Sankei column by Okabe Noburu suggesting Japanese language tests for foreign correspondent visas, to weed out their “anti-Japan” biases

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an interesting column by one of our favorite newspapers, the Sankei Shinbun, famous for its anti-foreigner slants.  Their columnist, Okabe Noburu, Senior Reporter for Diplomatic Issues, links a lack of language ability in foreign reporters to their tendency to hold “anti-Japan” biases.  In a meandering column that brings in all sorts of anti-immigration slants itself, Okabe finally reaches the conclusion that maybe Japan might make language tests a condition for visas for foreign correspondents.  That way they’ll have a “correct” view of Japan.  Without any intended irony, it seems that Okabe, who seems to claim competency in English (enough to pick on ethnic accents in English), holds biased views himself despite.  Have a read.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Give Japanese language tests to foreign reporters with “anti-Japan” slants

Okabe Noburu, Sankei Shinbun, December 15, 2015, translation by Debito

It’s a scene I’ve seen before somewhere.  After one day being posted to London, I remembered New York City, where like a “salad bowl” with many colors of vegetables, a variety of races and ethnicities that do not mix (majiri awazu) dot the city.  

At this time 80% of London’s population is made up of people coming from overseas, and according to the national census, it seems that of the entire population only 44.9% are of white people born in England.  

After the war, because English people don’t like manual labor, they brought in immigrants from former colonies, such as Asia, Africa, and the West Indies, but recently there has been a huge influx of people from Eastern Europe and the Middle East, so British society’s multiculturalization and multiethnicification has been proceeding.  The immigrant problem is one of a history of empire.  The English spoken by this variety of races has several “country accents” mixed in, so it’s hard to understand.  Even English has been hybridized.

When I applied for my visa I had to take an English test.  As language ability had not been demanded of me as an exchange student in the 1990s or during my half-year posting in Russia in the 1990s, this struck me as odd.  However, after being dispatched, I came to the painful realization that understanding England meant first acquiring the language.

Before being posted, I was a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.  I was pained to see foreign reporters who couldn’t function in Japanese broadcasting their “anti-Japan” slants to the world.  How about Japan making Japanese language ability a condition for foreign correspondents getting a visa?  It might lead to a correct understanding of Japan.

ENDS.  Original article follows:

偏向「反日」外国人記者に語学試験を
産経新聞 2015.12.15 07:28
http://www.sankei.com/column/news/151215/clm1512150004-n1.html

どこかで見た光景だ。1日にロンドンに赴任して思い出したのは、色々な野菜が入った「サラダボウル」のように、多彩な人種や民族が混じり合わずに点在する街ニューヨークだった。

現在ロンドンの人口の8割は海外から来た人で占められ、国勢調査では、英国生まれの白人は全人口の44・9%に過ぎないらしい。

戦後、英国人は肉体労働を嫌い、アジア、アフリカ、西インド諸島の旧植民地の移民を受け入れ、最近は中東や東欧から大量に流入し、英国社会は多民族、多文化が進んだ。移民問題は大英帝国の歴史そのものだ。多様な人種が話す英語もそれぞれの「お国なまり」が混じって聞き取りにくい。英語も多種多様なのだ。

赴任のビザ(査証)取得の際に英語の試験を課せられた。1990年代初めに留学した米国や90年代後半に駐在したロシアでは語学力を要求されなかったため異様に思えた。しかし赴任してみると、英国理解には、まず言語を習得すべきだと痛感した。

赴任前、入会していた日本外国特派員協会で、日本語ができない外国人記者たちが偏向した「反日」記事を世界に発信しているのを苦々しく感じた。日本も日本語能力を外国人特派員へのビザ発給の条件にしたらどうだろうか。正しい日本理解につながるかもしれない。(岡部伸)

Tangent: McNeill in No.1 Shimbun: “Into the Valley of the Trolls”: Is ignoring them really an effective strategy?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Excellent potential for discussion being broached with the following article, long overdue.  Excerpt and my comment follows.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Into the Valley of the Trolls
Is growing online harassment just part of the job or should it be confronted? And when does it cross the line?
by David McNeill
No. 1 Shimbun, Sunday, December 27, 2015
http://www.fccj.or.jp/number-1-shimbun/item/724-into-the-valley-of-the-trolls/724-into-the-valley-of-the-trolls.html

For most correspondents, it has become an unpleasant morning ritual: opening the laptop and wading through abusive tweets and mail. One of my recent articles, on Japan’s plunging press-freedom rankings provoked this response: “You’re anti-Japanese scum. Japan grows weaker because left-wing traitors here mix with the likes of you. Get out, moron.”

That’s mild compared to the slurs that percolate on the Twitter feeds of star reporters. Hiroko Tabuchi, former Tokyo correspondent for the New York Times, recalls a stream of invective laced with sexual and ethnic smears (see sidebar).Justin McCurry, Tokyo correspondent for the Guardian has been branded an “ultra-leftist North Korean spy” and repeatedly invited to “Fack off.”

Many reporters trudge the path taken by McCurry, from engagement to frustration, and resignation. “I have tried several different ways to deal with trolls, from snapping back to taking the time to dream up what, in my mind at least, is a rejoinder so withering that it will surely be the final word on the matter. It never is, of course.” Increasingly, he says, he reaches for the Twitter mute button: When trolls send an abusive message now “they are simply pissing into cyberspace.”

But McCurry says it’s important to understand the difference between legitimate criticism and trolling. “I’ve had my share of critical emails, tweets and Facebook postings,” he says. “When the point is made in a temperate manner and, more importantly, with a real name attached, I take in what has been said and, if necessary, respond. But I regard this as reader feedback, not trolling.”

Cyber abuse is a serious issue, notes a recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review. “There’s far from any kind of consensus on how to deal with it and what journalists’ roles are,” says author Lene Bech Sillesen. Law enforcement struggles to deal with the proliferation of anonymous online harassment. Platform providers often “suck” at dealing with trolls, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo memorably admitted this year.

Increasingly, the consensus seems to be shifting toward confrontation. The Review cites a growing genre of stories about unmasking trolls. In the Swedish TV show Troll Hunters, journalist Robert Aschberg tracks down and confronts offenders on camera. “It’s a huge problem,” says Aschberg, “and it’s no different from exposing, let’s say, corrupt politicians, or thieves.”

THE RISE OF THE troll, and the shifting terrain it represents in our networked society, is a particular dilemma for journalists. For decades, virtually the only rejoinder available to print readers was the carefully moderated letters page, but the internet has opened up multiple channels of feedback. Many bloggers view journalists as fair game because they are public figures.

Inevitably, the result is a steady river of bile, but most journalists are understandably wary of trying to block it. As Martin Fackler, a former Tokyo bureau chief of the New York Times notes: “You’re walking a fine line. Journalists dish out criticism, and need to take it with the same grace. Otherwise, we look hypocritical. And we need to support freedom of speech, even for our critics.”

In practice, most journalists follow Fackler in not feeding the trolls, and many don’t even block them to avoid the providing the veneer of cyber-street cred. Fackler, who says he has yet to block any troll accounts, advocates only shutting down those that cross boundaries of decency. “Short of that, I think everyone deserves the same freedom of speech that we demand in our own work.”

Where, however, do these boundaries lie? Perhaps the only line everyone agrees on is the one dividing incivility from threats of violence….

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The rest is at http://www.fccj.or.jp/number-1-shimbun/item/724-into-the-valley-of-the-trolls/724-into-the-valley-of-the-trolls.html

I did leave a comment at the article:

=======================================
January 29, 2016
Thanks for the article. One thing I might add, as a longtime veteran of being targeted by trolls, is that it’s worse for some of us than you mentioned above. For example, I have numerous online stalkers, who dedicate many electrons on cyberspace (even devote whole websites and hijack Biographies of Living People on Wikipedia) not only to misrepresent my arguments, but also to track my personal life and advocate that I come to harm. I’ve endured death treats for decades, and I can’t conclude that merely ignoring trolls and hoping they’ll go away is an effective answer either. After all, as propaganda masters know, if enough people claim something is true, it becomes true, as long as through constant repetition they gain control over the narrative.

I for one never visit these stalker sites, but lots of people who should know better do look at them without sufficient critique, and (as you noted above) assume that my not commenting about their false allegations is some kind of admission in their favor. What the stalkers actually get out of all this wasted energy truly escapes me.

So after realizing that being ignored still works in their favor, now they are going after journalists, which brings into the debate issues of freedom of the press. Plus journalists have a more amplified public soapbox and credibility to advocate for change than we activist-types do. I hope you will continue to research and speak out against this, and not fall into the mindset that anonymous threats and stalking are simply part of being a public figure.

Thanks again for broaching the subject. Arudou Debito

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

ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here is an excellent bit of investigative journalism done by the Australians on an organization that the USG would do well to do their own research on (and the US media pay due attention to):  PM Abe’s Nippon Kaigi, which threatens to undo just about everything The American Occupation did to demilitarize Postwar Japan and defang its self-destructive ultranationalism.  Why hasn’t anyone else done a good in-depth report on them, even after this came out over a year ago?  Because it’s probably not something people want to believe–that the belligerent elements of Prewar Japan are not only ascendant, they are already well-organized within Japan’s highest echelons of government.  A transcript follows, but I strongly recommend people click on the link and watch the video at the ABC News Australia Lateline program to get the full effect.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4364818.htm

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

Lifting the lid on one of the most influential, and secretive, political organisations in Japan

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 02/12/2015

Reporter: Matthew Carney

Nippon Kaigi, or ‘Japan Conference’, has an impressive list of members and aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies, and Lateline gains rare access to this secretive and ultra-conservative organisation.

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: It’s been described as one of the most influential political organisations in Japan. Nippon Kaigi, or Japan Conference, has an impressive list of members and advisors, including the Prime Minister and much of his cabinet. But very little is known about this right-wing nationalist lobby group which aims to reshape Japanese politics and policies and even change the Constitution. It operates mostly out of the public eye, but North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney gained rare access to file this exclusive story for Lateline.

MATTHEW CARNEY, REPORTER: A call has gone out and people from all over Japan have responded. To hear a vision from one of Japan’s most powerful political organisations, the Nippon Kaigi. And it’s back to the future. Nippon Kaigi want to restore the status of the Emperor, keep women in the home to nurture family and rebuild the might of the armed forces.

To do that, they have to scrap the pacifist constitution that was imposed by the Americans. This is the first step, they say, to shake off the shame of the defeat in World War II and restore pride.

YOSHIKO SAKURAI, JOURNALIST (voiceover translation): We need to ask ourselves: will the current constitution of Japan protect Japan and its people? The answer is no. We need a constitution that reflects the true Japanese identity.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The biggest champion to the cause and the group’s specialist advisor is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself.

SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (voiceover translation): To create a constitution suitable for the 21st Century, that’s where it needs to be spread throughout Japan. I seek your continued support on this. Let’s move forward towards changing the Constitution.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The Nippon Kaigi has serious clout. The Deputy Prime Minister is also a member, as well as 80 per cent of the cabinet, as are almost half of all parliamentarians. It’s a kind of uber lobby group that uses its 38,000 members to mobilise support.

The Nippon Kaigi has pledged to collect 10 million signatures by next April to change the Constitution. Some say it’s a cult-like organisation.

KOICHI NAKANO, SOPHIA UNIVERSITY: I think it is, you know, cultish, in the sense that it’s very sectarian. They have a very strong view of us and them. They have a sense of the inner group because they feel victimised, marginalised and they have been subjected to severe injustice, that they need to take back Japan.

MATTHEW CARNEY: But their spokesperson says they are only trying to normalise Japan.

AKIRA MOMOCHI, NIPPON KAIGI, STRATEGIC COMMITTEE (voiceover translation): It is proper for an independent sovereign nation to have an army. There are no sovereign nations without one. Armies are deterrents. They exist to prevent war. We’ll keep our pacifist traditions, but we need to respond to the rising threat of China.

MATTHEW CARNEY: The fundamental vision for many in the group is to go back to a time when they say Japan was pure and free from foreign influence, like the Edo Period in the 16th to 18th centuries when outsiders were strictly forbidden and Japanese culture flourished. They believe this beautiful Japan has been lost.

HIDEAKI KASE, NIPPON KAIGI, TOKYO BRANCH: There are two Japans. One is traditional Japan and one is Westernised Japan. And we wish to revert to the traditional Japan.

KOICHI NAKANO: They are romantic, they are irrational, they live in their own world. So they lack strategic thinking in terms of what they are going for and for what reason and how does that serve national interest in realistic terms?

MATTHEW CARNEY: The darker side to the organisation is to deny any wrongdoing in Japan’s war-time past. They assert World War II was one of defence, not aggression. They say comfort women were not sex slaves, but well-paid prostitutes and the rape and pillage of Nanjing in China that historians say killed up to 200,000 was a fiction.

HIDEAKI KASE: There was no massacre at all. That is an utterly false accusation.

KOICHI NAKANO: They try to rewrite history in order – and they think that this is fundamental to what they see as Japan’s need to restore pride. They think that because the kids and the – you know, the adults of Japan are being brainwashed by self-blame and a sense of shame in their history.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Many in Japan think Nippon Kaigi’s ideas are dangerous and have to be countered. Professor Setsu Kobayashi is one of the country’s top constitutional experts.

SETSU KOBAYASHI, CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERT (voiceover translation): They’re thinking about Asia before the war when Japan was the leader of Asia. They want to repeat that. They openly say that.

MATTHEW CARNEY: On his Friday lunchtime radio spot, he warns against reform of the Constitution, arguing it could lead Japan down the warpath. So far, Prime Minister Abe and Nippon Kaigi have succeeded in passing security bills that let the armed forces fight overseas again. Kobayashi says the move is unconstitutional.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): The majority of people are not convinced. We have to fight and not give up, otherwise we’ll live under a dictatorship. Freedom and democracy will not exist.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi was once a member of Nippon Kaigi, but is now one of its biggest critics. He tried to change them from the inside, but couldn’t. As a self-described commoner, he says the organisation is one of elites, out of touch with the people. Polls consistently show that the majority of Japanese don’t want the country’s pacifist constitution to change.

SETSU KOBAYASHI (voiceover translation): They want to achieve the dream that Japan pursued pre-war to be one of the top five military powers in the world. To enable this, our country will go around the world fighting wars alongside the Americans. Mr Abe went to the United Nations and said that Japan will seek aggressive peace; militarism is another name.

MATTHEW CARNEY: Professor Kobayashi now devotes much of his time fighting the Nippon Kaigi and the reform of the Constitution. He believes it’s a battle for the very hearts and minds of the Japanese and the outcome will decide the country’s future. The Nippon Kaigi say their ambition is to simply protect Japan and its identity.

AKIRA MOMOCHI (voiceover translation): It is a difference of opinion. We want to retain the Japanese traditions, to make Japan as it should be. We have the power to do it.

ENDS

ALTs (“outsourced” English teachers) earning slave wages (or less) working for Japanese public schools (plus an aside on odd Japan Times editorial bias)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This post deals with Government-sponsored slave wages (or worse) for NJ educators within the Japanese public school system through the cost-cutting “Assistant Language Teachers” (ALTs) “outsourcing” system–a backdoor way for local governments to get cheaper JETs than having to go through the national government’s JET Programme (where wages and work conditions are more fixed at a higher standard).  The cost-cutting for the ALTs has gotten to the point (inevitably) where the ALTs are no longer being paid a living wage.  Here’s the math, courtesy of the Fukuoka General Union:


Courtesy of Fukuoka General Union and Chris Flynn
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G95K0vjB3A
Caption: Uploaded on Feb 10, 2016
This is an actual example on how impossible it is to live on the salary of a dispatched ALT working at a Kitakyushu City Board of Education public school. Though they are full time teachers they only have 1000 yen a day to spend on food and nothing else. They just can’t survive on this low wage.
北九州市の市立中学校で働く派遣の語学指導助手の給料の実態。可処分収入は月3万円、­それはすべて食費に使うと1日1000円ぐらい。フルタイムの先生なのに貧困層。現実­です。

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As further background to the ALT issue, here is a Japan Times Letter to the Editor by Chris Clancy:

Purging the nation of racism
The Japan Times JAN 30, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/01/30/reader-mail/purging-nation-racism/

Chulbom Lee, in his Letter to the Editor in the Jan. 17 issue titled “Move forward by protecting foreign residents,” reminds readers that not even two years ago the U.N. Committee of Racial Discrimination called on Japan to take action against incidents of racism that continue to plague the country. Lee insinuates that increased legal protection against harassment or job discrimination for Japan’s foreign residents would prove the nation is not still steeped in past militaristic nationalism.

One could make a case for the continuing plight of the assistant language teacher (ALT). Team teaching in which ALTs assist Japanese teachers of English (JTE) in classrooms for the betterment of students’ communicative abilities was introduced in Japan some 30 years ago. The progress that has been made over that time — however minimal — is a direct result of the individual efforts of countless foreign ALTs. How is this success rewarded? Those ALTs fortunate enough to be either participants of the Japan Exchange Programme (JET) or directly hired by educational offices earn similar standards of remuneration and remain employed under virtually the same limited term contract stipulations as their predecessors. Those staffed by outside agencies contracted by the education offices are even worse off. The government has in effect created a transient population of anonymous, expendable individuals that reeks of slavery.

The fact that ALTs are all non-Japanese makes the discriminatory practice racial. Any governmental administer who fails to take this matter seriously — ignoring the issue altogether or claiming budgetary constraints as a reason improvements cannot be made — is guilty of perpetuating racial discrimination. How is this crime punished? Bonuses twice a year and annual salary increases for perpetrators.

Time is past due for Japanese government at all levels to take a stand for tax-paying foreign nationals! We can only hope that such monkey business will not last too far into the new year.

CHRIS CLANCY
NAGANO
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As an interesting aside, Chris Clancy kindly sent me the original letter he submitted to the editor.  Note what it originally sourced:

////////////////////////////////////////////////////
ORIGINAL TEXT FOLLOWS, COURTESY OF CHRIS CLANCY:

Arudou Debito gives a fair assessment of the good, the bad and impeded progress regarding human rights issues in Japan in his most recent “Just Be Cause” column (“Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015,” January 3). One issue he could also have included is the continuing plight of the Assistant Language Teacher (ALT).

Team teaching in which ALTs assist Japanese teachers of English (JTE) in classrooms for the betterment of students’ communicative abilities was introduced in Japan some 30 years ago. The progress that has been made over that time — however minimal – is a direct result of the individual efforts of countless foreign ALTs. How is this success rewarded? Those ALTs fortunate enough to be either participants of the Japan Exchange Programme (JET) or directly hired by educational offices earn similar standards of remuneration and remain employed under virtually the same limited term contract stipulations as their predecessors. Those staffed by outside agencies contracted by the education offices are even worse off. The government has in effect created a transient population of anonymous, expendable individuals that reeks of slavery.

Arudou-san points out that Japan did sign the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination in December 1995, but the fact that ALTs are all non-Japanese makes the discriminatory practice racial. Any governmental administer who fails to take this matter seriously – ignoring the issue altogether or claiming budgetary constraints as a reason improvements cannot be made – is guilty of perpetuating racial discrimination. How is this crime punished? Bonuses twice a year and annual salary increases for perpetrators.

We can only hope that such monkey business will not continue too far into the new year. Perhaps improved conditions for foreign educators will be one of the positive stories in Arudou-san’s top 10 for 2016.

Chris Clancy, MSEd (educator, USA)
////////////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  Receiving no response, and wanting to make sure that this issue got the exposure it deserved, Chris submitted two more versions of this letter to the JT editors (I reproduce the one above with his permission).  Editors took the one that avoided sourcing my article.

So it’s interesting how certain elements within the Japan Times are that unfriendly. Not only do they sometimes not put up links to my columns on the Japan Times Facebook feed when they come out (is avoiding increasing their readership something they’re professionally entitled to do?), they’ve also refused to review my book “Embedded Racism“, claiming that they don’t review individual monographs anymore. Except when they’re 20-year-old monographs by Alex Kerr (last January). Or “Essential Reading for Japanophiles” [sic].  Odd bias, that. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JT: Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists and residents will keep taps running; oh, the irony!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another quick one that’s just dying for a shout-out specially on Debito.org for its delightful irony:

In yet another example of how Japan’s economy is not going to save itself unless it allows in and unlocks the potential of its foreign residents, here we have the flashpoint issue for “Japanese Only” signposted exclusionism: public baths (sento or onsen).  As per the Otaru Onsens Case (which has inspired two books), we had people who did not “look Japanese” (including native-born and naturalized Japanese citizens) being refused by xenophobic and racist bathhouse managers just because they could (there is no law against it in Japan).

Now, according to the Japan Times below (in a woefully under-researched article), the bathhouse industry is reporting that they are in serious financial trouble (examples of this were apparent long ago:  here’s one in Wakkanai, Hokkaido that refused “foreigners” until the day it went bankrupt).  And now they want to attract foreign tourists.  It’s a great metaphor for Japan’s lack of an immigration policy in general:  Take their money (as tourists or temporary laborers), but don’t change the rules so that they are protected against wanton discrimination from the locals.  It’s acceptance with a big, big asterisk.

Admittedly, this is another step in the right direction.  But it’s one that should have been done decades ago (when we suggested that bathhouse rules simply be explained with multilingual signs; duh).  But alas, there’s no outlawing the racists in Japan, so this is one consequence.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists will help keep the taps running
BY SATOKO KAWASAKI, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
THE JAPAN TIMES, JANUARY 5, 2016
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/05/national/japans-public-baths-hope-foreign-tourists-will-help-keep-the-taps-running/

Japan’s public baths, known as sento, represent an institution with hundreds of years of history. They provided an important public service in the days before homes had their own hot-water bathtubs.

Sento can range in style from simple hot springs piped into a large tub to modern facilities resembling theme parks and offering a range of therapies.

In the Edo Period (1603-1868), sento were so popular that every town had on. They were important centers of the community.

Sento are on the decline both because homes now have fully fledged bathrooms and because retiring operators find it hard to find successors to take on their businesses. There are now around 630 establishments in Tokyo, down from 2,700 in 1968, a peak year for sento.

Faced with this trend, the Tokyo Sento Association is trying to tap demand from non-Japanese residents and tourists.

It has installed explanatory signs at each facility showing non-Japanese speakers how to use a sento in five languages. It also plans to create an app for people to search for sento in English.

ENDS

HJ on Mainichi article on “Preventing Illegal Hires of Foreigners”; what about campaigns to prevent illegal ABUSES of foreign workers?

mytest

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Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard over to Debito.org Reader HJ, who translates and comments:

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

Found this rubbish on Mainichi:

外国人不法就労
ビラで防止訴え 赤羽署など /東京
毎日新聞2015年12月8日 地方版
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20151208/ddl/k13/040/192000c

外国人の不法就労や不法滞在を防ごうと、赤羽署などは7日、JR赤羽駅(北区)周辺で、外国人の適正な雇用を求めるビラを飲食店経営者や地域住民らに配るキャンペーンを行った。

同署員のほか、都や東京入国管理局などの職員ら約20人が参加。都が作成した「外国人労働者雇用マニュアル」も配布し、不法就労を知りながら外国人を雇用した事業主への罰則規定があることなどを紹介した。

東京オリンピック・パラリンピックに向けて多数の外国人の来日が予想されており、同署は「今後も定期的に注意喚起していきたい」としている。【神保圭作】

〔都内版〕

Translation (my own):
===================================
ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGNERS
Demanding Prevention with Handbills
Mainichi Shinbun, December 8, 2015

Hoping to prevent illegal employment of foreigners and illegal foreign residency, on December 7th the Akabane police department held a flyer-distribution campaign around JR Akabane station, distributing handbills, which urge the proper hiring of foreigners, to restaurant owners and area residents.

Other than police officials, city officials and Tokyo immigration bureau officals also participated, for a total of about 20 participants. They also distributed a ‘Foreign Laborers’ Employment Manual,’ created by the city, and introduced the penal regulations for business owners who knowingly employed illegal foreign laborers.

A police official stated that in light of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, more foreigners are expected to be visiting Japan, so ‘from here on out we want to regularly urge caution’ [in regards to illegal foreign residency/employment].
==================================

What I noticed particularly is the lack of any effort to cite any statistics that might justify this blatantly fear-mongering use of taxpayer money. No citation of illegal foreign employment statistics, or what harm such infractions might meaningfully bring on society, or really any attempt to establish any reason for this “campaign” at all. It’s as if there’s no need at all to demonstrate why this behavior is necessary or what occasioned it in the first place.

We want to urge caution about illegal employment practices…because why? They’re on the rise? They cost taxpayers lots of money last year? There’s a lack of procedural knowledge? Where’s the handbilling to remind employers not to abuse their foreign employees? Haven’t we already seen many instances where that factually does occur? Where’s the “regular cautioning” about that? The whole thing is just completely disgusting.

Moreover, why the need to distribute handbills related to employment law to area residents? How does that have any effect on them at all, over then to instill in them a sense of mistrust of non-Japanese residents, which itself has no basis in reality, and which furthermore has nothing to do with the average resident at all?

The more I’ve started reading Japanese newspapers, the more I’m starting to feel like all you have to do to find this sort of incendiary, blatantly racist behavior is due a keyword search for “外国人.” It’s like they’re just incapable of discussing foreigners without blatantly exposing their ignorant prejudice.  HJ

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 94 Annual Top Ten: “Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015”, Jan. 3, 2016

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest Just Be Cause column 94 for the Japan Times Community Page:

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 3, 2016

2015 was another year of a few steps forward but many steps back in terms of human rights in Japan. The progressive grass roots consolidated their base and found more of a voice in public, while conservatives at the top pressed on with their agenda of turning the clock back to a past they continue to misrepresent. Here are the top 10 human rights issues of the year as they affected non-Japanese residents:

10) NHK ruling swats ‘flyjin’ myth

In November, the Tokyo District Court ordered NHK to pay ¥5.14 million to staffer Emmanuelle Bodin, voiding the public broadcaster’s decision to terminate her contract for fleeing Japan in March 2011. The court stated: “Given the circumstances under which the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima No. 1 plant’s nuclear accident took place, it is absolutely impossible to criticize as irresponsible her decision to evacuate abroad to protect her life,” and that NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.

This ruling legally reaffirmed the right of employees to flee if they feel the need to protect themselves. So much for the “flyjin” myth and all the opprobrium heaped upon non-Japanese specifically for allegedly deserting their posts…

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/01/03/issues/battles-history-media-message-scar-2015/

Asahi: Justice Ministry issues first-ever hate speech advisory to Sakurai Makoto, ex-leader of xenophobic Zaitokukai group

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Let’s keep the good news coming, on the heels of the suspension of the anti-foreigner government online “snitch sites”.  Anti-Korean hate group Zaitokukai’s activities have been singled out for official frowning-at for some time now, including being put on the National Police Agency watch list in 2014, being publicly berated by the Osaka Mayor in 2014, and losing big in court in 2013–setting a good anti-defamation precedent recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination.

Now the “former leader” of Zaitokukai, Sakurai Makoto, has been issued Japan’s first ministerial warning that his activities are unlawful and violate human rights.  And that individuals (not just groups) are also covered against hate speech.  Good.  But let’s take into account the limitations of this “advisory”.  One is that it has no legal force (it’s basically, again, an official frowning-at).  The other is that it can only claim this is unlawful, not illegal, because even after twenty years of signing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no laws against racial discrimination.  And, as noted below, the GOJ declined to pass any laws against hate speech in 2015.  Thus, the debate in Japan can only focus on abstract issues of victim reaction such as “dignity” and “personal agony”, which are much harder to proactively enforce in a legalistic manner.  All the GOJ can do is run on fumes and frown–not actually arrest these extremists for encouraging violence against an entire ethnicity within Japan, or even stop the police for selectively keeping order in favor of the rightists.

Still, we take our good news as it comes in.  We must, or this becomes a very dismal science indeed.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Ministry issues hate speech advisory to ex-leader of Zaitokukai
December 23, 2015, The Asahi Shinbun, courtesy of JK.
By MOTOKI KANEKO/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201512230053

The Justice Ministry for the first time issued a hate speech advisory, warning the former leader of a group against ethnic Koreans on Dec. 22 that its activities are unlawful and violate human rights.

The advisory was issued to Makoto Sakurai, former chairman of Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for ethnic Korean residents in Japan). The group is more commonly known as Zaitokukai, and it has gained international attention for blaring discriminatory and menacing taunts at its street rallies in ethnic Korean neighborhoods.

Although the advisory does not carry legal force, the ministry deemed Zaitokukai’s actions to be unlawful.

The advisory also recognized individuals as victims of hate speech for the first time.

The ministry asked Sakurai to reflect on his actions and refrain from conducting similar activities.

According to the ministry, Sakurai and other members of Zaitokukai shouted racist slogans at two ethnic Koreans from the front of the gate at Korea University in Tokyo’s Kodaira. These slogans were shouted at the two on three instances, in November of 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The slogans included, “Drive the Koreans out of Japan,” and, “We came to kill Koreans.”

The two ethnic Koreans filed a complaint with authorities.

The ministry’s investigation included interviewing Sakurai.

It concluded that Zaitokukai’s actions “propagated hatred and hostility by assuming ethnic Koreans are criminals and abused their dignity as human beings, something that cannot be overlooked from the viewpoint of protecting human rights.”

Japan does not have any law against hate speech. However, groups of citizens and politicians have been pushing for the enactment of such legislation, and the advisory was welcomed by the targets of the hate speech.

“The fact that the Justice Ministry identified their activities to be unlawful will be a blow to the group,” said Yasuko Morooka, an attorney representing the two ethnic Koreans. “However, the advisory has no legal force. Because hate speeches are unlawful and abuse the dignity of a person, induce a strong sense of terror and cause agony, it’s not something we can allow the government to leave untouched.

“We should keep a close eye on the government’s moves from here on.”

The ruling coalition dropped plans to enact hate speech legislation in the Diet session this year. Differences of opinion arose in discussions on how to strike a balance between restrictions on speech and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

Yasuhiro Yagi, the current leader of Zaitokukai, said the ministry’s advisory is a form of a human rights violation against his group.

“Issuing an advisory to us as if we are trying to hold street activities we haven’t even held in four years is in itself a violation of human rights by the Justice Ministry,” he said.

ENDS

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

ヘイトスピーチ、法務省が初の中止勧告
2015年12月22日 23時58分, courtesy of JK
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/20151222-OYT1T50114.html
法務省は22日、東京都小平市の朝鮮大学校前で人種差別的なヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)を繰り返したとして、右派系グループの元代表に同様の行為をやめるよう求める勧告を行った。
ヘイトスピーチに対する勧告は初めてだという。
発表によると、元代表らは2008年11月~11年11月の計3回、同校の校門前で「朝鮮人を東京湾にたたき込め」などと叫んだ。勧告は、こうした行為について「生命や身体に危害を加えられかねないと、校内にいた学校関係者らを畏怖させる違法行為だ」と認定。「在日朝鮮人の尊厳を傷付けるもので、人権擁護のうえでも看過できない」として、今後繰り返さないよう元代表に求めた。

勧告は同省の訓令に基づく措置で、強制力はない。

ENDS

JT: Anti-war student organization SEALDs to disband after Upper House poll in 2016

mytest

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Hi Blog. Now here’s something I find profoundly disappointing. One bright outcome of Japan’s Right-Wing Swing was the reenergizing of the Grassroots Left, with regular public demonstrations promoting anti-racism and tolerance. However, one group that attracted a lot of attention for opposing PM Abe’s policies, the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), made an announcement (at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, no less) last October that their leadership wasn’t just stepping down due to graduation from university — they were disbanding the entire group within a year.

That makes the leadership comes off as human-rights hobbyists. There is no need to make what should be a handing over of the reins to the next generation into a public spectacle of disbandment. Alas, they’re quitting, and taking the brand name with them. Abe must be grinning in great satisfaction. From eroding Japan’s democratic institutions to making investigation of government chicanery illegal to marching Japan back to its martial past (while decimating Japan’s Left in formal Japanese politics), Abe is truly winning this fight. He’s even got these brave kids running scared.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Anti-war student organization to close shop after Upper House poll
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 28, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/28/national/politics-diplomacy/anti-war-student-organization-close-shop-upper-house-poll/

A pro-democracy student group behind this summer’s massive youth protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security legislation plans to dissolve after next year’s Upper House election, members said Wednesday.

Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) gained widespread attention over the summer for a series of anti-war rallies held near the Diet building to protest the administration’s push to allow the nation’s military to fight abroad for the first time since the end of World War II.

Known for its unconventional demonstrations, which included rap-influenced music and stylish placards, the group was hailed for leading a resurgence in youth activism that sparked hopes in society that the nation’s politically apathetic youngsters may be changing.

“Since we started our activities as an ‘emergency action,’ and many of our members are slated to graduate from universities soon, SEALDs will dissolve after next summer’s Upper House election,” group member Mana Shibata, 22, revealed during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“After that, if individual persons want to take action or create another movement, they are free to do so.”

Before their movement became SEALDs, many members protested the state secrecy law — contentious legislation championed by Abe that many said would impinge on people’s right to know or discover crucial government information. That group called itself SASPL, or Students Against Secret Protection Law.

After the security bills were rammed through the Diet last month, SEALDs will now focus its activities on gearing up for next summer’s Upper House election, members said. Its newest mission: to call on opposition parties to form a united front against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Noting that the passage of the bills signals Japan’s democracy is “on the verge of collapse,” member Takeshi Suwahara, 22, said: “What is happening is a crisis. I know opposition parties have their own conflicting interests. But they must listen to voices of the public and cooperate with each other.”

Dismayed at an ever-decreasing voter turnout among the young, SEALDs will also ramp up efforts to encourage younger people to vote in elections.

The nation’s 18- and 19-year-olds will now for the first time be allowed to cast ballots in accordance with a legal revision in June.

Aside from making continued efforts to organize related rallies and symposiums, members will try to establish voting booths in places such as train stations, shopping malls and universities, they said.

“Demographically speaking, young people in Japan are underrepresented and as a result it’s difficult for their voices to be reflected in politics and fulfill their needs for education and social welfare. I believe this election is a chance to change such a trend,” Suwahara said.

ENDS

WSJ: PM Abe Shinzo First Non-American to Win Conservative Hudson Institute Award — and other American neocons egging on Japan’s remilitarization

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Now here’s something interesting (and geopolitical, but positive overseas recognition like this helps keep Abe’s popularity ratings up (and the money to the LDP rolling in, and Japan’s right-wing swing swinging, etc.):

According to the article below, less than a year after being returned to power and decimating Japan’s Leftists, PM Abe received this award from an American conservative think-tank.  It’s clear that conservative elements in the hegemon wish Japan to have a leader like Abe honored and in power.  I’m not quite sure why.  It would be facile to think it’s merely because the US wants to maintain bases and a weapons market, or even contain China.  No, think tanks like these are also grounded in morals and values that transcend economics and politics (such as, in this case, Abe’s alleged dedication to “democratic ideals”).  The funny thing is, these people seem to think Abe shares their values.  He really doesn’t, unless these people are fundamentally positive towards a racialized reorientation of Asia, where Japanese bigots settle old historical scores, pick fights, destabilize the region, and return Asia back on the course of an arms race.  I’m probably missing something (again, this isn’t quite my field), but I’m aghast at the short-sightedness of American neocons (especially, as noted below, the Heritage Foundation egging on the Ishiharas to purchase the disputed Senkaku rocks and inflame Sino-Japanese tensions).  As I was the similar short-sightedness of the Obama Administration honoring Abe years later (see also here).  I don’t think they understand what Frankenstein they’re creating.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Abe First Non-American to Win Conservative Hudson Institute Award
Wall Street Journal Sep 23, 2013
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2013/09/23/abe-first-non-american-to-win-conservative-hudson-institute-award/

European Pressphoto Agency: The Hudson Institute says it’s honoring Shinzo Abe ‘as a transformative leader.’

On Sept. 25, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will join an elite group of right-leaning leaders like Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney, as the recipient of an award from conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank, Hudson Institute.

The award, named after Hudson Institute’s founder, the physicist-turned-geopolitical thinker Herman Kahn, is given every year to honor creative and visionary leaders with a Kahn-style dedication to national security–traditionally in the U.S. Mr. Abe will be the first non-American honoree to receive the Herman Kahn Award.

“Abe is being honored as a transformative leader seeking to advance the kind of reform necessary to restore Japan to full economic vitality,” the institute said in its news release. At the award ceremony to be held in New York on Wednesday, Mr. Abe is expected to deliver “a major speech” on economic reform in Japan and the continuing importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, according to the release.

The Hudson Institute–as well as Mr. Kahn–has long had close ties with conservative leaders in Japan. Though Mr. Kahn started off his career as a physicist at the Rand Corporation in the 1940s, he moved on to writing about nuclear strategy with the publication of “On Thermonuclear War,” and then to the study of geopolitical trends, including the rise of Japan.

Mr. Kahn is known for predicting Japan’s ascendance as early as 1962, and in 1970 wrote “The Emerging Japanese Superstate,” in which he said that the country would “almost inevitably” become a great economic, technological and financial power–and would likely achieve global military and political clout as well. Mr. Kahn was a “confidante of every Japanese prime minister from Hayato Ikeda on,” until his death in 1983, the institute press release on the award to Mr. Abe said.

Mr. Abe too “is a longtime friend of Hudson Institute, someone who knows the critical importance of ideas to effective governance,” Hudson Institute Chief Executive Kenneth Weinstein said, in the release. “Given Herman Kahn’s legacy of research on Japan, it is altogether appropriate to honor Abe-san.”

Mr. Abe won’t be the first Japanese politician to speak at a Hudson Institute event, though. In December 2011, Nobuteru Ishihara, then secretary-general of Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, also gave a speech, calling for swift nationalization of disputed islands in the East China Sea and deployment of Japanese troops there. The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, have been a major source of diplomatic strain between the two countries.

“The importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance is increasing as a means to deter any attempt by a country to forcefully change the national borders,” Mr. Ishihara was quoted as saying by the Japanese press at the time.

Mr. Ishihara’s speech was quickly followed by one at the Heritage Foundation, another conservative U.S. think tank, given by his more famous–and controversial–father, Shintaro Ishihara. At that April 2012 speech, the elder Ishihara, who was then governor of Tokyo, unveiled a plan for the Tokyo government to purchase the disputed islands. Japan’s national government headed off that purchase by nationalizing the islands itself later in the year, sparking massive anti-Japanese protests in China.

Mr. Abe has made no secret of his own nationalist leanings. He’s pushing to strengthen Japan’s national security, as the nation feels growing pressure from China’s rising economic–and military–power. China’s annual military spending has grown rapidly in recent years, reaching $166 billion in 2012, nearly triple Japan’s $59 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

But Mr. Abe needs to walk a fine line. He can’t pursue his pet issue of national security unless he first addresses Japan’s economic and fiscal problems–major challenges on their own. Wednesday’s Hudson Institute speech will offer the latest clues on how Mr. Abe hopes to proceed. ENDS

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

What the Hudson Institute itself says about the event:

2013 Herman Kahn Award Luncheon Honoring Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Hudson Institute, Sept. 25, 2013, courtesy of VF
http://www.hudson.org/events/1105-2013-herman-kahn-award-luncheon-honoring-japanese-prime-minister-shinzo-abe92013

(Video)
At a gala luncheon in New York on September 25, 2013, Hudson presented its annual Herman Kahn Award to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in recognition of his extraordinary career on the world stage—and his vigorous, principled promotion free markets, global security, and democratic ideals.

The Prime Minister was introduced at the event by his long-time friend and Hudson Senior Vice President Lewis Libby. Abe then took the stage himself to accept the Kahn Award, offering kind and generous remarks about Hudson before delivering a substantial and serious talk about his plans to reform the Japanese economy—and his determination “to make my beloved country a proactive contributor to peace.”

“Japan should not be a weak link in the regional and global security framework where the U.S. plays a leading role,” the Prime Minister said. “Japan is one of the world’s most mature democracies. Thus, we must be a net contributor to the provision of the world’s welfare and security. And we will. Japan will contribute to the peace and stability of the region and the world even more proactively than before.”

Hudson Institute Board Chair Sarah May Stern and Hudson President & CEO Kenneth R. Weinstein also made remarks during the ceremony, with Weinstein adding a special additional tribute to Hudson trustee Yoji Ohashi, Chairman of ANA Holdings Inc., for his visionary contributions to commercial aviation and dedication to a strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan.

ENDS

UPDATE: Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour “Japanese Only” registration is sanitized to include NJ residents, but “Japanese Citizenship” remains requirement on actual registration page

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This is an update to the previous post, but it deserves a separate blog entry for the deceitfulness.  Thanks to Debito.org Readers contacting the organizers in Hong Kong, the 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon made it clear to their Japan tour organizers (http://www.hkmarathon.jp) that restricting applications “exclusively for Japanese people” is unacceptable, as the event is open to all nationalities:

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

Case Ref No. FEED-VRSUP2-20151112-0378054 (BaCh/FiCh)

Dear Alex,

Thank you for contacting the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on 10 November 2015, letting us know the comments posted on Dr. Arudou Debito’s website in regard to the registration requirements for the “2016 Hong Kong Marathon tour package” sold in Japan.

After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site . 

Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Should we could be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to call me or send me an email. 

Best Regards,

Fion Cheng
Senior Executive, Visitor Services
Hong Kong Tourism Board

Direct line: +852 2807 6108
Direct fax: +852 2807 6581
Website: http://www.DiscoverHongKong.com

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

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20151

This has resulted in changes to the website wording, from

“This tour is designed exclusively for Japanese people.  
Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20152

to

“This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan. 
Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

HongKongMarathonResidentOnly1112152

Sounds better.  Gone is the assumption that foreign nationals living in Japan are not residents of Japan.

However, if you actually go to the website registration page (http://www.hkmarathon.jp/pre.html), the requirement for applicants of Japanese citizenship (item six in the bullet points: 私は日本国籍を有しています) is still there:

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly111315

(screen capture as of November 14, 2015 JST)

So although the English has changed for the purposes of placating the English-reading world, the “secret code for domestic consumption only” that is the Japanese written language is maintaining the same “Japanese Only” rules. It is very hard to see this as a mere oversight.

And as written, NJ resident applicants still face refusal and then a non-refund of their deposit payments. It’s gone from mere exclusionism to the potential for misleading applicants into corporate theft. How duplicitous and unprofessional of the Japan-side organizers. Imagine the internet uproar if a Japanese company made a mistake this big for its Japanese customers.  Again, its seems, foreign customers in Japan don’t matter.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2015:

Was tweeted this picture in regards to the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon registration desk for Japanese in Bangkok, Thailand.  Seems to be more systematic than just Japanese organizers within Japan.  More like the organization is excluding foreigners everywhere in the world, including in those nations where Japanese are foreigners themselves.

HongKongMarathonJeseOnlyTwitPic111215

More tweeted details from the same source were: “November 12, 2015 in Bangkok Thailand. Registration for the Standard Chartered BKK marathon. they also had their own ‘bib boards’ i.e. Names and bib numbers not with the rest of the marathon runners, but ‘separate'”.

My latest Japan Times JBC Col 93: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book “Embedded Racism”

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, NOV 1, 2015

Japan has a dire problem it must address immediately: its embedded racism.

The country’s society and government are permeated by a narrative that says people must “look Japanese” before they can expect equal treatment in society.

That must stop. It’s a matter of Japan’s very survival.

We’ve talked about Japan’s overt racism in previous Just Be Cause columns: the “Japanese only” signs and rules that refuse entry and service to “foreigners” on sight (also excluding Japanese citizens who don’t “look Japanese”); the employers and landlords who refuse employment and apartments — necessities of life — to people they see as “foreign”; the legislators, administrators, police forces and other authorities and prominent figures that portray “foreigners” as a national security threat and call for their monitoring, segregation or expulsion.

But this exclusionism goes beyond a few isolated bigots in positions of power, who can be found in every society. It is so embedded that it becomes an indictment of the entire system.

In fact, embedded racism is key to how the system “works.” Or rather, as we shall see below, how it doesn’t…

Read the rest at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/11/01/issues/tackle-embedded-racism-chokes-japan/

Please comment below, and thanks for reading!

Asahi TV: Police training drill in Tokyo on how to deal with jewelry thieves brandishing knives. Oh, and they’re “foreign” thieves.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Apparently the Tokyo police believe that jewelry stores need training in how to fend off thieves.  Foreign thieves, that is.  Even though according to the NPA’s own statistics, theft (almost always committed by Japanese) is by far the most common crime in Japan — even more than traffic accidents!

And by “foreign thieves”, we don’t just mean the cat-burglar type of jewel thief (although even police also claim those as due to “foreigners” because of their “daring”.  Seriously.)  We mean the loud, violent type, with perps shouting “kane” while wielding knives, as foreigners do, right?  Fortunately, they can be repulsed by shopkeepers wielding poles and by police brandishing batons.

TV Asahi was on the scene to record the event at a real jewelry store in public (in Okachimachi, Tokyo) to make the proceedings even more visible.  Broadcast October 9, 2015.  Check it out:

Courtesy of http://news.tv-asahi.co.jp/news_society/articles/000060244.html


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InY88UamAjI

If above links are dead, this video has been archived below (mp4), courtesy of DG and JLO.

TV Asahi:  実際の宝石店を使って強盗への対応訓練が行われました。

訓練は、2人組の外国人が指輪を奪い、店員にナイフを突き付けて現金を要求する想定です。
警視庁上野署・田邉彰生活安全課長:「安全安心な御徒町を目指してやっていきたい」
JR御徒町駅周辺では、去年から今年にかけて宝石店での窃盗事件が数件起きていて、警視庁は防犯対策を強化していきたいとしています。

COMMENT:  If you want an exercise to show how to repulse robbers, fine.  But there is no need to depict them as foreigners.  Depict them as thieves, regardless of nationality, and arrest them.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

“Onsen-Ken Shinfuro Video”: Japan Synchro Swim Team promotes Oita Pref. Onsens — and breaks most bathhouse rules doing so. Historically insensitive.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As a bit of a tangent (but only a bit).  Check this out:

https://youtu.be/20ZWZJgixtw

COMMENT:  This is an excellent video featuring the former Japan synchronized swimming team in various hot springs (onsen) around Oita Prefecture.  I have been to some of these myself, and can attest to the magic of both the location and the waters.

BUT

I hate to pee in the pool here, but there are several things happening here that are absolutely impermissible by Japanese standards (in fact, they were cited as reasons for excluding all “foreigners” entry to the baths during the Otaru Onsens etc. Case of 1993-2005):

  1. Making noise in the bathing area.
  2. Splashing about.
  3. Wearing bathing suits in the pool.
  4. Wearing towels in the pool.
  5. Mixed bathing in a non-rotenburo area.
  6. Not washing off one’s body completely before entering (note that they get in dry after only a cursory splash).

If anyone does any of these things in real life, they will probably get thrown out of the bathhouse.  Worse yet, if anyone who DOESN’T LOOK JAPANESE did anything like this, everyone who doesn’t look Japanese (i.e., a “foreigner”) a priori would be denied entry at the door, merely by dint by phenotypical association.  That’s why I have a hard time enjoying this video knowing the history of Japanese public bathing issues, where stone-headed onsen owners looked for any reason to enforce their bigotry on people they thought couldn’t learn Japanese bathhouse rules.

Instead, without any irony whatsoever, we have the Japan synchro swim team breaking most of them.  To raucous applause.  Good thing they didn’t bring in a NJ synchro team to do this stunt — because then “cultural insensitivity” would creep into the mix.

Granted, there is a lengthy disclaimer at the end to say that swimming and bathing suits are not allowed in Japanese baths, and that rules etc. must be followed.  But I still remain grumpy at the lack of historical sensitivity shown towards the “foreigners” who suffered for being refused entry to Japan’s public baths despite following all decorum and rules.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

My next Japan Times JBC 92 Oct. 5, 2015: “Conveyor belt of death shudders back to live”, on how Abe’s new security policy will revive Prewar martial Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog. My next Japan Times JBC 92 crystal balls again about Japan’s future based upon the landmark security legislation passed last month. JBC has been quite right about a lot of future developments these past few years. Let’s see how we do with this one. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Conveyor belt of death shudders back to live
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Column 92 for The Japan Times Community Page
Monday, October 5, 2015

He’s done it.

As past JBCs predicted he would, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has gotten his way. Last month he closed a chapter on “pacifist Japan,” ramming through unpopular new security legislation that now allows Japanese military engagement in offensive maneuvers abroad.

That’s it then. The circle is complete. Japan is primed to march back to its pre-World War II systems of governance.

Now just to be clear: I don’t think there will be another world war based on this. However, I think in a generation or two (Japan’s militarists are patient – they’ve already waited two generations for this comeback), a re-armed (even quietly nuclear) Japan selling weapons and saber-rattling at neighbors will be quite normalized.

Alarmism? Won’t Japan’s affection for Article 9 forestall this? Or won’t the eventual failure of Abenomics lead to the end of his administration, perhaps a resurgence of the opposition left? I say probably not. We still have a couple more years of Prime Minister Abe himself (he regained the LDP leadership last month unopposed). But more importantly, he changed the laws.

So this is not a temporary aberration. This is legal interpretation and precedent, and it’s pretty hard to undo that (especially since the opposition left is even negotiating with the far-right these days). Moreover, Japan has never had a leftist government with as much power as this precedent-setting rightist government does. And it probably never will (not just because the US government would undermine it, a la the Hosokawa and Hatoyama Administrations).

But there’s something deeper at work beyond the Abe aberration. I believe that social dynamics encouraging a reverse course to remilitarization have always lain latent in Japanese society…

Read the rest in The Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/10/04/issues/japan-rightists-patient-wait-conveyor-belt-death-shudders-back-life/.

JK on emerging GOJ policies towards refugees & immigration, still not allowing them to stay in Japan: “tourists yes, refugees & immigrants no”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JK keeps sending me intriguing tacks on recent articles (thanks), and here’s another bunch:

Debito.org hasn’t talked as much as other topics about the Government of Japan (GOJ)’s attitude towards refugees (in that, the acceptance of refugees is one measure of international contributions by the club of rich, developed countries and UN treaty signatories). But it is safe to say that the GOJ has not been cooperative, accepting fewer people in total over the past sixty years than some countries do in a single year — as the United Nations is aware.

So now the Abe Administration is trying a different tack:  Accepting refugees as temporary students, and then sending them “home” someday.  JK parses that to bits below.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

From:  JK

Hi Debito:

From articles cited at the very bottom:

“The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.”

「留学生の受け入れで、将来的にシリアの再建に関わる人材の育成に寄与したい 考え。」

…and…

“The plan represents the government’s efforts to think of a way to contribute to solving the Syria issue, without influencing the current refugee authorization system.”

「政府としては、現状の難民認定制度の枠組みや基準に影響を与えない形で、実 質的にシリア問題に貢献できる方法を探った形だ。」

Translation: GOJ doesn’t want to look bad at the UN in front of the other nations who are actually doing something to help refugees, so what to do?…Ah! Accept refugees as students to make it look like Japan is making a difference — Japan trains the Syrians so that one day they can go ‘home’ and fix everything up, and as students, they’re not in a position to stay for good as would be the case if they were accepted as refugees. It’s a win-win!

My armchair social theory is that the GOJ’s view of NJ is strictly monetary (i.e. get money from NJ tourists, give money to NJ refugees; NJ trainees / NJ bribes, etc.).

Abe speaks to boost Japan tourism at New York event
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002455922

Japan will do more to be well prepared to host foreign guests going into the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, he said at the seminar also joined by former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui and U.S. actress Charlotte Kate Fox.

Abe: Japan ready to help refugees, but not take them in
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150930p2g00m0in032000c.html

“As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants,” Abe told a news conference, according to the official translation of his comments.

Translation: Accepting immigrants is the last thing we should do.  Sincerely, JK

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

Sources:

難民:「受け入れ」検討…政府、シリアから留学生として
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20150925k0000m010107000c.html

毎日新聞 2015年09月25日 09時00分

シリアなどから欧州に難民が押し寄せている問題を受け、日本政府はシリアから留学生として難民を受け入れる方向で検討に入った。欧州連合(EU)はギリシャなどに着いた12万人の難民受け入れで合意。米国も人数を年々増やし、2017会計年度には10万人を受け入れる方針を表明した。28日からニューヨークの国連総会で行われる各国首脳らの一般討論演説では、難民問題も議題になる見通しで、日本としてシリア問題に貢献する姿勢を国際社会に表明する狙いがある。

関係者によると、難民問題の解決に向けた資金拠出に加え、人的な面でも貢献できないか検討。留学生の受け入れで、将来的にシリアの再建に関わる人材の育成に寄与したい考え。

法務省によると、昨年の難民認定者数は5000人の申請者に対し11人。シリアからの難民申請者も、ほとんどが人道的配慮による在留許可にとどまる。留学生としての受け入れは、通常の難民認定とは異なるが、正規の資格で日本に滞在できる。政府としては、現状の難民認定制度の枠組みや基準に影響を与えない形で、実質的にシリア問題に貢献できる方法を探った形だ。【三木幸治、隅俊之】
【毎日新聞】
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Japanese gov’t considers accepting Syrian refugees as students
September 25, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150925p2a00m0na002000c.html

Japanese gov’t considers accepting Syrian refugees as students

As refugees from Syria and other countries pour into Europe, the Japanese government has begun to ponder accepting Syrian refugees in the form of students.

The European Union has agreed to accept 120,000 refugees that have arrived in countries including Greece, while the United States has announced its intention to accept an increasing number of refugees over the years, with 100,000 to be accepted in fiscal 2017. During speeches by member nations’ heads of state at the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York starting Sept. 28, the refugee problem is expected to be discussed, and Japan aims to display to the international community its contributory stance in trying to solve the Syria problem.

According to an insider source, in addition to helping fund the solving of the refugee problem, considerations are also being made over whether Japan can contribute on the human side of the issue. The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.

The Ministry of Justice says that last year out of 5,000 refugee applicants, Japan approved 11. Most of the refugee applicants from Syria are only being allowed to stay out of humanitarian consideration. Acceptance as students, while different from the normal system of accommodating refugees, would allow refugees to be in Japan with official authorization. The plan represents the government’s efforts to think of a way to contribute to solving the Syria issue, without influencing the current refugee authorization system.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Abe speaks to boost Japan tourism at New York event
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002455922
8:05 pm, September 29, 2015 Jiji Press

NEW YORK (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that he wants people to know more about Japan and have more exchanges with Japanese people.

Abe made the comments at a seminar organized at a New York hotel by the Japan National Tourism Organization to promote visits to Japan.

Japan will do more to be well prepared to host foreign guests going into the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, he said at the seminar also joined by former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui and U.S. actress Charlotte Kate Fox.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Abe: Japan ready to help refugees, but not take them in
September 30, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150930p2g00m0in032000c.html

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Japan’s prime minister said Tuesday that his nation needs to attend to its own demographic challenges posed by falling birth rates and an aging population before opening its doors to refugees.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced at the U.N. General Assembly that Japan is ramping up assistance in response to the exodus of refugees to Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

He said Japan will provide $1.5 billion in emergency aid for refugees and for stabilization of communities facing upheaval.

But speaking to reporters later Tuesday he poured cold water on the idea of Japan opening its doors to those fleeing.

He said Japan first needed to attend to domestic challenges which he proposes to tackle under a revamped economic policy that aims to boost GDP to a post-war record level, while bolstering the social security system to support families.

“As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants,” Abe told a news conference, according to the official translation of his comments.

He added that Japan would “discharge our own responsibility” in addressing the refugee crisis, which he described as helping to improve conditions that cause the exodus.

Abe earlier told the world body that Japan would provide $810 million this year for emergency assistance of refugees and internally displaced persons from Syria and Iraq, triple what it gave last year. Abe said Japan is also preparing about $750 million for stabilization efforts in the Middle East and Africa.

Japan prides itself on being a good global citizen. It is one of the largest aid donors in the world. Last year Japan gave $181.6 million to the UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, making it second only to the United States in generosity.

But it has offered very few if any resettlement places for refugees from the civil war in Syria.

According to Ministry of Justice data, it accepted just 11 asylum seekers out of a record 5,000 applications last year, although Japanese officials say most of the asylum applicants were from other Asian countries and were already living in Japan.

Some argue that increased immigration could help arrest a shrinking population, which is currently 126 million. Abe says he is determined to ensure that in 50 years the Japanese population has stabilized at 100 million.

ENDS

Another Gaijin Handler speaks at East-West Center: Dr. Nakayama Toshihiro, ahistorically snake-charming inter alia about how Japan’s warlike past led to Japan’s stability today (Sept. 15, 2015)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Japan’s Gaijin Handlers (people well-versed in representing Japan overseas in ways placating USG fears about Japan’s ulterior motives) are still making the rounds of America’s foreign-policy forums.  Debito.org covered one in October 2013, where a deputy chairman of an Abe Administration advisory panel on Japan’s security, Dr. Kitaoka Shin’ichi, basically told policy wonks on a whistle-stop tour of the US (courtesy of the East-West Center) that Japan’s “collective self-defense” wasn’t a remilitarization of Japan that should cause any worry.

This time, brought to you by the Japanese Consulate General (see page three of questionnaire below), and hosted by the East-West Center and the Center for Japanese Studies at UH Manoa, an academic named Dr. Nakayama Toshiaki, of prestigious Aoyama Gakuin University, gave an hourlong presentation about the “Mind of Japan”, and what that “mind” thought about America.  Here’s his bio, text-searchable:

Dr. Toshihiro Nakayama
East-West Center
September 10, 2015
Dr. Toshihiro Nakayama spoke about Japan-U.S. relations especially in consideration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. An insight was given into America’s roles in the Asia Pacific and beyond through the eyes of a well-known professor, author, and columnist. Dr. Nakayama also shared his personal experiences in the context of this important relationship between the two allied nations.
Dr. Nakayama is Professor of American Politics and Foreign Policy at the Faculty of Policy Management at Keio University. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs. He received his M.A. (1993) and Ph.D. (2001) from Aoyama Gakuin University, was a CNAPS Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution (2005-06), and has written two books and numerous articles on American politics, foreign policy, and international relations. He appears regularly in the Japanese media and writes a monthly column for Japan News. He was the recipient of the Nakasone Yasuhiro Award (Incentive Award) in 2014.

Here’s the original flyer:

NakayamaToshihiroEWCtalk091015

Here is his speech in its entirety:

America in the Mind of Japan: How Japan Sees America’s Role in the Asia Pacific and Beyond from East-West Center on Vimeo.

(May be slow playing on your browser.  Download the actual video to your computer from here: https://vimeo.com/140019513)

I attended, but thought even beforehand, based on the title of the talk, how scientifically problematic it is for someone to represent all of Japan as a “mind” so monolithically (I would expect it from a government representative, but not a trained doctorate-holding academic).  But Dr. Nakayama, as would befit people with an agenda who are employed by the right-wing Yomiuri (moreover rewarded by the likes of far-rightist and WWII sexual slavery organizer Nakasone Yasuhiro), fulfilled his role as Gaijin Handler very professionally:

First he softened up the audience, spending several minutes (in fact, a sizable chunk of his allowed time) convincing everyone how Americanized he is (with a number of anecdotes about his time as a youth going to school in New York City and South Dakota and asking American girls out to dance), giving the audience a number of familiar warm-fuzzy touchstones in terms of economics, politics, and culture in excellent English.  Then he switched smoothly into the “We Japanese” “us” and “them” rhetoric, no longer a non-dispassionate academic, now a government representative.  He clearly felt confident enough in his knowledge of both the US and Japan to feel that he could portray Japan authoritatively in a hive-minded fashion, while painting a picture of the US as a fractious pluralistic place with people like Donald Trump.  Seriously.

But after a rather pedestrian retelling of the US-Japan Relationship after WWII, Dr. Nakayama made the following statement right at the very end.  It was indicative of what kind of snake-charming narrative Prime Minister Abe wishes to wrangle the (USG) Gaijin with.  In regards to a question about Japan’s historical relationship with its immediate neighbors:

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Nakayama:  (From minute 1:02:00).  But as shown in Prime Minister Abe’s statement commemorating the [unintelligible] end of World War II that was announced on the 14th of August, there were suspicion in Korea and in China that Prime Minister Abe changed totally the understanding of how we see history.  But I think that we see if we actually read the text, I think it relates much more to [unintelligible].  He was sometimes being criticized as being a revisionist, trying to see the war in different terms.   

I don’t think that was his intention.  In Japan, the governmental historical discourse is that everything started from 1945.  Everything that happened before that is basically wrong.  That’s not how things turned out.  Yes, there was a disastrous four years.  If you include China and The Occupation, it goes beyond that.  But you have to remember that Japan was the first modern state in Asia which successed [sic] in modernizing itself, and became a player in the Great Power games.  And that’s a success case.  Yes, it ended up in a war, with the United States and China, but that doesn’t mean we have to negate everything that happened before 1945.  An attempt by Prime Minister Abe was to see history in continuation, and there were some parts [unintelligible]  that would make democracy stable after 1945, were established in the Prewar Period. So we have to see the history in continuance.  I think that was the message. 

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Wow.  Imagine the international reaction if a representative of Germany (or one of their academics lecturing overseas on a government-sponsored junket) were to argue today that “Nazi Germany did some good things for Germany too, including making the country the stable democracy it is now.”  Fascinating tack (in its ahistoricality) in light of the fascist regimes that not only did their utmost to dismantle the trappings of stable democracy, but also led their countries to certain destruction (and were in fact rebuilt thanks to Postwar assistance from former enemies).  No, what happened to Japan in the Prewar Era at its own hands was ultimately destructive, not stabilizing (and not only to Japan).  What happened before 1945 WAS basically wrong; and it wasn’t “also not wrong” for the reasons he gives.  Thus, Dr. Nakayama imparts an interesting mix of uncharacteristic historical ignorance, with an undercurrent of the ancestor worship that the Abe Administration ultimately grounds its ideology within.

Further, Dr. Nakayama is a fascinating case study of how the Japanese Government recognizes the Gaijin-Handling potential in its bilingual brightest (inserting them into, in Dr. Nakayama’s case, Japan’s diplomatic missions abroad), and manages to convince them to come back home and shill for Japan’s national interest even if it defies all of their liberal-arts training and mind-expanding world experiences.  Meanwhile the USG kindly takes the lead of the Japanese Embassy to offer GOJ reps the forums they need to have maximum impact within American policymaking circles.  Very smart of the GOJ, less so the USG.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Other overseas-policy-influencing pies that Dr. Nakayama has his fingers in:
http://www.eastwestcenter.org/events/young-japanese-scholars-program-new-views-politics-and-policy-tokyo-taiwan
See them in action: https://vimeo.com/89107591

Questionnaire given out at this EWC presentation further empowering Japanese Government presentation effectiveness in the US (click on thumbnail to expand):

GOJSurveyNakayamatalk091015 GOJSurveyNakayamatalk091015 1GOJSurveyNakayamatalk091015pg3

Tangent: Economist on “Japan’s Citizen Kane”: Shouriki Matsutaro; explains a lot about J-media’s interlocking relationship with J-politics

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. A great little tangent from The Economist’s Christmas Special of 2012. This story is fantastic (in fact, it beggars belief), and it answers a number of questions I always had about the status quo in Japan (especially when it comes to the interlocking of politics and media). I thought Watanabe Tsuneo (of the same publishing empire; the Yomiuri) is one of Japan’s most morally-corrupt powerful men. This guy beats him. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Matsutaro Shoriki
Japan’s Citizen Kane

A media mogul whose extraordinary life still shapes his country, for good and ill
The Economist. Dec 22nd 2012 | From the print edition
http://www.economist.com/node/21568589/print

THE ECONOMIST’S office in Tokyo is in the headquarters of the Yomiuri Shimbun, the world’s biggest-selling newspaper. Every day, as you walk past bowing guards and immaculate receptionists, set back in a corner you pass a bronze statue of an owlish man with a bald head and thick, round-rimmed glasses, poring over a paper. He is Matsutaro Shoriki (pictured), who acquired the paper in its left-wing adolescence in the 1920s, and turned it into a scrappy, sensational pugilist for right-wing politics. The statue is not flattering: with his potato-like head and beakish nose, he seems to be pecking at the newspaper rather than reading it.

Shoriki lurks in the background of much of 20th-century Japan, too. He created so much of what defines the nation today that it is a wonder he is not as well known as, say, William Randolph Hearst (one of his big Western admirers) is in America. Shoriki was as much the pugnacious, brooding, manipulative and visionary “Citizen Kane” as Hearst.

Before he took over the Yomiuri, Shoriki was head of Tokyo’s torturous secret police. Later, to help him sell papers, he introduced professional baseball to Japan. After the second world war he was jailed for alleged war crimes; upon his release he set up Japan’s first private television network. To cap it all, he was the “father of nuclear power”, using his cabinet position and media clout to transform an atom-bombed nation into one of the strongest advocates of atomic energy. That legacy now smoulders amid the ruins of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Victories of the spirit

Japanese history is peppered with stories of giants whom almost no one outside the country has ever heard of. Because of Japan’s reverence for humility, their tales tend to be subsumed within the companies or projects the individuals created. Shoriki is different. There is nothing humble about him: his is a story of ruthless ambition, bordering on megalomania.

He got a taste for power early, when he rose like a rocket through the police force. He was 28 when, in 1913, he joined the Metropolitan Police. He had recently graduated from the elite University of Tokyo, but was more interested in judo than studying, so had failed the civil-service entrance exams. Police work carried lower prestige, but it suited him. Within a year he was promoted to head a police station in Nihonbashi, the old heart of the city.

Japan’s economy was booming. The first world war was a godsend for a country that was undergoing breakneck modernisation. After its own military victories against Russia and China, and the annexation of Korea in 1910, Japan was puffed up with pride at being one of the world’s colonial powers. But the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 brought a ferment of new ideas—including the demand for wider male suffrage in Japan—which the police and the patrician old guard viewed with alarm. Shoriki was put in charge of suppressing student demonstrations at Waseda University, then one of Tokyo’s most liberal institutions. He later introduced a masseur, masquerading as a communist, to entrap three radical professors. To this day, Waseda’s left-wingers loathe him.

In 1918 he astutely predicted the spread of rice riots from Toyama, the rural prefecture where he was born, to Tokyo. When he marched among the rioters, his sword tethered to his side to show he did not mean violence, a jagged stone hit him on the head. His courage in persuading the mob to calm down, with blood streaming down his face, appears to show him at his best. In “Shoriki: Miracle Man of Japan”, a biography published in 1957 (and regarded by some as a ghostwritten auto-hagiography), Edward Uhlan and Dana Thomas, two American journalists, describe the moment in which he “dispersed a frenzied mob without raising a finger” as the greatest “victory of the spirit” in his life.

But he was no saint. As communist agitation spread in the early 1920s, and Koreans in Japan increasingly rebelled against colonisation, Shoriki was promoted to be chief of staff of the Metropolitan Police, which in effect made him head of the secret police. He had responsibility for infiltrating labour and Korean groups and rooting out the “red menace”.

Then in September 1923, shortly after the Japanese Communist Party had been formed, Tokyo and nearby Yokohama suffered a devastating earthquake that, coupled with the ensuing fires, killed more than 100,000 people. An orgy of opportunistic anti-Korean slaughter followed, which Shoriki may have stoked and then diverted into an attack on socialists.

When, a few months later, professional catastrophe struck, his extensive political connections rescued him. On his watch, a young socialist tried to kill the Crown Prince (later Emperor Hirohito), an event for which Shoriki was given the harshest sanction: “disciplinary dismissal”. Thrown out of work, it occurred to him that newspapers might be an influential business. The Yomiuri Shimbun was struggling, having just built a new headquarters that collapsed in the earthquake. Shoriki needed ¥100,000 ($20,000 then) to buy it out; he turned to one of his contacts, a leading right-wing politician, for financial support. It was a shrewd investment: Shoriki turned the Yomiuri into an establishment crusader.

Evidence of the personality that he quickly stamped upon it can be found in the Yomiuri’s sixth-floor library. You need to borrow the librarian’s magnifying glass to read the tight old kanji, or Chinese script, in which the paper was written. But it is quickly apparent that under him it was a much livelier read than the staid stuff it serves up nowadays. This was Japan’s “Taisho era”, a rare time of democratic upheaval and self-indulgence, summed up in the phrase eroguronansensu, or erotic, grotesque nonsense. That quickly became Shoriki’s sales pitch for the Yomiuri, though because he spoke not a word of English he mangled the terms into “grotic” and “erotesque”.

Never mind: it worked. Next to lurid stories about adultery and photos of flapper-era mogas (modern girls) are advertisements for clinics treating the consequences (“Before the parties at the end of the year, you should sort out your gonorrhoea”). There are pages about hit songs from the new craze of radio that was sweeping the country, a trend that Japanese newspapers had until then ignored. In 1931, when Japan invaded Manchuria, Shoriki seized the moment to go head-to-head with his bigger Tokyo rivals, the Asahi and the Mainichi, by launching an evening edition to bring readers sizzling China-bashing updates from the front.

Two years later, in 1933, comes an episode of vintage Shoriki. His editors had noticed the rising incidence of suicide; one popular method was for couples to hurl themselves hand-in-hand into a fiery volcano called Miharayama, on a Pacific island a long boat ride from Tokyo. In one year 944 people had taken the plunge: at a time of growing militarism, this was not regarded as a very patriotic endeavour.

Into the volcano
The Yomiuri decided it should warn people what they were throwing themselves into. With a flurry of publicity, the paper told its readers it would separately lower an editor and a photographer towards the molten furnace in a gondola. But first the paper sent down two animals to test for poisonous gases, eliciting the priceless headline: “Monkey paralysed. Rat dead.” When the gas-masked journalists did make it, they descended 415 metres, which the Yomiuri claimed was a world record. One of them relayed sightings of corpses to the surface by jerry-rigged telephone. It made for wonderful copy, but did nothing to stop the suicides.

This cloak of supposed public interest, wrapped around gory sensationalism, sent the Yomiuri’s circulation soaring. Between 1924 and 1937 it rose from 58,000 to 800,000, a feat that made the Yomiuri the biggest newspaper in Tokyo.

Banzai Babe

The melding of commercial pragmatism with ideological dogma shaped much of Shoriki’s career. But another factor also defined the second half of his life: his relationship with America.

Baseball was its first manifestation. Shoriki was no baseball fan, but he knew he could use the sport to sell newspapers. The trouble was that Japan had no professional baseball teams. So, on the advice of a rival newspaper proprietor, he set out to bring Babe Ruth, the legendary Yankees slugger, to Tokyo. At first, Ruth was too busy: he did not join the all-star team that came out to Japan to play for capacity crowds in 1931. But in 1934, past his prime and noticeably overweight, he finally arrived.

It was a tense time, both within Japan and in its diplomacy. Soldiers burning with fascist zeal were assassinating government moderates in a bid to rekindle the traditional “spirit” of Nippon. The visit was controversial, coming just as Japan appeared to be turning its back on the outside world. But Shoriki’s intuition worked: ordinary Japanese went mad for Ruth and his team. Tens of thousands packed the streets of Ginza to see them parade in open-top cars. People thronged the Meiji stadium to watch them play, most barely minding (though Shoriki did) that the home sides usually lost.

Ordinary Japanese went mad for Ruth and his team. Tens of thousands packed the streets of Ginza to see them parade in open-top cars. People thronged the Meiji stadium to watch them play, most barely minding (though Shoriki did) that the home sides usually lost.
Not everyone was so thrilled: a madcap group called the “War God Society” protested at the Americans’ “defilement” of grounds sacred to the Meiji emperor. Not long afterwards Shoriki was stabbed in the neck with a Japanese sword by an ex-policeman who professed to hate his pro-Americanism. He lost a litre of blood and nearly died. Undeterred, Shoriki founded the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, which has dominated the sport in Japan ever since.

This relationship with America would be twisted by war. The Yomiuri, like all its rivals, was a fervent cheerleader for Japan’s Pacific conquests; as the imperial army advanced south, so the Yomiuri set up offices and newspapers around South-East Asia. When the war ended in 1945 the charge-sheet against Shoriki looked strong: he had been a director of the quasi-fascist Imperial Rule Assistance Association, set up in 1940, which promoted war. His newspaper was suspected of being a propaganda organ of the militarists. Damningly, many of the strongest accusations of fascism that were made against him came from his own writers and editors.

The Yomiuri was in revolt at the time. At the end of the war, encouraged by the liberal ideas of the American occupation, a group of left-wing journalists staged a coup at the paper. For months the internal battle spilled onto the front pages. Headlines branded Shoriki a war criminal, even as he continued to show up as publisher each day. By December he was locked up in Sugamo Prison with the rest of Japan’s suspected warmongers, charged with Class A war crimes.

The nuclear option

Prison was a bitter ordeal. Shoriki took to meditating for many hours a day, while pulling every string he could to clear himself. In the digital dossiers of the Tokyo War Crimes Trials, which are published online by the University of Virginia, he even at one stage begs for his release on the ground that “the life of the Yomiuri Shimbun is at stake”.

Suddenly, it seems, his American jailers decided that most of the accusations against Shoriki were of an “ideological and political nature”, made by striking employees who deserved little credence (America was growing nervous of the left-wing unionism it had inadvertently nurtured). On August 22nd 1947 a recommendation was made to free Shoriki, and he walked out after 21 months inside. Though still purged from public life, he would later claim that his spell at “Sugamo University” was an ideal networking opportunity. It gave him access to right-wingers who would come back to rule the country, with Shoriki’s help, just four years after America finally signed a peace treaty with Japan in 1951.

But by this stage Shoriki was 62, and had an enormous cliff to climb to achieve what he most passionately craved: political power. He used two means to get there: television, then nuclear energy. Both enterprises involved a man whose influence hangs over Shoriki’s later years, Hidetoshi Shibata. He was the main source for another biography of Shoriki, by Shinichi Sano—the premise of which is that Shoriki stole most of his ideas from his underlings, and jealously took all the credit for himself. But in Shibata’s case, at least, the two seem to have used each other.

Shibata, a news reporter, heard of a plan put forward in America to use television to spread anti-communist propaganda around the world, with the former enemies West Germany and Japan as the bases. He brought the idea to Shoriki, who offered to help finance a new station—if the Americans helped persuade the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers to lift his blacklisting. Using Shibata’s American contacts, Shoriki browbeat the government to end the monopoly of NHK, the state broadcaster. His purge duly lifted, he raised more than ¥800m to establish Japan’s first private network, Nippon Television, in 1952. Today it is the most popular TV station in Japan.

But television was only the next stage in his journey. By 1954 Japan was in the grip of anti-American hysteria. After the horrors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, American H-bomb testing in the Pacific Marshall Islands blanketed 23 Japanese tuna fishermen with radioactive ash. After one of the men affected died, anti-nuclear passions soared. Shoriki, as well as America’s CIA, was terrified at the thought that the Soviet Union and China might take advantage of the uproar to displace American influence in Japan.

He hit upon another remarkable plan, this time to use nuclear energy as a tool of pro-American leverage. Yet another biographer claims this was a CIA plot—an idea pooh-poohed by other scholars, who believe that Shoriki exploited the Americans at least as much as vice versa. Dwight Eisenhower had recently made his “Atoms for Peace” speech, promoting the spread of nuclear energy to counter the stigma of nuclear weapons. In December 1954 John Jay Hopkins, president of General Dynamics, a pioneering nuclear conglomerate, suggested an “Atomic Marshall Plan” for Japan.

Shoriki pressured Hopkins to travel to Tokyo to deliver the message in person; at the first hint of assent, the Yomiuri splashed the news on its front page. With all the hoopla that had heralded the arrival of Babe Ruth more than 20 years earlier, the paper played up the visit in May 1955. Shoriki used giant screens artfully erected on street corners both to spread the pro-nuclear message and to boost the fledgling NTV’s ratings.

At the same time he and some of his pronuclear cronies in parliament were pulling strings, with results that still resonate. He won a Diet seat on a nuclear-energy platform, then helped form the Liberal Democratic Party. It ruled Japan for almost all of the next 55 years (and is now returning to power). In January 1956, as a cabinet member of the first LDP government, he was appointed president of Japan’s new Atomic Energy Commission. To the surprise and horror of some of the scientists on the commission, his first announcement was that Japan would have a reactor within five years. He never let practicalities get in the way of a story.

This was not quite the end. Ultimately, Japan got its reactors (ironically, the first was British, not American). But Shoriki could not secure his biggest goal, the premiership, and perhaps it was this shortcoming that ultimately racked him with a sense of failure. The end of his life story is told by Yasuko Shibata, the 82-year-old wife of his former right-hand man, who lives in a sumptuous retirement home in Yokohama. She giggles as she recalls how Shoriki once offered her a thick envelope of cash, after her husband had stormed off following one of the two men’s many rows. To her, at least, he was neither a monster nor a patsy. “It doesn’t matter whether you like Shoriki or not, he was not the kind of small guy that the CIA could push around,” she insists.

Mrs Shibata tells a story of Shoriki’s final days in 1969 that reveals, like Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane”, how tortured he was at the end. His own wife had died, and he had moved into a dingy room in Tokyo with his mistress. Lying in her arms and approaching death himself, he heard revellers drinking outside and, in a feverish state, thought it was Shibata threatening to kill him unless he was given the credit he deserved. Shoriki need not have worried about his own legacy. For good or ill, it lingers on.

From the print edition: Christmas Specials
ENDS

Nikkei interview with Japan’s most famous naturalized former Zainichi Korean: SoftBank’s Son Masayoshi

mytest

RIMeBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  One person I have kept some track of over the years is the leader of SoftBank, Son Masayoshi.  While I don’t really see his sensitivity towards minorities in Japan translating into flexibility towards NJ residents in SoftBank’s business practices (SoftBank, like NTT DoCoMo, demands a deposit from its NJ customers (to the tune of 100,000 yen) in order to get an iPhone subscription (something not mentioned on its Japanese site).  I also have a friend from overseas who, during his monthlong journeys around Japan, had his phone hacked into, and was saddled with a $1400 internet bill on his credit card when he went back; protests to the company were met with a, “You’re a foreigner, so you must have misunderstood how to use our phone; you’re just trying to skip out on paying your bill,” reception from SoftBank.  This despite SoftBank having him on record renting the very same phone five times before and paying without incident.), Son is being interviewed below as a discrimination fighter.  This is the first I’ve heard of him doing this (and I hope this article also came out in Japanese), so let’s hope he continues in this vein.  And that SoftBank knocks off its hypocritically discriminatory business practices.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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SoftBank’s Son stands up to anti-Korean bigotry in Japan
Nikkei Asian Review August 27, 2015 12:00 am JST, Courtesy of AA

TOKYO — SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son has long been discriminated against by Japanese because he is ethnically Korean.
http://asia.nikkei.com/magazine/20150827-THE-GREAT-FALL/Business/SoftBank-s-Son-stands-up-to-anti-Korean-bigotry-in-Japan

Even in his early childhood, he was attacked verbally and physically by Japanese classmates. In kindergarten, he was jeered at for being Korean. Once, another child cut his head open with a stone.

Today, he finds himself the target of malicious comments on the Internet. In a recent interview, Son talked about his experiences and his decision to be open about his background.

Q: Why did you choose to use your Korean family name instead of your Japanese one?

A: I used to go by Masayoshi Yasumoto before I went to the U.S. at the age of 16.

After I returned from the U.S. and decided to start a business, I had a choice before me — whether I should go with the Japanese family name Yasumoto, which all my family and relatives use, or the ancestral surname Son.

It is undoubtedly easier to go by Yasumoto when living in Japanese society. A number of celebrities and professional athletes use Japanese family names in their chosen professions. It is not my intention to criticize such a practice. But I decided to go against the tide and become the first among my relatives to use Son as my family name.

I won’t go into the reasons and the origin of this issue, but if you are born into one of those families of Korean descent, you are subject to groundless discrimination. There are many children who undergo such hardship.

When I was in elementary and junior high school, I was in agony over my identity so much that I seriously contemplated taking my own life. I’d say discrimination against people is that tough.

Then you might ask why I decided to go against all my relatives, including uncles and aunts, and started to use the Korean family name, Son.

I wanted to become a role model for ethnic Korean children and show them that a person of Korean descent like me, who publicly uses a Korean surname, can achieve success despite various challenges. If my doing so gives a sense of hope to even just one young person or 100 of them, I believe that is a million times more effective than raising a placard and shouting, “No discrimination.”

Q: Your coming out as an ethnic Korean risked involving the rest of your family, right?

A: I met with fierce objections from my relatives, who had hidden their real family name to live their lives in a small community. One of my relatives said, “If you come out as a Son from among us, that will expose all of us.”

People would start saying things like “They are ethnic Koreans” or “Your nephew is a Son, not a Yasumoto. So, you, too, are part of the kimchee clan.” That’s why they tried to dissuade me. But I told them: “What I will do may disturb you all, uncles and aunties. If so, you don’t need to say that I am a relative of yours. Just pretend that I am not related to you.”

Q: I hope there will be more success stories like yours in Japan. What do you think is necessary for that to happen?

A: Currently, many Japanese companies are losing confidence. They are losing out to competition and have collectively become introverted. In such circumstances, even if we are the only one, SoftBank has risen to the occasion and taken on much bigger rivals in the U.S. And if we survive … that will create a ripple effect and inspire even one company or 10 companies. I think that’s a form of social contribution.

Son speaks before an audience. The slogan in the background says, “Challenge yourself and new horizons will emerge.”
Not just us, but Mr. Tadashi Yanai (chairman and president of Fast Retailing) and Mr. Shigenobu Nagamori (chairman and president of Nidec), and Rakuten, DeNA and other companies are working hard to challenge themselves. If young business leaders can set a couple of successful precedents, that could give a much-needed boost and help revive the Japanese economy.

While it is important to oppose a move toward widening the wealth gap and put in place a social safety net, I think there is no need to stand in the way of other people’s success. It is unnecessary to gang up and lash out at those who are successful.

Successful people can serve as a light of hope for others. Personally, I think it is important to create a society where we can praise success and successful people. That will help keep alive Japanese dreams and create Japanese heroes.

Interviewed by Nikkei Ecology staff writer Takahiro Onishi; Nikkei Business Online Editor-in-Chief Shintaro Ikeda contributed to this story.

ENDS

Yomiuri: More Japanese public baths OK tattooed visitors (particularly NJ) for 2020 Olympics: suddenly it’s all about showing “understanding of foreign cultures”

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. I have just emerged from several weeks of proofing and indexing my upcoming book, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination in Japan”. It will be out in 5-8 weeks. I will keep you updated on where you and your library can get a copy.

With that amount of busy-ness (sorry for the delay in posting to Debito.org), please let me turn the keyboard to Debito.org Reader JK:

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Hi Debito: It looks this has grown legs and started walking, so if you’ll indulge me for a few minutes, I’ll provide some overdue commentary:

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More baths OK tattooed visitors; stickers needed
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002362434
The Yomiuri Shimbun, August 25, 2015

Restrictions on tattooed customers at bathing facilities and resort swimming areas are being loosened around the country.

A number of facilities allow people with tattoos to enter if the tattoos can be covered by stickers. This is aimed at treating foreign tourists, many of whom consider tattoos a fashion item, differently from gangsters, some of whom sport elaborate tattoos.

With the Olympics and Paralympics scheduled for Tokyo in 2020, some facilities are calling for greater understanding of cultural differences.

At Ofuro cafe utatane, a bathing facility in Kita Ward, Saitama, which is visited by about 250,000 people annually, the management decided to allow tattoos that can be covered with 12.8-centimeter by 18.2-centimeter stickers.

The new policy was started on a trial basis from Aug. 1. If no problems arise by the end of the month, the facility will officially implement the policy.

The manager of the facility, Toshiki Yamasaki, 32, is also director of the Nippon Ofuro Genki Project, an association of young managers of baths and other facilities.

“The number of foreign tourists has increased, so I felt we needed to accept tattoos as a form of culture,” he said.

Hoshino Resort Co., which manages 33 luxury hotel resorts and other facilities in Japan and abroad, has also decided to exempt customers from bathing restrictions if their tattoos can be covered by an eight-centimeter by 10-centimeter sticker starting from October.

A midsize hot spring resort in Niseko, Hokkaido, lifted restrictions on tattoos this spring.

The local ski resort is popular with foreign tourists because of the good snow quality.

“I believe we need to understand cultural differences with other countries,” the hotel manager said, adding that restrictions on gang members were still in place.

Baths, resorts and other facilities began banning all tattoos, including full-body irezumi tattoos, after the Antigang Law went into effect in 1992, though in practice some places admit tattooed customers.

The Japan Tourism Agency surveyed about 3,700 facilities nationwide in June to learn how the restrictions were affecting foreign travelers.

Tsuru University Prof. Yoshimi Yamamoto, an expert on tattoo issues, said: “The circumstances are such that facilities have no choice but to change their response. Easing restrictions can help shake up conventions.”

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM JK:

1) Having a tattoo in Japan while being foreign AND not being a yakuza is an idea that is just now gaining traction?!

2) The (faulty) underlying assumption at work is that all yakuza have tattoos.

3) Suppose an NJ has several tattoos, or tattoos that cannot be covered by a single sticker, or even a full-body tattoo (surprise — just like yakuza, NJ get these too!), then what? More stickers? If so how may? Is ‘good enough’ coverage acceptable, or is perfection mandatory?

4) Despite the lack of a link to a Japanese translation, the idea being conveyed is that NJ with tattoos are outside of societal norms (read: betsuwaku), and so should not be treated as a yakuza since money can be made off them — this notion is beautifully illustrated by Mr. Toshiki Yamasaki who says, “The number of foreign tourists has increased, so I felt we needed to accept tattoos as a form of culture”.

5) Does the Antigang Law of 1992 actually have wording in it to the effect that onsen / sento operations are not permitted to admit persons with tattoos?

a) If not, then in the name of ‘understanding cultural differences with other countries’, let me into the Niseko hotel without requiring my tattoos to be covered!

b) If so, then put up a sign saying ‘No Japanese Gangsters Allowed’ and let me in with my tattoos uncovered — it’s not like such a sign would be breaking the law — to the contrary, it would be upholding it!!

6) Allowing the operator of a onsen / sento to determine someone’s ‘kakuzaness’ is akin to allowing them to determine ‘foreignness’ — in other words, the door is left open to abuse. -JK

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:

During the Otaru Onsens Case, where “Japanese Only” bathhouses were excluding customers because they didn’t look “Japanese” enough, one issue that was raised was, “Well, what about tattoos, then?” — and then conflated the two issues to muddy the debate with relativity (not to mention conflate the treatment of “foreigners” with the treatment of organized crime in Japan).  Debito.org has always seen tattoos as a different issue from skin color and other features determined from birth, as tattoos are something a person decides to put on themselves.  That said, this sudden “change of heart” (dressed up as a “respect for” and “understanding of” foreign cultures) is ahistorical and purely motivated by economics — i.e., the need for Japan to put on a good show for international events without the embarrassment of having bigots continue to cloak their exclusionary behavior with the specter of potential criminal activity (and there has been at least one case where “respect for foreign culture” involving tattoos didn’t matter one whit).

I conclude:  What’s at play here isn’t fair-mindedness.  It’s merely the phenomenon of “not in front of the foreigners”, especially since pretty soon there will be millions of them watching Japan.  I bet that once the Olympics pass, those open-minded rules will be rescinded and managers will revert to banning customers (particularly NJ) at whim all over again.  This isn’t the tack that JK is taking above, but that’s what I see.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JBC 91 Sept 7, 2015: Why Japan’s Right keeps leaving the Left in the dust

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Why Japan’s Right keeps leaving the Left in the dust
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JBC column 91 for the Japan Times Community Page
September 7, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/09/06/issues/japans-right-keeps-leaving-left-dust/

JBC has talked about Japan’s right-wing swing before. The news is, it’s swung so far that Japan’s left is finally getting its act together.

For example, over the past year historians inside and outside Japan joined retired politicians to demand Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accurately portray Japan’s role in World War II during the 70th Anniversary commemorations last month. It didn’t work, but nice try.

Or how about the decimated Democratic Party of Japan submitting a bill to the Diet that would ban racial discrimination (yes!), hate speech and related harassment? Sadly, the bill has no hope of passing, or of being enforceable even if it does (what with loopholes for “justifiable discrimination” and no criminal penalties). But, again, nice try.

And we are seeing outdoor protest after protest, with ranks swelling to numbers not seen in decades.

That’s all fine — and about time, given that people repeatedly reelected these rightists in the first place. But let’s discuss why Japan’s left has basically always been out of power (leaving aside the geopolitical pressures from Japan’s sugar-daddy busybody — see “U.S. green lights Japan’s march back to militarism,” Just Be Cause, June 1).

The left keeps losing, and much of it is their own damned fault.

As an activist in Japan, I worked with the left (as in the self-proclaimed center-leftists, socialists and communists) and dealt with its right (the center-rightists, conservatives, populists and nationalists) for decades.

Since I advocate for minority rights here, I am simpatico with the left, given their comparative tendency to view people as individuals — as opposed to the right’s reflex of seeing people as groups that are ascribed characteristics from birth.

Of course, both sides have belief systems you must subscribe to for membership. (That’s precisely what a political camp is.) Both tell stories and maintain narratives to garner public appeal. And, naturally, their organizations are clubby and cliquey. Worse, in Japan, while membership might be instant, acceptance into leadership roles often takes many years (in case you are a spy or a subversive).

Nevertheless, the right has distinct advantages that the left should be aware of, if it wants to have any hope of playing the game better.

One advantage is simplicity of goals. Basically, the rightists (as conservatives) want things left the way they are — or apparently were. The left wants change, which means it has to argue harder for it. On the other hand, the right can simply invoke the almighty power of precedent.

This sets off a vicious circle. Japan is a land that craves precedent, yet the left has little leadership precedent to cite. They can never argue that Japan has been a socialist state (even though in many areas it is exactly that), and few dare display communist sympathies (even though Japan’s appeal to historical collectivism would fit right into any commune).

“Precedentophilia” also avails the right of a scare tactic: They can argue that the left would force Japan to chart unknown territory. Rightists, on the other hand, are merely citing the tried and true: “Hey, the system worked for our ancestors in the past, right?”

And there the debate usually dies. Whenever Japan harks to the past, an element of ancestor worship seeps in. This stifles critical thinking, for insinuating that our forefathers were somehow wrong is to disrespectfully question the essence of Japanese identity. You see that even with WWII war criminals — who would have led Japan into oblivion if they had continued to get their way — enshrined as heroes at public worship sites and in popular culture.

Then there’s the leftist ideological distaste for measuring everything in terms of money. That’s a fatal error in politics. Rightists have no trouble whatsoever doing so, since they have a lot more of it. And with money, of course, comes power — and the rightists have no trouble with that either. In their inherited world, being rich and powerful for generations has normalized their entitlement to the point where they claim it without shame or self-consciousness.

But the biggest disadvantage I see in Japan’s left is an intellectual snobbery.

First, if you want to join their ranks, you must prove your ideological worth. I remember numerous times asking for assistance from leftist groups in the quest for equal rights for all. We were on the same page, yet their Young Turks grilled me about whether I had read this author or that book. Essentially, I had to pass an entrance exam — be demonstrably schooled in their canon and their lexicon — or else I would get no support.

Then there’s the problem with narrative: Japanese leftists are oddly lazy about honing their talking points. Why? Because their ideals were handed to them in the postwar “peace Constitution.” Since then they have basically rested on their (un-won) laurels.

This became painfully obvious during the current debate on Japan’s remilitarization. Because Article 9 had been hitherto sacrosanct, the left didn’t think they had to talk about war anymore. It was simply inconceivable that Japan would ever fight one again.

The right, however, knew that undermining what leftists have taken for granted would be a multigenerational fight. And over time it got good at it.

Rightist victories have been gradual but significant, as seen in the policy creep of doublespeak — from the “Self-Defense Forces” all the way to today’s “collective self-defense.” The left just bleated that this was unconstitutional, without crafting a clearer narrative about the horror and excesses of war to capture the popular imagination. More effective were rightist scares about security threats from the Soviet Union, China and North Korea.

With any multigenerational battle comes the grooming of young successors, and at this the right excels.

Despite being blue-bloods clinging to the class structure, rightists have been peerless when it comes to appealing to those outside their class, particularly Japan’s young. (Why do you think they suddenly decided to lower the voting age from 20 to 18?)

Rightists intuitively understand that if something is to be a talking point, you have to put it in manga or anime form. Then you’ll reach even the most disaffected shut-in (who will then go online to terrorize a newfound foe).

In comparison, leftists look more like doctrinaire fossils, sniffing at all this anti-intellectualism: “Who needs to tell lowbrow stories when we have abstract principles to adhere to?”

But the right knows it needs as many people as possible parroting its talking points — for a fundamental maxim of propaganda is that if enough people say something, it becomes true.

That’s why rightists lower their standards for admission. They take just about anyone as long as they parrot. Even their xenophobes will enlist foreigners! Take a broke retired journalist, a redneck Net ignoramus or a paramilitary spook for hire, and just put their names on inflammatory Japanese publications in a language they can’t read anyway. Plus, ferreting out foreign parrots makes the right’s talking points seem more worldly.

In essence, the rightists keep their eyes on the prize: money and power. In the game of politics, that gives you the advantage every time. And when you’re wielding patronage and privilege for this long, you get good at doling it out to the underprivileged, like soup at the breadlines.

The leftists? Well, hey, they can’t even talk to one another, let alone band together against this dynamic. Intellectual schisms are historically toxic, to the point of factions killing one other (think Kakumaru-ha vs. Chukaku-ha in the 1970s). Of course, the rightists aren’t all friends either, but at least they can be odd bedfellows following a narrative under the same religion — Japan.

And therein lies the ultimate power in this game: nationalism. It’s easiest to appeal to people by resorting to patriotism. Again, it blunts critical thinking. (Even Western media handle Japan’s most bigoted rightists with kid gloves, labeling them “nationalists,” “conservatives,” even “patriots”!)

This is all much easier than using slogans about impalpable “equality,” “democracy” and “peace.” After all, money and privilege offer tangible and immediate benefits, whereas peace is a public good you only appreciate when it’s gone. And few now remember it being gone. Like it or not, the simpler narrative sells.

If Japan’s left is ever to aspire to power, it must, ironically, learn to be more open-minded, cooperative and co-optive. It must learn how to get out there, welcome new blood and convince people with a compelling story of alternatives (rather than just sit back and wait for the enlightenment of the masses, followed by an ideological litmus test). Otherwise, Japan’s left will keep on losing to the right on a past-revering, precedent-based playing field naturally slanted against them.

Leftists: Stop only learning how to argue. Learn how to appeal. Learn narrative.

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

Debito Arudou’s next book, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination,” will be out in November. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday Community Page of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Asahi: Supreme Court backs stripping children of Japanese nationality if parents lapse in registering their births abroad

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Hi Blog.  I just found this in my “drafts” folder, and I apologize for not getting to it sooner.

Debito.org has mentioned before how creative judicial interpretations of Japan’s Nationality Law Article 12

(which states, in toto: “A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality retroactively as from the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates his or her volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No.224 of 1947))

are a) systematically stripping children born to mixed-nationality couples of their Japanese citizenship simply for bureaucratic expedience (for if both parents were Japanese nationals, Article 12 did not apply); and b) effectively absolving Japanese men from taking responsibility for sowing their wild oats abroad (item 8).

Now according to the ruling reported to below, it looks like Article 12 now does apply even if both parents are Japanese nationals — you have three whole months to get registered, otherwise you clearly aren’t a real Japanese.  Except that in the case cited, the exclusionism is again being enforced on mudblood kids simply because their parents slipped up with proper procedure.

It remains unclear if a Japanese mother who gives birth overseas (and would hitherto automatically retain Japanese nationality for her child) and does not register her child would void the Japanese citizenship, but the intent of the interpretation below is basically to prevent dual nationality, not honor jus sanguinis ties under the law.  So this looks to be an affirmation and expansion of the 2012 Tokyo District Court case, a reversal of the 2008 Supreme Court case, moreover expanded to both parents regardless of nationality.

This is what can happen if you dare give birth outside of the motherland and legally acquire a suspicious second passport.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Top court backs repeal of Japanese nationality due to parents’ lapse abroad
Asahi Shinbun March 11, 2015 By TAKAAKI NISHIYAMA/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201503110080

The Supreme Court confirmed that authorities can revoke the Japanese nationality of children born outside Japan whose parents fail to submit the proper paperwork within three months of their babies’ births.

The top court’s ruling on March 10 said Article 12 of the Nationality Law, which defines the procedures to maintain Japanese nationality, does not violate the Constitution.

As a result of the ruling, 15 female and male children born in the Philippines to Japanese fathers married to Filipino mothers have lost their Japanese nationality. They had argued that the article was irrational and discriminatory against Japanese born abroad.

The Nationality Law stipulates that if either parent of a baby born outside Japan is a Japanese national, the child will automatically acquire Japanese nationality and can also obtain the nationality of the country of birth.

But the parents must submit a notification to a Japanese administrative institution within three months of the baby’s birth to maintain the Japanese nationality, according to Article 12 of the law.

In the top court’s first ruling on the constitutionality of the provision, Takehiko Otani, presiding justice of the court’s Third Petty Bench, said, “The legislative purpose (of Article 12) designed to avoid dual nationality is rational and constitutional.”

According to the plaintiffs, their Japanese nationality was revoked because their parents did not know about the provision and failed to submit the documents to Japanese authorities within the designated three-month period.

The Supreme Court said Article 12 is “not irrational nor discriminatory against people born overseas” because it gives the parents three months to submit the notification.

The top court also noted another provision in the law, which allows such children to obtain Japanese nationality before they reach 20 years old if they notify authorities that have a permanent address in Japan.

ENDS

Morris-Suzuki in East Asia Forum: “Abe’s WWII statement fails history 101”. Required reading on GOJ’s subtle attempts at rewriting East Asian history incorrectly

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Hi Blog. I had a couple of other topics to bring up (for example, this one), but this essay was too timely and important to pass up. Required reading. First the analysis, then the full original statement by PM Abe being analyzed.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Abe’s WWII statement fails history 101
East Asia Forum, 18 August 2015
Author: Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki, ANU
Version with links to sources at http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/08/18/abes-wwii-statement-fails-history-101/

As the clock ticked down to the 70th anniversary of the end of the Asia Pacific War, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced a dilemma. His right-wing supporters were pushing him to produce a commemorative statement that would move away from the apologetic approach of his predecessors and ‘restore Japan’s pride’. Moderates, Asian neighbours and (most importantly) the US government were pushing him to uphold the earlier apologies issued by former prime ministers Tomiichi Murayama and Junichiro Koizumi. Most of the media anticipation centred around the wording of the forthcoming Abe statement. Would it, like the Murayama Statement of 1995 and the Koizumi Statement of 2005, include the words ‘apology’ (owabi) and aggression (shinryaku)?

Abe’s response to this dilemma was clever. First, he established a committee of hand-picked ‘experts’ to provide a report locating Japan’s wartime past in the broad sweep of 20th-century history. Then, drawing heavily on their report, he produced a statement that was more than twice the length of those issued by his predecessors. His statement, to the relief of many observers, did use the words ‘apology’ and ‘aggression’. In fact, it is almost overladen with all the right words: ‘we must learn from the lessons of history’; ‘our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering’; ‘deep repentance’; ‘deep remorse and heartfelt apology’; ‘we will engrave in our hearts the past’.

But, focusing on the vocabulary, some observers failed to notice that Abe had embedded these words in a narrative of Japanese history that was entirely different from the one that underpinned previous prime ministerial statements. That is why his statement is so much longer than theirs. So which past is the Abe statement engraving in the hearts of Japanese citizens?

The story presented in Abe’s statement goes like this. Western colonial expansionism forced Japan to modernise, which it did with remarkable success. Japan’s victory in the Russo–Japanese War gave hope to the colonised peoples of the world. After World War I, there was a move to create a peaceful world order. Japan actively participated, but following the Great Depression, the Western powers created economic blocs based on their colonial empires. This dealt a ‘major blow’ to Japan. Forced into a corner, Japan ‘attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force’. The result was the 1931 Manchurian Incident, Japan’s withdrawal from the League of Nations, and everything that followed. ‘Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war’.

The narrative of war that Abe presents leads naturally to the lessons that he derives from history. Nations should avoid the use of force to break ‘deadlock’. They should promote free trade so that economic blocs will never again become a cause of war. And they should avoid challenging the international order.

The problem with Abe’s new narrative is that it is historically wrong. This is perhaps not surprising, since the committee of experts on whom he relied included only four historians in its 16 members. And its report, running to some 31 pages, contains less than a page about the causes and events of the Asia Pacific War.

In effect, the Abe narrative of history looks like an exam script where the student has accidentally misread the question. He has answered the question about the reasons for Japan’s invasion of Manchuria with an answer that should go with the question about the reasons for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

There is widespread consensus that the immediate cause for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was the stranglehold on Japan created by imperial protectionism and economic blockade by the Western powers. But there is equal consensus that the reasons for the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, and for the outbreak of full-scale war in China in 1937, were different and much more complex.

Key factors at work in 1931 were the troubled relationship between the Japanese military and the civilian government; Japan’s desire for resources, transport routes and living space; rising nationalism in an economically and socially troubled Japan; and corruption and instability in Northeastern China. By the time Japan launched its full scale invasion of China in 1937, global protectionism was becoming a larger issue. But even then, other issues like Japan’s desire to protect its massive investments in China from the rising forces of Chinese nationalism were paramount.

Economic historians note that the Japanese empire was the first to take serious steps towards imperial protectionism. The slide into global protectionism had barely started at the time of the Manchurian Incident. Britain did not create its imperial preference system until 1932. The economic blockade that strangled the Japanese economy in 1940–41 was the response to Japan’s invasion of China, not its cause.

This is not academic quibbling. These things really matter, and vividly illustrate why historical knowledge is vital to any understanding of contemporary international affairs.

The Abe narrative of history fails to address the causes and nature of Japan’s colonisation of Taiwan (in 1895) and Korea (in 1910), and ignores the large presence of Japanese troops in China long before 1931. It says to China: ‘Sorry we invaded you, but those other guys painted us into a corner’. It offers an untenable explanation for Japan’s actions, and blurs the distinction between aggressive and defensive behaviour. Western media commentators who haven’t studied Japanese history may not pick up these flaws in the narrative, but Chinese and South Korean observers (who have their own, sometimes profoundly problematic, versions of this history) will instantly see them and rightly object.

Engraving a factually flawed story of the past in people’s hearts is not going to solve East Asia’s problems, and risks making them worse. Worse still, the Abe statement is generating deeply divergent responses in the countries where East Asian history is not widely taught (most notably the United States) and those where it is (South Korea, China and Japan itself), thus creating even deeper divisions in our already too divided world.

Professor Tessa Morris-Suzuki is an ARC Laureate Fellow based at the School of Culture, History and Language, at the College of Asia and the Pacific at The Australian National University.
ENDS
=======================================

OFFICIAL TRANSLATION OF ABE SHINZO’S STATEMENT

Statement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Friday, August 14, 2015
http://japan.kantei.go.jp/97_abe/statement/201508/0814statement.html

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, we must calmly reflect upon the road to war, the path we have taken since it ended, and the era of the 20th century. We must learn from the lessons of history the wisdom for our future.

More than one hundred years ago, vast colonies possessed mainly by the Western powers stretched out across the world. With their overwhelming supremacy in technology, waves of colonial rule surged toward Asia in the 19th century. There is no doubt that the resultant sense of crisis drove Japan forward to achieve modernization. Japan built a constitutional government earlier than any other nation in Asia. The country preserved its independence throughout. The Japan-Russia War gave encouragement to many people under colonial rule from Asia to Africa.

After World War I, which embroiled the world, the movement for self-determination gained momentum and put brakes on colonization that had been underway. It was a horrible war that claimed as many as ten million lives. With a strong desire for peace stirred in them, people founded the League of Nations and brought forth the General Treaty for Renunciation of War. There emerged in the international community a new tide of outlawing war itself.

At the beginning, Japan, too, kept steps with other nations. However, with the Great Depression setting in and the Western countries launching economic blocs by involving colonial economies, Japan’s economy suffered a major blow. In such circumstances, Japan’s sense of isolation deepened and it attempted to overcome its diplomatic and economic deadlock through the use of force. Its domestic political system could not serve as a brake to stop such attempts. In this way, Japan lost sight of the overall trends in the world.

With the Manchurian Incident, followed by the withdrawal from the League of Nations, Japan gradually transformed itself into a challenger to the new international order that the international community sought to establish after tremendous sacrifices. Japan took the wrong course and advanced along the road to war.

And, seventy years ago, Japan was defeated.

On the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, I bow my head deeply before the souls of all those who perished both at home and abroad. I express my feelings of profound grief and my eternal, sincere condolences.

More than three million of our compatriots lost their lives during the war: on the battlefields worrying about the future of their homeland and wishing for the happiness of their families; in remote foreign countries after the war, in extreme cold or heat, suffering from starvation and disease. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the air raids on Tokyo and other cities, and the ground battles in Okinawa, among others, took a heavy toll among ordinary citizens without mercy.

Also in countries that fought against Japan, countless lives were lost among young people with promising futures. In China, Southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and elsewhere that became the battlefields, numerous innocent citizens suffered and fell victim to battles as well as hardships such as severe deprivation of food. We must never forget that there were women behind the battlefields whose honour and dignity were severely injured.

Upon the innocent people did our country inflict immeasurable damage and suffering. History is harsh. What is done cannot be undone. Each and every one of them had his or her life, dream, and beloved family. When I squarely contemplate this obvious fact, even now, I find myself speechless and my heart is rent with the utmost grief.

The peace we enjoy today exists only upon such precious sacrifices. And therein lies the origin of postwar Japan.

We must never again repeat the devastation of war.

Incident, aggression, war — we shall never again resort to any form of the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. We shall abandon colonial rule forever and respect the right of self-determination of all peoples throughout the world.

With deep repentance for the war, Japan made that pledge. Upon it, we have created a free and democratic country, abided by the rule of law, and consistently upheld that pledge never to wage a war again. While taking silent pride in the path we have walked as a peace-loving nation for as long as seventy years, we remain determined never to deviate from this steadfast course.

Japan has repeatedly expressed the feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology for its actions during the war. In order to manifest such feelings through concrete actions, we have engraved in our hearts the histories of suffering of the people in Asia as our neighbours: those in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, and Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and China, among others; and we have consistently devoted ourselves to the peace and prosperity of the region since the end of the war.

Such position articulated by the previous cabinets will remain unshakable into the future.

However, no matter what kind of efforts we may make, the sorrows of those who lost their family members and the painful memories of those who underwent immense sufferings by the destruction of war will never be healed.

Thus, we must take to heart the following.

The fact that more than six million Japanese repatriates managed to come home safely after the war from various parts of the Asia-Pacific and became the driving force behind Japan’s postwar reconstruction; the fact that nearly three thousand Japanese children left behind in China were able to grow up there and set foot on the soil of their homeland again; and the fact that former POWs of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia and other nations have visited Japan for many years to continue praying for the souls of the war dead on both sides.

How much emotional struggle must have existed and what great efforts must have been necessary for the Chinese people who underwent all the sufferings of the war and for the former POWs who experienced unbearable sufferings caused by the Japanese military in order for them to be so tolerant nevertheless?

That is what we must turn our thoughts to reflect upon.

Thanks to such manifestation of tolerance, Japan was able to return to the international community in the postwar era. Taking this opportunity of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, Japan would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to all the nations and all the people who made every effort for reconciliation.

In Japan, the postwar generations now exceed eighty per cent of its population. We must not let our children, grandchildren, and even further generations to come, who have nothing to do with that war, be predestined to apologize. Still, even so, we Japanese, across generations, must squarely face the history of the past. We have the responsibility to inherit the past, in all humbleness, and pass it on to the future.

Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were able to survive in a devastated land in sheer poverty after the war. The future they brought about is the one our current generation inherited and the one we will hand down to the next generation. Together with the tireless efforts of our predecessors, this has only been possible through the goodwill and assistance extended to us that transcended hatred by a truly large number of countries, such as the United States, Australia, and European nations, which Japan had fiercely fought against as enemies.

We must pass this down from generation to generation into the future. We have the great responsibility to take the lessons of history deeply into our hearts, to carve out a better future, and to make all possible efforts for the peace and prosperity of Asia and the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan attempted to break its deadlock with force. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to firmly uphold the principle that any disputes must be settled peacefully and diplomatically based on the respect for the rule of law and not through the use of force, and to reach out to other countries in the world to do the same. As the only country to have ever suffered the devastation of atomic bombings during war, Japan will fulfil its responsibility in the international community, aiming at the non-proliferation and ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when the dignity and honour of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century. Upon this reflection, Japan wishes to be a country always at the side of such women’s injured hearts. Japan will lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when forming economic blocs made the seeds of conflict thrive. Upon this reflection, Japan will continue to develop a free, fair and open international economic system that will not be influenced by the arbitrary intentions of any nation. We will strengthen assistance for developing countries, and lead the world toward further prosperity. Prosperity is the very foundation for peace. Japan will make even greater efforts to fight against poverty, which also serves as a hotbed of violence, and to provide opportunities for medical services, education, and self-reliance to all the people in the world.

We will engrave in our hearts the past, when Japan ended up becoming a challenger to the international order. Upon this reflection, Japan will firmly uphold basic values such as freedom, democracy, and human rights as unyielding values and, by working hand in hand with countries that share such values, hoist the flag of “Proactive Contribution to Peace,” and contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world more than ever before.

Heading toward the 80th, the 90th and the centennial anniversary of the end of the war, we are determined to create such a Japan together with the Japanese people.

August 14, 2015
Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan
ENDS

Japan Times: Govt “Snitch Sites” being used to target Zainichi Koreans for harassment

mytest

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Hi Blog. In the previous blog entry, I pondered aloud a future Japan after the rule of law and the Japanese Constitution is further eroded for the sake of reactionary nationalism. Under Debito.org’s purview, without clearer evidence I wasn’t able to speculate how this would affect NJ residents of Japan. Now there is some evidence (which was brought up elsewhere on Debito.org within Comments starting from here) within a Japan Times article excerpted below.

Not all that long ago, NJ residents of Japan were basically seen as misunderstood guests. As I describe in great detail in my upcoming book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (out in November), thanks to GOJ campaigns in the 2000s the narrative officially shifted to seeing NJ as a source of crime, illegal overstaying, infectious diseases, and terrorism.

As can be seen in the JT article, this attitude has percolated down to the interpersonal level. Again, not that long ago, Japanese in general were quite unaware that NJ had to carry “Gaijin Cards” 24-7 or face arrest, detention, and financial penalty (many I talked to were even more flabbergasted when they realized that NJ fingerprinting — the hallmark of criminal tracking in Japan — was once involved).

This has clearly changed:  anonymous xenophobes-cum-bullies empowered by the Internet are now aware enough of NJs’ vulnerable status as something trackable by Gaijin Cards (thanks to official NJ-targeting campaigns such as this one, found in places like subway stations back in 2011) that they are now spreading false rumors about Gaijin Card conversion (from the ARC to the remotely-trackable Zairyuu Card) and visa overstaying (in this case targeting the Zainichi Korean “generational foreigners” ethnic minority in Japan).  They are now “overwhelming Immigration” with “tips from bounty seekers”.

The kicker to this incident is that the internet bullies have been empowered by a system of “snitch sites” that the Japanese Government set up long ago (and Debito.org has long decried as incredibly open to abuse: see also here) to anonymously rat on any NJ based upon any reason whatsoever. Did the fools who set up this system really think that sooner or later this wouldn’t happen?  What’s next, as Japan’s general public starts to get involved in this GOJ-sponsored “Gaijin Hunt”? Dr. ARUDOU Debito

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

Xenophobic wave of tips target ‘illegal’ Korean residents; immigration bureaus overwhelmed
by Tomohiro Osaki, Staff Writer
The Japan Times, Jul 21, 2015 (excerpt)

An Internet rumor that hundreds of thousands of ethnic Korean residents are to be deported has seen immigration bureaus nationwide deluged with “tips” from bounty seekers and others about neighbors who in fact remain legal residents.

It has so overwhelmed local offices that the Justice Ministry has spoken out to deny claims that Zainichi ethnic Koreans with “special permanent resident” status are now subject to deportation. The group comprise mostly ethnic Koreans and their descendants.

It is unclear whether the rumor arose by mistake or was maliciously devised by racists and right-wingers, but it appears to have tapped a national thread of xenophobia, given the volume of callers trying to turn their neighbors in.

The rumor says ethnic Koreans forfeited their residency status after July 8. Although Zainichi identity papers are in fact being upgraded to a new system, that date was only a deadline for foreign citizens to swap certificates of alien registration for a new identification card.

Within days, immigration bureaus witnessed a surge in calls, letters and emails from members of the public informing against special permanent residents, according to Justice Ministry official Masashi Shimazu.

“The reports came unexpectedly and the situation needs to be corrected,” Shimazu said.

Typical messages inciting tipoffs could easily be found on the Internet on Tuesday. Tweets and comments on discussion forums said that denouncing one Korean residing in the country illegally would lead to a bounty of ¥50,000. These postings pointed readers to a website operated by the ministry soliciting tips on the whereabouts of illegal immigrants.

Shimazu acknowledged that the ministry site received some emails seeking to inform on people in the country legally, but declined to divulge the number.

The ministry moved fast to try to counter the misunderstanding. Last Thursday it posted a notice on its website assuring ethnic Koreans and other special permanent residents that failure to obtain the new ID by the July 8 deadline “would not lead to deprivation of their status as a special permanent resident.”

The ministry also plans to define in clearer terms who it refers to as “illegal immigrants,” Shimazu said, adding that the chief target is people who overstay their visa. […]

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

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/21/national/xenophobic-wave-tips-target-illegal-korean-residents-immigration-bureaus-overwhelmed/

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 88: “U.S. green-lights Japan’s march back to militarism”, on America’s historical amnesia in US-Japan Relations, June 1, 2015

mytest

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Hi Blog. My monthly Japan Times columns have moved to the first Monday of the month.  This time I’m talking about the geopolitics and historical amnesia behind PM Abe’s April visit to the United States, and what all the misdirected fanfare means not only for Asia as a region, but also NJ residents in Japan. Please have a read and feel free to comment below.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/05/31/issues/u-s-greenlights-japans-march-back-militarism/

U.S. green-lights Japan’s march back to militarism
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, The Japan Times, June 1, 2015
JUST BE CAUSE Column 88 for The Japan Times Community Page

As I’ve often written, I’m a big proponent of the historical record — if for no other reason, so we can look back at the past and learn from our mistakes.

That has been a major issue for the current Japanese government. As hundreds of historians have publicly stated, the Shinzo Abe administration has been systematically working to deny (or in Abe-speak, “beautify”) Japan’s worst wartime ugliness, on an increasingly obvious quest to reconfigure Japan as a military power. In other words, the right is marching the country back to the Japan that nearly annihilated itself 70 years ago.

But I’m even more disappointed with the historical amnesia of the Americans. Abe’s standing-ovation tour of the United States in April, during which the two allies established the new Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation, has basically helped Abe further destabilize the region.

That’s awful news. The U.S., Japan’s strongest ally and chaperone for most of its foreign policy, is, given Japan’s powerless leftist opposition, basically the only one who can stop this. The U.S. has great sway over Japan due, again, to history. After World War II, America did an outstanding job of enabling Japan to get rich — thanks in part to its provision of advantageous trade and exchange-rate agreements and a subsidized security umbrella.

As the Asian extension of America’s Marshall Plan (a means to keep European countries from warring again by making them economically integrated, interdependent and successful, rather than leaving them to exact wartime reparations and revenge), Japan’s economic success is still seen amongst Washington’s foreign policy wonks as proof of their ability to foster democracy worldwide.

But the U.S., now assuming the post-Cold War mantle of world’s policeman, is undermining that goal by continuing to meddle in Japan’s politics.

We first saw this happen in the “reverse course” of 1947, when it was clear that China was going communist. Back then, Washington feared that labor unions might gather enough strength to force Japan into a similar leftist lurch (as seen in Italy, where the Americans also intervened and set Italian politics back into an unstable, corrupt funk that lasted decades).

So, in the name of “containing communism” at the dawn of the Cold War, the U.S. released the Japanese war criminals they hadn’t executed, who then went on to become prominent politicians, businessmen, organized-crime figures — even a prime minister.

It also basically handed back the levers of power to Japan’s prewar governing elites — for example, by reviving the zaibatsu industrial war-machine conglomerates (as keiretsu cartels), overlooking the domination of the education system by historical revisionists and blood-nationalists (the education ministry has since steadily reinstituted prewar traditions of suppressing history and enforcing patriotism), forgiving egregious war misdeeds (through the overgenerous Treaty of San Francisco in 1952), and allowing the re-creation of Japan’s military (as “Self-Defense Forces”) soon after the U.S. Occupation ended.

The blowback, however, is that America has been constantly snake-charmed by those elites. Their professional “gaijin handlers” (see “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in the U.S.,” Just Be Cause, Nov. 6, 2013) have decades of experience of playing the anticommunism card to suppress their mortal enemies — Japan’s leftists.

Even as Japan embarked on the road to recovery, the U.S. made sure that “our bastards” (to paraphrase at least one American president) remained in power, creating a shadowy electoral slush account for the Liberal Democratic Party called the “M-Fund,” and fostering a one-party state that lasted several decades.

Then came the infamous U.S.-Japan Security Treaty amendments in 1960, forced upon the Japanese electorate without due process, causing enormous public opposition, riots and social damage, both in terms of property and political polarization.

This overt circumvention of Japan’s democratic institutions stunted the political maturation of Japan’s civil society: Japan never had, for example, the healthy subsequent antiwar grass-roots activism that unseated leaders worldwide in the late 1960s and beyond. As prominent American analysts themselves put it, Japan became an economic giant but a political pygmy.

Fast-forward to April 2015 and Abe’s U.S. tour. Despite years of media and academic attention on Abe’s revisionism, the U.S. bestowed upon him honors that no other Japanese PM has enjoyed, essentially legitimizing Abe’s campaigns worldwide.

Contrast this with how non-LDP left-leaning prime ministers have been treated: President Bill Clinton publicly humiliated Morihiro Hosokawa in 1994, and Washington hobbled Yukio Hatoyama five years ago (see “Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy,” JBC, June 2, 2010) on trade, military-base issues and reordered relations with China. Both PMs were so discredited that they were soon swept away by LDP re-elections, with reenergized conservatives on the rebound making reforms that set the stage for Japan’s recidivism today.

Why are the Americans resuscitating these toxic security guidelines? Simple: to contain China. But, to return to my original point, has Washington learned nothing from history? Can’t they see that the Cold War has been over for decades, and replacing the Soviet Union with China is a bad fit?

Granted, one can make a convincing case that China’s attitude towards democratic institutions ill-befits the Pax Americana. But the PRC is not the USSR — if anything, it’s precisely what the Marshall Planners would have wanted to happen to China.

China’s rapid economic growth and heavy integration into the world market, both as its factory and lender of last resort, indicates that it shall not (and should not) be so easily contained. Containment strategies drawn up by George Kennan 68 years ago are clearly obsolete.

Unfortunately, Washington seems eager to start Cold War II, with Japan again acting as America’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier” in Asia. Except this time, it does not have an American at the steering wheel in Tokyo, and the blood-nationalist in charge is a descendant of the ruthless right, bent on settling old personal scores and putting Japanese weapons and military forces overseas.

I don’t think the Americans are fully aware of what they are encouraging. Abe will erode the very democratic institutions (including the pacifist Constitution) the U.S. established to “cure” Japan’s war-like tendencies in the first place.

Abe has already enacted the means to engineer public opinion through media censorship, half-truths and big lies, as well as to intimidate critics and punish whistle-blowers.

Now, freshly emboldened after his trip to Washington (he even recently sent his “liberal” wife to visit war-celebrating Yasukuni Shrine), Abe will soon legally reconstitute the mythological version of Japan — the one that made so many Japanese support total war and carry out continent-wide genocide.

If you think I’m exaggerating, look again at history. Japan has swung back from liberalism before, after the “Taisho Democracy” of the 1920s. The flowering of democratic institutions, moderate tolerance of dissent and unprecedented prosperity did happen, but it only lasted about 15 years before the ruthless right took over.

This time it lasted much longer, but Japanese society has numerous bad habits that foster a reverse-engineering into militarism. Five years ago I thought remilitarization inconceivable after generations of a pacifist narrative, but seeing now how fast Japan has snapped back is cause for great alarm. This will be confirmed beyond doubt once we see the revival of prewar politics by assassination, the natural progression from the current trends of intimidation and death threats.

This will certainly abet Japan’s domestic conversion from a mild police state into a much harsher one. And then what? If the past 15 years are any guide, Japanese society’s latent suspicion of outsiders will manifest itself in the targeting of its non-Japanese residents with even more force.

Why? Because it can. They’re here and subject to our laws. If they don’t like it, they should leave. Because Japan is for the Japanese, as the blood-nationalists would define them.

Look out, non-Japanese residents, you’re going to attract even more attention now — as lab rats for Japan’s nascent foreign policy. Nice work, America, “Arsenal of Democracy.” History shows that once again, you’ve encouraged more arsenal than democracy.

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

Debito’s own 20-year-old historical archive of life and human rights in Japan is at www.debito.org. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday of the month. Comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

Debito.org Dejima Award #6 to Mishima Village, Kagoshima Prefecture, for subsidizing outsiders to move and live there — unless they are foreign

mytest

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Hi Blog. As Japan’s depopulation proceeds and the countryside continues to empty out, we have seen ruralities offering FREE land if people will only build, move, and live there.

Now we have another place offering even more generous terms. From The Japan Times, May 25, 2015:

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

[…] The village of Mishima, composed of the small islands of Takeshima, Iojima and Kuroshima, has been trying to lure people to move there by offering the choice of a calf or a ¥500,000 lump sum, plus another ¥100,000 to help with moving expenses.

The generous offer — which is temporarily on hold while officials rethink the conditions — includes monthly grants for the first three years of residence, ranging from ¥85,000 a month for a single person to ¥100,000 for married couples. Also on offer are three-bedroom houses for rent at low prices, and subsidies for child delivery.
==================================

Sweet. Locals have been trying to lure people here since 1990. That is, until the wrong kind of people began inquiring:

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

[…] Of all the emails the village received in the two-week period between the end of April and mid-May, 90 percent came from Serbians, Croatians and Brazilians, a local official said Monday, adding that the village office has also received more than a dozen phone calls from foreigners.

The official said that eventually, for various reasons, the village decided not to accept any of the applicants. Most who applied gave up on their plans to relocate after they were discouraged by the reality of the situation, or had only been looking for an easy escape from the pressure of daily life.

“People are not aware that life here is not as simple as they imagined,” he said, adding that the language barrier may lead to problems of communication.

“It’s a small village. There is no hospital and finding a job here is not a piece of cake,” he said, adding that most people seemed discouraged after learning about the hurdles they might face.

“People here can take advantage of the bountiful nature, fresh air and beautiful landscapes, and it’s a good place to live a quiet life,” the official said, describing the more appealing aspects of starting a new life there…
==================================

Oh. Suddenly, life there is tough. So tough they’ll turn people away, sight unseen. If those people happen to be foreign.

How open-minded. I assume the next argument will be that if the place becomes overrun with foreigners, they will vote to secede from Japan. Seriously, this argument has been made before.

So allow me to award the Village of Mishima in Kagoshima Prefecture a coveted Debito.org Dejima Award, granted only to those who display eye-blinkingly stupefying bigotry and closed-mindedness that defies all logic, reason, and entreaty. We’ve only granted five of these before in the twenty years Debito.org has been in existence, so Mishima is in exceptional company. May the mindsets you display die out before all the people do in your isolated little speck of the world. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Entire source article visible at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/25/national/overseas-interest-in-relocation-campaign-surprises-kagoshima-village/

ENDS

Arimura Haruko, Minister for the Empowerment of Women: Immigration is a “Pandora’s Box”, offers weird Team Abe arguments to justify

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Now let’s get to the narrative by Team Abe on immigration.  Despite calling for the expansion of the officially-sanctioned system of often-slavery that the “Trainee” Program constitutes (even cynically saying that we need cheap temporary foreign labor for constructing the 2020 Olympics), and the recognized need for caregivers below, we have a government official below charged with empowering people (a worthy goal in itself) also advocating the disempowerment of others — not giving people who would be contributing to Japan any stake in its society.

BloombergArimura051215

That’s one thing.  Another is how this Minister for the Empowerment of Women Arimura Haruko is justifying this organized disenfranchisement of NJ.  Despite being married to a NJ herself, she uses him as a fulcrum (his family in Malaysia forcing their Indonesian nanny to sleep on the floor), alleging that mistreatment of immigrants is something that naturally happens (okay, without their proper enfranchisement, yes) and that it would be “unthinkable in Japan” (oh, is she as a government official ignorant of the much bigger abuses of that “Trainee” program that have been going on for more than two decades)?


https://youtu.be/wt__lHCuH5g

Completing the effect of working backwards from preset conclusions, Arimura then brings the song home by blaming foreigners for their own disenfranchisement:  alleging their terroristic tendencies (a common trope for the past decade since PM Koizumi in 2005), and how bringing them here would be a “Pandora’s Box”.

Suck on the bitter lozenge that is Team Abe’s world view, and read on to see how this probably otherwise well-intentioned minister married to a NJ has to play Twister with illogic and weird social science to justify a warped narrative.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan Cabinet minister wary of opening ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration
by Isabel Reynolds and Maiko Takahashi
Bloomberg, May 12, 2015
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-12/japan-minister-says-get-women-working-before-immigration-option
Commentary by the usual suspects at The Japan Times May 13, 2015 at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/13/national/social-issues/japan-must-put-women-work-opening-pandoras-box-immigration-female-empowerment-minister/

Japan should fix its shrinking workforce by enabling women to work, before turning to the ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration, the country’s minister for the empowerment of women said in an interview last week.

Haruko Arimura, a 44-year-old mother of two, said Japan must act fast to change a trend that could otherwise see the workforce decline by almost half by 2060. But she warned if immigrants were mistreated — something she’d witnessed overseas — it raised the risk of creating resentment in their ranks.

“Many developed countries have experienced immigration,” she said in her Tokyo office. “The world has been shaken by immigrants who come into contact with extremist thinking like that of ISIL, bundle themselves in explosives and kill people indiscriminately in the country where they were brought up,” Arimura said.

“If we want to preserve the character of the country and pass it on to our children and grandchildren in better shape, there are reforms we need to carry out now to protect those values.”

Some economists have urged the government to accept more foreigners to make up for a slide in the working age population. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has noted there is a need for workers from overseas to help with housework and care of the elderly, he’s promoted female workers instead — appointing Arimura to the new post last year to spearhead the effort.

Arimura, whose husband is from Malaysia, said more immigration could add to social tension. For example, she felt uneasy when she saw one of her husband’s relatives make an Indonesian nanny sleep on a hotel floor while family members slept in beds.

“It’s a matter of course over there, but it would be unthinkable in Japan,” she said. “It would build up dissatisfaction with society.”

Few Foreigners
Japan’s working-age population may fall as low as 44.2 million by 2060 from 81.7 million in 2010, according to a projections from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. At the same time, people aged 65 or over will rise to almost 40 percent of the population.

Relying only on women to make up the shortfall may be difficult, given that one in three wants to be a full-time housewife, according to a survey published by the government in 2013. About 60 percent leave their jobs when they have their first child.

Increased immigration poses its own challenges in Japan. Cultural barriers to outsiders are rooted in a two-century isolationist policy under the Tokugawa Shogunate, which banned most immigration until 1853. A genre of writing called nihonjinron focuses on the theory that the Japanese are a unique people.

The number of registered foreign residents has been flat since 2006 at just over 2 million. That’s out of a population of about 127 million.

‘Precious’ Lifestyles
Public attitudes toward new arrivals may be changing. About 51 percent of Japanese support a more open immigration policy, according to a survey published by the Asahi newspaper last month. Some 34 percent oppose the idea.

“There are things we should do before we talk about that Pandora’s box,” Arimura said.
Her task is to convince voters that putting more women to work is the best solution. She said she realized the policy could cause confusion among backers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party given its past support for traditional family arrangements.

The government has no intention of interfering with the “precious” lifestyles of women who want to devote themselves to their families, Arimura said. Instead, she said it wanted to support those who might otherwise be forced to abandon careers because of family responsibilities, or who wish to resume working after raising children.

Female Managers
Arimura described as “a good start” a new draft bill obliging employers with more than 300 staff to publish gender breakdown statistics and plans to promote women. While non-compliance carries no penalty, she said the legislation would give a picture of how women are faring at work and pointers on the problems they face.

While Abe wants women to fill 30 percent of management positions by 2020, he faces an uphill task. Women accounted for just over 8 percent of management positions in private-sector companies employing more than 100 people last year, according to government data.

“In terms of tackling the low birth rate and promoting women, the next five or 10 years will decide the trend for Japan, whether it goes up or down,” Arimura said. “In a way, it’s the last chance.”

ENDS

J Times Kingston on Abe’s intimidation of media: You know it’s getting bad when even apologist bigot Gregory Clark complains about Rightists targeting him

mytest

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Hi Blog. Now here’s a wonderful turn of events that I can’t help feeling a bit karmic about.

Gregory Clark, columnist for the Japan Times and xenophobic perpetual denier of racism in Japan (he’s even had a JT column entitled “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people“!), has gone beyond petty whines about, say, how he couldn’t enforce his White Privilege and make Roppongi police arrest some “African touts” because they were “hecklers”.  Now he’s complaining about something far more serious — about being targeted by Japan’s right wing. Check out this excerpt from Jeff Kingston’s most recent commentary in the Japan Times:

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

From “Are forces of darkness gathering in Japan”, by Jeff Kingston, Japan Times, May 16, 2015

JT: “[Government officials] have become more numerous, blatant and unapologetic,” [US-based journalist Ayako Doi] says, adding that the government is targeting both Japanese and non-Japanese critics alike.

Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark says the atmosphere of intimidation has become exceptionally “ugly,” attributing it to a “right-wing rebound and revenge.”

“Something strange is going on,” he says, citing recent attacks on progressive media. “Particularly given that Tokyo keeps talking about its value identification with the West.” […]

Clark himself was publicly defamed for his alleged anti-Japanese views because he raised some questions about government and media representations concerning the North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals. Following that, he says his university employer received a cascade of threatening letters demanding he be sacked.

“Requests to write articles for the magazines and newspapers I had long known dried up,” Clark says. “Invitations to give talks on Japan’s lively lecture circuit died overnight. One of Japan’s largest trading companies abruptly canceled my already-announced appointment as outside board director with the vague excuse of wanting to avoid controversy.”

Lamentably, he added, “You cannot expect anyone to come to your aid once the nationalistic right-wing mood creators, now on the rise, decide to attack you. Freedom of speech and opinion is being whittled away relentlessly.”

/////////////////////////////////////////////
Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/05/16/commentary/forces-darkness-gathering-japan/

COMMENT: That’s how bad it’s getting for NJ in Japan — even the worm has turned. But it’s pretty rich for Clark to say this given the past fabrications and intimidations, not to mention decades of profiteering from pandering to those forces that have now turned against him. As for claims of “defamation”, how about the long-standing vituperative (okay, I’ll use his favorite word: “ugly”) criticism doled out towards anyone who questioned the system and its unfairness to anyone else in a similar position as a long-term resident (and in my case, a citizen) of Japan?

I’m not sure you have a leg to stand on here, Greg.  After all, isn’t discriminating against you a right for Japanese people?

I’ll let Debito.org Reader JDG conclude this blog entry:

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

JDG:  Please spare a moment’s thought for the plight of Gregory Clark. Even though this has happened to him (and seriously, see how low an opinion of him is held in the article ‘Our Other Man in Japan’), I have to say that such intimidation and discrimination, EVEN against Gregory Clark, is deplorable (in fact, when you or I are discriminated, we get the whole apologist slapdown. When it happens to Clark, suddenly it’s ‘The Forces of Darkness’! I mean what is this? Lord of the Rings?). I just wish that he’d used all his years of access to policy makers to work to improve the lot of NJ in Japan, rather than for his own personal gain, and IMHO, vain pride and sense of self-entitlement.

Anyhow, starting with that time he got annoyed with the police because they didn’t care who he was, and therefore didn’t arrest some black guys for him, he seems to have just gone downhill. What’s next? Black vans outside his house, and bullets from the uyoku in the post?

Since I read in previous articles about Gregory that he was loaded and flush with cash from property deals and public speaking, I won’t be asking Debito.org readers to donate any money to get Gregory off the street, nor will I be asking any of you to ‘adopt an Australian’ for $5 a month (or anything like that).

Dear Greg,
If you’re reading this, you always have a home here with us (maybe. I dunno, after all, it’s Dr. Debito’s page, and you’ve been kind of critical of him in the past. Just sayin’.). What I mean is, now that you’ve seen Japan ‘through the looking glass’ as it were, had your bubble burst, and have experienced the kind of discrimination that you always said didn’t exist for NJ in Japan, anytime you want to pitch in and lend a weighty hand in this struggle for human rights, we (well, I guess ‘I’, after all, I can’t speak for the others) would welcome you, and your past sins would be forgiven, as it were (again, that’s an ‘I’ statement).

Yours sincerely, JDG (the kind of NJ you wouldn’t have given the time of day to).

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

ENDS

Japan at Expo Milano 2015: Official display claims Japan is a land of “harmonious diversity” (in English). SRSLY? Yep. Let’s parse.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I think an interesting exercise in propaganda (which all nation-states indulge in, of course, but with differing degrees of popular acceptance as reality) is Japan’s display at the Expo 2015, currently underway in Milano, Italy.  (H/T to Debito.org Reader Max for pointing this out.).  It is a useful exercise to parse out the themes, memes, and dialectic within the display, as it is a good example of how Japan officially wants to be seen by the outside world.

For example, chew on this word salad (the Exhibit Message, courtesy of http://www.expo2015.jp/en/about/exhibition/):

====================================
Japan’s agriculture, which coexists with nature, cherishing all forms of life.
Japan’s nutritionally balanced diet, as represented by the traditional menu of “one soup, three dishes” that is rich with diverse fermented foods and plant proteins.
Japan’s cherished food culture, produced and nurtured by tradition and innovation.
Building upon the spirit of mutual respect and appreciation of coexisting diversity, we will creatively address global issues to pioneer a bright future.
====================================

Wow, I can poke holes in that pretty easily.  All forms of life including, say, oh, near-extinct fireflies, or overfished tuna or culled dolphins if you include aquaculture?  A “balanced diet” that includes whole separate candy and snack aisles in supermarkets, not to mention hell to pay if you ever want to eat vegetarian or vegan?  And “coexisting diversity”? Hang on a minute, let me catch my breath.  Okay, yes, let’s talk about that one, as it is germane to Debito.org (other Readers can parse other bits for themselves — there’s a lot to digest).  Here is the case they make, English original:

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

Scene Ⅱ DIVERSITY
●The diversity and additional development of Japan’s agriculture, food, and food culture
There is a great variety of agriculture in the world, with diverse food to match. Similarly in Japan, unique agriculture, food and food cultures have been cultivated in the various regions according to weather and climate, with additional developments based on learning from the world. In this zone, visitors will fully realize the diversity of Japan and the world by taking in an overview of more than 1000 content items related to agriculture, food and food culture.

The “Diversity Waterfall” will pour diverse content extending from production areas to the dining table to provide an interactive experience. When content floating in the waterfall basin is touched, related information will display.

As visitors enter the room, they will launch the Japan Pavilion application on their smartphones installed in advance. Set properly, their areas will light up in blue. When a visitor touches an image that interests her, the image will move to a position in front of her and load onto her smartphone. Images acquired in this exhibit area will be accumulated and can be seen along with other content on the archives page when the app is accessed after leaving the pavilion.

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

Original Japanese from http://www.expo2015.jp/about/exhibition/

Scene Ⅱ DIVERSITY
●日本の農と食、食文化の多様性、さらなる拡がり
世界には様々な農業があり、それに応じた多種多様な食があります。また日本でも同様に、気候や風土に応じて各地域で独自の農と食、食文化が育まれ、世界か らも学びながら、さらなる拡がりをみせています。このゾーンでは農と食、食文化に関する1,000を超えるコンテンツを一望することで、世界と日本の「多様性」を実感していただきます。

産地から食卓まで多種多彩なコンテンツが流れ落ちる「ダイバーシティの滝」。滝壺に漂うコンテンツに手を触れると、関連する様々な情報が映し出されるインタラクティブ体験を提供。

室 内に入り、あらかじめインストールしておいたスマートフォンの日本館アプリを起動させ、正しくセットすると自分のエリアが青く発光。興味のある画像にタッ チすると、その画像が体験者の目の前に移動し、スマートフォンに取り込まれます。退館後にアプリにアクセスすると本展示エリアで取得した画像が蓄積されて おり、その他のコンテンツもアーカイブページで閲覧することができます。

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

COMMENT: I of course am not knocking how good Japanese food is.  But it’s an interesting way to define “diversity” by basically equating it with “unique”.  Part of “diversity” in my view is being exposed to differences, and accepting those differences from The Other as part of The Self (e.g., and this is just sticking to food:  Canada claims poutine, the US claims pizza, Italy claims pasta, and France claims couscous as part of their own representative cuisines — even though they have strong and often-forgotten roots from outside).  Japan in any other context would portray itself as “homogeneous” (it still claims “uniqueness” in the display, natch), which is quite different than “diverse”.

This may be a matter of semantics not translating well, but since the display even appropriates the English word for its own use (similar snickers if not derisive scoffs would occur if a Japanese word were used in an odd context in a foreign language:  “Kamikaze” drinks, for example), I think it’s fair game for similar scoffs and claims of inaccuracy.  Especially when it’s being used for the purposes of portraying Japan as somehow “open” and “exposed” to significant differences in any real sense — ironic when you consider how often Japan’s food culture is unwelcoming to a diverse customer base.  Then once you get out of Japan you realize how REALLY diverse the world is — think cuisine in any major world city with its patchwork of ethnic cuisines cooked up by immigrants; even Honolulu’s far-flung island-constrained food culture is arguably more “diverse” than what you’d see just about anywhere in Japan.

What’s being portrayed in the Milano display is essentially “diversity within a terrarium” (gosh, look at all our different kinds of flora and fauna, and how they coexist harmoniously within our fishbowl!).  Thus I think the creators of this display have little idea what “diversity” really is.

Anyway, let me get back to why we’re bothering with this silliness on Debito.org.  We’ve done these sorts of discourse analyses here before, for example, with foreign crime reportage and the xenophobic bunker mentalities that exist within Japan’s police forces.  But let’s have a good look at how the GOJ wishes to present itself to the world:  As “Cool” (as in hip), “Harmonious with Nature” (old trope — don’t forget Japan’s unique four seasons!), and even, astoundingly, as “diverse” (in a land that in the Postwar Era did an about-face when shedding its “diverse” empire to become “homogeneous”; see Oguma Eiji, A Genealogy of “Japanese” Self-Images).

The fact that people around the world believe a lot of these contradictory tropes about Japan (to channel Alanis Morissette:  it’s ancient yet modern, open yet closed, peaceful yet martial, sober yet drunk etc.) is one of the reasons I believe that people get so confused and mentally-drained when they actually experience Japan and try to square away these official fabrications and half-truths (see Paris Syndrome).  Then when locals often assume the mantle of Cultural Representative of All Japan to The Foreigner to perpetuate these boilerplates, it actually contributes to the distance between people, making one’s respect diminish due to an apparent lack of critical thinking.  All this for the sake of preserving a national narrative built on poor social science, and created, as you see, by Japan’s ruling elites, in this case JETRO (assisted by MAFF, aka the Ministry of Dirty Tricks, one of the most duplicitous ministries in Japan).

In effect, you are seeing not just the Big Lie, but the Baldfaced Big Lies, created to show only Japan’s “good side” no matter how distanced from reality it so provably is.  We’ve seen it before plenty, but it’s really out in force during the PM Abe Era — not even a sense of irony to Japan’s propaganda anymore. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Entire text in order, for the record:

Exhibit message

Japan’s agriculture, which coexists with nature, cherishing all forms of life.
Japan’s nutritionally balanced diet, as represented by the traditional menu of “one soup, three dishes” that is rich with diverse fermented foods and plant proteins.
Japan’s cherished food culture, produced and nurtured by tradition and innovation.
Building upon the spirit of mutual respect and appreciation of coexisting diversity, we will creatively address global issues to pioneer a bright future.

Exhibit Scenes
PROLOGUE

●The world of aioi, where people and nature coexist

The front video screen will narrate the aioi (two tree trunks growing from one root) of people and nature. Paintings and calligraphic works will express the country of Japan blessed by rain and the destruction/regeneration of the environment as caused by humans. Lights and shadows, life and death… the various phenomena that seem to conflict yet cannot exist without the other shall be sculpted into Japanese language. The walls on the left and right will resemble a series of Ukiyoe prints, a Japanese cultural asset that is familiar in Europe. These will render the story “The Life of Rain,” tracing the abundant water that nurtures Japan’s soil over the course of four seasons. The entrance will be like a picture scroll to represent the country of Japan where people and nature live hand in hand. At the same time, it will serve to bring visitors into the world of the Japan Pavilion.

Scene Ⅰ HARMONY

●Japan’s food production centers that are respectful of nature and cultivate a rich variety of bounties

Developed amid steep land and a climate of abundant rain and humidity, Japan’s paddies retain and cover the land surface with water, creating native soil that preserves rich vegetation and biodiversity. This not only provides bounties of food for people, it also serves to control nature that sometimes brings harm such as floods and droughts. We will introduce this type of scheme as part of Japan’s agriculture, forestry, and fishing industry that coexists with nature, using the symbol of storks, which cannot make a habitat unless a rich ecosystem is maintained.

A magical space that combines the endless reflection of half-mirrors installed on the walls with video systems. The latest projection mapping technology will render Japan’s rural scenery of the four seasons.

ZONE 01
Image CG + text message

ZONE 02
A journey of Japan’s production regions, guided by a stork. The exhibition experience will be interactive in a space surrounded by video.

Scene Ⅱ CORRIDOR

●A long, narrow corridor of hospitality, evocative of the stone pavement in a Japanese-style garden

The seasons will be depicted in the corridor with sound and smell to introduce the scenery and festivals of the four seasons that can be seen around Japan.

Elements such as hanging scrolls with pressed flower art and aromas will create the aura of the seasons, while eight show windows with video systems will be placed on the wall.
Amid this, we will introduce rural scenery, creatures and festivals of the four seasons. Speakers will emit sounds reminiscent of each of the seasons.

Scene Ⅱ DIVERSITY

●The diversity and additional development of Japan’s agriculture, food, and food culture

There is a great variety of agriculture in the world, with diverse food to match. Similarly in Japan, unique agriculture, food and food cultures have been cultivated in the various regions according to weather and climate, with additional developments based on learning from the world. In this zone, visitors will fully realize the diversity of Japan and the world by taking in an overview of more than 1000 content items related to agriculture, food and food culture.

The “Diversity Waterfall” will pour diverse content extending from production areas to the dining table to provide an interactive experience. When content floating in the waterfall basin is touched, related information will display.

As visitors enter the room, they will launch the Japan Pavilion application on their smartphones installed in advance. Set properly, their areas will light up in blue. When a visitor touches an image that interests her, the image will move to a position in front of her and load onto her smartphone. Images acquired in this exhibit area will be accumulated and can be seen along with other content on the archives page when the app is accessed after leaving the pavilion.

Scene Ⅱ LEGACY

●Traditional wisdom and techniques that link to the future. Japanese cuisine is food of the future.

One soup, three dishes; fermentation and sun-drying; soup stock and umami; seasoning in the mouth; varied food culture according to region and season. We will appeal that the rich wisdom and techniques deeply ingrained in Japanese food since ancient times can become universal values and serve as food of the future, contributing to a healthy diet for people around the globe.

A showcase packed with the traditional wisdom and techniques applied to Japanese food. The Japanese diet with its excellent nutritional balance, exemplified by the classic “one soup, three dishes” menu, will also be shown with graphics.

SceneⅢ INNOVATION

●Japan’s creative solutions that uniquely address global issues

We will introduce Japan’s approach of mutual recognition and respect for the world’s variety of food production and diets while executing richly unique initiatives. Of this, we will share issues of global scale such as agriculture/food standardization, uneven food supply distribution, and nutritional imbalance. As steps to resolve these, we will propose the establishment of cooperative associations based in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industry and local communities to improve lifestyles; the traditional Japanese diet with excellent nutritional balance; and sustainable agricultural production initiatives that coexist with nature. We will also introduce international contributions of food and food production assistance that cross borders and advanced technology such as science and engineering that extend beyond the boundaries of disciplines

This future lab space will visualize the various issues faced by the globe today and introduce Japan’s newest technology developments and international initiatives to help resolve these. At the Future Globe Stage at the front, characters such as Morizo & Kiccoro, a stork, and a robot will appear to introduce Japan’s solutions to the various global issues, interweaving a story that will resonate with the emotions.

●Interactive Globe

Interactive Globes will introduce global-scale food issues and Japan’s solutions in response, using large data images and photos.

Scene Ⅳ COOL JAPAN DESIGN GALLERY

●The captivating cool Japan produced by tradition and innovation

Ingredients of the four seasons and tableware according to cuisine play important roles in Japan’s food culture. The shapes and designs of Japanese tableware, as well as the traditional techniques to create them, have been passed down through generations and are used every day as traditional crafts. This exhibition zone that also serves as a gallery space extending from the space to the tableware. Here, up-and-coming artisans of traditional crafts throughout Japan inherit and evolve traditional techniques to create various tableware that shall be communicated to the world as “Cool Japan Design.”

Stylish “Cool Japan Dining” cultivated by tradition and innovation. This area introduces the diverse reach of Japanese food culture developed through the coexistence of artisan techniques and cutting-edge design.

Scene Ⅳ FOYER – JAPAN SHOW CASE

●Captivating “Cool Japan” content

This zone is the lobby area for the Live Performance Theater. In addition to theater guidance, the Japan Show Case will show videos introducing the charms of Japan, such as anime, fashion and other new lifestyle information, tourism resources throughout Japan, and traditional culture. We will also introduce the latest technology tapped at the Japan Pavilion, as well as the newest agriculture and food technologies.

Scene Ⅴ LIVE PERFORMANCE THEATER

●The sentiments and bonds between people that start from the dining table. Japanese food is a global food that connects to the world.

The words itadakimasu and gochisosama express gratitude toward all people involved in food as well as toward the bounties of nature. Sharing these words deepens family bonds, cultivates friendships and expands the circle of communication. With shows that create a sense of unity by actively engaging the audience, visitors will experience how Japanese food can be global, connecting people around the world with smiles.

The restaurant-style theater wraps up the Japan Pavilion. Visitors watch shows from dining table-like seats. This arena theater-style emphasizes that this is a dining space with a sense of solidarity, in contrast with the conventional theater space where the audience faces front. Dining table-style audience seats are arranged in an arc surrounding the center stage, where cast members will perform according to the program. These will bring a sense of unity through interaction via media tables surrounded by the audience, cast performances and large-screen video spatial presentations. This will be a dynamic entertainment theater that actively engages the audience so that people from around the world can share sentiments, joy and smiles.

Spring presentation image.
The show progresses according to the four seasons.

A media table with multiple video displays. Each visitor can enjoy the interaction.

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

Original Japanese, full text:

展示メッセージ

あらゆる生命を慈しみ、自然と共生する日本の農。
多様な発酵食品や植物性蛋白質を中心とした一汁三菜に代表される
栄養バランスに優れた日本の食。
伝統と革新によって生み出され育まれた多彩な日本の食文化。
『共存する多様性』を相互に尊重し感謝する精神を礎に、地球的課題に独創的に取り組み、
明るい未来を切り拓く。
展示シーン
PROLOGUE

●人と自然が共に生きる相生(あいおい)の世界

人と自然の「相生」を物語る正面の映像スクリーンでは、雨に恵まれた日本と、人による環境破壊と再生を、書画で展開します。光と影、生と死、相反するようで、どちらかが欠けても存在できない様々な事象を、日本語の彫刻に。その左右の壁面には、ヨーロッパにも馴染みある日本文化浮世絵の連作のように見立て、日本の壌土を育む豊かな水の、四季をめぐる物語「雨の一生」。エントランスを一つの「絵巻物」のようにし、人と自然が共に生きる日本を、日本館の始まりの空間として表現します。
SceneⅠ HARMONY

●自然と寄り添い、多様な恵みを育む日本の食の産地

多雨・多湿な気候で急峻な土地に切り拓かれた日本の水田は、水をその土地に留め、地表を水が覆うことにより、豊かな植生と生物多様性を保持する国土を生み出しました。そして、人びとはそこから食の恵みを得ると同時に、洪水や渇水など、時に災いをもたらす自然をも治めてきました。このような営みを、自然と共生する日本の農林水産業として、豊かな生態系が維持されなければ生息できない「コウノトリ」をシンボルに紹介します。

壁に設置されたハーフ・ミラーの無限反射と映像装置を組み合わせた幻想的な空間。
最新のプロジェクションマッピング技術により、四季折々の農村風景を演出。

ZONE 01
イメージCG+テキストメッセージ

ZONE 02
コウノトリに誘われ、日本の産地を巡る旅。映像に囲まれた空間で、インタラクティブに展示体験できる。
SceneⅡ CORRIDOR

●日本庭園の石畳をイメージさせる細長い「おもてなし」の回廊空間

回廊では、音と香りで季節感を演出し、日本各地で見られる四季折々の風景と祭事を紹介。

「押し花アート掛け軸」や「香り演出」など季節感を醸し出す演出を施し、壁面には映像装置が設置された8つのショーウィンドーを配置。
その中で「四季折々の農村風景と生き物たち、四季の祭り」を紹介します。また、指向性スピーカーにより季節感のある音の演出も展開します。
SceneⅡ DIVERSITY

●日本の農と食、食文化の多様性、さらなる拡がり

世界には様々な農業があり、それに応じた多種多様な食があります。また日本でも同様に、気候や風土に応じて各地域で独自の農と食、食文化が育まれ、世界からも学びながら、さらなる拡がりをみせています。このゾーンでは農と食、食文化に関する1,000を超えるコンテンツを一望することで、世界と日本の「多様性」を実感していただきます。

産地から食卓まで多種多彩なコンテンツが流れ落ちる「ダイバーシティの滝」。滝壺に漂うコンテンツに手を触れると、関連する様々な情報が映し出されるインタラクティブ体験を提供。

室内に入り、あらかじめインストールしておいたスマートフォンの日本館アプリを起動させ、正しくセットすると自分のエリアが青く発光。興味のある画像にタッチすると、その画像が体験者の目の前に移動し、スマートフォンに取り込まれます。退館後にアプリにアクセスすると本展示エリアで取得した画像が蓄積されており、その他のコンテンツもアーカイブページで閲覧することができます。
SceneⅡ LEGACY

●未来につながる伝統の知恵と技。日本食は「未来食」

「一汁三菜」「発酵・天日干し」「出汁・うま味」「口内調味」「地域や季節に応じた多様な食文化」など、古来より日本食に込められた様々な知恵と技が、普遍的な価値となって、地球上の人びとの健康的な食生活に貢献する「未来食」となることを訴求します。

日本食に込められた伝統の知恵と技が凝縮されるショーケース。「一汁三菜」など栄養バランスに優れた日本の食生活もグラフィカルに紹介。

SceneⅢ INNOVATION

●地球的課題に対し独創的に取組む「日本のクリエイティブ・ソリューション」

世界の様々な食料生産や食生活を、互いに認め合い尊重しながら、独創性に富んだ取組みを行う日本の姿勢を示します。その中で、農業や食の画一化、食料の偏在化と栄養バランスの偏りなどの地球規模の課題を共有し、その解決に向け、農林水産業と地域社会に根ざして人びとの生活を向上させる協同組合組織の確立、栄養バランスに優れた伝統的な日本型食生活、自然と共生する持続的な農業生産の取組みなどを提案し、国境を越えた食と食料生産支援の国際貢献や科学・工学など分野を越えた先端技術なども紹介します。

現代の地球が抱える様々な問題を可視化し、課題解決に向けた日本の最先端の技術開発や国際貢献の取り組みを紹介するフューチャー・ラボ空間。正面の「Future Globe Stage」ではモリゾー・キッコロ、コウノトリ、そしてロボットといった様々なキャラクターが登場し、地球が抱える課題に対する日本のソリューションの数々を情緒的なストーリーに織り交ぜてご紹介します。

●触れる地球(Interactive Globe)

食にまつわる地球規模の課題や、それらに対する日本のソリューションを、ビッグデータや写真画像を「触れる地球(Interactive Globe)」で用いながらインタラクティブに紹介。

SceneⅣ COOL JAPAN DESIGN GALLERY

●伝統と革新がもたらす“クールジャパンダイニング”

日本の食文化では、四季折々の食材や料理に合わせた食器も大切な役割を演じます。和食器の形やデザイン、それを作り出す伝統のワザが現代にも伝承され、伝統的工芸品として日常に使われています。このゾーンは、空間から食器に至るまで、トータルプロデュースされたギャラリー空間です。その中で、新進気鋭のアーティストによる感性を伝統で培われた匠のワザにより表現した様々な和食器を、伝統の技を継承し発展させる「クールジャパンダイニング」として世界に発信していきます。

伝統と革新がもたらすスタイリッシュな「クールジャパンダイニング」。「匠の技」と「先端デザイン」の共存による日本食文化の多様な広がりを紹介。
SceneⅣ FOYER – JAPAN SHOW CASE

●魅惑的な“クールジャパンコンテンツ”

このゾーンはライブパフォーマンスシアターのウェイティング空間です。シアターガイダンスの他、アニメ、ファッションなどの最新ライフスタイルや、日本各地の観光資源、伝統文化の魅力を映像で紹介する「ジャパンショーケース」です。
また、日本館で活用される新技術や農と食に関する新技術も合わせて来場者に紹介します。

SceneⅤ LIVE PERFORMANCE THEATER

●食卓から始まる人びとの想い、絆。日本食は世界をつなぐ「地球食」

食に関わる全ての人びとや自然の恵みに対する感謝の気持ちを表す言葉「いただきます」や「ごちそうさま」。
この言葉を共有することで、家族の絆を深め、友情を育み、コミュニケーションの輪を拡げていきます。一体感のある観客参加型のショー演出を通して、日本食が、世界の人びとを笑顔でつなぐ「地球食」となることを体感していただきます。

日本館の締めくくりとなる、レストランスタイルのシアターでは、来館者がダイニングテーブル風の客席に着席してショーを観賞。正面性のある一般的なシアター空間ではなく、ダイニング空間であることを重視した、一体感のある円形劇場スタイル。弧を描くように並ぶダイニングテーブル風の客席に囲まれたセンターステージでは、演出の進行に合わせてキャストがパフォーマンスを行う。観客が囲むメディアテーブルのインタラクションとキャストのパフォーマンス、大型映像空間演出により、一体感のあるショーを展開。世界の人々の思いがつながり、笑顔となって喜びを分かち合う、ダイナミックな参加型エンタテインメント・シアター。

春の演出イメージ。日本の四季に合わせてショーが進行。

複数の映像ディスプレイを配したメディアテーブル。来場者一人一人がインタラクションを楽しめる。
展示紹介映像

ENDS

Kyodo: Summary Court overturns fine levied on Filipino-Japanese man after Osaka police botch assault probe — that punished him for defending himself against drunk Japanese assailants!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check this article out, followed by a comment by Debito.org Reader and submitter JDG:

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

NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
Filipino-Japanese exempt from fine after Osaka police botch assault probe
KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES APR 24, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/24/national/crime-legal/filipino-japanese-exempt-from-fine-after-osaka-police-botch-assault-probe/

OSAKA – The police investigation into a street brawl in Osaka in 2013 that resulted in a fine for a Filipino-Japanese man was superficial and should never have caused charges to be filed, a court in Osaka has ruled.

In a rare ruling, the Osaka Summary Court decided to exempt the 23-year-old defendant from punishment despite finding him guilty of assault, after hearing that the police failed to provide him with a Tagalog interpreter. The man can only speak limited Japanese.

According to the ruling, two drunken men began a quarrel with the defendant on a street in Osaka in June 2013. When one of them grabbed his collar, the Philippine-Japanese man punched him in the face, causing a broken bone.

Neither of the drunks was indicted. But the court initially ordered the Filipino-Japanese man to pay a ¥300,000 ($2,500) fine in January 2014. The defendant filed a complaint and sought a formal trial, leading to a ruling that effectively canceled the fine on Feb. 26.

The ruling was finalized on March 13 after the appeal period expired.

“This is de facto innocence,” said Masanori Matsuoka, the defendant’s lawyer. “It’s an excellent ruling that criticized the investigation of a man who cannot speak Japanese sufficiently.”

Judge Akinori Hatayama said it is unfair to punish only the Filipino-Japanese man, given that the drunken man was not indicted for assault.

The judge criticized the prosecutors for charging the defendant without properly considering the case and based purely on the degree of physical injury that resulted from the scuffle.
ENDS

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

JDG: Well, this is an interesting case. Now, if we take the poor reporting to mean that ‘Filipino-Japanese’ = naturalized Japanese citizen of NJ descent, this story is quite telling.

Naturalized Japanese citizen is stopped in Osaka by two drunk Japanese guys, who grab his shirt collars whilst shouting at him. The naturalized Japanese punches one in the face in self-defense and is arrested, charged, goes to court, and is fined.

The Japanese assailants, since they are ‘victims’ of their own victims self-defense, are not apprehended, and win compensation from their victim!

Thankfully, this was over-turned at a [summary] court. But the fact that it played out like this clearly shows the intense institutional racism of the Japanese police and legal system. In effect, if you are Japanese, you can commit assault (by western standards) on NJ (well, anyone who was not born Japanese), and the legal system recognize you as the victim if you are injured whilst attempting assault!

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

Quite.  And, I might add, if he hadn’t taken it outside the criminal justice system (I assume) into Summary Court, he would have never gotten this ruling on the record either.

Clearly somebody had to go down for this incident in the cops’ eyes.  And since they saw what they considered to be a NJ involved (naturalized or not), they charged and convicted him.  Wrongly so, as this court ruling demonstrates — nearly two years later!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

My Japan Times JBC Column 86 April 6, 2015: “Japan makes more sense through a religious lens”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Thank you for putting this up at the #1 spot at the Japan Times Online for two days in a row.  Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

//////////////////////////////////////
JAPAN MAKES MORE SENSE THROUGH A RELIGIOUS LENS
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Column 86 for the Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Community Page
April 6, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/04/05/issues/viewed-religious-lens-japan-makes-sense/

Ever noticed how Japan — and in particular, its ruling elite — keeps getting away with astonishing bigotry?

Recently Ayako Sono, a former adviser of the current Shinzo Abe government, sang the praises of a segregated South Africa, effectively advocating a system where people would live separately by race in Japan (a “Japartheid,” if you will). But that’s just the latest stitch in a rich tapestry of offensive remarks.

Remember former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s claim that “old women who live after losing their reproductive function are useless and committing a sin,” or his attribution of Chinese criminality to “ethnic DNA” (both 2001)? Or former Prime Minister Taro Aso admiring Nazi subterfuge in changing Germany’s prewar constitution (2013), and arguing that Western diplomats cannot solve problems in the Middle East because of their “blue eyes and blond hair” — not to mention advocating policies to attract “rich Jews” to Japan (both 2001)? Or then-Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone declaring Japan to be “an intelligent society” because it was “monoracial,” without the “blacks, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans” that dragged down America’s average level of education (1986)?

Although their statements invited international and domestic protest, none of these people were drummed out of office or even exiled to the political wilderness. Why? Because people keep passing off such behavior as symptomatic of “weird, quirky Japan,” i.e., “They say these things because they are Japanese — trapped in uniquely insular mentalities after a long self-imposed isolation.”

Such excuses sound lame and belittling when you consider that it’s been 160 years since Japan ended its isolation, during which time it has successfully copied contemporary methods of getting rich, waging war and integrating into the global market.

This treatment also goes beyond the blind-eyeing usually accorded to allies due to geopolitical realpolitik. In the past, analysts have gone so gaga over the country’s putative uniqueness that they have claimed Japan is an exception from worldwide socioeconomic factors including racism, postcolonial critique and (until the bubble era ended) even basic economic theory!

So why does Japan keep getting a free pass? Perhaps it’s time to start looking at “Japaneseness” through a different lens: as a religion. It’s more insightful.

A comprehensive but concise definition of “religion” is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”

Japaneseness qualifies. A set of beliefs ordering the “Japanese universe” is available at your nearest big bookstore, where shelves groan under the wiki-composite pseudoscience of Nihonjinron (the “Theory of The Japanese”), a lucrative market for navel-gazing about what Japanese allegedly think or do uniquely and collectively.

Japan also has its own creation myth grounded in mystical immortals (the goddess Amaterasu et al), with enough currency that a sitting prime minister, Yoshiro Mori, once publicly claimed Japan was “a nation of deities (kami no kuni) with the Emperor at its center,” in which Japanese have seen “beings above and beyond humankind” (2000). Seen in this way, Japan transcends the mere nation-state to become something akin to a holy land.

Devotional and ritual observances involve not only an imported and adapted foreign religion (Buddhism) hybridized with an established state religion (Shinto), but also elements of animism and ancestor worship whose observances regularly reach down to the level of the neighborhood (o-mikoshi festival portable shrines) and even the household (butsudan shrines).

As for a moral code governing conduct, Japanese media offer plenty of ascriptive programming (e.g., NHK’s popular quiz show “Nihonjin no Shitsumon” or “Questions The Japanese Ask” — as if that’s a discernible genre). They broadcast an unproblematized uniformity of “Japanese” thought, belief and morality generally offset from the remainder of the heterodox world.

Thus this religion-like phenomenon, because of the knock-on effects of vague mysticism and faith, goes beyond regular nationalism.

For one thing, unlike nationalism, religion doesn’t necessarily need another country to contrast and compete with — Japanese are sui generis special because they are a family descended from gods. For another, nationality can be obtained through law, but bloodline descent cannot — and blood is what makes someone a “real” Japanese. Further, how can you ever offer a counter-narrative to a myth? (For a national narrative, you can offer a different historical interpretation of mortals and events; it’s far tougher to argue different gods.)


These dynamics have been covered in much literature elsewhere — in fact, they are depicted positively by the Nihonjinron high priests themselves — but few people consider three other effects of religiosity.

First, there’s religion’s enhanced political power in prescribing and enforcing conformity. If media uncritically establish how “normal Japanese” act, then deviant thoughts and behaviors not only become “unusual” but also “un-Japanese.” It’s not a big leap from the “science” of what people naturally do as Japanese to the science of what to do in order to be Japanese. There is an orthodoxy to be followed, or else.

This dynamic also robs dissidents of the power to use reason to adjust society’s course. Instead of social mores being codified in the rule of law or grounded in terms of concrete “rights, privileges and duties” of a nation-state, they are molded case by case to suit an alleged “consensus feeling” of an abstract group, sending signals through the media or just through “the air” (which people are supposed to “read”: kūki o yomu).

How can one reason with or argue against an amorphous “understanding” of things, or summon enough energy to push against an invisible enfranchised opponent? Easier all around to fall back on the default shikata ga nai (“There’s nothing I can do”) attitude, meaning Japanese will police each other into acceptance of the status quo.

The second effect of this phenomenon is the corruption of social science. The broad-stroke categorization inherent to “groupism” normalizes the pigeonholing of peoples. In Japan, this has reached the point where influential people openly espouse fallacious theories, such as that eye color affects vision qualityblood type affectspersonality and race/country of origin/gender influence intellectual ability or talent (e.g., “Indians are good programmers,” “Jews are rich,” “Chinese have criminal DNA”).

Although stereotypes exist in every society, in Japan they underpin and blinker most social science. In fact, learning the stereotypes is the science.

The third effect is religion’s enhanced rhetorical power, and this projects influence beyond Japan’s borders.

If Japan’s behavior was merely seen as a matter of nationalism, then things could be explained away in terms of furthering national interests under rational-actor theory. But they’re not. Again, “quirky” Japanese get away with weird stuff like bigotry because they are treated with the deference traditionally accorded to a religion.

Scholar Richard Dawkins put it best: “A widespread assumption . . . is that religious faith is especially vulnerable to offence and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect.”

Author Douglas Adams expounds on this idea: “Religion . . . has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, ‘Here is an idea or a notion you’re not allowed to say anything bad about. You’re just not.’

“If somebody votes for a party that you don’t agree with, you’re free to argue about it as much as you like. . . . But on the other hand if somebody says, ‘I mustn’t move a light switch on a Saturday,’ you say, ‘I respect that.’ ”

Likewise, you must respect Japan, and woe betide you if you criticize it. Decry even the most egregious bad behavior, such as the whitewashing of an exploitative empire’s history into an exculpated victimhood, and you will be branded “anti-Japan,” a “Japan-hater” or “Japan-basher” by the reactionary cloud of anonyms that so dominate Japan’s Internet.

This trolling wouldn’t matter if that cloud was ignored for what it is — a bunch of anonymous craven cranks — but otherwise sensible people steeped (or academically trained) in Japan’s mysticism tend to take these disembodied opinions from the air seriously. Instead, the critic loses credibility and, in extreme cases, even their livelihood for not toeing the line. Japan is sensitive, and you’re not allowed to say anything bad about it. You’re just not.

This is one reason why even the most scientifically trained among us is ready, for example, to take seriously the comment of a single native-born Japanese (rather than trust qualified Japan experts who unfortunately lack the mystical bloodline) as some kind of evidence in any discussion on Japan. Every Japanese by blood and dint of being raised in the temple of Japanese society is reflexively accorded the right to represent all Japan. It’s respectful, but it also blunts analysis by keeping discussion of Japan within temple control.

So, whenever Japan makes mystical arguments — about, say, longer intestines, special soil and snow or the country’s unique climate — for political ends (to justify banning imports of beef, construction equipment, skis, rice, etc.), skittish outsiders tend to be deferential to the nonsense because of Japan’s “uniqueness” and respectfully ease off the pressure.

Or when Japan’s rulers coddle war-mongering rightists (who also advocate Japan’s mysticism) and sanction pacifist leftists (who more likely see religion as a mass opiate), relax — that’s just how Japan maintains its unique social order.

And if that social order is ever questioned, especially by any Japanese, that is treated as heresy or apostasy, drawing the threat of reprisal — if not violence — from zealots. After all, you do not question faith — or it would no longer be faith. You just don’t.

In sum, seeing Japaneseness through the prism of religion helps explain better why the world accommodates Japan egregiously excepting and offsetting itself. It may be time to abandon simple political theory (seeing Japan’s polity in terms of rational actors with occasional inexplicable irrationalities) in favor of the sociology of religious cults.

Specifically, this would mean studying Japan’s cult of personalities, i.e., the way a ruling elite is resurrecting mysticism and exploiting the reflexive deference usually reserved for religion to game the system. This is especially important now, as Japan’s rulers indulge in belligerent behavior — historical revisionism, remilitarization and so on — that’s helping destabilize the region.

This column was a seminal attempt to make that case. Discuss, if you dare.

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

Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

JT: “Should Japan beef up its anti-terrorism measures?” Renewed political opportunism to further erode Postwar civil liberties, go soft on right-wing groups

mytest

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Hi Blog. Related to the increasingly tightening domestic security over Japanese society in the wake of attacks on Japanese citizens abroad, here is an overlooked article by Eric Johnston in the Japan Times a few days ago. It’s a long one, with contents excerpted below as germane to Debito.org. As we have talked in detail in the wake of other wakes, e.g., the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, the G8 Summit in Nago, the 2002 World Cup, other anti-democratic habits brought out in Japanese society whenever Japan holds an international event, and also a longstanding theory that Gaijin are mere Guinea Pigs (since they have fewer civil or political rights) to test out pupal public policy before applying it to the rest of the Japanese population, I believe what’s going on here is a long arc of further eroding Postwar civil liberties in the name of security and ever-strengthening police power in Japan in favor of rightist elements (see below). Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Security blanket: Should Japan beef up its anti-terrorism measures?
by Eric Johnston, Staff Writer
The Japan Times, March 21, 2015 [excerpt], courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/21/national/security-blanket-japan-beef-anti-terrorism-measures/

[…] Since the exercise in Fukui nearly a decade ago, more than 100 drills in response to some form of security threat have been conducted at prefectures throughout the country. Assumptions behind the threats the drills are based on range from unidentified armed groups landing on the Japan Sea coast and bombing hospitals and medical facilities to railway station bombings in major cities and a widespread chemical weapons attack in central Tokyo.

While the law has prodded various local and central government agencies to coordinate a response, the Aum threat and the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. began a process of rethinking about domestic security that first manifested itself at the 2002 World Cup and later in Hokkaido at the Group of Eight summit in 2008. In recent weeks, support for further measures picked up steam with the deaths of journalists Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa at the hands of the Islamic State group in the Middle East. The deaths of three Japanese tourists in Tunisia last week will simply accelerate what is already a fast-moving debate.

Suddenly, it seems, the domestic media, public and the political world are obsessed with threats, real and imagined, to the country’s security and to Japanese who venture abroad. Next year’s G-8 summit (sans Russia) will return to Japan, and seven cities — Hiroshima, Kobe, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Karuizawa, Niigata and Sendai — hope to host the world leaders of Japan, the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Germany and Italy.

The candidate cities have emphasized, in addition to their various cultural assets, their preparedness in the event of a security threat. Meanwhile, this year’s Tokyo Marathon saw an unprecedented level of police protection for the runners and those watching them, while security for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be some of the toughest ever seen. […]

Enemies of the State?

[…] However, former Aum members are not the [Public Security Intelligence Agency’s] only concern. Another four pages are devoted to the activities of groups trying to stop the construction of a replacement facility at Henoko for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, voicing support for keeping the 1995 Kono Statement regarding the “comfort women,” criticizing the government’s pro-nuclear energy policy, or protesting collective self-defense and the state secrets law that went into effect late last year.

In the case of the Henoko protesters, the Public Security Intelligence Agency says “Japan Communist Party … members and other anti-base activists from around the country are being dispatched to the Henoko area to engage in protests against the new facility.” The agency also says the Japan Communist Party mobilized supporters to assist two anti-base candidates in local elections last year: Susumu Inamine won the January 2014 Nago mayoral election, while Takashi Onaga won the November gubernatorial election running on anti-base platforms.

Over three pages, the Public Security Intelligence Agency claimed “extremist” groups were cooperating with overseas organizations to criticize the government’s position on the comfort women issue, and that the Japan Communist Party was involved in anti-nuclear demonstrations in Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, and in front of the Diet and the prime minister’s office. It further added that extremist groups were infiltrating anti-nuclear demonstrations and passing out flyers that called for all nuclear reactors to be decommissioned.

Two pages were devoted solely to the Japan Communist Party’s leadership and membership, and its criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government. The Public Security Intelligence Agency said the Japan Communist Party’s total membership is around 305,000, down from 410,000 back in 2010, while the average age of all members was 57 years old, up from 55.7 years old five years earlier.

By contrast, only 2½ of the report’s 75 pages were devoted to right-wing groups. The agency said right-wing groups had been involved in protests over the Senaku Islands, had called for the retraction of the Kono Statement on comfort women and had used the Asahi Shimbun’s apology in August over a story on wartime forced prostitutes as an opportunity to conduct protests at the newspaper’s branches nationwide.

There was no mention, by name, in the Public Security Intelligence Agency report of Zaitokukai, merely of a “right-wing-affiliated group” that made racist remarks. However, a separate report put out by the National Policy Agency earlier this month mentioned Zaitokukai by name and noted that 1,654 members of right-wing groups were charged with breaking the law in 2014. This included 291 people who were charged with extortion, although many charges were for traffic-related violations. […]

Among other things, the law attempts to promote increased police monitoring of whomever the government deems a potential threat by making secret materials or plans to prevent “designated harmful activities.” What’s a “designated harmful activity”? That’s the first of many questions as yet unanswered.

It’s the same with measures designed to prevent “terrorism,” an ill-defined legal concept, and critics of the law have warned that, under the pretext of “security,” Japan will see more police monitoring of any individual or group the state deems to be a threat.

Last July, a lawyers’ group for victims of police investigations of Muslims submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on systemic surveillance and profiling of Muslims. In 2010, a report leaked on the Internet showed police collected and stored detailed personal information on Muslims in Japan. Seventeen victims sued the Metropolitan Police Department and the National Policy Agency over the issue.

In January 2014, Tokyo District Court ordered the metropolitan police to pay for violating the plaintiffs’ privacy by leaking personal data. However, the court also said police information gathering activities on Muslims in Japan constituted “necessary and inevitable measures for the prevention of international terrorism.”

The case is being appealed in the Tokyo High Court, but the initial ruling came down well before Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto were captured and executed by Islamic State militants earlier this year. Given the public shock and political reaction to those killings, extreme security measures of questionable legality are cause for worry, says Lawrence Repeta, a law professor at Meiji University.

“Despite the fact that the police had no evidence of illegal activities, the record shows they engaged in religious profiling of the Muslim community,” Repeta says. “Now that this intrusive police surveillance has been approved by the court, we should expect it to continue in coming years, as Japan hosts international events like next year’s Group of Seven conference and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”

[…] One bright spot was that, despite years of official bureaucratic and right-wing political warnings about the dangers of foreign crime, only 28 percent of respondents in 2012 cited this as a reason for what they felt was a worsening security environment. This is down from the 55 percent who cited it as a major reason for their unease in the 2006 survey.

Read the full article in order at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/21/national/security-blanket-japan-beef-anti-terrorism-measures/

ENDS

Kyodo: Japan didn’t meddle with U.S. “Comfort Women” textbook, Japanese Ambassador to US Sasae claims; meanwhile GOJ panel established to “Restore the Honor and Trust of Japan”

mytest

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Update on the GOJ Gaiatsu Campaign to force overseas publishers to sanitize their textbooks of history that is unpalatable to Japan’s ruling elite (whose ancestors, particularly the chair of the GOJ committee on revisionism below who is the son of the creator, have ties to the unsavory history itself): Out come the Gaijin Handlers to maintain the denialism re the “Comfort Women” wartime sexual slaves…  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Japan didn’t meddle with U.S. ‘comfort women’ textbook, envoy claims
The Japan Times/Kyodo, Feb 14, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/14/national/japan-didnt-meddle-with-u-s-comfort-women-textbook-envoy-claims/

WASHINGTON – Ambassador to the United States Kenichiro Sasae has rejected criticism by U.S.-based historians that Japan tried to meddle with descriptions in an American textbook over the use of “comfort women” at wartime Japanese military brothels.

The academics “allege interference by the government, but this is not a matter to be considered from that angle in the first place,” Sasae told Japanese reporters Friday in Washington.

Sasae made the remarks after a group of 19 academics in a statement criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government for asking publisher McGraw-Hill to alter the wording of the description.

In November, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the Abe government had asked McGraw-Hill to alter some phrasing in the textbook “Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past,” which said the Imperial Japanese Army forcibly recruited as many as 200,000 women between the ages of 14 and 20 to serve as forced prostitutes.

“We tried to make them (the publisher) draw attention to the facts,” Sasae said on Friday.

Disputes between Japan and South Korea over the comfort women issue have strained ties, as many of the victims were from the Korean Peninsula, which was under Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945.

The U.S.-based academics insisted the Abe government had tried to inappropriately interfere with the textbook’s publication. Sasae denied this, saying, “I don’t think we are interfering unreasonably.”

He did not elaborate further, simply saying, “We’ll thoroughly examine the statement.”

In a landmark 1993 apology issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, Japan admitted the recruitment and transfer of comfort women was conducted “generally against their will.” But during a 2006 Diet session, Abe, during his first stint in office, stopped short of clearly accepting the comfort women were forcibly recruited.

Abe’s current government asked a panel of experts last year to re-examine the way in which the 1993 Kono statement was compiled. Abe has said, however, that his administration has no intention of rewriting the statement itself.
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////

LDP panel explores ways to convey Japan’s views on sex slave issue
by Mizuho Aoki Staff Writer,
The Japan Times Mar 12, 2015, Courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/12/national/history/ldp-panel-explores-ways-to-convey-japans-views-on-sex-slave-issue/

A special Liberal Democratic Party committee on Thursday discussed ways to better convey Japan’s views on wartime historical issues to counter a public relations blitz by South Korea.

During the sixth gathering of the Special Mission Committee to Restore the Honor and Trust of Japan, chaired by Hirofumi Nakasone, some members said a carefully crafted strategic plan is needed to gain the understanding of the international community when it comes to the issue of “comfort women,” a euphemism for those who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.

In the discussions on how the forced prostitution issue is portrayed in school textbooks overseas, a Foreign Ministry official told the committee that textbooks by one publisher in Germany and three in the United States contain depictions of comfort women.

Although most of the textbooks do not explore the issue in depth, the government needs to look at them carefully and determine whether they merit an official response, Masahiko Shibayama, a Lower House member who serves as a secretariat of the committee, told reporters after the meeting.

Officials from the Foreign Ministry and Justice Ministry attended the meeting to answer members’ questions.

Shibayama also said the government must deal with such issues, which could damage Japan’s national interests, while avoiding the appearance of “historical revisionism.”

During the hour-long meeting, they also studied past lawsuits and rulings in other countries related to the issue.

The committee, launched last October by right-wing LDP members, including party policy chief Tomomi Inada, plans to compile and submit its recommendations to the administration as early as this month.

It also plans to draw up a recommendation to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about his expected statement on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, which will be closely watched by Beijing and Seoul.

Earlier this year, Abe and LDP lawmakers criticized a U.S. history textbook published by McGraw-Hill that included sentences such as: “The Japanese Army forcibly recruited, conscripted and dragooned as many as 200,000 women aged 14 to 20 to serve in military brothels.”

Japanese mainstream historians say it is impossible to determine the exact number of comfort women. But Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a leading historian on the issue, estimates there were at least 50,000.

The Foreign Ministry told the Japanese Consulate in New York last year to ask McGraw-Hill to revise the world history textbook.
ENDS

Good JT article on historically-ignorant blackface on Japanese performers and “modern-day minstrel shows” in Japan

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  I had heard about this issue of blackface in Japan (a la other racialized “gaijin” characteristics in Japan, including blond wigs and stuck-on big noses) but wasn’t sure how to raise it (Debito.org was embroiled enough in the Japartheid issue enough over the past few days).  However, Baye McNeil does it instead, and better than I could.  The part of the article I like best is about the lack of historical research these performers (such as Rats & Star) who profess to love the people they so carelessly imitate:

Doo-what?: An image that went viral on the Internet shows members of male doo-wop group Rats & Star and idol group Momoiro Clover Z blacked up backstage during the filming of a show for Fuji TV scheduled for broadcast on March 7. | THE JAPAN TIMES

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

McNeil: All of which speaks directly to this racist bullsh-t — I mean, this cultural misunderstanding — one that could have been avoided in the 30-some-odd years this band [Rats & Star] has existed if, while they were researching the music, costumes and other aspects of black music and performance, they had simply taken a second to see if what they wanted to do with blackface had ever been done before. You know, just a little proactive research about the industry they would spend the next three f-cking decades profiting handsomely from.

But alas, when I saw this story on the Net the other day — that they were going to be on Fuji TV alongside popular girl group Momoiro Clover Z, who would be similarly blacked up — all I could say was, “Mata ka yo?” (“Jeezus! Again?”), suck my teeth and click away. To me, it’s not shocking to see blackfaced bands here. With the attitudes and ignorance encountered here regularly, the only shocking thing is that there aren’t more of these groups. A Ku Klux Klan-themed idol group wouldn’t even surprise me here.

I’m still, however, pleasantly surprised when non-Japanese people in Japan get worked up over something important. They’re a beautiful sight to see! Like when Julien Blanc was spreading his misogynistic garbage about Japanese women. Remember how the Japanosphere responded? They damn near shut down the Internet with their furor over his antics. Of course, everything he said could be heard in any gaijin (foreigner) bar in Tokyo or Yokohama on any given day, but it was still great to see people get activated for a good cause. Not to mention that, let’s say, inappropriate ANA advert that got a lot of people upset and resulted in Japan’s biggest airline re-editing a television commercial advertising new flights.

And even Japanese get worked up when they want to. Like back in 2011, when the Japanese Embassy in London sent a letter to the BBC complaining about A-bomb jokes on an episode of a British TV comedy quiz, leading the BBC to apologize for offending Japanese sensibilities. And very recently, conservative Netizens in Japan campaigned to keep Angelina Jolie’s biographical movie about a former American POW from opening in theaters here because of its depictions of Imperial Japanese Army brutality. All beautiful acts of activism, right?

Well, I say, if ANA and the BBC can be made to change their tunes, and if Blanc can be shut down, so can these guys…
//////////////////////////////////////

Read the entire article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/02/18/our-lives/time-shut-modern-day-minstrel-show/. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Nobel Prize winner Dr. Shuji “Slave” Nakamura urges Japan’s youth to “get out of Japan”

mytest

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Hi Blog. A discussion about the following article has already started here, so I thought it prudent to promote it to its own blog entry for proper discussion. First the article, then my comment.  (N.B.: people who commented before who wish to repost their commment here, go ahead.)

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

Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”
RocketNews, January 23, 2015
Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”
Courtesy of lots of people

In 2014, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in creating bright blue LEDs. In 1993, Nakamura held only a master’s degree and worked with just one lab assistant for a small manufacturer in rural Japan, yet he was able to find a solution that had eluded some the highest paid, best-educated researchers in the world.

If his story ended there, he would no doubt be the poster boy for Japanese innovation and never-say-die spirit, but in the years since his discovery, he has instigated a landmark patent case, emigrated to the US, given up his Japanese citizenship and become a vocal critic of his native country. Last week, the prickly professor gave his first Japanese press conference since picking up his Nobel and he had some very succinct advice for young Japanese: Leave.

Although Nakamura praised the Japanese culture of cooperation, hard work and honesty, he called out the education system for focusing too much on the limited goals of exams and getting into big companies. He pointed out that it is failing to give young people the English skills they need to function on a global level.

“Zero incentive”

“In the world, Japanese people [have] the worst English performance,” he said. “Only they are concerned about Japanese life. That’s a problem.”

He also said that lack of exposure to foreign cultures breeds a parochial ethnocentrism and makes young Japanese susceptible to “mind control” by the government.

Nakamura slammed Japan for failing to ensure that inventors are fairly compensated for their work, something that stifles innovation and provides “zero incentive” for employees to be creative.

Article 35 of the patent law says that patent rights belong to the inventor, but in practice, companies dictate the terms of compensation to their employees. In fact, Nakamura’s former company paid him the equivalent of just US$180 for his Nobel-winning invention. Nakamura sued in 2001 and a Tokyo court determined that his patent had generated about US$1 billion in revenue. Nakamura settled with the company for US$8 million.

“The most important thing is to go abroad and…see Japan from outside the country.”

Since the litigation, many companies have switched from giving employees a flat fee for patent rights to a percentage of royalties, but the Japan Business Federation has also begun lobbying the government to clarify the law and place patent rights squarely with companies. Prime Minister Abe has hinted that he would like to do so.

“If the Japanese government changes the patent law, it means basically there would no compensation [for inventors]. In that case, I recommend that Japanese employees go abroad,” said Nakamura.

In general, Nakamura encouraged young Japanese to leave, whether to get a better education, to expand their world view or to be better compensated for their work. Despite his criticisms, he is not advocating a wholesale abandonment of Japan either. Rather, a more internationalized population could be the key to meaningful reforms.

“The most important thing is to go abroad and they can see Japan from outside the country. And they understand, …oh, now I can understand bad thing of Japan. That’s the most important thing, no? Japanese people have to wake up about Japanese bad things, you know. I think that’s very important.”

ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  Wow.  “Slave” Nakamura not only refused to settle for the pittance regularly doled out to inventors in Japan that transform innovation and profit for Japan’s corporate behemoths (yes, he sued — millions of people do in Japan every year — and he won!), but also he wouldn’t settle for life in Japan as it is.  He emigrated and now publicly extols the virtues of not being stifled by Japan’s insularity (and governmental mind control!?).  Pretty brave and bracing stuff.  Bravo.

It isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened within Japan’s intelligentsia.  How many readers remember the “Tonegawa Shock” of 1987?

When the 1987 Nobel Prize was given to [Susumu] Tonegawa, who had moved to the US so he could be inspired and free to carry on his research, Japanese academics took notice and some were humiliated. Tonegawa had asserted that if he had remained in Japan, he would have had to spend years courting favor with mentors and dealing with disinterested colleagues, lagging unchallenged and unmotivated, certainly never to attain Nobel laureate. The press labeled the phenomenon as “Tonegawa Shock” which described the actions of similar Japanese scientists, such as Leo Esaki, a 1973 laureate in physics, who left Japan to work at IBM in the US. [Source]

The Tonegawa Shock set off a chain of events that led to the despotic Ministry of Education deciding to “enliven” (kasseika) Japan’s education system by doing away with tenure.  Sounds great to people who don’t understand why tenure exists in an education system, but what happened is that the MOE first downsized everyone that they could who was not on tenure — the NJ educators on perpetual contract eemployment (ninkisei) — in what was called the “Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-1994 where most NJ teachers working in Japan’s prestigious National and Public Universities over the age of 35 were fired by bureaucratic fiat.  It was the first activism that I took up back in 1993, and the underlying “Academic Apartheid” of Japan’s higher education system exposed by this policy putsch became the bedrock issue for Debito.org when it was established in 1996.

With this in mind, I wonder what reverberations will result from Dr. Nakamura encouraging an exodus?  Hopefully not something that will further damage the NJ communities in Japan.  But if there is more NJ scapegoating in the offing, you’ll probably hear about it on Debito.org.  That’s what we’re here for.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Lawyer threatens Debito.org in 2009 re a 1993 article in The Australian Magazine on Japan pundit Gregory Clark. Had received reprint permission, so nothing came of it.

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  I’ve been sitting on this blog post for nearly six years, so I think it’s safe to say that nothing has come of this.

Back in 2009, somebody claiming to be a lawyer representing the publisher of The Australian Magazine contacted me, claiming copyright infringement, and demanded that Debito.org remove from its archives a 1993 article concerning Japan pundit Gregory Clark (who writes articles occasionally so embarrassingly xenophobic and bigoted that at least one has been deleted from the Japan Times archive).

Funny thing is that once I reproduced an email from 2000 from The Australian Magazine that permitted reproduction of said article on Debito.org, that somebody and her threat vanished.

Again, that was back in 2009.  It’s now 2015, so let’s put this up for the record.  Something tells me that Gregory Clark really doesn’t want you to read this very revealing article in The Australian about him, his modus operandi, and his motives in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Please see letter attached.

Gina McWilliams
Legal Counsel
Nationwide News Pty Limited & News Digital Media Pty Limited
2 Holt Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia
t: 02 9288 3042   |   f: 02 9288 2480   |   m: 0402 140591   |   mcwilliamsg@newsltd.com.au

The Australian   |    The Weekend Australian   |   The Daily Telegraph   |   The Sunday Telegraph   |   mX   |   The Sportsman   |   news.com.au

<03 – Ltr debito.org 28.7.09.pdf>

Nationwidenews01072809

Nationwidenews02072809

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Date: August 2, 2009 3:04:28 PM JST

To: “McWilliams, Gina” <mcwilliamsg@newsltd.com.au>

Subject: Re: Copyright Infringement — Permission granted December 19, 2000 for reprint by Australian Magazine

Hello Ms McWilliams, and thank you for your attachment.  My apologies for my late reply.  It has been a busy week, and it has taken a little time to visit my safe deposit box and retrieve backed-up emails that are nearly ten years old.

Here is the permission I received from a M. Mairead Sweeney of The Australian Magazine, Dated December 19, 2000, to reprint the article “Our Other Man in Japan”.

============= PERMISSION GRANTED TEXT BEGINS [REDACTED:  FULL TEXT IN CONTEXT HERE] =================

From ???@??? Tue Dec 19 08:35:29 2000
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From: “Magazine,  Australian” <ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au>
To: “‘debito@debito.org‘” <debito@debito.org>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 09:55:31 +1100
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Dear Dave

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
There is no problem reproducing the article, as long as credit is given to
The Australian Magazine.
Happy Christmas.

Regards
Mairead Sweeney
The Australian Magazine

============= PERMISSION GRANTED TEXT ENDS =================

Credit is, and always has been, given to The Australian Magazine.

Please review the following context from which this is taken.  Here is my request to The Australian Magazine, dated December 4, 2000, for reproduction permissions to print “Our Other Man in Japan”.  It is in raw text format (importing email from an old program [somewhat abridged]), for copyright permission, followed by the exchanges which resulted in the abovementioned permission being granted.  My name back then was David Aldwinckle (it is now Arudou Debito, due to naturalization as a Japanese citizen).

I would appreciate receiving your acknowledgment of these permission-granted circumstances as soon as possible.  I also wish you would do your homework before sending “notice” letters to my friends.  My friend, [SH, who hosted my site at the time], who was also sent your “notice” letter, is hereby cc-ed with this reply.  Kindly cc him your acknowledgment as well.

Arudou Debito (ne David Aldwinckle) in Sapporo, Japan

=========== PERMISSION REQUEST BEGINS ==================

From ???@??? Mon Dec 04 14:28:13 2000
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Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 13:20:51 +0900
To: ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au
From: Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Inquiry to The Australian about old article
Cc: debito@debito.org
X-UIDL: bc68a5de1a75c6385b5848adcc747ef6
To whom it may concern:

I am looking for an old article of yours which appeared in THE AUSTRALIAN
MAGAZINE.  The date is not written anywhere on the pages, but here are the
details as I know them:

PUBLICATION:  The Australian Magazine
ARTICLE TITLE:  “Our Other Man in Japan”
AUTHOR:  Richard McGregor
CONTENTS:  about Gregory Clark’s life and times here in Japan
PAGE NUMBERS:  pp. 27 to 41?
APPROXIMATE DATE:  1993-94 (article mentions Hosokawa as Prime Minister)

Could you please tell me of the date and issue number etc. for the article
for proper citation?

Thank you very much,
Dave Aldwinckle in Sapporo, Japan
(your contact details courtesy of Mr Steven Lunn, Tokyo Correspondent)

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

=========== PERMISSION REQUEST ENDS ==================

And here is the answer I received, or rather the communication as it transpired (it took a few exchanges of emails):

=========== PERMISSION GRANTED BEGINS ==================

From ???@??? Mon Dec 04 15:37:20 2000
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From: “Magazine,  Australian” <ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au>
To: “‘Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle'” <debito@debito.org>
Subject: RE: Inquiry to The Australian about old article
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 17:03:22 +1100
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Hi Dave
Well the good news it that I’ve had success in locating the article.  The
details are:

The Australian Magazine, 16th October 1993, Edition 1.

If you need further information, please do not hestitate to contact me.
Regards
Mairead Sweeney
The Australian Magazine.

—–Original Message—–

From: Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle [mailto:debito@debito.org]
Sent: Monday, 4 December 2000 4:34
To: Magazine, Australian
Subject: RE: Inquiry to The Australian about old article

Thanks for your speedy reply!
I only have a photocopy of the article in question, and no, I’m afraid it
(oddly enough) doesn’t give the date etc where it indicates the page number.
I’m afraid that you have all the information that I have.
Thanks for looking.  I would really appreciate it and don’t mind if it takes
a few days.  It’s quite a big article with a full-page photograph of Gregory
Clark.

Dave Aldwinckle
Sapporo

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

At 4:16 PM +1100 12/4/00, Magazine,  Australian wrote:

> Dear Dave
> I presume you don’t have the front cover of the magazine, just the pages in
> question (?). Where it says the page number, normally it has the Issue Date
> also.  This could be just on the more recent editions, I don’t know.  I have
> had a quick look through our computerised archives but have found nothing
> yet.  It may take a day or two to locate the information you require.

> Regards
> Mairead Sweeney
> The Australian Magazine

> —–Original Message—–
> From: Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle [mailto:debito@debito.org]
> Sent: Monday, 4 December 2000 3:21
> To: ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au
> Cc: debito@debito.org
> Subject: Inquiry to The Australian about old article
>
> To whom it may concern:
> I am looking for an old article of yours which appeared in THE AUSTRALIAN
> MAGAZINE.  The date is not written anywhere on the pages, but here are the
> details as I know them:
> PUBLICATION:  The Australian Magazine
> ARTICLE TITLE:  “Our Other Man in Japan”
> AUTHOR:  Richard McGregor
> CONTENTS:  about Gregory Clark’s life and times here in Japan
> PAGE NUMBERS:  pp. 27 to 41?
> APPROXIMATE DATE:  1993-94 (article mentions Hosokawa as Prime Minister)
> Could you please tell me of the date and issue number etc. for the article
> for proper citation?
> Thank you very much,
> Dave Aldwinckle in Sapporo, Japan
> (your contact details courtesy of Mr Steven Lunn, Tokyo Correspondent)
> =======================

From ???@??? Mon Dec 04 16:39:12 2000

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<25EAA402DE2FD111B8400000F875354809CC63AD@sydexchange.matp.newsltd.com.au>
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 15:49:16 +0900
To: “Magazine,  Australian” <ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au>
From: Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle <debito@debito.org>
Subject: RE: Inquiry to The Australian about article on Gregory Clark
X-UIDL: 3f533fa822bf35aa7537f6496a033048
At 5:03 PM +1100 12/4/00, Magazine,  Australian wrote:
> Hi Dave
> Well the good news it that I’ve had success in locating the article.  The
> details are:
> The Australian Magazine, 16th October 1993, Edition 1.
> If you need further information, please do not hestitate to contact me.
> Regards
> Mairead Sweeney
> The Australian Magazine.

Excellent!  Thank you very much!
Would it be possible to receive permission from The Australian to reprint
this article in full in our next issue of NPO Japan Association for Language
Teaching (JALT)’s Journal of Professional Issues?
We are a non-profit organization and our publication fees are funded by both
JALT and from our subscribers (about 75 people).
To find out more about our Journal and to see back issues, please see
http://www.debito.org/PALEJournals.html
To find out more about JALT, please see
http://www.jalt.org/

Thank you very much for your time, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
Dave Aldwinckle
One JALT Journal of Professional Issues Editor

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

From ???@??? Tue Dec 19 08:35:29 2000
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id <Y9KKQX68>; Tue, 19 Dec 2000 09:55:34 +1100
Message-ID: <25EAA402DE2FD111B8400000F875354809CC64A9@sydexchange.matp.newsltd.com.au>

From: “Magazine,  Australian” <ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au>
To: “‘debito@debito.org‘” <debito@debito.org>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 09:55:31 +1100
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Dear Dave
Apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
There is no problem reproducing the article, as long as credit is given to
The Australian Magazine.

Happy Christmas.
Regards
Mairead Sweeney
The Australian Magazine

============ PERMISSION GRANTED ENDS ==================

From: Arudou Debito [mailto:debito@debito.org]
Sent: Tuesday, 11 August 2009 1:44 AM
To: McWilliams, Gina
Subject: RESEND: Copyright Infringement — Permission granted December 19, 2000 for reprint by Australian Magazine

Hello Ms McWilliams.  It’s been more than a week.  May I have a
response or an acknowledgment of receipt, please?  Arudou Debito

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

On Aug 14, 2009, at 5:13 PM, McWilliams, Gina wrote:
Dear Mr Debito

As previously noted, my client has no record of permission being granted for the relevant article to be reproduced/communicated on www.debito.org.

If, in fact, authorisation was granted in the terms set out below, I am instructed that my client now withdraws permission for the relevant article to be reproduced/communicated on www.debito.org and requires you to remove the article from the website within 7 days.

My client reserves all rights with respect to publication of the article on www.debito.org.

Yours sincerely
Gina McWilliams   |   Legal Counsel   |  Nationwide News Pty Limited & News Digital Media Pty Limited

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

From: Arudou Debito <debito@debito.org>
Date: August 16, 2009 12:05:09 AM JST
To: Gina McWilliams <mcwilliamsg@newsltd.com.au>
Subject: Re: RESEND: Copyright Infringement — Permission granted December 19, 2000 for reprint by Australian Magazine

Look, I don’t know who you are, and I cannot trace this email’s IP on standard searches.  Until I speak in person to a member of the media corporation claiming copyright over this article (that was granted me in writing fair and square from the actual media outlet several years ago), not just some alleged transmission from an alleged lawyer through an unverifiable email, I feel no credibility may be attached to this communication. Names and contact details.  From them directly.  And get my name right.

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

I received no further response from the organization or Ms. McWilliams.  A friend contacted people within The Australian in March 2010 and unearthed this:

“I had been curious regarding Mr. Clark’s claims that the 1993 article about him in The Australian Magazine was retracted. I called the news desk at The Australian and they searched their archives in the basement. They found a letter to the editor from Clark regarding the article. However, they searched three weeks of issues following the article and they could not find any retraction or correction printed. Therefore, I found no evidence supporting Mr. Clark’s claim that the article was retracted.”

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Migration info database eyed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More robots in service industry planned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Fukuoka Subway Poster Contest winner: Rude Statue of Liberty “overdoes freedom”, takes space from J passengers

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Check this out:

fukuokasubwayposterDec2014

(click on image to expand in browser)

This is a photograph of a subway banner last month designed by an eighth grader in a Fukuoka Junior High School, taking first place in a Fukuoka City Subway contest for “Riding Manners”.  The caption:  “Don’t overdo the freedom.”

December 25, 2014, Reader TJL remarksHmmm…Fukuoka is now jumping on the “ugly American” bandwagon by portraying a rude Lady Liberty taking up too much space and playing her music too loud…the poor old lady in kimono can’t sit down and the salary man is disturbed by the noise. My graduate student from Chile found this on the subway.  So much for the kinder, gentler Japan welcoming visitors by 2020 for the Olympics.

COMMENT:  First, praise.  It’s a clever, well-rendered poster by a Junior High School student who at a surprisingly young age has a great grasp of space, color, perspective, and poster layout (I’ve done a lot of posters in my day, and I wasn’t anywhere near this quality until high school).  I especially love the jutting out bare foot, the extra-spiky headdress, the update to include noisy iPod headphones, and the open flame of Liberty’s torch on the seat.  The artist also displays careful attention to detail — he even remembered Liberty also carries a book (it’s on the seat by the torch).

Now, critique.  It’s sad to see such a young artist with an image of seeing freedom as an American symbol that can be so abused in a Japanese context.  Remember, just about anything humanoid could have been posed here taking up too much space, and comically too.  However, as rendered, it comes off more as a cheap shot at something foreign.

It’s made even cheaper by making Liberty barefoot.  I mentioned the artist’s attention to detail, but Liberty wears sandals.  The artist’s omission of that and purposefully sticking a bare foot in the face of the audience increases the rudeness, in a way that is hypocritical for since the slogan is “not overdoing it”.  Also, the extra-long spikes on the headdress, although artistically good for the poster’s rhythm, only exaggerates the inapproachability of Liberty, and thus is similarly overdone.

In sum, this poster is being featured for discussion on Debito.org because the subconscious attitude in a prizewinning (and thus officially-sanctioned) contest is to see freedom as a foreign, abusable concept.  Thus freedom is unsuitable to a Japanese context because it victimizes innocent Japanese.  Meaning the subliminal message being normalized is a strand of xenophobia, shudderingly inappropriate for Japan’s developing youth and future.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

“Japanese Only” nightclubs “W” in Nagoya and newly-opening “CLUB Leopard” in Hiroshima

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Two more places to add to the roster of “Japanese Only” Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, and this time, they are places that Japan’s youth frequent:  nightclubs (nothing like catching them when they’re young and possibly more open-minded…)

1) Nightclub “W”
名古屋市中区栄3-10-13 Wビル 6F&7F
TEL 052-242-5705
IDX グループ 株式会社IDXのHP
Official FaceBookページ http://www.facebook.com/nagoya.w
Twitterアカウント @w_052

It’s a pretty big place:
NagoyaWfront
Courtesy http://w-nagoya.com/access

and it has this sign, courtesy of SM and MS, as of October 25, 2014:
BarWNagoyaJapaneseonlyOct252014

Funny, that, because one of the the first images that currently greets you when you go to their webpage (http://w-nagoya.com) is this:
clubwnagoyaanimalnight112814

SM adds: Hello Debito, on MS’s wall you asked for a bit of background re: this photo I had posted on my own wall today. Last night I was in downtown Nagoya (Sakae) and I saw this sign posted at the entrance of a large dance club called “W.” There was a very buff bouncer beside the sign. I approached him and asked if I’d be allowed to go in. He apologized and said no. I asked if it was because of dress code or because I was foreign. (I was in a nice outfit, having gone out for dinner with my husband earlier.) He said it was because I was foreign. I asked why this was a policy. He said it was the rule of management, and he had to enforce it. I took some photos (although he had said no photos allowed.) He didn’t try to stop me from taking the photos, we said good night, and went on our way.

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

2) CLUB Leopard in Hiroshima (opening December 5)

住所 広島市中区流川町7-6
第五白菱ビルB1F TEL 082-569-7777
It also has a pretty impressive website:
http://clubleopard.jphttps://www.facebook.com/pages/CLUB-Leopard/650751705033353

And an equally impressive set of rules to follow, courtesy of GH:

CLUBLeopardNov2014
Look at the very bottom for the “DO NOT ENTER NON-JAPANESE”.
(Love how they render a “foreigner” in silhouette: That tuft of hair, so “foreign”! Ironic given how much time you see the J-guys who frequent nightclubs spend on THEIR hair…)

Interestingly enough, that set of rules has now been amended, according to their website as of today:
http://clubleopard.jp/rule/
CLUBLeopardrevisedNov2014

That’ll keep out those darn pickpockets!

So will they, or won’t they, let in NJ patrons? Somebody in Hiroshima, go on down and check out DJ Kaori (of American Idol fame) on December 6!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE NOVEMBER 25, 2014:

As of November 17, the “Japanese Only” restriction is on CLUB Leopard’s advertising trucks, courtesy of GH:

CLUBLeopardtrucksidead111714

What a fun-sounding place.  Advertising yourself so prominently based upon what you can’t do when you’re there!

Japan Procter & Gamble’s racialized laundry detergent ad: “Cinderella and the Nose Ballroom Dance”

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
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If you like what you read and discuss on Debito.org, please consider helping us stop hackers and defray maintenance costs with a little donation via my webhoster:
Donate towards my web hosting bill!
All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  Readers VW and TO have just submitted the following ad campaign from P&G Japan (as in Procter & Gamble), with the following comment:

==================================
Dear Dr. Arudou, Thank you for your continued work raising awareness on issues of race here in Japan.

Have you seen this latest ad campaign for Bold detergent?

Full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjFsvkm7pws
Campaign website: http://boldbutoukai.com/

There’s also a mini, 20 second ad on YouTube that is being promoted right now when people load other, unrelated videos (which is how I ran across this). I hope it may be of interest to you or your readers.
==================================

Thank you. First, let’s embed the ad with stills:

Synopsis: In a 3 1/2-minute retelling of the Cinderella story, a flower-sniffing Prince Charming announces to his Queen mother that he wants to find a woman to be his bride (hanayome).

P&GPrinceQueenestablishshot

This announcement is sent throughout the land that there will be a royal ball (butoukai) to accomplish this, and a message arrives at Cinderella’s home, where she expresses a wish to go.

P&Gcinderellaopening

But her nasty stepsisters and stepmother saddle her with a heap of laundry (done in a modern Japanese-style washing machine) and go instead.

P&Gcinderellawashingmachine

Fortunately, the Fairy Godmother comes by with Bold detergent in a gel form, which enables her not only to escape the drudgery and go to the ball, but also become perfumed, in a way that makes her nose grow longer and twitchy.

P&GCinderellanosetwitch P&GCinderellanoserainbow

Cut to the evening gala, where all the women are trying to make their noses longer.

P&Gnoselengthen3 P&Gnoselengthen2 P&Gnoselengthen1

When Prince Charming asks why, she says that PC wanted a nose (hana) ball. No, says PC, he was referring to flowers (hana).

P&Gprincecharmingflower

No matter, in walks Cinderella, and her fragrant clothes entrance the Prince and make their noses mutually longer and flappier.

P&Gprincecharmingnosegrow

P&Gcinderellaprincecharmingdance

They have their flappy nose dance until midnight, when suddenly she has to leave (no carriage, but a mama-chari bicycle).  But she leaves behind a fragrant article of clothing which the Prince finds and flaps his nose at.

P&Gprincecharmingbeforesniff P&Gprincecharmingaftersniff

At the end of the ad, the Prince commands his kingdom to “Find Cinderella!!” And now the viewer is left with the question: “Is this a chance for you also to become Cinderella!?”

P&Gfindcinderella

And an accented voiceover tells the viewer to go to P&G’s website for more (complete with exaggerated “Western” facial features, and a Cinderella with a flappy nose).

P&Gcinderellawebsitecampaign

COMMENT:  It’s a clever ad.  Procter & Gamble Japan clearly spent a lot of money on it, with elaborate costumes and many extras, all very milk-white and European, and most quite well trained (especially the Queen) in speaking phonetic Japanese without obnoxious katakana subtitles (Cinderella herself speaks without accent, although the transitional voice-overs have a Japanese native narrator speaking in a foreignized accent).  And the reason I say it’s clever is because it’s making clever puns with flower/nose and retelling the old tale quite afresh (the product itself is very much subsumed to the plot-line).

But it’s still a racialized telling of the tale, what with those damned elongated and flappy noses.  Debito.org has brought up other examples of racialized marketing in Japan (see archive at http://www.debito.org/?p=12077), particularly in terms of nose imagery, and how obnoxious it can get:

nagasakitabinetto ANAHanedabignose vibesumadara3 toshiba2013suipanda6 toshiba2013suipanda1 MandomAd2 gaijinmask082112 090813mrjamesfull

After ANA airlines got pretty badly stung for its “change the image of Japan” (into a long-nosed Caucasian Robert Redford lookalike) ad earlier this year, Toshiba got slapped for their racialized bread maker ad (see here), and McDonald’s Japan faced enough pressure that they terminated their “Mr. James” burger campaign early, one wonders whether Japan’s advertisers will ever learn their lesson that grounding their product in racialized stereotypes is pretty bad form.

Imagine if you will some overseas company marketing an “Asian” product that was so delicious, it made your incisors go all “Asian buck teeth” reaching out to eat it?  No doubt Japan’s patrol of internet PC police would soon start howling racism and lobbying the company (and Japan’s missions abroad) to send out protests and orders to withdraw the ad campaign.  People making fun of Asian “slanted eyes” has been criticized before, and withdrawn with apologies.

So what about this?  What do Debito.org Readers think?  Do you think Procter & Gamble HQ in the US would approve of this?

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Fun Facts #19: JT: Supreme Court denying welfare for NJ residents inspires exclusionary policy proposals by fringe politicians; yet the math does not equal the hype

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Further setting and normalizing the national narrative for denying NJ their due as supporters of Japan’s social safety net, here is another article from the Japan Times charting the moves of the exclusionists.  Afterwards is a comment doing the math behind the hype, exposing it as just that:  hype.  But of course, nobody in the press seems to want to do their sums and expose it for the non-story it should be.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

NATIONAL
Ruling denying welfare for foreign residents finds homegrown, biased support
BY TOMOKO OTAKE, STAFF WRITER, The Japan Times OCT 17, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/17/national/welfare-rollback-underway-ruling-empowers-xenophobes/

The landmark Supreme Court ruling in July that found permanent residents of Japan legally ineligible for public assistance is already having an impact. Moves are afoot both at the national and local levels to try to scale back or remove welfare payments to foreign residents.

In a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman from Oita Prefecture, the nation’s top court made it clear that permanent foreign residents do not qualify for public assistance because they are not Japanese nationals. Article 1 of the 1950 Public Assistance Law states the law concerns “all nationals,” which the court said referred only to Japanese citizens.

Despite the ruling, the welfare ministry has stood by its long-standing policy of offering the same level of welfare protection to foreigners as Japanese, based on a notice it issued to municipal governments in 1954.

In line with the ministry policy, the municipal governments have distributed welfare benefits — ranging from cash assistance to free health care services to housing aid — to needy foreigners with permanent or long-term residency status, including the spouses of Japanese and migrant workers from Brazil.

But the July ruling has given momentum to some forces, including those harboring anti-foreigner sentiments and advocates of cutting “waste” in government spending, to try to limit foreigners’ access to welfare.

The minor opposition party Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations), co-founded by ultranationalist Shintaro Ishihara, plans to submit bills to the extraordinary Diet session that would give destitute foreigners a year to choose between two extremes: becoming naturalized citizens or leaving the country.

The move follows an August proposal, by a team of lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic party tasked with eliminating wasteful state spending, to restrict welfare assistance to foreigners.

“The welfare outlays to foreigners run up to ¥122 billion per year,” the Aug. 4 report by the LDP team said. “We must say it is difficult to maintain the status quo.”

The team also said the government “should create guidelines (on public assistance) for foreigners who arrive in Japan, and consider deporting those who cannot maintain a living.”

Taro Kono, a member of the Lower House who heads the LDP project team, said the envisioned revision to the welfare system would not affect permanent residents, but those on mid- to long-term visas. The changes would likely materialize in the form of denied access to public aid for a certain period after one’s arrival in Japan, to prevent abuse by those coming here just to receive welfare, he said. He added that the team has yet to decide on the number of months or years before foreigners would be granted access.

According to Kono, the rationale for creating a probational period is a provision in the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law that states the government would deny entry to “a person who is likely to become a burden on the Japanese government or a local public entity because of an inability to make a living.”

“People who come to Japan on mid- to long-term visas would undergo a lot of events here, and some of them might lose their ability to make a living and apply for public assistance. That’s fine. But if they apply for assistance right after they arrive in Japan, that would mean they made a false claim (about their reason for coming),” Kono told The Japan Times earlier this month.

“Likewise when they renew their visas, they are supposed to have means to support themselves or otherwise their requests for visa renewals would be rejected. But if it turns out that they cannot sustain their living in, say, six months after their visas are renewed, that would mean they were not truthful about their means when they applied for a renewed visa, and (this would constitute) grounds for denial of public assistance.”

The LDP team also proposed that all welfare recipients be prescribed generic drugs unless otherwise specified by doctors. If they want to be prescribed patented drugs, they should pay for their share of the costs, according to the team’s report.

The team’s proposal for an eligibility requirement for foreigners based on their period of stay appears to be more or less in line with practices in other advanced countries.

Most European countries do not have a nationality clause for welfare benefits, but do list a residency period as a condition for eligibility, said Shinichi Oka, a professor of social security at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo.

At the same time, in Europe there is little distinction among different visa statuses, Oka said, noting that whether people have permanent resident status doesn’t affect their chances of qualifying for welfare.

“I’m not aware of any major European countries that (enforce) a nationality clause for public assistance eligibility,” Oka said. “The only requirement they have is that the applicants have lived in the country for a certain period of time.”

While the U.S. and Britain in principle deny welfare benefits to illegal aliens, in France, foreigners who have entered or are staying illegally in the country are also considered as “having the right to live” and are often deemed eligible for welfare benefits, Oka said.

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

ENDS

From the comments below the JT article.  Debito.org Readers, go ahead and take apart the numbers if you like:

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

Charles: “The amount of welfare being paid to foreigners is 122 billion yen! That’s a really big number!” That’s what the average man on the street thinks.

But wait a second, let’s actually do the math. Yeah, I know, you hate math, but it’s okay, we can use a calculator!

Japan’s GDP is 536,122,300,000,000 yen (over 536 TRILLION yen). So 122 billion yen is less than 0.03% of Japan’s economy. Basically, Shintaro Ishihara with his Jisedai no Tou, and the LDP, are wasting countless hours of time on something that, at best, will save Japan 0.03% of its GDP.

To make an analogy, I make about $28,000 a year. So this is the same as me OBSESSING and LOSING SLEEP AT NIGHT over how I can save $8 per year.

I think that maybe instead of spending all this time obsessing over 0.03% of its GDP, Japanese politicians should instead spend that time reviewing their math notes from elementary school, especially division, multiplication, and percentages. If they did that, they might find that this problem isn’t nearly as big as they’d thought.[…]

“According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan’s total social welfare benefits reached ¥103.487 trillion in fiscal 2010, topping ¥100 trillion for the first time.”
Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2012/12/12/editorials/footing-for-social-welfare/

Okay, so in Japan, the total welfare budget is 103.487 trillion yen. But only 0.122 trillion yen of that goes to foreigners, so that means that the other 103.365 trillion yen are going to Japanese people!

Here, let’s do some more math:

103.487 trillion yen / 127 million Japanese = Each Japanese person is, on average, sucking 814,858 yen per year from the welfare system!

Now let’s do the math for foreigners:

122 billion yen / 2 million foreigners = Each foreigner is, on average, sucking 61,000 yen per year from the welfare system!

So…who’s REALLY sucking welfare, here? I guess I now know where my income tax (所得税) and 8% consumption tax (消費税) are going, now…

…you’re welcome, Japan!

ENDS

Japan Times JBC 80 October 8, 2014: “Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents”, on MOFA propagandizing re Hague Treaty on Child Abductions

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

Hi Blog. Thanks to readers once again for putting this article into the #1 spot at the Japan Times Online for two days!  Debito

“BIASED PAMPHLET BODES ILL FOR LEFT-BEHIND FOREIGN PARENTS OUTSIDE JAPAN
Pamphlet on Hague Treaty on Child Abductions displays slanted mindsets favoring the Japanese side of disputes
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, Column 80 for Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE, October 8, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/10/08/issues/biased-pamphlet-bodes-ill-left-behind-foreign-parents-outside-japan/
p1
After years of pressure from foreign governments, and enormous efforts by “left-behind” parents to have access to children abducted to and from Japan after marital separation or divorce, the Japanese government became a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in April.

That is, of course, good news. Now the issue becomes one of enforcement. And to that end, this column has serious doubts that the Japanese government will honor this treaty in good faith.

These doubts are based on precedent. After all, Japan famously ignores human-rights treaties. For example, nearly 20 years after ratifying the U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination, and nearly 30 since acceding to the U.N. Convention on Discrimination against Women, Japan still has no law against racial discrimination, nor a statute guaranteeing workplace gender equality backed by enforceable criminal penalties.

We have also seen Japan caveat its way out of enforcing the Hague before signing. For example, as noted in previous JT articles (e.g., “Solving parental child abduction problem no piece of cake” by Colin P.A. Jones, March 1, 2011), the debate on custody has been muddied with ungrounded fears that returned children would, for example, face domestic violence (DV) from the foreign parent. DV in Japan is being redefined to include nontactile acts such as “yelling,” “angry looks” and “silent stares” (particularly from men).

It is within this context that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) recently issued a pamphlet titled “What is the Hague Convention?” Available in Japanese and English, it offers a 12-page manga in which a Japanese father carefully explains the Hague Convention to his Japanese-French son.

The pamphlet has sparked considerable controversy. After I blogged about it last month on Debito.org, many annoyed left-behind parents overseas said they would forward it to their national elected representatives. After a South China Morning Post article cited blog commenters calling it racist, Huffington Post Japan and Al Jazeera picked up the story, engendering predictable relativism about differing cultural interpretations.

For the record, I never wrote that the MOFA pamphlet was “racist.” That term, if not used carefully, tends to dull analysis, especially since the pamphlet is more subtle than that. In fact, it provides valuable insights into MOFA’s slanted mind-set towards the child abduction issue.

First, consider the visuals. In three cartoons (on the cover, and pages 4 and 10) we see a foreign-looking man (never a woman) being physically violent towards his child, with two of those showing the child longing to return to Japan and be with mother.

Violent Dads: First and 3rd illustration are used twice, so three.

MOFA1MOFA2

Reinforcing that in five more places (cover, pages 1, 7, and 9 (twice) — see C and D) are illustrations where the child expresses dismay at being abducted from Japan; only once (page 4) is there dismay at being abducted overseas. On the other hand, pages 2 and 7 show children displaying no dismay at being abducted to Japan, or instead showing shock (pages 2 (twice) and 3 — see E) at not being allowed to return to Japan. The clear inference: Japan is, on balance, the natural place for the child, regardless of factors such as primary language or time spent living abroad.

Dismay at being abducted from Japan. Cover and pg 9 repeat illustration twice, so five.

MOFA3 MOFA4 MOFA5

(text context clarifies that the third illustration above is an abduction from Japan)

Dismay at being abducted overseas (one image only):

MOFA6

No dismay at being abducted to Japan:

MOFA7 MOFA8

Dismay at not being allowed to return to Japan:

MOFA9 MOFA10

This implicit fear of the outside world is reinforced by images of uneasy children facing unfamiliar rules, customs and languages (pages 1, 4 and 5 (twice)). More subtle is the picture on the cover and page 1, where foreign (adults) surround, frown and stare at the nervous Japanese child as though she really doesn’t belong. (She’s sent back to her Japanese mother’s loving arms by the next panel — phew.) Only once (page 3) is there a happy child sent back to his foreign dad.

Uneasy children facing the unfamiliar:

MOFA11 MOFA17

 

MOFA12

Being stared at by adults:

MOFA13

Sole image of happy child being returned to NJ father (plus katakana-speaking father not in English version, referred to below):

MOFA14

Then consider the manga storyline. The Japanese father protagonist experiences a child abduction when the French mother abducts their son to France. Fortunately, according to the pamphlet, because Japan signed the Hague, Japan’s authorities can have French authorities track down the child, get mediation and (as the conflict resolution of this story) return the son (and the mother) to live happily ever after in Japan (page 6).

That is the central and tacit argument of the MOFA pamphlet: Japan signing the Hague isn’t about returning children to their habitual residence (whether it be Japan or overseas); it is about giving Japan greater leverage overseas to bring its children home to Japan. Where they belong.

Moreover, for some mysterious reason we spend the first page developing the relationship between the Japanese father and son protagonists, with father comically put off-balance by a barrage of questions from son, then negotiating with him to finish his dinner before answering. By page 3, the pamphlet mysteriously succumbs to another case of the cutes, as an anime figurine appears to praise the son’s intelligence (revealing father as an anime fetishist).

Irrelevant curlicues:

MOFA16 MOFA15

Why these irrelevant curlicues? Because by page 6, we learn why the French mother abducted the son: She accuses father of spending all his time watching anime and not paying attention to them. This is of course made dubious after all the space spent portraying the father’s caring, explaining, hugging, even cooking for his son. So clearly she’s just being hysterical. Of course, she returns to Japan with them after negotiations, so nothing fatal to the relationship.

On the other hand, when it’s a Japanese woman abducting, her reasons are more serious than hubby’s anime fetish. She has to deal with domestic violence, poverty (cover), unsympathetic or unpredictable foreign courts (pages 2, 3, 4, and 5), and even the unlikely scenario of begging frowning foreign strangers on the street to help her missing child overseas (page 2). Conclusion: The Japanese side is generally being victimized, while the foreign side is subtly depicted as violent and overreacting.

Other images referred to above. Frowning foreign strangers on the street:

MOFA18

This is where MOFA is most disingenuous: In no fewer than four places (pages 1, 2 (twice) and 5) are unsympathetic courts, “cultural differences,” “legal procedures” and “language barriers” cited as hurdles for the Japanese spouse overseas.

Japan’s unsympathetic courts, legal procedures and cultural presumptions allowing child abductions to happen here on a regular basis — even between Japanese couples — are never mentioned. Japan, remember, has no joint custody or guaranteed child visitations.

In fact, taking the issue to a court overseas may afford both parents more rights — as it did in the Savoie case, where, despite the pamphlet’s claims, a Tennessee court gave Noriko Savoie permission to leave the U.S. for Japan (whereupon she abducted Christopher Savoie’s children). This is where the pamphlet morphs from guide to screed.

No doubt some MOFA representatives will be reading this critique, so let me point out two more inaccuracies unbecoming of a government agency attempting an impartial review of the issue.

First, almost all of the international marriages in the pamphlet are portrayed as between (katakana-speaking, in the Japanese version) white men and Japanese women. In fact, most international marriages in Japan are between Japanese men and Asian women. That is where the pamphlet is an easy target for accusations of racism. Not all “foreignness,” especially in this case, is so visually identifiable.

Then there’s the biased terminology. It is inaccurate in the English version to frame child abductions as “children’s removal” — after all, this is not the Hague Convention on Child Removals. Just as inaccurate as the term it was translated from, tsuresari (literally, “accompanying and disappearing”), meant to semantically soften the act of kidnapping — especially when another appropriate word, rachi, is used for abductions of Japanese by North Koreans.

On the plus side, there have already been good outcomes from Japan’s joining the Hague. Left-behind parents including Christopher Savoie and U.S. Navy Capt. Paul Toland (who have successfully pushed for the Goldman Act, as well as several U.S. congressional resolutions decrying Japan’s status as a haven for child abductions) have recently had their Hague applications accepted by the Japanese government, which has promised to locate and provide access to the Americans’ children in Japan. In effect, this is official acknowledgment that their children were in fact abducted from their lawful custody. Two abducted children have also been returned to their habitual residences in Japan.

NB:  There are at least 3 US resolutions mentioning Japan Child Abduction: House Resolutions 125 and 1326 and Senate Resolution 552.  Savoie Case, letter from MOFA dated September 8, 2014, accepting his case as a Hague Case, meaning the GOJ recognizes his legal custody:

SavoieGOJletter090814

Very good. But will all this eventually result in Japan actually returning a child to a parent overseas — something which, according to activists, has never happened as a result of Japanese government or court action?

Let’s wait and see, of course. But at this juncture, I doubt Japan will enforce the Hague with much verve. Doing so, as Colin P.A. Jones has pointed out on these pages, would in fact give more rights to those in international marriages than it would domestic couples! If the Japanese government’s past behavior towards inconvenient international treaties is any guide, it will find caveats to ensure international divorce does not become another way for Japan’s depopulation to accelerate.

Thus, MOFA’s pamphlet is little more than subtle propagandizing meant to reassure the Japanese public that they haven’t lost the power to abduct by signing the Hague. In fact, MOFA is portraying the Hague as a means to bring more Japanese children back home. With that mind-set as strong as ever, I anticipate that foreign parents will continue to get a raw deal from the Japanese system.

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

Debito Arudou recommends that officials at MOFA and everyone else understand this issue better by watching “From The Shadows,” a documentary available at www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause usually appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

JT on hate speech and GOJ’s connections to organized crime: “Yakuza do what Abe Cabinet’s Yamatani can’t”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Drawing to a close this curlicue about the PM Abe Administration and hate speech in Japan, here’s an excellent article by Jake Adelstein in the Japan Times about Cabinet Member Yamatani Eriko’s inability to disavow the hate group Zaitokukai, and her lying to the FCCJ last month (discussed in our previous blog entry) about her awareness and connections to it. I am very pleased that how NJ are treated in Japan is being made into a major issue that shows the misguidance of ever putting Abe back in power. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

NATIONAL / MEDIA | DARK SIDE OF THE RISING SUN
Yakuza do what Abe Cabinet pick can’t (excerpt)
BY JAKE ADELSTEIN
THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 4, 2014, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/04/national/media-national/yakuza-abe-cabinet-pick-cant/

In most countries, police officers and criminals are supposed to be on opposite sides of the law, especially the higher up the chain of command you go, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe doesn’t appear to think this is necessary.

Last month, photographs surfaced showing several members of Abe’s new Cabinet socializing with members of an anti-Korean hate group known as Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (more commonly known as Zaitokukai). The appearance of such images raises some disturbing issues.

Founded circa 2006, Zaitokukai is an ultranationalistic, right-wing group that seeks to eliminate the “special privileges” extended to non-Japanese who have been granted Special Foreign Resident status. These people are predominantly ethnic Koreans, many of whom were conscripted and brought to Japan as slave labor in the 1930s and ’40s. Zaitokukai also hates other non-Japanese as well — it just has a special hatred for Koreans.

In July, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the government to crack down on the growing number of hate-speech incidents targeting non-Japanese. The committee made special mention of Zaitokukai in its report and called on Japan to introduce legislation that specifically punishes hate crimes. The U.S. State Department has also named Zaitokukai in its annual human rights white paper. However, Zaitokukai isn’t on a U.S. blacklist like, say, the Sumiyoshi-kai yakuza syndicate — or, at least, not yet.

The National Police Agency has even touched upon Zaitokukai-related issues. “In parts of Tokyo and Osaka heavily populated by Korean-Japanese, racist right-wing groups have engaged in radical demonstrations, drawing the attention of society to the hate-speech problem,” the agency wrote in its white paper on public safety.

And yet Eriko Yamatani, the newly appointed chairman of the National Public Safety Commission that oversees the National Police Agency, doesn’t seem to be aware of Zaitokukai’s existence nor does she seem to believe hate speech is a problem. When photographs of her posing alongside several Zaitokukai members were uncovered by the Shukan Bunshun weekly tabloid, she said that she didn’t know the name of the group, and didn’t know the former Kansai bureau chief of Zaitokukai who was standing in the same photo. The man in question, however, claims to have known her for more than a decade in a recent interview with the tabloid. What’s more, Yamatani has appeared in a newsletter he previously published (even penning a column in it) and worked with various Zaitokukai members at other political rallies.

At a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Sept. 25, Yamatani denied that the weekly’s article was true and alleged she had been misquoted. However, when she was asked to publicly repudiate Zaitokukai, she refused — three times.

Shukan Bunshun last week published a follow-up article and included an audio recording of its interview with her, suggesting Yamatani did indeed lie at her news conference. It also added a proverb to its coverage: “All thieves start as liars.”

But lying to the press is not a crime, nor is hate speech illegal in Japan. Hate crimes are not illegal either. That said, generating profit for organized crime is something else.

Zaitokukai has had a tight relationship with Nihonseinensha, a right-wing group that is part of the Sumiyoshi-kai, the second-largest yakuza syndicate in the country. In testimony in the Diet, the National Police Agency acknowledged that Nihonseinensha’s top adviser was also a senior figure in the Sumiyoshi-kai.

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/04/national/media-national/yakuza-abe-cabinet-pick-cant/

2014 MOFA pamphlet explaining Hague Treaty on Child Abductions to J citizens (full text with synopsis, including child-beating NJ father on cover & victimized J mothers throughout) UPDATE: With link to MOFA pdf and official E translation

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Japan, after years of pressure from overseas, is now a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, where children of international marriages are to be protected against psychologically-damaging abductions and severed contact with one parent after marriage dissolution and divorce.  Debito.org has covered this issue extensively in the past.  What matters now is how Japan intends to enforce the treaty.  Debito.org has argued that we are not hopeful about Japan following the spirit of the agreement in good faith.  It has been reinterpreting sections with caveats to give the Japanese side undue advantages in negotiations, indirectly portraying the Non Japanese (NJ) party as the suspicious interloper, redefining important issues such as domestic violence (DV) to include heated arguments and “silent stares” etc., refusing to see abductions by the Japanese parent as much more than a natural repatriation, and not being self-aware that in Japan, child abduction and severed contact with one parent is quite normal (due in part to the vagaries of the Family Registration System (koseki)), but not necessarily in the best interests of the child.  Japan has been, in short, a haven for international child abductions, and how the GOJ will interpret the Hague to its people is crucial for change in public mindsets and enforcement.

To that end, Debito.org is fortunate to have received a copy from a concerned reader of a 2014 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Gaimushou) pamphlet explaining the Hague to the Japanese public.  Scanned below in full, within its discourse are troubling assumptions and presumptions that bear scrutiny and exposure, as they remain along the lines of the concerns expressed above.  If this is Japan’s official mindset towards international child abductions, then Debito.org remains pessimistic, if not cynical, about Japan’s intentions to enforce the Hague in good faith.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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

And there is even an English language version!

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

From the Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong, courtesy of XY.
(click on any image to expand in browser)
p1
This is the cover image, with a father about to explain the Hague to his curious son, and look what makes the first impressions:  The J mother sobbing as the NJ parent whisks their child from her grasp.  The child being stared at and not fitting in with her big-nosed NJ classmates (Japanese rarely have much of a nose in Japan’s international illustrations; it’s a style, but it makes it seem as if NJ are never Asian; never mind).  The J father being nabbed by the police regarding his kid.  The J mother short of money when thinking of her daughter.  And, of course, the obligatory drawing of the physically-abusive NJ parent with the child longing for her J mother.  The point is, the J mother is in most situations the one being victimized.

p2
The first page already has a case of the cutes (even though, since this book has no furigana over the kanji, it’s a manual directed towards adults, not children), with a J father explaining to his son suddenly overwhelming him with questions (after complimenting him on his interest in the news) about how, as of April 1 2014, Japan has to follow the Hague regarding the “tsuresari” (“accompanying and disappearing”, not the more hot-button term “rachi” used for “abductions” when it’s Japanese being abducted to North Korea) of children.  After making a deal with him to eat all his dinner before hearing more, we have a prototypical J=NJ union couched as between a Japanese and a Gaijin (even though most international marriages in Japan are overwhelmingly between Japanese and Asians): the NJ male makes off with the child, the child has trouble fitting in overseas due to language and environmental difficulties, and the child is happily returned to the J mother’s arms thanks to the glad hands of the Hague Treaty thinking of the best interests of the child.  By the end of the page, the son is already shuddering to think what it might be like to live in a foreign country, what with no friends in school and all that.

p3
Next page has more explanation about what will change under the Hague.  The first point is that Japan had no standing to have children returned if they were abducted.  The poor victimized J-mother had to find her child with no help (apparently by showing a photo to taller Gaijin strangers giving her the cold shoulder), and even had to go to court to ask for custody (in a place with different laws and culture!).  How terrible, the child notes, for the parent to suddenly have to go to a big country and look for a little child.  Of course, then the converse is depicted to be true (but without the sobbing child pining for his NJ dad as the J mom takes her back to Japan — in fact, more alarm from the child that he can’t return to Japan), with consequent difficulties in seeing their child (NB:  Nowhere mentioned is the fact that joint custody and visitation is guaranteed in some of these overseas places with the dreaded “different laws and cultures”, but not in Japan.)  And what about the case where the divorce takes place overseas and the J-mother wants to take the child back to Japan?  The courts will deny the mother the ability to leave!  (“What, you can’t go home to your country of birth??” proclaims the ever more-startled son at the end.  Even though that exit denial didn’t happen, for example, in the Christopher Savoie Case, which is why the abduction of his children occurred.)  Conclusion:  Already the issue is portrayed in a lopsided manner, with the J-mother being the more victimized party overseas.

p4
Next page succumbs to an even more silly case of the cutes, not only with the katakana-accented NJ begging a J court for his child back, but also with an animated doll appearing as an interlocutor because Papa happens to be an anime otaku fetishist (rather unbecoming of a serious issue in a serious pamphlet issued by a national government).  Carrying on…  This section talks about how signing the treaty makes it so that either side can have their child returned, meaning this will stop courts from hindering parents from returning to their countries at will, because if problems arise, there is an apparatus where courts can return the child if necessary.   (NB:  Not mentioned is that there has not been a single recorded case in Japanese court where a Japanese child has been returned to a NJ parent’s habitual residence overseas, meaning there is no precedent that the apparatus will work on the Japanese side.)  It also will probably act as a means to preempt abductions, says the pamphlet.

p5
Then the pamphlet turns to a case of one of Papa’s friends (a J mother married to a NJ father) who abducted their child to Japan.  It went before a Japanese court, with the child standing at the mercy of the gavel, fate uncertain.  But just to make sure there is a lingering scare, the son expresses doubt as to the justice of a child being repatriated to a physically-abusive (!!) NJ father (where did THAT presumption come from?). Once again, the NJ father is being portrayed as potentially abusive, even though, naturally, abusive J (mothers or fathers) exist in Japan.

p6
Next page allays the fears of injustice, with a list of reasons why a child would not be forcibly returned thanks to the Hague (bonus image of the loving mother embracing a heart and saying that she will prioritize the protection of the child).  But — horrors — at the suggestion by the child that Papa’s friend shouldn’t have abducted the child and should have perhaps gone to court in America, Papa immediately kiboshes that by mentioning how American courts have a different culture, procedures, language barriers, and might even award custody of the child to a third party! (Again, no mention of the possibility of joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights enforced overseas, neither of which are permitted in Japan due to the koseki Family Registry system, aka “different culture”).  The nuance of this section becomes “it’s oh so complicated, no wonder Papa’s friend abducted their child”.  Conclusion of this page:  It would be awful if one parent couldn’t see their child (which is disingenuous coming from the GOJ because, as mentioned above in the introduction, child abductions without joint custody or visitation rights even between Japanese parents in Japan are quite normal).

p7
Suddenly, a sad fate befalls even this family, what with Papa being revealed as married to a French woman named Marie (who speaks normal Japanese; DV and broken Japanese seem to be the lot of the Western NJ male) who has run off to France with their boy.  Fortunately, thanks to the Hague, the GOJ can intervene, contact the French government, ascertain where she and their child is, get the authorities over there to mediate, get Papa to abandon his anime fetish (good thing he’s not a physically-abusive man; it’s just a harmless fetish, so nothing to fault the J man overmuch for as any serious grounds for divorce, right?), and get them all to make up and fly into the sunset back to Japan for a happy life ever after.

p8
Next page outlines the Hague procedures in three basic steps.  Of course, it’s all NJ men and J women (three different couples).  Visually, note the nuance of the child once again being more distressed to be leaving Japan with her father than going back to Japan with her mother.

p9
Next page lists the countries that are signatories to the Hague and the key points of it in bullet form.

p10
Next page gives the key points in Q&A format, first with what happened before Japan thankfully signed the Hague (abductions with impunity!), second with what to do if an abduction from Japan to a signatory country takes place, third with how long the Hague is in effect (until the child is aged 16), and fourth with a warning not to go abroad and reabduct your child back (you’ll be arrested; get a lawyer).

p11
The penultimate page gives more Q&A, with the obligatory 5) what to do in cases of DV (paste in NJ dad child abuse image again), or even the possibility of DV in the past (ko ni aku’eikyou o ataeru you na bouryoku), with a special section on page 5 above just in case you should want to use Japan’s increasingly grey and loose definitions of DV to get your child back; 6) getting J diplomats to help you out overseas; 7) getting a better understanding of the laws and Alternative Dispute Resolution using public resources.

p12

The pamphlet ends with the boy saying how he understands it all now, and the dad saying how nice it would be if more countries signed the Hague.  Quite.  But not the way it’s being interpreted here.

ENDS

UN: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Japan 2014: Little progress made

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Two posts ago I talked about the UN’s most recent report on Japan’s human rights record (and how there seems to have been almost no progress made).  Well, also interesting is the public record of the give-and-take between UN officials and Japan’s mission to the UN.  That’s below.  It offers a glimpse of the mindsets of Japan’s representatives, and how they will defend Japan’s status quo no matter what.  The parts that are germane to Debito.org are bolded up, so have a read.  This is probably a glimpse as to what courses the GOJ will (not) take regarding human rights issues in future.

BTW,  If you want to see how much has not changed (these UN reviews happen every two years), get a load of what happened last time Japan faced the music in the UN regarding its human rights record, back in 2010.  The GOJ even claimed Japan was taking “every conceivable measure” to eliminate racial discrimination back in 2008 (yeah, except for an actual law against racial discrimination, unrequited since 1996!).  Debito.org’s archives and analysis go back even farther, so click here.  And when everyone by now realizes that Japan’s human-rights efforts are a joke (seriously, back in 2013), the Japanese representative will angrily shout to the audience, “Why are you laughing?  SHUT UP!  SHUT UP!”  This is not a joke.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Japan
UN OHCHR 21 August 2014, courtesy of LK
http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14957&LangID=E

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today completed its consideration of the combined seventh to ninth periodic report of Japan on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Presenting the report, Akira Kono, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Japan was actively working on measures to establish a comprehensive policy to ensure the respect of the human rights of the Ainu people, focusing on the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony. Refugee recognition procedures had been reformed, and Japan strictly practiced the principle of non-refoulement. A nationwide campaign called “Respect the rights of foreign nationals” sought to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against foreigners. In 2020 Japan would host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and in the spirit of the Olympic Charter’s anti-discrimination principles, Japan continued to work to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

During the discussion, issues raised by Committee Experts included the prevalence of racist hate speech in Japan and the lack of anti-discrimination legislation, the situation of Ainu indigenous people and recognition of the people of Okinawa, and remedies for the victims of sexual slavery during World War II (so-called ‘comfort women’). The exploitation of foreign technical interns, the withdrawal of funding for Korean schools in Japan and reports of systematic surveillance of Muslims in Japan were other issues raised.

In concluding remarks Anwar Kemal, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the report of Japan, said Japan had a democratic constitution and therefore should be able to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. It should be able to tackle racist hate speech without impeding upon the right to free speech and should install a national human rights institution without delay. It also needed to improve its protection of the rights of Korean, Chinese and Muslim minority groups in the country.

Mr. Kono, in concluding remarks, said Japan would continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation without permitting any form of discrimination, including racial or ethnic, and would engage in further cooperation with the international community to that end.

The delegation of Japan included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Office, Ministry of Justice, Human Rights Bureau, Immigration Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, National Police Agency and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 3 p.m. this afternoon when it will begin its review of the combined tenth and eleventh periodic report of Estonia.
Report

The Committee is reviewing the combined seventh to ninth periodic report of Japan: CERD/C/JPN/7-9.

Presentation of the Report

AKIRA KONO, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, explained some of the major steps that the Government of Japan had taken towards the implementation of the Convention. Japan was actively working on measures to establish a comprehensive policy to ensure the respect of the human rights of the Ainu people. The focus of the efforts was the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony, the opening of which was timed to coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The space would be a symbol of Japan’s future as a society that respected harmony with diverse and rich cultures and different ethnic groups, while respecting the dignity of the Ainu people, who were indigenous to Japan, and dealing with the problems faced by Ainu culture.

Refugee recognition procedures were carried out in accordance with Japan’s refugee recognition system which took effect in January 1982, and a refugee examination counsellor system was established to enhance the system’s neutrality and fairness. Japan strictly practiced the principle of non-refoulement. The standard processing period for refugee applications was set at six months, and procedures were expedited by an increase in the number of refugee examination counsellors from 19 to 80. Pamphlets available in 14 languages offered guidance concerning procedures which were available at regional immigration bureaus and on the internet. User-friendly procedures for applications had been adopted, including the use of an interpreter in the desired language of the applicant.

Under its framework for resettlement of refugees Japan had accepted 63 Myanmarese refugees who had been sheltered at a refugee camp in Thailand, aiming to make an international contribution and provide humanitarian assistance. [NB:  These refugees refused to come to Japan.] Furthermore, Myanmarese refugees temporarily staying in Malaysia had been made eligible for acceptance, as well as family members of refugees Japan had accepted in the past who were currently in Thailand. The Government strove to support the steady acceptance and local integration of resettled refugees through measures, including guidance on daily life, Japanese language training and employment placement.

The Government emphasized the importance of human rights education and awareness-raising based on the concept of mutual respect for human rights with a correct understanding not only of one’s own human rights but of the rights of others, as well as awareness of the responsibilities that included the exercise of rights. There were awareness-raising activities nationwide, including lectures and distribution of literature under the slogan “Respect the rights of foreign nationals”, to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against that group. The Human Rights Organs of the Ministry of Justice had established Human Rights Counselling Offices for foreign nationals, which offered interpretation in English, Chinese and other languages. The organs could also investigate complaints of rights infringements and take the appropriate measures.

Japan would host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which would be a festive occasion for the whole of Japan, from Hokkaido, where the Ainu people lived, all the way to Okinawa. The Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter stipulated that ‘any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on the grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise was incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement’. In light of the spirit of the constitution of Japan and the Olympic Charter, Japan would continue to work tirelessly to improve its human rights situation and not permit any form of discrimination, including on the basis of race or ethnicity.

OSAMU YAMANAKA, Director, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, gave in-depth oral answers to the list of issues submitted by the Committee prior to today’s review. Mr. Yamanaka spoke about anti-discrimination related domestic laws, and confirmed that discrimination on the basis of race was prohibited in Article 14 of the constitution, as well as in relevant laws and regulations including in the fields of employment, education, medical care and transport. The dissemination and expression of racist thought could constitute a crime of defamation and other crimes under the Penal Code in certain cases, while a racially discriminatory act constituted a tort under the Civil Code. The Government was making efforts to implement the Act on the Limitation of Liability for Damages of Specified Telecommunications Service Providers and the Right to Demand Disclosure of Identification Information of the Senders which limited the liability of a provider in cases, for example, where information on the Internet infringed the rights of others.

Mr. Yamanaka briefed the Committee on activities to promote human rights education, such as training programmes for teachers, judges, officials, probation officers and members of the police force, among others. He described efforts to eliminate discrimination against the Burakumin, as well as discrimination in the fields of employment, in the selection of tenants for rental housing and in social education.

Regarding indigenous peoples, Mr. Yamanaka said the Government of Japan only recognized the Ainu people as indigenous, and that people living in Okinawa Prefecture or born in Okinawa were not subject to ‘racial discrimination’ as provided for in the Convention, but would discuss the issue further during the dialogue. Since Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese administration in May 1972 the Government had implemented various measures which had resulted in the gap with the mainland being reduced, especially in the field of social capital development.

Concerning the Ainu indigenous people, Mr. Yamanaka said the Government aimed to promote public understanding through education and awareness-raising, develop the Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony, promote research concerning the Ainu people, promote Ainu culture including the Ainu language, promote the effective use of land and resources, and promote business as well as measures to improve livelihoods.

Turning to people of non-Japanese nationality, such as immigrants, Mr. Yamanaka also highlighted the ‘Respect the rights of foreign nationals’ campaign which aimed to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against foreign nationals. He also neither confirmed that refusing accommodation in a hotel solely on the grounds that the person was of a specific race or ethnicity was nor [sic] permitted under the Inns and Hotels Act. The Government supported efforts to increase the number of hotels and Japanese inns registered under that Act, so foreign tourists could stay with peace of mind.

Government actions to combat trafficking in persons were also described, as was the application procedure for asylum seekers, the treatment of detainees and the objection system regarding immigration procedures and deportation.

Questions by the Country Rapporteur

ANWAR KEMAL, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Report of Japan, said on a positive note Japan had many of the attributes of a great country with an ancient sophisticated culture. It had not hesitated to share its wealth and technical know-how with developing countries. Since the end of the Second World War, it had established a democratic constitution with a wide range of provisions to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, under the Convention State parties were required to enact legislation specifically to combat racial discrimination. Article 14 of the Japanese constitution prohibited racial discrimination but did not cover all five grounds for discrimination listed in the Convention. Comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation was therefore needed.

Turning to other positive measures Mr. Kemal said the State party had made progress in several areas, for example it had consulted members of civil society for the report, albeit to a limited extent. More importantly, it had taken a number of measures to address the problems faced by the Ainu indigenous people and had taken special measures to uplift the standards of living of the people of the Ryukus. It had also provided training and orientation sessions to public officials to sensitize them about the problems faced by minorities in Japan.

The Committee was concerned about the continued incidence of explicit racist statements and actions against groups, including children attending Korean schools, and the harmful and racist expressions and attacks via the Internet, particularly against the Burakumin. Japan would be aware of the Committee’s latest general recommendation on racist hate speech, in which it made it clear that freedom of speech was not absolute and did not permit individuals or organizations licence to demonize vulnerable groups. Human Rights Council members had drawn attention to more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches in Japan since 2013. What actions was Japan taking to curb hate speech, including from public officials? Was victimization of vulnerable groups against Japanese culture? If so, firm action by the State party could be justified, said Mr. Kemal. In addressing acts of injustice it was sometimes necessary to confront and punish wrong-doers, and Japanese history had many such examples.

In 2010 the Committee requested Japan to ensure equal treatment between Japanese and non-Japanese in the rights of access to places and services intended for use by the general public, such as restaurants, bathhouses and hotels. However, the Human Rights Committee last month in Geneva concluded that Japanese and non-Japanese were not treated equally, and there were many signs displayed in such public facilities stating that access was only for the Japanese. Could the State party please comment?

The exploitation of interns, or apprentices from overseas countries under a Government programme was an issue raised by civil society. They were reportedly not taught any technical skills but were used as cheap manual labour, working long hours and being mistreated. Japan had negative growth ? its population was shrinking. Perhaps it would be better to have a proper immigration programme to get workers into the country, rather than using the ‘intern’ programme which was discriminatory, commented Mr. Kemal.

Outlining other areas of concern, Mr. Kemal said the Committee’s last set of concluding observations to the State party in 2010 referred to discrimination against the Burakumin. However, the State party omitted reference to the Baraku problem in its latest report. Civil society reported that although the living conditions of the Baraku had improved over recent years, thanks to special measures, the gap in the standard of living between Baraku and the majority remained wide, and social discrimination continued to be a troubling problem.

While Japan was maintaining its commitment to establish a national human rights institution compliant with the Paris Principles, progress was painfully slow, in particular since November 2013. All the treaty bodies, including this one, would be highly satisfied the day Japan enacted the appropriate legislation to meet this commitment.

In 2010 the Committee recommended that Japan adopt an approach where the identity of non-Japanese nationals seeking naturalization was respected, and that official application forms and publications dealing with the naturalization process refrain from using language that persuaded applicants to adopt Japanese names for fear of discrimination. The report was silent on that matter.

Mr. Kemal also asked what the State party was doing to address the phenomenon of double discrimination, in particular regarding women and children from vulnerable groups.

Japan had made limited progress towards implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and had also been urged to consider ratifying the International Labour Organization Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries. Mr. Kemal noted that UNESCO had recognized the number of Ryukyu languages as well as the Okinawans’ unique ethnicity, culture and traditions. Had Japan been engaging in consultations with Okinawan representatives?

Efforts made by the State party to facilitate education for minority groups were noted with appreciation by the Committee, yet still there was a lack of adequate opportunities for Ainu children or children of other national groups to receive instruction in their language. Similarly, complaints had been made that the State party had stopped funding Korean schools, despite it guaranteeing the right for children of Korean residents in Japan to learn their native language and culture.

Questions by the Experts

Japan tended to get a poor press in human rights battles due to films and stories about the Second World War, commented an Expert, but it was not forgotten that it was one of the most advanced philosophies and had inspired many peoples in Asia in the fight against colonialism. Japan obviously had an advanced infrastructure for the promotion and protection of human rights and had made good progress. Nevertheless, there was a streak of insularity in the Japanese nature and immigrant communities frequently faced discrimination.

Civil society representatives showed the Committee a very disturbing video about racist hate speech targeting Korean residents in Japan, said an Expert. He gathered the Prime Minister of Japan agreed, as per his statement last month that Japan must take measures to combat racist hate speech. To what extent had senior officials condemned the sort of racist hate speech seen in that video?

There was a serious problem of racial discrimination in Japan, said an Expert. Some extreme right organizations and individuals claimed they had Japanese superiority. Some even had deep-rooted colonial concepts, he said. They were xenophobic; they degraded, harassed and provoked foreigners wantonly and sometimes even perpetrated violent acts against them. They used the newspapers, internet, TV and other media to spread their racist hate speech. The extreme right groups held demonstrations, even flying Japanese military flags used during the Second World War in order to revive militarism. They went unpunished by the authorities, and so became increasingly wanton in their practices. Their victims had no access to justice, and the police ignored their complaints.

Some senior politicians, including cabinet ministers, had made racist statements which sought to mislead the people of Japan and distort history. They also spread the so-called ‘theory of China threat’. That was because Japan had no special law against discrimination and no national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles.

The Ainu and seven other languages and dialects were threatened, said an Expert. Happily, measures had been taken to reinvigorate the Ainu language and now many people spoke it, but what had been done for the other languages? The Ainu were recognized as indigenous peoples and had access to their ancestral land, at least on Hokkaido. Could the delegation speak more about their land rights?

What about the repatriation of former Japanese emigrants back to Japan? An Expert asked about a case of Japanese people who moved to Brazil before moving back to Japan, and how they were welcomed and integrated back home.

The issue of sexual slavery, known as ‘comfort women’ dating back to World War II was an ongoing violation. Almost 90 per cent of the women ? who were mostly from minority groups ? had by now passed away, but the Government continued to deny they were sex slaves, rather asserting that they were wartime prostitutes. That caused untold agony for those women; they and their families deserved recognition of their victim status and reparations. The Expert also asked about discrimination against women, particularly women from minority groups, and whether Japan would consider taking affirmative action.

What was the State party’s understanding of race, as scientifically, races did not exist: all humans belonged to the same race, said an Expert. What was covered by Japan’s definition of race and was it only limited to citizens of Japan?

Exactly how many Koreans were resident in Japan, asked an Expert, commenting that the approximate half a million Koreans in Japan appeared to bear the brunt of racial discrimination. What were the reasons for the discriminatory treatment, he asked, was it due to differences in culture or in language? Many non-Japanese people felt they had to change their names into Japanese names in order to avoid discrimination. They were not treated equally to other Japanese, added an Expert, and were not allowed to hold public sector positions.

The ending of the waiver programme for Korean schools and subsidies for school fees was not only a major concern, in depriving many children from adequate education, but a symbol of wider discrimination. Furthermore, the restrictions on uniforms for Korean students, which hampered their self-identity, were another issue.

Response by the Delegation

On education, a delegate said children of foreign nationals could attend public schools in Japan for free, and the Government was making efforts to establish a system which guaranteed opportunities for children of Korean residents in Japan to learn their native language and culture and to promote international understanding among Japanese children. However, most Korean residents who did not wish to attend Japanese schools attended Korean schools established in Japan.

Regarding the withdrawal of tuition support of children attending Korean schools in Japan, a delegate explained that it had become apparent that the Korean schools did not meet the requirements to receive the tuition funding, therefore, the funding had been withdrawn. One reason was that the schools had a close relationship with an organization related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and as the schools could not prove their independence they no longer benefitted from the Public School Tuition Fee Support Fund. If the schools could demonstrate their independence or when diplomatic relations of Japan and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were restored then the Government would re-evaluate whether the schools could benefit from the Support Fund once again. Korean schools were recognized by prefectural governorates as “miscellaneous schools” as were other international schools, for example British or Chinese, and were not discriminated against.

On hate speech and incitement to racial discrimination, a delegate said any expression of hate ? insult, defamation, intimidation, and obstruction of justice ? was a crime that could be invoked under the Criminal Code of Japan. He referred to the video mentioned by Committee members as well as allegations that the police attended xenophobic demonstrations to protect the demonstrators from anti-racism campaigners. A delegate from the National Police Agency said they provided security at those demonstrations in an impartial way, not to protect the demonstrators but to protect public security in general.

In June this year Prime Minister Abe said hate speech was damaging Japan’s pride within the international community and that the issue should be and would be dealt with squarely. He called upon his party to deal with the issue, reported a delegate. Support was given to victims of hate speech and other human rights violations by the Japan Legal Support Centre which had offices throughout the country. The offices provided support programmes for financially distressed people such as free legal aid or temporary payments to lawyers.

The objective of “technical internships” for foreign nationals was to transfer the skills, techniques and knowledge of Japan to foreign nationals in order to contribute to the human resources development of developing countries. There had been instances of misconduct by the receiving organizations and reports of non-payment of wages and long working hours. Consequently in June 2014 Japan revised its strategy and started a ‘drastic inter-agency review’ of the system. Government agreements with sending nations were also reviewed. The ‘drastic review’ would be completed by the end of 2014, and in 2015 a new surveillance system and operational institution would be implemented.

Japan’s position on the ‘comfort women’ issue was that it did not meet the definition of racial discrimination defined in the Convention, and was not relevant to the Committee. Furthermore, Japan opposed the term ‘sexual slavery’ which it found inappropriate. However, the Government wished to sincerely and honestly respond to the Committee’s concern, said a delegate, and so it would explain measures taken for the ‘comfort women’.

In the past Japan caused tremendous damage and suffering to many countries, particularly Asian women, said a delegate. The Government, squarely facing those historical facts, expressed its deep remorse and heartfelt apology, and feelings of sincere mourning for all victims of World War II, both at home and abroad. Prime Minister Abe had said publicly that he was deeply pained to think of the ‘comfort women’ who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering beyond description, as had previous Prime Ministers of Japan. The Prime Minister had also written letters of apology to the women (copies of the letter were shared with the Committee).

Compensation had been dealt with through the San Francisco Peace Treaty, bilateral agreements and other treaties, and legally speaking the settlement had clearly been made. However, recognizing that the ‘comfort women’ issue was a grave affront to the honour and dignity of a large number of women, the Government and people of Japan had established the Asian Women’s Fund in 1995, to extend atonement from the Japanese people to the former ‘comfort women’ in the form of money donated by the people of Japan, for women from the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan, as identified by their Governments. Additionally, the Asian Women’s Fund paid for medical and psychological care, welfare support and even welfare projects such as those in the Netherlands for women who suffered incurable psychological or physical damage during World War II. The Asian Women’s Fund was disbanded in March 2007 but the Government continued to implement follow-up activities.

Regarding reports that foreign nationals were refused access into some hotels, a delegate said the Inns and Hotels Act prohibited the refusal of access to a foreign national solely on the grounds of their race or ethnicity. Additionally, the Development of Hotels for In-Bound Tourists Act served to improve hotel accommodation for tourists. Complaints about discrimination by hotels, and other public facilities such as restaurants, public areas or public transport could be made under the Act on the Optimization and Promotion of Public Facilities.

The Advisory Council for Future Ainu Policy made policy recommendations to the Government in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Japan voted for. Japan believed the exercise of the indigenous Ainu’s rights in accordance with the Declaration should only be restrained when their rights impeded upon the rights and best interests of the wider Japanese public. Ainu representatives accounted for one-third or more of the members of the Advisory Council, the delegate added.

Regarding Ainu indigenous people who did not live on the island of Hokkaido, a delegate referred to a 2008 resolution adopted unanimously by the Parliament which demanded recognition of the Ainu people as indigenous. The declaration found that the Ainu people had lived mostly in the north of Japan’s archipelago, particularly on the island of Hokkaido, and had their own unique language of culture. Ainu people living in other areas were surveyed to learn about their living conditions, he added.

The Symbolic Space for Ethnic Harmony would open in 2020, to coincide with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Space would feature museums, traditional Ainu houses and handcraft studios where people could learn about the Ainu people’s world view, especially of the natural world. The space would serve as the National Centre for the Restoration of Ainu Culture. Efforts to promote Ainu language and culture across Japan were described by a delegate who also said although it was not envisaged to use Ainu in the classrooms of all schools, in many schools attended by Ainu students children did have the opportunity to study the language and culture of Ainu.

The value of the people of Okinawa was recognized and their rights were guaranteed. Their valuable culture and traditions were promoted and preserved within the law. Following the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in May 1937 the Okinawa Promotion Plan and related Act were adopted to guide measures to develop Okinawa’s social infrastructure. As a result, the gap between Okinawa and the mainland was narrowing and steady improvement was being seen.

The Government recognized trafficking in persons as a serious human rights infringement and treated it as such. In 2004 it launched the Action Plan of Measures to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and since then the number of victims had decreased annually to around 20 to 30 per year. Compensation was paid, with coordination from the International Organization of Migration, to support victims.

A delegate said it was a nationally accepted principle that public officials with national power to make public decisions had to have Japanese nationality. That was not unreasonable. There were many jobs in the civil service where persons without Japanese nationality were employed, such as laboratories and research institutions. Furthermore, other professions, such as nursing, were open to non-Japanese nationals.

Regarding refugees and asylum seekers, a delegate said they should not be sent back to their original countries if they faced any risk to their person on their return. The delegate spoke about the refugee application process, and said even if an applicant for refugee status did not receive it, they could still apply for residency in Japan even without humanitarian consideration. Although in some cases they would be deported, Japan did not return people to certain countries, as per the Refugee Convention and the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.

Concerning social welfare for foreign nationals, a delegate said Japan’s social welfare system had undergone several changes, including deletion of the requirement that foreign nationals in Japan had to meet the same requirements as Japanese nationals, for example to benefit from the national pension system. Today foreign nationals were covered by the pension scheme. The Revised National Pension Act of 2012 further reduced the qualifying period from 25 to 10 years, starting in October 2015. Reports that individuals undergoing naturalization were encouraged to adopt Japanese names and characters were not true, said a delegate.

If a foreign national spouse was divorced from their Japanese spouse then he or she lost their status as a Japanese resident. However, that did not mean the person was automatically deprived of their residency status. They had to apply to the Government with details of their background, life in Japan and reasons for the divorce ? or death of their spouse. If the person had a child who needed to stay in Japan then the person would usually be given long-term resident status to stay in Japan. According to nationality law a child who had a Japanese father or mother at the time of birth would obtain Japanese nationality by birth, a delegate confirmed.

Human rights education was provided at developmentally appropriate levels in schools. Authorities, based upon the guidelines, sought to particularly support youth who had difficulties, as well as widows. Mother and Child Family support funds helped vulnerable families with subsidised childcare. The Basic Plan for Gender Equality adopted in 2010 further had provisions to support women suffering from discrimination. A delegate also spoke about the establishment of Human Rights Counselling Offices under the Legal Affairs Bureau, which investigated cases of suspected human rights infringements and provided remedies. The Bureau also ran telephone hotlines for women and children to report violations.

Japan was seriously considering lifting its reservation to Article 14 of the Convention, which related to individual communications. There were international treaties yet to be ratified by Japan, including International Labour Organization Conventions 111 and 169, on Migrant Workers Rights and on Domestic Workers, as well as the Convention on Stateless Persons, the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, and the Convention on Genocide. The Government recognized the ideals of those Conventions but had to carefully consider their consistency with Japanese law and the legislative efforts that would be required to accede to them.

Follow-Up Questions from the Experts

An Expert said a delegate had asserted that the Committee could raise questions about historical cases, even if they happened 100 years ago, if relevant to the Convention. The Expert believed the issues of ‘comfort women’ and land taken from indigenous peoples were relevant.

Was it correct that the Japanese Government did not recognize the existence of indigenous people on its island of Okinawa? What was being done to terminate or moderate the surveillance of Muslims, an Expert asked. An Expert said the Committee reserved its right to use the ‘sexual slavery’ terminology rather than ‘comfort women’, which was also used by the High Commissioner and the Human Rights Committee.

Response by the Delegation

A delegate responded to questions about alleged systematic monitoring of Muslims in Japan. He said if this was true, they were monitored not because of their religion but was simply as a matter of public security. A delegate from the National Police Agency added that details of information gathering activities to prevent future terrorism could not be disclosed, but noted that the police collected information according to the law.

Japan had its own view on Okinawa, said a delegate. Japan had many islands in its archipelago on many of which traditions with unique traits had been developed, as on Okinawa. Everybody in Japan had the right to enjoy their own culture, practice their own religion and speak their own language ? nobody was denied those rights. The Japanese recognized their rich culture and traditions and had a Plan of Action for the Promotion of Okinawa.

Statistically, in 2013 there were 3,349 people of Brazilian nationality entering Japan, and by the end of the year 181,268 of people with Brazilian nationality were living in Japan.

Concluding Remarks

ANWAR KEMAL, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for the Report of Japan, said Japan was making progress in the implementation of the Convention. Japan had a democratic constitution and therefore should be able to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law which would plug the gaps in the domestic legislation as recommended by the Committee five years ago. It should be able to tackle racist hate speech without impeding upon the right to free speech. It should install a national human rights institution without delay. And the State party should enact measures to bring the standard of living of the Ainu people, as well as the Ryukyu, up to that of the rest of the population without delay. Japan also needed to improve its protection of the rights of Korean, Chinese and Muslim minority groups in the country. He thanked the delegation for the productive dialogue.

AKIRA KONO, Ambassador to the United Nations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, thanked the Committee for the fruitful dialogue, for its comments and interest, and said the reviews were a valuable process that helped the Government improve its implementation of the Convention. Japan would continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation without permitting any form of discrimination, including racial or ethnic. The Government would engage in further cooperation with the international community to that end.

_______

For use of the information media; not an official record

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

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There — now you have my comment on it.

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

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

Yomiuri: TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020 for “foreign visitors” to Tokyo Olympics. Nice, but how about for NJ residents now?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something a little less dramatic (but no less pesky and maybe even indicative of something unconscious) for a hot summer Sunday in Japan.  Article and comments courtesy of KM.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Hi Debito!  Here’s another indication that the government cares more about short-term visitors than about the foreigners who actually live here:

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

TV shows to get foreign-language subtitles by 2020
July 22, 2014, The Yomiuri Shimbun, courtesy of KM
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001439680

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will develop a system to show Japanese TV programs with subtitles in foreign languages, including English and Chinese, to provide a more comfortable viewing experience for foreign visitors, according to sources.

In response to the increasing number of visitors from overseas, the envisaged system will be launched by 2020, the year in which the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held, the sources said.

Behind the ministry’s decision were requests from foreign visitors for more foreign-language subtitles for domestic TV programs. The envisaged system will be offered for news programs related to visitors’ safety and security during their stay, as well as variety shows.

A TV station broadcasts a program in the original Japanese, then the contents are automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles. Finally, the subtitles are sent to TV screens via the Internet.

The ministry will form a promotional organization comprising broadcasting stations, IT firms, electronics companies, research institutes and others by the year-end. The organization is expected to begin trials in fiscal 2015.

The ministry will encourage the communications and IT industries to take part in offering translation and subtitle distribution services for the system. The promotional organization will be tasked with studying how the cost of translation services and distributing the subtitles should be covered.

ENDS

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

KM:  I have a few thoughts about this:

  1. It probably would be nice to have more programing with English subtitles (and subtitles in other languages) but I’m a bit surprised that such a huge adjustment to daily programing in Japan would be made on behalf of those visiting short-term for the olympics. Of course, it would be open to anyone but the article (and a similar article in Japanese) makes it sound like the olympics and the comments of short-term visitors are primary motivations for the change.
  2. The article says that Japanese content will be “automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles.” Such subtitles might be intelligible for things like a weather forecast, but I can’t imagine them being of much use (except as something to laugh at — because of their poor quality) with variety programs.
  3. Instead of making a major adjustment like this to satisfy the whims of short-term visitors, perhaps the money to make this change could be spent to improve the quality of disaster information and disaster warning systems for people who actually live here.

 

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

Japanese:

テレビに外国語の字幕、五輪までに実現…総務省
2014年07月21日 読売新聞
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/it/20140721-OYT1T50025.html

総務省は、テレビのニュース番組などに英語や中国語など外国語の字幕が表示されるよう取り組む方針だ。

東京五輪・パラリンピックが開かれる2020年までに表示が始まるようにする。増加する訪日外国人が、より快適に過ごせる環境を整備する狙いだ。

日本を訪れた外国人から、テレビ番組に外国語の字幕を増やしてほしいとの声が出ており、滞在中の安心・安全にかかわるニュースのほか、バラエティー番組などで対応することにした。

字幕は、インターネットと接続するテレビに表示する。放送局が番組を電波で流し、自動翻訳システムで外国語に変換した字幕をネット経由で画面に映す仕組みを想定している。年内に放送局やIT企業、家電メーカー、研究機関などによる推進組織を設立し、15年度から実証実験を始める。

ENDS

In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits

mytest

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Hi Blog. There has already been an enormous outpouring of outrage at Friday’s Supreme Court decision in Japan’s NJ communities, so Debito.org will echo those sentiments and provide a forum for them to also be expressed here.

In an event sure to make my year-end top ten most important human rights issues of 2014, Japan’s highest court just overturned the Fukuoka High Court’s 2011 decision, ruling that an octogenarian granny who, despite being born in Japan, living her life here as a Zainichi Special Permanent Resident, and contributing to Japan’s social welfare systems, has no right to the benefits of her contributions because she’s foreign (i.e., not “kokumin”).  More comment after the articles:

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NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Foreign residents can’t claim welfare benefits: Supreme Court
Japan Times/KYODO JUL 18, 2014, Courtesy lots of people
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/18/national/social-issues/top-court-rules-non-japanese-residents-ineligible-welfare-benefits/

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that foreigners with permanent residency status are ineligible for welfare benefits, overturning a decision by the Fukuoka High Court that had acknowledged their eligibility under the public assistance law.

The decision by the top court’s Second Petit Bench concerned a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman with permanent residency who was born and grew up in Japan.

The woman applied for welfare benefits with the Oita municipal office in Oita Prefecture in December 2008 but was denied the benefits on the grounds she had some savings.

The woman then filed a suit demanding that the city’s decision be repealed. She is now receiving the benefits because the municipality accepted her welfare application in October 2011.

While the recipients of welfare benefits are limited to Japanese nationals by law, the government issued a notice in 1954 saying foreigners should be treated in accordance with the public assistance law.

Since the government limited recipients to Japanese nationals and foreigners with permanent residency in 1990, municipalities have exercised their discretion in doling out the benefits.

In October 2010, the Oita District Court rejected the plaintiff’s suit, saying that denying the public assistance law to foreigners was within the discretion of a municipal government.

In November 2011, however, the Fukuoka High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, saying that foreigners with permanent residency have been protected under the public assistance law.
/////////////////////////////////////////

最高裁が初判断「外国人は生活保護法の対象外」
NHK 7月18日 17時49分, Courtesy PKU
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20140718/k10013123601000.html

日本に住む外国人が生活に困窮した場合、法的に生活保護の対象になるかどうかが争われた裁判で、最高裁判所は「法律が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。

生活に困窮した外国人への生活保護費の支給は、永住資格を持つ人や難民認定された人などを対象に、人道上の観点から自治体の裁量で行われています。
これについて、永住資格を持つ大分市の中国国籍の女性が起こした裁判で、外国人が法的にも保護の対象になるかどうかが争いになり、2審の福岡高等裁判所が「法的な保護の対象だ」と判断したため、国が上告していました。
18日の判決で最高裁判所第2小法廷の千葉勝美裁判長は「生活保護法が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。
そのうえで「法的保護の対象を拡大するような法改正もされておらず、外国人は自治体の裁量による事実上の保護の対象にとどまる」と指摘して、2審の判決を取り消しました。
今回の最高裁判決はあくまで法律の解釈を示したもので、自治体が裁量で行っている外国人への生活保護には直ちに影響を及ぼさないものとみられます。

原告弁護士が判決を批判
判決について、原告の弁護士は会見で「法律の中の『国民』ということばだけを見て、実態に踏み込んでいない形式的な判断だ。外国人に生活保護を受給させるかどうかは行政の自由裁量だと最高裁がお墨付きを与えるもので問題だ」と批判しました。
さらに「外国人は日本で生活してはいけないと言っているのと同じで、安倍内閣は成長戦略の一環として外国人の受け入れを拡大するとしながら、一方でセーフティネットは認めないというのなら日本にこようとする外国人はいないだろう。なんらかの形で外国人の受給について法律の改正をしなければならない」と指摘しました。

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

COMMENT:  The implications of this are pretty obvious:  NJ can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government not thinking that NJ deserve social welfare benefits, too bad, because they’re not guaranteed.  We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever any equal benefit from it.

I’ve written about this case numerous times before.  Excerpts:

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

Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

BUT

17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:

Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…

According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”

COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

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

Then, as the clock continues to run out for this superannuated NJ, we now have another flip, fortunately in the more inclusive direction:

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

Court rules noncitizens are eligible for welfare

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2011), courtesy of lots of people
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111116006297.htm

FUKUOKA–The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling.

The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.”

The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits.

According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.

According to the ruling, the woman applied for the public welfare at the Oita city government in December 2008, but the city government rejected her request.

The point at issue in the lawsuit was whether the Daily Life Protection Law can be applied to noncitizens.

Full blog entry at http://www.debito.org/?p=9658

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And as I wrote in my Japan Times column of January 3, 2012, where I was ranking the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2012 for NJ in Japan:

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

6.  Oita denial of benefits overturned

News photo

In 2008, Oita Prefecture heartlessly rejected a welfare application from a 78-year-old Chinese (a permanent resident born in Japan) because she is somehow still a foreigner. Then, in a shocking ruling on the case two years later, the Oita District Court decreed that NJ are not automatically eligible for social welfare. Finally, in November, this stubborn NJ, in her 80th year, won a reversal at the Fukuoka High Court — on the grounds that international law and treaty created obligations for “refugees (sic) (to be accorded) treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

What caused the confusion was that in 1981, the Diet decided that revising the public welfare law to eliminate nationality requirements was unnecessary, since practical application already provided NJ with benefits. Three decades later, Oita Prefecture and its district court still hadn’t gotten the memo.

Bravo for this NJ for staying alive long enough to prize her case away from xenophobic local bureaucrats and set congruent legal precedents for all NJ.

Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=9837

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And now the pendulum has swung again, with a great big Bronx Cheer for all NJ in Japan.

My final thought on this for now is how the online commenters (who consistently blame NJ for anything bad that happens to them) spin this one against the plaintiff?  It’s a challenge:  She’s an 82-year-old granny Zainichi living her entire life in Japan trying to get her tax benefits back, for heaven’s sake.  Still, the reflexes are kicking in.  We’ve already had one person commenting at the Japan Times about how this ruling was a means to deal with “illegal immigrants” somehow (the JT immediately spotted this as trolling and deleted it; wish they would be more proactive with my columns, as trolls keep derailing any meaningful debate).  Any more gems out there, go ahead and quote them in the Comments section below.  A ruling this egregiously anti-NJ becomes an interesting psychological experiment to see how far the self-hating gaijin will go to deny they have any rights to anything whatsoever in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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UPDATE JULY 25, 2014: THIS VERY BLOG ENTRY GETS CITED IN THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST.  THANKS!

Anger erupts over court denial of welfare to foreign permanent residents of Japan
Japanese Supreme Court rules that a Chinese permanent resident is not entitled to payouts even though she has paid taxes all her life
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST : Monday, 21 July, 2014,
Julian Ryall in Tokyo
http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1557063/anger-erupts-over-court-denial-welfare-foreign-permanent-residents-japan

Activists, analysts and foreign residents of Japan have reacted with dismay to a decision by the Supreme Court that foreigners with permanent residency are not entitled to welfare benefits.

Friday’s ruling by the highest court means that even foreign nationals born in Japan, who have spent all their lives in the country and paid their taxes, national insurance premiums and state pension requirements are still not guaranteed to receive financial support when they need it.

The Supreme Court’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by the Fukuoka high court that granted welfare to an 82-year-old Chinese woman who was born and raised in Japan.

The woman had applied for assistance to the municipal office in Oita prefecture in December 2008, but her request was refused because she had savings. The woman launched a legal case demanding that the decision be reversed on the grounds that she had paid taxes to the national and prefectural governments throughout her life.

In the first ruling of its kind, the Supreme Court stated that, from a legal standpoint, permanent foreign residents do not qualify for public assistance because they are not Japanese.

The ruling apparently gives local authorities across Japan the legal right to halt financial assistance to non-Japanese residents. The fact that many municipalities across the country are facing economic hardship may increase the risk of city governments seeking to exercise that right.

“It’s shameful,” said Eric Fior, a French national who owns a language school in Yokohama and who has lived in Japan for more than a decade.

“It’s bad enough that foreign residents do not have the right to vote at any level in Japan, but when you pay your taxes and contribute to the pension scheme, it’s something of an insult to be told that you have no right to get some of that money back when you need it,” he said.

“I imagine that many foreign residents will be asking themselves why they have to pay their taxes.”

The Oita case has been followed closely by Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is “foreign”.

“The implications of this are pretty obvious,” Arudou wrote in his most recent blog posting. “Non-Japanese can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government thinking that nonJapanese deserve social welfare benefits, too bad because they’re not guaranteed,” he wrote.

“We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever get any equal benefit from it.”

The post has generated heated comment. One person wrote: “The sheer pettiness and nastiness of the court’s decision just disgusts me.”

Other posters said the decision would have an impact on the government’s campaign to attract skilled foreign nationals to work in Japan in an effort to combat the dramatically shrinking population.

Conservatives have applauded the court’s decision.

“The state cannot provide benefits to all the poor people who come to Japan,” said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University.

“The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,” he said. “If Japan allowed all foreign residents unlimited access to welfare, then the country would go bust.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Foreigners riled over welfare ruling
ENDS

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

mytest

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

Aera.0714

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Thanks for putting my column once again in the Top 10 read articles for two days!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito:

justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDNOTES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS