political system is structured (you can get that from here) and go straight to the analysis:

DEBITO.ORG ELECTION SPECIAL DECEMBER 2014

In the Japanese media run-up to this election, there was enough narrative of doomsaying for opponents to PM Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), what with Japan’s Left in disarray and Japan’s Right ascendant after 2013’s electoral rout.  The LDP was to “win big by default” in a “landslide victory”.

The day after the election, we can say that yes, Abe won, but “big” is a bit of a relative term when you look at the numbers.  (All figures, as always, are sourced from major Japanese sources such as the Asahi and the Yomiuri Shinbuns, as of Monday December 14, 2014, 6AM JST.  All possible “spins” are mine.)

THE SUMMARY:  LDP WINS, BUT NOT SURPRISINGLY

Let’s take a look at Asahi’s excellent electoral map and make some observations (click on image to expand in browser):

electionmap2014asahi

This map of Japan by prefecture shows a lot of blue seats (signifying the LDP/Koumeitou Souka Gakkai alliance), demonstrating that the LDP held most of its seats.  (Notable exception:  Okinawa, which said “none of the above”, refusing to elect a single LDP, Koumeitou (KMT), or Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) candidate, and putting a Communist at the top.)

However, the LDP did not increase its seats — according to the table under the bar chart, the LDP went from 293 to 291 seats, meaning it lost 2.  The bigger winner was ally party KMT, which went from 31 to 35, thus increasing the ruling coalition’s hold over the Lower House by two seats to 326.

I suspect that this may be due to the postwar record low turnout this election, as KMT has an excellent “get-out-the-vote” mechanism within its Souka Gakkai religious followers. (KMT also tells its followers which people to vote for, so as to split their votes efficiently in multiple-seat constituencies; i.e., they don’t mostly vote for one and only get one candidate in instead of both).  A lower voter turnout means a higher proportion of the total voting KMT in an election.

So my read of this election is LDP didn’t lose, but they didn’t win astoundingly big, either.  That said, they’re still big enough in the Diet to have a supermajority and override any Upper House vetoes (unlikely anyway, as the Upper House is also in the LDP’s hands after 2013’s election).

OTHER WINNERS AND LOSERS

The other big winner was the Japan Communist Party, which went from 8 seats to 21.  This was due I believe to the lack of a viable opposition Left and people wanting to put their protest vote somewhere in this election.  The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the ruling party from 2009 until 2012 when they were soundly dismissed from office in a landslide LDP victory, also picked up seats (73, up from 62).  So there was a significant protest vote against Abe, but not nearly enough to stem any of Abe’s future plans.  More on those in a minute.

The big loser, however, was far-right racist xenophobe MPs Hiranuma Takeo and Ishihara Shintaro’s Jisedai no Tou (the alleged Party for Future Generations).  They plummeted from 19 seats to 2!  Thus, fortunately their foreigner-bashing policy planks and their anti-NJ policy proposals did not pay off.  These geriatrics had split off from the younger-looking far-right Ishin no Tou (Japan “Innovation” Party, most famously represented by charismatic Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Touru), which also lost one seat to become 41, but didn’t lose bigger allegedly due to a last-minute rally to get out the Proportional Representation (hireiku) vote.

CANDIDATES OF PARTICULAR INTEREST TO DEBITO.ORG READERS

In Tokyo, we had two fortunate losses from the Right and one close shave for the Left.

First, for the Left, former Prime Minister Kan Naoto of the DPJ lost his seat in the popular vote to the local LDP candidate in Tokyo 18-ku.  He was, however, resurrected in the Proportional Representation vote, so he’s still in.  However, the DPJ’s current party head, Kaieda Banri, lost his seat.

On the other hand, far-rightists such as remilitarist Tamogami Toshio (who ran under the Jisedai no Tou banner) did not get elected.  In fact, Tamogami ended up at the very bottom of the pile for his electoral district in Tokyo 12-ku.  Clearly he overestimated his popular appeal (not hard to do, given how disproportionately noisy his supporters are; further, he got 611,000 votes in the last Tokyo Governor’s election), garnering only 39,233 votes.  We haven’t seen the last of this creep, but this might give people a reality check about how far Rightism can go.

Now check out what happened to former Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro.  He will now retire from Japanese politics ignominiously as the person who gave up his bully pulpit as the Tokyo Governor in 2012, in a now ill-considered bid to secure greater power as a Dietmember.  He also ended up at the very bottom of the pile this time in his party’s Proportional Representation votes, which is quite a shameful way for a man of this stature and history to go.  Good riddance to you, sir.

CONCLUSIONS

In sum, the Far-Right (Jisedai) suffered most in this election, while the Far-Left (JCP) picked up more protest votes than the Center-Left (DPJ).  My read is that disillusioned Japanese voters, if they bothered to vote at all, saw the LDP/KMT as possibly more centrist in contrast to the other far-right parties, and hedged their bets.  With the doomsaying media awarding Abe the election well in advance, why would people waste their vote on a losing party unless they felt strongly enough about any non-issue being put up this election?

Nevertheless, the result will not be centrist.  With this election, Japan’s lurch to the Right has been complete enough to become normalized.  PM Abe will probably be able to claim a consolidated mandate for his alleged fiscal plans, but in reality his goals prioritize revising Japan’s “Peace Constitution” and eroding other firewalls between Japan’s “church and state” issues (e.g., Japan’s remilitarization, inserting more Shinto/Emperor worship mysticism in Japan’s laws, requiring more patriotism and “love of country” in Japan’s education curriculum, and reinforcing anything Japan’s corporatists and secretive bureaucrats don’t want the public to know as “state secrets”).

All of this bodes ill for NJ residents of Japan, as even Japanese citizens who have “foreign experiences” are to be treated as suspicious (and disqualified for jobs) in areas that the GOJ deems worthy of secrecy.  And as Dr. Jeff Kingston at Temple University in Japan notes, even the guidelines for determining what falls into that category are secret.  Nevertheless, it is clear that diversity of opinion, experience, or nationality/ethnicity is not what Japan’s planners want for Japan’s future.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Election 2014: “Why taboo?” Grotesque foreigner-bashing cartoon by Hiranuma’s Jisedai Party, features “Taboo Pig” sliced in half over NJ welfare recipients “issue”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As everyone in Japan probably knows (as they cover their ears due to the noise), it’s election time again, and time for the sound trucks and stump speeches to come out in force until December 14. (BTW, a magnificent take on Japan’s elections by Colin Jones at the JT is here.)  And with that, sadly, comes the requisite foreigner bashing so prevalent in recent years in Japan’s election and policy campaigns (see for example here, herehere, here, here, here, and here).

Here’s 2014’s version, from “The Party for Future Generations” (Jisedai no Tou; frontman:  racist xenophobe Dietmember from Okayama 3-ku Hiranuma Takeo), courtesy Debito.org Reader XY:

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

Dec. 8, 2014
Hello Debito, Thanks again for taking a look at the P&G video before.

Today I ran across this election campaign video that isn’t as bad as the usual CM fare, but seems to suggest that 8 times as many foreigners as native Japanese are receiving welfare hand-outs. Here’s the lyrics (from the video’s own description):

②生活保護タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
日本の生活保護なのに日本国民なぜ少ない
僕らの税金つかうのに外国人なぜ8倍
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

Here’s a link to the video that skips to the offending verse 30 seconds in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7ilGGkne-I&feature=youtu.be&t=30s

This can’t be accurate, surely? Am I missing something in translation? I’d be very grateful if you’d let me know.

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

COMMENT:  Well, that IS what they’re saying.  Here are some screen captures:

nazetaboojisedainotou1

COMMENT:  “We will slice taboos,” says Jisedai’s slogan.  Now check out the “Taboo Buta“(Taboo Pig) dancing around mockingly:

nazetaboojsedainotou20142

COMMENT: In their song and dance (text below), they’re offsetting foreigners with “Japanese citizens”, and asking why “our taxes” (bokura no zeikin) are being used more for foreigners by a factor of eight:

nazetaboojisedainotou20143

And then the coup de grace:

nazetaboojiseidanotou20144

Ouch.  I guess these people are inured to grotesque images involving swordplay, but I’m not.  Ick… Moving on:

Hiranuma’s people claim this is a “taboo topic” to cut through (as if to tempt the voters with a “forbidden fruit” discussion), but people have been talking about this issue plenty — even making some mean-spirited policy proposals in recent months).  For this ilk, labeling any discussion that they are on the losing end of as “taboo” is a frequent trope, so as to claim victimization through alleged suppression of their free speech.  And it’s hardly ever true.  It isn’t in this case.

Below, they’re also slicing pigs in half about limited 1) discussions in general, 3) working mothers, and 4) the Comfort Women Wartime Sexual Slaves (teleplay text courtesy of their above mentioned YouTube site):

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

Published on Dec 3, 2014
「タブーブタのウタ♪」 20万回再生突破→第2弾作っちゃいました!
第2弾 「タブーブタ第2」 → http://youtu.be/i2RsUaOCb9M

①タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
ホントのことでも言わない
なぜかみんな知らぬふり
クサイものにはフタをして
都合わるいと見ないふり
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

②生活保護タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
日本の生活保護なのに
日本国民なぜ少ない
僕らの税金つかうのに
外国人なぜ8倍
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

③女性の社会進出タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
子育て犠牲にしてまで
なぜ働けと言うの?
子育てがんばるママさんも
輝く女性のはずなのに
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

④慰安婦問題のタブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
慰安婦問題でっちあげ
なぜだもっと怒らない?
真相わかった今だから
そこは世界に言わないと
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

タブーを斬る!
次世代の党
http://jisedai.jp

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

Now then, Jisedai doesn’t look to fare well in this election, so probably some Debito.org Readers will relax and say this is just how fringe politics works in democracies.  However, Debito.org is concerned about this normalization of NJ bashing — to the point of believing that blaming foreigners for just about anything gains you political capital.   Look how this alleged “NJ welfare cheats” issue has become one of Jisedai’s four (well, three, actually, since the first issue mentioned is a grumble instead of a substantive claim) planks in their platform.  Even though, as we have discussed here earlier, this is a non-issue.

There’s more rotten to say about this upcoming election, of course (again, read Colin Jones’ take and then take a shower), but how it affects NJ in Japan is Debito.org’s focus, so there you go.  Here’s hoping Japan’s electorate will slice through the bullshit politics on offer, but I doubt it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

My Japan Times JBC Column 82: “Time to Burst your Bubble and Face Reality”, December 4, 2014

mytest

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Hi Blog. I want to say thank you to everyone who read this and made it the the #1 most-read article at the JT Online for two days, and again for a number of days later!  Dr ARUDOU, Debito:

justbecauseicon.jpg
TIME TO BURST YOUR BUBBLE AND FACE REALITY

By Debito Arudou
JBC 82 for the Japan Times Community Page
December 4, 2014

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/12/03/issues/time-burst-bubble-face-reality/

I want to open by saying: Look, I get it.

I get why many people (particularly the native speakers of English, who are probably the majority of readers here) come to Japan and stay on.

After all, the incentives are so clear at the beginning. Right away, you were bedazzled by all the novelty, the differences, the services, the cleanliness, the safety and relative calm of a society so predicated on order. You might even have believed that people are governed by quaint and long-lamented things like “honor” and “duty.”

Not that the duties and sacrifices necessary to maintain this order necessarily applied to you as a non-Japanese (NJ). As an honored guest, you were excepted. If you went through the motions at work like everyone else, and clowned around for bonus points (after all, injecting genki into stuffy surroundings often seemed to be expected of you), you got paid enough to make rent plus party hearty (not to mention find many curious groupies to bed — if you happened to be male, that is).

Admit it: The majority of you stayed on because you were anesthetized by sex, booze, easy money and the freedom to live outside both the boxes you were brought up in and the boxes Japanese people slot themselves in.

But these incentives are front-loaded. For as a young, genki, even geeky person finding more fun here than anywhere ever, you basked in the flattery. For example, you only needed to say a few words in Japanese to be bathed in praise for your astounding language abilities! People treated you like some kind of celebrity, and you got away with so much.

Mind you, this does not last forever. Japan is a land of bubbles, be it the famous economic one that burst back in 1991 and led two generations into disillusionment, or the bubble world that you eventually constructed to delude yourself that you control your life in Japan.

You don’t. Unless you marry an elite whose family funds your whims, you’ll discover that as you get older, opportunities narrow and doors close.

The first major life stage might be getting married — so easy to do here. Then you’d better lose the Peter Pan lifestyle and find a way to support your sudden kids. Or you’ll never see them again after the divorce.

Then you finally land that steady job that might lead to a career. But it’s hard enough nowadays for Japanese in their 20s and 30s to land secure employment (let alone climb the corporate ladder), so why should Johnny Foreigner cut in? Even if you manage to, people often assume tokenism and don’t take you seriously. The bamboo ceiling is pretty impenetrable.

But what about your trusty Genki Gaijin shtick? You’ll look jolly silly doing it as a geriatric, playing the perpetual dancing monkey, never the organ grinder.

Finally, as is true for everyone in Japan, the older you get, the less wriggle room you have in your career. Good luck comfortably changing jobs in your 40s or 50s. Most of the influential and reasonably self-actualized people in Japan are elites who spent their lives marrying into connections and cultivating Old-Boy networks, awaiting the right time to be catapulted into the next generation of leaders. NJ OBs in powerful positions? Unlikely.

Part of that is by design: Enough NJ live the life of Riley and assume the future will take care of itself. After all, for their fellow unambitious and unobtrusive Japanese corporate drones, it will; except that they will likely live a pre-designed, boring and “normal” workaday life taken care of by the state.

But for NJ, given the recent court decision about their welfare benefits, the perpetual weakness of their contract employment, and employers not paying into their pension systems with impunity, a “normal” career is not at all guaranteed. NJ have to be vigilant at an age when everyone else seems to be partying.

Another part is the shocking realization in many NJ (especially in those brought over during the 1980s Golden Age of Kokusaika (“internationalization”) who are now reaching late middle age and retirement) that they were working under a delusion: They were never seen as a colleague in the workplace. More as a pet.

This became evident as younger Japanese co-workers, who had less qualifications, time or experience in the company, got promoted over them. After all, what self-respecting Japanese wants some NJ as their senpai (senior) in the workplace? Suddenly, despite following all the rules, NJ didn’t get the same rewards.

So, after a quarter-century in Japan, I get it. And here’s what you oughta get by now:

If NJ don’t do something outside the bubble they’ve lived in so far, they might end up as some anonymous dead gaijin on a gurney, unremembered and unmourned, merely cremated and disposed of by authorities unsure of your next of kin. I’ve seen it happen — an accelerating number of times.

Why? Parables such as the one about “boiled frogs” come to mind (i.e., the frog who never noticed the temperature of the water around him rising until it was too late to jump out), but more insightful is what Pierre Bourdieu called the “illusio,” i.e., the belief that the great lifetime “game” we all agree to play is worth playing, and the fiction we collectively choose to follow is reality.

The fiction we have been accepting as reality is: Japan will treat NJ equally as long as they play the game by Japanese rules. This shows a sore lack of self-reflection about the NJ’s place in Japanese society, where those rules are stacked against them properly assimilating. It’s not because NJ always elect to be treated like guests. Guest treatment is in fact the default.

For example, have you ever noticed how difficult it is for NJ to become established in Japan’s essential, respected and licensed jobs — e.g., as doctors (and nurses), lawyers, engineers, administrative-level bureaucrats, etc.? Instead, where are they consigned? Factories, education, tenuous entrepreneurship, contracted tech, as nonadministrative corporate drones, and in entertainment. These jobs are basically fungible and expendable. And they are the default.

That’s why NJ must learn how to become “hosts.” By this I mean that they must offer Japan something that cannot be dismissed as a mere trifle or token effort.

That skill must be precious enough that NJ residents can choose to deny it to Japan, should they ever want to reclaim their power, self-respect and dignity. The NJ who exclusively do what Japan needs, and who cannot be replaced with a Japanese substitute (for example, people acting as indisposable ambassadors of Japanese knowledge — e.g., Ed Reischauer, Donald Richie or Donald Keene), can hold their skills hostage and become secure, respected, even immortal.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but face reality: What do you have to offer Japan? I’m not asking if there is something you do well; I’m asking: After all these years, is there something that you can do that Japan positively cannot live without? If not, then Japan can easily live without you, and you could be headed for the gurney.

No doubt people will decry this column. Look, I “get” that too, for it’s a natural part of illusio maintenance. People trapped in their bubbles will fight to their last breath to avoid having them burst. Facing the reality of their perpetual second-class caste status would force them to admit that they made a mistake by submitting to Japan’s default subordination processes — that they traded their entire life for something that they ultimately found no stake in.

Criticize away if that makes you feel better. It’s more comforting to play the game and party on. For now. But as your twilight years approach, you’ll look back in anger and wish you’d created a different bubble. Japan as an entire society does too, what with all this wasted human potential, as it fades into international irrelevance.

Debito Arudou’s “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan” is available on Amazon. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

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

Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/12/03/issues/time-burst-bubble-face-reality/. And this will be the anchor site for the article, so comment both below and at the JT if you like. As always, thanks for reading! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

mytest

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Hi Blog. I received this email from Debito.org Reader AM last March (sorry for taking so long to get to it):

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

March 3, 2014
AM:  Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question “gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?” [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?]

I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese.

http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken04_00101.html

It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan’s push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese.

Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002.
====================================

COMMENT: I would agree. It’s much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own surveys, NJ aren’t as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there’s ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It’s rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan’s debate arenas or awareness campaigns.

So now that it’s 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments…) I’ll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here.  Here’s the top page:

MOJBOHR2014001

ANALYSIS: The first page opens nicely with the typically-gentle grade-school register of slogan entreaty (nakayoku shimashou or “let’s all be nice to one another, everyone”), with “Let’s respect the human rights of foreigners” (entreaty is all they CAN do, since they’re not in a position to demand compliance when racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan).  It  includes their image-characters Jinken Mamoru-Kun and Jinken Ayumi-Chan.

But then it immediately veers into “guestism” territory by citing the long-range statistic of a record 11,250,000 NJ entering (nyuukoku) “our country” (wagakuni) Japan.  It’s not a matter of considering the rights of the 2 million NJ already here as residents as part of wagakuni — it’s a matter of treating all “entrants” with respect due to their obvious and automatic “differences” we’ll conveniently list off for you (language, religion, culture, customs, etc.).  They are being denied apartments, entrance into bathhouses (thanks!), and barbershops.  Also mentioned are hate-speech demos against “certain nationalities” (yes, the Zainichi Koreans).  Then comes mention of the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020, and how there will be even more chances to come into contact with NJ.  That’s why the MOJ’s BOHR is insisting that we “respect” (sonchou) the human right of foreigners, raise awareness, and take on “enlightenment activities” (keihatsu katsudou — because, again, that’s all the BOHR can do because it has no policing or punitive powers) to help “the citizens” (kokumin — not the “residents”, which would include NJ) rid society of the prejudices and discrimination, and understand and respect foreigners’ livestyle customs (seikatsu shuukan).

Ready for more official “othering” of the people we’re ostensibly trying to protect?  Next bit, a 2012 Cabinet research survey:

MOJBOHR2014002

ANALYSIS:  According to this survey, they asked Japanese citizens only (not the NJ themselves) what they thought were the types of human-rights problems NJ face in Japan.  The two top responses were “not having their differing customs and habits accepted by society” (34.8%) exactly tied with “NJ don’t face any special problems/I don’t know“! (Not a surprising outcome if you’re not the people being discriminated against; it’s like asking the foxes about what problems they think the chickens have.)  The other issues mentioned are disadvantages faced at work or finding work (25.9%), finding apartments (a real doozy of a problem, yet only 24.9%), being stared at or avoided (15.9%), facing discriminatory behavior (15%), being bullied at school or the workplace (12.9%), facing opposition for getting married (12.5%), and being refused entry to hotels and shops (6.3%).

Which means that in this survey, where the questions are not open-ended, that out of all these preset options conveniently provided for the surveyed (see Q12, none of which mention racial discrimination, natch) with multiple answers possible, a full third of all votes went to “I don’t see/don’t know any problem.”  That’s pretty widespread ignorance, especially since this is the only question about discrimination in this survey that CANNOT be asked of the discriminatees.

The next section in the above screen capture talks about what services have been offered to NJ who claim they’ve had their human rights violated.  First example is of a BOHR investigation conducted for a claimant (who was refused entry into a barbershop), and how it was ascertained that he was indeed refused, and how the BOHR “explained” (setsuji) to the store manager that he should improve how he offers his barbering services.  The end.

The next example leads into the next screen capture:

MOJBOHR2014003

The next case is of a ryokan hotel refusing a foreigner entry when he was making a reservation over the internet.  After investigation, the ryokan managment said they’d had the experience of some foreigner who did not speak Japanese [as if that is somehow relevant] who walked off with hotel goods.  The BOHR again “explained” to the management that being NJ was not grounds for refusal under the Hotel Management Law, that this act was discriminatory behavior, and that they did not accept this explanation as a rational reason for refusal.  Again, the end.  Your hardworking taxes in action.

Next up, some more tax outlay for “enlightening” posters and events (screen captures above and below):

MOJBOHR2014004

It’s again of the “entreaty genre” in register, with the confused Jinken kids saying “it’s important to understand each other”, “What are violations of human rights towards foreigners?” and “Could you be discriminating against foreigners?” (Love the presumption of innocence for Japanese readers, which NJ, when officially portrayed as illegal workers, criminals, terrorists, and carriers of contagious diseases, don’t get.)  And finally:

MOJBOHR2014005

We have some more links to BOHR services, enlightenment videos, Cabinet announcements re stopping exclusionism towards “certain nationalities”, and a nice-looking soft-pastel November 15, 2014 symposium in Osaka entitled “Foreigners and human rights:  Acknowledge the differences, and live together”.  Sorry I missed it.  Featured is is a “Talk Show” by Todai literature professor and radio personality Dr. Robert Campbell, and a panel discussion with only one NJ on board (Alberto Matsumoto, a Nikkei of Argentine extraction who runs an ideas shop):

MOJBOHR2014006

CONCLUSION:  Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves.  As my friend noted, it’s better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat.  However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I’d call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science.  But that’s what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations (see here, word search for “Legal Affairs Bureau”) window-dressed.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JBC 81, Nov 5 2014, “Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?”

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Here’s my latest JT column  posted as a question, not an answer this time.  Any answers?  Please post in the Comments Section below and/or at the JT website.  Thanks as always for putting this column once again in the Top Ten Most Read on the Japan Times online this month! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, NOV 5, 2014

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/11/05/issues/social-change-japan-come-top-bottom/

This month I would like to take a break from my lecture style of column-writing to pose a question to readers. Seriously, I don’t have an answer to this, so I’d like your opinion: Does fundamental social change generally come from the top down or the bottom up?

By top down, I mean that governments and legal systems effect social change by legislating and rule-making. In other words, if leaders want to stop people doing something they consider unsavory, they make it illegal. This may occur with or without popular support, but the prototypical example would be legislating away a bad social habit (say, lax speed limits or unstandardized legal drinking ages) regardless of clear public approval.

By bottom up, I mean that social change arises from a critical mass of people putting pressure on their elected officials (and each other) to desist in something socially undesirable. Eventually this also results in new rules and legislation, but the impetus and momentum for change is at the grass-roots level, thanks to clear public support.

Either dynamic can work in Japan, of course. For top-down, I have seen many rules decided by decree. How about the steadily encroaching anti-smoking rules in public places? It’s no longer just train platforms; you can’t even have a lit cigarette on many Tokyo streets anymore. Some movements were instituted after government awareness-raising drives, like the nōshi wa hito no shi (“brain death is a person’s death”) campaign deployed in the 1990s to overcome apparently religious-based objections to organ donation.

These and many more examples of social engineering and official consensus-manufacturing have resulted in people changing their outward behavior, if not their outright belief in a previous system. (Who remembers that brain death was ever an issue?) And it happens pretty quickly (as in weeks or months), especially if these moves are backed up by criminal penalties. Remember when drunk driving was much less harshly punished? (I do, and thanks to Draconian penalties for even one glassful, we have the world’s only decent-tasting zero-alcohol beer.)

Bottom-up, however, takes a lot longer — years or decades — but it can be just as irresistible a social force. For example, I have seen the slow death of “old maid” bashing (remember “Christmas cakes” referring to women over age 25?), the loss of faith in overwork as proof of a person’s worth, and the stigmatization of power-based bullying (e.g., sexual and power harassment) to the point of achieving court victories. The progress of this genre of social change can be quite imperceptible, but when backed up by a media campaign after a social shock (such as a huge scandal or a horrific crime — stalking, for example), bottom-up change can happen much faster.

But these are relatively small fry. For really significant social changes, such as the abolition of racial discrimination and/or hate speech in Japan, both methods have been tried, and have failed.

Advocates (yes, including myself) have tried the top-down approach for decades, asking all levels of government and the bureaucracy to outlaw discrimination as blatant as “Japanese only” signs and rules. Their most common response is, “It’s too early; we have to change the public’s mind first.” For them, the bottom-up approach is the chicken before the egg.

But starting at the grass roots has been tried too. In fact, that’s where we started, working as hundreds of advocates for decades. I personally have spoken at hundreds of gatherings to thousands of people — even one-on-one to the discriminators themselves, calmly (yes, calmly) coaxing them to treat people with dignity and equality, as they themselves would want to be treated in a similar situation.

But in this case, the problem isn’t as simple as asking individuals to give up something like smoking on a train platform; this is an issue of excluders worrying aloud that “foreigners” are a threat to their cultural integrity in general, if not their business specifically. It may even be a matter of them saying, “I just don’t like those people, so sod you.”

Moreover, unaffected bystanders can be quite sympathetic to excluders who fear for their livelihoods (even if they are excluding a neighbor). Besides — cue vicious circle — there’s no law against them doing it. And then we return to the top-down approach: the egg before the chicken.

I admit that I lean towards the top-down approach. There are plenty of historical examples of bottom-up not working when it comes to the big changes. America’s Susan B. Anthony, for example, campaigned tirelessly at the grass-roots level for women’s suffrage throughout the 1800s but failed to get the vote in her lifetime. Or in Japan’s case, the foremost grass-roots movements in Japan right now — protests against the state secrets law, remilitarization and the restarting of nuclear reactors — are gaining little traction in the face of the government’s relentless top-downism.

Moreover, many of the great grassroots successes in history got lucky. Mahatma Gandhi’s grass-roots achievement of Indian independence was aided by the fact that the grip of the British Empire had been weakened by two world wars. Nelson Mandela was lucky not to meet the same fate as Steve Biko, and to see a more liberal South African government in his lifetime. Thus, change happened because leaders made sage decisions — and there is an enormous amount of top-down inherent in that.

Personally, I have witnessed significant social change — most notably, the flowering of America’s civil rights movements after 1964. Very much a grassroots effort, it still took more than a century for equal rights to be enforceably guaranteed by top-down policymaking and criminal penalties. But I remain convinced that the social change was top-down.

As a child growing up in New York state in the 1970s, I vividly remember African-American classmates (there were a significant number in my elementary schools) feeling empowered, even adopting the swagger and proud demeanor of hero boxer Muhammad Ali, without being accused of being “uppity Negroes.” Instead, there was enormous opprobrium from teachers and other influential people for anyone who dared, for example, use racist language, such as the N-word. Even observing that somebody might be “different” because they had different skin color was simply “not done” anymore.

Why? I believe the new top-down rules set the agenda and terms of debate in a more tolerant direction. You had to accept that the “old ways” were “backwards” and no longer appropriate.

Obviously, it wasn’t perfect, and there were plenty of holdouts, disobedients and overt racists in the American example. The U.S. was still two generations away from an African-American president, and to this day a huge number of minorities are disenfranchised just because they are minorities.

But back then it was made very clear that somebody was going to get it in the neck “from above” if there were any violations of the new narrative. That’s why as kids, our overt behavior and eventually our attitudes changed — maybe not immediately into good habits, but certainly away from reinforcing bad habits.

Of course, this is the American example, with limited application to Japan. Japanese society has very different attitudes towards the outward appearance of “difference” and expression of dissent. The national narratives of inclusivity and community construction are arguably polar opposite to America’s.

Even the power of the Japanese grass roots is purported to be different. Political science professor Jiro Yamaguchi recently wrote (“Perilous spirit of the times,” The Japan Times, Oct. 28) about Japan’s “deep-seated tendency of conformism”; fellow professor Koichi Nakano has described the business of governing Japan as an “elite-driven process rather than a society-driven process.” Some even argue that a traditional, unchanging world view is what makes Japanese into Japanese, so why would anyone expect any major change?

But, again, all societies have bad habits, and racial discrimination is a doozy. How could a more positive environment be created so that the children of immigrants (many of the latter of whom are here at the bidding of the Japanese government) and international marriages will not be treated as “foreign” and sometimes be denied equal treatment?

So I ask readers: On balance, is unequal treatment to be legislated away, with people catching up through the carrots and sticks of a new legal and social regime? Or is it something that people will cotton on to eventually, as they push for reforms because it just “makes sense” to treat people (especially fellow Japanese) equally?

Is a bad social habit to be thrown out the second-floor window, or patiently cajoled down the stairs and out the front door? Discuss.
==============================
Debito Arudou’s co-authored bilingual “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan” is available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book, see www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
==============================

Two recent JT columns (domestic & international authors) revealing the damage done by PM Abe to Japan’s int’l image

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’m hoping to finish off this metathread about Japan’s Right-Wing Swing soon, but good articles keep on coming (thanks to Debito.org Readers for pointing them out).

These two are from the JT, one from a long-time columnist (Hugh Cortazzi) who has written for decades about Japan with a diplomat’s charm.  But he’s recently been quite undiplomatic in tone when assessing the PM Abe Administration.  Excerpt:

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Does right-wing extremism threaten Japan’s democracy?
BY HUGH CORTAZZI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 31, 2014

Extreme nationalism is a threat to democratic institutions and values everywhere. Recent reports in the British media about the growing influence of right-wing extremists in Japan have caused deep concern among friends of Japan here.

On Oct. 22 it was reported that Sanae Takaichi, the minister for internal affairs, had given an enthusiastic endorsement of a book praising Adolf Hitler. The explanations and denials issued have been contradictory and unconvincing.

If any British minister were to say anything that even by implication supported a criminal who had been instrumental in instituting the Holocaust, there would be a public outcry and the minister concerned would be forced to resign.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s alleged statement in April that convicted war criminals were “martyrs” was regarded here as unacceptable. I wrote to the Japanese Embassy in London asking whether Abe had in fact made such a statement. I said that any such statement was highly offensive to British people whose relatives had suffered so much at the hands of some members of Imperial Japanese forces during World War II. As no reply to my letter was received, I have to assume that Abe had indeed made this remark.

On Oct. 18 it was reported that NHK, in a notices to journalists on its English-language services, had banned any references to the Nanking massacre and to the Japanese use of “comfort women,” the euphemism used for sex slaves.

NHK is supposed to be like the BBC and to be both politically neutral and objective. Under the direction of Katsuto Momii it seems to have been turned into a tool of the Japanese government. As professor Koichi Nakano has apparently said it looks “increasingly like a mirror of CCTV,” China’s state broadcaster.

There have been many reports here suggesting that Abe’s right-wing ministers want to rewrite history to provide academic support for their attempts to exculpate Japan’s wartime leaders.

Western historians, basing themselves on unimpeachable evidence, have no doubt about the atrocities committed by Japanese forces not only in Nanjing but elsewhere in China. That Chinese forces, nationalist and communist alike, also committed crimes against civilians is also true, but Japan was the aggressor and Chinese behavior was no excuse for the deliberate policies of oppression adopted by the Japanese high command.

There can be no doubt that members of the Japanese Army not only were responsible for many rapes but also forced women, not only Koreans, in occupied territories to become sex slaves.

The facts about the activities of the Japanese biological warfare unit 731 in Manchukuo are so horrific that its existence and experiments tend to be buried and, if possible, forgotten. This “amnesia” is at least in part due to American connivance; American investigators were told the results of the “experiments” in return for not pursuing the Japanese perpetrators.

The maltreatment, to use an understatement, of the civilian populations in occupied territories including Singapore cannot be denied except by the willfully blind. Nor can historical revisionists justify the way in which allied prisoners of war were mistreated.[…]

In the eyes of Japanese right-wing nationalists, the only crime committed by Japan’s military leaders was that they failed. The rightists lack ethical principles and are opposed to democratic institutions.[…]

It seems that Japan has reverted to one-party government. This could lead to autocracy and the infringement of human rights.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/10/31/commentary/japan-commentary/does-right-wing-extremism-threaten-japans-democracy/
==================================

Quite strong language, as I said, from a former ambassador to Japan. Now check this out, from a poli-sci professor at Housei University. It’s even stronger:

==================================
COMMENTARY / JAPAN
Perilous spirit of the times
BY JIRO YAMAGUCHI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 28, 2014

Female lawmakers given ministerial posts in the reshuffle of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet last month in the hope that more women on the team would shore up popular support for his Cabinet have turned out to be liabilities. Two of them have resigned after being accused of breaking basic rules in the Public Offices Election Law while two others are under the spotlight for their suspected ties to ultra-rightist groups.

It is inexcusable for Cabinet ministers to provide financial and material benefits to voters in their home constituencies. Neither former Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi nor former Justice Minister Midori Matsushima was qualified to assume Cabinet positions in the first place.

Even more serious are the reported ties of Sanae Takaichi, internal affairs minister, and Eriko Yamatani, head of the National Public Safety Commission, to ultra-rightist organizations that are accused of engaging in acts of racial discrimination. One of these groups has repeatedly threatened and harassed Korean residents in Japan, and some of its members have been accused of criminal offenses.

Yamatani has been photographed with one such offender. When she spoke at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Yamatani avoided giving her opinion when asked by members of the foreign press what she thought of the Zaitokutai group’s activities.

Political leaders in a democracy bear an obligation to maintain the fight against terrorism, which threatens freedom and diverse values. If lawmakers like Takaichi and Yamatani are committed to protecting freedom and democracy, they need to condemn the activities of ultra-rightist groups like Zaitokukai or Neo-Nazis. If lawmakers exhibit stances that allow such groups freedom of speech and recognize their existence within the realm of value relativism, such lawmakers could, under the common sense of Western countries, be viewed as enemies of freedom.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with his intention to counter China, has reiterated that Japan shares such Western values as freedom, democracy, basic human rights and the rule of law. He has also reportedly proclaimed Japan’s intention to seek permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council as part of an attempt to expand his diplomacy on a global scale. Such remarks are an indication that his stupidity and egocentrism are beyond redemption.

The permanent members of the UNSC are an exclusive club comprising the victors of World War II. It is hardly possible that they would welcome a nation whose leader denies its wartime aggression and atrocities. The head of a Cabinet whose members sympathize with racial discrimination and historical revisionism can hardly win international trust by merely voicing his support for freedom and democracy.[…]

What he wanted to say, I presume, was that Japan’s freedom and democracy could be shoved aside when the nation’s deep-seated tendency of conformism spreads like wild fire.

It is pathetic that we have to quote the foreign media to criticize what is going on in this country. It is the job of members of the media and academics to tell people immersed in narcissism that they, in fact, have ugly aspects.

Entire article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/10/28/commentary/japan-commentary/perilous-spirit-times/
==================================

It’s nice when a Japanese academic in his field makes statements like “the nation’s deep-seated tendency of conformism”, because at least he can get away with saying them without being accused of racism, cultural imperialism, or ignorance. When Japan’s media follows a trend into intolerance to extremes not seen much in Japan’s Postwar Era, it’s time for denunciations to happen. Because they’re not going to happen from within at this point. They must come from without. And to that end, Debito.org is happy to report when others are seeing it that way too. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Osaka Mayor Hashimoto vs Zaitokukai Sakurai: I say, bully for Hash for standing up to the bully boys

mytest

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Hi Blog. Making the news recently is this very unusual public smackdown in the halls of the Osaka government:

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Osaka mayor gets into shouting match with head of anti-Korean group
KYODO/JAPAN TIMES, OCT 21, 2014

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/21/national/social-issues/osaka-mayor-engages-shouting-match-head-anti-korean-group/

OSAKA – Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto met with the head of an anti-Korean group Monday as he considers cracking down on hate speech rallies in the city, but they ended up having a shouting match in which they more or less just insulted each other.

The meeting with Makoto Sakurai, who heads the group commonly known as Zaitokukai, at City Hall was tense from the beginning, with both men calling each other names.

Sitting 3 meters apart, the two came close to a scuffle at one point before people around them intervened. The meeting, which was open to the media, last just 10 minutes, far shorter than originally planned.

During the meeting, Hashimoto said: “Don’t make statements looking at ethnic groups and nationalities as if they are all the same. In Osaka, we don’t need guys like you who are racists.”

The meeting took place at the request of Zaitokukai, which describes itself as a group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for Korean residents of Japan.

In a ruling in July, the Osaka High Court determined that rallies staged by the group near a pro-Pyongyang Korean school amounted to racial discrimination.

Lee Sin Hae, a journalist and Korean resident of Japan, said after watching the face-off between Hashimoto and Sakurai that she didn’t want people to get the impression that there is no difference between the two just because they both resorted to using abusive language.

“Zaitokukai is still campaigning in the streets. I want the mayor to actually go to places to see that terrible things are happening,” said Lee, who is suing Zaitokukai over online abuse.
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I don’t think this article really captures the event well. See it for yourself on YouTube (courtesy MS):

FULL VERSION (which captures the flavor of Sakurai bullying and berating the press at the very beginning):
橋下市長 在特会・桜井誠会長と面談 2014-10-20 フルバージョン
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxL383jN484

SHORT VERSION (excellent for capturing the register of the language:  bully vs. bully):
橋下徹vs在特会・桜井誠 【全】10/20
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACRxHAC-tyg

SAKURAI’S FOLLOW-UP (also instructive for showing just how little substance he actually has behind his argumentation):
在特会桜井誠 橋下徹市長との対談後の感想
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dMHEpoMruA

COMMENT:  A journalist friend whom I highly respect had this to say about the event:

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

I’m sure some people will view this showdown between Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto and Makoto Sakurai, leader of Japan’s hate speech movement, as high drama, but it struck me as pathetic. Sakurai struts in front of the media, telling NHK and the Mainichi that they “hate Japan”, then sits fanning himself waiting at what looks like a school desk for Hashimoto. They get into a shouting match at roughly the same level as my three-year-old. Hashimoto has been praised for facing down Sakurai but he made a mistake: he should never have sat in the same room as this pathetic schoolyard bully.

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

I think it’s more significant than mere high drama.  I think it is a very necessary smackdown of a person who has spent his whole life taking advantage of Japan’s weakness towards bullies, cringing before loud voices and verbal abuse.  A person like Sakurai should have been socked a few times in the schoolyard for this behavior long before he ever reached adulthood (looking at him, I doubt he’s ever really taken a punch, despite all his protestations about the lack of “manliness” in the Hashimoto exchange).  A dork like this, full of sociopathic hangups who goes through life this perpetually unchallenged, can grow this big.

Sakurai is a bully.  I was raised by a bully for a stepfather, and I personally have learned that you never show a bully any weakness during confrontation.  And you inevitably must stand up to them as I believe Hashimoto did.  People will be confused about what it all means (as the Kyodo article above certainly was), but I have to admit this is the second time (here is the first) that I have respected one of Hashimoto’s actions.  He was clearly telling this oaf that he should not generalize about a whole minority, and that his discriminatory actions are not welcome in his city.  And he did it in the same register as he was being addressed.  Good.  Fire with fire.

Bureaucrats who have spent their lives behind desks and never entered a fray like this have glass jaws in a verbal debate arena.  My experience watching the Foreign Ministry in 2007 unable to handle Right-Wing bullyboys during a human-rights hearing is a prime example.  It is time even public officials learned to use the register of fighting words, as Hashimoto did.  Otherwise the fighters will dominate the dialog by drowning everyone else out.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE OCTOBER 23, 2014:

Oh oh. Osaka Mayor Hashimoto has just come out, according to J-Cast.com, in favor of making the Regular and Special Permanent Residents into one unified category. Meaning he buys into the Zaitokukai’s core (surface) argument that the Zainichis should not have “special privileges” (as opposed to earned rights, thanks to their historical contributions to the Japanese Empire and their aberrational status as generational foreigners). Courtesy of MS.

Now it’s time for me to make some qualifications.  As others have said, I now agree that what Hashimoto did was a publicity stunt, to make himself look like the “softer side” of Japan’s exclusionary nationalism.  I will stand by my statement that his proclaiming that hate speech of the Zaitokukai ilk as wrong and unwelcome, and his demonstrating how and why hate speech should be fought against, are positive steps.  But this statement that the Zainichi should simply be made invisible, after all that has happened between Japan and Korea historically, is not positive.  As the headline below questions, would this make the hate speech disappear?  I say no.  People don’t hate certain foreigners because they have special privileges.  That’s just a ruse.  They hate foreigners because they are racist xenophobes.

橋下徹「在日の特別永住者制度を見直す」 これでヘイトスピーチも差別もなくなる?
2014/10/22 19:48 J-Cast News
http://www.j-cast.com/2014/10/22219051.html?p=all

在日韓国・朝鮮人らの特別永住者制度について、維新の党共同代表で大阪市長の橋下徹氏が、見直して一般永住者制度への一本化を目指す考えを示した。特別扱いしなくなれば、ヘイトスピーチも差別もなくなるのではないかというのだ。
「在日特権を許さない市民の会」会長との罵り合いになった面談で、橋下徹氏は、「文句があるなら、国会議員に言え」との発言を繰り返した。その国会議員を抱える政党代表を意識してか、橋下氏は、面談翌日の2014年10月21日、在特会の主張を受けたかのような発言をした。
「ほかの外国人と同じように制度を一本化していく必要がある」
在日韓国人らについて、「特別扱いすることは、かえって差別を生む」と記者団に答え、在特会のヘイトスピーチで標的の1つになっている特別永住者制度を問題視したのだ。報道によると、橋下氏は、ほかの外国人と同じように制度を一本化していく必要があるとの考えを示した。つまり、特別永住者制度を止めて、一般永住者制度だけにするということだ。

Rest of the article below in the Comments Section.

Blame Game #432: J-Cast.com reports Mt. Fuji is covered in human poop, speculates due to increase in foreign tourists

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Continuing our occasional series on “The Blame Game” (I’ve written about this before in the Japan Times), where embarrassing and inconvenient domestic problems are blamed on foreigners, here’s a report by a Japanese media source that Japan’s venerable symbolic Mt. Fuji is covered in human hiker crap.

Fine.  I’ve hiked up many mountains, and I’m sure a hike up Fuji would challenge many an intestine.  But then the article headlines that it might be due to the increase in foreign tourists (particularly Chinese and Koreans), parroting internet speculation.  Not so fine.  It does add “balance” by saying that others have said that Japanese also do it.  But again, that’s not what the headline says, and you’d have to read further to get that.  The story should in fact be that people are bashing foreigners, not that NJ pooping on Fuji might be happening.

Click bait is one thing, but the media practice of picking on foreigners because they are too weak in Japan’s media to respond against group defamation (as I discuss in my doctoral dissertation; more on that later, sorry) is another.  Japan needs stronger anti-defamation leagues (we at Debito.org have tried; remember McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr. James” campaign?) to nip this sort of thing in the bud.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

富士山は登山者の「うんこ」がたくさん 外国人観光客の増加が原因なのか
J-Cast.com, 2014/9/18 19:14, courtesy of MS
http://www.j-cast.com/2014/09/18216232.html

世界文化遺産に登録された富士山のトイレのない場所で、多数の汚物が放置されているのが見つかった。
訪日外国人の数が近年増加傾向にあるため、ネットではマナーの悪い外国人の仕業という噂も出ているが、本当にそうなのか。
ネット「真っ先に想像されるのは中国人や韓国人ですね」

富士山で排泄物が放置されていた
新聞各社の報道によると、静岡県側の富士山須走口登山道の5~6合目の茂みや岩陰など17か所に、排泄物が放置されていた。入山者からの情報提供をもとに2014年9月14日に静岡県が調査を実施して確認した。気温の低い富士山では、微生物の力で糞尿が分解されずに残ってしまう可能性があり、生態系にも悪影響を及ぼすことが懸念されている。
富士山のふもとにある観光案内所「富士ビジターセンター」を訪れた7月と8月の外国人は増え、特に中国から来た人々は去年の同時期と比べて倍以上になっているという。こうした背景から日本のネットでは、マナーの悪い外国人観光客が原因ではないかと囁かれている。

日本のツイッターには
「富士山に排泄物で真っ先に想像されるのは中国人や韓国人ですね」
「富士山の登山道でうんこするの中国人しかいないだろ」
「うんこのニュース聞いて中国人とかじゃないの?とかふつうに思ったけど韓国人か」
といった書き込みがされた。
一方、中国ネットでは、
「これが日本人の真の民度だ!」
「お互い様だな。期限切れ食品に下水油・・・。どこにでもあるんじゃない?」
「日本人がよく言う”民度”ってやつがコレね」
といった声が出たと、新華経済ニュースが紹介している。

山小屋「これはもう昔からですよ。毎年のことです」
しかし、富士山の山小屋に話を聞くと、汚物が放置されているのは今に始まったことではないという。
須走口登山道で山小屋を営むオーナーは「これはもう昔からですよ。毎年のことです」と断言する。山小屋が多数あるルートはトイレの設置数も多いが、須走口の場合は1時間15分ほど歩かなければ、次の山小屋に到達できないところもあり、「登っているうちに新陳代謝が活発になって、便意を催してしまうのではないでしょうか」と説明する。
山小屋のトイレは基本的に有料なので、支払いを嫌がって野外で排泄する人もいる可能性もあるという。マナーに関してはヨーロッパ系やアジア系に限らず、悪い人は悪いという印象で、中国・韓国の観光客が際立っているというわけではないそうだ。別の山小屋に話を聞いても以前から排泄物はあるということだった。今回は5~6合目で汚物が大量に発見されたが、「山頂の方はもっとひどいですよ」と話していた。
ENDS

SCMP (Hong Kong) on MOFA Hague Pamphlet: “‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists”, cites Debito.org (UPDATE: Also makes Huffington Post Japan in Japanese & Al Jazeera)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I am happy to say that our last Debito.org blog post generated another news article.  Thanks very much to Julian for drawing attention to the issue.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE, courtesy of Debito.org Reader Oliver:  The pamphlet can be found on the MOFA website, so it is genuine. PDF is here:

http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000033409.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/hague/index.html)

And there is even an English language version!

http://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000034153.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/fp/hr_ha/page22e_000249.html)

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

‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists
Pamphlet issued by Tokyo to Japan’s embassies in response to Hague convention is criticised for depicting a foreign man beating his child

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2014, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 1:44am
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong,), by Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Courtesy http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1594102/racist-cartoon-issued-japanese-ministry-angers-rights-activists
p1
The cartoon showing a white man beating his child has drawn condemnation from human rights activists.

Human rights activists in Japan have reacted angrily to a new pamphlet released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they claim is racist and stereotypical for depicting Caucasian fathers beating their children.

The 11-page leaflet has been sent to Japanese embassies and consulates around the world in response to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction going into effect in Japan on April 1.

Tokyo dragged its feet on ratifying the treaty, which broadly stipulates that a child should be returned to his or her country of habitual residence when they have been taken out of that country by a parent but without the consent of the other parent.

But manga-style images of foreign fathers beating children and Japanese women portrayed as innocent victims have raised the hackles of campaigners, both those fighting discrimination against foreigners and non-Japanese who have been unable to see children who have been abducted by Japanese former spouses.

“It’s the same problem with any negotiations in which Japan looks like it has been beaten,” said Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese citizen who was born in the United States and has become a leading human rights activist.

“After being forced to give up a degree of power by signing the Hague treaty, they have to show that they have not lost face and they try to turn the narrative around,” he said. “It’s the same as in the debate over whaling.

“The Japanese always see themselves as the victims, and in this case, the narrative is that Japanese women are being abused and that the big, bad world is constantly trying to take advantage of them.”

Arudou is particularly incensed by the cover of the publication, which shows a blond-haired foreigner hitting a little girl, a foreign father taking a child from a sobbing Japanese mother and another Japanese female apparently ostracised by big-nosed foreign women.

“It is promoting the image that the outside world is against Japanese and the only place they will get a fair deal is in Japan,” said Arudou.

The rest of the pamphlet takes the form of a conversation between a cartoon character father and son, but with the storyline showing the difficulties of a Japanese woman living abroad with her half-Japanese son.

Arudou says the publication then “degenerates into the childish” with the appearance of an animated doll that is the father figure’s pride and joy, but also dispenses advice.

“As well as promoting all these stereotypes, why are they not talking about visitation issues for foreigners whose half-Japanese children have been abducted by their ex-wives?” asked Arudou.

Several foreigners who have been unable to see their children for years have already contacted Arudou to express their anger, with a number of US nationals saying they would pass the document onto lawmakers.

Arudou’s post on the issue on his website has also attracted attention, with commentators describing the pamphlet as “racist propaganda”.

“This is disgusting,” one commentator posted. “Pictures are powerful, more powerful than words. And the only time I’ve ever seen anything remotely like this is when I did a search for old anti-Japanese propaganda.

“Of course, that was disgusting too, but it was wartime!”

Another added, “What a pathetic advert for an ‘advanced’ country.

“As for the text – not wasting any more bandwidth on such utter racist, xenophobic, patronising, paranoid nonsense.”
ENDS

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

UPDATE SEPT. 19: THIS SCMP ARTICLE PRODUCED AN ARTICLE IN HUFFINGTON POST JAPAN:

外務省作成の「ハーグ条約」小冊子は人種差別 人権活動家が指摘
The Huffington Post
投稿日: 2014年09月17日 16時34分 JST 更新: 2014年09月19日 14時17分 JST PAMPHLET WHAT IS THE HAGUE CONVENTION
Courtesy http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/2014/09/17/pamphlet-of-the-hague-convention-mof_n_5833674.html

国外に連れ出された子供の扱いを定めた「ハーグ条約」について、外務省が作成した小冊子に人権侵害にあたる内容が含まれているのではないか、という指摘が出ている。

指摘しているのは、人権活動家の有道出人(あるどう・でびと)さん。アメリカ出身の日本国籍取得者だ。有道さんは「ハーグ条約ってなんだろう?」という外務省が作成した小冊子について、子供や無実の日本女性に暴力をふるう外国人のイラストは、嫌悪感を抱かせる内容となっていると分析。日本人のかつての配偶者によって子供を連れ去られ、子供に会うことができないでいる外国人もいるとして、小冊子のあり方に疑問を呈しているという。香港の英字紙・サウス・チャイナ・モーニング・ポストが報じた。

有道さんは特に、小冊子の表紙のイラストに怒りを覚えるという。そこには、小さな女の子を叩いている外国人のイラストや、ブロンドヘアの外国人男性がすすり泣く日本人女性の母親から子供を連れ去るイラストなどが描かれている。有道さんは「このような内容は、日本だけが公正な話し合いができる場所で、世界は違うというようなイメージを植え付ける」と話す。(中略)

「これらの固定観念のイラストばかりでなく、なぜ、元妻に連れ去られた子供と会うための外国人の権利について書かないのか」と有道さんは指摘した。

(サウスチャイナ·モーニング·ポスト「’Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists」より 2014/09/16 23:14)
pamphlet what is the hague convention

ハーグ条約は夫婦のどちらかによって国外に連れ出された子供の扱いを定める多国間条約で、日本は2014年4月から条約加盟国となり、合わせて小冊子もつくられた。

日本はハーグ条約への加盟が遅く、海外から批判を浴びていた。特にアメリカからの圧力は強く、2010年にはアメリカ下院本会議が日本への連れ去りを「拉致」と非難する決議を採択した。ハーグ条約の適用を受けた2014年4月には、元配偶者らが日本に連れ帰った子供との面会を求める親が、アメリカでは少なくとも約200人に上ったという。

有道さんは自身のブログで、この小冊子の中に、外国人が子供にDVを行っているイラストが複数あることや、外国人が日本人に冷たいことを明示するイラストも使用されていると述べている。

pamphlet what is the hague convention

pamphlet what is the hague convention

pamphlet what is the hague convention

これらの有道さんの指摘について外務省領事局の担当者は、現在のところ外務省は同様の指摘を受けてはないとハフポスト日本版の電話取材に回答。また、「小冊子を見ていただければ分かると思うが、人種差別的な内容を意図して作成したものではない」として、画像の変更等を行う予定はないと述べた。

なお、この小冊子は日本語版だけでなく英語版もつくられているが、日本語版と同様のイラストや文章が使われている。
ENDS

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

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 30:  ALSO MAKES AL JAZEERA:

http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201409181245-0024160

Al Jazeera.com, September 18, 2014

Japanese ministry’s child abduction pamphlet shows white father hitting child

Rights activists criticise cartoon from Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs after country signs child abduction convention.

Screenshot of Japanese Foreign Ministry publication. MOFA JAPAN.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry pamphlet depicting white fathers abusing children has drawn criticism from human rights activists who say it perpetuates(link is external) racist stereotypes.

The pamphlet(link is external) reportedly was sent to Japanese embassies and consulates to explain the implications of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The booklet features manga-style cartoons and is also available in English via the ministry’s website.
 
Japan’s years of refusal(link is external) to sign the Hague Convention drew significant pressure from critics in the US and Europe, who argued(link is external) that Japan had become a “safe haven” for parental child abductors…

Read the rest at http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201409181245-0024160

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 78, August 14, 2014, “Past victimhood blinds Japan to present-day racial discrimination”

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

Hi Blog.  Here’s my August Japan Times column, bumped a week due to Colin Jones’s excellent column on the topic I open up with.

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

Past victimhood blinds Japan to present-day racial discrimination
Like the abused who then go on to abuse, Japan is too psychologically scarred to see discrimination going on within its borders
BY DEBITO ARUDOU

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 78, August 14, 2014

Readers may be expecting this column to have something to say about the Supreme Court decision of July 18, which decreed that non-Japanese (NJ) residents are not guaranteed social welfare benefits.

But many have already expressed shock and outrage on these pages, pointing out the injustice of paying into a system that may choose to exclude them in their time of need. After all, no explicit law means no absolute guarantee of legal protection, no matter what court or bureaucratic precedents may have been established.

I’m more surprised by the lack of outrage at a similar legal regime running parallel to this: Japan’s lack of a law protecting against racial discrimination (RD). It affects people on a daily basis, yet is accepted as part of “normal” unequal treatment in Japan — and not just of noncitizens, either.

This brings me to an argument I wanted to round off from last month’s column, about how Japan has a hard time admitting RD ever happens here. Some argue it’s because RD does not befit Japan’s self-image as a “civilized” society. But I would go one step further (natch) and say: RD makes people go crazy.

First, let me establish the “hard time admitting it” bit. (Apologies for reprising some old ground.)

As covered in past columns, Japan’s government and media are seemingly allergic to calling discriminatory treatment based upon skin color or “foreign” appearance racial discrimination (specifically, jinshu sabetsu).

For example, take the Otaru onsen case (1993-2005), which revolved around “Japanese only” signs barring entry to hot springs in Otaru, Hokkaido, to anyone who didn’t “look Japanese” enough (including this writer). Only one major Japanese media source, out of hundreds that reported on it, referred to jinshu sabetsu as an objective fact of the case (rather than reporting it as one side’s claim) — even after both the Sapporo district and high courts unequivocally adjudged it as such.

Public discourse still shies away from the term. That is why the reaction to the “Japanese only” banner displayed at the Urawa Reds soccer game in March was such a landmark. After initial wavering (and the probable realization that the World Cup was approaching), the team’s management, the J. League and the media in general specifically called it out as jinshu sabetsu, then came down on it with unprecedented severity.

Bravo. Thank you. But so far, it’s the exception that proves the rule.

This see-no-evil attitude even affects scholarship on Japan, as I discovered during my doctoral dissertation literature review. Within the most-cited sources reviewing discrimination in Japan, not one listed “skin color” as among Japan’s discriminatory stigmata, or included RD as a factor (calling it instead discrimination by nationality, ethnicity, ingrained cultural practice, etc.). Indicatively, none of them (except some obscure law journal articles) mentioned the Otaru onsen ruling either.

Now peer into Japan’s education system. Jinshu sabetsu happens anywhere but Japan. The prototypical examples are the American South under segregation and apartheid-era South Africa. But homogeneous Japan, the argument runs, has no races, therefore it cannot logically practice racial discrimination. (Again, the Otaru onsen ruling disproves that. But, again, see no evil.)

So why can’t Japan own up? Because RD inflicts such deep psychological wounds that whole societies do irrational, paranoid and crazy things.

Consider this: Harvard University anthropologist Ayu Majima, whose chapter in Rotem Kowner and Walter Demel’s 2013 book “Race and Racism in Modern East Asia” I cited last month, also discussed the aftermath of the United States’ Asian exclusion policy of 1924 — under which Japan, despite all its attempts to “Westernize” and “de-Asianize” itself, was subordinated as a “colored” nation.

Japan’s public reaction was (understandably) furious, and visceral. The Kokumin Shimbun called it “a national dishonor” and demanded that U.S.-Japan ties be severed. In the words of one liberal Japanese journalist at the time: “Discrimination from the United States was due to regarding the Japanese as a colored people. This is a disgrace to the most delicate matter of the Japanese ethnic pride.”

Public outcry morphed into mass hysteria, including countless letters to the government urging war on America. Several people even committed suicide outside the American Embassy!

Although these events subsided, Japan’s elites never let go of this slur. The Japanese ambassador wrote the U.S. secretary of state, saying that the issue was “whether Japan as a nation is or is not entitled to the proper respect” that forms “the basis of amicable international intercourse throughout the civilized world.” Emperor Hirohito later called the act “a remote cause of the Pacific War.” It has also been connected to Japan’s rejection of the West and invasion of Manchuria.

See how crazy RD makes people? Mass hysteria? Calls for war? Suicides? International isolation? Invading China?

RD also psychologically wounds people to the point that it can feed illogical exceptionalism, denialism and perpetual victim status.

It short-circuits the ability to run self-diagnostics and see the fundamental hypocrisy behind the idea that, for example, Japanese are perpetual victims of RD, but rarely, if ever, perpetrators of it — as if Japan is somehow an exception from the racialization processes that happen in every society.

Seriously. During Japan’s colonial era, when Japan was “liberating” and colonizing its neighbors under the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, officials argued that under Japan’s Pan-Asianism, where (unlike Western colonization) her new subjects were of the same skin color, Japan could not practice “racism” in the Western sense.

Source:  Oguma Eiji, A Genealogy of “Japanese” Self-Images, 2002, pg. 332-3.

But the historical record indicates that Japan’s colonized subalterns were subordinated and exploited like any racialized minority — something Japan’s similarly psychologically-wounded neighbors have never forgotten.

Then, in the postwar period, Japan’s national narrative mutated from “heterogeneous Asian colonizer” to “pure homogeneous society.” How did official illogic accommodate this shift? Again, with fallacious ideas such as “Japan has no races, therefore it cannot possibly practice racism.”

This claim is easily disproven by pointing to the country’s “Japanese only” signs. But then what happens? Relativism, denialism and counterattack.

Either deniers repeat that Japan has no RD (patently false; again, that pesky Otaru onsen case), or they argue that everyone else in the world is racist and Japanese have been victims of it (citing wartime examples such as the U.S. and Canadian Japanese internment camps, or the atomic bombings) — as if racism is just how the world naturally functions, and two wrongs make a right.

Then the focus turns on you. You face accusations of racism for overgeneralizing about Japan (e.g., with the counterargument that only a few places post “Japanese only” signs — just don’t point out the standard practice of denying NJ apartments . . .). Or you are charged with being remiss for not acknowledging the “positive discrimination” that “esteemed NJ” get (some, that is), and that positive discrimination somehow compensates for and justifies the negative. Then the debate gets tangled in red herrings.

But the point is that the reaction will be as swift, clear and visceral as it was way back when. The milder accusations will be of cultural insensitivity, Japan-bashing or Japan-hating. But as you get closer to the heart of the matter, and the incontrovertible evidence moves from anecdotal to statistical, you’ll be ostracized, slandered, harassed by Japan’s shadowy elements, stalked and issued death threats. Believe me, I know.

Again, racism is not seen as something that “civilized” countries like Japan would do. To call it out is to question Japan’s level of civilization. And it conjures up an irrational denialism wrapped within a historical narrative of racialized victimization.

Thus Japan’s constant self-victimization leads to paranoia and overreaction (justifying even more tangential craziness, such as defenses of whaling and dolphin culls, international child kidnappings after divorce, and historical amnesia) due in part to fears of being besmirched and discriminated against again. Like a jilted suitor heartbroken by an exotic lover, Japan thus takes extreme precautions to avoid ever being hurt again — by forever forsaking close, equal and potentially vulnerable relationships with anyone with a whiff of the exotic.

Until Japan gets over itself and accepts that racialization processes are intrinsic to every society, it will never resolve its constant and unwarranted exceptionalism. Bigots must be dealt with, not denied or justified. Like the abused who becomes the abuser, Japanese society is simply too psychologically damaged by RD to stop its RD.

This remains the fundamental hurdle Japanese society must overcome before it can empathize fully with outsiders as fellow equal human beings. As was evident in last month’s Supreme Court ruling.

There — now you have my comment on it.

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

Debito Arudou’s most recent publication is the Hokkaido and Tohoku Chapters in Fodor’s 2014 Japan travel guide. Twitter: @arudoudebito. An excerpt of Ayu Majima’s chapter can be read at www.debito.org/?p=12122, and more of Debito’s analysis of the Supreme Court ruling at www.debito.org/?p=12530. Just Be Cause usually appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

AFP: “Tarento Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture”. I wish her well, but the hyperbolic hype is not warranted

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’m coming to this issue a few days late, but this article has made an enormous splash in media worldwide. It’s about the latest “haafu” celebrity phenom, Rola, or Satou Eri. Read on, then I’ll comment:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture
By Alastair Himmer
AFP/Japan Today/Japan Times/et al. ARTS & CULTURE JUL. 15, 2014, courtesy of TJL
Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture
Japanese fashion model and TV personality Rola poses for photographs during an interview with AFP in Tokyo on May 20, 2014

In celebrity-obsessed Japan with its conveyor belt of 15-minute stars, fashion model and “talent” Rola is blazing a meteoric trail at the forefront of a galaxy of mixed-race stars changing the DNA of Japanese pop culture.

Turn on the TV and there’s no escaping the bubbly 24-year-old of Bengali, Japanese and Russian descent—she even dominates the commercial breaks.

A marketing gold mine, Rola smiles down celestially from giant billboards, her wide eyes and girlie pout grace magazine covers and she even greets you at vending machines.

But Rola, who settled in Japan when she was nine, has done it by turning the entertainment industry on its head, her child-like bluntness slicing through the strict convention that governs Japanese society.

“Whenever people told me to speak politely, I never worried about it,” she told AFP in an interview. “I’m not talking down to anyone. I’m not a comedian, it’s just how I am. It’s just being open-hearted and trying to make people open theirs.”

But it is not just her quirky charm that is breaking down barriers. Japan’s largely mono-ethnic society—a culture where skin whitening creams are still huge business—has long been mirrored by its entertainment industry.

Rola and host of others are beginning to change that.

Half-British singer and actress Becky is another superstar with model looks and a huge fan base in Japan, while half-French newscaster Christel Takigawa helped Tokyo win the 2020 Olympic vote as the city’s ambassador for “cool”.

Their rise to fame mirrors a shift in attitudes in Japan, which only opened its doors to the outside world in the middle of the 19th century and where foreigners—those without Japanese nationality, even if they were born here—make up less than two percent of a population of 127 million.

“Being of mixed race was once looked down upon,” said sociologist Takashi Miyajima. “Now foreign entertainers are admired in Japan as something untouchable. You could even say they benefit from positive discrimination.”

Rarely now do you see TV shows without at least one “haafu” (the Japanese pronunciation of “half”, meaning “mixed race”), such has been the shift.

“Young Japanese women want to be like Rola,” said psychologist Yoko Haruka, a regular on Japanese TV. “They buy the same clothes, bag. It’s like a cartoon world, the baby-face effect.

“She has the foreign look: long legs, small face, but because she is ‘half’, she’s not an object of envy at all. She’s an idol like Madonna was, but closer and easier to relate to.”

Rola’s trademark puffing of the cheeks, ditzy catchphrases, infectious giggle and carefree charm have helped make Japan’s most famous ‘It Girl’ a smash hit with legions of adoring fans.

She believes the shifting landscape has had a positive effect on Japan.

“Nationality isn’t important,” she said, dressed in tight blue jeans under a floral one-piece. “I used to think Japanese people weren’t open and should lighten up. But Japan has become brighter.

“People copying me is cool,” she added in her helium voice. “If I can do one thing to help bring a tiny improvement to Japan, that’s great.”

Born of a Bangladeshi father and a half-Japanese, half-Russian mother, Rola’s eccentricities helped overcome the language barrier when young, once turning up at elementary school in pajamas she mistook for her new uniform.

“Normally if you can’t communicate it’s frustrating but I only have fun memories of childhood,” she said. “When I was small I’d play with Barbie dolls and the next day I’d jump in the river with boys catching crayfish or playing with turtles. Maybe that’s why I use a lot of hand gestures. I naturally just made friends.”

In a culture that once might have passed over her darker tone, Rola’s exotic looks have clearly helped—she was scouted by a modelling agency on the streets of Tokyo when she was in high school.

Following in the footsteps of mixed-race glamor girls such as Jun Hasegawa and racing driver Jenson Button’s fiancee Jessica Michibata, Rola has also taken peak-time television by storm.

Japan can take its celebrity worship to extremes, David Beckham once having a giant chocolate statue dedicated to him in Tokyo while his mohican hairstyle triggered a personal grooming craze among local women during the 2002 World Cup.

“I don’t get stressed (by fame),” said Rola. “People come up to me on the street and go ‘Hi, Rola!’ as if I’m their friend.”

When not shooting commercials for everything from cosmetics or beer to headache pills or battered octopus balls, Rola is at the gym—or fishing.

“When the next trends hit, the ‘half’ (mixed race) boom will calm down a bit,” said Haruka. “But that might take a while.”

For now, Rola’s girl-next-door innocence continues to bewitch.

Asked to sum herself up in one word, she closes her eyes and offers: “A salmon, maybe. They’re not just tasty, they swim hard up rivers, so they’re tough little critters.”

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  First off, I wish Rola well.  I hope she continues to make the media splash she’s making.  I of course prefer that people think that “Haafu” (or rather, “Doubles”) are desirable rather than derisible.  On this note, a commenter on Japan Today offered a very erudite comment, so let me quote it:

=============================================
jpn_guy JUL. 14, 2014 – 09:46AM JST
The positive reaction to mixed-race models is certainly better than not wanting them on screen. It’s “anti-racist” and to be welcomed. To a certain extent, I guess it does show Japan is becoming more open and tolerant.

But like most things, it’s not that simple. For one thing, all these women are stunning beautiful. Everyone loves a good-looking girl. We knew that already! But not all mixed race people in Japan could, or even want to be, celebrities. Kids like mine just want normal lives. They might want to be a lawyer, a pilot, a shipbuilding engineer or a dental technician.

As I said, the high visibility of mixed-race people in better than being vilified and ignored, for sure. But it’s also a sign of fetishism, and a refusal to see mixed race people as just “one of us”. Celebrities are “special” by definition. Ironically, that’s why visible minorities have less difficulty breaking into this field.

The complex impact of mixed-race celebrity is well illustrated by the fact that “half-French newscaster Christel Takigawa” is actually a fully Japanese citizen by the name of Takigawa Masami – the name she used when she began her career. Apparently, so many people rang in to ask why someone with a Japanese name did not “look Japanese”, the producers forced her to use her “foreign-sounding” middle name, so that it better matched her face.

In other words, Takigawa’s success is dependent on people setting her apart as foreign even though she is Japanese. A few years ago, another TV presenter (Yutaka Hasegawa) referred to her disparagingly as “that foreigner” (ano gaijin), although to be fair he was heavily criticized by her fans (though not reprimanded by his employer).

Another example is the comedian and fully Japanese citizen Horita Seiki Antony who markets himself as “Antony”.

I remember reading about cases of mixed-race people with traditional Japanese sounding names being asked “where do you get off having that name with a face like that?”

It’s great to see all sorts of people on TV. When you get to know people, Japan is generally a warm and friendly society. But we should be very careful in making the broad claim that that Rola and her colleagues are “breaking down barriers in Japan’s largely mono-ethnic society”.

Through no fault of their own, they are sometimes perpetuating the stereotype of the exotic other.

When local people treat mixed race people and foreign people in non-celebrity fields just like anyone else, then we will have true progress.
=============================================

Complete agreement, especially with the sociology. As for the media angle, I think the longer people like us have been here, we become skeptical of the “latest thing” after seeing so many “tarento” fizzle out without much impact. As another Japan Today commenter put it: “Back in the ’60s it was Karmen Maki and Ann Lewis. In the 70s there were Linda Yamamoto, Kathy Nakajima, Saori Minami and a cutsie singing trio with the stage name Golden Half. In the 80s, Rie Miyazawa, Anna Umemiya, etc. Nothing new under the sun.”

Of course, most “tarento” blaze and then fizzle without making any real impact, least of all “changing the DNA Japanese pop culture” as this article and its pundits claim. Rola in particular does not seem to be consciously promoting any increase in social tolerance of “haafu” — she’s just doing her thing, entertaining with a new (or actually, not all that new, but for now fresh-sounding) schtick as an ingenue. Of course.  That’s her role as an entertainer.  This has been the role of so many other entertainers, including the Kents (Kent Derricott made his pile and returned to the US to buy his mansion on the hill in Utah for his family; Kent Gilbert did much the same and lives in Tokyo with a residence in Utah as well), Leah Dizon (remember her?, already divorced from the Japanese guy who made the baby bump the speed bump in her career; she’s trying to make a comeback in Japan while based in Las Vegas), Bob Sapp, Chuck Wilson, and many, many more that I’m sure Debito.org readers will recount in comments below.

Sadly, none of these people have really made or will make a long-term impact on Japan’s mediascape. The best long-seller remains Dave Spector, who is a very, very exceptional person in terms of persistence and media processing (not to mention stellar language ability), but even he makes little pretense about being anything more than an “American entertainer” for hire.  Other impactful persons I can think of are Peter Barakan and perhaps these people here.  So it’s not non-existent.  But it’s not powerful enough to permit “Doubles” to control their self-image in Japan, either.

Again, I wish Rola well, like I wish any broad-minded entertainer well, but I believe she is just riding a trendy wave at the moment.  Her schtick is as filling and substantial to consume as cotton candy — take one bite and you get nothing left in your mouth. Especially since any little-girl act has a very short shelf life. That’s why the headline of “Changing the DNA of Japanese pop culture” is simply too high an expectation. Celebrating Rola as if she’s the next Beatles is a bit hollow and ahistorical, when Japan has never had a Beatles in terms of gaijin tarento.

This overhype (even the academics cited are going along for the ride, one of whom carelessly errs by calling her “foreign”) can be fatal for many an entertainer when people eventually tire of her current incarnation. Even if Rola becomes “successful” by revamping her act to become more substantial, she’ll just be as subsumed and co-oped as Miyazawa Rie or Becky is. Or as forgotten as Leah Dizon within a few years. Let’s hope not, and let’s hope that she becomes a long seller. But I doubt it.  Because the ingenue trail she is blazing (or rather, is being blazed for her by her agents) of the “sexy-baby-voice tarento” genre has never really allowed for that.

Bonne chance.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Asahi’s AERA Mag July 14, 2014: Special on NJ in J globalized companies, says “Offices without NJ will not succeed”. Yet again panders to stereotypes

mytest

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Hi Blog. On the heels of our prior discussion about the Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s “scandal” about having the audacity to put a NJ as CEO of the company (shock horror! Think of how much the company will be compromised!, was the narrative), here’s a special issue by left-leaning AERA magazine of July 14, put out by the (left-and-right-leaning, depending on the editor) Asahi News Corp, on Japan’s “global companies”.  Its big headline is that offices that are not multinational in terms of staff “will not succeed”. (Somebody tell that to Takeda Pharma’s xenophobes!)

Aera.0714

(Click on image to expand in browser.  Courtesy of MS.)

You might think this is a forward-thinking move, but AERA also resorts to the same old media tropes about NJ.  For example, it puns on the seminal TV show of more than a decade ago called “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo, Nihonjin” with a bit on “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo, Japanese workplaces”.  Not to appear dated, it also refers to Koko Ga Hen’s current incarnation “YOU Wa Nani Shi Ni NIhon E” (What did YOU [sic] come to Japan to do?), with a poll of twenty (a scientifically-significant sample!! /sarcasm) real-live NJ residents of Japan saying what they find unsatisfactory about Japan.  There’s also a discussion between two J pundits on immigration (yep; how about polling an immigrant?), a comparison between NJ transplant schools modeled on the Indian, Chinese, and Canadian education systems (why?  dunno), and the coup de grace — the influential Oguri Saori manga “Darling wa Gaikokujin being riffed on to talk about “Darling wa Damenzu Gaikokujin“.

This is about J women marrying NJ “Wrong men” (from a manga title, a polyglot word of Dame (J)  and Mens (E?)) who are penniless, unfaithful, or violent (and in this case, according to AERA, from less-economically-developed countries, viz. the newly-coined word “kakusa-kon“, or economically-tiered marriages), because the NJ get a visa, and the women get the relief (iyashi) of having less to lose (financially or materially) after the breakup. Whaa….?

Yep, even when we resort to the hackneyed stereotypical tropes (gotta love the swarthy smitten NJ in the illustration; clearly by the skin tone there’s kakusa there), we still have to pander to prejudices by including some nasty ones.

There’s more up there, so other comments?  Mine is that even if J companies take things to heart and hire more NJ employees, I’m worried that 1) like before, it’ll only be on a “contingency” basis (to take the NJ out for a test drive, meaning the hiring process is two-tiered and unequal, with less job security for the NJ), and 2) it’ll just happen because it’s “trendy”.  NJ have been hired as “pet gaijin” (as was common practice during the “Bubble Years”; I know) to show off how “international” the company has become, without ever allowing NJ employees to play any real part in the company’s future.  Just plonking NJ in your office doesn’t necessarily mean much (until NJ become, for example, managers).  And when they do, the Takeda-styled soukaiya mentioned last blog entry will no doubt protest it anyway (if not fire you for doing the right thing about J-boss corruption, a la Olympus).

Sorry to rain on what may be a positive trend (I’d much rather have them acknowledge that J companies cannot remain insular than not, of course), but I’m not sure AERA is encouraging real non-insularity.  Especially when even they can’t keep the discussion serious and refrain from painting NJ with negative stereotypes.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Unsuccessful protest against instatement of NJ CEO at Takeda Pharma: Note weird narratives of exclusionism

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’m coming to this story a bit late (it was first brought up here within comments to a different post), so my apologies — I’m running this blog on a 4-5 day cycle so I can have a life outside of cyberspace. Anyway, check this out, for the record:

Japan’s largest drug maker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., last month tapped a NJ (a Frenchman by the name of Cristophe Weber) to be its next CEO. This occasioned protests by the founding Takeda family and dissident shareholders, because hiring a NJ to be its leader would allegedly be abhorrent.

Relativism first: We’ve of course had protests and government interventions in other countries when foreigners buy up a strategically-important company. (Let me date myself: I remember the Westland helicopters scandal when I was living in England back in the 1980s!) So business xenophobia is not unique to Japan, of course.

But check out the narratives of justification for the exclusionism being proffered with straight faces:

  1. A NJ CEO of a Japanese company would be “bad for the morale of Japanese employees”. (Why?)
  2. A NJ CEO would necessarily result in “technological transfer overseas” (i.e., NJ are untrustworthy).
  3. This would mean “finances or research and development would be entrusted to NJ” (Would it? This is an unaccountable dictatorship? This is not an issue of NJ-dom: Remember the corruption of the Olympus case, and they were all Japanese at the helm — until a NJ became the whistleblower.)
  4. A NJ CEO is tantamount to a hostile “takeover by foreign capital” (again, those trust issues).
  5. This particular NJ is unknowledgable of Japan’s health care industry of the “traditions and corporate culture” of Takeda (i.e., NJ are ignorant about Japan and Japan’s permutations of industry).

Imagine those arguments being made if a Japanese helmed an overseas company (we already had a Japanese in 2009 placed at the helm of, for example, the Japan Society in New York — an organization founded in 1907 by powerful Americans to explore Japanese society). Accusations of racism would probably fly. But in Japan, not so much. These knee-jerk exclusionary discourses are that hegemonic.

Anyway, the exclusionists (who only hold 1-2% of total shares, so they’re basically soukaiya) did not win out, and Weber became CEO. Nyah. Some referential articles about the Takeda Pharma Case follow. Dr. ARUDOU Debito

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

Takeda family protests putting foreigner at drug maker’s helm
June 22, 2014 The Yomiuri Shimbun
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001369207

The founding family of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., the nation’s largest drug manufacturer, is in revolt against the management’s plan to install a Frenchman as the company’s first foreign president.

The firm’s former executives are joining the founding family to thwart a plan to appoint Christophe Weber, 47, president at a shareholders meeting on Friday. But there is little possibility the decision will be reversed. The revolt indicates a deep-rooted aversion among some Japanese toward foreigners assuming top corporate posts.

Weber was headhunted from major British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

As a result of its repeated acquisition of huge foreign makers, non-Japanese account for two-thirds of Takeda’s employees. The installation of Weber as president and chief operating officer of the 230-year-old company is seen as a symbol of the firm’s expectations for his international perspective.

About 110 people comprising members of the founding family and the firm’s former executives in April submitted a jointly signed letter of protest to the company. They warned:

—If Weber becomes president and Takeda is acquired by a major foreign firm, Takeda’s superior drug-making technologies may be lost if transferred overseas.

—There is a feared brain drain of Takeda’s researchers, as this could lead to the firm making the same mistakes as major Japanese electrical appliance manufacturers.

Judging Weber’s appointment as president as tantamount to a “takeover by foreign capital,” they stressed that they would never allow finances or research and development to be entrusted to a non-Japanese.

Comparing a foreign president to a takeover by a foreign capital may very well be a leap of logic. Those who submitted the letter of protest hold a mere 1 percent to 2 percent of total shares.

One of the Takeda founding family members, who signed the letter, said: “Weber does not know anything about the Japanese health care industry. He does not know about the tradition and [corporate] culture of Takeda Pharmaceutical, either. It is absurd to install such a person as president.”

As a reason for Weber’s appointment, Takeda Pharmaceutical said: “It was a result of screening candidates from both inside and outside the company with an eye to fairness. Employees will be able to learn a great deal from working under his leadership, as he has been active in global business.”

The company declined to comment on the specific points made in the letter of protest, referring only to the upcoming shareholders meeting.

Takeda Pharmaceutical was established in 1781 in Osaka as a brokerage firm for crude drugs. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Takeda began importing Western drugs ahead of domestic competitors.

The current president, Yasuchika Hasegawa, took over the post in 2003 from Kunio Takeda, a descendent of the founding family. Hasegawa has promoted globalization of the company’s operations by acquiring foreign companies and headhunting non-Japanese from rival firms to appoint them to executive posts.

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

Interview: New Takeda President Sees Developing Talent as Priority
By ERIC PFANNER and KANA INAGAKI
The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2014
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/07/01/interview-new-takeda-president-sees-developing-talent-as-priority/

PHOTO: Christophe Weber, president and chief operating officer of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on April 2, 2014.

Days after shareholders of Japan’s largest drugmaker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., approved the company’s first foreign president, the company said it was moving to develop internal talent so it wouldn’t necessarily have to look outside its ranks for a successor the next time around.

The new president, Christophe Weber, who is French, said Tuesday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that talent development and retention was one of 10 management priorities he and a team of Takeda executives had identified for the coming months. Mr. Weber’s appointment had raised concerns that Takeda lacked managers with the skills to oversee the company’s international expansion.

The news followed a stormy annual meeting last week, where a group of more than 100 shareholders questioned Takeda’s globalization strategy, which has included acquisitions of drugmakers like Nycomed of Switzerland and Millennium Pharamaceuticals of the United States. The appointment of foreign managers like Mr. Weber was bad for the morale of Japanese employees, the dissidents said.

Shareholders overrode those concerns by an overwhelming margin in a vote that Mr. Weber and Yasuchika Hasegawa, the company’s chief executive, described as an endorsement of Takeda’s globalization strategy. While many Japanese companies have been moving to expand internationally as the domestic market stagnates, few have taken the radical step — for a Japanese company — of hiring foreign top executives.

“The globalization of Takeda is good for Japanese employees and it is good for Japan,” Mr. Weber said. “I hope that we’ll have my own internal successor as well.”

Mr. Weber, who joined the company in April, said he had spent his first three months listening to Takeda employees’ concerns and planned to announce a strategy by the end of the year.

“There is a certain fear of the unknown,” he said. “My hope is that they will see that what we’re doing is good for everybody, especially for Japanese employees.”

Mr. Weber is joining Takeda at a sensitive time for pharmaceutical companies in Japan, amid heightened regulatory scrutiny on ethical issues.

Prosecutors in Tokyo said Tuesday they had charged the Japanese unit of Novartis AG with altering research data to make a blood pressure drug, Diovan, appear more effective than competing products. Novartis said it would review the charges and that it had taken steps to improve oversight in Japan.

Takeda, too, has faced scrutiny of its drug promotions, and in March admitted to using “inappropriate expressions” in ads for a hypertension medicine, Blopress, after questions were raised about the accuracy of a graph.

“I think our case is quite different from the Novartis case,” Mr. Hasegawa said, adding that the company had put in place measures to improve oversight.

“The challenge is always how are we sure that 100% of our employees have the same understanding” of the company’s values, Mr. Weber said.
ENDS

Japan Times JBC 77 July 3, 2014,”Complexes continue to color Japan’s ambivalent ties to the outside world”, modified version with links to sources

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks for putting my column once again in the Top 10 read articles for two days!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito:

justbecauseicon.jpg

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

COMPLEXES CONTINUE TO COLOR JAPAN’S AMBIVALENT TIES TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD

JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 77
Published July 3, 2014, amended version from unanticipated edits with links to sources.

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/07/02/issues/complexes-continue-color-japans-ambivalent-ties-outside-world/

Hang around Japan long enough and you’re bound to hear the refrain that the Japanese have an inferiority complex (rettōkan) towards “Westerners” (ōbeijin).

You’ll hear, for example, that Japanese feel a sense of akogare (adoration) towards them, wishing Japanese too had longer legs, deeper noses, lighter and rounder eyes, lighter skin, etc. You’ll see this reflected in Japan’s advertising angles, beauty and whitening products, and cosmetic surgery. [Endnote 1]

This can be quite ingratiating and disarming to the (white) foreigners being flattered, who have doubtless heard complementary refrains in Western media about how the short, humble, stoic Japanese are so shy, self-deprecating and appreciative.

But people don’t seem to realize that inferiority complexes have a dark side: They justify all kinds of crazy beliefs and behavior.

For example, Japan’s pundits have already begun arguing that Japan’s disappointing performance in the World Cup in Brazil was partly down to the fallacy that Japanese bodies are smaller and weaker than those of foreigners. Japan’s sports leagues have long used this belief to justify limiting foreign players on teams — as if it somehow “equalizes” things.

This “equalization” is not limited to the infamous examples of baseball and sumo. The National Sports Festival (kokutai),[2] Japan’s largest amateur athletic meeting, bans almost all foreigners. Japan’s popular Ekiden footrace bans all foreigners from the first leg of the marathon, and from 2007 has capped foreign participants on teams at two (the logic being that the Ekiden would become “dull” (kyōzame) without a Japanese winning).[3]

Who is a “foreigner”? It’s not just a matter of citizenship: The Japan Sumo Association decided to count even naturalized Japanese citizens as “foreign” in 2010, in clear violation of the Nationality Law. (Somebody, please sue!)

These limitations also apply to intellectual contests. Until 2006, Japan’s national Takamado English Speech Contests barred all people (including Japanese) with “foreign ancestry”. This included non-English-speaking countries, the argument being that any foreign blood somehow injects an unfair linguistic advantage. (After 2006, Takamado provided a list of English-speaking countries whose descendants would continue to be ineligible.)

This is atrocious reasoning. But it is so hegemonic because of Japan’s long history of race-based superiority studies.

In 1875, Yukichi Fukuzawa (the man gracing our ¥10,000 note) wrote an influential treatise called “An Outline of a Theory of Civilization.” Borrowing from Western eugenics, he reordered the world to correlate levels of civilization with skin color.[4]

White-hued people were at the top, dark-skinned people at the bottom. Naturally for Fukuzawa, Asians were ranked just below whites. And, naturally, Japanese were the most “civilized” of the Asians.

The West has largely moved on from this dangerous bunkum, thanks to the “master race” excesses of World War II and Nazi Germany’s Final Solution. However, Japan’s social sciences still largely ascribe to century-old social stratification systems that see race as a biological construct, and bloodlines and blood types as determinants of behavior.

So far, so Japanese Society 101. But the point I want to stress here is that inferiority complexes are counterintuitively counterproductive.

I say counterintuitive because they foster feelings not of humility towards people they admire, but of anger. Yes, anger.

Harvard University anthropologist Ayu Majima discusses this in her 2013 essay “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan.” She talks about how the elites of the Meiji Era (1868-1912) (who would set Japan’s nascent national narratives) felt a sense of “distance, inferiority and disjuncture towards the West.”[5]

Distance was a big theme back then. Although Japan is of course geographically Asian, with deep historical connections to China, Fukuzawa and other Meiji Era elites advocated that Japan “quit Asia and enter Europe” (datsu-a nyū-ō).

So that’s what happened. Over several decades, Japan industrialized, militarized, colonized and adopted the fashions and trappings of “Western civilization.” Japan sought recognition and acceptance from the West not as an inferior, but as a fellow world power. Japan wanted the sense of distance to disappear.

But that didn’t happen. Japan’s elites were shocked when the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations) refused to include in its 1919 Covenant an anti-racial discrimination clause that Japan (yes!) had demanded. More shocking was when Japan was treated like a “colored,” “uncivilized” nation under America’s Asian Exclusion Act of 1924.[6]

This is where the psychology of inferiority complexes is generally misunderstood. When people try this hard for validation and don’t get it, it doesn’t engender the passive humility and must-try-harder attitudes so often gushed about in the Western media regarding Japan.

Majima argues, “While an inferiority complex is generally regarded as a sense of inferiority towards oneself, it should rather be regarded as a sense of indignity and anger towards the lack of recognition of one’s worth . . . for not being recognized, approved or admitted by the important ‘other.’ “

So instead you get isolation, loneliness, anxiety and scant sense of belonging. (I’m sure you long-termers who feel unrecognized for all your efforts to “fit in to Japan” can relate to this.)

How did Japan react to being rebuffed? Policymakers declared that Japan neither belonged to the East nor the West. It isolated itself.

Worse, according to Majima, “Japan sought to identify itself through the unstable ‘distance’ between self and others as ‘tradition.’ “

Ah, tradition. Lovely thing, that. It turns this angry mindset from a phase in Japan’s history into part of its permanent self-image.

This feeling of isolation gave rise to Japan’s “cult of uniqueness,” and it dominates Japan’s self-image today, constantly vacillating between superiority and inferiority when dealing with foreigners. This “tradition” of ranking oneself in comparison with others, particularly in terms of degrees of civilization, has become ingrained as cultural habit and reflex.

And that’s why inferiority complexes are counterproductive for Japan’s relationship to the outside world: They make it more difficult for “foreigners” to be seen and treated as individuals. Instead, they get thrust into the impossible role of national or cultural representative of a whole society.

They also make it more difficult for Japanese to be neutral towards foreigners. Rather, the default reflex is to see them in terms of comparative national development and civilization.

These complexes also interfere with constructive conversations. For if acceptance, recognition and superlative praise of Japan as a safe, peaceful, developed country are not forthcoming from the outsider, insult and anger almost inevitably ensue. After all, criticism of Japan besmirches its self-image as a civilized society.

This is especially true when it comes to issues of racial discrimination in Japan. Japanese society is loath to admit it ever happens here — because racial discrimination is not what “civilized” societies do. I will discuss this in a future column.

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

ENDNOTES:

[1] Ashikari, Mikiko. 2005. “Cultivating Japanese Whiteness: The ‘Whitening’ Cosmetics Boom and the Japanese Identity.” Journal of Material Culture 10(1): 73-91.

[2] References includeArudou Debito, “A level playing field? National Sports Festival bars gaijin, and amateur leagues follow suit.” Japan Times, September 30, 2003; “Sumo shutout in Fukushima.” Japan Times, September 30, 2003; “Top court upholds foreigner ban.” Japan Times, June 12, 2004. See also Douglas Shukert’s testimonial about his case at www.debito.org/TheCommunity/kokutaiproject.html. Also, JASA’s information on the Kokutai is at www.japan-sports.or.jp/kokutai/, in English at www.japan-sports.or.jp/english (which makes no mention of nationality requirements for participants).

[3] Sources include “Foreign students can’t start ekiden.” Asahi Shinbun, May 24, 2007; “Let’s be fair, let Japanese win.” Deutsche Press-Agentur, October 4, 2007. The official site for the High School Ekiden is at www.koukouekiden.jp. Restrictions on “foreign exchange students” are at www.koukouekiden.jp/summary/point.html (items 5 and 6), and prior race results are at www39.atwiki.jp/highschoolekiden.

[4] Dilworth, David A. et al. trans. 2009. Yukichi Fukuzawa: An Outline of a Theory of Civilization. New York: Columbia University Press.

[5] Majima, Ayu. 2013. “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan: Male Elites’ Racial Experiences Abroad, 1880s-1950s.” In Kowner, Rotem, and Walter Demel, eds., Race and Racism in Modern East Asia: Western and Eastern Constructions. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

[6] Cf. Lauren 1988; Kearney 1998; Dikötter 2006.  Even then, as Russell (in Weiner, ed. 2009:  99) notes, “[Japan’s] rhetoric of racial equality left much to be desired, for not only did Japan’s racial equality clause not question the right of League members to possess colonies (at the time Japan was also seeking [a new colony in China]) but its demand for ‘fair and equal treatment’ applied only to ‘civilized nations’ (bunmei koku) and League member states – not to their colonies and subject peoples.  Japan’s ruling elites were less interested in securing equality for non-whites than in ensuring that Japan, as a sovereign nation and member of the League, would be afforded the same privileges as Western nations…”

ENDS

Fodor’s Travel Guide on Japan 2014 features two chapters on Hokkaido and Tohoku written by Debito

mytest

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Hi Blog.  For the second edition in a row, here is my latest publication:

Two full chapters on tourism in Hokkaido and Tohoku

FODOR’S Japan 2014 Travel Guide

Pp. 707-810. ISBN 978-0-8041-4185-7

Available from Amazon.com (for example) here.

FodorsJapan2014cover

Here are some excerpts (click on image to expand in browser). Get a copy, or advise your touring friends to get a copy! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

FodorsHokkaidoIntro2014

 

Fodors-2

MLB J-baseball player Kawasaki Munenori doing his best to speak English to North American media. Debito.org approves.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  While we’re on the subject of sports, here’s something that I found very positive:  A Japanese baseball player for the Toronto Blue Jays named Kawasaki Munenori doing his darnedest to meet the domestic press:


Courtesy http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2014/04/18/japanese-baseball-player-gives-epic-interview/

I have written in the past about how certain other Japanese athletes overseas do it differently.  In fact, my very first newspaper column (in the Asahi Evening News — remember when it was titled that?) way back in 1997 was a grumble (what else? I’m Debito) on how J-baseball pioneer Nomo Hideo (remember him?) was skiving in terms of trying to connect with his adoptive community:
nomoAEN

I will admit right now that I’m no expert on sports, but from what I’ve seen (and I’m welcome to correction/updates), many of Japan’s athletes overseas don’t bother to publicly learn the language, or connect all that much with their local community. Baseball superstar Ichiro is the immediate example that comes to mind, as AFAIK he assiduously avoids American media; some might justify it by saying he’s all business (i.e., focused on the game) or trying to avoid gaffes.  But I still think it comes off as pretty snobby, since these sportsmen’s lives are being supported by fans, and they should give something back.

If I had a hotline into their brain, I would tell them to go further — exhort them to  countermand the dominant discourse that English is too hard for Japanese to learn well.  And then I would exhort even further:  J sportsmen in the big leagues get treated pretty well (especially salarywise — that’s why they’re no longer playing in Japan!), yet you never hear them speaking up about the shoe on the other foot, on behalf of the often lousy and discriminatory treatment many NJ sportsmen get treated in Japan (imagine if the United States put such stringent foreigner limits on their baseball team rosters, for example; contrast it with how many foreign players (more than a quarter of the total in 2012) MLB actually absorbs!)

Again, sports isn’t quite my field, and if you think I’m being inaccurate or unduly harsh, speak up!  People have in the past:  Here’s an archived discussion we had nearly twenty years ago about Nomo in specific; I daresay that despite all the trailblazing Nomo did, and the wave of Japanese baseball players going overseas to seek fame and fortune, little has changed in terms of giving back.

That’s why Kawasaki is such a lovely exception, doing his level best to connect.  His earnestness is very endearing. Debito.org gives two thumbs up!  May more follow his example.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

mytest

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

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

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

tomodachisprsum2014

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

Yet this is the cover photo of the magazine!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Counterdemos against racist rally by Zaitokukai in Osaka Nanba May 11, 2014: Brief on emerging narratives fighting fire with fire

mytest

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Hi Blog. For a change (compared to these videos for example here, here, and here), have a look at Japan’s xenophobic public rallies from the perspective of anti-racism protesters. This is from May 11, 2014, a counter-rally against Zaitokukai in Osaka Nanba, drowning out Zaitokukai spokesman Sakurai Makoto. Good stuff.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYhK-7Lc1qw
Courtesy http://shitback.tumblr.com

A couple of things I’ve noticed within the emerging narratives of Japan’s xenophobic demos:

  1. The use of the word “reishisuto” (racist) both in Japanese and English, and the pat use of “sabetsu“, to get their point across. This way the narrative doesn’t split between the Newcomers and the Oldcomers, as discrimination towards these two groups is very different. But counter-demonstrator DO bear signs that say “jinshu sabetsu“, or racial discrimination. Good. Looks like the Urawa Reds fans’  “Japanese Only” banner last March finally cracked that rhetorical nut.
  2. The use of the word “shame” (haji) once again to express displeasure, but no signs saying how NJ are residents too and such deserve rights.  As I’ve argued before, until we make that connection, there’s still a layer of “othering” going on here.
  3. The use of the same rough language and simple drowning out of xenophobic messages through noise and chant. Fighting fire with fire.
  4. The popularization of the “f*ck you finger” (aka “The Bird”, not in common use in Japan in my experience until now).

Other videos of demos and counter demos are welcome in the Comments Section. No doubt there will be more. I’m just glad that people are finally and firmly speaking out against these issues. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

mytest

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

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

Pathos of the Glorious “Colored”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 75, May 1, 2014: “Tackling Japan’s ‘Empathy Deficit’ Towards Outsiders”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks everyone for putting this in the Top Ten Trending at the JT Online once again this month!  Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

==============================================
TACKLING JAPAN’S “EMPATHY DEFICIT” TOWARDS OUTSIDERS
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 75 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES
May 1, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/04/30/issues/tackling-the-empathy-deficit-toward-non-japanese/
Version with links to sources follows:

In 2006, then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama gave a speech about people’s “empathy deficit.” He described empathy as “the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us — the child who’s hungry, the steelworker who’s been laid off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town.”

“When you think like this,” he continued, “when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers — it becomes harder not to act, harder not to help.”

I agree. Enormous social problems arise when people don’t understand (or rather, don’t try to understand) what’s going on in other people’s minds. I was mindful of that during my Ph.D. fieldwork, when I interviewed dozens of “Japanese Only” businesses. I always asked for (and got, often in great detail) the reasoning behind their exclusionism. I never agreed with their stopgap solutions (shutting out people they thought were “foreign” because they didn’t look “Japanese” enough), but I gained some sympathy for what they were going through.

But sympathy is not the same as empathy, and that is one reason why discrimination against foreigners and minorities is so hard to combat in Japan. Japanese society is good at sympathy, but empathy? Less so…

Of course, Japanese people have great sympathy for human suffering worldwide. Look through the media (particularly material from human-rights NGOs) and you’ll see plenty of pictures of starving or impoverished people abroad. The government has also been extremely generous with overseas development assistance, and is one of UNICEF’s biggest donors and promoters.

But “sympathy” has for hundreds of years meant a feeling of sorrow or pity for others. That’s very different from the ability to understand and share another’s feelings — empathy, which only evolved into a widely understood concept during the 20th century. That is not to say that empathetic behavior is anything new, of course: Many societies have a long history of axioms and examples (“walk a mile in his shoes,” “do unto others,” Buddha and Christ surrendering their worldly possessions for a higher calling, etc.) encouraging altruistic behavior. In his best-seller “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” Steven Pinker devoted a whole chapter to how empathy has recently fostered human-rights revolutions worldwide.

However, there remains a marked lack of empathy in Japan towards outsiders, especially minorities and foreigners. Why? I would argue it’s because few Japanese ever leave their carefully constructed comfort zones to become minorities or foreigners themselves.

If you think about it, concerns about security, safety and comfort basically dominate all levels of Japanese existence — especially if it involves leaving the Japanese existence entirely. Even though going overseas is the only way Japanese will ever walk in the shoes of a foreigner, many still spend their short jaunts within group buses on package tours, experiencing a foreign land from a controlled environment geared to Japanese comfort levels.
SEE ENDNOTE FOR SOURCES

I do sympathize. Why would anyone pay all that money for a quickie trip and suffer the discomfort of unpredictability? Being a member of a rich, developed country with a high expectation of quality, service and social order should have taken care of all that.

Who wants to deal with all those scary foreign languages and potential criminal behaviors lurking beyond the hotel stoop, anyway? It could spoil a stress-free vacation.

But there’s a deeper disconnect going on here. I’ve written before about Japanese society’s overwhelming conceit with social power maintenance, and power plays a part in this discussion too.

You see, sympathy is in fact about power. People worthy of sorrow or pity have to appeal to people in a position to give that sympathy. Sympathizers have the power to decide to be charitable or merciful.

On the other hand, empathizers have to give up their power. They have to live situations like somebody else, feel their discomforts and disadvantages, walk in their shoes.

But we won’t. We’re rich. We’ve earned the right to stay in our own shoes.

So never mind empathy. Sympathy’s simpler, for if anyone needs our help, we’ll send money — if they’re within our ambit of concern. It’ll still have no real impact on our lives — or, more importantly, no real impact on our perceptions of their lives.

Now let’s seal off the attitudinal loop from foreigners in particular: Hey, if you don’t like living in Japan as a disadvantaged foreigner, you shouldn’t have come here in the first place. We don’t go to your country as a guest and tell you what to do in your house, do we?

And now let’s close it further with selective empathy: Ever wondered why many Japanese get so het up when their compatriots get discriminated against overseas? Such as in 1962, when Japan successfully lobbied apartheid South Africa to make Japanese into “honorary whites”? Or in 2010, when the British government threatened to put caps on special visas for Japanese (and other non-EU nationalities), and Japanese firms threatened an investment boycott? Or when even normally stoic Emperor Hirohito in 1946 expressed rare public outrage at racism towards Japanese in California?

Probably not, because one can understand the feelings of fellow Japanese in this situation. Empathy, however, generally doesn’t go outside the tribe: Japan can discriminate against foreigners, but woe betide the foreigners if they do it to Japanese!

Again, I do sympathize, since a lack of empathy is by design. The government has long portrayed foreigners as Japan’s opponents — agents of crime, terrorism, disease and land grabs.

The end result is that even the most well-intentioned people in Japan, who do protest clear examples of racial discrimination (e.g., the “Japanese only” signs at businesses, the racist street demos saying “Kill all Koreans,” the “Japanese only” banner by Urawa Reds soccer fans), use a different subtext.

They denounce racism as “Nihon no haji,” decrying the shame (haji) that xenophobia brings upon Japan on the international stage: It makes Japan, and by extension themselves as Japanese, look bad.

Shame is a very effective message — thank you for it — but the more empathetic tack would be to argue that foreigners are people too; that they live in Japan just like any Japanese; that they deserve to live in Japan as residents, patronize bathhouses and restaurants as customers, attend soccer matches as fans, like anyone else; that foreigners deserve exactly the same human rights and access to public goods as any other Japanese.

But equal treatment is rarely part of the debate. Instead people argue, “If they want to be treated the same, they should naturalize,” as if that fixes everything. Trust me, it doesn’t.

Again, empathy is key. If more people had it, they would advocate for Japanese society to “do unto foreigners,” because they would understand how foreigners feel, as Obama argued, and wouldn’t wish that treatment upon anyone.

Japan, let’s work on that empathy deficit. Less dōjō (sympathy), more kyōkan (empathy). Broaden your ambit beyond the tribe and you just might realize that power is not “zero-sum,” i.e., that giving more power to foreigners in Japan does not mean less power for you. In fact, it makes things better for everyone, as it gives more people more opportunity to fulfill their lifetime potential in society.

Now, who wouldn’t empathize with that?

===============================
Debito Arudou, who has just received his Ph.D. in International Studies from Meiji Gakuin University, is editing his dissertation on racial discrimination in Japan into a book. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

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

ENDNOTE
I have gone through several databases, including ProQuest, and searched through the full archives of about ten academic peer-reviewed journals on tourism, and there really isn’t much related rigorous sociological/anthropological in recent years on this, it would seem. What I could track down published within the past five or so years:

From: Generalized pattern in competition among tourism destinations
Dawes, John; Romaniuk, Jenni; Mansfield, Annabel. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research3.1 (2009): 33-53.

Establishes that Japanese tourists take shorter holidays and more picky about their destinations of the four groups selected:
“This suggests Japanese tourists travel to a smaller range of destinations than USA, UK and Singaporean Tourists. This result might be due to greater loyalty to single destinations or due to taking fewer holidays overall.”

Cross-cultural tourist behaviour: a replication and extension involving Hofstede’s uncertainty avoidance dimension
Litvin, Stephen W; Crotts, John C; Hefner, Frank L. The International Journal of Tourism Research6.1 (Jan/Feb 2004): 29-37.

This one tells what we already know about Japanese avoidance of uncertainty and risk, replicates older results:
ABSTRACT: Hofstede’s five cross-cultural dimensions have been broadly applied in the literature. Money and Crotts recently applied the dimension of uncertainty avoidance to a matched sample comprised of low uncertainty avoidance German and high uncertainty avoidance Japanese tourists, finding their behaviors consistent with those behaviors predicted by Hofstede. This study both replicates and extends their research across a representative sample of first time leisure visitors to the USA representing 58 nations. It was found that visitors from high uncertainty avoidance cultures exhibited behaviors consistent with those of the Japanese in the Money and Crotts research, whereas visitors from low-uncertainty avoidance cultures behaved similarly to their German subjects. Such findings, across a broad sample population, validate the original research through a more rigorous test of its propositions, provide increased confidence regarding their generalizability, and further contribute to our understanding of the influence of national culture on tourist behavior. http://marketing-to-japan.com/the-japanese-tourist.html

ALSO
(sourced from www.visitbritain.com, date unknown)
Package tours 48.2%
Individually arranged 37.1% (increasing)
Group travel 6.2%

http://books.google.com/books?id=LC4c7i3WrPgC&pg=PA214&lpg=PA214&dq=are+japanese+tourists+more+likely+to+tour+in+groups+than+other+nationalities?&source=bl&ots=gXuRHVKInI&sig=xLud0YIHdySfGG7ue2xlItv9oms&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gGxZU47CD-Xg2QXc3IDYDA&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=are%20japanese%20tourists%20more%20likely%20to%20tour%20in%20groups%20than%20other%20nationalities%3F&f=false
“In the past they liked to travel in relatively large groups, but by the mid-1990s the young were increasingly traveling in smaller groups or on their own and had come to resemble Western tourists. Individual Japanese tourists became less interested in purchasing pre-arranged tours…” (2008)

http://books.google.com/books?id=_Jz4ZJsoaMgC&pg=PA327&lpg=PA327&dq=are+japanese+tourists+more+likely+to+tour+in+groups+than+other+nationalities?&source=bl&ots=-QHjToQ_40&sig=c6H_eqttasGJvdUoq-xo_breAsk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gGxZU47CD-Xg2QXc3IDYDA&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=are%20japanese%20tourists%20more%20likely%20to%20tour%20in%20groups%20than%20other%20nationalities%3F&f=false
“Japanese tourists are the most distinctive…”
“Koreans and Japanese are the least active and reserved in social situations (probably due to their collectivistic and high-uncertainty-avoidance characteristics)… Japanese are the most adventurous in food preferences, and they plan their trips rigidly and meticulously, but choose short trips.” (1997)
endnote ends

Mainichi: Discrimination against NJ in housing rentals highlighted in Tokyo Govt survey; like “Tokyo Sharehouse” with its new Tokyo-wide system of Japanese-Only rentals?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A number of people sent me this article about the Tokyo Metropolitan government surveying NJ discrimination levels (I guess it takes an Olympics before people start caring about foreigners; watch this best behavior dry up afterwards).  It is indeed good to see people acknowledging that discrimination towards NJ exists, and that the media is covering it.  And that the most common answer by respondents chosen (since it is probably the most normalized and systemic NJ discrimination) is in residence rentals (not to mention the rise in awareness of hate speech; hurrah).  I’ll return to the subject of realtors again right after the articles.

But one just has to love the methodology when it comes to the “how to improve things” section part of the survey:  The leading questions assuming that Japanese and foreigners are “different”.  After all, Japan is unique, therefore anyone who is not a Japanese is not a member of the unique J-culture club, therefore foreigners must be different because they aren’t, er, unique like us Japanese (as opposed to everyone being treated like a human being with similar interests and needs, such as, er, shelter and equal access to housing?).  And those “differences” must be explained (as opposed to legislated away with anti-discrimination laws?) to them and us, no matter how long that takes, and regardless of how vague a concept these “cultural differences” are.  Such a convenient patsy for differential treatment is “culture”, yes sir.

Anyway, here is the article in E and J.  Further comment follows:

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

Discrimination against foreigners in renting apartments highlighted in survey
April 10, 2014 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140410p2a00m0na005000c.html

Discrimination against foreigners in renting apartments or other residences was given as an ongoing violation of their human rights by almost half of respondents to a survey by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The survey was conducted in November and December last year with preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games in mind. The survey was offered to 3,000 randomly chosen Tokyo residents, with responses gathered from 1,573 people.

A representative of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s human rights division said, “Violations of foreigners’ human rights continue, and we’d like to improve awareness of the issue within six years from now (when the Olympics are scheduled.)”

In a multiple-answer question on human rights violations against foreigners, “the difficulty of renting apartments or other residences” was the most common answer chosen, with 45.6 percent of respondents selecting it. Next was “receiving disadvantageous treatment at work or during job hunting” at 34.5 percent, followed by “insufficient acceptance in community activities and places of communication” at 21.9 percent and “bullying or harassment at work or school” at 21.1 percent. With the repeated instances of hate speech directed at foreigners going on around the country, 19.9 percent of respondents chose “discriminatory speech and actions.”

Regarding what is necessary to get along with foreigners, 60.1 percent answered “inform foreigners of the differences between traditions and habits in their country and Japan,” 44.3 percent answered, “create more opportunities for communication such as by encouraging participation in local society,” 41.1 percent replied, “inform Japanese of the differences between traditions and habits in Japan and foreigners’ countries,” and 24.3 percent responded, “improve foreign language support at help organizations.”
ENDS

Original Japanese:

都民人権世論調査:外国人への人権侵害、「アパート入居困難」半数近く 「差別的な表現や言動ある」は2割 /東京
毎日新聞 2014年04月10日 地方版
http://mainichi.jp/area/tokyo/news/20140410ddlk13040128000c.html

都は、2020年東京五輪の開催決定を受け、都民の人権意識に関する調査を行い、その結果を公表した。外国人に対してどのような人権侵害が起きているかという質問に、半数近くが「アパートなど住宅への入居が困難なこと」と回答した。都人権部の担当者は「外国人への人権侵害は依然として残っており、(五輪が開かれる)6年後を目標に人権意識を高める啓発を強めたい」としている。

調査は昨年11〜12月、住民基本台帳から無作為に抽出した3000人の都民を対象に行い、1573人から回答を得た。

「外国人への人権侵害」は、複数回答で「アパートなど住宅への入居が困難なこと」が最多の45・6%。「就職・職場で不利な扱いを受ける」34・5%▽「地域社会の活動や交流の場での受け入れが十分でない」21・9%▽「職場・学校等で嫌がらせやいじめを受ける」21・1%−−と続いた。また、ヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)が各地で相次いでいることなどを受け、19・9%が「差別的な表現や言動が行われること」を挙げた。

また、外国人と共存するために必要と思う取り組みは、「外国人に日本の風習や習慣の違いを周知する」60・1%▽「地域社会の活動に参加を促すなど交流の機会を増やす」44・3%▽「日本人に外国の風習や習慣の違いを周知する」41・1%▽「各種の相談機関で外国語対応を充実させる」24・3%−−となった。【和田浩幸】

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

COMMENT:  Now consider this recent email from John F.:

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

April 10, 2014
Dear Debito, First of all, I would like to thank you for your tireless efforts in fighting discrimination in Japan. I especially appreciate how you choose to try and educate those who engage in discrimination rather than simply expressing condemnation. As an American living in Tokyo, my personal experiences with discrimination have fortunately been few and far between. From time to time, though, I have felt as if my human dignity was violated. I wish I were more courageous in rationally approaching such incidents of discrimination rather than keeping my feelings bottled up.

I would like to share with you a few specific examples of housing discrimination in Tokyo concerning share houses, and how a certain popular website advertises share house properties on the Internet. The link to the website I am referring to is tokyosharehouse.com

I had a rather unfortunate experience visiting a property advertised on that website last August. The property is called ‘Share Vie Mizue’, located in the Edogawa Ward of Tokyo. Here is the link to the property’s description: http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/470/

I discovered the property’s website while reading a review of it on Gaijinpot. As the property is advertised in English, I was very enthusiastic about checking it out. Naturally, I supposed it would be very welcoming towards international residents. To make a long story short, the representative who showed me the property reluctantly informed me that the owners did not welcome international residents. He did his best to dissuade me from attempting to rent a room there, and tried to offer me a place at another location. It seemed as if he was personally embarrassed that the owner of this particular property would discriminate against international guests. I wasn’t angry with him, but I was extremely upset that I took the time to visit the property on the assumption that I would be welcome due to the website being advertised in English. The website made no indication that international guests were not welcome at this property. Perhaps, hopefully, they have changed their policies since. However, the website still makes no indication that international guests are not welcome at that particular property.

Having recently returned to Tokyo from five months back in New York, I am again searching for a share house to live in. I have come across tokyosharehouse.com again, and what I discovered while browsing other properties on their website still disturbs me.

Please have a look at this link: http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/1324/

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejiri041414

Now I am not female, but I find it rather painful to see the requirements for the ‘La Felice Ikejiri’ property. The requirements for renting a room are listed as ‘Female / Foreigner_x’.

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejiricrop041414

At first I was a bit confused as to what this means. Is it a ‘Foreigner Only’ house for females? If you scroll down further to ‘Move-in Conditions and Managing Style’ section, you’ll notice that there is no category of requirements for foreigners. The description of the property is accompanied by a side bar on the right describing whom I assume to be the property owners, ‘Tokyo Sanku Monogatari Co., Ltd.’ or ‘Many Smile Co.’

I am sorry to write you such a long email, but coming across these listings really makes my blood boil, especially after the personal experience I had. Although language is not specifically a problem, I find it rather unusual that a real estate website would choose to advertise properties in English where non-Japanese renters are not welcome. There are other properties on the site with similar discriminatory policies. This website has been advertised on Gaijinpot in the past as well. The owners of this website should be ashamed of themselves for advertising such properties, especially when they sheepishly use euphemistic descriptions like ‘Foreigner_x’ rather than what they really mean – ‘No Foreigners Allowed’.

I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way. As share houses become more mainstream, I am afraid more and more non-Japanese apartment seekers on low budgets will be met with housing discrimination. Thank you for taking the time to read my email, and thank you for helping to restore dignity to those who have been victimized by discrimination.  Best regards, John F

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

COMMENT CONTINUES:  Y’know, that’s funny.  Why would this company go through all the trouble to put up a website in English and then use it to refuse NJ?  So they’d look international?  Or so they’d look exclusionary to an international audience?  Especially since there’s no room for misunderstanding (not to mention, no room, har har) when you look at the Japanese version of these websites:

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejirijcrop041414
(Complete tangent, but it’s also funny how the “foreigner” image is somehow redolent of Saturn…)

Yep, that’s “Gaikokujin Taiou Fuka“.  Foreigners will not receive service.  Japanese Only.  No cutesy “Foreigner_x”.  Whole page, for context:

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejirij041414

Other places within this rental system with “No Foreigners” rules (gotta love how they pretentiously put the names in faux French, yet won’t take French people):

  1. Claris Sangenjaya (English) http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/1325/ (Japanese) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/1325/
  2. Domondo Sangenjaya (English) http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/1095/, (Japanese) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/1095/
  3. Aviril Shibuya (Japanese Only in both meanings):  http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/1431/
  4. Pleades Sakura Shin-machi  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/847/
  5. La Vita Komazawa  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/500/
  6. La Levre Sakura Shin-machi (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/846/
  7. Leviair Meguro (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/506/
  8. Flora Meguro (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/502/
  9. La Famille (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/503/
  10. Pechka Shimo-Kitazawa (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/507/
  11. Amitie Naka-Meguro (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/508/
  12. Cerisier Sakura Shin-machi  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/504/
  13. Stella Naka-Meguro  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/501/
  14. Solare Meguro  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/509/

So, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, thanks for those surveys saying how sad it is that NJ are being discriminated against in housing.  But what are they for, exactly?  Mere omphaloskepsis?  How about doing something to stop these bigots from discriminating?  ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 26, 2014: HERE’S ANOTHER TOKYO EXAMPLE SUBMITTED BY DEBITO.ORG READER XY: NOTE HOW FOREIGNERS (HELPFULLY REFUSED IN ENGLISH) AND CATS ARE BANNED (BUT SMALL PETS ARE ALLOWED). MAYBE IF NJ ANNOYINGLY YIPPED A LITTLE MORE LIKE POMERANIANS OR OTHER PURSE DOGS…?
rentalhaihoumuTokyoJapaneseOnly042614

JT: Motley crew of foreigners backing Japan’s revisionists basks in media glare (with UPDATES)

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check this out:

NATIONAL / MEDIA| BIG IN JAPAN
Motley crew of foreigners backing Japan’s revisionists basks in media glare
BY MARK SCHREIBER
THE JAPAN TIMES MAR 22, 2014, Courtesy of the author

In the war of words — particularly with South Korea and China — over World War II-era issues that has intensified over the past 18 months, foreigners — both Westerners and Asians — have also waded into the fray. And some have even sided with revisionist positions, raising questions over the Japanese military’s alleged recruitment of sex slaves (“comfort women”) and other contentious wartime topics.

For these individuals, preaching to the Japanese choir does appear to have its rewards. At a gathering in Tokyo last autumn, veteran British journalist Henry Scott Stokes commemorated the 70th anniversary of the showpiece meeting of the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere, Japan’s short-lived effort to align Asians against European colonial powers.

“Japan is a country of rising sun,” he told his audience. “Joining hands together with the fellow Asian people who desire truly Free Asia, I sincerely hope that Japan will play a vital role for realizing democratic Asian unity.”

Soon thereafter, Shodensha published Scott-Stokes’ book “Eikokujin Kisha ga Mita Rengokoku Sensho Shikan no Kyomo” (“Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist”). The book, whose third chapter echoes the speech in its description of Japan as “Asia’s light of hope,” has gone through 11 printings and sales have shot past 80,000. Last week it was rated Amazon Japan’s 32nd best-selling title…

Rest of the article at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/22/national/motley-crew-of-foreigners-backing-japans-revisionists-basks-in-media-glare/

COMMENT:  In light of the recent Nazi Swastika flags appearing in right-wing marches, it’s pretty wrong-headed for anyone who wants to keep a good reputation to publicly align with people like these.  But it’s within character.  I’ve heard plenty of pretty unflattering things about Mr. Scott-Stokes through the grapevine over the years.  But another NJ bozo mentioned in the article as being in the pocket of Japan’s revisionist right is Tony Marano, a YouTube Vlogger (a sample video of his is up at the JT site; follow above link), who has in the past ignorantly commented on the “Japanese Only” signs issue — by blaming NJ (i.e., the “ugly Americans”) for the signs’ existence.  Particularly one “liberal” foreigner (guess who; and I’m not a foreigner) who sues “them” and “messes up their legal system“:


Courtesy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6vCjqJ9U7k#t=16

I wonder if Marano will ever get over his ignorance by actually doing any reading up on the issue.  Probably not.  Critics of his ilk rarely do — it makes the maintenance of their world view that much simpler.  And, clearly, as the JT article establishes, more profitable.  ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 1 (No, this isn’t an April Fool’s prank): Marano gets a regular column with tabloid weekly Asahi Geino. Now all he has to do is spout off, and it gets translated into a language and culture he doesn’t understand. I love how they try to directly translate his “god bless” at the end of the article.  Marano has no idea what he’s getting himself into.
Texas_Oyaji.1
=================================

UPDATE APRIL 2: Henry Scott-Stokes, mentioned in the JT article above, also admits that he can’t even read his own revisionist book, let alone write it:

Oddly, perhaps, he admits to not knowing exactly what’s between the pages of the book that carries his name – he says he reads little Japanese and an English translation has yet to be produced. It was dictated over hundreds of hours to another FCCJ member, Hiroyuki Fujita, then brought to publication by Tony Kase, an old friend of Henry’s with connections to the LDP. “Tony Kase had the most to do with this,” he explains, but adds: “I have to accept responsibility for it since it is in my name.”

From “The Revenge of History”, FCCJ’s Number 1 Shimbun, April 1, 2014
http://www.fccj.or.jp/number-1-shimbun/item/332-the-revenge-of-history.html

So like Marano, Scott-Stokes has no idea how he’s being rendered in Japanese. Seems like for some, Japanese language fluency and apologist/revisionist stances are inversely proportional.

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

UPDATE APRIL 3:  Now a second Marano column has appeared in daily tabloid Yuukan Fuji, this one dated April 4 and apparently out every Thursday…  

Marano_YF.4Apr

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

UPDATE APRIL 6:  Debito.org Reader Don MacLaren responds to Marano’s accusation that litigious NJ are in Japan “messing up their legal system”.  According to MacLaren, despite numerous attempts on numerous fora, Marano has not responded to him publicly.  MacLaren’s video, then his comments accompanying his video, follow:


Courtesy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exozeU7LplU

Published on Apr 6, 2014

Don MacLaren:  Mr. Tony Marano has published numerous videos on Japan, many of them sympathetic to the right wing element in Japan, which believes Japan’s actions in World War II were noble. He also posted a video called, “No foreigners allowed” signs in Japan,” concerning non-Japanese (people’s) feelings about this discrimination (regarding these signs, posted in front of Japanese business establishments) and a lawsuit that was initiated over this discrimination.

Mr. Marano suggests Americans are excessively litigous, while the Japanese are not. I take exception to this as I was a defendant in a frivolous lawsuit in Japan brought on by my visa sponsor and employer. I felt I had no choice but to countersue (even though I couldn’t afford a lawyer at first). After almost a year and a half of litigation, I was awarded everything I wanted. I resigned my position with the company and left Japan. Please read the link below to read more about my time in Japan’s courts:
http://donmaclaren.com/don_maclaren_-…

Mr. Marano’s video, “No foreigners allowed” signs in Japan” is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6vCj…

The Japan Times Piece I refer to in my video, where I first read about Mr. Marano is here:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014…

Debito Arudou’s blog/website is here:
http://www.debito.org/

The discussion on Mr. Arudou’s blog/website on Mr. Marano (and non-Japanese who support Japan’s right-wing element) is here:
http://www.debito.org/?p=12215

Thank you for tuning in. Please feel free to comment/criticize in a civil, reasoned way in the “comments” section of this video. Sincerely, Don MacLaren

Longer version of MacLaren’s video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCvrAN3uf08
ENDS

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

UPDATE APRIL 14, 2014:

The pandering columns keep proliferating.  Now Scott-Stokes has a regular column in Yuukan Fuji (bylined “Wake Up, Japan”, this inaugural one dated April 15, 2014) where he calls Korean issues with Wartime Sexual Slavery “nonsense” and the Kouno Statement on it as “the worst” (sai-aku).

HSS_YF1

Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Banner Case: Conclusions and Lessons I learned from it

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Let’s sew this issue up:

LESSONS OF THE URAWA “JAPANESE ONLY” SOCCER STADIUM BANNER CASE OF MARCH 8, 2014

Urawajapaneseonlysideview030814

What happened this week (see my Japan Times column on it a few days ago) is probably the most dramatic and progressive thing to happen to NJ in Japan, particularly its Visible Minorities, since the Otaru Onsens Case came down with its District Court Decision in November 2002.

In this decision, a Japanese court ruled for only the second time (the first being the Ana Bortz Case back in October 1999) that “Japanese Only” signs and rules were racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu).

It did not call it discrimination instead based on “ethnicity” (minzoku), “nationality” (kokuseki), outward appearance (gaiken), or some kind of “misunderstanding” (gokai), “ingrained cultural habit” or “necessary business practice” (shuukan no chigai, seikatsu shuukan, shakai tsuunen, shikatsu mondai etc.).  All of these claims had merely been excuses made to ignore the elephant in the room — that more invidious racialized processes were involved.

But in the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Stadium Banner Case, the word jinshu sabetsu reappeared in the terms of debate, and we may in fact have witnessed a watershed moment in Japan’s race relations history.

BACKGROUND ON WHY THIS MATTERS: The following is something I wanted to get into in my last column, but I lacked the space:

After studying this issue intensely since 1999, and doing a doctoral dissertation on it, I can say with confidence that using the abovementioned alternative language is the normal way the Japanese media and debate arenas obfuscate the issue — because jinshu sabetsu is what other countries do (most common examples of racial discrimination taught in Japanese education are the US under Segregation and South African Apartheid), NOT Japan. As I wrote in my column on Thursday, Japan sees itself as a “civilized country”; rightly so, but part of that is the conceit that real civilized countries don’t engage in “racial discrimination” (and since allegedly homogeneous Japan allegedly has no races but the “Japanese race“, and allegedly no real minorities to speak of, Japan cannot possibly engage in biologically-based “racial discrimination” like other heterogeneous societies do).

So admitting to actual racial discrimination within Japan’s borders would undermine Japan’s claim to be “civilized”, as far as Japan’s elites and national-narrative setters are concerned. Hence the determined resistance to ever calling something “racial discrimination”.  Further proof:  In my extensive research of the Otaru Onsens Case, where I read and archived hundreds of Japanese media pieces, only ONE article (a Hokkaido Shinbun editorial after the Sapporo High Court Decision in  September 2004) called it “jinshu sabetsu” as AS A FACT OF THE CASE (i.e., NOT merely the opinion of an expert or an activist, which meant for journalistic balance the “opinion” had to be offset with the opinions of the excluder — who always denied they were being racial, like the rest of Japanese society).  It’s systematic.  We even have prominent social scientists (such as Harumi Befu) and major book titles on discrimination in Japan that steadfastly call it only “minzoku sabetsu“, such as this one:

nihonnominzokusabetsucover

where I had to fight to get my chapter within it properly entitled “jinshu sabetsu“:

nihonnominzokusabetsu002

No matter how conscientious the scholar of minority issues in Japan was, it was never a matter of jinshu.

Until now.  That has changed with the Urawa “Japanese Only” Stadium Banners Case.

FINALLY CALLING A SPADE A SPADE

Get a load of what Murai Mitsuru, Chair of the J. League, said after some initial hemming and hawing:

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

“There are various ways of determining what constitutes discrimination.  But what is important is not so much why discrimination occurs, but how the victim perceives it and in this case, the acts must be considered nothing short of discriminatory.

“Over the last several days through the media and on the Internet, these acts have had unexpected social repercussions both domestic and abroad, and it is clear that they have damaged the brand of not just the J-League but of the entire Japanese football community.

“With regards to Urawa Reds, they have had repeated trouble with their supporters in the past and the club have previously been sanctioned for racist behavior by their fans.”

“While these most recent acts were conducted by a small group of supporters, it is with utmost regret that Urawa Reds — who have been with the J-League since its founding year in 1993 and who ought to be an example for all of Japanese football — allowed an incident like this to happen.”

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

It’s the speech I would want to give.  He cited a record both past and present to give the issue context.  He said that stopping racist behavior was integral to the sport and its participants.  And he acknowledged that it was the victims, not the perpetrators, who must be listened to.  Well done.

Then he issued the stiffest punishment ever in Japanese soccer history, where Urawa would have to play its next match to an empty stadium (their games are some of the best attended in Japan), which really hurts their bottom line. Better yet, it ensures that Urawa fans will now police each other, lest they all be excluded again. After all, even stadium management let the sign stay up for the entire game:

urawajapaneseonlybanner030814
Courtesy of the Asahi Shinbun.  Note the staff member guarding the full gate, behind Urawa’s goal posts.  Note also the Rising Sun flags.

It also looks like those racist fans will also be banned indefinitely from Urawa games, and stadium staff may too be punished.  Bravo.

More important, look how this issue was reported in Japanese (Mainichi Shinbun):

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

8日に埼玉スタジアムで行われたサッカーJリーグ1部の浦和−鳥栖戦の試合中、会場内に人種差別的な内容を含む横断幕が掲げられた問題で、Jリーグの村井満チェアマンは13日、浦和に対し、けん責と、23日にホームの同スタジアムで開催される清水戦を無観客とする処分を科すと発表した。Jリーグでの無観客試合の処分は初めて。

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

with jinshu sabetsu included AS A FACT OF THE CASE.

And then look how the issue spread, with the Yokohama Marinos on March 12 putting up an anti-discrimination banner of their own:

showracismtheredcard031214

And Huffpost Japan depicting jinshu sabetsu AGAIN as a fact of the case:

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

横浜マのサポーターがハーフタイムに「Show Racism the Red Card」(人種差別にレッドカードを)

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

The incentives are now very clear.  Discriminate, and punishment will be public, swift, meaningful, and effective.  And others will not rally to your defense — in fact, may even join in in decrying you in public.  Excellent measures that all encourage zero tolerance of jinshu sabetsu.

LESSONS

However, keep in mind that this outcome was far from certain.  Remember that initially, as in last Sunday and Monday, this issue was only reported in blurbs in the Japanese and some English-language media (without photos of the banner), with mincing and weasel words about whether or not this was in fact discrimination, and ludicrous attempts to explain it all away (e.g., Urawa investigators reporting that the bannerers didn’t INTEND to racially discriminate; oh, that’s okay then!) as some kind of performance art or fan over-exuberance.  At this point, this issue was going the way it always does in these “Japanese Only” cases — as some kind of Japanese cultural practice.  In other words, it was about to be covered up all over again.

Except for one thing.  It went viral overseas.

As Murai himself said, “these acts have had unexpected social repercussions both domestic and abroad, and it is clear that they have damaged the brand of not just the J-League but of the entire Japanese football community“.  In other words, now Japan’s reputation as a civilized member of the world’s sports community (especially in this age of an impending Olympics) was at stake.  Probably FIFA was watching too, and it had only two months ago punished another Asian country (China/Hong Kong) for “racial discrimination” towards towards Filipino fans.  In this political climate, it would be far more embarrassing for Japan to be in the same boat as China being punished from abroad.  So he took decisive action.

This is not to diminish Murai’s impressive move.  Bravo, man.  You called it what it is, and dealt with it accordingly.

But I believe it would not have happened without exposure to the outside world:  Gaiatsu (outside pressure).

After all these years studying this issue, I now firmly believe that appealing to moral character issues isn’t the way to deal with racism in Japan.

After all, check out this baby-talk discussion of this issue in Japan’s most prominent newspaper column, Tensei Jingo, of March 13, 2014:

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

Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward is starting a project called “A shopping district with people who understand and speak a little English.” I like the part that says “a little.” Shinagawa will be the venue for some of the events during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The ward came up with the idea as a way to welcome athletes and visitors from abroad.

Why “a little”? Few Japanese can confidently say they can speak English. Many more think they can perhaps speak “a little” English. According to Kiyoshi Terashima, the ward official in charge of the project, it is aimed at encouraging such people to positively try and communicate in English. The ward will ask foreigners to visit the stores so that attendants there can learn how to take orders and receive payments using English.

Writer Saiichi Maruya (1925-2012) vividly depicted the trend of 50 years ago when Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics for the first time. Just because we are having the Olympics, “there is no need to stir up an atmosphere that all 100 million Japanese must turn into interpreters,” he wrote. The quote appears in “1964-Nen no Tokyo Orinpikku” (1964 Tokyo Olympics), compiled by Masami Ishii. I wonder if we can be a little more relaxed when Tokyo hosts the Olympics for the second time.

Warm smiles are considered good manners in welcoming guests. By contrast, I found the following development quite alarming: On March 8, a banner with the English words “Japanese Only” was put up at the entrance to a stand at Saitama Stadium during a soccer game.

Posting such a xenophobic message is utterly thoughtless to say the least. This is not the first time. In the past, an onsen bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, put up a sign that said “no foreigners” and refused the entry of some people, including a U.S.-born naturalized Japanese man. The Sapporo District Court in 2002 ruled that the action was “racial discrimination” and ordered the bathhouse to pay damages to the plaintiffs for pain and suffering.

Hate speech against foreigners is another example. Hostility is becoming increasingly prevalent and Japanese society is losing its gentleness. Are we a society that denies and shuts its doors to people or one that welcomes and receives them? Which one is more comfortable to live in? Let us learn to be more tolerant toward each other; for starters, if only by just a little.

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

That’s the entire article.  Asahi Shinbun, thanks for the mention of me, but what a twee piece of shit! It devotes half of the column space to irrelevant windup, then gives some necessary background, and summarily ends up with a grade-school-level “nakayoshi shimashou” (let’s all be nice to one another, shall we?) conclusion. The theme starts off with “a little” and ends up thinking “little” about the issue at hand.  They just don’t get it.  There’s no moral imperative here.

Contrast that to Murai’s very thoughtful consideration above of how the victims of discrimination feel, how racists must not be given any moral credibility or leniency from punishment, and how anti-racism measures are not merely an honor system of tolerance towards each other.  Correctamundo!  One must not be tolerant of intolerance.  But after all this, even Japan’s most prominent leftish daily newspaper just resorts to the boilerplate — there is neither comprehension or explanation of how discrimination actually works!

When will we get beyond this dumbing down of the issue?  When we actually have people being brave enough to call it “racial discrimination” and take a stand against it.  As Murai did.  And as other people, with their banners and comments on the media and other places, are doing.  Finally.

CONCLUSION:  IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL WE GET A LAW CRIMINALIZING THIS BEHAVIOR

I do not want to get people’s hopes up for this progress to be sustainable (after all, we haven’t seen the full force of a potential rightist backlash against Murai yet, and the Internet xenophobes are predictably saying that too much power has been given up to the Gaijin).  We are still years if not decades away from an anti-RACIAL-discrimination law with enforceable criminal penalties (after all, it’s been nearly twenty years now since Japan’s signed the UN CERD treaty against racial discrimination, and any attempt to pass one has wound up with it being repealed due to pressure from alarmists and xenophobes!).

But at least one thing is clear — the typical hemmers and hawers (who initially criticized my claim that this is yet another example of racial discrimination) are not going to be able to claim any “cultural misunderstanding” anymore in this case.  Because Urawa eventually went so far as to investigate and make public  what mindset was behind the banner-hoisters:

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

Japan Times:  “The supporters viewed the area behind the goal as their sacred ground, and they didn’t want anyone else coming in,” Urawa president Keizo Fuchita said Thursday as he explained how the banner came to be displayed in the stadium.

“If foreigners came in they wouldn’t be able to control them, and they didn’t like that.”

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

Wow, a fine cocktail of racism, mysticism, and power, all shaken not stirred, spray-painted into this banner.  Which goes to show:  In just about all its permutations, “Japanese Only” is a racialized discourse behind a xenophobic social movement in Japan.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…  And if and only if people in authority will allow the quack to be properly heard and the quacker LABELED as a duck, then we’ll get some progress.

But chances are it won’t be, unless that quack is also heard outside of Japan.  After waiting more then ten years for somebody to call the “Japanese Only” trope a matter of jinshu sabetsu again, finally this week the fact that jinshu sabetsu exists in Japan has been transmitted nationwide, with real potential to alter the national discourse on discrimination towards Visible Minorities.  But it wouldn’t have happened unless it had leaked outside of Japan’s media.

Conclusion:  Gaiatsu is basically the only way to make progress against racial discrimination in Japan.  Remember that, and gear your advocacy accordingly.  ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 73, “J.League and Media Must Show Red Card to Racism” on Saitama Stadium “Japanese Only” Urawa Reds soccer fans, Mar 13, 2014

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Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog and JT Readers.  Thanks again for putting this article top of the JT Online for two straight days again! ARUDOU Debito

ISSUES| JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
J.LEAGUE AND MEDIA MUST SHOW RED CARD TO RACISM 
JBC Column 73 for the Japan Times Community Page
To be published March 13, 2014
By ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/03/12/issues/j-league-and-media-must-show-red-card-to-racism/
Version with links to sources

Urawajapaneseonlysideview030814

On Saturday, during their J. League match against Sagan Tosu at Saitama Stadium, some Urawa Reds fans hung a “Japanese only” banner over an entrance to the stands.

It went viral. Several sports sections in Japanese newspapers and blogs, as well as overseas English media, covered the story. The banner was reportedly soon taken down, and both the football club and players expressed regret that it had ever appeared. Urawa investigated, and at the time of going to press Wednesday, reports were suggesting that the club had decided that the banner was discriminatory, reversing a previous finding that the fans behind the incident had “no discriminatory intent.”

So case closed? Not so fast. There is something important that the major media is overlooking — nay, abetting: the implicit racism that would spawn such a sign.

None of the initial reports called out the incident for what it was: racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu). News outlets such as Kyodo, Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, AP, AFP, Al-Jazeera — even The Japan Times — muted their coverage by saying the banner “could apparently be considered/construed/seen as racist.” (Well, how else could it be construed? Were they trying to say that “only the Japanese language is spoken here”?) Few ran pictures of the banner to give context or impact.

Japanese media appended the standard hand-wringing excuses, including the cryptic “I think the meaning behind it is for Japanese to pump up the J. League,” and even a reverse-engineered claim of performance art: “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not bolstering the team with foreign players.” (Oh, and that’s not prejudiced?)

The Internet buzzed with speculation about the banner’s intent. Was it referring to the fact that Urawa was allegedly fielding a Japanese-only team for a change (notwithstanding their Serbian coach)? Or were the bleachers to be kept foreigner-free?

Doesn’t matter. “Japanese only” has long been the exclusionary trope for Japan’s xenophobes. The phrase came to prominence in 1999 in the Otaru onsen case, which revolved around several public bathhouses in Otaru, Hokkaido, that refused entry to all “foreigners” based on their physical appearance (including this author, a naturalized Japanese). Later, exclusionary businesses nationwide copycatted and put up “Japanese only” signs of their own. “Japanese only” is in fact part of a social movement.

The upshot is, if you don’t “look Japanese,” you are not welcome. That’s where the racism comes in. Why should the Urawa banner be “construed” any differently?

The better question is: Why does this language keep popping up in public places? I’ll tell you why. Because Japan keeps getting a free pass from the outside world.

Just look at Japan’s sports leagues and you’ll find a long history of outright racism — excluding, handicapping and bashing foreigners (even the naturalized “foreigners”) in, for example, sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai national sports festivals and the Ekiden long-distance races. So much for a sporting chance on a level playing field.

Nevertheless, Japan keeps getting rewarded with major international events, such as the FIFA World Cup in 2002, the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and the Olympics in 2020. So be as racist as you like: There’s no penalty.

Anyplace else and soccer governing body FIFA would probably take swift action to investigate and penalize offenders in line with its policy of zero tolerance for racism, as has been done in the past, most recently in China. In January, the Hong Kong Football Association got fined for shirking its responsibility to stop racial discrimination against Filipino supporters by Hong Kong national team fans during a “friendly” match.

The Urawa Reds incident is still fresh. I await FIFA’s reaction (if any) with anticipation. But after more than two decades of watching this stuff — and even doing a doctoral dissertation on it — I’m not hopeful.

After all, Japan is not China. The developed world sees Japan as their bulwark of democracy in Asia, and is willing to overlook one very inconvenient truth: that a racialized narrative in Japan is so commonplace and unchallenged that it has become embedded in the discourse of race relations. Foreigners are simply not to be treated the same as Japanese.

People often blame this phenomenon on legal issues (foreigners are not treated exactly the same as citizens anywhere else either, right?) but the pachyderm in the parlor is that the practical definition of “foreigner” is racial, i.e., identified by sight. Anyone “looking foreign” who defied that Urawa banner and entered that stadium section would have gotten — at the very least — the stink-eye from those (still-unnamed) xenophobes who put it up. What other purpose could the banner possibly serve? In any case, it has no place under official FIFA rules.

Make no mistake: “Japanese only” underscores a racialized discourse, and the media should stop making things worse by kid-gloving it as some kind of cultural misunderstanding. It does nobody any favors, least of all Japanese society.

Consider this: As Japan’s rightward swing continues, overt xenophobia (some of it even advocating murder and war) is getting more vociferous and normalized. Not to mention organized: The Asahi Shimbun reported that in Tokyo’s recent gubernatorial election, about a quarter of the 611,000 people who voted for extreme-right candidate Toshio Tamogami, an overtly xenophobic historical revisionist, were young men in their 20s — a demographic also over-represented at soccer games.

Giving their attitudes a free pass with milquetoast criticism (J. League Chairman Mitsuru Murai said that he will act if the banner was proven to be “discriminatory” — meaning he could possibly find otherwise?) only encourages discriminatory behavior: Be as racist as you like; there’s no penalty.

Point is, the only way to ensure Japan keeps its international promises (such as by creating a law against racial discrimination, after signing the U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination nearly 20 years ago!) is to call a spade a spade. As scholar Ayu Majima notes, Japan has a fundamental “perception of itself as a civilized nation,” an illusion that would be undermined by claims of domestic racism. Remember: Racism happens in other countries, not here.

(Source:  Ayu Majima, “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan.”  In Kowner and Demel, Eds., RACE AND RACISM IN MODERN EAST ASIA.  Brill, 2013, p. 409.)

By always denying racism’s existence, Japan preserves its self-image of civilization and modernity, and that’s why calling out this behavior for what it is — racial discrimination — is such a necessary reality check. FIFA and media watchdogs need to do their jobs, so I don’t have to keep writing these columns stating the obvious. Stop abetting this scourge and show some red cards.

Arudou Debito is the author of the “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” (www.debito.org/handbook.html) Twitter: @arudoudebito. Comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
==============================

UPDATE:  A lot happened soon after this article came out; I believe some of it because.  You can read comments below for some updates, and see my separate blog entry for the conclusions and lessons I learned from it — that essentially you’re not going to get any progress on the human rights front by appealing to moral arguments, because Japan’s elites and national narrative-setters don’t really care about that.  What they really DO care about is Japan’s image abroad as a “civilized” country, and that is the only pressure point NJ have.

“Japanese Only” banner in Saitama Stadium at Urawa Reds soccer game; yet media minces words about the inherent racism behind it

mytest

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Hi Blog. Going viral on Saturday (I’ve been away from my computer this weekend, sorry to be blogging late) was news of a banner up at a sports meet on March 8, 2014, that said “Japanese Only” (the Urawa Reds soccer team in Saitama Stadium, which according to Wikipedia has some of the best-attended games in Japan).  Here it is:

urawajapaneseonlybanner030814

(Photo courtesy http://i.imgur.com/0O2JJO8.jpg, from BS)

According to media outlets like Al Jazeera, “the sign could be considered racist”, Kyodo: “seen as racist”, or Mainichi: “could be construed as racist”. (Oh, well, how else could it be considered, seen, or construed then? That only the Japanese language is spoken here?).  Urawa Stadium management just called it “discriminatory” (sabetsu teki) and promised to investigate.  Fortunately it was removed with some solid condemnations.  But no media outlet is bothering to do more than blurb articles on it, barely scratching the surface of the issue.

And that issue they should scratch up is this: Since at least 1999, as Debito.org has covered more than any other media on the planet, Japan has had public language of exclusion (specifically, “Japanese Only” signs spreading around Japan) that have justified a narrative that says it’s perfectly all right to allow places to say “no” to foreigners”, particularly those as determined on sight. It’s also perfectly legal, since the GOJ refuses to pass any laws against racial discrimination, despite promises to the contrary it made back in 1995 when signing the UN CERD.

This much you all know if you’ve been reading this space over the decades. But it bears repeating, over and over again if necessary. Because this sort of thing is not a one-off. It is based upon a mindset that “foreigners” can be treated as subordinate to Japanese in any circumstances, including in this case the allegedly level playing field of sports, and it is so unquestioned and hegemonic that it has become embedded — to the point where it gets dismissed as one of Japan’s “cultural quirks”, and the language of the original Otaru Onsens “Japanese Only” sign has become standardized language for the exclusionary.

But the problem is also in the enforcement of anti-racism measures.  You think any official international sports body governing soccer (which has zero tolerance for racism and is often very quick to act on it) will investigate this any further? Or that the Olympic Committee before Tokyo 2020 is going to raise any public eyebrows about Japan’s lackadaisical attitude towards racism in its sports?  For example, its outright racism and handicapping/excluding/bashing foreigners (even naturalized “foreigners”) in Sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai, or in the Ekiden Sports Races, which deliberately and overtly handicaps or outright excludes NJ from participation?

I’m not going to bet my lunch on it, as scrutiny and responsibility-taking (as in, finding out who put that banner up and why — speculation abounds) could happen. But it probably won’t. Because people can’t even say clearly and definitively that what just happened in Urawa was “racism” (and Al Jazeera, the Asahi, or the Mainichi didn’t even see fit to publish a photo of the banner, so readers could feel the full force and context of it). And that we’re going to see ever more expressions of it in our xenophobic youth (which was a huge political force in Tokyo’s last gubernatorial election) as Japan continues its rightward swing into bigotry. ARUDOU Debito

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

「JAPANESE ONLY」 J1で差別横断幕か
朝日新聞 2014年3月9日01時03分

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASG387J0FG38UTQP03N.html

8日のサッカーJ1浦和―鳥栖戦があった埼玉スタジアムのコンコース内に、「JAPANESE ONLY」との横断幕が掲げられ、浦和側が撤去した。浦和は「差別的と解釈されかねない行為。事実確認のうえ、適切な対応に取り組む」とのコメントを発表した。

「日本人だけ」と直訳できる文言が掲げられたことに、外国人排斥を意図するとしてインターネット上で非難の声が相次ぐなど、波紋が広がっている。選手の目に入る場所ではなかったが、浦和の元日本代表DF槙野智章選手は自身のツイッターで「負けた以上にもっと残念な事があった」と、憤りを表した。

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

Japanese club remove banner
The Urawa Red Diamonds remove a banner from their home stadium over fears the sign could be considered racist.
Al Jazeera from AP and AFP, 09 Mar 2014 08:49
http://www.aljazeera.com/sport/football/2014/03/urawa-removes-discriminatory-banner-20143974349569584.html

PHOTO CAPTION:  Urawa did not have a single foreigner in their squad for Saturday’s match against Sagan Tosu [AFP]

The Urawa Reds club, who play in Japan’s J-League Division 1, have removed a banner from their home stadium over fears the sign could be considered racist.

Most teams in the J-League have foreign players on their roster but Urawa did not have a single foreigner in its squad for Saturday’s match, despite having a Serbian coach in Mihailo Petrovic.

A photograph of the ‘Japanese Only’ banner went viral on Saturday with it believed to be aimed at foreign tourists.

A statement on the team’s official website read: “As far as the club is concerned, racist language or behaviour is totally inexcusable.”

It was not known who put the sign up but the team said they are “working to establish the facts of the incident.”

After losing the match 1-0 Urawa Reds defender Tomoaki Makino said, “This is what should not be done as our players play for Urawa with pride”.

He continued “If we can’t be united, we can’t win”.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////

SOCCER / J. LEAGUE
Reds remove banner seen as racist
KYODO/Japan Times MAR 9, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2014/03/09/soccer/reds-remove-banner-seen-as-racist/

Urawa Reds said they removed a banner that could be construed as racist from an entrance gate to spectator seats at a J. League match Saturday between Reds and Sagan Tosu.

The banner in question had the words “Japanese Only” written on and club staff asked for it to be taken down. The person that put up the banner has not been identified, according to Urawa.

A statement on Reds’ official website said: “We are working to establish the facts of this incident.”

“As far as this club is concerned, racist language or behavior is totally inexcusable. Urawa Reds abide by the six tenets of the Sports For Peace program, including a ban on racist conduct”

Opinion was divided among Reds supporters over whether the banner was racist.

One man, a 36-year-old company employee said, “It’s terrible. Inexcusable,” while another, a 50-year-old salaryman said, “I think the meaning behind it is for Japanese to pump up the J. League.”

Mainichi Daily News adds:

Urawa did not have a single foreign player in their squad for Saturday’s match.

A 28-year-old female company employee said, “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not being bolstering the team with foreign players.”

March 09, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140309p2g00m0sp042000c.html

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

【浦和】ゲートに差別的横断幕か
読売新聞 2014年3月9日00時51分 スポーツ報知
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/soccer/jleague/news/20140308-OHT1T00257.htm

埼玉スタジアムで8日に行われたサッカーJ1の浦和―鳥栖で、浦和サポーター席へ入るゲートに「JAPANESE ONLY」と書かれた横断幕が掲げられたことが、浦和への取材で分かった。「日本人以外お断り」との差別的な意味にも取れる可能性があるため、クラブのスタッフが要請して横断幕は外されたという。

浦和は公式サイトに「事実確認の上、適切な対応に取り組んでまいります」との声明文を掲載した。浦和によると、掲げた人物は特定されていない。

埼玉スタジアムで試合を観戦した浦和サポーターの中で受け止め方は分かれた。男性会社員(36)は、差別的な意味に理解し「最悪。許せない」と怒った。一方、男性会社員(50)は「日本人でJリーグを盛り上げようという意味だと思う」と話した。女性会社員(28)は「チームが外国人選手による補強に力を入れないことへの皮肉では」との見方を示した。
////////////////////////////////////////

See also:
http://i.imgur.com/0O2JJO8.jpg
http://www.reddit.com/r/japan/comments/1zxtpm/my_friend_just_posted_this_photo_of_urawa_reds/
http://www.brandonsun.com/sports/soccer/j-league-side-urawa-reds-remove-discriminatory-banner-from-stadium-249168211.html

More elaborate discussion in Japanese at

http://rensai.jp/?p=67645

UPDATE: I did a Japan Times column on this issue shortly afterwards. Read it at: http://www.debito.org/?p=12162

Former PM and Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori bashes his Olympic athletes, including “naturalized citizens” Chris and Cathy Reed (PLUS article on J athletes’ shortened lifespans due to the pressure)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Aaand, the inevitable has happened:  Japan’s apparently underperforming athletes (particularly its ice skaters) have invited criticism from Japan’s elite.  Tokyo 2020 Chair Mori Yoshiro, one of Japan’s biggest gaffemeisters when he served an abysmal stint as Prime Minister, decided to shoot his mouth off about champion skater Asada Mao’s propensity to choke under pressure.  But more importantly, as far as Debito.org is concerned, about how the American-Japanese skating siblings Cathy and Chris Reed’s racial background has negatively affected their performance:

“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”

Oh.  But wait.  They’re not naturalized.  They always had Japanese citizenship, since their mother is Japanese.  And how about Japan’s other athletes that also train if not live overseas (such as Gold Medalist Skater Hanyu Yuzuru, who now hails from Toronto)?  Oh, but he won, so that’s okay.  He’s a real pureblooded Japanese with the requisite yamato damashi.

In fact, the existence of people like Mori are exactly the reason why Japan’s athletes choke.  As I’ve written before, they put so much pressure  and expectation on them to perform perfectly as national representatives, not as individuals trying to achieve their personal best, so if they don’t medal (or worse yet, don’t Gold), they are a national shame.  It’s a very high-stakes game for Japan’s international athletes, and this much pressure is counterproductive for Japan:  It in fact shortens their lives not only as competitors, but as human beings (see article by Mark Schreiber after the Japanese articles).

Fortunately, this has not escaped the world media’s glance.  As CBS News put it:  “Hurray for the Olympic spirit! You seem like a perfectly sensible choice to head a billion-dollar effort to welcome the world to Tokyo, Mr. Mori!”  But expect more of this, for this is how “sporting spirit” is hard-wired in Japan.  Because these types of people (especially their invisible counterparts in the media and internet) are not only unaccountable, they’re devoid of any self-awareness or empathy.  If they think they can do better, as one brash Japanese Olympic swimmer once said, why don’t they try doing it themselves?  Then she was taken off the team, never to return.  ARUDOU, Debito

///////////////////////////////////////
WINTER OLYMPICS
Tokyo 2020 chairman Mori critical of Asada, ice dancing brother and sister
AP/Japan Today SPORTS FEB. 21, 2014, courtesy JDG, Bob, and Dosanko
http://www.japantoday.com/category/sports/view/tokyo-2020-chairman-mori-critical-of-asada

TOKYO —The head of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic organizing committee has criticized Japanese figure skater Mao Asada’s performance in the women’s short program at the Sochi Olympics.

The two-time world champion finished 16th in Wednesday’s short program after falling on her opening triple axel. Asada was a silver medalist at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where she finished second to South Korea’s Yuna Kim.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who became the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee’s chairman last month, said Asada has a habit of “always falling at the most critical time” of a competition. He blamed Asada’s short program shortcomings on her participation in the earlier team event at Sochi.

Asada performed sensationally in the free skate on Thursday night, however. She landed her trademark triple axel and wound up with a season’s best of 142.71. That gave her a total of 198.22.

“I thought I could do it,” Asada said through a translator. “I tried my best, and everything went according to practice.’

While in office, Mori had a reputation for making contentious comments. And his appointment to the Tokyo 2020 committee was criticized by some analysts who believe the 76-year-old former PM is too old to hold such a position.

Asada was selected for the inaugural team competition in the hope Japan would win a medal, but she also fell on the triple axel and Japan placed fifth.

“We shouldn’t have taken part in the team competition,” Mori said. “The psychological damage Asada incurred must have remained,” for the short program.

Mori was also critical of Japanese ice dancers Chris and Cathy Reed, who were born in the United States but compete for Japan.

“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”

==========================================
Also featured in USA Today, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Metro Montreal, The Japan Times, and others.  As CBS Sports put it:

Mr. Mori wasn’t done yet, taking a shot at Japanese ice dancers Chris Reed and Cathy Reed, the children of a Japanese mother and American father who were born and raised in the U.S. but renounced American citizenship in order to compete for Japan.

“They live in America,” Mori said. “Although they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.”

Hurray for the Olympic spirit! You seem like a perfectly sensible choice to head a billion-dollar effort to welcome the world to Tokyo, Mr. Mori!

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

Here are some Japanese articles with the original quotes:

森元首相 リード組に「五輪出場の実力はなかったが…」
「負けると分かっていた」 講演する森元首相
講演する、東京五輪・パラリンピック組織委員会会長の森元首相
Photo By 共同
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/sports/news/2014/02/20/kiji/K20140220007629530.html
[ 2014年2月20日 17:05 ]

東京五輪・パラリンピック組織委員会会長の森喜朗元首相は20日、福岡市での講演で、ソチ五輪・フィギュアスケート団体について「負けると分かっていた。浅田真央選手を出して恥をかかせることはなかった」と述べた。

また、フィギュアスケート・アイスダンスのキャシー・リード、クリス・リード組について「米国に住んでいる。(米国代表として)五輪出場の実力はなかったが、帰化させて日本選手団として出した」と語った。

浅田が団体でトリプルアクセル(3回転半ジャンプ)を成功させれば、アイスダンスの劣勢を盛り返し、銅メダルを獲得できるとの期待が日本チームにあったとの見方を強調。「(団体戦で)転んだ心の傷が残っているから(SPで)転んではいけないとの気持ちが強く出たのだろう」との同情も示した。

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

森元首相の真央らへの発言要旨
日刊スポーツ [2014年2月20日19時20分]
http://www.nikkansports.com/general/news/f-gn-tp0-20140220-1260348.html

森喜朗元首相は20日、福岡市での講演で、ソチ五輪フィギュアスケート団体について「負けると分かっていた。浅田真央選手を出して恥をかかせることはなかった」と述べた。さらに女子ショートプログラム(SP)で16位だった浅田選手を「見事にひっくり返った。あの子、大事なときには必ず転ぶ」などと評した。

森喜朗元首相の講演でのフィギュアスケートに関する発言要旨は次の通り。

頑張ってくれと見ていましたけど(浅田)真央ちゃん、(ショートプログラムで)見事にひっくり返りました。あの子、大事なときには必ず転ぶんですね。

日本は団体戦に出なければよかった。アイスダンスは日本にできる人がいない。(キャシー・リード、クリス・リードの)きょうだいはアメリカに住んでいるんですよ。(米国代表として)オリンピックに出る実力がなかったから、帰化させて日本の選手団として出している。

浅田さんが(団体戦に)出れば、3回転半をできる女性はいないから、成功すれば3位になれるかもとの淡い気持ちで出した。それで、見事にひっくり返ってしまった。

その傷が残っていたとすれば、ものすごくかわいそうな話。負けると分かっている団体戦に、浅田さんを出して恥をかかせることはなかった。

転んだ心の傷が残っているから、自分の本番の時には、何としても転んではいけないとの気持ちが強く出たのだと思いますね。勢いが強すぎて転んでしまいました。(共同)

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

See also http://sankei.jp.msn.com/smp/sochi2014/news/140220/soc14022019180058-s.htm

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

Japan Sports Pressure and Shortened Lifespans

(forwarding, courtesy of the author–Arudou Debito)

This Mainichi article, based on a piece that appeared in Flash four years ago, is about the sad fate that seems to befall Japan’s Olympic athletes. I thought I’d recycle it today. Mark

Star-studded sportsmen speed swim the Styx
Flash, 10/31/2000
By Mark Schreiber (translated by the author)

Researchers have announced findings that compared with ordinary people, their lives are shortened by six years, asserts Kunihiko Kato, an assistant at Tokyo University’s department of physical science.

To whom is Kato referring? Chain smokers? Heavy boozers? People who live in houses under high-tension power lines, or those who refuse to pay protection to gangsters?

Indeed, what activity is scientifically recognized as being so hazardous, it threatens to send otherwise robust citizens of the world’s longest-lived nation to an early grave?

The answer, reports Flash, is to earn a place on the Japanese Olympic team. Or perhaps even worse, to win a medal.

Tragic examples are legion. Take Masatoshi Nekota, a member of the volleyball gold medalist at the 1972 Munich Olympics, who succumbed to cancer at age 39. Or three other outstanding athletes, who also died in their 39th year: 1968 Mexico City men’s gymnast and bronze-medal winner Takeshi Kato, a cancer victim; steeplechase runner (Mexico) Takeshi Endo, who died of heart failure; and broad jumper Hiroomi Yamada (Mexico), who suffered a fatal stroke.

Sports glory and public acclaim failed to bring any peace of mind to marathon runner Kokichi Tsuburaya, who took the bronze medal at Tokyo in 1964. Psychologically tormented when injury forced him to miss the games four years later, he committed suicide. The note he left read, simply, “Cannot run any more.” He was 27.

“Just at Japan Steel Corporation, where I was employed, seven former olympians have already passed away,” marathon silver medalist Kenji Kimihara (Mexico) tells Flash. “Overall, I’d say about 30 or so have died.”

Kimihara, now 60, is particularly saddened when recalling those who perished by their own hand. In addition to fellow marathoner Tsuburaya, these include swimmer Ryoko Urakami and 80 meter hurdler Ikuko Yoda.

“Everyone showed them respect, but they felt stigmatized by the title “olympic team member” attached to everything they did subsequently,” sighs Kimihara. “I suppose it just became too much of a burden.”

But while mental pressures took a toll on Japan’s olympians, the sheer physical abuse can’t be disregarded either.

“After driving myself so hard during my teens, I wanted to just go back to being a normal person,” recalls Mexico City weight lifting silver medalist Masaru Ouchi, now 57. “But I’m a physical wreck. When I reached my forties, I felt like I was already sixty.”

Tokyo University’s Kato is convinced scientific data contradicts the general image of olympians and professional athletes as superb physical specimens. “Intense activity causes stress to build up, and excessive secretion of Corticotropin releasing hormone result in lowered immunity. Resistance to disease declines. There’s a greater likelihood of developing cancer.”

“Exercise causes oxygen consumption to increase, generating a toxic substance called free radicals that are harmful to the body,” Kato adds.

One side effect of too much activity may be osteoporosis. Citing data on 13 female long-distance runners, Kato notes that the average bone density of eight was 90 percent or below the normal values, and four had bone density levels equivalent to women in their seventies.

“We believe this was caused by the intense training, which lowered the volume of fat in their bodies, causing loss of calcium because they did not secrete sufficient female hormones.”

“Upholding Japan’s national honor was a heavy burden for those olympic athletes in the past,” says Kimihara. “When today’s athletes feel pressured, I’d like to see them channel their stress into constructive outlets.”

With so many depressing stories, Flash wonders, will “Q chan” — petite and personable Sydney marathon winner Naoko Takahashi — be all right?

FORWARDED ARTICLE ENDS

Fun facts #18: More than 10% of all homes in Japan are vacant, will be nearly a quarter by 2028

mytest

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Hi Blog.  With some media outlets forecasting a rise in rents due to an alleged economic recovery Abenomics (somehow seeing rising fixed costs for businesses and people as a harbinger of something good), here’s an article stating that Japan’s depopulation (except in Tokyo, where any real opportunity for economic upward mobility is clustering) is probably going to render that moot.  Japan’s housing (as you longer-termers probably know, it’s already pretty crappy and not built to last) is also depopulating, as this fascinating article from the Japan Times excerpted below demonstrates.  Already more than 10% of all homes in Japan are vacant, and in less than a generation it will be nearly a quarter.  And yet there are forecasts for rents (okay, office rents) to rise again.  I smell another real estate bubble in the works, although media-driven instead of demand-pulled.  Should be some bargains out there for those who can find the realtors and renters who aren’t “Japanese Only.”

I put this under “Fun Facts” because these stats are surprisingly insightful statements on the way things are, or will be, in Japanese society. Those of you more in the know about Japan’s property market (I’ll ask Terrie Lloyd and see if he’ll comment), please feel free to prognosticate.  ARUDOU, Debito

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

NATIONAL
Land tax loophole ensures unused, dilapidated firetraps stay standing, till they fall
Abandoned homes a growing menace
BY TOMOKO OTAKE
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 7, 2014

As Japan’s population ages and shrinks, run-down, uninhabited properties like this are becoming more common. As of 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were 7.57 million vacant homes, or 13.1 percent of all houses in Japan, up from 3.94 million in 1988 and 5.76 million in 1998, according to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. The rate is expected to rise to 23.7 percent in 2028.

While these figures include second homes and properties waiting to be rented out or sold, more than a third of the 7.57 million vacant homes in 2008 were categorized as properties left unattended by owners or whose owners have died and are not taken care of at all. Many of these properties are now causing problems in their communities, experts say. As the structures age, the risk of collapse and fire increases. Some have leaked wastewater, damaging neighboring properties. They are also a magnet for criminal behavior, such as arson. 

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/07/national/abandoned-homes-a-growing-menace/

Discussion: How about this ad by COCO’s English Juku, learning English to get a competitive advantage over foreign rivals?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  An alert Debito.org Reader has sent in the following (thanks for it):

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

I’m emailing you to let you know about a new campaign going around in Tokyo for COCO’s English Juku. English Juku advertisements have always been rather lowbrow at times, but this one has hit multiple lows in my opinion. The ads in the trains are the same advertisement banner used at the top of their main website here.

cocojukuwebsite013114

Main website contains the main advertisement. http://www.cocojuku.jp/

At first I laughed due to how awkward and confusing it appeared. On second glance on the train today I took a closer look and thought about it within the context of the Japanese text and statements made. Is this playing on racial overtones to push for a reason to be learning English? What if the bride was Indian, African, or of another Asian ethnic background such as Chinese? Are these overtones really appropriate for an advertisement?

Furthermore, a few friends of mine also pointed out how downright sexist the ad was as well. It is clearly exclusively aimed at Japanese men with the woman being just an object of possession and trade with no say on who she marries, especially in the YouTube video.

YouTube Advertisement http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O93n0jGF25M

Thought you might be interested in seeing this rather questionable advertisement campaign. It’s especially ironic considering the way that COCO recruits their instructors in the US and the images portrayed on that section of the site.

Recruitment site: http://www.cocojuku.jp/recruit/

While I laughed at first, I have to say I find this ad campaign simply offensive on many levels.

-Anonymous

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

Their other ad spot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv2pWI8sptI

COMMENT:  I’m tuckered out after the ANA advertisement issue.  I think I’ll let others have their say.  I’ll put this on Discussion mode for looser moderation.  Is this the same as the ANA ad to you, with a racialized bent to the product?  If not, why not?

On a related note, in lieu of a deeper comment, I will mention that I read Catherine Pover’s book LOVE WITH A WESTERN WOMAN (a guide for Japanese men), courtesy of CP.  And while there was some inevitable stereotyping of both the subject and the target audience, I thought the book was an earnest attempt to communicate what a “Western” woman might like and how a Japanese man might better get to know one.

I wonder what Caroline would have to say about this ad.  I’ll ask her.  ARUDOU, Debito

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 72: “Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad”, Jan 25, 2014, “Director’s Cut”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Only a few days into the case of racialized advertisement from ANA, I got tapped by the Japan Times to cover it. Debito.org Readers and Facebook Friends certainly gave me plenty of food for thought, so thank you all very much. Here’s my more polished opinion on it, which stayed the number one article on the JT Online for two full days! What follows is the “Director’s Cut” with excised paragraphs and links to sources. Thanks as always for reading and commenting to Debito.org. Arudou Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad
BY  ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times, JAN 24, 2014, Column 72 for The Community Pages
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/24/issues/dont-let-ana-off-the-hook-for-that-offensive-ad/

Making headlines recently has been a commercial by ANA, one of Japan’s flagship airlines.  Released last Saturday, its 30-second spot shows two Asian men (one a comedian named Bakarizumu, but let’s call them A and B) standing at an airport window speaking English with Japanese subtitles.

(See the ad at debito.org/ANAHanedaAd2014.mp4.)

Looking out at the jets, A says, “Haneda Airport has more international flights nowadays.”  B replies, “Finally.”  Then their exchange goes, “Next stop, Vancouver.”  “Next stop, Hanoi.”  “Exciting, isn’t it?”  Then B says, rather oddly, “You want a hug?”  When A only gives him a nonplussed look, B continues, “Such a Japanese reaction.”  When A explains, “But I am Japanese,” B counters, “I see.  Let’s change the image of Japanese people.” And A, smiling broadly, agrees to it.

Alright so far.  Except that, as you can see in the picture below, A is now wearing a strapped-on long nose and a big blond wig.  Off they fly to their destinations.
ANAHanedabignose

This has occasioned considerable debate and media coverage.  Many commenters in the English-language online forums have called this advertisement “racist” (one even said “Debito bait”; I’m chuffed), and have made motions to take their business elsewhere.  Others have said the advertisement isn’t racist, just lame.  A few managed to find a deep pocket of latent irony, saying it’s actually poking fun at the Japanese people and their insular attitudes.  Meanwhile, within Japanese-language forums, according to a Yahoo Japan poll, 82% of respondents see no problem with it.

ANAYahooJapansurvey2014
http://polls.dailynews.yahoo.co.jp/other/10721/result
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140120-00000038-jij_afp-bus_all)

(NB:  Note look how the question is worded. It introduces the issue by saying that a comedian (Bakarizumu) performed the act (read: it’s a joke!), and says that the complaints came “from foreigners” (read: not from Japanese) of “racial discrimination” (read: misleading representation of the issue). So we’ve set up the question as “we joking Japanese” vs “those kvetching foreigners” “taking a madcap jape” too seriously, and bingo, you get a vast majority of people wondering what the problem is.)

It probably comes as no surprise to you that JBC objects to this ad.  If ANA had really wanted to “change the image of Japan,” it should have avoided racializing their product.  Instead, it’s just business as usual.

Consider some other racist marketing strategies from not so long ago (visuals and reports archived at debito.org/?p=12077):

Last year, Toshiba marketed a bread maker with an obnoxiously overexuberant Japanese girl speaking katakana Japanese, wearing a blond wig and a big nose.  (Ad archived at debito.org/Toshibasuipanda.mp4.)

toshiba2013suipanda1

In 2010, Nagasaki Prefecture promoted its “foreign” buildings by showing Japanese tourists wearing—you guessed it—blond wigs and big noses.  (Ad archived at debito.org/?p=7523.)
nagasakitabinetto2

In 2005, Mandom sold men’s cosmetics with a Rasta-man motif, juxtaposing black people with a chimpanzee.  (Ad archived at debito.org/mandomproject.html.)
MandomAd2

Dare I mention the resurrection of book “Little Black Sambo” in 2005, which inspired overtly racist nursery-school songs in Saitama about black butts?  (See Matthew Chozick, “Sambo racism row reignites over kids’ play,” Zeit Gist, April 13, 2010.)
Sambooriginal

And how about the Choya plum saké commercials in 2008, featuring three girls (two Caucasian, one Japanese), the latter sporting a big plastic nose and stick-on paper blue eyes?  Although most of these ads were soon pulled after complaints, you can still go to Amazon Japan or Tokyu Hands and buy your own “gaijin” stick-on blue eyes and nose (with the caption “Harō Gaijin-San”) to sport at parties!

Har har.  Can’t you see it’s all just a joke, imbued with a deep sense of irony subversively directed at Japanese people?  Except that, as I’ve pointed out in JBCs passim, irony as humor is not one of Japan’s strong suits.

Moreover, remember when McDonald’s Japan was using a nerdy white guy to hawk newfangled burgers?  JBC argued (“Meet Mr. James, Gaijin Clown,” Sept. 1, 2009) that stereotyping of this nature only works as humor if, among other things, there is a “switch test” – i.e., everyone is fair game for parody.

But in Japan it’s not fair game.  Japanese society and media takes quick umbrage to being lampooned by the outside world, especially in a racialized manner.

Case in point:  To commemorate the publication of “Little Black Sambo,” I drew up a parody called “Little Yellow Jap” to put the shoe on the other foot (debito.org/chibikurosanbo.html).  I made the protagonist as stereotypically exaggerated as the ink-black gollywogs in the book:  bright yellow skin, round glasses, buck teeth, and clad in a fundoshi loincloth.  I pointed out on every page that this was a parody of Japan’s Sambo, and contextualized it with a full explanation in Japanese of why racialized books for children are bad.

Yet for years now in the Japanese version of Wikipedia’s entry on me, this parody is cited as an example of my “discrimination against Japanese.”  Clearly turnabout is not in fair play.

Or consider the case of British TV show QI (Philip Brasor, “Cultural insensitivity no laughing matter,” Media Mix Jan. 30, 2011, discussed here).  Producers were forced to apologize for a joke about a recently-deceased Japanese who in 1945 unluckily travelled to Nagasaki, after experiencing the first atomic bombing, to catch the second one.  A panelist had dryly quipped, “He never got the train again, I tell you.”

That’s not funny!  That’s insensitive.  And insulting!  And racist, according to the more unified online communities in Japan, backed up by protesting Japanese government officials, all of whom clearly understand irony.  (For the record:  I’m being ironic.  Please laugh.)

Back to ANA.  I bet the omnipotent gerontocracy at corporate headquarters didn’t think anything amiss (obviously; they approved the ad), because, as is often claimed in these situations, Japanese in fact “admire” (akogareru) white people.  This ad is, if anything, a paean.  After all, look at him!  He looks like Robert Redford, one of the prototypical kakkō-ii foreigners of our generation!  (They could do with a Brad Pitt update, I guess.)

In tepid apology letters, ANA uses the standard disclaimer:  “We didn’t mean to offend anyone.”  Okay.  And I’m sure many of your potential customers didn’t “mean” to be offended either.  But many were.  And if you have any pretentions to being an international company, you wouldn’t get in these sticky wickets in the first place.

(Two apology letters http://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431421
http://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431434
UK Independent on the apologies http://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431419)

To be fair, this campaign was probably cooked up not by ANA, but by one of Japan’s advertising oligarchs (no doubt Dentsu, with nearly a third of Japan’s market share).  Anyone with an eye on the Japanese media knows how they make silly amounts of money on silly stereotypes (including the one that Japanese don’t hug), while reaffirming the binary between “Japan” and “the rest of the world.”

Nevertheless, ANA deserves its lumps, because reps simply don’t know what they’re apologizing for.  In fact, they clumsily reinforced the binary, stating in press releases that complaints have “mostly come from foreign customers” (as opposed to real customers?), before finally pulling the ad last Tuesday.

Now consider this:  Gerry Nacpil, Supervisor of ANA Sky Web, wrote in his apology: “The intention of this commercial was… to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens.”

So… “global citizens” equals White people?

Now the ad is even more problematic.

To quote a friend, in an open letter to ANA:

“Dear ANA:  Are you aware that most of your foreigner customers are from places like Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur?  And that most of them probably don’t have blond/orange hair?  Oh, and even the ones with blond hair probably don’t have noses like a tengu goblin.  And pretty sure that Japanese people enjoy being hugged and have emotions.  Well, at least the Japanese who aren’t sticks-in-mud CEO boardroom types with no sense that the world doesn’t really resemble their 19th-century, ‘we are so different from you funny-looking white gaijin’ Meiji-Era mentality.

“Look forward to seeing your 2020 customers.  They may surprise you.  Sincerely, A Big-Nosed White Guy who speaks Japanese.”

Touché.  Look, Japan, if you want to host international events (such as an Olympics), or to have increased contact with the outside world, you’ll face increased international scrutiny of your attitudes under global standards.

For one of Japan’s most international companies to reaffirm a narrative that Japanese must change their race to become more “global” is a horrible misstep.  ANA showed a distinct disregard for their Non-Japanese customers—those who are “Western,” yes, but especially those who are “Asian.”

Only when Japan’s business leaders (and feudalistic advertisers) see NJ as a credible customer base they could lose due to inconsiderate behavior, there will be no change in marketing strategies.  NJ should vote with their feet and not encourage this with passive silence, or by double-guessing the true intentions behind racially-grounded messages.

This is a prime opportunity.  Don’t let ANA off the hook on this.  Otherwise the narrative of foreigner = “big-nosed blonde that can be made fun of” without turnabout, will ensure that Japan’s racialized commodification will be a perpetual game of “whack-a-mole.”

ENDS

Amazing non-news: Kyodo: “Tokyo bathhouses look to tap foreigners but ensure they behave”

mytest

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Hello Blog.  In an amazing bit of non-news completely devoid of historical context, some cub reporter at Kyodo reports that Tokyo bathhouses are taking steps to put up posters to explain Japanese bathing rules to foreigners!!  To “ensure they behave” (those rapscallions!) and “avoid embarrassments” (such as being turned away at the door before they have the chance to display any deviant behavior?).  Even though these types of posters have been up around Japanese bathing facilities for at least a decade (Introduction:  Book JAPANESE ONLY) — thanks in part to the landmark Otaru Onsens Case (which was not even mentioned in the article as background information).  Again, it’s not news.  It’s in fact recycling news from 2010.

This is another reason that Japan’s obsession with hosting international events (such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics) is kinda dumb — the domestic media has to reinforce the “Island Society” narrative by manufacturing yet another round of silly navel-gazing articles about how extraordinarily difficult it is for apparently insular Japan to cope with visitors from the outside world.  At least this time the subjects are not hostilely treating all “foreigners” on sight as potential “hooligans” (World Cup 2002) or “terrorists” (2008 Hokkaido G8 Summit), or as the source of discomfort for hotel managers (such as in pre-Fukushima Fukushima Prefecture and other hotel surveys).

Plus these bathhouses are recognizing NJ as an economic force that might help them survive.  As opposed to the even more stupid behavior by, for example, Yuransen Onsen in Wakkanai, which booted out foreigners (okay, consigned them to an unlawful unisex separate “Gaijin Bath” at six times the price) until it finally went bankrupt anyway due to lack of customers.  Good.  But again, Kyodo, do some research.  Arudou Debito

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

NATIONAL
Tokyo bathhouses look to tap foreigners but ensure they behave
BY SATOSHI IIZUKA, KYODO NEWS, courtesy of Olaf
DEC 30, 2013
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/12/30/national/tokyo-bathhouses-look-to-tap-foreigners-but-ensure-they-behave/

Bathhouses in Tokyo are taking greater steps to welcome foreigners visiting the capital by preparing a guidance manual and poster in several languages to help them understand the proper etiquette for communal bathing so they can avoid embarrassments.

“We would like to receive foreigners with warm hospitality so they can enjoy the culture of ordinary Japanese,” said Kazuyuki Kondo, who runs a bathhouse in Ota Ward.

Public bathhouses, or “sento,” which originally became popular during the Edo Period (1603-1868), are still in use, especially by people who do not have bathing facilities in the home.

After bathhouse operators in Ota and the municipal government completed the manual and poster, they distributed them to about 50 sento in the ward in March, with a view to attracting more foreigners visiting Tokyo for business or leisure, as the ward is home to Haneda airport.

The illustrated manual, written in English, Korean and both traditional and simplified Chinese, is intended for use by sento staff to communicate with foreigners.

It contains expressions such as, “The fee is ¥450,” “I’m sorry, but please remove your undergarments before entering the bathing area,” and “Please be mindful of other customers and enjoy yourself quietly.”

The poster, which shows a typical bathhouse layout and a flow chart for using it, also helps customers understand the sometimes complicated system.

Kondo, owner of Hasunuma Onsen, said the signs are effective and foreign customers are having no problems. He said many visit after learning about his bathhouse over the Internet or from acquaintances.

The Tokyo Sento Association followed suit and provided the same contents in manuals and posters to all bathhouses in the metropolitan area in November, and is considering spreading them nationwide in the near future.

“More and more foreigners will come to Tokyo as Haneda airport will increase its slots for international flights. What’s more, we have to prepare to welcome them ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020,” said Kondo, who previously headed the association’s Ota branch.

Every sento usually has several large baths over 50 cm deep. The temperature of the water is usually kept at around 42 degrees, and some even tap hot natural spring water, technically making them “onsen.”

Besides the basic function of bathing, sento are also community gathering venues that cross generational lines.

As of November, there were 709 sento in the capital, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. There are more in areas with many old detached houses and apartment blocks, some of which have no bathing facilities.

Sento have been closing by the dozens in recent years, due largely to the aging of the owners, a lack of successors and rising maintenance costs.

But now they are being re-evaluated as a kind of spa facility in cities and towns where people can relax inexpensively, according to the association.

“I don’t expect a surge in the number of foreign users, but I am sure sento have gradually become popular with them,” Kondo added.

“Sento can be a good tourism resource, as there must be foreigners who are looking forward to bathing in them, especially among repeat visitors to Japan,” said Masaru Suzuki, a professor at Obirin University in Tokyo.

“What is important is how to promote them to travelers. A useful way would be to ask foreigners who are living Japan to help us,” said Suzuki, whose specialty is tourism marketing.

He suggested that foreigners studying or working in Japan be asked to introduce sento through social-networking sites, such as Facebook.

Setting up a “free-of-charge day” for foreigners would also help them seek out their first bathhouse experience in Japan, he added.

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Xenophobia taints No. 1 cleanup

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

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

5. Japan to adopt Hague treaty

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

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

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

4. Visa regimes get a rethink

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

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

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

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

3. Hate speech turns murderous

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

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

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

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

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

2. LDP holds both Diet chambers

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

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

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

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

1. The state secrets law

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Tangent: Debito.org cited in Cracked.com!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As the year-end holidays approach, Debito.org usually puts up topics that are more tangental and less serious.  As Japan is going through something I consider to be very serious (a return to Prewar values and political systems), this is hardly the time, but I think I’ve said so far all that one needs to say about the issues for now in previous blog posts.  So today, let’s look at a site that I have become quite a fan of:  Cracked.com.

I used to read CRACKED magazine, but always found it to be an insipid copy of MAD Magazine.  But online, it’s a place with an obnoxious, scatological tone that has thankfully graduated from its high-school smart-alecky roots.  Their articles are some of the best diversions and procrastinations I’ve had over the years (they’re quite well referenced, too).  It seems that writers from them are fans of Debito.org as well.  Check out this site:

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5 Innocent Gestures That Make You Look Like a Dick Overseas
By C. Coville, October 04, 2013, 864,352 views

So you’re not making as many friends as you would like in your world travels. You’ve practiced some local phrases, you’ve stopped humming “America the Beautiful” during pauses in conversations, you’ve even personally apologized about the drone that ruined Hashim’s wedding last week. But your foreign friends still don’t accept you. What’s going on? Maybe you’re doing one of these …

#5. Blowing Your Nose (in Japan)

Read the rest, including the Debito.org citation, at: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-innocent-gestures-that-make-you-look-like-dick-overseas/

Well, we can debate here the relative veracity of the claims made.  I for one never found people looking at me funny for blowing my nose, but perhaps 1) I was oblivious, or 2) it was Sapporo and there’s a higher tolerance for it, given the long, long winters.  But anyway, Holiday Tangent.  Comments?  ARUDOU Debito

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 70, Dec. 4, 2013: “In Japan, no escape from The Eye’s perpetual policing glare”

mytest

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ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Hi Blog.  Thanks once again for putting this article on the JT Online’s Top Ten for more than a day.  Channelling Foucault’s Panopticon, here’s my latest.  Arudou Debito

In Japan, no escape from The Eye’s perpetual policing glare
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, DEC 4, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/12/04/issues/in-japan-no-escape-from-the-eyes-perpetual-policing-glare/

TheEyeNPAstarephoto

NJstarephoto

(More about these “Eye” signs at http://www.debito.org/?p=11951)

Hey, all you residents heading abroad for the holidays, here’s a little experiment to try on yourself: When you return to Japan, take note of an interesting phenomenon that starts just as you deplane and plug back into Japanese society.

You’ll feel a palpable and intractable pressure — a pressure to conform to The Order, that standardized way of doing things in Japan. You can use it to get what you want, or you can defy it and feel the burn of its stare.

I call this pressure The Eye.

Of course, you can find The Eye in all societies. Also known as the “evil eye” or “hairy eyeball,” it’s a glare you get when you’re doing something the crowd doesn’t like. Humans as a species have an innate sensitivity to the feeling of being watched. Perhaps it’s a primal instinct to keep us in formation and out of trouble.

But The Eye in Japan is so powerful that it doesn’t need a crowd. Just step out into public view and you’ll feel it. And because it is so constant, normalized and pervasive, it triggers a conditioned reflex.

Consider the reflex triggered by Chinese water torture: The victim gets water dripped between the eyes and blinks it away. Enough drops over a long period and the victim’s self-control erodes, and he blinks uncontrollably even without the dripping water.

The Eye similarly conditions you. It makes the feeling of being watched involuntary — to the point where you feel the need to look around before doing something unusual in public.

The Eye thus compels you towards collective behavior: Mustn’t be forceful or push back against the status quo, lest you get hairy-eyeballed.

For example, call upon a Japanese student in any classroom and ask his opinion about something. The Eye turns on him like a heat lamp on the back of his neck. He’ll pause, look around and wonder — if not flat-out ask — what the consensus opinion is.

Even if you clarify that you are asking for his personal opinion, you’ll generally get evasion or a noncommittal answer.

Understandably. After all, nobody wants to stand out in the spotlight and push against something, especially if they have no stake or emotional investment in it. And even if they did, who wants to be judged for it? Life is less complicated for an anonymous member of a crowd. The Eye thus keeps Japanese classrooms quiet.

Of course, peer pressure exists in classrooms worldwide. But even outside class, where there are fewer “peers” to worry about, the lack of individual push-back in Japan is marked and noticeable.

Let’s say you’re walking down the street in the middle of the night and you see a “don’t walk” red light at an intersection. Assume there are no cars coming, so you could actually cross safely. In Japan, people often still don’t cross. You wait for it to turn green, especially if somebody else is there ready to look at you funny if you break ranks.

Or let’s say you’re walking down that street again and see a cordon of orange traffic pylons around half a sidewalk that squeezes pedestrians into one lane and inconveniences everyone. After sizing up the situation, you notice that the cordon serves no practical purpose because it’s Sunday and no one’s working on the site.

Yet you still don’t move the pylons over. You squeeze into the narrowed foot traffic and silently negotiate with oncoming pedestrians who can’t decide which side to walk on (as often happens in societies that lead with the right hand yet drive on the left).

The Eye thus forces everyone to assume that something beyond individual control is probably there for a purpose, and that no individual should stand out by interfering.

Rarely are there enough standouts to balance the scales, or even tip them in the iconoclast’s favor. It creates the inverse of “breaking ranks”: If only one person reasserts the status quo, the rest will generally fall into line.

Now consider the extra pressure on people who often cannot avoid The Eye: the non-Japanese (NJ).

It is said that privacy in Japan is the art of not being seen. This means that natural standouts, such as Japan’s “visible minorities” (i.e. the NJ and Japanese who don’t “look Japanese”), cannot opt out of The Eye’s glare. They attract attention no matter what they do — even if they do absolutely nothing.

Granted, sometimes that works in the NJ’s favor — that is, if they happen to appeal to a desirable standard (e.g., tall, well-groomed, moneyed and male). They attract the attention of the Giggly Ingenue and Bored Cougar. In other words, they get “the look,” not The Eye.

But that also means they don’t get left alone. They have to endure more intrusions into their space. Random bystanders barge in and try to be A Gracious Host to The Gaijin Guest.

Not to mention the other people who hijack The Eye for their own purposes: the Culture Vultures, for one example, who ostensibly want to practice their English with any NJ face, but in actual fact harbor a gaijin (foreigner) fetish.

Such fetishists want to “study” anything NJ do, believing it to be somehow symptomatic of how all foreigners behave, right down to checking on what’s in their supermarket carts or garbage bags. Some even follow NJ around and photograph them surreptitiously, as if tracking rare animals. It can get creepy.

As for the motley NJ who don’t fit that aforementioned desirable standard, The Eye eventually convinces them that they really are somehow deviant and undesirable. And many go a bit nuts due to their apparent inadequacy. They’ll be ignored, but studiously so.

On the other hand, there are NJs who do “look Japanese” and can “pass” as such. By donning drab colors, effecting a sullen public mask and adopting unobtrusive behaviors like everyone else, they can escape The Eye.

But these are the exceptions that prove the rule — the rule being that NJ in Japan are naturally viewed as suspicious. And the law as enforced reinforces that.

As detailed in previous Community Page articles passim, aside from the (now remotely trackable) “gaijin cards” that must be carried 24-7, racial profiling by Japan’s police is normal and legally sanctioned. Probable cause is not necessary for search and interrogation of NJ, since every one of them is potentially a visa overstayer. NJ are also given extra and distinct procedures in criminal jurisprudence, incarceration and public registration.

Then there’s the extra scrutiny from neighbors, encouraged by extralegal intrusive regimes such as government online “snitch sites” (see “Downloadable discrimination,” Zeit Gist, March 30, 2004) and unlawful visa checks by hotels, businesses and workplaces (“Gaijin card checks spread as police deputize the nation,” ZG, Nov. 13, 2007). All of these practices are part and parcel of The Order for NJ — for NJ in Japan must be watched.

But less considered is how Japan’s top-down enforcement mechanisms are also enforced bottom-up and side-to-side — for everyone.

That is how The Eye is manifest. And it completes the circuit of the system by making everyone watch and police one another.

Usually I like to conclude a column with advice about what to do about the issue in question. This time, however, shikata ga nai — there is no escape from The Eye. In fact, you’ll even resort to hairy-eyeballing someone yourself if you see aberrant behavior, glad to be the one staring for a change.

The only escape is to head back to the airport and exit Japanese society. As many Japanese do.

Then you’ll notice the opposite effect. Japanese free of The Eye often go overboard in their conduct, doing loud, brazen things in public they’d never dream of doing in Japan, given the sudden easing of societal boundaries.

Tabi no haji wa kakisute (“throw away your shame while on a trip”) is the Japanese proverb that justifies such behavior: You don’t know anyone around you and you won’t be there for all that long, so you can do even shameful things if you like. After all, few locals will police them like Japanese would police NJ back home; overseas, cultural relativism turns many a blind hairy eyeball.

Break over, they’ll come back to Japan and plug right back in. As will you.

Scholar Kenichi Yoshida once famously wrote that “Japan is a circle.” I’d amend that: It’s a closed loop of perpetual policing.

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

Debito Arudou adapted this essay from the introduction of his 2011 book “In Appropriate: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan,” now available as an e-book for ¥935. See www.debito.org/inappropriate.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday Community page of the month. Send your comments on these issues and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

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

mytest

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

justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nice segue. Told you he was smooth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Donald Keene Center opens in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture. His life and library can be seen, for a price.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Saw this interesting poster in, of all places, an elevator in Narita Airport last September:

DonaldKeeneCenter

Yes, that’s our Donald Keene, currently aged 91, whose center last September 21 was opened up in Kashiwazaki (for those who unfamiliar with that part of Niigata Prefecture, K-town is in between Nagaoka and Joetsu; nice beach) in order to transmit “the excellence of Japanese literature” (watashi wa ninon bungaku no subarashisa o tsutaetai).

This is an important event, as it counts as an established NJ legacy on the scale of Edwin Dun and of course Lafcadio Hearn/Koizumi Yakumo (both of whom have their lives immortalized in building form).

Now, where Debito.org has taken issue with Keene is with not with his scholarship or contributions to the field of Japanese studies (indeed admirable), but with his naturalization while publicly denigrating NJ.  As chronicled here and in the Japan Times, he himself made a big fuss about how he was becoming a Japanese citizen for selfless reasons, e.g., to “become one of them“, to show “solidarity with the Japanese people” in their time of great need, so that he might help victims of the Tohoku Disasters in some way.

Fine.  But he also threw in all sorts of irrelevancies and nastiness, such as making himself out to be morally superior to other NJ residents (contrasting himself with those allegedly fleeing Japan like the mythical “Flyjin”, mentioning how he wasn’t committing crimes like they were — despite actual NJ crime trends).  It was a poor show of social science by a trained researcher.

If he’s going to be mean, then he’s going to have his record scrutinized like everyone else.  So, despite his promises to “contribute to areas affected by the [Tohoku] disaster“, by now what has he done?  Put his Donald Keene Center in Tohoku to attract tourists?  Sorry, Kashiwazaki is quite far away from the disaster areas, and the Donald Keene Center website doesn’t even mention the events in Tohoku as any form of motivation.  Visited Tohoku like other NJ to help out with relief efforts?  Well, according to his English Wikipedia entry, he gave a speech in Sendai; thanks, but…  Or opening up his library for free to the public?  No, sorry, that’s not how business is done:

DonaldKeeneCenter2

Not sure where profits are going.  Again, no mention of contribution to disaster relief on the Center’s website.

And of course, there is one very big contribution to Japan he could still yet make.  One very big open secret about douseiaisha in Japan is that even if they can’t get officially married (due to Japan’s koseki system), they can still adopt one another and establish inheritance rights.  That’s precisely what Keene did by naturalizing, getting his own koseki, and then adding his partner to it.  So in this worldwide wave of tolerance/reactionary intolerance towards gay marriage, gay rights is another issue Keene could use his influence to raise awareness about (and before you say he’s too old to do so, consider George Takei).  But no.

Again, these are all a person’s life choices, and I will respect Keene’s.  Except for the fact that he doesn’t respect others’ life choices (he should read “Yes I Can” by Sammy Davis Jr., and learn something about not denigrating other minorities in his position to advance himself, and then pulling up ladders of opportunity behind him). He doesn’t seem to be keeping his public promises.  His pandering to stereotypes about NJ, plus public gestures of self-hugging while making a show of his apparent self-sacrifices, are disingenuous upon closer inspection.

I’m not in the habit of paraphrasing Depeche Mode (I’m famously a proud fan of Duran Duran), but maybe it’s time to start.  A stanza of “Everything Counts” applies here:

“All for himself, after all.”

That is not the best legacy for immigrants and former NJ to leave behind.  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE OCTOBER 8, 2014:  Dr. Donald Keene reiterates his belief that NJ left in significant numbers after the 3/11 Disasters in Tohoku in a recent Yomiuri interview. Even though I demonstrated in a Japan Times column that this was not the case in April 2012.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10081
So much for his role as a scholar… 

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

Message Special / Donald Keene / My life now is the happiest that I ever had: Scholar
Kunihiko Miura / The Yomiuri Shimbun
11:11 pm, October 05, 2014
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001615967

When the terrible things happened in Tohoku, and especially when I read that many foreigners who had lived in Japan, worked in Japan, were leaving the country, I was very angry, and I wondered what I could do to show I was different. (REST OF THE ARTICLE IN COMMENTS SECTION BELOW).

TheDiplomat.com: “In Japan, Will Hafu Ever Be Considered Whole?”, on the debate about Japan’s increasing diversity

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Hi Blog. I was contacted recently for a few quotes on this subject (an important debate, given the increasing diversity within the Japanese citizenry thanks to international marriage), and I put the reporter in touch with others with more authoritative voices on the subject. I will excerpt the article below. What do you think, especially those readers who have Japanese children or are “half Japanese” (man, how I find that concept distasteful in Japan’s lexicographical context) themselves? Me, I think it’s a helluva lot more sensitive than this example of pap (succumbing to the temptation to zoologize people) passing as journalism about “haafu” that appeared in the J-media about a year ago. Arudou Debito

hafuthefilm

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In Japan, Will Hafu Ever Be Considered Whole?
Mixed-race individuals and their families seek acceptance in a homogeneous Japan.
The Diplomat.com, October 03, 2013
By J.T. Quigley (excerpt), courtesy of the author
Entire article with photos at http://thediplomat.com/2013/10/03/in-japan-will-hafu-ever-be-considered-whole/?all=true

“Spain! Spain!” the boys shouted at her and her brother, day in and day out at a summer camp in Chiba prefecture. The incessant chanting eventually turned into pushing and hitting. One morning, she even discovered that her backpack full of clothes had been left outside in the rain.

“It was the worst two weeks of our lives,” recalls Lara Perez Takagi, who was six years old at the time. She was born in Tokyo to a Spanish father and Japanese mother.

“When our parents came to pick us up at the station, we cried for the whole day. I remember not ever wanting to do any activities that involved Japanese kids and lost interest in learning the language for a long time, until I reached maturity and gained my interest in Japan once again.”

By the year 2050, 40 percent of the Japanese population will be age 65 or older. With Japanese couples having fewer children than ever before, Japan is facing a population decline of epic proportions. However, one demographic continues to grow: Japanese and non-Japanese mixed-race couples. But in one of the world’s most homogeneousous countries, is Japan ready to accept their offspring?

Biracial Japanese nationals like Takagi are an increasingly common sight in Japan. The latest statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare indicate that one out of every 50 babies born in 2012 had one non-Japanese parent. Additionally, 3.5 percent of all domestic marriages performed last year were between Japanese and foreigners. To put those numbers into perspective, the earliest reliable census data that includes both mixed race births and marriages shows that fewer than one out of 150 babies born in 1987 were biracial and only 2.1 percent of marriages that year were between Japanese and non-Japanese.

Takagi is one of a growing number of hafu – or half Japanese – who have grown up between two cultures. The term itself, which is derived from the English word “half,” is divisive in Japan. Hafu is the most commonly used word for describing people who are of mixed Japanese and non-Japanese ethnicity. The word is so pervasive that even nontraditional-looking Japanese may be asked if they are hafu.

Rather than calling someone mixed-race or biracial, some believe that the term hafu insinuates that only the Japanese side is of any significance. That could reveal volumes about the national attitude toward foreigners, or perhaps it’s just the word that happened to stick in a country where mixed-race celebrities are increasingly fixtures on television.

No Entry

Olaf Karthaus, a professor in the Faculty of Photonics Science and Technology at the Chitose Institute of Science and Technology, is the father of five “hafu” children. Far from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, he raised them in Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, which makes up 20 percent of Japan’s total land mass, yet houses only five percent of the population.

In 1999, Karthaus visited an onsen (hot spring) with a group of international friends, all married to Japanese spouses. The onsen had decided to deny entry to foreigners after some negative experiences with Russian sailors, hanging signs that read “Japanese Only” and refusing entry to all foreigners.

The Caucasian members of his group were flatly denied access to the bathhouse based on their foreign appearance. When management was asked if their children – who were born and raised in Japan and full Japanese citizens – would be allowed to bathe, the negative attitude toward anyone who appeared to be non-Japanese became shockingly clear.

“Asian-looking kids can come in. But we will have to refuse foreign-looking ones,” was the onsen’s answer. Negative sentiment had trickled down from a group of rowdy sailors to defenseless toddlers.

Karthaus, along with co-defendants Ken Sutherland and Debito Arudou – an equal rights activist who was born in the U.S. but became a naturalized Japanese citizen – sued the onsen for racial discrimination. The plaintiffs won, and the onsen was forced to pay them one million yen ($10,000) each in damages. The case made international headlines and shed light on issues of race and acceptance in Japan.

Regardless of Karthaus’ negative experience, he expresses a deep fondness for Japan and says that none of his children have been direct victims of racism.

“My son got called a gaijin (a Japanese term that literally means outsider – as opposed to the more formal gaikokujin, which means foreigner) once, in the third grade. But there was no discrimination otherwise for my other kids,” Karthaus tells The Diplomat. “My eldest daughter actually dyed her hair to look more foreign.”

Legal Complexity

Many observers see a loosening of immigration policy as a potential remedy to the birth-rate issue, but Japan, which along with the Koreas topped the list in a Harvard Institute study of the most racially homogeneous countries, is largely unwilling to accept an influx of foreigners.

“Although the government cannot prevent media hyperbole, the Justice Ministry could do much more with its crime statistics, which belie the common perception that immigrants are to blame for increases in petty crime and drug abuse,” writes Bloomberg.

For those foreigners who have made a home in Japan, the law for any biracial children they have is complex. While children can enjoy the benefits of dual citizenship, the government doesn’t allow hafu to retain their dual nationality after age 22. According to the Tokyo Legal Affairs Bureau, this decision is based on concerns over what would happen in the event of international friction or military action between a dual-citizen’s other country and Japan.

“It’s not just a matter of ‘but what if we declare war on your other country – which side will you choose?’” says Arudou, who changed his name from David Aldwinckle after obtaining Japanese citizenship in 2000. He renounced his U.S. citizenship two years later, in accordance with the strict rules against being a dual national.

“There have been debates on revising to allow dual [citizenship], due to Nobel Prize winners who naturalized overseas, but they failed because, again, people worried about loyalty and hidden foreigners,” Arudou adds.

The denial of dual citizenship beyond age 22 was actually put in place quite recently, in a 1984 amendment to the Japanese Nationality Act. Japan is a jus sanguinis country, meaning that citizenship is based on blood, not location of birth. With an increase in the number of mixed-race couples giving birth to children with dual citizenship, the government decided that restrictions were necessary to preserve national sovereignty.

Rest of the article at:
http://thediplomat.com/2013/10/03/in-japan-will-hafu-ever-be-considered-whole/?all=true

Is Japan ready for Olympics? Kyodo: Hokkaido bathhouse refuses entry to Maori visiting scholar due to traditional tattoos

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maorirefuseekyodonews091213

Maori woman refused entry to bath due to traditional tattoos
SAPPORO, Sept. 12, 2013 Kyodo News, courtesy of JK
http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/09/245956.html

A public bath facility in Eniwa, Hokkaido, refused entry to a Maori woman from New Zealand due to her face tattoos, a facility official said Thursday.

The Maori language lecturer, 60, has the tattoos, called ta moko, worn traditionally by some indigenous New Zealanders, on her lips and chin. She was in Hokkaido for a conference on indigenous languages in the town of Biratori in the northernmost prefecture.

On Sunday afternoon a group of 10 people involved in the conference visited the thermal baths but were refused entry by a facility staff member.

When a member of the group claimed the decision was discriminatory, the staff replied that the facility prohibits entry to anyone with tattoos in order to put customers at ease.

“Even if it is traditional culture, a typical person cannot judge the context behind the tattoos,” the facility official told reporters.

An Ainu language lecturer who was in the group said he felt sorry to disappoint an important guest.

“It is unfortunate that other cultures are not understood,” he said.

According to the food and sanitation section of the Hokkaido prefectural government and the National Federation of Public Bath Industry Trade Unions, the law on public baths allows operators to refuse entry to customers with infectious diseases, but does not rule on customers with tattoos.

Prohibition of tattoos is often used by public facilities in Japan to prevent entry by members of the country’s organized crime groups, many of whom have tattoos on their bodies.

ENDS

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

Hi Blog.  Oh the ironies of the above happening.  It’s standard practice nationwide at many public bathhouses to refuse entry to Japanese with tattoos because they might be yakuza, and it’s long been a debate when one gets NJ who have tattoos as fashion statements.

isawafront

(Courtesy Debito.org Rogues’ Gallery. Note sign and people with tattoos, on left.  And while we’re at it, note sign that refuses foreigners who can’t speak Japanese and who don’t have valid visas.  More information here.)

But what really floors me is that a) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the famous Otaru Onsens Case (where people were refused entry just for being foreign; well, okay, just looking foreign), b) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the indigenous Ainu (whose conference in Biratori this indigenous Maori lecturer was attending), and c) it’s a traditional face tattoo, which the Ainu themselves used to have before the GOJ outlawed them:

ainuliptattooing

(Courtesy http://www.ksc.kwansei.ac.jp/~jed/CompCult/)

Well, luckily for these bathhouse owners the GOJ erased that culture in its indigenous Ainu, not to mention erased most of the Ainu culture and people themselves.   So nobody in Japan can claim cultural suppression of expression of tattoo culture anymore since suppression worked so well.

But wait, there’s more irony.  Check this out:

Gov’t aims to complete national Ainu museum for 2020 Olympics
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130911p2a00m0na034000c.html

アイヌ政策推進会議:「象徴空間、20年に」 五輪に合わせ政府方針
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130911dde041010025000c.html

Full text of articles below.  Submitter JK notes:

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

On the one hand, it’s about time the Ainu get the recognition they deserve.  Yet on the other hand, focusing on the Ainu creates a cultural blind spot:

“The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony.”

Wait, hold on – why stop with just the Ainu? Why not end discrimination against *all* people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony?

My fear is that the GOJ will use the Olympics to politicize the Ainu at the expense of other NJ (e.g. Zainichi  Koreans, immigrants).

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

That’s precisely the point, really.  If we’re the GOJ, we’ll turn a blind eye towards (if not actively promote) the cultural suppression and denial of domestic ethnic diversity.

Except when we’re on our best behavior because the eyes of the world are on us.  Then we’ll pay lip service to the ending of discrimination against one minority group.  Never mind the others.

And if anyone comes here during the Olympics and gets refused service somewhere?  Sorry, shikata ga nai.  We have no laws against racial discrimination in Japan.  Even though it’s closing in on twenty years since we promised to do so when signing the UN CERD in 1995.  Maybe if you give us the Olympics a few more times, we’ll promise to protect a few more minorities.

I assume the Maori researcher has a topic for her next research paper.  Arudou Debito

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

先住民族マオリ女性の入浴拒否 北海道・石狩管内の温泉、顔の入れ墨理由に(道新 09/12 06:25)

http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/donai/491172.html
ニュージーランドの先住民族マオリの言語指導者で、日高管内平取町で6日まで開かれたアイヌ語復興を目指す講習会の講師を務めた女性が、石狩管内の民間の温泉施設で顔の入れ墨を理由に入館を断られていたことが11日、分かった。講習会関係者は「入れ墨はマオリの尊厳の象徴であり、大変残念」としている。

女性はエラナ・ブレワートンさん(60)。講習会関係者ら約10人で8日、札幌市内でのアイヌ民族の行事を見学後、入浴と食事のため温泉施設に行った。その際、ブレワートンさんの唇とあごの入れ墨を見た温泉側が「入れ墨入館禁止」を理由に入館を断った。同行したアイヌ民族の関係者らが温泉側に「多様な文化を受け入れることが必要では」と再考を求めたが聞き入れられなかった。

同温泉は、入り口に「入れ墨入館禁止」の看板を設置。入れ墨がある人の入浴はすべて断っているという。ブレワートンさんは「深い悲しみを感じた」と落胆。温泉の支配人は「入れ墨にもいろいろな背景があることは理解するが、一般客はなかなか分からない。例外を認めると、これまでの信頼を裏切ることになる」と説明している。<北海道新聞9月12日朝刊掲載>

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

Gov’t aims to complete national Ainu museum for 2020 Olympics
September 11, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130911p2a00m0na034000c.html

SAPPORO — The national government’s panel to work on revitalizing Ainu culture has decided to complete the building of an Ainu-themed museum and memorial park around Lake Poroto in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, by the summer of 2020, with a goal to promote Japan’s multiethnic culture during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, chairman of the Council for Ainu Policy Promotion, said, “The government aims to make the 2020 Olympics an opportunity for people overseas to learn about Ainu culture.” His comments came during a panel meeting on Sept. 11 to explain the plan to complete construction of the “Symbolic Place for Ethnic Harmony” as a national center for Ainu culture revitalization before the Games begin in Tokyo in July 2020.

The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony. It will conduct studies on Ainu history and culture while working on human resource development for the cultural preservation of the Ainu. The government also plans to bury bones of Ainu people at the site, which have been collected from their graves for research purposes by institutions including the University of Tokyo and Hokkaido University.

An expert panel on Ainu policy blueprinted the idea of building the memorial museum and park in 2009 as the 2008 Diet resolution concluded that the Ainu were an indigenous people of Japan.
ENDS

Original Japanese:

アイヌ政策推進会議:「象徴空間、20年に」 五輪に合わせ政府方針
毎日新聞 2013年09月11日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130911dde041010025000c.html

政府の「アイヌ政策推進会議」(座長・菅義偉官房長官)が11日、札幌市であり、北海道白老(しらおい)町のポロト湖周辺に整備するアイヌ文化の復興拠点「民族共生の象徴となる空間」(象徴空間)を2020年度にオープンする工程表を決定した。

菅官房長官はあいさつで、東京五輪が開催される20年7月までに象徴空間を完成させる考えを示し、「(東京五輪を)海外の皆さんにアイヌのことを知っていただく機会にしたい」と述べた。

象徴空間はアイヌ差別の歴史に終止符を打ち、多民族共生社会の実現を目指す拠点。アイヌの歴史や文化の展示・調査研究、アイヌ文化の伝承と人材の育成などを行うほか、北海道大や東京大などが研究目的でアイヌ墓地から収集した遺骨を慰霊する。

「アイヌを先住民族とする」とした国会決議(08年6月)を受け、政府の「アイヌ政策のあり方に関する有識者懇談会」が09年に象徴空間構想を打ち出した。【千々部一好】
ENDS

 

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 67 Sept 10 2013 “If you’re jozu and you know it, hold your ground”

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justbecauseicon.jpg
==================================
IF YOU’RE JOZU AND YOU KNOW IT, HOLD YOUR GROUND
JBC 67 for the Japan Times Community Page, September 10, 2013
By ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/09/09/issues/if-youre-jzu-and-you-know-it-hold-your-ground

It’s been a long, hot summer, so time for a lighter topic for JBC:

A non-Japanese (NJ) friend in Tokyo recently had an interesting experience while out drinking with coworkers. (For the record – and I only say this because how you look profoundly affects how you are treated in Japan – he is a youngish Caucasian-looking male.)

His Japanese literacy is high (which is why he was hired in the first place), but his speaking ability, thanks to watching anime in America from childhood, is even higher — so high, in fact, that his colleagues asked him whether he is part-Japanese!

That kinda harshed his buzz. He wondered how he should respond. Should he abide by Japanese manners and deferentially deny his jouzu-ness? Or accept the praise with a “thank you” and a smile?

I commented that he should not only say thank you and accept the accolades, but also claim the part-Japaneseness. Yes, lie about it.

Why? Because this simple-looking interaction involves several issues, such as social hierarchy, bad science and privacy. And if not handled well, this episode could end up eroding his standing within this group

First, hierarchy: Long-time readers of this column are by now aware that I see most social interactions in terms of power relationships.

Especially in Japan, where just about everything from politeness levels to porn is a matter of power. There is almost always some element of social stratification, e.g., by age, gender, educational level, kohai/senpai status etc. involved.

One’s social standing naturally affects expectations of how people should behave, and what manners one should adopt. But manners get really screwy if NJ are involved.

For example, consider the expectations behind international communication strategies. It’s pretty much axiomatic that NJ who don’t “look Japanese” can’t possibly speak Japanese. NJ must speak and be spoken to English!

Which means that if somebody has the courage to address an NJ (overcoming the group psychosis of English instruction in Japan; see “Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English,” JBC Sept. 8, 2010), he will often take it as a personal affront if the NJ defies expectations by clicking into Japanese.

Even if no umbrage is taken, the Japanese-speaking NJ is still treated as deviant. You see that in frequent microaggressive behavior like “hen na gaijin” snipes, or the occasional public figure candidly wishing that “gaijin” weren’t fluent (see “Newscaster regrets anti-foreigner quip”, Asahi Shinbun, Dec. 21, 2006).

That’s one issue. The second is the bad science. Do people seriously believe that having Japanese ancestry makes you better at Japanese?

Actually, many do. But that’s quite unscientific. Admittedly, growing up where people are speaking Japanese around you is helpful for learning what I call “Kitchen Japanese,” i.e., unaccented speech but limited literacy. However, not all people with Japanese blood grow up in a Japanese-language environment, so the connection remains tenuous.

In any case, bloodline doesn’t account for my NJ friend’s Japanese literacy, which rarely happens without structured and disciplined study. He accomplished it, hence the compliments. But the praise is still entangled within a “blood = ability” narrative.

Fact is, Japanese language is a skill, which means it can be learned by anyone able to learn a foreign language, regardless of bloodline or background.

Which leads us to the third issue: privacy. What business was it of my friend’s co-workers to ask about his background?

That’s why he should feel free to lie about it. After all, everyone else in Japan lies about things that are nobody’s business.

Consider the single young lady with the ring on her finger. Ask her where she got it and she’ll probably say she bought it for herself. Even if her kareshi gave it to her last night at the love hotel. Why? Because personal matters are kept private.

Lying is nothing controversial. I’ve talked before about how not telling the truth is a standard practice of adult life in Japan (see “The costly fallout of tatemae and Japan’s culture of deceit,” JBC Nov. 1, 2011).

But in this case, lying might actually do some good. By confounding expectations.

Confounding expectations erodes stereotypes. And an excellent way to do this (as comedians and satirists throughout the ages have done) is by poking fun through absurdity.

Naturally, there will be some resistance. Critics of this column essentially believe that Japanese society can never be satirized, i.e., using humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to criticize societal stupidity and folly. That’s what this column has done for years, engendering howls of “cultural insensitivity” etc.

They’re missing the point of irony and satire within social commentary. Since Japanese humor doesn’t have much sarcasm, avenues are limited for pointing out foibles. Fortunately, you can still be absurd and get your point across.

Let’s play this out. Consider what would happen if my visibly-Caucasian friend were to (falsely) claim Japanese lineage in this setting.

The dogmatists will be pleased to have their expectations confirmed – quite possibly bloodline is the only explanation they’ll accept.
The critical thinkers may pause and say to themselves, “Hang on, really?” And maybe, just maybe, a few will realize that the question is patently absurd, and that blood is irrelevant to learning skills.

But what if my friend instead went the route of humility and showed deferential manners? He’d lose. Because, again, Japanese manners are not applied equally to NJ.

For example, even if a Japanese says, either as a response or a disclaimer, “My language ability is no good,” it is usually taken as pro forma humility. People pretty much know “he’s just saying that” and don’t take it all that literally.

However, if a NJ does it, it reaffirms the narrative and expectation that NJ don’t speak Japanese.

But there are knock-on effects for NJ, especially if they have acted deferentially to their juniors: They’ve cut themselves off at the knees and taken themselves down a rung on the social hierarchy.

Never do that. As I’ve written before (“Toot your own horn – don’t let the modesty scam keep you down,” ZG Sept. 2, 2012), once you drop down a peg, the group is probably not going to give it back. Hierarchy is not only something you earn. It’s something you claim.

After all, most native speakers of Japanese cannot appreciate what non-natives have gone through to reach fluency. As I’ve said before, communicating in Japanese is not all that difficult. What’s difficult is communicating with Japanese people.

You have to get over the Catch-22: People not speaking to you in Japanese because it’s not good enough, yet it’s not getting good enough because people won’t speak to you in Japanese. All the power relations and ingrained prejudices accompanying just about every social interaction work both as a barrier and a subordinator for NJ.

So when complimented, say thank you. You’ve earned it, so own it. And if they ask you to play to their expectations, only do so in a way that is to your advantage. Because it’s only going to get more difficult as you get older, and all the young pups who have trouble accepting NJ as senpai will happily enforce stereotypes, and police you back into the Dumb Gaijin category. Then you will languish as a permanent subordinate, unrecognized for your herculean efforts.

Defy disempowering expectations, or ultimately it will be your expectations – of equal and respected treatment in Japan after all your investments and sacrifices – that are defeated.
ENDS

Summer Tangent: Korea Times on racial discrimination in South Korea: Striking parallels with Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’m about to vacation the blog for a few weeks for the summer, but before I do, here’s some food for thought about the debate on discrimination in this part of the world.  Contrast the Korea Times article below about racial discrimination in South Korea with any article about racial discrimination in Japan.  I see striking parallels, especially given my experience as a naturalized Caucasian Japanese myself.  The debate in South Korea seems to be falling into similar mental traps and policy-level blind spots.

(And in case you’re wondering, no, sorry, I’m not going to engage “Japan Lite” columnist Amy Chavez’s recent ill-considered column on racial discrimination; she essentially makes the argument that we “foreigners” should stop acting like “spoiled children”, and instead essentially be grateful for being discriminated against as minorities in Japan — as it will give us “compassion” for the plight of minorities in our “home countries” (as opposed to insights on how to prevent discrimination happening to our friends and children in Japan).  I’m avoiding it for the same reason I didn’t engage columnist Gregory Clark back in 2009 when he claimed that “antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”  (also because Chavez has a history of writing silly racialized columns like this one in 2009).  It just seems that everyone has an opinion about “racism” and “discrimination”, but few have either the training or the insight for how to deal with it in ways that don’t simply reflect their biases arising from their position in society (something CRT calls “structural determinism“).  In Chavez’s case, her argument (which she unsophisticatedly tries to apply universally to “we foreigners”), has simply become a self-loathing expression of her White Guilt; I’ll let others such as Black Tokyo or Loco in Yokohama take that issue on with more verve and insight (as Black Tokyo did Clark)).

Anyway, back to the article, for some real insights.  Arudou Debito

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

Are we bigots?
Foreigners say Koreans biased against blacks
By Jonathan Breen. The Korea Times 2013-07-16
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2013/07/116_139377.html
Courtesy of TKS

Alex, an Ethiopian by birth, is a naturalized Korean, so he was shocked when a bar in Seoul refused him entry because of the color of his skin.

“I went to a bar in Itaewon and they said, ‘Sorry, we don’t want any blacks,’” said the 31-year-old, who asked to be identified only by his first name. “I showed them my I.D. card to show them I am a Korean, but they said no.

“Koreans don’t think there is a lot of discrimination in Korea, but there is,” he said.

Four years ago Indian professor Bonojit Hussain won a landmark case in a Seoul court for racial abuse. The incident led to the introduction of legislation to ban discrimination based on race or nationality, but the bills have stalled in the National Assembly.

But is xenophobia a widespread problem or is it exaggerated based on a few well-publicized incidents?

Sabine Etienne, a black American exchange student in Korea, is writing a thesis on Korea’s immigration policy. “Xenophobia is definitely an issue in Korea, it is an issue of acceptance,” she said. “The process of becoming a citizen is very long and hard and I think foreigners never feel like they are on the same level as Koreans.”

Despite this, there are several high-profile examples of foreigners who have found acceptance as naturalized Koreans, including the Philippines-born lawmaker Jasmine Lee and German-born Lee Charm, the current head of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO).

Lee, whose birth name was Bernhard Quandt, became a Korean citizen in 1986. On becoming KTO chief in 2009 he said, “I am so deeply moved that I’ve been finally accepted as a Korean. All my regrets about naturalizing have vanished.”

However, Alex, who is married to a Korean, complains about a lack of acceptance from Koreans, including from his wife’s family.

“My wife’s family didn’t accept me at first, now they are saying they are more open, but it is still tough. We see them one maybe two times a year. It is not like family,” he said.

Alex added that he has decided to postpone having children because of the hostility he has experienced in Korea. “Until I see change I don’t want to have kids.”

In a report submitted to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 2003, the Korean government explained that the “homogeneity of the Korean people and the relative lack of multiethnic experiences have been conducive to prejudice against foreign cultures and people.”

But Hyung-il Pai, a professor of Korean history at the University of California, argues in her book, “Constructing ‘Korean’ Origins,” that the idea of a pure Korean race is a myth constructed by Japanese colonial scholars and Korean nationalists.

The archaeological record actually shows that Korea’s historical development reflected diverse influences from throughout Northeast Asia.

Nonetheless, “Race as the basic unit of analysis in Korean history was the pedestal on which the nation was built. Race or blood was considered the most critical factor in Korean identity formation,” she explained about modern Korean attitudes on history.

These views have become accepted wisdom among Koreans. “I think there has only been one race in Korea, and we have a long history ― we were very closed off for a long time,” said Jun Dae-un, a student.

“Korea didn’t attack other people, they were always attacked by other countries. That is why Koreans are not very open-minded to foreigners, we think ― ‘they can steal my things, my jobs, my chances,’” he said.

Korea’s isolation from most of the rest of the world during the Joseon Kingdom has contributed to the belief that Korea is a cultural and racial homogenous society.

“We opened to other countries quite late. It was late compared, for example, to Japan or China. So we are not used to seeing foreigners,” said Charyong, a painter, who wants to be identified only by her first name.

“And we kind of believe this concept that says we are Han people, the Han race, like we are all the same blood, we are not mixed race, compared with Japan for example ― Japan is very mixed race. People believe we are all one race, one blood,” she said.

“That is an underlying concept ― people are not thinking about it all the time ― but it is the basis for our culture, so when we see foreigners we think they are different. We notice the difference, we notice that they are not the same,” she continued.

Some believe that discrimination against foreigners is also based on a mixture of racial and class prejudices.

“The extent of xenophobia is heightened among foreign migrant workers who have darker skin colors because they are easily identified,” said Rev. Frank Hernando from the Presbyterian Church in Korea. “And (they) are perceived by Koreans as coming from very poor economic and social backgrounds.”

He said that Filipino migrant workers are often subject to verbal and physical abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace because of these attitudes.

Other foreigners also spoke of their economic background as a cause for Korean discrimination.

“Koreans don’t like people from countries with worse economic situations than their own,” said Shylean Ghosh, an Indian worker at a garment factory in Uijeongbu. “If you are from America they like you, if you are from somewhere like India, like me, even if you have a lot of money they look down on you. If you are from America but have no money, they still don’t look down on you.”

Kim Padernal, a Filipino embassy driver in Seoul, said, “Koreans think they are better than us, because Korea is a progressive, successful economy, and the Philippines is poorer.”

Artist Charyong said Koreans don’t think of migrant workers as equals. “People think their (migrants’) country must be worse than Korea, because they are here working, and they work for what is so little money.” She added that Americans have a more positive image because of their help and support during the Korean War and their long-term presence in the country as a result.

Shin Gi-Wook, a professor of sociology at Stanford University, California, feels Korean attitudes toward foreigners are “hierarchical.”

“Korean racism is hierarchical in the sense that Koreans view white Caucasians more positively than Southeast Asians,” he said. “Koreans are not used to living with different ethnic or racial groups but with the influx of migrant labor and foreign brides, Koreans need to learn (to live) with ethnic non-Koreans.”

Kim Doo-nyeon, a law professor at Jungwon Univeristy, blames the local media for, spreading feelings of xenophobia.

“There is a tendency in the media to assume and exaggerate foreigners or illegal immigrants as future criminals,” he said. “The media is very responsible for xenophobia in Korea. They must stop producing news that is going to make people hate foreigners.”

Charyong added, “When people see something they don’t know it is often their first reaction to defend themselves from it because they don’t know what it is.

“I think the solution is more exposure to foreign culture.”

END

Japan’s “hate speech” debate proceeds apace, but not sinking in, according to university survey cited in Mainichi

mytest

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Hi Blog. After the now-famous incidents (fortunately) earlier this year of the “Kill All Koreans” march in Tokyo and the “Tsuruhashi Korean massacre” speech in Osaka, hate speech has become a topic for discussion in Japan’s media. Here are some examples (courtesy MS, click on image to expand in browser):

nikkansports041513
Nikkan Sports April 15, 2013

chuunichishinbun051013
Chunichi Shinbun May 10, 2013.

NikkanGendai13Aug13
Nikkan Gendai August 13, 2013.

And here’s one from Yuukan Fuji, July 6, 2013, with the view for bad-mouthing Koreans:
YukanFuji070613

Good. Have the debate, good, bad, and ugly.  That said, it doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact, according to the Mainichi:

///////////////////////////////////////////////
The Hate Speech Problem: More than 60% don’t know about it, according to an awareness survey of college students.
Mainichi Shinbun, Aug 8, 2013, translation by Arudou Debito (corrections as always welcome)

In the wake of public demonstrations in places including Tokyo and Osaka displaying hate speech towards Zainichi Koreans, about 1000 students in Osaka area universities were surveyed for their awareness of the problem. It was revealed that more than 60% did not know about the hate speech.

Touyou University Department of Sociology’s Izawa Yasuki, who carried out this survey, analyzed the results as follows: “It could be said that many young people have no idea how they should take in the problems of Asia, because they were not given the materials to discern these things during their primary and secondary education,” noting the significant number of people who did not answer the survey at all.

The survey was also carried out by Zainichi Korean youth leagues headquartered in Osaka during June and July. It mainly surveyed youths in Tokyo and Osaka between the ages of 18 to 23, with 1014 responses.

According to this, the students who knew about the hate speech problem totaled 35%. When asked about what they thought about it, over 70% replied that “they should absolutely desist” or “it’s undesirable”, while 10.3% said they thought nothing of it and 7.4% said they felt the same way as the hate speechers.

In addition, more than 70% replied that then had no Zainichi Korean friends. Also, more than 70% indicated that they felt that their school instruction in modern Asia/Japanese history was insufficient.

[last paragraph untranslated because it’s not really relevant or scientifically significant]
//////////////////////////////////////////////////

ヘイトスピーチ問題:6割以上知らず…大学生ら意識調査
毎日新聞 2013年08月08日
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130808-00000084-mai-soci

東京や大阪などで在日コリアン排斥などを掲げる「ヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)」デモなどを巡り、大都市圏の大学生ら約1000人に意識調査をしたところ、6割以上がヘイトスピーチの問題を知らなかったことが分かった。無回答も目立ったといい、調査を実施した東洋大社会学部の井沢泰樹教授(教育社会学)は「多くの若者はアジアの問題をどう受け止めるべきか、判断できる材料を(学校教育の中で)与えられてこなかったのではないか」と分析する。

調査は在日コリアン青年連合(事務局・大阪)と共同で6〜7月に実施。東京、大阪などの18〜23歳を中心に計1014人が回答した。

それによると、ヘイトスピーチの問題を知っていたのは全体の35%。どう思うかを聞いたところ、「絶対やめるべきだ」「よくないと思う」の合計が7割を超えたが、「何とも思わない」(10.3%)、「共感する」(7.4%)との回答もあった。

また、全体の約7割が身近に在日コリアンの友人や知人はいないと回答。日本とアジアの近現代史を巡る学校での歴史教育について、7割超が「不足」と感じていた。

一方、17〜39歳の在日コリアン91人にも調査を実施。ヘイトスピーチを知る前後での変化を問う設問では、同じ在日の友人を求めるようになった(8人)▽日本人が怖くなった(7人)▽在日と知られるのを避けるようになった(6人)−−などの回答が並んだ。【小泉大士】

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

COMMENT: Although surveys like these are generally easy to poke holes in methodologically (I skipped translating the last paragraph because, for example, the sample size was too small), I think that we can still broach a conversation here about how hate speech (even examples of it advocating murder and massacre) should be registering more of a shock within “peaceful Japan” than it apparently is. Of course, we can say that college students as a survey sample are more interested in playing video games, drinking and getting laid than soaking in the news. But when something is REALLY shocking in Japan, there’s enough carpet-bombing media debate on it that it certainly appeared in my college classrooms, and I doubt that has happened in this case. What do others think? I offer no clear conclusions on this case in point, so I put it under “Discussions” for looser moderation. Arudou Debito

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Sternberg edits the Business Asia column.
ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

1. Rejecting the universality of human rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Deleting the comprehensive guarantee of all constitutional rights

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

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

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

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

ENDS