Japan Times on Asashoryu and the National NJ Blame Game (UPDATED)


Hi Blog. I’ve just webbed two recent Japan Times Community Page articles, summarized as follows:

The scapegoating of Asashoryu
Champion’s antics are least of sumo’s worries

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007
Special to The Japan Times, Column 39 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070904zg.html
Based upon an Internet essay at https://www.debito.org/?p=542

…Some might say Asa has long had it coming. He’s known as the bad boy of sumo, reputedly showing violent tendencies toward junior wrestlers and, according to the weeklies and wide shows, even his wife.

Therefore his record, in a sport where winning is everything, was the only thing keeping the hounds at bay.

But it’s not as if he stopped winning. What’s changed is that as of May we finally have another yokozuna, Hakuho. It seems Asashoryu is now expendable.

The point is, the whole soccer-sumo scandal is a smoke-screen. Sumo is in a panic and needs a scapegoat…
Whole article at https://www.debito.org/japantimes090407.html



The blame game
Convenience, creativity seen in efforts
to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
Special to The Japan Times, Column 38 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070828zg.html

“Director’s Cut”, with information included that did not appear in print or online at the Japan Times, available at https://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html

We live in interesting times, where Japan’s economy and society have been at a crossroads–for nearly two decades.

With the shortage and high cost of domestic labor, the Japanese government has imported record numbers of cheap foreign workers. Even though whole industrial sectors now depend on foreign labor, few publicly accept the symbiosis as permanent. Instead, foreigners are being blamed for Japan’s problems.

Scapegoating the alien happens worldwide, but Japan’s version is particularly amusing. It’s not just the garden-variety focus on crime anymore: Non-Japanese are being blamed for problems in miltary security, sports, education — even shipping. Less amusing is how authorities are tackling these “problems” — by thwarting any chances of assimilation…
Rest of the article at https://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html

Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


UPDATE: Doreen Simmons, Grand Dame of Sumo, comments in the Kansai Time Out (September 2007) on the Asa controversy. Courtesy of Steve. In PDF format, download from Debito.org here:


COMMENT: I don’t claim to know anywhere even near what Doreen knows, but my reaction is one of general disappointment with her essay. It’s not all that well written (it goes kerplunk at the end, with no conclusion), indicating to me that like movie director Kurosawa Akira, she’s gotten too senior in society to take an edit.

James thought there was no new ground covered, just rehash plus history. I would agree–there’s nothing covered in depth, such as examining the possible motives re WHY Asa is being carpeted this much now. The media has jumped on Asa in the past, but this time all things seem to be in confluence–so well that one could make an argument that the JSA is trying to force Asa out by making things too uncomfortable for him to stay. He could thus quit without tarnishing Sumo’s Mongolian connection. Bit of a stretch, yes. But let’s allude to it even if only to eliminate it.

Even though historically, as Doreen noted in her article, Asa is getting plenty more rope compared to other defrocked wrestlers, James and I see the JSA even going so far as fanning the flames around Asa themselves, in order to take the heat off their own excesses. It’s not as if Asa has all the same tools at his disposal (such as they are in the Sumo world) as a regular J rikishi to defend himself. He’s not even a native speaker.

In sum, Doreen is not at all questioning the very fabric of Sumo, which helps create these uncontrollable sumo “frankensteins” that the JSA have to reel in from time to time. My feeling after reading is that Doreen was just informing us how much she knows about the sport, and indirectly chiding anyone for commenting on Sumo at all without her level of knowledge (which she’ll impart at her convenience, thank you very much).

That was certainly the feeling I got when I asked Doreen for comment before I submitted the above essay to the Japan Times (she had very kindly corrected a point raised in the COUNTERPOINT essay we wrote last week, thanks).

Her response (excerpt):
“There is so much to take issue with, and it would take a couple of hours at least. Although I was extremely busy before, I found time to point out just one glaring error, in the Onaruto story — but why should I clean up somebody else’s article free of charge? If invited, I will be happy to write a rebuttal — for a fee.”

Sorry to have bothered her. Also glad she was paid for her opinions (such as they are) by the KTO, not me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Transcript of disrupted MOFA Aug 31 07 hearing blogged


Hello Blogosphere. Arudou Debito here.


Regarding a post I put out recently
on the August 31 Ministry of Foreign Affairs meeting, regarding Japan’s next report to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (https://www.debito.org/cerd.html), I have some new information.

I have received a transcript of the meeting, which was disrupted by Right-Wingers, and blogged it in Japanese at

I received a call moments ago from someone else who attended the meeting, about one of the participants:

A Mr Nishimura Shuuhei, who sat in the back of the room that day, was taken to court for his behavior of disrupting public meetings on the Comfort Women issue. According to my source, he was sentenced for “illegal obstruction of official duties” (iryou gyoumu bougai–a charge I don’t completely understand myself) on October 4, 2001, at the Yokohama District Court, to 1 year and 6 months of prison, suspended for five years.

Despite his criminal record of disrupting public meetings and acting as agent provocateur, the MOFA allowed Nishimura to attend this meeting, and help disrupt it.

This issue was taken before the Bureau of Human Rights this morning, but my source indicates that they do not intend to do much about it (agreed, see my experience with the BOHR at https://www.debito.org/policeapology.html –they even have a history of advising the Otaru City Government in the Otaru Onsens Case that “there will be no penalty” if they neglect to pass any laws against racial discrimination: https://www.debito.org/jinkenyougobu112999.jpg)

The GOJ shows little willpower indeed to deal with issues of hate speech, or even show resolve to keep their meetings calm and debate reasoned.


On a different note, please read the Japan Times Community Page tomorrow (Wednesday in the provinces). Another article coming out, this time as co-author. Arudou Debito in Sapporo




Sorry, I had to remove the MOFA Aug 31 Meeting transcript for the time being at the author’s request. I’m afraid there won’t be an authorized version later either, because the writer meant for it to be a reference document for my use only. If you want to know more, contact me at debito@debito.org. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

REPORT: Right-wingers disrupt Aug 31, 2007 MOFA meeting on CERD


A hearing on human rights in Japan is disrupted by right-wingers
An eyewitness report from the front lines

By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
September 1, 2007, freely forwardable

SUMMARY: On August 31, 2007, a public meeting (iken koukan kai, reference site at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/jinshu.html
[link is now dead, download webarchive file of site at https://www.debito.org/MOFAaug31meetinginfosite.webarchive]) on the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo, was disrupted and sabotaged by right-wing troublemakers. Shouting epithets and arguments designed to wind up the human-rights NGOs, the unidentified right-wingers managed to bring the meeting to a standstill, while the six ministries attending the meeting showed a complete inability to keep the meeting under control. Proceedings ended a half hour early without hearing the opinions of all the attendees, and my opinion is mixed on whether or not the impasse could have been avoided by not taking the bait. In any case, it is a sign to this author that the ultraconservative elements within Japan are not only taking notice of the gain in traction for human rights in Japan, they are doing their best to throw sand in the deliberation process. We will have to develop a thicker skin towards these elements in future, as this is probably only the beginning.

This post is structured thusly:




The CERD is the UN Convention against all forms of Racial Discrimination–which Japan signed in 1995 and still defies by not passing any laws against racial discrimination. The GOJ has to fill out a report every two years on what they are doing vis-a-vis racial discrimination, and is dreadfully late (filing its first report due 1998 in 2001, and none sense then). This hearing was for the government to get feedback from the NGOs regarding the GOJ’s stance taken so far (such as it is) before filing the next report (whenever that may be). That meeting took place at 3PM at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo.

Fifteen human-rights NGOs and legal groups (such as the JCLU, http://www.jclu.org), plus four individuals (your correspondent included), attended a pre-MOFA coordinating meeting, chaired by the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR http://www.imadr.org), to stress the following (excerpt):

1) The NGO-GOJ interface left a lot to be desired organizationally. The previous meetings (February and July 2006) with the MOFA (first labeled a “hearing” (hiaringu), later adjusted to an “exchange of views” (iken koukan kai) at our request) essentially heard our views, but offered no feedback from the relevant ministries that attended the meeting. Essentially junior bureaucrats would sit, listen, and act like the Sphinx as whether our opinions or questions mattered. We had never heard any feedback from them regarding questions and issues we raised in previous meetings (in fact, the information we would be offering feedback on that day had only arrived from the MOFA yesterday). We would lobby for that to be remedied.

2) The MOFA’s convening this meeting in August (with the announcement merely posted on the MOFA website at the beginning of the month, without notification of previous attendees) was a surefire way to decrease attendance due to the summer and short notice: We had 30 NGOs attending last time, this time half that (see my report on the July 28, 2006 meeting and proceedings at https://www.debito.org/?p=543). It seemed more a way for the bureaucrats to say, “Hey, we listened to the public, now we can do as we see fit”. We would lobby for more meetings where we had something to respond to–a rolling series of written and oral Q&A over months, if necessary. After all, what Japan puts out before the world could be potentially embarrassing if half-baked. We would offer as much feedback as possible so their reports would better reflect the world beyond Kasumigaseki.

3) We also anticipated there would be some resistance from attendees, since this was an open public meeting, meaning people who did not wish either us or this proceeding well might attend just to use time and disrupt things. We would lobby for people to keep to their time allotments and not offer sentiments that were entirely antithetical to the issue at hand–alleviating and eliminating discrimination.

However, we never anticipated just how antithetical things would get.



started on time at 3PM on the tenth floor of the MOFA building. The MOFA chaired the meeting because racial discrimination falls under their directive (discrimination against women, for example, falls under other another ministry–Health, Labor and Welfare–if it is a matter of Domestic Violence or labor. This makes it difficult to combine all forms of potential discrimination under a single movement in Japan, and why we believe it necessary to create a special government apparatus to deal with it (a move, as you shall see below, is seen as contentious).

Attending were one member of the National Personnel Agency (Jinjin), four from Education, three from Foreign Affairs, five from Justice, one from HL&W, and two from the National Police Agency. No nametags or attendance sheets were made public to us (although the bureaucrats knew who we all were), and all bureaucrats were, same as last July, junior members in their twenties and thirties who could speak authoritatively on nothing. Chairing the meeting was a forty-something Mr Kimura, the head of the MOFA’s Human Rights Section (Gaimushou Sougou Gaikou Seisakukyoku Jinken Jindou Ka, Jinshu Sabetsu Teppai Jouyaku Iken Koukankai Tantou), who clearly looked nervous about how things were going to proceed. Forty people were in attendance (down from 60 last time), and a great number were refraining from making eye contact with each other.

Trouble started immediately. The first person to raise his hand was an older man in his sixties who talked about discrimination of a different kind–how the Zainichis were being granted special privileges just because they had been born here and lived in Japan for several generations. They should abolish their “Special Permanent Residency” (tokubetsu eijuuken) status. Make them all regular Permanent Residents like any other, since they originally came here to to take advantage of Japan’s economics only. Snickers from some, loud applause from others, and Kimura cautioned the meeting to refrain from applause.

Our turn next. Our next few points were about the format of this meeting, as mentioned above. We also asked for the chair to please put a lid on discriminatory statements.

When it was my turn (I was sixth), I raised the point that the most recent survey conducted by the Diet Cabinet vis-a-vis awareness of domestic discrimination (details released in August, excellent translation and report at http://whatjapanthinks.com/2007/08/27/human-rights-in-japan-part-1-of-3/) only surveyed citizens (kokumin), not residents (juumin). So no wonder there were fewer responses regarding racial discrimination. Similar with the National Census (kokusei chousa), which does not survey by ethnicity (minzokusei). I for one have no way to indicate that I am a Japanese citizen with American roots. Same with the probably hundreds of thousands of Japanese children of international marriages in Japan. We just don’t know. Without adequate data on just how international Japan actually is, the GOJ will of course be at a loss on to make appropriate policy regarding discrimination and protection of human rights.

In one of the few answers we got from the bureaucrats today, Kimura noted that although the governing Ministry of Internal Affairs (Soumushou) was absent, but in absentia: the Census not measuring for ethnicity is a matter of privacy–we wouldn’t want to make people uncomfortable with overintrusive questions. This is the standard but bogus excuse–plenty of questions already made people uncomfortable last Census (2005, see https://www.debito.org/meijigakuin071705.html), and there is also the option not to answer at all; the GOJ just doesn’t want any information which would definitively confound the notion that Japan is a monoethnic society).

But for the rest of the day, we would get jeers from the bully boys in the back whenever we spoke, and have to tolerate epithets whenever they spoke:



It turns out about 10 of the 40 people there either knew each other, or later banded together after the meeting for congratulatory back-slaps for a meeting well disrupted. Some of the points their camp raised were:

1) Discrimination, if it really does occur, is between individuals, and thus does not fall under the CERD. Likewise DV (an issue raised by a Filipina attendee from our group, who also talked about unequal care given culture in international marriage; she was heckled for not speaking Japanese) is something between a married couple, and rights for children should not be extended. We told Chairman Kimura to bring the focus back onto the CERD, but he did not clear the hall of people who would even deny the primacy of the UN in a hearing about the UN.

2) Koreans work against Japan and have odd ideologies–just imagine what trouble they would make if you gave them a post in the proposed human-rights Ombudsman proposed under the Jinken Yougo Houan? They compared any attempt to control or punishment of discrimination to Stalinism and thought police. (More of this genre of arguments available in Japanese and English at https://www.debito.org/abunaijinkenyougohouan.html). We asked Kimura to stop this discriminatory language towards Koreans, but even with some warnings he allowed the speech to continue.

3) The United Nations is not a body we should be listening to–we Japanese with our own unique culture and family structure–why should we be letting treaties and other countries with their unfitting standards be foisted upon our country, with its racial purity? Discrimination, if you can call it that, is justified when these foreigners shouldn’t be in our country anyway.

When one of the attendees then referred to a daughter of the Comfort Women (who successfully sued someone who attacked her at a speech for damages and a restraining order–I’m not all that familiar with the case) as a “bastard child” (shiseiji), we demanded the chairing representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do something about this clear tangent, moreover violation of individual dignity and expressed epithet. It was his ministry’s mandate. He remained silent. Our side (particularly from the Zainichis in the room) then said that unless there was a retraction and an apology, this meeting should not continue. Their side said they would offer no such thing, and continued in this vein.

It almost came to blows. Even then, no security was called, and the people who would not be silent were not cleared from the room. Kimura then declared the meeting unable to continue and called it to a close at 4:30 PM.



I was about to leave when one of the older men (almost all the people in this camp were older men, probably retired with time and money on their hands; we call them “grassroots right-wingers” (kusa no ne uyoku) actually came up to me with a smile and a friendly tone of voice. He began reading off some points he had written down and wanted me to hear (he clearly needed no feedback–so I listened):

White people in Japan have it good here because of Japan’s inferiority complex towards them. So discrimination cannot happen towards them. It only happens towards the lesser peoples of the world, and they’re only here taking advantage of the Japan we Japanese built up. They shouldn’t be here asking for anything. In any case, I as a superior Caucasian should have nothing to complain about. Those “Japanese Only” signs I referred to earlier during my spiel were merely efforts made by Japanese who have a complex towards foreigners and their foreign languages This was merely a shorthand for smoother business for them. Etc. etc.

I asked if he considered me a Japanese. He said yes, my Japanese was excellent, and I have citizenship. Good, thank you. So I mentioned the Otaru Onsens Case, and explained that despite my language level and citizenship, I had been refused entry just because I am White. He had never heard of it. I recommended my book. He repeated that he had never heard of it.

That’s the shortcoming of these types of people: Anything that has never entered their existence or view simply doesn’t exist. I let it go since there was no way to reach him. He shook my hand and gave me his card. Watanabe Tadashi, Vice President of the “Japan Family Value Society” (the J translation on the obverse is markedly different: He’s a member of the Hino City Assembly near Tokyo, Kikaku Soumu Iinchou, from the LDP. Opposes local ordinances guaranteeing the rights of the child, supports textbooks with the “proper” historical bent, and is vice-chair of the “kazoku no kizuna o mamoru kai), website http://www.watanabetadashi.net). Nice enough guy, but he should get out more.

I was the last one in the room, except for Chair Kimura and one of his staffers. I mentioned that proper procedure would have been to clear the room of those who wouldn’t obey the rules for a calm, peaceful gathering. He indicated that he thought it unthinkable to call security, soukaiya disruptions or not. I let it go again. No wonder people can’t deal effectively with bullies in this society.



Our postmortem was an exercise in making the best of things. The person who demanded the apology said she was sorry for disrupting the meeting, but we would have none of it. There was no need to continue, the room held, because even the ministries were not doing their job of stopping epithets and hate speech–even when attendees deny the very need to follow UN treaty and the very need to hold this meeting. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to express hatred and disrupt calm and reasoned debate. If the conveners of the meeting cannot keep order, it’s no longer a viable meeting.

I am of two minds about what happened. The opinions above notwithstanding, I have the feeling we were played like a fiddle. Those people knew what would wind us up, and kept on poking us until we poked back. Yes, a proper chairman would have cleared the meeting of those people. But barring that, if I was everyone in our camp, I would have ignored the heckling, made my points calmly, stomached the epithets (only calling for time limits on speeches to be obeyed), and shown via the force of argument that our side was the stronger.

Then again, it’s entirely possible that this is what the MOFA wanted. These meetings are a nuisance for them. Now they can say there’s no need to have them again since they will only degenerate into shouting matches and potential fistfights. In the bad old days, in order for there to have been a hearing of this sort (and this was before the GOJ even bothered to listen to NGOs), there would have to be a Dietmember present. No Dietmember, no meeting. Now after liberalization, this event can now be used as an excuse for the bureaucrats to argue for a return to those ways. Whether that will happen is unclear, but in any case, the bully boys managed to sluice things off.

What’s next? Dunno. But it’s clear that we are getting closer to winning the debate–enough so that the Rightists feel threatened and need to appear and shout us down. If we don’t develop a thicker skin, and the coordinators of the meeting don’t take a more aggressive stand at keeping meetings calm and reasonable, there’s only going to be more of this in future.

Arudou Debito
Tokyo, Japan
September 1, 2007

COUNTERPOINT: Sumo’s Scapegoating of Asashoryu


An occasional series from Debito.org for contrarian views. Ghostwriting for busy people who would otherwise be their own authors.
All the media attention is a diversion from what’s really wrong with Sumo


By James Eriksson (jerik AT indigo.plala.or.jp), and Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org)
Released August 30, 2007

The Sumo Association has recently tag-teamed with the Japanese media to lay into Asashoryu—the Mongolian wrestler turned Sumo champ who has enjoyed a thorough winning streak. That is, until now.

Asashoryu, even at age 26, has dominated the sport. As Sumo’s sole Yokozuna (Grand Champion) for years now, his winning streaks and stellar win records (21 tournament wins so far) have been the stuff of legends, bringing attention back to a lackluster sport, and an inspiration to the Mongolian people who view him as a national hero.

But also earning him a place in the notoriety books has been his behavior. He has been known for fits of temper, flights of fancy, and throwing his weight around both figuratively and literally, in ways many felt were unbecoming the dignity of the sport.

I believe these outbursts are symptoms of the unmentionable: the possible use of steroids. One of the downsides of the benefits of steroids (bulk and quick reaction time, all fundamental to Sumo) is the flash temper tantrums. And as far as I know, there are no enforced bans or even tests for the presence of steroids in Sumo rikishi.

Never mind. He kept winning, and winning is everything in Sumo. (To the degree where in 1993, two successful Sumo stables merged so their wrestlers would face each other less, thus lose less in tournaments. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takanohana_stable) And once Asa won enough to reach the top rank, people would support him because he’s the only Yokozuna out there. Within reason, of course.

The reasons came. First, a new Yokozuna, Hakuho (also of Mongolia) was anointed in May 2007. Meaning Asashoryu was now expendable.

Then, his little excursion to Mongolia this summer further chummed the waters.

Asa went home ostensibly to recover from a sports injury. But then he was videoed playing a game of soccer. Not only with a lot of vim apparently inappropriate for an injured athlete, but also having a good time and performing for the cameras. Never mind that he has been trained to do precisely that by Sumo.

People might say that this adultery with another sport and apparent cross purposes might be a breach of Sumo “etiquette”. But I believe Sumo etiquette works both ways here. Sumo is a sport for people who do what they’re told. Asa has been doing what his masters have been telling him to do for years now. Then when an authority as high as the Mongolian government (not to mention Japanese soccer start Nakata, who also happened to be there) invites him more than once to join in a friendly game for charity, he was probably not in a position to say no. I believe the press would have likewise criticized him if he had.

But I believe the whole soccer-Sumo scandal is a smokescreen. The real reason Asa was finally called to the carpet for a change was because Sumo as a sport is in a panic, and needs a scapegoat.

Not only has Sumo faced earlier this year yet another slew of allegations about bout fixing (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070312f1.html), but also no Japanese signed up these days at the entry level last July to become junior wrestlers–for the first time in history (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ss20070702a2.html). Even though there is now another Yokozuna in existence, Asa was apparently needed this summer for recruitment purposes.

Not that difficult to understand why youths are shying away from Sumo, actually. Hazing in the junior ranks of the sport is rife and well-known. And it has gotten progressively worse–to the point where people are being killed by it.

Witness the death of wrestler Tokitaizan last June 26, after a “lynching”, where the body was found with a torn ear, broken teeth, broken bones, and cigarette burns.
Where was the media then? A blurb here and there, but coverage was definitely incommensurate to the degree of controversy a death should entail.

Instead, the media circus has sensed the blood in the water around Asa, and the Sumo Association has fanned the frenzy by slashing his pay, banning him from two tournaments, and confining him to house arrest (a degree of policing power which cannot be legal!).

Asa, meanwhile, is watching his world collapse around him. He is said to have suffered a mental breakdown, and needs treatment either here or in Mongolia. His wife has left him too—even left the country. Then there is the new charge of tax evasion. Speculation is growing that he’ll either leave Sumo for K1 pseudo-boxing (the Elephant’s Graveyard—witness former Yokozuna Akebono—for many an athlete in Japan), or abscond with all his riches back to Mongolia never to return—which would be a major black eye for the sport. He just yesterday actually did leave Japan for Mongolia, so breaths are being held to see if he ever returns. (After all, probably Sumo needs Asa more than vice versa at this stage.)

But again, this is all a diversion from the real story: That Sumo’s house of cards is being shaken.

We have a death deterring people from joining a system with institutionalized bullying, renewed allegations of bout fixing, the very real possibility of bodybuilding chemicals banned in most world sports, and the entirely possible death of the Sumo’s credibility that the Ohnaruto Scandal of 1996 (where a veteran wrestler and trainer, Ohnaruto, and commentator Hashimoto Seiichiro both became sick and died on the same day in the same hospital of unknown causes—shortly before they were to go before the press and spill the beans on charges of bout fixing etc.; see http://www.banzuke.com/96-3/msg00198.html) would have done a lot sooner.

Time for people to wake up, and realize that something smells fishy in Asashoryu’s persecution. This time it’s not the chanko nabe.


NB: Views expressed in this essay are generally those expressed by James Eriksson, with some embellishments from Arudou Debito.

TPR on why the passage of HR 121, “Comfort Women” Resolution, is not a bad thing


Hi Blog. I listened last night to yet another excellent Trans Pacific Radio essay from Garrett DeOrio on HR 121 (the “Comfort Women” Resolution), and why its passage by the US House of Representatives on July 30, 2007, is not a bad thing.

What I didn’t know was all the “nicely, nicely” that went into it, and even then the Japan Lobby in Washington came down on it hard. But in his view this “meddling” just made matters worse for them in terms of PR. Excerpt follows:

The negative view, that the US is meddling in the affairs of a sovereign Japan, is even more porous than the positive view.

For starters, as I mentioned above, the US House, through this Resolution, is not advocating, much less taking any action against Japan. There is nothing in H.R. 121 that suggests that even the House thinks Japan should take it seriously. Constituents of a member of the US House of Representatives, Mike Honda of California, made a complaint and Representative Honda took that complaint to the appropriate Congressional committee, in this case the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Representative Tom Lantos, also of California.

The propriety of the Committee’s actions in this case should not be in doubt. Since when have governments or governmental agencies been concerned only with their own actions or incidents that occur on their own soil? Should the House Committee on Foreign Affairs be taken to task for condemning what is now going on in Darfur? Few outside of the Sudanese government would say so.

But when it comes to now peaceful Japan, such actions, even in the form of flaccid nudges, become “meddling.”

There is no meddling. No agent of any part of the US government is trying to change any internal policy in Japan. The closest thing to this would be the resolution that states that Japan “should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the ‘comfort women’.” This, though, is not telling Japan how to educate its children or plan its school curricula.

Meddling requires at least some hint of action.

The first two times H.R. 121 was set to face a vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee, it was taken off the agenda due to pressure from the six-figure-a-month Japan lobby in Washington. Pressure was put on members of Congress and diplomatic strings were pulled to silence the issue.

Members of the Government of Japan took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post demanding that the Resolution not be passed and Ryozo Kato, Japan’s Ambassador to the United States, threatened strained or damaged relations should the Resolution pass.

That, dear readers, is meddling.

This is what the blogosphere can do best–present an alternative viewpoint from a dedicated researcher, and amplify it with good writing (unscathed from the again “nicely, nicely” tendencies of corporate journalism beholden to advertisers).

Have a read (or better yet, a listen; Garrett is a good reader) at http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/08/02/the-comfort-women-resolution-hr-121-passed-why-thats-not-bad/

Well done again, Garrett. Debito in Sapporo

Hiroshima Peace Foundation Director Steven Leeper’s odd views on NJ in Japan


Hi Blog. Normally I would shout “congratulations” from the rooftops at the news: The momentous appointment of a non-Japanese to be director of an important Japanese institution.

Particularly when said institution is tasked with keeping the faith on with an important international issue–one the GOJ brings up constantly in its untiring quest for uniqueness in the world stage (“the only country in history ever bombed by nuclear weapons”). As well as for world peace.

But Steven Leeper, the newly-appointed director of the Hiroshima Peace and Culture Foundation, is proving to be a historical curator with an odd attitude not only towards history (see KTO August 2007 and Steve Silver article below), but also towards non-Japanese in Japan (a category he still falls into, of course).

Cited recently in several media, including the International Herald Tribune, the Asahi Shinbun, the Japan Times, and the Kansai Time Out, Leeper rings hollowly at the end of the KTO article (full article scanned at the bottom of this blog entry):

“I’m afraid I don’t see much of a role for foreigners in the Japanese government. It would never have occurred to me to pursue the position that I am in. I did absolutely nothing to pursue it, and I would not recommend that anyone pursue such a path. From what I have seen and experienced, foreigners who make a commitment to Japan and are willing to give what they can over a very long term get utilized in ways their communities need, and they get rewarded more than fairly for what they give.

In general, though, I see Japan as being a place where Japanese people can go about the business of being Japanese. Those of us who are not Japanese but enjoy living in Japan can learn from them and help them to relate to the outside world. But our influence is and should be rather limited. I personally hope the Japanese will remain quite Japanese. In fact, I wish they would get back to being more Japanese than they are today. For those who like diversity, which I also enjoy, we have the U.S. I truly enjoy both cultures, but I want them to stay different.

I see. So whatever “going about the business of being Japanese” means (it’s obviously automatically “different” from what foreigners do, even from what “today’s Japanese” do), it’s clear to Leeper that foreigners (and their Japanese children, one assumes) being in our country somehow sully that and should be constrained. Never mind that some “foreigners” have been here for a “very long term” indeed (generations), and many have not reaped the ultimately forthcoming “fair rewards” he assures us of. And then there’s the hundreds of thousands of others (like guess who) have even naturalized, and still have to fight for an equal shake in this society.

But if these intruders aren’t somehow “Japanese enough” to qualify for GOJ jobs (or aren’t fortunate enough to have one fall into their laps through no fault of their own), they should go someplace more diverse, like America? (which will surely grant them all visas)

How odd. I’m trying really hard to see this as a “you stand where you sit” sort of attitude made by a person bound by his job. But it’s square-pegging a round hole. I understand why Leeper might take a 100% Pacifist line–for example, that nuclear weapons should never be used, moreover eliminated from the face of the earth given the damage they do.

But Leeper is clearly out of bounds when he says that NJ should have no role in the decisionmaking processes of Japan. NJ should merely settle for whatever scraps Japanese society might deign to throw them (as opposed to pushing for more equal treatment)? Why this ironic disposition to pull up the ladder behind him?

If Leeper feels this strongly, why accept this job? Oh, because it was a scrap thrown him due to circumstances beyond his control. Congrats, you won the lottery. But now that you’ve been included, why go out of your way to make exclusivist arguments?

Here’s hoping Leeper wises up a bit, and remembers his own position in society both before and after his appointment. Otherwise he’s going to come off as an Uncle Tom, echoing the more xenophobic and conservative elements of Japan (some of whom led Japan down the road culminating in the extreme acts of war he curates), damaging his own reputation and credibility in the process.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Steven Leeper’s email address:


Excellent article from Steve Silver on other aspects of Leeper’s views:

(click on images to expand in your browser)


Japanese TV drama Hana Yori Dango 2 depicts mugging by NYC blacks


Hi Blog. Friend Justin just sent me something interesting, from a Japanese TV drama called Hana Yori Dango 2.

On TBS on Friday nights (see information on TBS here and on Wikipedia here), it’s apparently popular enough to spawn sequels and special shows (although I wouldn’t know–I don’t watch Japanese dramas any more for the most part, as I find them low-budget hammed-up affairs with contrived plots).

But one segment is of interest to Debito.org:

This has all the elements I really dislike about J dramas: Hammy acting (the protagonist’s voice is high and squeaky enough throughout that I wouldn’t bring any wine glasses near her), contrived plots (someone the protagonist asks on the street for help gets offended when she says “I am a bus” and walks away; yeah, right), and bargain-basement (more money was spent on the “Japan-nightclub-host” styled hero’s clothes and shoes than on the camera crew, it would seem). Even the gun used is an obvious squirt pistol, yet it scares away the muggers. Yeah, right again.

But what gets me is not just the stereotypes of crime in NYC: It’s the fact that all the criminals are black (from the bag snatcher to the gang of four), using random profane jive talking, and assailing our heroine with a basketball (yes, a basketball, with added sound effect when it hits her).

Why isn’t this worthy of assigning to the scrapheap of bad Japanese TV? Because you just know that if an American TV show were to do this sort of thing–make all the [fill in the blank] into Asians, Chinese, or Japanese (with accents or stereotypical features to boot)–there would be complaints from either the local anti-defamation leagues or even the Japanese embassy (cf. New York Senator Alphonse D’Amato making fun of Judge Lance Ito’s Japanese ethnicity in 1995–Time Magazine Monday May 18, 1995).

And definitely a brouhaha on 2-Channel about how the West is oh so racist towards us Japanese, even sometimes used as an excuse to justify racism in Japan as a form of tit-for-tat (by people who would rather explain away rather than run a self-diagnostic and change their behavior).

So fire with fire. If you feel like raising awareness about something like this, here are the contact details for TBS:

Ph: 03-3746-6666
email: opinion@best.tbs.co.jp

I don’t know the broadcast date for this segment, but if you describe the scene, your point would probably sufficiently be made.

FWIW, Debito in Sapporo





US State Dept and YouTube on Japan’s Int’l Child Abduction


Hi Blog. Two things I’ll combine into one blog post, since it’s right on the heels of the Colin Jones law journal article.

First, excellent video by Eric Kalmus on the irony of Japan’s child abductions (in the face of all the international rules against this, not to mention the political capital gained by the GOJ over the DPRK abductions of Japanese) after the breakdown of international marriages. Courtesy of YouTube:


But more importantly, the US State Department has included on its site a warning re Japan’s negligence regarding divorce, child custody, and abduction.

We’re getting through, on an international level. A series of referential links follows the State Department entry (so skip the minutiae and page down to the bottom if you want more beef). Arudou Debito in Sapporo



Original at:
(NB: Live links within original article are not included below)

Travel Warnings | Travel Public Announcements | Travel Information by Country
Saturday July 14, 2007

International Parental Child Abduction: Japan

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

Japan is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Japanese civil law stresses that in cases where custody cannot be reached by agreement between the parents, the Japanese Family Court will resolve the issue based on the best interests of the child. However, compliance with Family Court rulings is essentially voluntary, which renders any ruling unenforceable unless both parents agree.

The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Justice states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus proceedings in the court. There is no preferential treatment based on nationality or gender. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Japanese Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents.

In practical terms, however, in cases of international parental child abduction, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, both in terms of obtaining the return of children to the United States, and in achieving any kind of enforceable visitation rights in Japan. The Department of State is not aware of any case in which a child taken from the United States by one parent has been ordered returned to the United States by Japanese courts, even when the left-behind parent has a United States custody decree. In the past, Japanese police have been reluctant to get involved in custody disputes or to enforce custody decrees issued by Japanese courts.

In order to bring a custody issue before the Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of a Japanese attorney. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must retain local Japanese counsel to apply to the Japanese courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree.

Lists of Japanese attorneys and other information are available on the web at http://www.tokyoacs.com or from the Office of Children”s Issues at the address shown below. Links to the web sites of our other consulates in Japan can also be found at this web site.

U.S. consular officers are prohibited by law from providing legal advice, taking custody of a child, forcing a child to be returned to the United States, providing assistance or refuge to parents attempting to violate local law, or initiating or attempting to influence child custody proceedings in foreign courts. They generally cannot obtain civil documents (such as marriage registrations and family registers) on behalf of a parent, although an attorney can.

The American Embassy in Tokyo and the Consulates in Naha, Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Nagoya are able to provide other valuable assistance to left-behind parents, however, including visits to determine the welfare of children. If a child is in danger or if there is evident abuse, consular officers will request assistance from the local authorities in safeguarding the child”s welfare.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In view of the difficulties involved in seeking the return of children from Japan to the United States, it is of the greatest importance that all appropriate preventive legal measures be taken in the United States if there is a possibility that a child may be abducted to Japan.


For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention , at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. Contact the country officer in the Office of Children”s Issues for specific information.

New Law on Passport Applications for Minors:

On July 2, 2001, the Department of State began implementation of the new law regarding the passport applications for minor U.S. citizens under age 14. Under this new law, a person applying for a U.S. passport for a child under 14 must demonstrate that both parents consent to the issuance of a passport to the child or that the applying parent has sole custody of the child. The law covers passport applications made at domestic U.S. passport agencies in the U.S. and at U.S. consular offices abroad. The purpose of the new requirement that both parents’ consent be demonstrated is to lessen the possibility that a U.S. passport might be used in the course of an international child abduction.

Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP):

Separate from the two-parent signature requirement for U.S. passport issuance, parents may also request that their children’s names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system, also known as CPIAP. A parent or legal guardian can be notified by the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues before a passport is issued to his/her minor child. The parent, legal guardian or the court of competent jurisdiction must submit a written request for entry of a child’s name into the Passport Issuance Alert Program to the Office of Children’s Issues. The CPIAP also provides denial of passport issuance if appropriate court orders are on file with the Office of Children’s Issues. Although this system can be used to alert a parent or court when an application for a U.S. passport has been executed on behalf of a minor, it cannot be used to track the use of a passport. If there is a possibility that your child has another nationality you may want to contact the appropriate embassy or consulate directly to inquire about the possibility of denial of that country’s passport. There is no requirement that foreign embassies adhere to U.S. regulations regarding issuance and denial of passports. For more information contact the office of Children’s Issues at 202-736-9090. General passport information is also available on the Office of Children’s Issues home page on the Internet at children’s_issues.html.

The State Department has general information about welfare/whereabouts visits, hiring a foreign attorney, service of process, enforcement of child support orders, and the international enforcement of judgments, which may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CIS’s) for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If a situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the Department of State may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning that recommends U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov or by calling the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services at (202) 647-5225. Many of these documents can also be obtained by automatic fax back by calling (202) 647-3000 from your fax machine.

Address Information – Correspondence and documents can be submitted to:

By FEDEX, DHL, Express Mail, etc.

Office of Children”s Issues
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520-2818
Phone: (202) 736-9090
Fax: (202) 312-9743

By Regular Mail*

Office of Children”s Issues
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520-2818
Phone: (202) 736-9090
Fax: (202) 312-9743

(*–As of February 2002, the State Department is experiencing considerable delays of at least three to four weeks in the delivery of regular mail due to mandated irradiation against harmful substances. We strongly recommend that important correspondence be sent by courier such as FEDEX, DHL, Express Mail, etc. to ensure prompt delivery.)

Tel: 1-888-407-4747 (Recorded Information, access to officers) or (202) 736-9090
Fax: (202) 312-9743
Internet: children”s_issues.html

Toll Free Hotline: Overseas Citizens Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA/OCS) has established a toll free hotline for the general public at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444. Persons seeking information or assistance, in case of emergency, outside of these hours, including on weekends or holidays should call 1-202-647-5225.

The OCS hotline can answer general inquiries regarding international parental child abduction and will forward calls to the appropriate Country Officer. For specific information and other services available to the searching parent, please call the Office of Children’s Issues public phone number at 1-202-736-9090 during normal working hours.

Complete original at:





Crnjapan’s Mark Smith:”Protest Against Japanese Postdivorce Child Abductions” in Portland, Oregon

Metropolis Magazine on J int’l child abductions

CRNJapan’s Mark Smith with linked articles on J divorce int’l child abductions



TPR on Kyuuma WWII remark, Cumings on DPRK, and Tawara on PM Abe’s Education Reforms


Hi Blog. Not necessarily NJ-rights related, but here are three recent podcasts I got a heckuva lot out of, and I think you might too.

One was released this very morning at online media station Trans Pacific Radio. Garrett DiOrio gave an editorial on the former Defense Minister Kyuuma’s remark about the atomic bombing at the closing of WWII (which led to his resignation). A remark, it might surprise you, I actually agree with.

So does Garrett. But it’s rare when I agree 100% with somebody’s writing, as I did Garrett’s editorial. At times I felt as if Garrett had put a tape recorder under my bed and listened to me talk in my sleep about this issue.

An excerpt:

Victimhood, though, is central to the denial argument. Claiming that the War was terrible and all who lived through it were victims together and that they should just try to move on is the only way the fact that it was the government of Japan that was primarily responsible for all of that suffering can be pushed into the background.

This Japan-as-victim mantra is so often repeated that it is as firmly a part of the canon of political correctness as more legitimate things such as the unacceptability of nuclear war and racism.

Back when much to-do was made over Minister Yanagisawa’s unfortunate “birth-giving machines” remark, I should have seen this dark side of political correctness rearing up its ugly head in Japan. Had people called for his resignation over his being part of a Cabinet with a deep disconnect with and disregard for the people of this nation, it would have made sense, but that wasn’t what happened. He said the wrong thing and it could have been sexist. That’s unforgivable.

Fumio Kyuma said something reasonable, if disagreeable. It could have been insensitive, though. More important, it violated the Japan-as-victim image Abe and other Diet members had worked so hard to maintain. After all, if the atomic bombs were unavoidable, that means something led up to them, which means the fact that those bombings were preceded by over thirteen years of war, in which Japan was the aggressor, would be dragged up all over again. That is not what the kantei wants, especially in the run-up to an important election.

This makes so much sense it’s scary. 20 minutes. Listen to, or read, the entire editorial at


Another talk I got a lot out of is a February 11, 2004 talk by Bruce Cumings, a scholar of Korean history, entitled
“Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran, and Syria”.

An excerpt:
…as the Iraq war was unfolding. One of the curiosities of the commentary about the occupation of Iraq is that the [Bush] Administration wanted to compare what was going on to our occupations of Japan and West Germany. Democracy was going to flower in Iraq just as it did in Japan and West Germany. The opponents of the war constantly referred back to the quagmire that was the war in Viet Nam, and with the exception of a couple of editorials that I wrote, I saw nobody ever refer to the occupation of South Korea. Many Americans don’t realize that well before the Korean War, the United States set up a military government in South Korea, and ran it from 1945 to 1948. It had a very deep impact on Postwar Korean history. There are many things about the Iraq Occupation that are directly comparable to our occupation of Korea…

It goes on to talk about how things went very, very wrong on the Korean Peninsula, the emergence of the DPRK, and how and why things to this day are pretty sour in the region (with some interesting KimJongilogy within). This issue matters to Debito.org greatly, as the GOJ uses the spectre of the DPRK on practically a daily basis to among other things justify its mistrust of the NJ community, denying the Zainichis the regular rights of multigenerational residency in Japan (such as voting in local elections).

45 minutes. You can download it from the U Chicago CHIASMOS website at:


The final podcast I’d like to point out to you is another CHIASMOS one: Tawara Yoshifumi, author and Japan Left commentator, on “Japan’s Education and Society in Crisis”, delivered May 17, 2007. As Secretary General of the Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, Tawara delivers an excellent first half (the second half gets a bit bogged down in leftist boilerplate and education minutia) on what the Abe Administration is angling for with the LDP’s educational reforms: the resurgence of a militarized Japan, able to fight wars and project hard power onto the international scene.

Great food for thought, and there was even a question from the audience on the school grading of patriotism even for Japan’s ethnic minorities (which the questioner unfortunately assumed would only mean Koreans); the answer was, everyone who attends Japanese primary and secondary schools enforcing patriotic guidelines will get graded on love of Japan regardless of nationality or ethnicity; Tawara mentions to a case of a Zainichi Korean getting graded down.

An excerpt:
A source document of Mr Abe’s education reform is a report put out in December of 2000 by the National Alliance, of which the head is a Nobel Laureate in Physics, Ezaki Reona. And what Professor Ezaki says is that the question of schoolchildren’s abilities is a question of innate ability. It’s determined already for each child at the time of birth. It is something transmitted genetically. Consequently, a rational school policy would have all children’s blood tested upon their entry at school. And those who show genes which predispose them to learning effectively should be given the appropriate elite education. And the other children should be given an education that will promote their sincere attitude towards life…

2 hours and change. In Japanese with excellent consecutive English translation as always from Professor Norma Field. Download from:

Enjoy. I did. This is one of the advantages of cycling about 12 hours and 200 kms a week with an iPod on my shoulder. Listen while you exercise and give your mind a workout, too. Debito in Sapporo

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


UPDATE JUNE 27, 2007

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

Peru’s Fujimori Update: Running in J elections! (UPDATED)


Uh… Blog, I checked the date on this to make sure the article isn’t dated early April. It’s probably the most ludicrous thing I’ll see all year. (JUNE 28 UPDATE BELOW)

Alberto Fujimori, former president of Peru and wanted by Peru to stand trial for suspected crimes during his corrupt administration (which he resigned from by faxing his resignation from a Tokyo hotel room, then spent five years in Japan as a sudden citizen (in a country which rarely even grants refugee status, let alone citizenship easily) evading extradition, then ran back to Chile to try and stand election again in Peru (writing his citizenship down as “Peruvian” when he deplaned, even though Japan doesn’t allow dual nationality) where he’s currently under house arrest, using the Chilean court system to mark time in South America), has now…

are you ready for this?…

been asked by Kamei Shizuka (one of the more fatheaded former LDP gorillas, now clearly even more so) to stand for election in Japan!!

I had to rub my eyes quite a few times this morning, but the Mainichi reports as such below.

It’s times like these I wish oak staves were part of the political process, so we could pound one through the heart of these political vampires and keep him properly undead.

See what I have against Fujimori (not the least a bypasser of the quite difficult procedure of naturalization, which I went through; it took years) starting from this link:


The Mainichi article follows. Thanks to David Anderson for notification. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Ex-Peruvian President Fujimori asked to run in Japan elections
Mainichi Daily News, June 19, 2007


A Japanese opposition party has asked former Peruvian President Albert Fujimori, who also has Japanese citizenship, to run in coming parliamentary elections, media reports said Tuesday.

Fujimori is currently in Chile, where he is under house arrest.

Peru wants to try the 68-year-old Fujimori on charges including bribery, misuse of government funds and sanctioning death squad killings during his decade-long rule that ended in 2000.

The People’s New Party, a minor Japanese party with 10 lawmakers, asked Fujimori earlier this year to run in elections for the upper house of parliament, to be held in July, Kyodo News agency reported.

An aide to Shizuka Kamei, one of the party’s senior lawmakers, went to Chile on Monday to meet Fujimori but the former president has not made his position clear, the agency said. Nippon Television Network carried a similar report.

Officials at the party as well as the Peruvian Embassy in Tokyo could not immediately confirm the report.
Fujimori spent five years in exile in Japan after fleeing Peru as his government collapsed under a corruption scandal. The Japanese government determined in 2000 that the ousted leader holds Japanese citizenship after Tokyo confirmed Fujimori’s birth was registered with a local Japanese consulate in Peru and he had never renounced his Japanese citizenship.

Despite the allegations, he is well received among the Japanese for his handling of a 1996 hostage crisis in Peru. As president, he ordered the daring raid that freed 24 Japanese captives from the hands of guerrillas who had taken over the Japanese ambassador’s residence.

In November 2005, Fujimori flew to Chile as part of an apparent bid to launch a political comeback in neighboring Peru. Chile has held Fujimori under house arrest for six months.

Fujimori was freed last year on the condition he not leave Chile, but earlier this month he was put back under house arrest after a Chilean prosecutor recommended his extradition to face charges of human rights abuses and corruption in his home country. (AP)



UPDATE JUNE 28, 2007


Fujimori to run in Japan elections
CNN.COM, POSTED: 0232 GMT (1032 HKT), June 27, 2007

Thanks to Chad for notifying me.

TOKYO, Japan (AP) — Disgraced Peruvian ex-President Alberto Fujimori has decided to run for Japan’s upper house of parliament in July despite being under house arrest in Chile, the head of a Japanese party said Thursday.

Shizuka Kamei, head of the People’s New Party, said Fujimori told him in a phone conversation that he had accepted a request from the party to run in the elections.

“I will run as a proportional representational candidate for the People’s New Party to work for Asian diplomacy, the North Korea problem and the safety of the Japanese public,” Kamei quoted Fujimori as saying.

Kamei said he wanted Fujimori — who holds Japanese citizenship — to make use of his “knowledge, rich experience and reputation for our country’s politics.”

“I strongly hope Mr. Fujimori, as the last samurai, to add vigor to today’s Japanese society, which lacks courage, confidence and benevolence,” he said.

It was not immediately clear what constituency he would run for or whether he would be eligible as a candidate.

Fujimori, 68, is under house arrest in Chile after flying there in November 2005 as part of an apparent bid to launch a political comeback in Peru. Peru wants him to stand trial on charges including bribery, misuse of government funds and sanctioning death squad killings during his decadelong rule that ended in 2000.

The PNP plans to ask the Foreign Ministry and the Japanese government to help ensure Fujimori can engage in electoral activities, Kamei said. Kamei added that he did not see any problem with Fujimori running in the race.

No regulations under Japan’s Public Offices Election Law prohibit a candidate under house arrest overseas from running in an election in Japan, Internal Affairs Ministry official Tetsuya Kikuchi said.

The PNP, a minor Japanese party with 10 lawmakers, asked Fujimori earlier this year to run in the parliamentary elections, to be held July 29. He had been expected to give his answer later in the week.

Peruvian Congressman Juan Carlos Eguren of the opposition National Unity party accused Fujimori of trying to escape Chilean and Peruvian justice.

“The judicial process must continue and we think that the extradition process will end with a ruling forcing Fujimori to return to Peru,” he said.

Fujimori spent five years in exile in Japan after fleeing Peru as his government collapsed under a corruption scandal. The Japanese government determined in 2000 that he holds Japanese citizenship after Tokyo confirmed Fujimori’s birth was registered with a Japanese consulate in Peru and he had never renounced his Japanese citizenship.

Despite the allegations, he is well-received in Japan for his handling of a 1996 hostage crisis in Peru. As president, he ordered the daring raid that freed 24 Japanese captives held by guerrillas who had taken over the Japanese ambassador’s residence.

Fujimori was freed last year on the condition he not leave Chile, but earlier this month he was put back under house arrest after a Chilean prosecutor recommended his extradition to face charges of human rights abuses and corruption in his home country. (Full story at http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/06/08/chile.fujimori/index.html)

The nonbinding recommendation must still be ruled on by the judge, a process that could take several months.

MOJ Website on fingerprinting/photos at Immigration from Nov 2007 (UPDATED)


Hi Blog. Lovely bit of Japanicana at the GOJ online TV network. Except that as well as being kinda weird and laughably amusing, it’s deadly serious about targeting foreigners as potential terrorists.

Friend just sent me a link to a new site talking about the new Immigration procedures coming into effect in November 2007, which will involve taking fingerprints and photographing of all “foreign visitors” crossing the border into Japan.


This will, however, not be restricted to “foreign visitors”. It will be applied to everyone BUT (quoting the website):

1. Persons under the age of 16
2. Special status permanent residents
[presumably the Zainichi generational “foreigners”, which means regular-status permanent-resident immigrants are NOT exempt]
3. Those performing actions which would be performed [sic] by those with a status of residence, “diplomat” or “official government business”


Which means even people who are long-term residents will get fingerprinting reinstated, despite having it abolished after decades of protest in 1999 (See article with more details at https://www.debito.org/fingerprinting.html)

And this time, if you don’t comply, you can’t take it to court (like Kathy Morikawa and others did). You’re just refused entry at the border.

GOJ’s justification? Prevention of terrorism, and the “safety of foreign visitors”.

The video in English is a hoot too, wheeling out a few token foreigners of color hamming it up, and agreeing to have their privacy violated on suspicion of terrorism.

But the irony here is that all the terrorist activities that have happened so far in Japan (from Aum on down) have been Japanese.

The association of foreigners with terrorism (moreover apparently helping to save them from themselves) is pretty presumptuous.

Why are they doing this? Because they can. If the GOJ were really serious about combatting terrorism, they would fingerprint everybody. But they can’t. They tried this before years ago with widespread protest. Look what happened to the failed Juki-Net system with universal ID cards (it was even ruled unconstitutional in December 2006, see https://www.debito.org/?p=97

The GOJ info site on fingerprinting is at

Distressed about this? More on what you can do about it here:

Trace the arc of this policy proposal as it became law at:

Here comes the fear
Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents
Column 21 for the Japan Times Community page, MAY 24, 2005

LDP proposal to computer chip foreigners has great potential for abuse
By Arudou Debito
Column 26 for the Japan Times Community Page November 22, 2005

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

–UPDATE JULY 2, 2007

I decided to call around to a few places in Japan, specifically to
get the official word on what new immigration procedures will be
happening at airports starting in November. I called the Ministry
of Justice Immigration Division (General Affairs), Narita
Immigration and Japan’s Foreigner(?) Human Rights Bureau.

First off, not that I expected much from Houmushou, but I was able
to get the person answering the phone to confirm that all
foreigners, except Zainichi and government staff on offical business
will be photographed and printed each time they enter and exit
Japan. When I suggested that this procedure could be seen as
invasive to long-term visa holders and permanent residents (who have
already gone through an extensive vetting process by immigration) he
simply restated that all foreign guests would have to submit their
biometric data. Of course, I do understand that front-line
government staff have no power to comment on laws nor to change
them. I thanked him for his info and asked that please pass on my
concerns to his superiors.

Narita Immigration also confirmed the same information, although
they were slightly more sympathetic in tone of voice. I asked them
what the procedure would be for international families entering
Japan. Would they be forced to separate into foreigner and Japanese
lines at immigration or would they be able to enter together as is
currently. The woman explained to me that situations like this are
being debated within the department, but as far as the plan goes for
now, she believes that all foreigners will have to use the “foreign
national” line. She did add that front-line staff at Narita are
hoping to have one or more booths on the “Japanese National” side be
able to handle reentry permit holders. I also asked her a
hypothetical question about what were to happen if a permanent
resident visa holder with a valid re-entry permit were to refuse to
get printed and photographed. “They would be denied entry into
Japan.” she said.

Finally, after being given the number from the woman at Nartia
Immigration, I called a number of an organization dealing with human
rights for foreigners in japan. I spoke to a nice woman who was
well aware of the upcoming regulations. I asked her whether the
organization felt this legislation was a violation of human rights,
and if so, would they be writing some sort of report to the
government. She said that they really can’t make a statement about
something being a human rights violation until AFTER it has been put
into place. In other words, they’re adopting a wait-and-see
approach. She further added that if there comes a time in which
they feel these new procedures ARE infringing in foreigners human
rights, they will consider writing a report to that fact to the
Ministry of Justice. (although, by then millions of foreigners will
have their biometric data collected and stored on some huge, on-line
database that other government agencies will have access to).

Well, that’s where it stands at the moment. Any chance that we can
get the media to talk about this again before November? It seemed
from articles months ago and several Ministries were surprised and
concerned that this new policy was blanketing the entire non-
Zainichi foreign population. Perhaps there’s still hope for getting
this revised?

Mark Mino-Thompson


Asahi: 90% of crews on Japan ships are NJ–MLIT eyes decreasing that for “security”


Hi Blog. Asahi Shinbun reports that foreign nationals account for more than 90 percent of crews of ocean-going vessels operated by Japanese companies. So the transport ministry plans to offer tax breaks to shipping companies which drastically increase the percentage of Japanese crew on their ships. This in order to “secure stable maritime transportation”–in case they have an emergency in their home country and suddenly create a labor shortage for Japan…???

Uh… I don’t see the connection. Now NJ crew are threatening Japan’s ships too? How silly. Once again, Japan’s industry cuts costs by hiring cheap foreign labor, and somehow finds itself in a predicament–warranting tax benefits? Smells like porkbarrel to me. Just bring up arguments of “self-sufficiency” and “security” (this time coupled with a fear of foreigners who might NOT be available) and watch the public purse strings fly open. Article follows. Debito in Upstate NY


Move eyed to raise Japanese crew numbers

Courtesy http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200705210339.html

The transport ministry plans to offer tax breaks to shipping companies which drastically increase the percentage of Japanese crew on their ships, sources said.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport aims to increase the number of Japanese crew members by about 50 percent in 10 years to secure stable maritime transportation, an integral part of the nation’s trading infrastructure.

Foreign nationals account for more than 90 percent of crews of ocean-going vessels operated by Japanese companies.

This is because shipping companies sharply cut back on labor costs to survive competition with overseas rivals.

In 2005, the nation’s shipping companies only employed 2,625 Japanese as crew members. Of the roughly 2,000 vessels operated by the nation’s shipping companies, only 95 were registered in Japan for taxation purposes and other reasons.

The transport ministry’s move was prompted by concern there would be too few people to operate ships if natural disasters, political turmoil or other emergencies flared in the home nations of non-Japanese crew members.

According to the ministry’s estimates, to maintain a basic level of operations in the event of an emergency, 5,500 Japanese crew members and 450 vessels registered in Japan would be necessary.

Beginning in fiscal 2008, the ministry plans to require shipping companies, including Nippon Yusen KK and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., to come up with plans to hire more Japanese crew members, including specific targets.

The shipping companies will be required to prepare 5-year or 10-year plans based on the ministry’s targets. The ministry will then examine the plans for final approval.

If a shipping company fails to hire more Japanese as it had planned, the ministry will instruct it on what to do. A company that fails to win ministry approval will become ineligible for the new taxation system, which the ministry expects will be introduced in fiscal 2008.

The new system means companies would be taxed on the total tonnage the shipowner operates instead of actual profits.

The system, already used in 16 other countries, is expected to enable shipping companies to save significant amounts on tax when business is good.

The transport ministry must still negotiate with the Finance Ministry on final implementation of the new system.

It plans to submit its requests in September.

The transport ministry initially had considered introducing a requirement on shipping companies to use the money saved under the new system solely for measures to secure Japanese crew members.

But the idea was scrapped after shipping companies and their client firms raised concerns about higher transportation fees and weakened competitiveness.

In Britain, shipping companies have to provide training for their employees to take advantage of tax breaks.

The Japanese Shipowners’ Association, which represents shipping companies, has already announced a plan to double the number of Japanese-flagged vessels in five years and increase the number of Japanese crew members by 50 percent in 10 years.

(IHT/Asahi: May 22,2007)

朝日:外航海運会社に日本人船員増加計画を要請 国交省新制度


ブログの読者おはようございます。以降の記事は面白いですね。日本が営業している船のクルーが外国人です。万が一、有事や外国人の労働不足が起きることを対処するために、これから国税から補助金をもらって日本人船員を増やすという。ほー。色々な社会問題を外国人のせいにするが、初めてこのような政府助成金の正当化にされたことを見ました。なんでもいわゆる「自給自足」のために日本政府はお金を出しますね。有道 出人

外航海運会社に日本人船員増加計画を要請 国交省新制度
朝日新聞 2007年05月21日15時22分








Fun Facts #5: Nat Geo on Japan’s Tsunami Charity


Hi Blog. I voice enough criticism of Japan on this space. Let’s also give praise where it is due.

According to the National Geographic Dec 2005, Japan’s record regarding keeping its international promises regarding tsunami relief has been excellent. In fact, it’s basically the only country which made (even superseded) enormous pledges of donations for victims of the big waves a couple of years ago.

Bravo, Japan! Shame on everyone else, especially the oil-rich countries–both in terms of pledge and fulfillment. Where’s the Muslim feeling of brotherhood when you need it? Debito


Asahi: Kurashiki hotel refuses foreigners


Hi Blog. This just came through this morning on the Asahi. They haven’t bothered to translate it for the IHT, so I will:


Translated by Arudou Debito. Thanks to about ten people for notifying me.
Original Japanese blogged at

KURASHIKI, Okayama Pref: In April, a Chinese man (45) living in Hiroshima was refused lodging in a Kurashiki business hotel. The reason given was that he was a foreigner.

According to Japan’s Hotel Management Law, refusals may only take place if there is a clear risk of infection from a patient, or the suspicion that illegal activities will occur, such as gambling [tobaku]. [sic]

The City Government of Kurashiki apologized for causing discomfort to the refused man. They added that they will redouble their efforts to ensure that every hotel in the area is informed not to refuse non-Japanese.

The Chinese man first went to a Kurashiki hotel on the evening of April 3, which was full, so management phoned around and found another hotel with rooms available.

Unfortunately, they were told by the management there that “we don’t allow foreigners to stay here”.

When the Chinese man went to the other hotel to find out more, he was told by the manager (70) that “our rule is to not give foreigners accommodation”, and was refused a room.

A few days later, a friend of the man contacted the Kurashiki Tourism Convention Bureau, which followed up on the issue. Kurashiki’s Desk for Promoting International Peace and Communication then called the Chinese man in late April to apologize, saying “We’re sorry for the discomfort caused you by our city, which is promoting itself as a a place for international tourism.”

The same bureau sent a letter of warning (chuui kanki) and guidance to its affiliated members dated May 7.

The Chinese man works in Japan and has no problems communicating in Japanese. He fumed, “This is outrageous. How would Japanese feel if the same thing happened to them? It must stop.”

The management of the hotel refusing foreigners, on the other hand, said, “We can’t deal with all the language issues regarding foreign lodgers, so that’s why we refuse them.” They indicated that they would continue doing so.

COMMENT: Not mentioned in the article is that the hotel in question is

(Kurashiki Miwa 1 chome 14-29, phone 086-423-2600), website http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~apoint/

I called the Kurashiki City Government (particularly the Kankou Convention Bureau, 086-421-0224, Mr Ono), and a few other places today to find out more about the case.

Finally calling the hotel, I talked to a Mr Kawakami, who said that they saw the error of their ways (thanks to administrative guidance from the city government), and would no longer be refusing foreign guests.

Good, but this is quite a U-turn, on the very day an Asahi article comes out saying that they would continue. Guess it remains to be seen. I have notified my friends in Kurashiki to keep an eye out.

In the end, thanks are owed the Kurashiki City Government (unusually; see other cases of government inaction in the face of clear and signposted racial discrimination archived at the ROGUES’ GALLERY OF EXCLUSIONARY ESTABLISHMENTS) for actually doing something about the problem.

They were, of course, legally bound to, since the Ryokan Gyouhou (Hotel Management Law) Article 5 requires hotels to keep their doors open to anyone, unless there is a health issue involving contagious disease, a clear and present endangerment of public morals, or because all rooms are full. (See Japanese original of the law here.) [No mention of “gambling” as one of the endangerments, despite what the Asahi article says above.]

Which is what makes hotels a relatively refusal-free haven for NJ in Japan (on the books, anyway). One of the issues brought forth in the Otaru Onsens Case was that the Otaru City Govt’s hands were tied because the bathhouses were private-sector, therefore outside of any legal control vis-a-vis discrimination. As I keep saying, racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan.

But hotels in particular are specifically-governed by a law preventing wanton refusals, including those based upon race or nationality. See more here.

Still, the law is only as good as those who enforce it. Tokyo Shinjuku-ku, for example, has a business hotel named TSUBAKURO (Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Hyakuninchou 1-15-33, Tel 03-3367-2896, website here.).

TSUBAKURO has been refusing foreigners for years (see their signs at https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Shinjuku) and have been called and visited a number of times (last time by Debito and friends in February 2005).

I have even told the local Hyakuninchou Police Box about this, shown them the law, and photos of the sign. They told me to take it up with the Shinjuku Police HQ. Great job, boys.

Meanwhile, the signs and exclusionary rules stay up at Tsukaburo. Anyone want to take this up with the authorities? (I’m too far away to make any visits to police HQ.)

In any case, thanks Kurashiki City Govt.! Arudou Debito in Sapporo

朝日:「外国人だから」と宿泊拒む 倉敷のビジネスホテル


ブロクの皆様こんばんは。有道 出人です。いつもお読みいただいてありがとうございました。


「外国人だから」と宿泊拒む 倉敷のビジネスホテル
朝日新聞 2007年05月17日06時53分









 本日午後、当局(倉敷市観光振興課、観光コンベンションビューロ(086-421-0224 小野氏)など)に電話して、結局ホテルの名前を聞きました:

 ビジネスホテル「アポイント」(倉敷市美和1丁目14−29, 086-423-2600)website http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~apoint/



 対照的な事例は東京都新宿区の「ビジネスホテル つばくろ」(東京都新宿区百人町1-15-33 Tel 03-3367-2896)は数年間「外国人お断り」をしています。私と友人は数回も(2005年2月は前回)「このポリシーはいかないですよ、旅館業法五条違法」と説明しても、支配人はそのままです。最近「(日本語話せる方はOK)」を書き加えたが、それでも違法行為です。(当ホテルの「外国人客お断り」の看板はこちらです。)しかし、近くの交番にこの件を通報しても、「新宿区警察署に言って」と盥回しました。結果は、放置のままです。

旅館業法 第五条
 営業者は、左の各号の一に該当する場合を除いて は、宿泊を拒んではならない。
一  宿泊しようとする者が伝染性の疾病にか かつていると明らかに認められるとき。
二  宿泊しようとする者がとばく、 その他の違法行為又は風紀を乱す行為をする虞があると認められるとき。
三  宿泊施設に余裕がないときその他都道府県が条例で定める事由があるとき。


 とにもかくにも、倉敷市へ感謝いたします。有道 出人


Gyaku Website: Accenture, JAPAN-VISIT, future Immig surveillance of NJ


Hello Blog. Got something very interesting to impart. In a new website entitled GYAKU, which offers in-depth reportage about lesser-known stories, we have the eye-opening story about the future of electronic surveillance of foreigners entering Japan.

I have reported in the past about how Japan’s new Immigration powers will now reinstate fingerprinting for all foreigners who cross Japan’s borders:

Mainichi Daily News, Dec 5, 2004: “Japan seeks foreigners’ fingerprints, photos, lists to fight terror”

Japan Times May 24, 2005: “Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents”

Japan Times November 22, 2005: “THE NEW “I C YOU” CARDS: LDP proposal to computer chip foreigners has great potential for abuse”

Even though Japan’s NJ residents have fought long and hard (and successfully, until the police took advantage of the fear of terrorism) to end fingerprinting as part of Immigration procedure.

So here’s how it’s playing out. According to GYAKU, company without a country (which to some constitutes a security risk in itself) ACCENTURE (which created the digital mug-shot and fingerprint scans seen at US Immigration nowadays) has not only acted as consultant to Japan’s upcoming version, but also has been awarded the contract to develop Japan’s system for a song. This means that Japan becomes the second country to institute one of these systems in the world, in a bid to get a toehold in Asia and profit from the fear of terrorism.

The issues involved, the political backrooming, and links to all the necessary documents to make the case for concern are available at

Here’s an excerpt from the article. Debito in Sapporo

Accenture, JAPAN-VISIT, and the mystery of the 100,000 yen bid
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
By gyaku (http://gyaku.jp/en/)

The story first came to light nearly one year ago, on April 21, 2006, during questioning at the House of Representatives Committee on Judicial Affairs in the Japanese National Diet. Hosaka Nobuto of the Japan Social Democratic Party, a former journalist active in educational issues and one of the leaders in the fight against wiretapping laws in Japan, launched a barrage of questions at government officials over revelations that a contract for a new biometric immigration system had been awarded to Accenture Japan Ltd., a corporation previously hired in the role of “advisor” for the same project. For many years a thorn in the side of the ruling party coalition, Hosaka in 2000 was ranked by the Japanese newspaper Asahi shimbun as the most active member of the House of Representatives, with a record 215 questions, a number that rose to over 400 by 2006 [1]. The questions Hosaka put to the government on April 21st were undoubtedly some of the most important of his career, and yet, now nearly a year later, the story that he fought hard to publicize has barely made a ripple in the Japanese media, and remains virtually unknown to the outside world.

The background to the story reads as follows: Accenture Japan Ltd., the Japanese branch of the consulting firm Accenture, active in the Japanese market as far back as 1962 but only incorporated in Japan in 1995, received in May 2004 a contract to draft a report investigating possibilities for reforming the legacy information system currently in use at the Japanese Immigration Bureau. The investigation was requested in the context of government plans, only later made public, to re-implement and modernize a certification system to fingerprint and photograph every foreigner over the age of 18 entering the country, replacing an earlier fingerprinting system abandoned in the year 2000 over privacy concerns after prolonged resistance from immigrant communities.

Earlier the same year, against the backdrop of a post-9/11 society anxious about the threat of vaguely-defined dark-skinned “terrorists”, the U.S. had begun taking fingerprints of foreigners with visas entering the U.S. at international airports and other major ports. A program entitled US-VISIT (Visitor and Immigrant Status Information Technology) was initiated in July of 2003 with the intention to secure nearly 7000 miles of borders along Mexico and Canada, including more than 300 land, air and sea ports [2]. Described as “the centerpiece of the United States government’s efforts to transform our nation’s border management and immigration systems”, planners envisioned “a continuum of biometrically-enhanced security measures that begins outside U.S. borders and continues through a visitor’s arrival in and departure from the United States” [3].


Read the rest of the article at:


Alex Kerr falls into “Guestism” arguments with unresearched comments


Hi Blog. I covered some of this material in a previous post on the blog. However, for the newsletter I did a significant rewrite last night, describing how flippant and unresearched comments from a noteworthy person (Alex Kerr) can cause problems for others (particularly through unscrupulous anonymous editors on places like Wikipedia). I don’t want this new version to be buried in a newsletter, so I repost it separately and delete the older version from the blog. Debito in Sapporo


Some time ago, Alex Kerr, author of DOGS AND DEMONS and LOST JAPAN (and a person I have great respect for), was asked in an interview with the Japan Times (Oct 25, 2005) about he thought about activists (and, er, about me in particular). He responded:

JT: In Dogs and Demons you argue that Japan has failed to internationalize. What do you think about the work of Debito Arudou and others to combat racial discrimination in Japan?

AK: Well, somebody has to do it. I’m glad that there is a whistle-blower out there. But, I am doubtful whether in the long run it really helps. One would hope that he could do it another way. He’s not doing it the Japanese way. He’s being very gaijin in his openly combative attitude, and usually in Japan that approach fails.

I fear that his activities might tend to just confirm conservative Japanese in their belief that gaijin are difficult to deal with.

That said, perhaps we who live here are slow to stick our necks out when we sense an injustice, and quick to self-censor in order to get along smoothly in our communities.

To me the most interesting aspect of Arudou Debito is that, in taking on Japanese citizenship, he has brought the dialogue inside Japan. His activities reveal the fact that gaijin and their gaijin ways are now a part of the fabric of Japan’s new society. A very small part of course, but a vocal and real part.

This sticks in my craw for two reasons: One is that Alex, who does incredible amounts of research for his books, seems ill-informed about the ways we have combatted racial discrimination. If he had read my book JAPANESE ONLY (and despite receiving a copy from me nearly two years ago, he wrote me last January that he still hadn’t read it), he might understand that ARE doing it the so-called “Japanese Way”. We took every channel and route available to us WITHIN the Japanese system, as I meticulously detail in the book. In fact, there are plenty of Japanese who do exactly what we do (and more), and don’t get slapped with a “gaijin” label. It is out of character for Alex to comment on something he hasn’t done thorough research on.

The other reason is that this quote has been lifted out of context and selectedly reproduced by the unscrupulous on places like Wikipedia:
Some critics question Arudou’s brand of conflict resolution: the judicial system. Alex Kerr, author of the best-selling Dogs and Demons: Tales from the Dark Side of Japan (ISBN 0-8090-3943-5), criticize such tactics as “too combative,” is doubtful “whether in the long run it really helps,” noting that “in Japan…[the combative] approach fails.” Acknowledging that “gaijin and their gaijin ways are now part of the fabric of Japan’s new society,” Kerr also notes that Arudou’s activities may “confirm conservative Japanese in their belief that gaijin are difficult to deal with.”[24]
The essence and thrust of Alex’s comment, which is in fact about two-thirds positive, is lost.

Anyhow, the reason I bring this up now is because Matt Dioguardi in a recent, thoughtful essay, grounds this phenomenon in historical context, from an angle I hadn’t considered before:

=========== MATT DIOGUARDI WRITES =================
As a foreign national who is making a life for himself in Japan, I’m personally concerned that remarks like his have a negative effect on me (as a so-called “gaijin”). Because regardless of what one may or may not think of Debito, unintentionally Kerr is commenting on all “gaijin”.

Compare this to C. Eric Lincoln’s vivid description of a “smart nigger” in Coming Through the Fire: Surviving Race and Place in America:

The smart nigger was likely to be everything the good nigger was not. Most likely he was educated above the norm considered sufficient for colored folks; whether he got it in school or some bigger fool than he had put it into his head, he had some dangerous notions. In either case, Mr. Martin said that the smart nigger was a pain in his own ass, and everybody else’s too. He wanted too much. He wanted his street paved, and he wanted it paved because he paid taxes rather than because his wife cooked for the judge. His house was painted and well kept and he didn’t waste his money on rattletrap cars. He didn’t “owe money downtown,” or “take up” advances on his pay every Monday morning. More than likely he had “been up North,” and he had a colored newspaper come to his house in the mail. The smart nigger paid his poll taxes, and he was mighty slow, it seemed to Mr. Dubbie Gee, to answer when somebody said “Boy!” He didn’t think that the bad nigger was funny, or that the good nigger could be trusted. Clearly, every smart nigger would bear watching. “They don’t last long,” Mr. Martin said, and he “flat out had no use for them.” He said that if he were colored he’d either kick a smart nigger’s ass down off his shoulders or keep away from him. A smart nigger, he said “is a damn fool hell-bent for trouble. And mark my words, he’s gon’ find it quicker’n a catfish can suck a chicken gut off a bent pin.”

Is Alex Kerr saying Debito is a “smart nigger”?

I’d like to note that Kerr should be more specific in his comments, because is it really the case that there are no non-“gaijin” doing the things that Debito does? Is he saying that when Japanese file lawsuits, this is a natural evolution of culture, but when Debito does it, it’s reinforcing the notion that “gaijin” have an “openly combative attitude”?

Is he saying the teachers who refuse to sing Kimigayo are acting like “gaijin”?

What exactly is the definitive way some one displays an “openly combative attitude”?

Moreover, what is the definitive “Japanese way”? And in what specific way is Debito not doing it?

It’s very disappointing to see some of Alex Kerr’s calibre engaging in Nihonjinron. He should know that there is nothing so destructive to Japan’s traditional local customs as Nihonjinron. Do I need to quote from his own books? Just like the centralization of construction standards begins to make all parks and all buildings look bleakly similar, the centralization of identity around the concept of “Japanese” in an essentialist sense is just as destructive to the development of a full personality.
=========== END MATT DIOGUARDI ==============

More at

The point is, I always find it amazing how easily people can fall right back into the “Guestist”-sounding paradigms of “nicely, nicely, don’t get too uppity, for it’s not ‘The Japanese Way'”. When in fact everything we have ever done has also been done by Japanese. I hope Alex gets around to reading my book (https://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html) and will offer more informed comments. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PM Abe: OK, OK, I apologize for “Comfort Women”, already


Hi Blog. Trace the Arc of Abe, from denial to hair-splitting to no comment to deflection to apology through his cabinet. Previous articles archived here

However, belated apologies like this (just by simple human nature, apologies tend to mean less when they come after being demanded, especially over a long duration) will have the irony of a similar debate:

Just how much “coercion” was there behind Abe’s apology? And how does this affect the sincerity of the act?

Anyway, it’s a step in the right direction (was there any other direction realistically to step?). The media from the Mainichi etc. leading up to this included below. Debito in Sapporo


Abe apologizes to sex slaves
March 26, 2007. Mainichi Shinbun


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, under fire for denying that Japan forced women to work as sex slaves during World War II, offered a new apology Monday for the front line military brothels.

“I apologize here and now as prime minister,” Abe told a parliamentary committee, according to his spokesman Hiroshi Suzuki.

Thousands of Asian women — mostly from Korea and China — worked in the brothels, and estimates run as high as 200,000. Victims say the Japanese military forced them into the brothels and held them against their will.

Earlier this month, Abe denied there was any evidence the women had been coerced into sexual service, reflecting the views of conservative Japanese academics and politicians who argue the women were professional prostitutes and were paid for their services.

Abe’s denial drew intense criticism from Beijing and Seoul, which accuse Tokyo of failing to fully atone for it’s wartime invasions and atrocities.

The issue has also stirred debate in the United States, where a committee in the House of Representatives is considering a nonbinding resolution calling on Tokyo to fully acknowledge wrongdoing and make an unambiguous apology.

Abe previously said he would not apologize because Tokyo expressed its remorse in a 1993 statement on the matter by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. (AP)

March 26, 2007. Mainichi Shinbun


Shinzo Abe’s Double Talk
He’s passionate about Japanese victims of North Korea — and blind to Japan’s own war crimes.
Washington Post, Saturday, March 24, 2007; A16


THE TOUGHEST player in the “six-party” talks on North Korea this week was not the Bush administration — which was engaged in an unseemly scramble to deliver $25 million in bank funds demanded by the regime of Kim Jong Il — but Japan. Tokyo is insisting that North Korea supply information about 17 Japanese citizens allegedly kidnapped by the North decades ago, refusing to discuss any improvement in relations until it receives answers. This single-note policy is portrayed as a matter of high moral principle by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has used Japan’s victims — including a girl said to have been abducted when she was 13 — to rally his wilting domestic support.

Mr. Abe has a right to complain about Pyongyang’s stonewalling. What’s odd — and offensive — is his parallel campaign to roll back Japan’s acceptance of responsibility for the abduction, rape and sexual enslavement of tens of thousands of women during World War II. Responding to a pending resolution in the U.S. Congress calling for an official apology, Mr. Abe has twice this month issued statements claiming there is no documentation proving that the Japanese military participated in abducting the women. A written statement endorsed by his cabinet last week weakened a 1993 government declaration that acknowledged Japan’s brutal treatment of the so-called comfort women.

In fact the historical record on this issue is no less convincing than the evidence that North Korea kidnapped Japanese citizens, some of whom were used as teachers or translators. Historians say that up to 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines and other Asian countries were enslaved and that Japanese soldiers participated in abductions. Many survivors of the system have described their horrifying experiences, including three who recently testified to Congress. That the Japanese government has never fully accepted responsibility for their suffering or paid compensation is bad enough; that Mr. Abe would retreat from previous statements is a disgrace for a leader of a major democracy.

Mr. Abe may imagine that denying direct participation by the Japanese government in abductions may strengthen its moral authority in demanding answers from North Korea. It does the opposite. If Mr. Abe seeks international support in learning the fate of Japan’s kidnapped citizens, he should straightforwardly accept responsibility for Japan’s own crimes — and apologize to the victims he has slandered.


The analogy – fair or otherwise – between the Japanese abductees and second world war ‘comfort women’ and forced labourers of other types, seems to get very little attention in the Japanese press.

However, this article in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/23/AR2007032301640.html was reported in this morning’s Asahi Newspaper (This is an onlilne article from yesterday) http://www.asahi.com/international/update/0325/006.html which accuses the Japanese prime minister of “double talk” about abductions.

BTW todays’ printed asahi article uses “ni mai jita” (forked tongue?) as a translation for “double talk” in the original, but yesterday’s internet version of the Asahi uses “gomakashi” (fudging) as a translation of the same article.

Abe’s talk is double, it is claimed, since he takes a severe, high moral against the North Koreans for abducting Japanese, but seems to be attempting to play down the abduction of Asians as sex slaves, claiming that there is no documentary evidence for abductions by the Japanese government. I am sure that at least the North Koreans have been drawing this analogy.

Indeed one Japanese abductee – who claims not to have been abducted – visited Japan and returned to North Korea saying things like (not accurate quote but something along the lines of ) ‘you don’t understand your past at all’ to this mother before he left. The mother thought he had been indocrinated. His story was reported in a back page Asahi article but I can’t find any mention of him on the net. Does anyone know his name?

Still less attention is the analogy between the Japanese abductees and the abduction of children – at least under non-Japanese law – by Japanese parents as mentioned in the life in Japan list previously on these threads. http://groups.yahoo.com/unbounce?adj=163087019,28171&p=1174878464 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/life_in_japan/message/1541 Tim

South Korean activist enters Japanese Embassy to protest World War II sex slaves
March 21, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun


PHOTO CAPTION: A South Korean protester Oh Sung-taek, left, runs away from a police officer, right, after he climbs over the walls of the Japanese Embassy compound in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 21, 2007. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe triggered outrage across Asia earlier this month by saying there was no proof the women, including some Australians, were coerced into prostitution. He later said Japan will not apologize again for the military’s “comfort stations.” The Korean read “History Distortion.” (AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL — A South Korean activist scaled a wall of the Japanese Embassy on Wednesday, and staged a brief protest atop an embassy building against Japan’s denial of responsibility for forcing women to work as sex slaves during World War II.

Oh Sung-taek, a member of a vocal civic group, stomped on a Japanese flag and shouted anti-Japanese slogans for 10 minutes before he was removed by police, according to witnesses and a police officer. He wore a placard with a picture of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that read: “Destroy History Distortion.”

Police could not immediately enter the embassy to detain Oh because they needed permission from the embassy, the officer said on customary condition of anonymity.

Oh was among 100 protesters gathered outside the embassy for a rally that has been held every Wednesday since 1992 to demand that Japan apologize and compensate World War II sex slaves — who were also called “comfort women” — for Japanese troops.

“Japan who forgets her past cannot create a peaceful future,” read a banner held by one protester.

The turnout was larger than usual because Japan recently insisted there was no evidence its military or government forced women to work in World War II military brothels.

On Friday, Japan’s Cabinet issued a formal statement that no such proof existed, repeating a similar claim by Abe. The declaration was seen as a slap in the face of Asian nations already outraged over Abe’s remarks.

Historians say about 200,000 women, mostly from Korea and China, served in Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and ’40s. Many victims say they were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops.

Japan ruled the Korean peninsula as a colony in 1910-45 before it was divided into the South and North. Many Koreans still harbor resentment toward Japan’s occupation. (AP)

March 21, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

Japan tries to calm furor over WWII sex slaves
March 7, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun


Japan tried to calm an international furor Wednesday over its forcing Asian women to work in military brothels during World War II, saying the government stands by an earlier landmark apology for the practice.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe triggered a barrage of criticism throughout Asia by saying last week there was no proof the women were coerced into prostitution. He said Monday Japan will not apologize again for the so-called “comfort stations” for Japanese soldiers.

“The prime minister’s recent remarks are not meant to change this government’s position,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said, referring to a breakthrough 1993 apology made by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

“The government continues to support the Kono statement,” Shiozaki said.

Historians say thousands of women — as many as 200,000 by some accounts — mostly from Korea, China and Japan worked in the Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and ’40s.

Documentary evidence uncovered in 1992 showed the Japanese military had a direct role in running the brothels. Victims, witnesses and even former soldiers have said women and girls were kidnapped to serve as prostitutes.

But prominent Japanese scholars and politicians routinely deny direct military involvement or the use of force in rounding up the women, blaming private contractors for any abuses. The government has also questioned the 200,000 women figure.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a nonbinding resolution demanding a formal acknowledgment and apology from the Japanese government for the brothels.

But on Wednesday, Shiozaki also reiterated earlier comments by Abe that the prime minister would not apologize again even if the measure passes.

“The U.S. resolution is not based on objective facts and does not take into consideration the responses that we have taken so far. Therefore, we will not offer a fresh apology,” Shiozaki said.

Abe’s recent comments about the military brothels have spurred a backlash across Asia, with critics in China, South Korea and the Philippines demanding Japan acknowledge its responsibility.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing denounced the use of sex slaves as “one of the serious crimes committed by Japanese militarists during the second World War.”

Li also urged the Japanese government to “stand up to this part of history, take responsibility and seriously view and properly handle this issue.”

Shiozaki tried to downplay criticism that Japan was reneging on past apologies.

“I think we should not continue these discussions in an unconstructive manner for much longer,” Shiozaki said. “Japan’s stance is clear.”

The 1993 apology was not approved by the parliament. It came after a Japanese journalist uncovered official defense documents showing the military had a direct hand in running the brothels — a role Tokyo until that point had denied. (AP)

March 7, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

Abe says LDP to conduct fresh investigation into WWII military brothels
March 8, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that ruling party lawmakers will conduct a fresh investigation into the Japanese military’s use of brothels during World War II.

The government is ready to cooperate with the investigation, Abe told a group of reporters, amid calls for a review from conservatives who question many of the claims by victims and others who say the government kidnapped the women and force them into sex slavery.

“I was told the party will conduct an investigation or a study, so we will provide government documents and cooperate as necessary,” he said.

Last week, Abe triggered outrage across Asia by saying there was no proof the women were coerced into prostitution. On Monday he said Japan will not apologize again for the Japanese military’s “comfort stations.”

Earlier Thursday, Japan’s top government spokesman said that Japan’s position on the coercion of women into sex slavery on the front-line during WWII has been misinterpreted and misrepresented by the U.S. media, and Tokyo will soon issue a rebuttal.

Abe’s remarks came as the U.S. Congress was considering a resolution demanding a formal apology from Japan for its wartime use of the women.

Japanese leaders apologized in 1993 for the government’s role, but the apology was not approved by the Diet. Japanese officials have said the government will not issue a fresh apology and that the issue has been blown up by the U.S. media.

“Our view is that the media reports are being made without an appropriate interpretation of the prime minister’s remarks,” chief Cabinet spokesman Yasuhisa Shiozaki said. “We are considering appropriate measures, such as putting out a rebuttal to reports or comments that are not based on facts or that are based on incorrect interpretations.”

He did not cite any specific reports.

“My remarks have been twisted in a sense and reported overseas which further invites misunderstanding,” Abe said. “This is an extremely unproductive situation,” he said.

Historians say as many as 200,000 women — mostly from Korea, China, Southeast Asia and Japan — worked in the Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and ’40s. Defense documents have shown that the military had a direct role in running the brothels, which the government had previously denied.

Abe said Thursday that he “basically stands by the 1993 apology.” The apology, made by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, acknowledged government involvement in the brothels, and that some women were coerced into sexual service.

But Abe’s remarks appeared to step away from the government’s previous position.

Defense documents uncovered in 1992 showed the military had a direct role in running the brothels, a charge the government had previously denied. Victims, witnesses and former soldiers have said women and girls were kidnapped to serve as prostitutes.

Abe’s comments have incensed critics in China, North and South Korea, and the Philippines who have demanded Japan acknowledge its responsibility.

The fallout from the remarks continued to build.

The coercion of women into prostitution was “one of the key, serious crimes committed by Japanese imperial soldiers,” Qin Gang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

“We hope that Japan can show courage, take a responsible attitude toward history,” he said during a regular news briefing.

“This once again strips bare his true colors as a political charlatan,” North Korea’s official news agency said Wednesday. (AP)

March 8, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

Japan’s Cabinet says no evidence establishing coercion of ‘comfort women’
March 16, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun


The Japanese government has found no evidence that the military or government forced women to work in World War II military brothels, Japan’s Cabinet said Friday.

The Cabinet presented its assessment in a response to an opposition lawmaker’s question over its stance on a 1993 apology for the government’s role in setting up brothels.

The lawmaker, Kiyomi Tsujimoto of the Social Democratic Party, posted the documents on her Internet home page.

“The government has not come across anything recorded in the materials it has found that directly shows so-called ‘coercion’ on the part of the military or constituted authorities,” the document said.

Historians say as many as 200,000 women, most of them Asians, worked in Japanese military brothels across the region in the 1930s and ’40s.

Japanese defense documents have shown that the military had a direct role in running the brothels, which the government had previously denied.

A senior Japanese official apologized in 1993 for the government’s role, but the Diet did not approve the apology.

Abe triggered outrage across Asia earlier this month by saying there was no proof the women were coerced into prostitution.

The remark came as the U.S. Congress was considering a resolution demanding that Japan formally apologize for its wartime use of women.

Abe later said that he stands by the 1993 apology, and that Japan will not apologize again for the military’s “comfort stations.” (AP)

March 16, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

Former Japanese leader Nakasone denies setting up sex slave brothel in World War II
March 23, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun


A Japanese former prime minister and elder statesman Friday denied setting up a military brothel staffed by sex slaves during World War II, despite writing a memoir that critics say shows he did so while in the navy.

Yasuhiro Nakasone, who served as prime minister from 1982 to 1987 and was known for his friendship with then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan, described the facility he set up as a place for civilian engineers to relax and play Japanese chess.

“I never had personal knowledge of the matter,” Nakasone told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan when asked about wartime sex slaves, known in Japan euphemistically as “comfort women.”

“I only knew about it from what I read in the newspaper,” he said, adding that such enslavement was “deplorable” and that he supported the Japanese government spokesman’s 1993 apology to victims.

Historians say thousands of women — most from Korea and China — worked in the frontline brothels, and estimates run as high as 200,000. Victims say they were forced into the brothels by the Japanese military and were held against their will.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a resolution that calls on Japan to make a full apology for the brothels, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stirred criticism earlier this month when he denied there was evidence the women were forced into service.

A Nakasone memoir published in 1978 said that members of his 3,000-man navy unit in wartime Philippines and Borneo “began attacking women, while others took to gambling.”

“At one point, I went to great pains to set up a comfort station” to keep them under control, he wrote. The essay was in an anthology of war accounts, “The Eternal Navy — Stories to Hand Down to the Younger Generation.”

In the 1990s, former Philippine sex slaves cited the memoir as further proof Nakasone was involved with enslavement, bolstering their demands that Tokyo compensate the victims. The Japanese government in 1995 set up a private fund for the women, but never offered direct government compensation.

A Nakasone spokesman in 1997 told The Associated Press that the brothel was operated by local business people and that the prostitutes worked there voluntarily and had not been forced into sexual slavery.

But on Friday, Nakasone was vague about the activities at the facility, skirting a question about whether prostitutes were active there.

“The engineers … wanted to have a facility to relax and play ‘go,’ so we simply established a place so they could have that,” Nakasone said, explaining that the men — civilian engineers — needed someplace for rest and entertainment.

Nakasone’s government, as all Japanese governments until the 1990s, denied any official involvement with the wartime brothels.

The former prime minister is known in Japan for his nationalist stance. In 1985, he was the first Japanese prime minister to visit a Tokyo war shrine after it began honoring executed war criminals. (AP)

March 23, 2007 Mainichi Shinbun

Aso says Japanese better diplomats due to hair and eye color


Hi Blog. More Japanese-elite social science at work. Foreign Minister Aso offers his well-thunked-out theories as to why Japanese would do better than Westerners in the Middle East diplomatically.

Wonder how much of this has to do with how well Japan gets along in parts of Asia diplomatically. Oh yeah, must be the color of Japanese eyes and hair getting in the way… Race engenders trust, you see.

Courtesy of the Mainichi, NYT/Reuters/CNN, Jerusalem Post… thanks to several people for notifying me.

Followed by an article from the FCCJ website last June talking about Aso’s lack of a lack of a past himself, and a NYT Editorial of Feb 13, 2006 demonstrating his lack of diplomatic tact. Couldn’t be due to the shape of his mouth, now could it? It might, if you follow Aso Logic. Debito.


Japan’s FM: Japan doing what US can’t

Associated Press, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 22, 2007
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1173879146662&pagename=JPost%2FJP Article%2FShowFull

Japan’s outspoken foreign minister said “blue-eyed, blond” Westerners probably would not be as successful as the Japanese in Middle East diplomacy, media reported Thursday.

Taro Aso made the remarks Wednesday during a speech in southwestern Japan, business daily Nikkei reported. National newspaper Mainichi carried a similar report.

“Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. The Japanese are trusted. It’s probably no good with blue eyes and blond hair,” he was quoted as saying by the papers, referring to projects in Jordan River Rift Valley initiated by Japan.

“Luckily, we have yellow faces. We have no history of exploitation there or … fired a machine gun for once,” Aso said, according to the reports.

Takashi Sasaki, one of Aso’s aides, confirmed the minister gave a speech to a group of local assembly members in Nagasaki on diplomacy including Japan’s policy on Middle East, but refused to confirm the exact wording of the speech.

Japan, which wants to deepen its engagement with the Middle East, hosted a confidence-building conference in Tokyo earlier this month attended by officials from Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan.

The conservative minister is known for making gaffes. Aso has irked China with provocative remarks such as calling the country a military threat and attributing Taiwan’s high educational standards to Japanese colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century.


Aso hints Westerners not as good as Japanese in Mideast peace initiative
The Mainichi Shinbun March 22, 2007


NAGASAKI — Foreign Minister Taro Aso caused a stir Wednesday by commenting in a speech on a Middle East peace initiative that “blue eyed, blond” Westerners would be “no good.”

Speaking during a lecture in Nagasaki Prefecture, Aso referred to a Japanese peace initiative, saying, “Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. You can trust Japanese. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair.”

The minister added, “Fortunately, we have yellow faces. We have never at all been involved in exploitation there (in the Middle East) or been involved in fights or fired machine guns.

Aso’s comments related to projects in the Jordan Valley connected with a Japanese peace initiative. (Mainichi)
March 22, 2007

Still searching for the Japanese versions…

Japan Minister Raps “Blond” Diplomats in Mideast
Published: March 22, 2007 Filed at 8:22 a.m. ET
New York Times

Also CNN at http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/03/22/japan.aso.reut/index.html

TOKYO, March 22 (Reuters) – Blond, blue-eyed Westerners probably can’t be as successful at Middle East diplomacy as Japanese with their “yellow faces,” Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso was quoted by media as saying on Wednesday.

“Japan is doing what Americans can’t do,” the Nikkei business daily quoted the gaffe-prone Aso as saying in a speech.

“Japanese are trusted. If (you have) blue eyes and blond hair, it’s probably no good,” he said.

“Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces.”

Foreign Ministry officials were unable to comment on the report, which said Aso elaborated by saying Japan had never exploited the Middle East, started a war there or fired a shot.

Aso, seen in some circles as a contender to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe if the Japanese leader runs into trouble in a July election for parliament’s upper house, is known for verbal gaffes.

He offended South Korea with remarks in 2003 that were interpreted in Seoul as trying to justify some of Japan’s actions during its 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean peninsula.

He also drew criticism in 2001 when, as economics minister, he said he hoped to make Japan the kind of country where “rich Jews” would want to live.

Aso said then he had not intended to be discriminatory.

Japan has long felt it has a special role to play in the Middle East because it lacks much of the political baggage of the United States, allowing for warmer ties with Arab nations.

Last week Tokyo hosted four-way talks aimed at working toward peace in the Middle East, involving Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories as well as Japan.

Abe’s government has been battered by a series of problematic remarks by cabinet ministers this year, including the health minister’s reference to women as “birth-giving machines” and Aso’s own description of Washington’s occupation strategy in Iraq as “immature.”



Aso amnesia
by Christopher Reed
Courtesy of the FCCJ website.

Japan’s foreign minister, Taro Aso, has made so many embarrassing and asinine remarks, several betraying racist-colonial attitudes, that he was attacked in a New York Times editorial as “inflammatory.”

But he is connected to a much nastier ghost from Japan’s imperial past.

Unmentioned by the NYT and deliberately under-reported in the Japanese media is the story of the aristocratic Aso’s connection, through his family coalmining firm, with the cruel and degrading exploitation of thousands of Korean laborers in slave-like conditions. Indeed this scandal, together with Japan’s reluctance to confront other past atrocities, remains its primary foreign policy obstacle.

In other countries, a link with slave labor would be intolerable for an important government official. The Korean pit workers were systematically underpaid, overworked, underfed and confined in penury.

They suffered chronic ill health, frequent death from unsanitary conditions or work accidents and were under 24-hour watch by brutal police. Their release came only with Japan’s 1945 defeat. Neither the survivors nor their families have received a penny in personal reparations, despite pleas from both Koreas.

Aso, 65, cannot plead generational separation. From 1973-79, when he entered politics, he ran the family company in Fukuoka Prefecture. He did not then address its history of peonage labor nor has he since. The Foreign Ministry did not respond to my inquiries.

The Aso company changed its name more than once and in 2001 entered a joint venture with Lafarge Cement of France, with Aso’s younger brother, Yutaka, remaining president of Lafarge Aso Cement Co. In December, the French ambassador in Tokyo awarded Yutaka the Legion d’Honneur at a champagne reception.

Guests of honour were Taro Aso and his wife, Chikako.

It seemed a fitting tribute to a family steeped in Japan’s recent aristocratic traditions. The Aso line includes a noble samurai, one of five who led the 1868 overthrow of the centuries-old shogunate that ushered in the modern era.

His great grandfather, Takakichi, founded the Aso mining firm in 1872. At one time it owned eight pits in Kyushu’s rich Chikuho coal fields and was the biggest of three family corporations mining an area producing half of Japan’s “black diamonds.”

As the scion of landed gentry, Taro Aso graduated from the university that traditionally educates Japan’s imperial family, spent time at London University, joined what was then Aso Industries, and quickly became a director. Completing the aristocratic tradition, he joined the Japanese rifle shooting team in the 1976 Olympics.

A grandfather was Shigeru Yoshida, prime minister of Japan five times between 1946 and 1954, and an autocratic conservative who, conveniently for the Aso family, conducted a 1950s purge of “reds” in the coal mining unions. Aso’s wife adds to family influence as the daughter of Zenko Suzuki, prime minister from 1980–82.

There is even a royal link. Aso’s sister, Nobuko, married Prince Tomohito of Mikasa, recently in the headlines over his opposition to a woman occupying the chrysanthemum throne. Tomohito suggested continuing the male line through concubines, an imperial tradition that would move Japan back several centuries.

The Aso connection to forced labor — unmentioned in its official website history — has been catalogued by three amateur historians in Fukuoka assisted by a Korean living in Japan. The four present a shocking picture with local library references, and documented in their books.

Tokyo’s National General Mobilization Law that forced all colonial subjects to work wherever it suited Japan, was not passed until 1939, but the historians found that before then, Korean laborers were shipped to Aso Mines. Precise numbers are unknown, but it was several thousands, especially after an Aso Mine strike of 400 miners in 1932. After 1939, the historians calculate, the number of Koreans in Japan’s labor force swelled to over a million; their figure is 1,120,000. Tokyo’s official number is 724,287.

The 12,000 Aso miners were paid a third less than equivalent Japanese labourers to dig coal to fuel Japan’s war.

It amounted to ¥50 a month, but less than ¥10 after mandatory confiscations for food, clothes, housing and enforced savings that often remained unpaid. All workers toiled underground for 15 hours a day, seven days a week, with no holidays at all.

“Housing” was cramped, dirty dormitory huts with six to seven tiny rooms in each. Single men lived and slept on a single tatami mat. There was no heating or running water. Lavatories were in earthen pits. A three-metre high wooden fence topped with electrified barbed wire ringed the outside. Workers were prisoners, guarded by police.

They kept statistics, however. In March 1944, Aso Mines had a total of 7,996 Korean laborers of whom 56 had recently died. A staggering 4,919 had escaped. Across Fukuoka, total fugitives amounted to 51.3 percent but at Aso Mines it was 61.5 percent because conditions there were “even worse,” said Noriaki Fukudome, one of the historians.

Most workers suffered malnutrition with no meat or fish provided. Early last year in Seoul the government-appointed Truth Commission on Forced Mobilization Under Japanese Imperialism began inquiries, toured 16 Korean provinces, conducted hearings, and took evidence from witnesses. Its chairman, Dr Jeon Ki-ho, also visited Japan to clarify what he boldly called its “atrocities.”

The Korean commission compiled a list of hundreds of Japanese companies that exploited forced Korean labour, and likely would have knowledge of remains of the dead. One firm prominently on the list: Aso Mines. But a spokesman said the firm could not investigate the whereabouts of remains as no records were available.

The commission continues to press for information.

As if this record was not bad enough, Aso has continued to offend Japan’s neighbors — and the world — with a series of offensive and inaccurate remarks.

Fundamentally he seems to share Japan’s racial supremacy ideology of the 1930s, encapsulated in his remark last October at a museum opening, that Japan was “one nation, one civilization, one language, one culture, and one race, the like of which there is no other on earth.”

This ignored the presence of the indigenous Ainu in Hokkaido, and the natives of Okinawa, both of whom have their own languages, and the Ainu, different racial characteristics. But Aso-style genealogical mythology was scientifically discredited decades ago. It remains the currency only of the racist inclined.

Aso also suggested that Koreans “voluntarily” changed their names to Japanese ones, thus ignoring a Tokyo law compelling them to do so. Above all he remains a Yasukuni enthusiast, but his remark that the emperor should visit the shrine and its sanctified war criminals — he has conspicuously avoided doing so — was too much for the LDP establishment.

Aso’s blunder was belittled. But is he just a political loudmouth of the kind many nations occasionally produce? His continued presence in office suggests he may be more than this. What the New York Times’s editorial described as “inflammatory statements about Japan’s disastrous era of militarism, colonialism and war crimes that culminated in the Second World War,” runs contrary to the new Old Right version of those events.

In this scenario Japan was a pitiful victim of western imperialist aggression and the war was merely defensive. Is this now the accepted version, and is Aso merely its stalking horse? If so, the Japanese (again) embark on a self-destructive foreign policy.

The whole issue should be opened for debate, but here the media are lamentably deficient. Two Japanese media scholars, Takesato Watanabe of Doshisha University in Kyoto and Tatsuro Hanada of Tokyo University, identified the cause as the dead hand of Japan’s kisha clubs.

The closely-knit journalist specialists of the kisha clubs conspire to keep out of the news anything they think will embarrass their department, and thus make their jobs more difficult. In this they abnegate the prime requirement of the press: to report without fear or favour.

As Hanada said: “As Aso is a candidate for prime minister, his attitudes and behaviour are a political issue with the question of his qualifications an important subject that should be open to the Japanese public.” As for Aso himself, Watanabe came briskly to the point.

“He should be replaced,” he said.

Posted by Martyn Williams on Sat, 2006-07-15 22:31

That NYT Editorial:

Japan’s Offensive Foreign Minister
NEW YORK TIMES Editorial: February 13, 2006
(Thanks to Gen Kanai’s weblog)

People everywhere wish they could be proud of every bit of their countries’ histories. But honest people understand that’s impossible, and wise people appreciate the positive value of acknowledging and learning from painful truths about past misdeeds. Then there is Japan’s new foreign minister, Taro Aso, who has been neither honest nor wise in the inflammatory statements he has been making about Japan’s disastrous era of militarism, colonialism and war crimes that culminated in the Second World War.

Besides offending neighboring countries that Japan needs as allies and trading partners, he is disserving the people he has been pandering to. World War II ended before most of today’s Japanese were born. Yet public discourse in Japan and modern history lessons in its schools have never properly come to terms with the country’s responsibility for such terrible events as the mass kidnapping and sexual enslavement of Korean young women, the biological warfare experiments carried out on Chinese cities and helpless prisoners of war, and the sadistic slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians in the city of Nanjing.

That is why so many Asians have been angered by a string of appalling remarks Mr. Aso has made since being named foreign minister last fall. Two of the most recent were his suggestion that Japan’s emperor ought to visit the militaristic Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese war criminals are among those honored, and his claim that Taiwan owes its high educational standards to enlightened Japanese policies during the 50-year occupation that began when Tokyo grabbed the island as war booty from China in 1895. Mr. Aso’s later lame efforts to clarify his words left their effect unchanged.

Mr. Aso has also been going out of his way to inflame Japan’s already difficult relations with Beijing by characterizing China’s long-term military buildup as a “considerable threat” to Japan. China has no recent record of threatening Japan. As the rest of the world knows, it was the other way around. Mr. Aso’s sense of diplomacy is as odd as his sense of history.

GAIJIN HANZAI editor Saka responds on Japan Today, with my rebuttal


Hi Blog. Here we have an interesting development: The editor of the GAIJIN HANZAI URA FILES responds to his critics. A fascinating and relatively rare glimpse into the mindset of a person with a “thing” about gaijin. I post his response below, then I offer up some comment after each paragraph:

Why I published ‘Foreigner Underground Crime File:’ Editor makes his case and responds to critics
By Shigeki Saka, Editor, Eichi Shuppan Inc

Japan Today
Friday, February 16, 2007 at 07:03 EST
Courtesy http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/399166/all

TOKYO — Ever since publishing a magazine called “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” (Foreigner Underground Crime File) last month, I have been subject to a campaign of harassment. In particular, some emails I’ve received have been quite vicious — and have included threats to my life. I have to admit that, although the ferocity of this reaction has surprised me, the basic emotions have not.

The topic of foreigner crime is taboo in Japan, with people on both sides of the issue distorting the facts and letting their feelings get the better of them.

On the Japanese side, the “foreign criminal” is a beast who lurks everywhere and wants nothing more than to destroy Japanese people and their way of life. Whether it’s a North Korean agent kidnapping our daughters or a Chinese thief invading our homes, many Japanese are convinced that foreigners should be treated with suspicion and fear.

This attitude makes it impossible to have an informed conversation about where real foreign criminals come from, or the reason they commit their crimes. In fact, one of my goals in publishing “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” was to help begin a frank discussion of the issue.

On the other side, many foreigners consider any suggestion that they engage in lewd or criminal behavior to be an unacceptable insult. This can be seen quite clearly in the reaction our magazine elicited in the Western media, and especially in the online community. The army of bloggers who bullied FamilyMart convenience stores into removing “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” from their shelves have decided for everyone else that this book is so dangerous that it cannot be read.

Yet I wonder how many of these “puroshimin,” or “professional civilians,” have read — or even seen — the magazine. I suppose the same right to free speech they claim for themselves should not extend to those who might want to buy and read our publication.

What these people are ignoring is a simple truth: there are no lies, distortions or racist sentiments expressed in “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu.” All the statistics about rising crime rates are accurate, and all the photographs show incidents that actually occurred.

For instance, it is true that on June 19, 2003, three Chinese nationals murdered a Japanese family — a mother, father and two children aged 8 and 11 — and dumped their bodies into a canal in Fukushima. It’s true that Brazilians and Chinese account for over half of the crimes committed by foreigners in Japan. It’s true that American guys grope their Japanese girlfriends daily on the streets of Tokyo.

That’s not to say that some of the criticism leveled at “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” is unreasonable. Bloggers have called attention to a few of our crime scene photographs, in which we have blurred the faces of Japanese people but not those of foreigners. Let me respond by saying that, if we had covered up the foreigners’ faces, the reader wouldn’t be able to recognize them as foreign, and the illustrative power of the image would be lost.

Use of ‘niga’ doesn’t have emotive power of English word

Another criticism I have heard involves our use of the term “niga,” which appears in the caption of a photo showing a black man feeling up his Japanese girlfriend on the street. I would like to stress that this term has none of the emotive power in Japanese that the N-word does in English — and to translate it as such is unfair. Instead, “niga” is Japanese street slang, just like the language used in the other captions on the same page.

Finally, some critics point to the absence of advertisements in “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” as evidence that we are financed by a powerful and rich organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reason there are no ads in the magazine is because we couldn’t find any sponsors who wanted to be part of such a controversial project. However, in one way I wish we did have the backing of such an influential group: I would feel a lot safer if I could count on them for security!

Having been given this opportunity to share a message with Tokyo’s foreign community, I would like to stress three points. First, before foreigners rush to accuse me and my staff of racism, or to label our publication a typical example of Japanese xenophobia, I would ask that they consider how quick their own culture is to view the Japanese as subhuman. In World War II you labeled us “monkeys,” and in the bubble economy years, you considered us “economic predators.”

Second, as our country becomes increasingly globalized and more foreigners come here to live and work, the Japanese will be forced to confront the challenges of a pluralistic society. Only by honestly discussing this issue and all it entails can we prepare our culture for this radical change.

Finally, if we can manage to openly discuss the issue of foreign crime in Japan, we will have the opportunity to address our own problems as well. Sure, we could continue to run away from the topic and remove books from shelves, but in doing so we are losing the chance to become more self-aware. What we need to understand is that by having a conversation about violent and illegal behavior, we’re really talking about ourselves — not as “Japanese” or “foreigners,” but as human beings.

Shigeki Saka is an editor at Eichi Publishing Company in Tokyo.


Now let me reprint the entire article and offer comments below each paragraph:


Why I published ‘Foreigner Underground Crime File:’ Editor makes his case and responds to critics

First of all, let me thank Mr Saka for taking the trouble to respond. Most people of his ilk do not come forward with their views and hold them up to scrutiny. (The publisher himself hides behind the name “Joey H. Washington”, which is legally questionable) So I offer these comments hopefully in the same spirit with a bit less defensiveness, and hope that a constructive dialogue, which Mr Saka indicates he wants, will ensue in future.

Ever since publishing a magazine called “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” (Foreigner Underground Crime File) last month, I have been subject to a campaign of harassment. In particular, some emails I’ve received have been quite vicious — and have included threats to my life. I have to admit that, although the ferocity of this reaction has surprised me, the basic emotions have not.

Right from the start we get the underlying current of the mindset behind the response: A perpetual feeling of victimization on the part of people who threw the first stone. As if the critics are the bad guys guilty of “harassment”. Agreed, there are limits to how far criticism can go, and once there is a threat of violence the line has been crossed. But ye shall reap. You wilfully create an inflammatory book and put it on bookshelves nationwide, you will get inflammatory reactions. As an editor in the publishing world, Mr Saka should by now be used to criticism. But to cry about his own treatment in the media, after publishing something this distorted, shows a definite lack of self-reflection that will do him little good as a professional in future.

The topic of foreigner crime is taboo in Japan, with people on both sides of the issue distorting the facts and letting their feelings get the better of them.

The meaning of “taboo”, even in Japanese, means something that cannot be discussed. However, there has been much discussion about foreign crime since 2000, from Ishihara to the NPA to the tabloids to the Wide Shows to the respectable press. Not taboo at all, and for an editor to get this word so wrong in even a formal debate calls into question his qualifications as an editor and wordsmith.

As for distorting the facts, GAIJIN HANZAI does a respectable job of doing it all on it’s own (starting from the very cover, where “gaijin” are going to “devastate” Japan if we let them, and where “everyone” will be a target of “gaijin crime” this year). Saying that people on both sides are getting it wrong (even if true) is no defense, and no license to do it yourself.

On the Japanese side, the “foreign criminal” is a beast who lurks everywhere and wants nothing more than to destroy Japanese people and their way of life. Whether it’s a North Korean agent kidnapping our daughters or a Chinese thief invading our homes, many Japanese are convinced that foreigners should be treated with suspicion and fear.

I don’t want to get hung up on semantics here (as I have not seen the original interview in Japanese), but here we have the victim complex combined with the editor clearly admitting which side he’s on. “Our” side. “Our” daughters. “Our” homes. As opposed to crime affecting everybody badly, which it does. You can’t do “us” and “them” when criminals are indiscriminate sharks who treat everybody as food. Especially since almost all criminals in Japan are Japanese no matter how you fudge the “facts”.

Whether or not the foreign criminal is out to “destroy Japan” (as opposed to take advantage of it for profit motive like any other criminal regardless of nationality) feels more like a figment of Mr Saka’s active imagination. Last I heard, there are no real anti-government anarchic groups out there run by foreigners; that’s usually the domain of the Japanese radicals.

This attitude makes it impossible to have an informed conversation about where real foreign criminals come from, or the reason they commit their crimes. In fact, one of my goals in publishing “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” was to help begin a frank discussion of the issue.

This “attitude” being referred to here is not the fault of the critics, but the fault of the instigator, in this case the people who funded Mr Saka and Eichi Shuppan. By all means, let’s have an informed discussion about where crime and criminality comes from. But putting it in terms of racial and nationality paradigms certainly does not inform the discussion. Given how blunt these tools of analysis are as social science, this book generates far more heat than light.

Criminality is completely unrelated to nationality anyway. By offering no comparison to Japanese crime, there is no chance for informed conversation whatsoever since it is not grounded in any context. Which means the entire premise of your book is flawed and not on any search for the truth.

What you are getting, however, IS frank discussion. But you pass that off as “harassment”. Your positioning yourself as the victim switches off so many intellectual avenues.

On the other side, many foreigners consider any suggestion that they engage in lewd or criminal behavior to be an unacceptable insult. This can be seen quite clearly in the reaction our magazine elicited in the Western media, and especially in the online community. The army of bloggers who bullied FamilyMart convenience stores into removing “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” from their shelves have decided for everyone else that this book is so dangerous that it cannot be read.

Here we go with the victim mentality again, where an “army” of bloggers (I’m amazed the translator didn’t use the word “horde”) “bullied” innocent victim convenience stores into submission. This odd world-view assumes a) non-Japanese are that organized (Believe you me, they’re not! Unless you get their dander up like your magazine so effectively did.), and b) the convenience stores were powerless to stop them (No, the shopkeeps–and EVERY other Japanese I have shown this magazine to–reacted to your rhetoric, particularly when one showed them the pages with the interracial public displays of affection–with shame and revulsion. One didn’t even need fluency in Japanese to inform the discussion. You made our job incredibly easy for us.)

No, the shopkeeps and distributors, who apologized not out of fear or compulsion, decided for themselves that this book was offensive and not worthy of their racks. As did your advertisers, as you admit below.

Yet I wonder how many of these “puroshimin,” or “professional civilians,” have read — or even seen — the magazine. I suppose the same right to free speech they claim for themselves should not extend to those who might want to buy and read our publication.

Let’s walk through this Trojan Horse of logic. You deliberately put out a book that will aggravate a section of the Japanese population. If anyone successfully protests, you say we are censoring you. Drop the tatemae, already, and stop hiding behind pat and half-baked ideas of “free speech” when the honne is that all you want to do is sell books. And it was after people actually SAW the mook that shopkeeps followed through with sending them back.

(And for those who haven’t seen the mook, here’s the whole thing, scanned, and available for free:

What these people are ignoring is a simple truth: there are no lies, distortions or racist sentiments expressed in “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu.” All the statistics about rising crime rates are accurate, and all the photographs show incidents that actually occurred.

No lies, such as talking about Japanese penis size? Or that a Mr. “Joey H. Washington” published this book…? Anyway…

You fill the book with statistics, yes. But three tests of telling the truth is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. By leaving out any mention of Japanese crime, which is, if anything, more likely to target Japanese and devastate the Japanese way of life, you leave out the whole truth. This is a distortion, which is inaccurate.

So are the statistics about rising crime rates. Many crime rates in certain sectors (and in general, according to recent news) have fallen. So have the numbers of visa overstayers EVERY YEAR since 1993. Maybe you didn’t get all that in before press time. Or maybe you just did not feel that these “facts” were convenient enough for inclusion.

For instance, it is true that on June 19, 2003, three Chinese nationals murdered a Japanese family — a mother, father and two children aged 8 and 11 — and dumped their bodies into a canal in Fukushima [SIC–It was Fukuoka]. It’s true that Brazilians and Chinese account for over half of the crimes committed by foreigners in Japan. It’s true that American guys grope their Japanese girlfriends daily on the streets of Tokyo.

For instance, it is true that a woman in Wakayama fed her neighbors poisoned curry rice. It is true that a Tokyo woman killed her husband with a wine bottle, cut him into little pieces, and threw him away with the nama gomi. It is true that a man killed a British hostess for his own sexual predilections. It is true a man killed his Dutch partner in Paris and ate her. It is true that a prostitute strangled her patron, dismembered him, and walked around town with his penis around her neck… Need I go on?

All of these criminals were Japanese. How would it feel if I were to write a book and publish it overseas saying you should never eat curry in Wakayama because Wakayama people might poison you. Or that one should never marry a Japanese woman because she might bludgeon you with a bottle and cut your prick off?

Or that a Japanese robber posing as a doctor poisoning everyone in a bank shows that Japanese are more devious than Westerners because they have to kill everyone in the building in order to get at the money? I bet there would be howls from the media and even the Japanese embassy.

And the groping thing? The Japanese government has to take measures to segregate public transportation because the “chikan” problem is so bad here. The differences between this and that is that it’s harder to photograph the same acts happening in a crowded train. And that it is consensual. Which means it is not a crime, and beyond the scope of this book.

That’s not to say that some of the criticism leveled at “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” is unreasonable. Bloggers have called attention to a few of our crime scene photographs, in which we have blurred the faces of Japanese people but not those of foreigners. Let me respond by saying that, if we had covered up the foreigners’ faces, the reader wouldn’t be able to recognize them as foreign, and the illustrative power of the image would be lost.

Another Trojan Horse of logic. No, Eichi Shuppan didn’t block out the gaijin faces because they didn’t think there would be any trouble from them, especially legally. Why not leave in the Japanese faces for more illustrative power that the situation is Japanese vs gaijin? Because you’d be slapped with a lawsuit for invasion of privacy, that’s why. Again, lose the tatemae.

Use of ‘niga’ doesn’t have emotive power of English wordAnother criticism I have heard involves our use of the term “niga,” which appears in the caption of a photo showing a black man feeling up his Japanese girlfriend on the street. I would like to stress that this term has none of the emotive power in Japanese that the N-word does in English — and to translate it as such is unfair. Instead, “niga” is Japanese street slang, just like the language used in the other captions on the same page.

You are seriously trying to argue that nigaa is not derived from the English epithet, that the Japanese streets just spontaneously came up with it to describe people with high melanin skin, or that it has no emotive connection to its root? 

I wonder who elected Mr Saka representative of all Japanese when it comes to interpreting how we feel about epithets. Every Japanese I have shown this book to (and I have shown it to thousands) has recoiled at the word (and one display to the shopkeeps gets it quickly removed from the shelves). Try saying it on Japanese television or using it in the respectable press. And try being the target of “jappu”, “nippu”, “yellow monkey”, “yellow cab” etc. anywhere in the world and see if that “street slang” defense works.

Same with the word “gaijin”, used in every situation in the book (even the title) except when citing police statistics (where the official word is “gaikokujin”, of course). Even here we translate it as “foreigner”, which is not the same word with the same emotive power either. But interpretation of epithets is less the property of the speaker, more the person being addressed. And Mr Saka’s attempt in an earlier explanation to say “this book is for a Japanese audience” (which he does not make in this essay) is a facile attempt to exclude or deligitimize the non-Japanese resident’s voice from the free and open debate he so highly prizes.

Finally, some critics point to the absence of advertisements in “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu” as evidence that we are financed by a powerful and rich organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reason there are no ads in the magazine is because we couldn’t find any sponsors who wanted to be part of such a controversial project. However, in one way I wish we did have the backing of such an influential group: I would feel a lot safer if I could count on them for security!

I am looking forward to your next expose on the Yakuza and their methods of crime. Then I think you would have some real security concerns. A few angry letters in your email box does not a similarly life-threatening harrassment campaign make.

You still haven’t answered the question of where your funding came from. And the fact that advertisers had more sense than to be associated with your mook (and shopkeeps and distributors, once notified of the contents, also quickly washed their hands of you) should be some cause for self-reflection on your part.

Having been given this opportunity to share a message with Tokyo’s foreign community, I would like to stress three points. First, before foreigners rush to accuse me and my staff of racism, or to label our publication a typical example of Japanese xenophobia, I would ask that they consider how quick their own culture is to view the Japanese as subhuman. In World War II you labeled us “monkeys,” and in the bubble economy years, you considered us “economic predators.”

Cue victim complex again. We Japanese been done wrong (one or two generations ago, when Japanese were likewise contemporarily calling gaijin “devils”, “barbarians”, “lazy illiterates”…). So it justifies our doing wrong right back. How far back do we have to go here to justify the use of historically hateful and insulting epithets in the present day? And does Eichi Shuppan really want to sink to the level of the bigots (found in every society) who use those terms of debate?

Second, as our country becomes increasingly globalized and more foreigners come here to live and work, the Japanese will be forced to confront the challenges of a pluralistic society. Only by honestly discussing this issue and all it entails can we prepare our culture for this radical change.

Cue the possession complex again. “Our country” belongs to us too. We live here, and pay taxes and contribute to Japanese society the same as everyone else. Only by honestly dealing with the fact that Japanese social problems are not so easily blamed on foreigners, or on an internationalizing society, can we prepare “our culture” for the challenges of Japan’s future.

The operative word here is “honestly”. But thanks to books like GAIJIN HANZAI, which conflates criminality with nationality, I think that is beyond the likes of Mr Saka, Eichi Shuppan, or their anonymous patrons.

Finally, if we can manage to openly discuss the issue of foreign crime in Japan, we will have the opportunity to address our own problems as well. Sure, we could continue to run away from the topic and remove books from shelves, but in doing so we are losing the chance to become more self-aware. What we need to understand is that by having a conversation about violent and illegal behavior, we’re really talking about ourselves — not as “Japanese” or “foreigners,” but as human beings.

So why isn’t the book entitled “NINGEN HANZAI”? Because it’s not about talking about violent and illegal behavior “as human beings”. Nor about our “own problems”, but rather about “gaijin” and the evils that they do because they are gaijin. And how in some places in the book they should not be here in the first place and how we must defend ourselves from them. The problem being pointed at is not “ourselves”. It is about “them” and how they hurt “us”.


In conclusion, the reason why the mook should not go back on the shelves:

In my view, when one publishes something, there are of course limits to freedom of speech. Although Japanese laws are grey on this, the rules of thumb for most societies are you must not libel individuals with lies, maliciously promote hate and spread innuendo and fear against a people, and not wilfully incite people to panic and violence. The classic example is thou must not lie and shout “fire” in a crowded theater. But my general rule is that you must not make the debate arena inconducive to free and calm, reasoned debate.

GAIJIN HANZAI fails the test because it a) wilfully spreads hate, fear, and innuendo against a segment of the population, b) fortifies that by lacking any sort of balance in data or presentation, and c) offers sensationalized propaganda in the name of “constructive debate” (when I don’t think Mr Saka has any intention of doing anything more than selling magazines; he is on no search for the truth–only wishes to hawk wares for wareware nipponjin). Dialog is not promoted by fearmongering.

Even then, we as demonstrators never asked for the law, such as it is, to get involved. We just notified distributors of the qualms we had with this book, and they agreed that this was inappropriate material for their sales outlets. We backed that up by proposing a boycott, which is our inviolable right (probably the non-Japanese residents’ only inviolable right) to choose where to spend our money as consumers. We proposed no violence. Only the strength of our argument and conviction.

It’s not like this is a fair fight here–we do not have an entire publishing house at our disposal, with access to every convenience store in Japan, so we can publish a rebuttal side by side.  And the fact that the Japanese press has completely ignored this issue is indicative of how stacked the domestic debate arena is against us. You think the domestic press is going to go to bat for us and naturally restore balance to the national debate on foreign crime?

We did what we could, and it worked.  Especially since the tone of GAIJIN HANZAI did our work for us. You should be kicking yourself for making our job so easy.


Again, I thank Mr Saka for making his ideology so plain. Ultimately, he comes off as a crybaby who sees other people going about their business, gets angry because the people there remind him of someone who teased him in grade school, then puts up posters accusing those people of ruining his neighborhood. Then wonders why people get angry at him, and accuse them of violating his freedom of expression when they pull those posters down. If this is the best argument the bigots in Japan can muster, then Japan’s imminent transition to an international, multicultural society will go smoother than expected.

Arudou Debito
Japanese citizen and full member of “our society”
Miyazaki, Kyushu
February 16, 2007



Just got this from a friend. Seems like migration of labor is causing some problems with “foreign crime” in China too. So much for GAIJIN HANZAI’S speculation that Chinese somehow have more criminal tendencies. Anyway, FYI. Debito in Sapporo

South China Morning Post
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Crime-plagued Guangzhou considers foreigner database

Updated at 11.47am:
Legislators in crime-ridden Guangzhou wanted to set up an information
database to track the activities of foreigners blamed for some of the
lawlessness, state media said on Thursday.

The proposal by 13 legislators was based on data showing a 40 per cent
increase in illegal activities by foreigners in the southern city in
2001-05, the China Daily reported.

“[Foreigners] without legal permission to live and do business in
Guangdong, and especially those who commit crimes, pose a great threat
to the province’s social security,” Yan Xiangrong, a deputy in the
Guangdong Provincial People’s Congress, told the paper.

The scheme would involve “all related governmental organisations,
including departments of foreign affairs, public security, health,
labour and social security, industry and commercial and civil affairs”,
Mr Yan said.

No other details on the plan, which was put to the Congress last week,
were given.

Guangzhou is plagued by purse-snatching motorcycle gangs and other crime
linked to its spectacular export-fuelled boom.

The crime is typically blamed on the more than three million migrant
workers drawn to the booming city but a rising number of foreigners also
have set up residence or businesses in the province.

There were 40,000 foreigners living in the province, most of them in
Guangzhou, the paper said.

Recent cases involving foreigners have included smuggling and
drug-trafficking offences, it added.

Last month, Guangzhou announced it would more than triple the number of
surveillance cameras around the city to 340,000 to help stem the crime.

Japan Focus on public perceptions of crime in Japan


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


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

By Thomas Ellis & Koichi HAMAI



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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Arudou Debito in Miyazaki









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


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



Japan Today: “Blond Hair Blue Eyes” Eikaiwa job ad


Hi Blog. The issue I was notified of and posted about last November has finally hit the national press. Background on that issue here:


Japan Today reports the following:
English school condemned for limiting teachers to blond hair, blue eyes
Monday, February 12, 2007 at 07:16 EST Courtesy Kyodo News

KOFU — An English-language school in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, had publicly posted a recruitment poster limiting instructors to those with “blond hair, blue or green eyes,” leading activists to file complaints, people involved said Sunday.

The poster for recruiting instructors the school sends to kindergartens was posted at the Yamanashi International Center for six months until November, when the center removed it after receiving the complaints and apologizing for its “lack of consideration.”

“Linking appearance and qualifications of English educators is questionable. It encourages discrimination on appearance and race,” according to the complaints filed with the center by the activists, including American-born Japanese citizen Debito Arudou.

Arudou, associate professor at Hokkaido Information University, who is working on human rights for foreign residents in Japan, also filed written requests with the school, kindergartens and the Kofu Regional Legal Affairs to promote human rights.

According to people related to the school, several kindergartens in Kofu have asked it to send English instructors so their children can get accustomed to “foreigners,” attaching such conditions as “blond hair” and “blue eyes.”

The school “was aware that it was an old discriminatory idea, but couldn’t resist customers’ needs,” one related person said, noting that the school now regrets it.

It’s pretty late, and I’m too tired right now to comment meaningfully at the moment; will do so later on today. Watch this space. Debito in Kurashiki



 ブロクの皆様こんばんは。倉敷市内にて宿泊している有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。







センターが掲示した。ポスターには条件として英語で「Blonde hair
 blue or green eyes」などと書かれていた。











Video link for windows media:

ありがとうございました!有道 出人



英会話講師求人ポスター:「差別助長」指摘で撤去−−甲府 /山梨
2月14日12時1分配信 毎日新聞


 同校が昨年5月に掲示を希望し、センターを管理する財団法人県国際交流協会が許可。指摘を受けた同11月まで張り出され、ポスターには「Blonde hair blue or green eyes」などと採用条件が明記されていた。同協会も「今後は差別につながる表現は掲載しないようしっかりチェックしていく」と話した。

JT/Kyodo on foreign crime *decrease*, yet Mainichi focusses on increase


Hi Blog. So much for those (like the NPA and the GAIJIN HANZAI rags) that assert that foreign crime is on the increase. Not this time around:


Number of crime cases involving foreign suspects down in ’06: NPA
Kyodo News/Japan Times Feb 9, 2007


Police took action in 40,126 criminal cases in which the perpetrator
was believed to have been a foreigner, excluding permanent residents
and members of the U.S. military, down 16.2 percent from the record
high logged the previous year, the National Police Agency said Thursday.

There was a large drop in cases of suspected theft from cars and
vending machines, which contributed to the overall decline, the NPA
said, adding that police and volunteer groups have increased street
patrols and crime-prevention programs.

The number of foreigners who are suspected of committing crimes in
Japan but have left the country reached 656 as of the end of 2006,
according to NPA statistics, which have been kept since 1980 and do
not cover permanent residents or U.S. military personnel here.

The NPA said 38 of the people who left Japan have been charged by the
authorities of their home countries at the request of Japan since
1999, including 19 Chinese, 14 South Koreans and one Japanese-Brazilian.

The number of cases of foreigners charged under the Penal Code fell
16.9 percent to 27,459 last year. , while those under other laws,
mostly related to illegal drugs, dropped 14.6 percent to 12,667 cases
and involved 18,895 suspects, down 10.8 percent.

Money-laundering up Kyodo News A record 137 cases of money-laundering
were uncovered last year, up 25 from the previous year, with the
underworld accounting for some 40 percent, the National Police Agency
said Thursday.

The NPA attributed the uptrend over the past few years to stepped-up
efforts by police to investigate mob-related money flows.

In 90 cases, suspects attempted to disguise or conceal criminal
proceeds by using the bank accounts of others, and similar means. In
46 cases, money was knowingly received from crime suspects, the agency said.

The Japan Times: Friday, Feb. 9, 2007

Yet, as Japan Probe reports, the Japanese press (the Mainichi Shinbun, at least, notorious these days for this sort of thing) has to bend over backwards to make a sensation about foreign crime:


Earlier this week, I posted a link to an article that cited statistics that showed a 16.2% decrease in crime by foreigners in the last year. Here’s how Mainichi Shinbun covered the story, as pointed out by From the inside, looking in:

For a taste of Japanese journalism, I point you to the reporting of the statistics by the Mainichi newspaper.

The Japanese version.

外国人犯罪:地方で増加 中部は15年前の35倍に




毎日新聞 2007年2月8日 10時53分

The English version.


Number of crimes committed by nonpermanent foreigners declines in Tokyo

The number of crimes committed by nonpermanent foreign nationals in 2006 declined in Tokyo, the National Police Agency (NPA) said on Thursday.
Police investigated 27,459 cases nationwide of suspected crimes allegedly committed by nonpermanent foreign nationals in 2006. The number is 16.9 percent down from the previous year.

By region, Tokyo’s figure, 3,802 cases, was 10 percent less than in 1991. But in the Chubu region of central Japan, the number stood at 7,716, a staggering 35.4 times the number of 1991.

The 279 cases in the Shikoku region shows a rise of 21.5 times that of 1991. The number for other regions such as Hokkaido, Tohoku, Chugoku, Kinki and Kyushu, all increased from 15 years ago. The number for the Kanto region actually rose if Tokyo’s figure was excluded.

The figures reflect the surge in foreigners living in areas outside of Tokyo.
“We have beefed up our efforts in Tokyo, forcing foreign criminal groups to flee to other regions,” an NPA official said.

Of the 27,459 suspected crimes, 67.9 percent were committed by groups of at least two foreigners.

In 2006, 40 foreign nationals left Japan after allegedly committing crimes, the NPA said. The number of foreign nationals who have been accused of committing crimes in Japan and of fleeing totaled 656 by the end of 2006. (Mainichi, February 8, 2007)


The Japanese headline reads: Foreigner Crime: Increasing in the regions (ie outside Tokyo) – Up 35-fold in the Chubu Region in 15 years

The English headline: Number of crimes committed by nonpermanent foreigners declines in Tokyo (I see they can’t even concede that it decreased on a national aggregate level)

Hmm…interesting how a sensationalist headline about rising crime by foreigners can magically “translated” into a less offensive English headline about a decrease in crime!

I commented on Japan Probe shortly afterwards:


Arudou Debito Says:
February 10th, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Heard this from a Mainichi reporter during my travels (he came to one of my speeches, took me out for dinner afterwards):

There was a recent crime involving two Japanese, one Chinese.

The headline (assigned by a different person than the reporter) was “Chuugokujin ra ga…” commit the crime.

When he asked the editor why this misleading headline was being created, he said the editor said:

“Inpakuto ga chigau kara”
(The impact is different.)

Yes, it certainly is. Mainichi has been receiving a lot of flak from human rights groups for its misleading headlines. Thanks for pointing them out. Debito in Wakayama

Foreigners just can’t win, I guess. Even when the crime rate goes down… Shame that this is even happening in the most liberal of the national newspapers, the Mainichi. Debito in Kurashiki

Ivan Hall Speech text JALT Nov 3 06


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

2ちゃんねる:16日NTV放送(youtube), debito.orgがサイバーテロ標的


(ブログの皆様、取り急いた日本語のメーリングリストへのお知らせを載せます。日本語が乱れてすみません。有道 出人)

From: Arudou Debito
Subject: NEWS FLASH:2ちゃんねるが注目を集めている、今夜NTV放送

皆様こんばんは。有道 出人です。このメールは普通のdebito.orgのメールではなく、debito.orgは不通になってしまいました。なぜなら、サイバー・テロでやられて、ダウンになりました。そのことについて以下詳しく申し上げますが、取り急ぎのことを先に述べさせていただきます。早速書いてしまいますので、下手な日本語をお許し下さい。

  2ちゃんねるについて有道 出人とのインタビューが放送
  違う裁判の原告の有道 出人はヘートメイルの標的となり
January 16, 2006

  2ちゃんねるについて有道 出人とのインタビューが放送


このサイトがアクセスすることを祈っています。きゅう、サイバーテロ(cyber terrorism)の標的となって、ダウンになりました。


  違う裁判の原告の有道 出人はヘートメイルの標的となり


 ネット界激震!! 賠償命令を無視し続けてきた日本最大の掲示板「2ちゃんねる」(2Ch)の管理人、西村博之氏(30)の全財産が仮差し押さえされることが12日、分かった。債権者が東京地裁に申し立てたもので、対象となるのは西村氏の銀行口座、軽自動車、パソコン、さらにネット上の住所にあたる2Chのドメイン「2ch.net」にまで及ぶ見込み。執行されれば掲示板の機能が一時停止するのは必至だ。

などのヘートメイル(hate mail)があり、2ちゃんねるの英語版「4chan」(アメリカで2ちゃんねるをクロンしたようです)からの関連者がどうなるかを色々送りました。









ネット君臨:第1部・失われていくもの/1(その2) 「エサ」総がかりで暴露

ネット君臨:第1部・失われていくもの/1(その3止) 2ch管理人に聞く

以上です。取り急ぎお送りします。日本語が乱れて申し訳ございません。宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

debito.org website zapped by cyberelements


Hi Blog: One learns something new every day. Today’s lesson for me is how tenuous our connections with the Internet are, and how quickly the trappings of modern life one learns to take for granted can be taken away.

I’m referring to this website, debito.org, something I have been working on for nearly a decade to provide a valuable record on life and human rights in Japan. It got zapped today (January 16, 2007) by anonymous Cyberspace terrorists in the name of 2-Channel.

How this came about:

About a week ago, Yuukan Fuji (one of Japan’s most influential daily tabloids) reported that a 35-year-old guy sued 2-Channel (the world’s largest internet bbs) for libel and won. They also reported that he would be seizing the 2-Channel domain name within about a week (i.e. yesterday), and due to that 2-Channel would be closed down.

I also happen to have a libel lawsuit victory outstanding with 2-Channel (see, eventually, https://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html). However, the Yuukan Fuji article wasn’t about me. I am not 35, and I have never advocated that 2-Channel be closed down. (Quite the opposite–I have said at various junctures that I think 2ch offers a very valuable service, and despite the bad eggs it should continue to exist.) I just wanted 2ch Administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki to honor the Iwamizawa District Court decision: pay damages, delete the libelous posts in question, and reveal the poster(s)’ IP addresses. (To this day, none of these things have been done.)

Unfortunately, the cyberspace terrorists out there (who are, according to my sources, becoming ever more sophisticated these days) do not have a great record regarding reading comprehension or research, and decided that I was the one to take revenge against.

From Monday morning Jan 15, the hate mail began trickling in. Then the death threats. Finally, according to my website domain admin today, debito.org has been zapped–i.e. people with large bandwidths have aimed internet guns and fired millions of page accesses onto my the debito.org server, overloading it and closing it down. Which means I am stuck without a site, or a blog, or email, until they get bored.

This is why, for the time being, debito.org will be inaccessible. Pity this had to happen. But given the fact that practically all the world’s major sites have had to face this kind of dilemma (apparently cyberterrorists have become cyber blackmailers, similarly crippling websites for major world corporations until a fee is paid), this is becoming an argument for policing the Internet better.

For if people like these can get away with hurting people, then decide to hurt those same people further if they try to defend themselves through legally-sanctioned means, then we have a culture of lawlessness that needs to be addressed.

In the end, it shows me that we as human beings have not evolved far from the apes and the wolf packs. Would have thought that developing a written language would have separated us. Instead, it, and its delivery vehicles, are enjoying knock-on effects as weapons.

It is things like these which have spoiled the Internet (once a more pleasant place to garner information and meet people) for the rest of us. Damned shame. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS: The most ironic thing about this whole issue is that most of the hate mail and death threats are in English. Native English, for the most part. Claiming responsibility for all this is some place called “4chan” which is apparently the overseas version of 2-Channel, with the same attitude towards information, anonymity, and personal responsibility. Replication imminent.

I keep saying this, but leave lawnessness alone and it spreads through copycatting. Copycats like any game of “monkey see, monkey do”, just so long as it suits their interests and they get off scot-free.

Meanwhile, 2-Channel did NOT go down. It was a hoax. And I had nothing to do with it. Yet these cyberelements just keep on plugging away to overwhelm the servers at debito.org.

So much for their claim to defense of freedom of speech.

NEWSFLASH: NTV interviews Arudou Debito re 2-Channel Lawsuit



I got interviewed earlier tonight with Nippon TV (Ch 5 in Sapporo, Ch 4 in Tokyo).
Details as follows:


I’d send you a link for background on the issue (https://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html) but my site has been zapped by cyberterrorists.

So much for these people who claim they are defending freedom of speech.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
January 16, 2006



Watched the program. I got four soundbites: That I have never heard anything from 2-Channel before, during, or after. That I have never received a penny of court-mandated damages. That this case questions the very efficacy of having a court system. And that 2-Channel should take responsibility for its actions.

See it here at YouTube

Given that I had a day that would rival Jack Bauer’s: Eighteen 20-minute verbal interviews with individual students, the loss and return of debito.org, several calls to arrange affairs down south for events, and several calls from Japanese mass media regarding this case, I think I fared fairly well. Appearing on TV is not my strong suit anyway, so I think I did better than I expected.

Probably time to call it a day. Thanks to everyone out there for their letters of support! Debito

MDN Waiwai: J bad bath manners :-)


Another humorous diversion, while I’m at it…

Here’s another historical gem from the Waiwai page. The translator advised me not to take the article too seriously, so bring out the salt shakers.

Still (and not to pour cold water on the humors here, but), assuming truthiness, I await the onsen notice saying “No amorously moist couples allowed!” next to the “JAPANESE ONLY” sign… Ironies and hypocrisies indeed. Debito in Sapporo


Randy young couples play scrub-a-dub at rural hot springs
Mainichi Waiwai Page, October 6, 2005

“Our inn has a large common bath, plus four smaller private spas that can be rented by guests,” says the ‘kami’ female proprietor at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) in Shizuoka’s Atagawa Onsen. “The private baths are available for rental on a round-the-clock basis. Of late, they’ve been taken over by young couples, who are quite … noisy, if you know what I mean.”

Gracious old rural inns, traditionally, have been places where Japanese go to relax in natural surroundings while soaking away their aches and pains in mineral hot springs. But, reports Shukan Jitsuwa (10/13), inns’ clientele of late seem to have other ideas.

“The idea of 24-hour bathing was to let you get up early, and soak in the tub while watching the rising sun burn off the morning mist,” continues the kami. “Or, you could go late there at night and gaze at the starry sky. It made things all the more relaxing. But when you’ve got to worry about families bathing within hearing range of these noisy young couples, it’s really vexing.”

The inn’s proprietor describes such amorous sound effects as a staccato “picha-picha” of water sloshing in the tub, accompanied by a moaning female voice.

“Then you might hear a strained male voice muttering something like, ‘Keep it down, people can hear!’ followed by a woman saying, ‘Ahhhh this is too much!’ It sets off a chain reaction and inflames their passion even more.”

“We certainly want couples who come here to be able to enjoy a romantic interlude,” the kami at another rural spa tells Shukan Jitsuwa. “But they get pretty messy in their lovemaking. Employees have told me when they go into the bathing areas to clean up, they can see obvious traces that sex took place. Since other people use the baths too, they should at least be considerate enough to wipe up after they finish.

“Japan’s traditional hot spring culture regards this kind of behavior as absolutely disgraceful!” she complains.
Japan’s ryokan industry, unfortunately, is in the throes of an unprecedented recession, and as such is hardly in the position to turn away business. But still …

Take this story of three “office ladies” in their 20s employed at Tokyo trading company, who caroused over too many cups of sake with their evening meal and got completely plastered.

“They went lurching down the corridor towards the bath, the fronts of their robes hanging open, exposing their naked breasts, and completely oblivious to the other patrons,” complains the operator of a ryokan in Hakone, near Mt. Fuji. “Then they staggered naked into the men’s bath by mistake. There was just one old man in there alone, and when he saw these three completely naked young women walk in, he nearly freaked out. To make things worse, one of the drunk girls said to him, ‘Gyaaaa — what’re you doin’ in here? This is the women’s bath!” as if he were the guilty party. Outrageous!”

Each autumn, just before the beginning of the tourist season, hotels at the Kusatsu spa in Gumma Prefecture invite bus drivers and female bus guides to an orientation. These bus guides used to be fairly serious young women. But those days, sighs Shukan Jitsuwa, are long gone. According to one witness account, after the inn’s customers have turned in for the night, the drivers and bus guides head for the bath and engage in wild orgies.
Likewise, the notion that the custom of mixed bathing is an “innocent” practice with no sexual overtones is rapidly — no pun intended — being laid to rest.

“These days I’ve seen women, even those who come here with their husbands, pair off with other men,” says a kami at a bed & breakfast spa in Tochigi Prefecture. “What’s more, couples interested in swapping are using the Internet to seek other enthusiasts, and then meeting up at our place. They’re using mixed bathing for the kinds of things that go on in ‘happening bars,'” she says, referring to clubs in Tokyo and other major cities where patrons engage in intercourse on a stage while other customers look on.

“People living in rural areas don’t have those kind of opportunities, so spas like ours — which are the one type of place where nobody takes notice when men and women bathe together — are becoming the perfect venues for these kind of sensual encounters.”

The inns’ determination to preserve their country’s proud tradition of hot spring bathing, sighs Shukan Jitsuwa, may be a losing battle. (By Masuo Kamiyama, contributing writer.)
October 6, 2005

J Times Letter re Gregory Clark’s Ideological Laundry


Hi Blog. Bit of a surprise to find this Letter to the Editor regarding old Gregory Clark and his ranting ways. Especially since I’ve been such a target of them in the past (as the letter alludes). I promise I had nothing to do whatsoever with this letter. Still, glad somebody out there is ready with a critical eye to draw attention to the ironies and hypocrisies (see links below letter) of a man who should long have been retired from writing any column for the Japan Times. Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times
Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006
As alike as they are different

By A.E. LAMDON, Nishinomiya, Hyogo

Regarding Gregory Clark’s Nov. 20 article, “Ideological laundry unfurled“: While Yoshihisa Komori’s ideological bullying is deplorable, it is ironic that Clark complains about it. “Rightwing,” “right-leaning,” “besmirch,” “notorious,” “snide,” “sinister,” “fulminating,” “atrocities” — such flaming rhetoric lights up yet another Clark column as he rails against yet another target of his. Clark regularly uses his column (and letters to the editor) to verbally firebomb those targets, a good and ironic example being the case of Debito Arudou.

It is ironic because Clark’s fulminations about Arudou’s campaign against a “no-gaijin” bathhouse were noted by certain circles of Japanese society and resulted in unpleasant consequences for Arudou and his associates — the same sort of consequences that Clark claims he is the victim of now.

Although of opposite wings, Clark and Komori are essentially alike: They use their journalistic billets as bully pulpits to rant against those with whom they disagree. It was just a matter of time before they were exchanging fire.


More on this mysterious and extremely stripey character:

SPECIAL REPORT: Issho Kikaku Deletion of the Historical Record



By Arudou Debito
December 23, 2006

(NB: The title is not meant to be sensational–merely a pun on the 1978 movie title, “Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?” The movie was a comedy. This report is, unfortunately, deadly serious. It is an update of a Dec 7 report, archived at https://www.debito.org/?p=108, because yet another mailing list has since been deleted.)




We open this report with a newspaper article:

========= ARTICLE BEGINS ================
Newscaster regrets anti-foreigner quip


Atonement, it seems, can never come too late. Newscaster Hiroshi Kume has apologized for a disparaging remark he made 10 years ago about foreigners speaking Japanese.

The comment offended a number of foreign residents in Japan, prompting some people to formally complain to TV Asahi Corp. that aired the remark. At the time, Kume was a presenter on TV Asahi’s evening news program, then called News Station.

The program aired in October 1996 and featured a report on India in which an Indian spoke fluent Japanese, according to Debito Arudou, 41. Arudou, who was born in the United States as Dave Aldwinckle and is now a naturalized Japanese, is active in efforts to protect the rights of foreigners.

Kume blurted out on the program, “Isn’t it better to see a foreigner speaking in broken Japanese?”

Arudou and others complained to the TV station that many foreign nationals are studying Japanese and trying to integrate into society.

He posted details of the protest on his Web site. Kume did not respond at the time, according to Arudou.

But on Dec. 1, Kume sent an e-mail message to Arudou, saying, “Thinking deeply, I realize this was quite a rude remark and I regret this as being narrow-minded.”

Kume told The Asahi Shimbun: “I recently learned on the Internet about the protest. I didn’t know 10 years ago.”

Arudou, in turn, said, “I was surprised but happy that an influential individual such as Kume did not neglect what he said in the past and tried to make things right.”

========= ARTICLE ENDS ================
(See what Kume saw at https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#kume)

Very happy to see this happening. As I said above, I’m elated when somebody in authority displays a conscience. And I’m also glad the media has taken this up to show that amends can be made.

But what this brings to light is the power of Internet archives. If I had not archived this on debito.org, Kume would never have seen it…. Which is why maintaining a record of the past is a serious matter.



Information about the Kume Hiroshi Gaffe was also archived elsewhere–on a site called Issho Kikaku (http://www.issho.org). This domain is run and webmastered by Tony Laszlo, currently well-known as the star of the best-selling manga series “MY DARLING IS A FOREIGNER” (Daarin Wa Gaikokujin), created and rendered by wife Oguri Saori.

However, the Issho Kikaku archives, once open to the public, have been closed to the public since December 4, 2005, more than a year ago.

This is tragic. These archives contained the volunteer efforts of and reports from hundreds of researchers, essayists, and activists. These archives also had great historical value, as they charted the change in awareness in the mid-1990’s of the English-speaking foreign community in Japan. With the development of Japan’s Internet, foreigners went online, mobilized, and worked to change their status in Japan from “mere misunderstood guest who should shut up and behave” to “taxpaying resident with enforceable rights”.

Portions of this record can also be found in the archives of the seminal but now dead “Dead Fukuzawa Society”. (http://www.mail-archive.com/fukuzawa@ucsd.edu) Good thing these archives still exist.

However, the Issho Kikaku Mailing List archives, once a part of yahoogroups, were deleted several years ago. Information on and evidence of the list’s existence at https://www.debito.org/enoughisenough.html

When asked about moribund Issho.org in December of this year, Tony Laszlo said, in his final mail to the Shakai Mailing List (also an Issho Kikaku project), quote: “ISSHO Kikaku’s website is still in renewal… Tending to a new baby boy is keeping the webmaster busier than he had expected.” (December 10, 2006)

(That email–courtesy of a former Shakai member deeply troubled by these developments–is archived here:
I archive it on debito.org because, since then, the Shakai Mailing List archive has also been deleted.)

Congratulations on the birth. But this is an unsatisfactory excuse. The average gestation period of a human being is a little over nine months, not a full year. And as a poster to the NBR mailing list pointed out:

“…Tony can take months, years, decades, whatever to work on a “revamp” of ISSHO.org if he wants to. But there is no reason to REMOVE ALL THE CONTENT that was previously there while doing this work. Keep the old site running until the work is done, and then make the switch by simply changing the URL of the top page. It’s a simple task, and something that just about any website does while working on improvements.”

What’s more, despite all the busyness (and a millionaire’s income from the manga, meaning financially he can devote all his time to househusbandry, if not webmastering), Tony Laszlo is finding time to write articles again for the Shukan ST, not to mention appear in public as “Representative, Issho Kikaku” at a November 26, 2006, meeting of new NGO “No-Borders”: (See http://www.zainichi.net Click under the left-hand heading “nettowaaku ni sanka suru soshiki, kojin” . If that archive has also mysteriously disappeared, refer to https://www.debito.org/noborders120706.webarchive)

So that means there have been three archives done away with: Shakai, Yahoogroups Issho, and Issho.org–all under the aegis of Issho Kikaku. What’s next–the older yahoogroups archive for Shakai (May 2000 to Oct 2003)? Go visit it while it’s still there:

What’s going on?



I worked in tandem for years with Tony Laszlo and Issho.org, particularly in a Issho subgroup called BENCI (I’d send you more information on it, but, again, the Issho.org files have disappeared). I created, wrote, and maintained the BENCI webarchive. We had a falling out. I left the group.

Meanwhile, I had long since been archiving the Otaru Onsens Lawsuit website on debito.org. (https://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html) To this day it is still up there, along with its Japanese equivalent, serving as a citeable record for academics, lawyers, media, activists, and other interested parties as consistently one of the top twenty (of thousands) of accessed sites on debito.org.

Laszlo then told me to take related materials on debito.org down due to “violation of copyright”. Even though I never signed a waiver of my copyright, nor agreed in any way to waive it, nor received any remuneration for my writings. Yet according to Issho Kikaku former Co-Moderator Bern Mulvey, an eyewitness to this case, Laszlo was considering a lawsuit against me for “appropriation and misuse of Issho documents”:

December 13, 2006:

I was a member of ISSHO from the late 90s. Like Debito
and several other people, I was a also a member of the
Benci Project–the action group within ISSHO Kikaku which
took action against businesses with discriminatory
practices. Finally, I was co-moderator of the ISSHO
KIKAKU forum until June of 2001; hence, I have a pretty
good grasp of the details regarding Tony’s threatened
lawsuit (and other actions) against Debito.

Tony’s “issues” with Debito came out long before JAPANESE
ONLY was published first in Japanese (2003). Even when I
was co-moderator, there was a push from Tony to have
Debito removed from the ISSHO list because of his
“redundant” website and “misuse” of ISSHO documents. The
talk of suing Debito began then as well–ostensibly to
protect the accessibility and sanctity of the archived
materials, ironic given that said materials have
apparently been erased completely and permanently.

Much of the criticism directed at Debito from ISSHO and
Benci members was over how the collected documents and
other evidence–the fruits of a number of people’s
efforts–were being “appropriated” by Debito for his
supposedly “selfish” ends. The book was ostensibly just
another example of this–e.g., how dare Debito even
reference the ISSHO/Benci information?! (Note that there
was also a more legitimate anger over Debito’s use of
internal correspondence in the book.)

Of course, what Tony and others conveniently overlooked
was that much (80%?) of the archival information had been
gathered by Debito himself. I was one of Debito’s few
defenders when all this came down, and helped scuttle
Tony’s lawsuit (supposedly “on behalf of” BENCI members,
of which I was one). Indeed, I wonder, now that Tony has
taken down all documentation of 6 years of often
successful activism–almost all of it the results of
INTENSE effort he “ordered” but did not assist in–how his
former defenders live with themselves. Two of the most
vicious, at least, owe Debito a public apology.

For a long time, Tony justified his attacks on Debito
partly by asserting the need to ensure the archival
resources we created would remain open to everyone. Now,
they are gone, and I do not understand why. I am glad,
however, that Debito stood his ground and kept whatever
archives he could up at debito.org.
Bern Mulvey

We (Bern, Olaf Karthaus, Ken Sutherland, and myself) dispute the claims Laszlo made. Please see this historical website, written in 2001, and released for the first time today with updates for this report at:

It contains the remaining record of what went on in the Issho Kikaku Mailing list. It may also offer some insights on why these archives might want to disappear.

Then in 2004, my publisher was contacted by Laszlo’s lawyer. According to a letter dated August 13, 2004:

Laszlo, through a very famous TV lawyer named Kitamura Yukio, was formally threatening me with a lawsuit, claiming, quote, “violation of copyright, invasion of privacy, and libel” for the publication of my book “JAPANESE ONLY”.

In a face-to-face meeting we had at Kitamura’s offices in late August, he demanded that sales of the book cease.

What’s ironic, given Laszlo’s claims, is that Tony Laszlo, a journalist by byline, has himself taken materials verbatim from an Internet mailing list (Issho’s), without permission from or notification of the source. Then used them for personal remuneration in a Nihongo Journal article, dated December 1999. Archive at:

He was also not above using his journalist byline in a published journal (Shuukan Kin’youbi, April 18, 2003) to put out a clarion call for help to deal with “a recent publication using copyrighted materials without permission”.

Anyway, the lawsuit came to naught. And we got on with our lives. Until now.



Note that I wrote the above “enoughisenough” website above more than five years ago. Why didn’t I release it then?

Because I was worried that this would just be construed as a personal squabble. Seen as a petty dispute between two alpha males who just can’t get along, or who are somehow jousting for the pole position of “Mr Kokusaika” etc. Or, as time went on and the DAARIN WA GAIKOKUJIN turned him into a media superstar, seen as sour grapes for him getting rich and famous on his wife’s talents.

So I let things go. I just thought that he could do his thing, I could do mine. Even after he threatened me with a lawsuit for me doing my thing and writing books. Let it go, life’s too short, I thought.

Unfortunately, once the above decisions were made to delete whole archives and begin a process of whitewashing over history, I realized that this was going too far.

The destruction of public records is verifiable public damage. First he threatens to sue people over information he claims is copyright Issho.org. Then that information becomes unavailable to the public anyway.

The sad thing is that, even if Webmaster Laszlo eventually decides to let the Issho.org archives come back to life, the yahoogroups Issho and Shakai mailing list archives are gone forever.

This is irreversible. It is unforgivable. And should be known about.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
December 23, 2006

Previous report of this matter (Dec 7, 2006) available on this blog at

Kume Hiroshi reads his decade-old gaffe on debito.org, apologizes! And why archives matter (contrast with dead and deleted archives at Tony Laszlo’s ISSHO Kikaku)


Hello Blog. Got some great news regarding some unfinished business over a decade old:


This post is structured thusly:


December 7, 2006


I realized the value of a maintaining an archive all these years, when I got a letter out of the blue last Friday night (Dec 1) from a certain individual named Kume Hiroshi.

This is significant. Kume Hiroshi is a very influential person–for more than a decade he was Japan’s most popular (and controversial) news anchorman, hosting NEWS STATION on the TV Asahi network throughout the 1990’s. Much of his controversy stemmed from his glib editorial comments about news during the broadcast, found caustic or offensive by some viewers.

One thing that friends and I found offensive was his flippant use of the word “gaijin”, already becoming a “housou kinshi gotoba” (word not for broadcast, at least officially) on the networks at the time.

A gaffe he made in October 1996, questioning the efficacy of “gaijin” speaking fluent Japanese, caused a huge debate on mailing lists such as the Dead Fukuzawa Society and ISSHO Kikaku (both now moribund). It also occasioned my seminal essay on why “gaijin” is in fact a racist word (https://www.debito.org/kumegaijinissue.html).

Anyhow, this was one of the first human-rights issues ever I took up publicly in Japan, becoming a template for how to use “proper channels” for protest. Now, ten years later, those efforts have finally come to fruition!

What happened back then in more detail: On October 17, 1996, I emailed the following letter to TV Asahi (Japanese original):

============ MY 1996 LETTER TO TV ASAHI BEGINS =================
To Mr Kume Hiroshi:

(opening salutations deleted) On Monday (10/14)’s News Station broadcast something happened which troubled me. In the middle of a broadcast from India about the Maharaja burger in McDonald’s, some Indian apparently spoke very good Japanese.

But after that, Mr Kume apparently said:

“But it’s better if foreigners talk broken Japanese, right?”
(shikashi, gaijin wa nihongo ga katakoto no hou ga ii)

What does this mean? Maybe this was no more than an offhand comment, but I am greatly troubled. The next day, it became an issue on the the Fukuzawa internet group, and some “foreigners” felt very uncomfortable. The reason why was because foreigners both inside and outside Japan [sic] have taken great pains to become bilingual, and even if they try to fit into Japanese society, is it good for you to tell the whole country that “after all, it’s better if they remain unskilled like children”?

And then, I called TV Asahi directly and was connected to a gentleman at News Station. After I explained the above, he [replied]:

“‘Baby talk’ isn’t a bad word, I think. It’s just you who thinks so”, among other things. In other words, it seems he doesn’t take seriously the opinions of his viewers.

Even after I asked him, he wouldn’t give me his name, nor would he write down mine. “I’ll tell him” was all he said. But I really don’t have the confidence that he will pass the word along, so I am sending you this directly by email.

Afterwards, I called TV Asahi again and got hold of the Shichousha Center and talked to Mr Sekimoto. He said friendily, “That won’t do” and “I’ll talk to News Station”. However, that was around noon and I haven’t heard anything from them, so I don’t know what happened.

Anyway, Mr Kume, couldn’t you please take care of your terminology when addressing people who aren’t Japanese? If you take care about how you talk about Burakumin [Japanese Underclass], Zainichi Kankokujin [Japan-born Koreans], and “cripples” (bikko), please also do the same for the “gaijin”. (closing salutations deleted)

============ 1996 LETTER ENDS ======================
Japanese original at:

(The entire issue, related articles, and the debate on Fukuzawa is archived at

The issue then took off, hitting the Washington Post and the Daily Yomiuri twice. Finally, on November 28, News Station devoted an 11-minute segment on the word “gaijin” itself (a digression from the real issue of the “appropriateness” of their fluency–see my write-up of the telecast at https://www.debito.org/kume5tvasahibroadcast.html).

Alas, Kume topped the whole thing off by calling the reporter who anchored the story, award-winning novelist Dave Zoppetti, a “gaijin” all over again. Would he ever learn?

Yes, he would.



Fast forward more than ten years. Kume-san is now no longer on the air (except for a radio program one day a week), and is apparently considering becoming a politician.

This is what I received last Friday:
(Japanese original, available at https://www.debito.org/?p=106
Translated by Arudou Debito):

============ LETTER FROM KUME BEGINS ======================
Subject: Mr. David Aldwinckle
Date: December 1, 2006 7:32:40 PM JST
To: debito AT debito.org
Aldwinckle sama:

Please excuse this sudden email. My name is Kume Hiroshi. I appeared three years ago on News Station.

This is something more than ten years old, but on my program I said something about “I find it weird when foreigners (gaikokujin) are good at Japanese.” Recently I found out that you sent in a letter of protest about this.

I remember this happening. That person who came on the show had such incredible Japanese that I was blown away. My memory was that I remarked with the nuance that foreigners (gaikoku no kata) who speak Japanese should speak it like they knew that they were foreign (gaikokujin).

However, after a good think about this, I realize that this is a pretty rude thing to say. I’m thinking about how this reflects the narrow viewpoint of someone with an island mentality (shimaguni konjou).

I’m not sure how you feel about this nowadays, but if you took offense to this, I apologize from my heart for it.

============ LETTER FROM KUME ENDS ======================

(Note how careful he is even to avoid using the word “gaijin” throughout his letter. Good.)

Now, given the nature of the Internet, I of course had doubts about the veracity of this email. So I asked the author nicely for some more proof. He answered to give me the contact details of his agency (I checked with Dave Spector to make sure it is legit) and the cellphone of his agent, and would let them know I would be calling. I called on Monday and confirmed that yes, Kume Hiroshi really was the author. I have already made this information public to my Japanese lists, to show that Kume really is a person with a conscience.

I also send this to you to show that it really does pay to protest.

Make your thoughts known calmly and earnestly, and minds might change even at the highest levels!

However, this incident brings a more serious issue to light:



Now bear in mind that if these Kume letters were not up and searchable on debito.org, the entire issue would have been lost to the sands of time.

Which creates a clear irony. Another letter regarding the Kume “Gaijin” Gaffe up on my website is from ISSHO Kikaku, a formerly active Internet action group which promoted diversity in Japan (http://www.issho.org), headed by Tony Laszlo, now a millionaire and public figure. Tony Laszlo became very rich and famous in the 2000’s as “Tony-chan”, the amusing foreign husband of an international couple, thanks to the magical depiction by his wife, the very talented manga artist Oguri Saori, in the DAARIN WA GAIKOKUJIN multi-million-selling comic-book series. (Japan Times article “Drawing on Love: A publishing marriage made in heaven” at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20041017x1.html)

Anyway, the thing is, you can’t find that ISSHO Kume letter up at issho.org anymore. In fact, you can’t get any information whatsoever from the ISSHO Kikaku domain, despite all the years of work by hundreds of volunteers (myself included) creating that archive and information site. Issho.org also contained information on other important issues, such as foreign academics in Japan, the Azumamura Pool Exclusions Case, and the Ana Bortz Lawsuit.

Fact is, the ISSHO archives have been down for more than a year now (all you get when you access issho.org is “Site renewal – please wait a while. Submitted by issho on Sun, 2005-12-04 11:39.”) According to others doing net searches said: ” I just hope [information on the Ana Bortz Case] wasn’t solely on the issho.org site, because according to the Wayback Machine), ‘access to http://www.issho.org has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt.’ Which means whoever controls that domain has purposely blocked any attempts from outside to access information from it.” “To be more specific, the robot directed all search engines not to create their own archive. Also, there was a text message in the file, it read: ‘Go away!'”

I don’t know any real human rights group which would do a thing like this. Collate all this information and then not let people access it?

Similarly, the archive for the former issho mailing list at yahoogroups, likewise under the administration of Tony Laszlo, was also deleted several years ago.

Why does this matter? Because ISSHO Kikaku’s archives were an important historical record of how the foreign community in Japan fundamentally changed its awareness in the 1990’s. Foreigners began to refuse being merely seen as “guests”. They began asserting themselves online with a newfound confidence as residents and taxpayers, demanding attention, due recognition, and commensurate human rights.

I also tried to chart the rise of foreign resident awareness in my books JAPANESE ONLY. However, I received a letter, dated August 13, 2004, from Tony Laszlo’s lawyer, the famous TV lawyer Kitamura Yasuo, accusing me of infringement of copyright, libel, and invasion of privacy. Kitamura’s letter is available at https://www.debito.org/letterlazlawyer.html”>https://www.debito.org/letterlazlawyer.html

On August 30, 2004, my publisher and I had a meeting with Tony Laszlo and his lawyer, where he demanded that my publisher halt publication of both my English and Japanese versions of JAPANESE ONLY. We didn’t.

I bring all this up now because there has been more than a year of dead issho.org archives, many years of dead yahoogroups archives, and an attempt to silence another published account of the times in two languages. Why is there so much suppression and/or deletion of the historical record?

The biggest irony is that Tony Laszlo is once again appearing in public as “Representative, ISSHO Kikaku”, according to a November 26, 2006, meeting of new NGO “No-Borders” (http://www.zainichi.net Click under the left-hand heading “nettowaaku ni sanka suru soshiki, kojin” in the blue field, fourth from the top. His is the fifth name on the list. If that archive also mysteriously disappears, refer to https://www.debito.org/noborders120706.webarchive)

With no clear membership, no accessible information site, and no archives to show whatever ISSHO Kikaku has ever done, it seems that this is a Potemkin group indeed.


The bottom line: It is precisely because of archives that Kume Hiroshi apologized. Without a record, we are writing sand messages on the wind. Let history be judged in retrospect without denial of access or mass deletion. If we’re ever going to get anything done for ourselves in this society, we need to know what to continue building upon.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
December 7, 2006


Drawing on love

The “Da-rin” books detailing a couple’s quirky ways are a publishing marriage made in heaven
By TOMOKO OTAKE, Staff writer

THE JAPAN TIMES Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004
Courtesy (and with photos and book excerpts at)

She is a Japanese manga artist with a piercingly sharp eye for human traits and foibles. He is an American writer and language buff who can chat with equal ease in four languages. Together, they make for a magnetic — not to say a “mangaetic” — couple.

That’s because for Saori Oguri and Tony Laszlo (above), their life together has also spawned a side-splitting comic-book series which, in two volumes, has recently topped the million-sales mark.

In the first of the books, “Da-rin wa Gaikokujin” (which means, “My Darling Is a Foreigner”), 37-year-old Oguri turned her life with 44-year-old Tony into a hilarious read.

Published in December 2002, “Da-rin” depicts Tony as a sensitive, naive and reflective guy with markedly chiseled features.

In one episode, bearded Tony is so emotionally affected by seeing a bus fly through the air off the middle of a broken highway in the action film “Speed” (only to miraculously land on the unbroken other side) that he has to get up and lean against the wall for a while “to soften” the shock. Meanwhile, Saori comes across as an articulate, no-nonsense type — a spouse Tony had no chance of shifting when she’d decided to buy two luxurious 200 yen buns at a bakery, despite him urging her to just get one 100 yen bag (with two buns in it) to save money.

“But what if we died tomorrow?” she retorts, her eyes narrowing into fiery slits. Next moment, she’s morphed into a woman on her deathbed, a worn-out futon — whispering feebly from between sunken cheeks: “I . . . wanted to eat that 200 yen bun . . . ”

Talking recently with the couple at a trendy cafe near their home in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, that same comical chemistry came to life from the pages of their book, with Tony waxing lyrical and reflective while his wife, in total contrast, cut straight to the chase.

Their first encounter dates back to 1995, when Saori volunteered to help at an event organized by a nongovernmental group that Tony had founded. Which one of them first had a crush on the other is a bone of contention, with each claiming the other was the first to look him/her in the eye.

Tiffs over ‘subtleties’
But anyway they clicked, started dating, and eventually got married. Although the book describes their budding relationship humorously, it was rocky at first, Saori said. That wasn’t just because Tony hails from the United States and has Hungarian and Italian parents, or just because Saori grew up in Japan. The tiffs came from differences in “subtleties” — like feeling that the efforts you’ve made to adjust to the other went unrecognized.

It was Noriko Matsuda, an editor at the Tokyo-based publisher Media Factory, who persuaded Saori, her older sister’s friend, to create a comic book based on the couple’s life. Matsuda had been a longtime fan of Saori, whose style before “Da-rin” had been relatively low-key, often allied to serious story lines and with dramatically different graphics from “Da-rin,” featuring lots of gorgeous girls and guys.

After she agreed to rise to Matsuda’s challenge, Saori drew the first volume of the book in just six weeks — from October 2002 — after taking time off from a series she was doing for a comic magazine.

Riding the success of the first “Da-rin,” whose total print run is now up to 550,000 copies, Saori came up with a sequel, simply titled “My Darling Is a Foreigner 2,” which was published in March.

Initially, the books were targeted at cross-culturally married couples. But they have turned out to have a much wider public appeal.

Nonetheless, the scale of the books’ success — with a combined 1.03 million copies printed so far (for which Saori receives 10 percent royalties for every one sold) raises the question of whether its popularity is connected to the rising number of Japanese getting hitched to non-Japanese (36,039 in 2003, up from 26,657 a decade ago, according to official statistics). Or does it mean that more Japanese are finally embracing multiculturalism — or at least feeling obliged to tune into the English-speaking world?

According to Matsuda, the book’s success has little to do with any of that.

“Whether you marry a Japanese or a foreigner, marriage, at the end of the day, is about living with someone else,” she said. “And readers probably resonated with the author’s message, which is, if you try to understand each other better, it makes life so much more enjoyable.”

Saori agrees that it’s not the theme of “international marriage” that has fueled the “Da-rin” boom. In fact more than 70 percent of the 60 to 100 postcard responses she gets from readers every month are from Japanese married to Japanese, she said — or from Japanese who are single.

Long after the book’s publication, there was one significant other whose opinion Saori was denied. Tony stopped himself from reading it, because he didn’t want to get caught up in all the hype.

Characteristically, though, when he did recently delve between its covers, he minutely examined its every detail. That was after contracts were signed for an as yet untitled English-Japanese bilingual version of the first book — and Tony was assigned as the translator. Now, he faces the daunting task of ensuring that all its many jokes and entertaining nuances equally successfully bridge the linguistic — and cultural — divide.

“I trust him,” Saori said. Then she turned to him with just a hint of intimidation in her tone, and said: “I’m counting on you, really.”

Keys to cohabitation
So just what are the keys to enjoying living with someone else?

“Talk a lot with each other, but don’t meddle in the other’s business,” Oguri replied directly and without hesitation. “I want him to clean up his stuff, but I don’t tell him persistently.”

I asked for Tony’s input. He paused, then started talking — in impeccable and soft-spoken Japanese — about the limitations of space in big cities and how it is important for a couple to secure enough living space to avoid needless conflict with each other.

“To overcome the shortage of space, you should learn how to put things upward, instead of sideways,” he said. “It’s been some 15 years since I came to Japan, but it’s still hard to master that. In Japan, stereos and other electronic appliances are all stacked up . . . ”

“Everyone is doing it,” Saori cut in. “You’re trying to justify your inability to clean up, aren’t you?”

“And it’s important not to interrupt someone when they’re speaking,” he continued.

Saori sighed, as Tony went on to stress at length the importance of community support in a disaster-rich nation like Japan. Eventually, though, his orbit brought him back to the area of relationships.

“It would be nice if you could be flexible so that you can adjust to your partner, while at the same time retaining your solid, individual self,” he opined.

“Yes, flexibility is necessary,” Saori concurred in an ever-so-slightly un-“Da-rin” way.

The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 17, 2004

Yamanashi English school want ad: “blonde hair blue or green eyes and brightly character” (with updates)


Hi Blog. Just got this information from Alberto and David in Yamanashi. It’s a want ad for “E.R. English School” (motto: “Be All That You Can be” [sic]) in Kofu, Yamanashi-ken, saying, quote:


E R English School needs a native speaker. Blonde hair
blue or green eyes and brightly character. [sic]
Please contact E R English School immedietly. [sic]

Ph: 055-241-4070
Yuji and Jocelyn Iwashita
E.R. English School Sign

Photo courtesy David Markle. Thanks. Click on thumbnail for larger image.

It’s pretty clear that Jocelyn hadn’t proofread the ad, and I was intrigued as to why the Yamanashi International Assocation (Yamanashi Ken Kokusai Kouryuu Kyoukai, website http://www.yia.or.jp/, phone 055-228-5419) had approved of such a thing.

So I gave the ER English School a call this afternoon and talked to a Mr Sata, the person in charge of all of this.

We had a nice conversation and a frank exchange of views. His points were:

1) The person wanted for this ad would be hired to teach kids at a local kindergarten (youchien). The principal (enchou) specifically wanted to acclimatize their kids to people who speak English, and to the principal’s mind, that meant somebody that had blond hair and blue or green eyes.

2) Yes, Mr Sata was aware that not all squash is zucchini, and that not all English speakers have blond hair and blue and green eyes. His school, after all, even employs Thais and Indians as English-speaking staff. But this is what the school principal wanted, so as this is their school’s job, they have to oblige. He did not feel as though this was a matter of discrimination.

3) Yes, Mr Sata was aware that this is a similar argument that a realtor might make–that “no pets, no gaijin” rules are merely at the behest of landlords, and that shifting the blame to the customer and his needs doesn’t let either party off the hook vis-a-vis discrimination. But this is business, and this is what the customer needs.

4) Yes, Mr Sata was aware that educational institutions in particular have an obligation not to promote prejudices and stererotypes. However, This is Japan and Japanese culture, he said. This is the image that Japan has of foreigners, so shikata ga nai.

5) Yes, Mr Sata was aware that there are plenty of children out there with gaijinesque pigmentation, Japanese and non-Japanese, in Japanese schools. Yes, they might be adversely affected by this “eigojin” syndrome and get socially othered. He, after all, has “half” children (as he put it) of his own. But anyway.

6) No, Mr Sata didn’t feel as though my calling the Kindergarten principal and directly explaining the problems with promoting these stereotypes would do any good. No need to confront the principal. Better to give the customer what they want and work with them later to change their mind.

7) No, Mr Sata didn’t feel as though the job advertisement was discriminatory. Yes, people with other phenotypes would not be refused the job, regardless of what the ad might say. Yes, they would consider rewording the ad. But still, those are the job specifications as per what the customer wants, and we have to stay in business. Even if it means selling asbestos or other toxic, damaging elements into society (okay, so we didn’t really get into this argument…)

And that was that. I enjoyed the talk. We stayed friendly throughout. Dunno if I changed any minds, however, particularly his. As the Corelone family would say, this is just business.

Feel free express your opinion to E R English House yourself. It doesn’t seem to have a website or an email address, but it’s regular address according to the phone book is Yamanashi Ken Koufu Shi Ushiroya-chou 323-4

055-241-4070 山梨県甲府市後屋町323-4

If I have time, let’s see what the Yamanashi International Association has to say about this. They approved this ad, after all. Debito in Sapporo


Just sent out a letter to the appropriate authorities and human rights lists in Japanese. See the text at


According to local human-rights sources, the Yamanashi International Association will be taking this issue up. More when I know more.


Got the following letter from the Yamanashi International Association, saying that they were sorry and would be more careful in future. No word from the local Bureau of Human Rights, of course. I guess this is the best we can hope for. Case closed?



UPDATE FEB 3, 2007
from debito.org newsletter of the same date

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Asahi Sep 15 06: Kitakyushu prof discusses problems with English language education


COMMENT: For archival purposes: Kitakyushu University Prof argues (in one of Japan’s premier opinion columns) that one problem with English education is that foreigners stay here too long. Quote: “…native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students.”

I assume that this means we should not give tenure to foreigners, and that the Gwen Gallagher vs Asahikawa University Case (fired after more than a decade of service for no longer being, quote, “fresh” enough, see https://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkiseigallagher) is moot.

POINT OF VIEW/ Shinichiro Noriguchi:English education leaves much to be desired

More than 100 years ago Natsume Soseki, a great writer in the Meiji Era (1868-1912), wrote, “These days young people studying abroad and coming back to Japan speak English fluently, but the content is shallow, almost nothing. Why? They do not possess the spiritual backbone–Chinese classics.”

This situation seems not to have changed since then; indeed, it may have become worse, because the number of shallow-minded youths is ever increasing.

Why has this happened? Who is responsible? What should we do to correct what is clearly a deplorable situation?

Based upon my 40 years of experience as an English teacher I would like to make some suggestions about the teaching of English at both the high school and university levels.

First, let me clearly say that Japanese society has been completely duped by the idea that the TOEIC test and the development of “communicative” skills in English will finally solve the long-standing problem of inept English education.

Japan’s higher education is helplessly caught in the trap of the TOEIC and “communicative English” diseases. TOEIC is simply another version of the university entrance examination, a form of assessment that has been severely criticized in the past. The TOEIC has simply been skillfully masked by corporations to appear up-to-date. The content is shallow and does not present any real challenge to the test-taker. Students can achieve higher scores by taking TOEIC-focused classes and cramming. It is for this reason that Japanese English instructors can do a better job teaching TOEIC classes than native-speaking English teachers.

Second, many teachers have been corrupted by the lax attitude toward teaching the English language in Japan. Since not much is expected of students, teachers expect little of themselves. They have created and perpetuated an unhealthy situation in which students who are eager to better their English have in fact little opportunity to improve their skills.

The government, in particular the education ministry, together with Japanese corporations, have been accomplices in creating this lamentable situation. They are blindly intoning the mantra of “communicative English” and the benefits of TOEIC, which is now in fact established as the standard by which English ability is measured. Many have come to believe that “communication” simply means the ability to speak English.

They no longer think that reading and writing in English are a true means of communication. As a result, a strange phenomenon has occurred. Our society has once more revealed its weakness as a homogeneous society, swinging from one extreme to the other. The companies that create and cater to the TOEIC test probably can’t stop laughing at this situation from which they derive great profit.

We should recall the now-forgotten fact that it was through the ability to read English that Japan was able to catch up with Western culture and technology in the Meiji and Taisho (1912-1926) eras. Many university English teachers have been complicit in these developments. They do not spend sufficient time and energy testing what students have learned in class or correcting what they have written in English.

We should fully grasp the extent of the change that has taken place and acknowledge that there is a clear difference between spoken and written English.

There are many people who, despite errors and despite the frivolous subjects about which they talk, can speak English with reasonable fluency, but they cannot write even a few sentences in correct English. The point here is that if we can write our ideas in English correctly, we will become skilled communicators.

The best way to correct this problem is to have our writing in English corrected by native English teachers, but this is not always possible. They must earn a living. Many are part-timers teaching a large number of classes at various universities, where they often simply go through the motions of teaching. But blame should not be placed upon the native speakers, because our society has allowed them to take advantage of Japan’s lax attitudes toward English education.

In particular, native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students. Some of these teachers are not aware of this.

It is, of course, Japanese university teachers of English who are most responsible for the depressing results of university-level English instruction.

It is a fact, however odd, that some university teachers of English failed the public junior and senior high school English teacher’s examinations, and then entered post-graduate schools only as a second choice.

Within a few years, however, they start teaching English at universities and are qualified to issue credits to students studying for the high school English teacher’s license. University teachers, of course, do not need a license of any sort to teach at universities. The education ministry often creates rules and standards that defy common sense.

The English ability of English-teaching staff is, frankly speaking, often poorer than that of capable students, especially when it comes to speaking and listening comprehension. Regardless of their academic fields–American or English literature, transformational grammar, phonetics, cultural studies–university instructors should possess thorough knowledge of the language and solid practical English skills. To improve university English education, I would propose the following:

・English teachers should have passed the first grade of STEP or achieved a score of over 600 on the TOEFL test;

・Teachers should study abroad, for at least one year, in an English-speaking country;

・The university English curriculum should place far greater emphasis on the reading and writing of English;

・English teachers should spend at least three years teaching English in high schools or prep-schools;

・The education ministry should devise a licensing system for university English teachers.

   *   *   *

The author is professor of English at the University of Kitakyushu.(IHT/Asahi: September 15,2006)