Little Black Sambo dolls on sale at Rainforest Cafe, next to Tokyo Disneyland.


Hi Blog. Here’s something from John C, postmarked December 3, 2007. Plus what he did about the issue–successfully. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Hey Debito.

This is the first time I have written something like this to your site.

I went into The Rainforest Cafe in iksepiri Maihama, Chiba (the shopping centre next to Disneyland) today with my son.
Rainforest Cafe (Jungle theme)
Ikspiari, 1-4 Maihama, Urayasu-shi, Chiba-ken (tel: 047-305-5656). Open 11am-11pm daily.
Nearest stn: Maihama

I was utterly disgusted to find these Little Black Sambo dolls…

I spoke to one of the staff and asked her if she knew what it was and what it meant, she said “Yes” they knew and that they had told the manager that there may be problems. I asked to speak to the manager and was told that the Manager was off today but the asst mng was in, he came up and talked to me for a little bit.

I asked him if he knew what the problem was with these dolls, he said yes, but a month ago when they went on sale. A couple of Americans from Head office came over for a business trip, they saw the dolls on the shelf and said nothing about them. He also tried to win me over by saying that he had friends of African decent. I asked him to think of how he would feel if one of those friends called him “Nip” he said he wouldn’t like it much. I asked him how I should explain to my son (who is 1 part Japanese and 1 Part British) why mummy’s country can sell this crap. ( that was hard to put into Japanese!!)

I asked him to take them down and he mumbled something about he would talk to the mng. I told him that I had to leave but that I would be contacting head office in America to talk to them and that I would be sending the pictures to you.

I will be going back today or tomorrow to see what he has down, and with a better camera…

I would also like to say that the Maruzen bookshop in Nihonbashi sells the same book, I have asked them repeatedly to take it down, they always take it off the shelf while I am there but the next time I go in they have it back for sale. (I would like yours/writers permission to show them chibi kiroi nipu and ask if they would sell that.)


Follow-up, full report, from the top:

My 4 year old son and I went into the rainforest cafe at about 2pm today, 3/Dec/2007 and while there found the L.B.S dolls on sale. (as you can see from the picture, “Tracy the Tree” is in the background, quality is low though cause taken on my mobile phone)

I asked the staff why the shop was selling these and if they knew the meaning and racial insult implied. One replied yes She knew and had previously thought and said they may cause problems.

I asked to speak to the manager, she went away to contact the manger, returned and said that it was the mangers day off, but the asst mng was there.

I asked to speak to him. To wit he arrived about 5 minutes later. I asked him what the dolls were and why they were on sale.

He said they had been on sale for over a month and during that time 2 Americans from Head office had come over to Japan and checked the merchandise etc and made no comments.

I told him that they were offensive and that I had many friends who were of African decent and would really hate to see them. He said that he too had friends who were from African decent.

I asked him how I should explain these to my son, who is British and Japanese… no reply…

I asked him how he would feel if one of his friends called him a “Nip” he replied that he would not like it at all. I told him that if someone called one of my kids that I would become extremely unpleasent ( I am not known for my loving personality)

Then I asked him to try calling one of his African decent friends a “nigaa” or “kuronbo” and see what they say.

I then had to take my son to his English class, so said “Please remove them from the shelf, look at this web site (gave Debito’s site) and that I would be back later or the next day to see if they were still on sale.

I went back at about 5:30 pm armed with a better camera, and found that the dolls were all off the shelves and no where to be found. I spoke to the asst mng again, and thanked him very much for taking such prompt action.

He said that the dolls would be returned to the supplier. I thanked him again and said that I would still be calling the US head office, and that I still planned to go in periodically to check. but that I would also be giving a good review of his prompt actions.

I got a call from Landry’s Restaurants America and they are checking on this incident now, they also said they were appalled by this, and that the Man who came over a month ago was African American and that they are sure he would have said something if he had seen them.

I sent them the pictures and said also that they were going to be posted on the net, but that they please commend the asst mng Mr. Yamamoto for his quick action.

I have now recieved a call from the Gentleman who came to Japan, he has heard about this very quickly and taken the time to call me and explain that his company in no way supports this type of thing. He said had already written to the Japanese partner to ask for pictures and an explanation of this product, but that he had not seen the dolls when he was here. ( so one lie was told by the shop…)

He did think that he may have missed this because he does not speak Japanese, but I told him that there is no way they could be missed, there was a box full of “gollywogs” next to “Tracy the Tree” (I hate these words, my arsehole father used stuff like this often when I was young (read: smaller than him))

I thanked him again and told him that I would like them all to commend Mr Yamamoto (asst mng) on his prompt actions.

He also asked me what website the pictures would be posted on, so I told him, and a little about Debito’s site.

I am still a bit wary that the dolls will return to the shelves, but deep down want to believe they won’t.

REPORT: Racial Profiling at Toyoko Inns; suggest boycott (letter of complaint unanswered)


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (,
December 2, 2007, freely forwardable

(UPDATE: As of January 12, 2008, more than a month later, no answer to my official letter of complaint (sent naiyou shoumei) from Toyoko Inn.)

SUMMARY: Toyoko Inn (, a high-profile nationwide chain of hotels in Japan, have a clear policy of racial profiling at their hotels. They illegally demanded a passport from the author on the basis of his race alone on November 30, 2007, reflecting their history of even illegally threatening to refuse accommodation to NJ residents unless they provide Gaijin Cards at check-in. This systematic harassment of NJ clientele is unnecessary and unlawful, especially in the face of hotels increasingly refusing all foreigners accommodation across “Yokoso” Japan. Toyoko Inn’s continuing refusal to abide by the laws, despite advisements from NJ customers in the past, forces this author to conclude that NJ residents and international Japanese citizens, not to mention supporters of human rights in Japan, should take their business to hotels other than Toyoko Inn–until the chain at the national level agrees in writing to improve their services.

I went down to Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture last weekend for a December 1 speech at Hirosaki Gakuin University (sponsored by Professor Todd Jay Leonard) on racial discrimination in Japan (download Powerpoint presentation in Japanese at After a six-hour train ride from Sapporo, I was met by my hosts at 11PM AT Hirosaki Station, who accompanied me to the neighboring Toyoko Inn (#164 O-aza Ekimae 1-1-1, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori-ken, Ph 0172-31-2045) where they had made my reservation.

At the counter, a clerk (a Ms. Ishi-oka) gave me a check-in slip. After filling out my name in Kanji, and just before I was to write out my Japanese address in Japanese, the clerk said, “May I see your passport?”

Todd and his friends looked to each other, sighed, and said to themselves, “Oh boy. Here we go…”



The conversation between the clerk and me proceeded something like this:

ME: Why do you need my passport?

CLERK: It’s required by hotel policy and by Japanese law.

ME: Let me see the laws.

CLERK: (producing a countertop stand with the text of the hotel request for passports in English, Korean, and Chinese) Japanese law requires that all foreigners at check in–
(see the letter of the law yourself–and download it–at

ME: Is there a Japanese version? (She pointed to the Japanese she had been reading from on the back of the stand.) Right, so as you can see here, it requires passports from people “without addresses in Japan”. I have an address in Japan, but you asked me before I even had a chance to write it.

CLERK: We have a policy of asking all foreigners for identification at check-in.

ME: That’s illegal. You can only ask tourists for ID. Or can’t you read the law in Japanese here? Also, how do you even know I am a foreigner?

CLERK: Because you wrote your name in Katakana–

ME: (displaying the check-in slip) I wrote my name in Kanji. Can’t you see?

CLERK: (taking a closer look and uttering a demurrer)

ME: I am a Japanese citizen. I do not have to show you a passport or any other form of ID.

CLERK: Do you have a driver licence to prove that?

ME: Do you require driver licences from other Japanese at check-in?

CLERK: It’s just that we have a policy of asking for identification from foreigners.

ME: Clearly I am not getting through to you. Call your manager.

CLERK: Our manager is not here at the moment.

ME: Then get him or her on the phone. You are racially profiling me. This is racial discrimination and a violation of Japanese laws. Give me your full name, please, and the name of your manager.

CLERK: (running behind a partition) Please wait a minute.


My friends and I then sat down in a connected anteroom for a glass of water and an animated discussion of the proceedings for about five minutes, before the clerk shouted down the hall that she had an answer for me.

CLERK: Our manager is too busy to come to the phone right now.

ME: Okay, then I’m not too busy to contact your headquarters (honsha), to tell them that your manager refused to discuss a serious issue of customer relations with a customer. Your full name please and your manager’s full name, please.

CLERK: (running behind a partition) Please wait a minute.

A few minutes later I was on the phone with a Ms. Obara, the assistant manager of this hotel. She opened with the standard apologies. I said she should hear me out before apologizing. The issues were: 1) deciding whether or not a customer was a foreigner or not solely based on face, therefore race, 2) enforcing a law, which applied only to tourists, upon all people deemed “foreign”, 3) enforcing a nonexistent law requiring proof of Japaneseness even after said customer says that he is Japanese. This was customer harassment on the basis of racial profiling, and done to an egregious and unprecedented degree in my experience at any hotel in Japan.

And given that Toyoko Inns in Sapporo have illegally required passport/Gaijin Card for reservations from NJ residents of Japan (in violation of the Hotel Management Law, Article 5, which does not permit refusals of customers on this basis), this chain’s systematic policy of targeting foreigners or foreign-looking people as suspicious is unnecessary and illegal.

Not to mention the fact, of course, that the clerk personally tried to shirk her duty of connecting a customer to the manager. This was irresponsibility that should not be allowed to pass without complaint.

Ms Obara indicated she understood the issue and apologized for the poor training of her employee. She said she’d like to see me face-to-face the next day for a personal apology. I said I would be out all day the next day, arriving late back from a house party at Todd’s after my speech, but would leave my meishi with keitai number at the counter should she wish to arrange a time for meeting. She said, no matter, she would wait until I got in. Then I went back to the anteroom for another hour of water and jawing with Todd and company over what had just happened.

Said they, “This has never happened to any of us before at a hotel in Japan. Why does this keep happening to you?” they said. “Never mind, we got to see Debito in action…”


Todd gave a lovely house party, with booze galore plus some pretty crappy Iwate wine (which everyone got a least a half-hour’s mileage of jokes out of–especially for naffly putting a squirrel on the label). So lovely I tragically got a migraine at the very end. With head throbbing, I returned to the Toyoko, got my room key, and found the manager there waiting for me, even though it was past midnight. “You needn’t have waited up so long,” said I. “You said you’d be late, and I wanted to meet you and apologize properly,” said she.

And for the next hour, while I blinked my way through the mercury haze of migraine flashes, Ms Obara and I had a very good chat about what happened and why it shouldn’t happen again. Me: “I understand the laws, but until you have confirmed that a customer–any customer regardless of nationality–has no address in Japan, you legally cannot demand identification from them. Just confirm that, ask for ID from those who don’t, and we’ve got no issue here. But I don’t appreciate this interrogation, and demand for proof that I am even a Japanese, from an obstinate clerk late at night at check-in like this. It’s poor service.

Ms Obara was understanding, and tried to make an excuse that Aomori isn’t used to foreigners, but I pointed out that Aomori, with its Nebuta Matsuri, and Hirosaki in particular with its castle and Sakura Matsuri, is a magnet for international clientele. She conceded the point, and the conversation turned to why I was here speaking at Hirosaki Gakuin University. She even bought one of my books, thank you very much. In the end, the conversation went on too long for her to be ingenuine in her apologies (I’ve found that people who just want to apologize pro forma and be done with things exhaust a conversation after ten minutes), and I was satisfied that their hotel branch would do better in future.


I am not, however, so optimistic about the Toyoko Inn chain in general. More than two years ago, as James Eriksson and Olaf Karthaus reported to The Community mailing list, Toyoko Inn Sapporo refused James’s reservation if he did not present his Gaijin Card at check in ( Even today, and after demands for improved service are now years old, the Toyoko Inn chain is still not treating NJ customers with the appropriate respect. Until we get a written guarantee from the chain that they are aware of the laws and will improve NJ customer treatment (and I will still be writing headquarters about this incident), I suggest that NJ customers, and their friends and supporters, take their business elsewhere.

This is part of a surge in activity in Japan these days regarding Japanese hotels–their refusal to even accept any foreign clientele whatsoever. They blame it on language barriers–the fact they can’t speak English!–so Japanese lodgers only. This is illegal. I finally have enough time and information to make a full report on this, so I’ll get to it within the month.

Thanks for reading this brief. Prelude to a much deeper and ever-growing problem of exclusionism in Japan.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
December 2, 2007

(UPDATE: As of January 12, 2007, more than a month later, no answer to my official letter of complaint (sent naiyou shoumei) from Toyoko Inn.)

Reminder: Online Petition against NJ Fingerprinting


Hi Blog. Thanks to the FP issue, we get a huge turnover of posts. This one deserves a reminder:

Online Petition against NJ Fingerprinting. If anyone else is blogging in Japan or anywhere in the world, because the petition is for anyone with an interest in Japan, please do the same. Right now we don’t have enough names to make a difference. Please sign and get your voice heard!

Go sign if you haven’t. Tell your friends to sign if they haven’t. I have. Debito in Hirosaki

Towards founding a “Permanent Residents/Naturalized Citizens” organization


Hi Blog. With all the NJ anger regarding the new Fingerprint Laws–moreover the GOJ’s tendency of consistently showing indifference, if not outright antipathy, towards the needs and interests of Japan’s international residents–there have been comments in several blog entries calling for the creation of a new organization to represent the Permanent Residents and Naturalized Citizens of Japan.

I agree the time is nigh. And I am very supportive of the founding of such an organization. We are talking as far as establishing a dues-paying registered NGO/NPO to that end, with the ability to lobby and lend support to other groups to pursue the interests of Japan’s international residents.

The organization is still in its embryonic stage. But let me create this separate special blog entry for people to discuss and pound out questions and concerns.

Steve Koya (who says he can take care of accounting, a job I detest) and I will meet sometime next week in Sapporo to chew things over. If you’d like to contribute your thoughts and feelings, please do so now.

My first thought: The very name in Japanese–which is fundamental to credibility in this country.

Translated literally as:
NPO Japan Association for Permanent Residents, Immigrants, and Naturalized Citizens
Okay needs work. Anyone good with anagrams? Scrabble players?

I’ll leave you with some questions I got from John L. tonight. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

 Hey…it’s John again writing you on a business trip in Shanghai.

My two conference calls this morning were canceled, so I decided put my time to use on homebound issues, such as this association which seems to have gained some significant – and surprising – traction over the past 24 hours.

I am submitting, for approval to post on your blog as a new and separate topic, a set of questions we should consider, a mission statement draft and, lastly, a small opinion piece.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I have to go and sand down my fingerprints in anticipation of my return to Japan on Sunday.

– John


It appears that the call for an association of resident foreigners is gathering steam. To that end, I have some questions and would like to take a stab at a mission statement here.


1) Is this association for PRs only or for all foreign residents, regardless of status? If for all, how do we handle issues which may affect only certain segments of the foreign resident population, such as voting rights (which could be reasonably applied only to PRs)?
2) What are our membership requirements? (i.e. can anyone join, even if they are not living in Japan? In other words, for instance, can someone living in England who has a strong interest in Japan join?)
3) Related to 2) above, what different level of memberships could be available?
4) Can Japanese nationals join? (Of course they can, but we need to attend to other details, such as: are they given voting status in issues, can they hold official titles, etc.)
5) What is our stance on illegal immigrants? This is a policy debate that we can take up after we do form, but I want to put this on deck now so we can all start to consider the kinds of questions we will be tackling after forming.


The association is committed to protecting and enhancing the rights of foreign residents in Japan, abolishing systematic discrimination and changing the perception of foreign residents in Japan. We are committed to instituting persistent campaigns to educate, inform and motivate change at all levels of Japanese society in order to integrate new and progressive attitudes of foreign residents.

Our goals

– To promote the image of foreign residents of Japan to the indigenous population as well as globally.
– To highlight the benefits and positive impacts of foreign nationals to Japanese society
– To organize and campaign against negative or demeaning views of foreign residents as stated by certain politicians, pundits and media outlets.
– To educate foreign residents on the immigration laws of Japan
– To negate and diminish the negative views of foreign residents among the Japanese public
– To organize as a group and lobby for equal rights for resident foreigners under the law.
– To abolish systematic discrimination against the foreign community
– To participate in activities highlighting discriminatory practices against foreign residents


The association is, by its very definition, an activist organization, but the activities must take on a multiple facets. Naturally, we must continue to highlight those instances where discrimination does exist and call with a unified voice for its removal. However, we should not focus only on the perceived wrongs committed by society as that tends to play us as victims and people tend to tune out after hearing complaint after complaint, but we should shed light on the positive aspects of resident foreigners in Japan. We know that the system can be rigged against us in many instances. We should concentrate on those who have overcome the difficulties, who have succeeded against the challenges. We can show that people can move to Japan and make a change for the better.


Fingerprinting protest tract for Immigration & new FP protest info website


Hi Blog. Thomas Bertrand writes:

Hi there, the trilingual (Japanese, French, and English) tract against fingerprints policy is done!

More info on fingerprinting protest site reentry japan:

Download it, print it, show it, put in your bar, restaurant, on your car, on your desk, give it to the immigration officer, to your friends…

(click on image to expand in your browser)

Thomas Bertrand and friends.

COMMENT: Well done. Pass it around online and make copies for distributing in the real world. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Kobe Regatta Club Prez Dr Sadhwani on NJ Fingerprinting debacle


Hi Blog. This is a letter from Dr Deepu Sadhwani, President of the oldest group of long-term NJ in the Kansai, Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club. These are his thoughts on the NJ Fingerprinting policy, blogged with permission. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Hi All,

An unedited version of an article that will go in our monthly mag. this weekend. It also goes out electronically to hundreds on our list both here and abroad.

Regards, Deepu

Many of you will probably be travelling out of the country during the next few weeks. When you return you will find that you will be treated as a second class citizen or worse. The new immigration law that came into effect on November 20th. 2007 treats all expatriates as such. You will be finger-printed and photographed each time you re-enter Japan. George Orwell would say, i told you so!!

The local authorities even contradict their own laws and resolutions by not installing proper equipment in all the airports and therefore it will take you hours before you can exit the terminal due to the long queues you will have to face. Narita airport being the exception. In a country that has had the Alien Registration system in place for years, a system that was already regarded as being insulting, why would the authorities need to verify information they already have?

It may be understandable in today’s difficult world that a first time visitor be obliged to go through this procedure. But for one who has all the proper documentation, for one who has visited on numerous occasions or lived here for a long time and for those who have Japanese partners and/or permanent residency, how can you sit back passively and see these perverted laws being enacted before your very eyes? It is time for each and everyone of us to make a stand. You have all recently been forwarded mail received from Mr. Debito and Mr. Issott, two concerned people who are really trying, mail that gives plenty of information and suggestions as to what we can do.

The way the authorities are going about welcoming expatriates to Japan is the equivalent of International political Hara-Kiri. Why would any expatriate business people who travel a lot want to be based in Japan? Most of the other countries in South East Asia offer simplified procedures that allow for easy travel and or transit. With the way it’s going now, i fear that we will lose many more expatriates and Kobe most of all can least afford that scenario.

We can all sit back and say, well if they’re going to get you they’re going to get you. Just like Asashoryu, they’re going to get you. We can also make a stand and express our grievances starting with our embassies. Isn’t that what they are there for? Don’t let them pass the buck. It is their duty, one where they must act in the interest of all the expatriates.

The new law is not the only area of major concern. In case you missed it, Mr. Debito wrote a very informative article in the Japan Times regarding the laws on checking of Alien Registration cards and with his permission, for which i am very thankful, reproduce some of the pertinent facts.

“The police have now deputized the whole nation to check on our cards and they get away with it as most of us do not know our rights and or the laws. When a cop demands to see your card on the street, you are not required to show it unless the officer shows you his ID first under the Foreign Registry Law (Article 13). Ask for the officer’s card and write it down. Furthemore, under the Police Execution of Duties Law (Article 2), cops aren’t allowed to ask anyone for ID without probable cause for suspicion of crime. Just being a foreigner doesn’t count. Point that out. And as for gaijin-carding by employers, under the new law (Article 28) you are under no obligation to say anything more than what your visa status is, and that it is valid.”

So you see dear readers, there’s possibly much more to come if we don’t utilize all of our forces at our command now to point out these fallible procedures and laws. Please send your comments to the General Committee to give us more strength in conveying this message to the authorities. Tell everyone you know to write to any figure of authority. Any help from you will make this wave of protest that much stronger. Do not remain silent.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Deepu Sadhwani

“YOKOSO JAPAN” parody poster, T-shirts and video


Courtesy Larry Fordyce

Courtesy Nick Wood

Hi all, There have been several posts on various sites asking for a t-shirt designed to wear through Japan immigration & customs control to protest the recent policy of biometric I.D. for foreign nationals.

I am pleased to say that we have come up with such an item and encourage those who wish to wear them proudly as they pass through the passport control and I.D. process.

To view or order the “Yokoso Japan 11/20 commemorate t-shirt” please visit
or email

I will also be proudly wearing my shirt(s) throughout the JALT conference this weekend in Tokyo. Should you wish to speak to me about the tee design, ordering, or the policy itself I would be happy to oblige. I will also be bringing a limited number of shirts that may be purchased for 2500 yen, saving the shipping and handling fees.

Regards, Jon Dujmovich

If you haven’t already done so, please view and sign the petition to have
the policy abolished:

Another PDF file courtesy of John Brodie:
Welcome to Japan 20.pdf

Mainichi on Fingerprinting protests outside MOJ



An inflatable finger protestors used outside the Justice Ministry in Tokyo on Tuesday. (MDN)
(article follows photos)

Pictures of protestors (MDN)

Protesters ‘flip the bird’ at Justice Ministry over forced fingerprinting
Mainichi Daily News Nov 20, 2007

Protestors inflated a 3-meter-high yellow hand with an extended forefinger and thrust it toward the Justice Ministry’s offices in Tokyo on Tuesday to demonstrate against a controversial fingerprinting policy beginning at ports of entry across the country the same day.

About 80 protestors turned toward the ministry building and shouted in unison their opposition to the new policy, which requires all but a handful of foreigners to have their fingerprints and face photos taken to gain entry into Japan.

Representatives of human rights groups, labor unions, foreigners’ groups and individuals spoke out against the system — similar to the US-VISIT policy operating in the United States since 2004, but also targeting residents and not just tourists — calling it, among other things, “racist,” “xenophobic,” “retrogressive” and “an invasion of human rights and privacy.”

“It’s an expression of Japanese xenophobia. Japan is using this system as a tool to control foreigners. For the past few years, the government has been associating foreigners with things like crime and terrorism,” said Sonoko Kawakami, campaign coordinator for Amnesty International Japan, which organized Tuesday’s demonstration.

Lim Young-Ki, a representative of the Korean Youth Association in Japan, pointed out how ethnic Koreans had fought for decades until the 2000 abolition of fingerprinting on Alien Registration Certificates only to see the process revived through the back door now.

“This system is ostensibly an anti-terrorism measure, but it is extremely harmful to individuals and only applying the system to foreigners shows a lack of consideration for foreigners’ human rights. Even though the system of fingerprinting foreigners was completely abolished in April 2000, it’s infuriating that the Japanese government has reinstated this practice and this entry inspection system,” Lim said, reading a statement issued by his organization. “We want to use this demonstration to call on the Japanese government to promptly redress this system obligating foreigners to provide their fingerprints and face photos whenever they enter the country.”

Catherine Campbell of the National Union of General Workers Nanbu, whose ranks contain many foreigners, echoed a similar line.

“This is a big step backward and I really think it’s sad,” she said.

Another foreign woman who identified herself only as Jennifer said she is a permanent resident, having lived in Japan for 38 years and with a Japanese husband and Japanese national children. She spoke about having previously provided authorities with her fingerprint and face photo while taking out and updating her Alien Registration Certificate.

“They already have my photo and my fingerprint…many times over,” she said. “This step is quite unnecessary.”

But an official from the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau dismissed the protestors’ claims.

“This system was introduced to protect the lives and safety of citizens by preventing terrorism. There were rational reasons and necessities in introducing the system, which was approved by the Diet,” Yasuhiro Togo of the Immigration Bureau said, adding that the methods of fingerprinting differ from the abolished Alien Registration Certificate system. “The aim of taking fingerprints is different — we’re fighting against terrorism — and we will not be forcing people to put their fingers into ink as used to be the case. The fingerprints will all be taken and stored electronically.”

Changes to the immigration law in May last year allowed for the collection of biometric data. Now, except for special permanent residents — who are largely people born and bred in Japan — diplomats, children under 16 and others the government deems can be excluded, any non-Japanese entering the country must provide the fingerprints from the index fingers on both hands and a photo of their face before they can be permitted to enter the country.

The government says the new system is aimed at combating terrorism, but has also said it will provide data to crime-fighting authorities upon request. The Immigration Bureau’s Togo said such information would be handled in accordance with the Private Information Protection Law. He added that information collected by immigration authorities would not be handed over to foreign governments. (By Ryann Connell)

“NO BORDER” Nov 18 Meeting: Kokusaika & Keidanren laid bare



I spoke at the above gathering ( for about 40 minutes today. This is a little note to tell you what transpired:


This is essentially a misnomer, as these kids (college age already) are fluent in Japanese with some background in the native tongue of their immigrant parents. I met youth from China, Brazil, Peru, and most famously a young lady from Iran who came here at age seven, overstayed with her parents for a decade, and was granted a visa after much misgivings from the GOJ. Same with a young Chinese lady whose family had to go through the courts (lower court denied, high court granted) for a stay of deportation and one-year visas. Although all of these kids were just about perfectly culturally fluent in Japan (having grown up here as a product of the new visa regime, which started from 1990), they had a variety of faces and backgrounds that showed a lovely blend–a very hopeful one for Japan’s future. They made the best argument possible for visa amnesties for NJ with families–an extended life here that they have not only adapted to, but even thrived under.

The problem was they were grappling with things they really shouldn’t have to to this degree–identity. Being pulled one way by family ties overseas, and then another by the acculturation of being in a society they like but doesn’t necessarily know what to do with them. And refuses to let them be of both societies, either way their phenotypes swing. I suggested they escape this conundrum of wasted energy by ignoring the “identity police” (people who for reasons unknown either take it upon themselves to tell people they are not one of them, or who find the very existence of Japanized non-Japanese somehow threatening their own identity). They should decide for themselves who they are. After all, the only person you have to live with 24 hours a day is yourself (and believe me it’s tough)–so you had better do what you have to do to be happy. That means deciding for yourself who you are and who you want to be without regard for the wishes (or random desires) of millions of people who can’t appreciate who you are by any means considered a consensus. Trying to second-guess yourself into the impossibly satisfied expectations of others is a recipe for mental illness.


Rather than telling you what I said, download my Powerpoint presentation here (Japanese):


Coming late to the second talk sessions was a representative of Keidanren (Japan’s most powerful business lobby), Inoue Hiroshi, who was actually in charge of the federation’s policy towards business and immigration. He gave us a sheet describing future policy initiatives they would undertake, focusing optimistically on creating synergy between the varied backgrounds and energies of NJ and the diligence of Japanese companies.
Yet still trying to create an ultracentrifuge of “quality imported foreigners” over quantity (or heavens forbid–an open-door policy!). Orderly systematic entry with proper control, was the theme. And Taiwan’s system (for what it was worth, unclear) was cited.

When question time came up, I asked him whether Keidanren had learned anything from the visa regime they helped create (something he acknowledged) in 1990. All this talk of orderly imports of labor and synergy are all very well, but business’s blind spot is the overwhelming concern with the bottom line: People are imported and treated like work units, without adequate concern for their well-being or welfare after they get here. After all, if their standard of living was ever a concern, then why were the hundreds of thousands of people brought in under Researcher, Intern, and Trainee Visas made exempt from Japan’s labor laws–where they have no safeguards whatsoever (including health insurance, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, education–or anything save the privilege of living here with the dubious honor of paying taxes into the system anyway). Did they expect to create a system where there are no legal sanctions for abuse, and not expect employers to abuse it?

The Keidanren rep’s answer was enlightening. He said, in essence:

1) Japan’s labor laws are sloppy anyway, and don’t protect people adequately enough as they are (so that justifies exempting people from them completely?).

2) Japanese society is not wired for immigration (so why bring in so many foreigners then? the expectation was that they would not stay–meaning the system was only designed to exploit?)

3) There are plenty of elements of civil society out there filling the gaps (so you’re trying to take credit for those who try to clean up your messes?)

To me, quite clear evidence that they powers that be just don’t care. And it’s very clear it’s not clear that they’ve learned anything from the 1990s and the emerging NJ underclass.

The meeting closed with a really fine performance from a Nikkei Brazilian rapper who sang in Portuguese, English, and Japanese (I think–I find rapping indecipherable in any language). Now that’s synergy.

Arudou Debito
November 18, 2007

PS: And on a personal note, I might add that one of last year’s name “sponsors”, “Darling Foreigner” Manga star Tony Laszlo, of non-existent group Issho Kikaku (whose site, will celebrate in a couple of weeks its second anniversary of being under “site renewal”, with a decade’s work of hundreds of budding activists in Japan utterly lost), was not invited this year to the NO BORDERS gathering. In fact, his name has been completely deleted from the records of last year’s proceedings. Karma.


Letter to Dr Deepu Sadhwani, President, Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club, re protesting NJ Fingerprint policy


Hi Blog. This is a letter I sent out tonight in response to Dr Deepu Sadhwani, President, Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club, who introduced himself today, and asked what he and his members (long-term residents of the Kansai) could do to protest the NJ Fingerprinting policy. Feel free to forward my response around to others that need convincing of the the whats, whys, and hows. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


From: Deepu Sadhwani
Date: November 15, 2007

Dear Debito,

Hi, my name is Deepu Sadhwani currently serving as President of the Kobe Regatta & Athletic Club. As mentioned by Mr. Issott, i am prepared to help in any way i can. I have many city councilmen amongst my contacts. They have been helping me in our fight with City Hall for the land rights of our Club. They are all stand up people and will fight a good fight. I understand the immediate priority is to get the scans installed at airports besides Narita but i believe we should carry this fight all the way. The whole process stinks and the airport checks is but only a start of many other hassles to come.

Please let me know how we can be of assistance. For your information the KR&AC was given a manifesto way back in the late 1800’s by the Embassies that said that the President and Committee of the KR&AC were to be the de facto leaders of the foreign community of Kobe, something that has never been changed though has not been used in decades either. I intend reminding City Hall of this.

Awaiting your advise, Deepu.

Debito……You can quote me on anything i write and put it in your blog if you like. I will be writing a special report for our KR&AC magazine and will be quoting from your article in the Japan Times that appeared on Nov. 13th. I will also be making representation to City Hall shortly and meet a group of concerned city councilmen. Best regards, Deepu

Sorry, forgot to mention. When i was at immigration this morning the tanto sha did mention that there would be officials pointing out booths for re-entry permit holders but that these booths would be the ones that the Japanese go through. In other words till the Japanese are done we’re still in line.


Hello Dr Sadhwani. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. Thank you very much for your email. Received with great honor and gratitude. Let me take this opportunity to make a few suggestions to your membership about activities you might engage in to protest the fingerprinting policy:

1) At any public opportunity you have, in any venue you deem appropriate, slip in a subtle (or not so subtle) indication that you have serious misgivings about a policy that follows the logic of treating all non-Japanese axiomatically as “terrorists and carriers of infectious diseases”.
And one that treats all long-term non-Japanese residents and taxpayers as tourists, non-residents, and aliens unconnected to their Japanese families–no matter how long they’ve lived here and contributed to this society’s demographically-troubled future.

Suggested venues include meetings with public officials, members of the government and bureaucracy, the diplomatic corps, press outlets, agencies connected with tourism and foreign exchange, and especially politicians. A mention in passing is fine. But do a little something. Remind them that this issue is not going to go away, and we are not just good little “guests” that will take a slight as deep as this lightly.

2) Encourage your friends to take their trips elsewhere–tell them you’ll meet them overseas. Even encourage them to join in the fight. For example, a contributor wrote me tonight:

Hello there, It really may sound quite a childish step to take, but if people wish to show their displeasure with the
fingerprinting/photo issue, then send a query to the JNTO in the UK (or any other office in an industrialised nation whose visitors and cash Japan would like to attract) asking about the new immigration rules as if you were thinking of bringing
your family to Japan for an extended visit (don’t use an obviously Japanese email address–plenty of etc addresses available).

When they reply with a raft of information about the new entry procedures, write back and tell them that it’s all too much and that sadly you will have to forgo the treat of a visit to ‘beautiful Japan’ and that you will visit somewhere else (how about Korea or China!?).

If enough people do this, negative feedback about these measures from the JNTO may be heard where the rising sun doesn’t shine. Best regards, G. Alexander.

3) Write letters of your own to pertinent ministries and outlets. A template letter and suggestions on places to send it are available at
Consider even handing it to Immigration every time you clear Customs.

Others have proposed protest t-shirts, buttons, or other means to show your discomfort that are public and vocal. If you can help out with any of these efforts (if you have the means), please let me know. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to visit my blog and leave a comment and/or suggestion, anonymously if you prefer, or write me at


PASSIVE: Refuse to be separated from your Japanese families at the border. Stand in the same line. Slow things up. Make it clear that Japan is not immune to the effects of immigration and globalization, and that it must remember that Japan’s international residents are as integrated into and contributing to this society as any other citizen.

In short, please don’t do nothing. Please consider showing that the “gaijin” being targeted by this policy (essentially anyone who is not US Military under SOFA, Diplomats, or Zainichi Korean/Chinese etc.–since their being exempted is purely political; they would have more effectively fought back if fingerprinted as well) are neither docile nor impervious to being treated as suspicious criminals–by a government that is happy to take their resident taxes and tourist dollars, yet not treat them with the commensurate respect.

If you need more background on the issue, my files on fingerprinting issue may be found on my blog under a special category, through the link below:

If you still need convincing of the gravity of this situation, please consider reading my essay in Metropolis (October 26), about why this policy is such a bad idea.

And if you need a second opinion, consider that of Terrie Lloyd, entrepreneur, publisher of Japan Inc and Metropolis, and fellow long-term resident, in a recent “Terrie’s Take” (November 11). He calls this “an unmitigated public relations disaster for the Japanese government and the Justice Ministry in particular” :
Also recent protest letters from the European Business Council and the Australian/NZ Chambers of Commerce:

I hope that this inspires you do to what you can. Please consider forwarding my message around to anyone you like. We probably cannot stop the promulgation of this law from November 20 (and it will affect you down in the Kansai much worse than those coming through Narita–see Martin Issott’s evidence of this at But we can certainly inconvenience the promulgators right back. And so far, sustained protest has had a discernible effect on the authorities.

Thanks for reading and considering.

With best wishes, Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan,
November 15, 2007

NUGW’s Louis Carlet: “NOVA collapse a turning point in language industry”, Lesson For Food


From: (Louis Carlet, NUGW Nambu Union)
Subject: [Nambu FWC] Nova Union Meeting and other upcoming events
Date: November 15, 2007 3:15:30 PM JST

Sisters and Brothers, (Nova Union General Meeting Sunday 7pm!)

The Nova collapse represents a turning point in the language industry. We have a chance to push through crucial reforms for the industry as a whole, including permanent job status and health care options for all teachers.

Our efforts over the past few years and through the media over the past few months have succeeded in raising awareness among the public of the precarious situation of language teachers and the abuse they undergo on a daily basis. This public awareness included the current Nova trustees, which is why they are pressuring G Education (the so-called “sponsor” selected to take over Nova’s operations) to comply with all labor laws and treat teachers, staff and customers as human beings.

We should congratulate ourselves for this crucial victory while quickly taking the next step. Let’s demand collective bargaining from G Education as soon as we have members employed and let’s ask for everything early on — since this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to chance the industry. Last Saturday, we passed out 500 flyers at the information session in Tokyo to potential G employees, asking them to join GUTS — G Union of Teachers and Staff.


Saturday, Nov.17 2pm Lesson For Food

We will meet at 2pm at Shinkoiwa Station (Sobu Line) and move to the Shinkoiwa Park for the first official Lesson for Food. If you want to watch this, please come at this time. Although, the Lesson for Food program was voted by the Nova Union members, it has drawn criticism from around the country. If you object to this program, please attend the Nova Union meeting on Sunday at 7pm at the union office and voice your concerns.

Sunday, Nov. 18, 7pm Nova Union General Meeting

We will hold a Nova Union general meeting from 7pm Sunday at the union office (Minato-ku, Shimbashi 5-17-7 Kobayashi Bldg. 2F, 03-3434-0669).

See map at bottom of the following web page:

During the meeting we will decide policy, explain details of current situation, advice on resignation versus dismissal, explain government subsidy and unemployment insurance systems and answer questions. We will also hold elections for all executive posts, including president, general secretary, treasurer and Nova Relief Fund administrator. If you are interested in any of these posts, please let us know ( in advance of the meeting or at the start of the meeting. Also, please attend even if, or especially if you are now employed by G Education since we would like to begin setting up GUTS as a local of Nambu as soon as possible.

Thursday, Nov. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 25

JALT’s 33rd International Conference

Japan Association of Language Teachers will hold its 33rd annual international conference from Thursday through Sunday, this year in Tokyo at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center near Sangubashi Station, one stop from Shinjuku Station on the Odakyu Line. On Friday, Nov. 23, beginning 2:30pm the labor caucus of JALT — PALE* — will hold its annual series of meetings, with guest lecturers including yours truly. We will discuss teaching from a working conditions and labor perspective including prospects for improvement in the wake of the Nova collapse.

*PROFESSIONALISM, ADMINISTRATION AND LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION (PALE) promotes the status of language teaching as a profession both within the Japanese educational system and in relation to the wider national and international context.

— NUGW Tokyo Nambu – Nambu FWC —
Lessons For Food Campaign:

Japan Times on Gaijin Carding in workplace, and downloadable wallet-size Gaijin Card laws from Erich Meatleg


Hi Blog. I had an article come out in the Japan Times last Tuesday Nov 13 (Wednesday outside the metropolises), which you can read with notes and links to sources at

Excerpting from the conclusion of the article (in mufti–go to the whole article above if you want to see links):

You know, Japan needs more lawyers, or at least more lawyerly types. Anyone who reads the actual laws will in fact find a natural check and balance.

For example, even if the cops issue their classic demand for your Gaijin Card on the street, under the Foreign Registry Law (gaitouhou) (Article 13), you are not required to display unless the cop shows you his ID first. Ask for it. And write it down.

And believe it or not, under the Police Execution of Duties Law (keisatsukan shokumu shikkou hou) (Article 2), cops aren’t allowed to ask anyone for ID without probable cause for suspicion of a crime. Just being a foreigner doesn’t count. Point that out.

As for Gaijin Carding at hotels, all you have to do is say you have an address in Japan and you’re in the clear. Neither foreign residents nor Japanese are required to show any ID. The hotels cannot refuse you service, as legally they cannot deny anyone lodging under the Hotel Management Law (Article 5), without threat to public morals, possibility of contagion, or full rooms.

And as for Gaijin Carding by employers, under the new law (Article 28) you are under no obligation to say anything more than what your visa status is, and that it is valid. Say you’ll present visual proof in the form of the Gaijin Card, since nothing more is required.

If your main employer forces you to have your IDs photocopied, point out that the Personal Information Protection Law (Kojin Jouhou Hokan Hou) governs any situation when private information is demanded. Under Article 16, you must be told the purpose of gathering this information, and under Article 26 you may make requests to correct or delete data that are no longer necessary.

That means that once your visa status has been reported to Hello Work, your company no longer needs it, and you should request your info be returned for your disposal.

Those are the laws, and they exist for a reason: to protect everyone–including non-Japanese–from stretches of the law and abuses of power by state or society.

Even if the Foreign Registry Law has long made foreigners legally targetable in the eyes of the police, the rest of Japanese society still has to treat foreigners–be they laborer, customer, neighbor, or complete stranger–with appropriate respect and dignity.

Sure, Japan’s policymakers are treating non-Japanese residents as criminals, terrorists, and filth columnists of disease and disorder–through fingerprinting at the border, gaijin-apartment ID Checkpoints, anonymous police Internet “snitch sites” (ZG Mar 30 2004), “foreign DNA crime databases” (ZG Jan 13 2004), IC Chips in Gaijin Cards (ZG Nov 22 2005), and now gaijin dragnets through hotels and paychecks.

But there are still some vestiges of civil liberties guaranteed by law in this country. Know about them, and have them enforced. Or else non-Japanese will never be acknowledged or respected as real residents of Japan, almost always governed by the same laws as everyone else.

More information on what to do in these situations, plus the letter of the law, at

To this end, Erich Meatleg has provided a very valuable service–wallet-sized copies of the original text (plus hiragana and English translations) of pertinent sections of the laws for you to download and carry around. For the next time you get racially-profiled on the street and Gaijin Carded by cops:

Download plain version of text of laws regarding Gaijin Card Checks here (pdf format).

Download color-coded version of text of laws regarding Gaijin Card Checks here (pdf format).


Other laws that you can use (such as for Gaijin Card Checkpoints at hotels and in the workplace) are also up linked from the whattodoif.html article, but Erich hasn’t gotten to them yet! 🙂

Great thanks to Erich for his assistance! I’m sure the cops will be nonplussed from now on re how legalistic their gaijin patsies have become. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times on NJ Housing Discrimination, and how people are trying to help


Hi Blog. Pursuant to my post this morning on how an Osaka realtor has clear “foreigners OK” labels in its apartment catalog (meaning default mode is refusing them), here is an article in the Japan Times with some more evidence on just how systematic discrimination by nationality is in the housing market. Unfortunately, this is not really “news”… except to say that some people are finally trying to help. Debito in Sapporo


Foreigners still dogged by housing barriers
The Japan Times: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007

Courtesy of Japan Probe

Having arrived in Tokyo from Seoul about a year ago, Il Yeong Eun, like many foreigners who come to Japan, soon encountered a major difficulty — housing discrimination.

Il, 25, together with two South Korean friends who also came to Japan around that time, visited three real estate agencies to rent an apartment in Shinjuku Ward. But the agencies turned them away because they were foreigners.

“I never expected to be refused,” said Il, who goes to a Japanese language school in the ward. “I felt like I was treated like a criminal.”

Fortunately, she found a one-bedroom flat through a real estate agency that one of her friends introduced her to. The firm’s South Korean employee takes care of foreign customers by teaching them Japanese customs related to living in rental apartments.

Japan’s foreign population is steadily increasing. Government data show the number of registered foreign residents stood at 2.08 million in 2006, up from 1.48 million a decade ago. Nonetheless, housing discrimination against foreigners is surprisingly strong even in Tokyo.

According to a 2006 survey conducted by Tokyo-based nonprofit organization Information Center for Foreigners in Japan, 94 percent, or 220 respondents, out of 234 foreigners in Tokyo who visited real estate agents said they were refused by at least one agent.

To ease the discrimination, the public and private sectors have gradually come to offer various services to help foreigners find properties.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry launched the Web site Anshin Chintai (safe rental housing) in June to provide rental housing information and lists of real estate agents and NPOs that can support foreign apartment-seekers.

“We hear that some foreign residents have been refused (by landlords or rental agents),” said Eiji Tanaka, a ministry official in charge of the project. “The system is to network local governments, rental agents and nonprofit organizations” to effectively help such foreigners as well as the aged and the disabled.

So far, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Osaka and Miyagi prefectures and Kawasaki have joined the project. For example, 237 real estate agents in Tokyo are listed as supportive firms.

The site — — is available in Japanese only, but foreigners who have difficulties with the language can ask local governments to explain the information on the site to them, according to the ministry.

The ministry is trying to have other local governments join the system and is considering offering the content in other languages as well, the official said.

The Japan Property Management Association, involving about 1,000 real estate agencies, also launched the Web site Welcome Chintai — — in September to introduce rental properties in six languages — Chinese, English, Korean, Mongolian, Spanish and Russian.

Information about properties and procedures and customs to rent rooms are put up by rental agents on the site’s six blogs — one blog in each of the six languages.

“The Web site is a tool for us to smoothly accept foreign customers,” said Masao Ogino, chairman of the association’s international exchange committee that runs Ichii Co., the real estate agent in Shinjuku Ward.

As real estate agents that registered with the site write about their experiences of dealing with foreign customers, other member companies can gain knowhow, he said.

But opening such Web sites is not enough to help foreigners, said Toshinori Kawada, a Meiji University student who set up The-You Inc., a rental housing consulting firm, in Shinjuku Ward last year.

“(Foreigners) often find apartments through word of mouth. Distributing fliers at places where they gather is more effective” than offering information online, he said, noting his company’s site showing properties for foreigners, launched in July, has failed to draw many viewers.

A key to solving the housing problem faced by foreigners is to ease landlords’ anxieties about accepting them as tenants, Kawada said.

Landlords and rental agents often say they are concerned that foreign tenants might not have proper guarantors and might cause trouble with neighbors.

To ease such anxieties, his firm gives rental agents and landlords consultations on foreign tenant management, such as teaching them rules of everyday life here and collecting rents, by utilizing the expertise he gained by working at a foreign customers-only real estate agency for a year.

These private-sector moves have come as real estate companies and landlords think the rental housing market targeting foreigners has potential as Japan struggles with a declining birthrate.

“An oversupply (of rental apartments) makes it difficult (for landlords) to manage their properties. So they reluctantly turn to foreign customers,” Kawada said.

Ogino of the association said more and more real estate agents would enter the market as the association is trying to enlighten them and pass along knowhow to handle foreign customers through its new site.

“Our industry is finally moving toward internationalization as some agents now hire foreign employees,” Ogino said. “If real estate agencies can obtain knowhow to deal with foreign customers, they could gain more benefits and make foreign residents happy.”

The Japan Times: Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007

Fingerprinting Protest: Lionel Dersot on making your own “WANTED” poster


Hi Blog. Here’s something I just got from Lionel Dersot out in cyberspace. If the idea tickles you, go for it. It does me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Hello, I am Lionel Dersot, a French resident of 22 years in Tokyo. Following a post on my French blog about alternative, vital ways to express discontent with the biometric filling of foreigners reaching Japan from November 20, I have created a Flickr public photo gallery where I will host any Wanted Poster candidate picture of people wishing to tell others that ” I am not a terrorist”.

My original post that shows my own Wanted Poster is here:

The method to create and have you own WANTED poster uploaded is fairly simple. I did it in less than five minutes and I am no image application wizard. You need a free software and a decent digitized portrait picture of yourself.

Download the free PC software Poster Forge here:

– Use the WANTED template and replace the fox picture with your own portrait picture.
– Modify the text as you wish. You can even mix Japanese and alphabet.
– Save your poster as a jpeg file, if possible at a size of 450 x 600 pixel and no more.
– If you don’t know how to do this, just save it as a jpeg document.
– Send it to my email ID: ldersot [at] gmail [dot] com, and I will post it in the gallery whenever I have time.

The gallery is here:


1. Use your own real name, no pseudonym
2. Use a decent picture of yourself, no provocative pose, no NOVA bunny or sunglasses or weird face
3. Be creative with the wording but polite, no slang, no harsh words
4. Spread the word and tell other people

Note: If you know of a less time consuming method to store pictures in a shared gallery and save me time, I will gladly modify the scheme.

Regards, Lionel Dersot

Lionel Dersot
Business & Technology Interpretation
Face to face & Over-the-Phone
Skype ID: lionelskp

Fingerprinting of NJ issue summarized as animation. Spread it around.


Hi Blog. Fingerprinting of NJ issue aptly summarized in animation. Spread it around.

Welcome to Japan.gif

Download it from here and use as you like:

Courtesy of UTU’s Nick Wood. Thanks very much, and well done. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Nova Union on former NOVA employees exodus to G Education


Blog: News on the NOVA aftermath from the employee union’s point of view; watch Fuji TV tonight (Sunday Nov 11) for coverage of their Osaka negotiations. Arudou Debito


Subject: [Nambu FWC] Nova and G
Date: November 11, 2007 10:16:04 AM JST

Much happened yesterday regarding the Nova case.

At 10am and 2pm at locations throughout the country, Nova’s trustee held information sessions explaining various aspects of the coming Nova bankruptcy and explaining G Education’s offer to hire all Nova teachers who want to be hired at the same working conditions they had before.

We leafletted the meeting in Tokyo, calling on teachers to join GUTS (G Union of Teachers and Staff, which doesn’t yet exist). Tony D. reports that 500 leaflets were passed out quickly with no problems.

We also last night joined forces with General Union to tell the trustee, Noriaki Takahashi, that former conditions are not enough. Both unions (Nambu and G.U.) submitted to him several demands, including full enrollment of all teachers in shakai hoken and open-ended employment. Other demands included a fund to protect student tuition advances. The trustee said he agreed with all the demands.

He explained that of all the 12 corporate “sponsors,” G had the best offer in terms of protecting staff and teachers — hire them all initially at same conditions — and in terms of offering something to students — can use remaining points by paying 25% of their cost on top of what they already paid to Nova. He said he agreed with the shakai hoken and open-ended employment demands and called on the unions to fight hard, to make his job easier.

Other details will be explained at our next Nova meeting — Nov. 18 at 7pm at the Nambu union office. Some details are very important concerning resignation versus dismissal. In short, if you want to work for G you must resign from Nova the day before you are hired by G. If you don’t resign from Nova, the trustee will fire you with a month’s notice. This will meet that your unpaid wages will continue to accrue even a month after you are fired. If you work for G, even if your school is not open and you are told to stand by at home, you will be paid full wages.

More to come later… Watch the Fuji TV news at 10pm tonight, which covers the Nova Union’s trip to Osaka to meet with the trustee.

In Solidarity,

Louis Carlet
NUGW Tokyo Nambu

Fingerprinting: Amnesty/SMJ Appeal for Noon Nov 20 Public Appeal outside Justice Ministry


Hi Blog. Here’s the public appeal I was asked to translate for sponsoring groups Amnesty International/Solidarity with Migrants Japan. This is their upcoming November 20 Public Action in front of the Justice Ministry against Fingerprinting NJ. Attend if you like. Details in the appeal below. More on the event also here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo



(translated by Arudou Debito)

From November 20, 2007, the Japanese government will put into effect the Japan version of the US-VISIT Program, where all non-Japanese entering Japan (with the exception of children under age 16, Diplomats, and “Special Permanent Residents” (i.e. ethnic Koreans, Chinese, etc.) will have their fingerprints and facial photographs taken every time they cross the border.

This is none other than a system to track and tighten controls on foreigners, including residents. The government and the Justice Ministry loudly claim that this is an “anti-terror measure”, but consider the US-VISIT Program, inaugurated four years ago in the United States, that this policy is modeled upon: “It has been completely ineffective at uncovering terrorists. Rather, it has been used as a way for the government to create a blacklist and stop human rights activists from entering the country.” (Barry Steinhardt, American Civil Liberties Union, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan October 29, 2007). We see Japan heading down the same path as the US.

Japan’s version of the US-VISIT Program is so laden with problems, and passed without adequate deliberation by the Diet, that we call for the government and the Justice Ministry to immediately suspend it. To his end, we will assemble before the Justice Ministry on the day of its promulgation, November 20, 2007, for a public action and protest. We call on the public to join us at noon that day and lend your support and participation.

DATE: Tuesday, November 20, 2007
TIME: Noon (public action will take 30 minutes to an hour)
PLACE: Ministry of Justice, Kasumigaseki, Tokyo (Goudou Chousha #6)
(Subway Marunouchi Line to Kasumigaseki Station, Bengoshi Kaikan exit)

ACTIVITIES: Sound truck with speeches
Placards, Message boards (NO TO FINGERPRINTING, FINGERPRINTING NON-JAPANESE IS DISCRIMINATION, “NON-JAPANESE” DOES NOT MEAN “TERRORIST” etc.–create your own slogan and bring your own sign!)

Amnesty International Japan (Tel 03-3518-6777)

Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ) (Tel:03-5802-6033)
See you there!

アムネスティ/移住連アピール: 「日本版US−VISIT」施行に抗議する! 11.20昼、法務省前に集まろう!


 「日本版US−VISIT」施行に抗議する! 11.20昼、法務省前に集まろう!

 「日本版US−VISIT」が11月20日から施行されようとしています。16歳未満と特別永住者 を除く全ての外国人から、入国時に指紋・顔写真などの個人識別情報を採取するこの制度 は、外国人に対する管理・支配をますます強めるものにほかなりません。政府・法務省は「テロ 対策のため」と声高に主張しますが、4年前からこの制度を実施しているアメリカでは「US−VI SITは『テロリストの摘発』には何の役にも立たず、むしろ政府がブラックリストに挙げた人権活 動家などの入国拒否のためにのみ使われている」ことが明らかになっています。先日来日され た米自由人権協会のバリー・スタインハードさんはその実態をくわしく証言されました。日本もこ の制度を導入すれば、アメリカと同じ道を進むことは目に見えています。

 私たちは、さまざまな問題を孕みながら国会での審議も不十分なまま成立してしまった「日本 版US−VISIT」の施行を即時中止するよう政府・法務省に強く求めるとともに、施行開始の当 日、11月20日に、以下の通り法務省前での抗議行動を行います。平日の昼ですが、ぜひ多く の皆さんが参加されますよう呼びかけます。
場所:法務省前(合同庁舎6号館)地下鉄丸の内線霞ヶ関下車 弁護士会館となり)


アムネスティ・インターナショナル日本 TEL:03-3518-6777」
移住労働者と連帯する全国ネットワーク  TEL:03-5802-6033

101-0054 東京都千代田区神田錦町2-2 共同(新錦町)ビル4F
TEL. 03-3518-6777 FAX. 03-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko AT

Protest pays off: Now separate lines for residents when fingerprinting NJ at Narita


Well, well, well. Look what cyberspace just sent me…

“On the way out of the country, I picked up an Immigration form. There WILL be a special booth for re-entry visa holders. But there WON’T be a card and we WILL have to be fingerprinted and photographed EVERY time we re-enter the country.”

COMMENT: You see, protest does have an effect.

But it still hasn’t resolved the problem of how this is going to impede businesspeople (especially APEC Business Travel Card holders…), not to mention the issues of treating every non-Japanese as a potential Typhoid Mary or Osama Junior… every time. Or the fact that the letter of the law is still not being followed nationwide. As Steve Koya poignantly commented today:

We have a loophole, or at least a stay of execution! All we need is a decent lawyer and we can stop this legislation.

It is a simple argument, following on from my note yesterday about the Automatic gates. A chat to Sapporo Immigration confirmed that there were no plans to have the gates at Chitose or at any other airport other than Narita, giving lack of time and money as a reason.

Well, despite the fact they may have no time or insufficient funds, unfortunately Immigration are required by the new law to make the Automated Gates available to non-Japanese residents, at all airports within 18 months from the promulgation of the legislation, 24th May 2006. There is no “Only Narita” clause, there is no post promulgation amendment.

If they are not able to apply the law, then it should be rescinded. You could also state that failure to apply the law in full would also make it non-binding, so refusing to give your prints would theoretically not be illegal.

All we need is a decent lawyer! Amnesty, show us your muscle!

I still say you should not be separated from your Japanese families. Stand together in the same line, everyone. Debito in Sapporo

Fingerprinting: Tokyo Demo Amnesty/SMJ Nov 20, Signature Campaign by Privacy International


Hi Blog. Forwarding with permission. Arudou Debito

—– Original Message —–
From: “toshimaru ogura”
Sent: Tuesday, November 06, 2007 16:25
Subject: Urgent action against Japan US-VISIT

Dear friends,

I am toshi, a co-president of People’s Plan Study Group (PPSG). As you know Japanese government will implement new immigration control system of finger printing and face scanning. We have two actions against the plan. One is an international signature organized by Privacy International. Another one is a demonstration in front of DOJ office at noon on Nov 20 organized by Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ). I will inform in detail more about the demonstration soon.

I attach the statement from Privacy International. This signature is for organizations not for individuals. I hope your organization approves and signs on for the statement.

Address for sign on Gus Hosein, Privacy International

best wishes,
People’s Plan Study Group

The Rt Honourable Kunio Hatoyama
Minister of Justice
1-1-1 Kasumigaseki Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Nippon

November 6, 2007

Dear Minister Hatoyama:

Regarding plans to fingerprint and face-scan all visitors to Japan

We, the undersigned human rights and civil liberties groups from around the world are writing to you to express our grave concerns regarding the Ministry of Justice’s imminent implementation of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act.

We believe that your plans to fingerprint and face-scan visitors and foreign-residents to Japan are a gross and disproportionate infringement upon civil liberties, copying the worst practices on border management from around the world.

We call on you to reconsider your plans to implement this system. We also call on you to explain to the world why they should travel to your country and face these inconveniences when you have done so little to explain the nature of this human processing.


According to your plans for Immigration Control:

“In order to detect and oust, at the border, terrorists or foreign nationals who have been deported from Japan or committed crimes, one effective method is to further enhance measures against forged and falsified documents and to utilize biometrics in immigration examinations. In order to take facial portraits and fingerprint data during landing examinations of foreign nationals under the “Action Plan for Prevention of Terrorism” (as adopted at the Headquarters for Promotion of Measures Against Transnational Organized Crime and Other Relative Issues and International Terrorism on December 10, 2004), necessary preparations will be made by putting in order points for us to keep in mind, observing relevant measures taken by foreign countries and developing relevant law.”1

It has come to our attention that you plan to implement this system within a matter of weeks where you will face-scan and fingerprint all visitors to Japan and retain this information for an extended period of time (some reports claim that you intend to do so for up to 80 years), and combine it with other sources of personal information.

Infringing upon the Right to Privacy

Your plans are in breach of individuals’ human rights, and in particular, their right to privacy. The right to privacy is recognized specifically by numerous international human rights treaties. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to privacy under Article 12. Similar language is adopted in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under Article 17, the United Nations (UN) Convention on Migrant Workers in Article 14, and the UN Convention on Protection of the Child under Article 16. We note that the Japanese Supreme Court has recognized the right to privacy under Article 13 of the Japanese Constitution.

Your system proposes to indiscriminately collect sensitive personal information from all foreign travellers. This mass project for the processing of human beings is tantamount to treating all visitors to your country as though they were criminals.

We are surprised by the lack of information regarding proposed safeguards and appeal methods. Instead we are given rhetoric about the importance of combatting terrorism and promises to force the return of anyone who fails to comply with this new requirement.

The protection of human rights is at its weakest when individuals are waiting for entry at the border of foreign country. Traditionally, governments afforded respect to visitors from other nations under the guise of reciprocity: if you treat our citizens with respect we will treat yours similarly. Japan is showing a remarkable level of disrespect to the dignity of your tourists and foreign business travellers by collecting detailed information on them, in an indiscriminate manner as a condition of entry, with no promise of safeguards, or means of appeal.

A Complex and Risky System

The collection of all this personal information and its centralisation into databases will create privacy risks, and will also lead to likely security risks.

We believe that Japan is making a grave mistake by following the path forged by the United States of America with its US-VISIT programme. Until the implementation of your system, the U.S. was alone in the world in fingerprinting and face-scanning all visitors and retaining this information for vast periods of time. Years into their programme we can now all see that the U.S. should serve as a cautionary tale rather than as an example for best practice.

The US-VISIT system was approved in a similar manner to the Japanese system. That is, it was approved through a highly political environment with little public debate and policy deliberation. In the U.S., the government relied on its rhetoric about fighting terrorism and crime instead of careful policy development and deployment. Now, years later, the US-VISIT system is finally receiving some of its much needed oversight, and the reality of advanced border systems is becoming clear. According to U.S. Government reports, we now are seeing that:

. after spending 1.3 billion over 4 years, only half the system is delivered.2

. expenditures continue on projects that “are not well-defined, planned, or justified on the basis of costs, benefits, and risks”, lacking “a sufficient basis for effective program oversight and accountability”.3

. the U.S. government has “continued to invest in US-VISIT without a clearly defined operational context that includes explicit relationships with related border security and immigration enforcement initiatives”.4

. “management controls to identify and evaluate computer and operational problems were insufficient and inconsistently administered” and thus “continues to face longstanding US-VISIT management challenges and future uncertainties” as it continues to “fall short of expectations”.5

. “lacking acquisition and financial management controls”, and project managers have failed to “economically justify its investment in USVISIT increments or assess their operational impacts”, “had not assessed the impact of the entry and exit capabilities on operations and facilities, in part, because the scope of the evaluations performed were too limited.”6

. “contracts have not been effectively managed and overseen”.7

. and finally, security “weaknesses collectively increase the risk that unauthorized individuals could read, copy, delete, add, and modify sensitive information, including personally identifiable information, and disrupt the operations of the US-VISIT program.” According to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, Senator Joseph Lieberman, the U.S. government “is spending $1.7 billion of taxpayer money on a program to detect potential terrorists crossing our borders yet it isn’t taking the most basic precautions to keep them from hacking into and changing or deleting sensitive information.”8

It is therefore of little surprise that the U.S. border systems occasionally fail. On a number of occasions the U.S. border systems have broken down resulting in thousands of people being forced to wait until the system problems could be worked out. For instance, in August 2007, 20,000 travellers were left stranded at Los Angeles airport, with travellers spending the night on the airport floors and planes being prevented from even coming into the gates for passengers to de-plane because the airport was overwhelmed.9

More stories are emerging from around the world where weak security protocols have made personal information held on visa databases widely available to the public and potential identity thieves, 10 and fingerprint mismatches have lead to gross injustices. Without competent planning and care, visitors to Japan have no reason to be confident that their personal information that they are forced to disclose will be adequately protected by your system.

Towards Effective Border Management?

Japan should be careful not to follow the U.S. lead. Recent surveys have shown that the U.S. is now rated worst place to visit for its immigration and entry procedures, followed by the Middle East.11

There are better ways of greeting visitors to your country than treating tourists and business travelers as though they were terrorists. There are privacy-friendly ways of identifying criminals at borders, and there are more and more effective ways of using biometric data without invading the privacy of all visitors and making them vulnerable to identity theft through the leakage of data from your systems.

In our experiences, technological systems fail most when they do not get adequate policy deliberation. We also believe that immigration policy is a complex domain that rarely gets the necessary attention and deliberative care that it deserves. Your plans to fingerprint and face-scan every visitor to your country appears to exemplify this risk. It is unfortunate that we could not offer our views earlier but your consultation was only conducted in Japanese.

Your plans will likely damage Japan’s standing in the world, make a wonderful and beautiful country less inviting to tourists, and will unnecessarily hurt Japan’s role as global economic leader. If serious changes to your plans are not made, we worry that a boycott of travel to Japan will be the only way to ensure that your government has planned sufficiently to cater for the privacy and security interests of global travellers.

Please reconsider your plans. Also, please note, that if you move down this path, others may well follow and will start fingerprinting your own citizens on the grounds that you do it to theirs. These systems will likely be as complex, risky, and insecure as yours. This is not the type of world that you, your citizens, or we would like to live in.

Yours sincerely,

Privacy International [other signatories here in alphabetical order]

1 Ministry of Justice, ‘Basic Plan for Immigration Control (3rd Edition) provisional translation’, Section 3: Major Issues and Guidelines on Immigration Control Administration Services.
2 Government Accountability Office, Prospects For Biometric US-VISIT Exit Capability Remain Unclear, July 28, 2007, GAO-07-1044T.
3 Government Accountability Office, ‘U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Programs: Long-standing Lack of Strategic Direction and Management Controls Needs to Be Addressed’ , August 2007, GAO-07-1065.
4 Government Accountability Office, ‘Planned Expenditures for U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Program Need to Be Adequately Defined and Justified’, February 2007, GAO-07-278.
5 Government Accountability Office, ‘US-VISIT Program Faces Operational, Technological, and Management Challenges’, March 20, 2007, GAO-07-623T.
6 Government Accountability Office, US-VISIT Has Not Fully Met Expectations and Longstanding Program Management Challenges Need to Be Addressed, February 16, 2007, GAO-07-499T.
7 Government Accountability Office, ‘Contract Management and Oversight for Visitor and Immigrant Status Program Need to Be Strengthened’, June 2006, GAO-06-404.
8 ‘Lieberman Cites Vulnerability of Terrorism Tracking Data’, August 3, 2007, statement available at
9 ‘Mayor calls for Probe of LAX Computer Crash’, CBS, August 13, 2007.
10 ‘Security concerns hit web visa applications’, Joe Churcher, The Scotsman, May 18, 2007.
11 ‘How to help the huddled masses through immigration’, Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, March 12, 2007.

toshimaru ogura



ブログ読者の皆様こんばんは。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。ホットニュースですが、欧州ビジネス協会(EBC)と豪州NZ商工会議所(ANZCCJ)は外国人指紋採取に対する抗議文を発行しました。法務省入国管理局と外務省宛で、原文より:

コメント:標的としれている在住外国人住民のみではなく、米国以外の欧米人は既にこの政策に深く疑問を持つようであります。日本当局(特に法務省)は日本がグローバル化に対して例外的な国だと未だに思い込んでいるのでしょうか。「ようこそジャパン」と貿易に関する商売にどんな影響を与えるのかを深く考えこなしましたか。どうぞ報道して下さい。宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人


European Business Council and Australian/ NZ Chamber of Commerce protest NJ fingerprinting laws


Hi Blog. Important information from Japan’s non-US Western business leaders. Courtesy of Martin Issott.

Both the European Business Council in Japan and the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan have agreed that Immigration’s new NJ Fingerprint Laws “impose unacceptable costs” on businesses, and finds regrettable the “grouping [of] long-term residents and taxpayers in Japan with occasional visitors”.


So says a protest letter to the MOJ Immigration Bureau (cced to MOFA) in PDF format signed by Richard Colasse, Chairman of the EBC, and Tim Lester, Chairman of the ANZCCJ. Click here to see it:

Jpeg thumbnails of the letters in English and Japanese here (click to expand in browser):

What follows is the text from an email from Jacob Edberg, Policy Director of the EBC, which indicates that the protesting is in some way paying off–with some changes in the procedures. At Narita, anyway. Underlinings in the email added. Brief comment follows.


From: []
Sent: Friday, November 02, 2007 11:42 AM
Subject: Revised Immigration Law

TO: EBC Committee Members EBC EOB Members European National Chamber Presidents European National Chamber Executive Directors Delegation of the European Commission to Japan National European Embassies

FROM: Jakob Edberg
DATE: November 2, 2007

SUBJECT: Revised Immigration Law

Dear Colleagues,

This is to inform you about the implementation of the revised immigration law, scheduled for November 20. In short, the revised law says that all foreigners have to leave their fingerprints and take a photo when entering Japan. The EBC has over the past year strongly insisted that the implementation of the law should not complicate or delay the re-entry procedure of foreign residents in Japan. We have especially objected to forcing re-entry permit holders to line up in long queues with all other foreigners (tourists e.g.) to take fingerprints each time re-entering Japan.

After long discussions with the Ministry of Justice, it is now clear that re-entry permit holders will be able to pre-register fingerprints and photo at either Shinagawa or at Narita on the way out. Undergoing this procedure once should grant swift re-entry at Narita (not other international airports) as long as the passport/ re-entry permit is valid. Information about this system is not yet available in English but can since October 26 be found in Japanese on the MOJ website:

The Ministry of Justice has also said that for those re-entry permit holders who have not yet pre-registered their fingerprints and photos, there should be a line separate from other foreigners (e.g. tourists) at the immigration counter. However, the MOJ not yet made this commitment in writing – because they may not be able to staff the extra lines at all times of the day.

EBC Chairman Richard Collasse sent a letter on October 26 (please see attached) jointly signed with the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce to demand that information about the new system is made available in English ASAP and that the commitment to set up separate lines at immigration counter for re-entry permit holder are not pre-registered is made also in writing. At this time, the semi automatic gate system will not be available at Kansai and Nagoya International airports. The solution for Kanto residents appear to be to go to Narita airport early and preregister (you only have to do this once).

We will continue to ask for more clarity on the new procedures from MOJ and will be sure to get back to all of you as soon as we have more information on this urgent issue.

Yours sincerely,

Jakob Edberg
Policy Director
European Business Council in Japan

COMMENT: What incredible incompetence by the Ministry of Justice! Did they think that inconveniencing people to this degree (under a discriminatory and xenophobic rubric, to boot) would occasion no protest or comment from the world around them? Are they still convinced that Japan is immune to the forces of globalization?!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

多民族共生教育フォーラム2007東京 11月4日(日)午前10時〜午後5時






日 時○11月4日(日)午前10時〜午後5時
会 場○東京国際交流館 国際交流会議場
午前9時半〜  開場・受付開始
午前10時〜  ビデオ上映「2005年兵庫フォーラム、2006年愛知フォーラムから」
午前10時半〜  「日本各地の取り組み、外国人学校からのメッセージ」
午後1時〜   「外国人学校に通う子どもたちからのメッセージ」
            エスコラ・ピンゴ・デ・ジェンテ(茨城県下妻市) ほか

午後2時10分〜 パネルディスカッション
             田中 宏さん(龍谷大学教授)
午後4時30分〜 「外国人学校の制度的保障に関する市民提言」採択



     王 慧 槿さん(多文化共生センター東京)
     金 光 敏さん(大阪・コリアNGOセンター)
会 場:在日本韓国YMCA 9階ホール
時  間:午後4時〜6時

 時  間:午後6時30分〜8時
 会  場:在日本韓国YMCA

 時  間:
 コース �埼玉コース
       (埼玉朝鮮初中級学校 ⇒ 
       (横浜クリスチャンアカデミー ⇒ 川崎朝鮮初級学校→ふれあい


     ★電話 090-8400-7685(福井)
     ★住所 〒160-0023 東京都新宿区西新宿7−5−3 斎藤ビル4階

Documentary film on parental child abduction in Japan: Fundraiser Tues Dec 11 in Tokyo


Hi Blog. I have been quite closely associated with this project for more than a year now (I’m interviewed in the film–see the link to the trailer below) and have a personal stake in the subject. I encourage you to join us for the fundraiser, help out in any way you can, and even perhaps suggest venues we could appear at to get the word out. This is the Golden Age of the documentary, and this one ranks amongst the important ones. Help us get it launched. Downloadable movie poster available here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo



We first learned of this situation in January 2006 in a Metropolis article titled “Think of the children” by Kevin Buckland, and after some discussions we felt strongly that a documentary film would be an influential way to raise awareness about the issue. Both of us are married to Japanese and have started wonderful families, but hearing how easily and frequently a parent can be cut off from seeing their own kids was very disturbing. In reality, when a marriage in Japan or with a Japanese national(s) goes bad and there are kids involved, the situation easily becomes drastic and severe. Though the Japanese courts, government and police may not have intended it to be this way, Japan has become an abduction-friendly country, where the winner is the first one to grab the kids and run. We want to make this film to expose the depth of the current problem and how it affects everyone–worst of all, the children who are caught in the middle.

For the past year we have juggled our schedules to travel to several cities all over the world, talking to left-behind parents, attempting to speak with abducting parents, and conversing with experts on divorce, child psychology and law to gain and ultimately share a greater understanding of how and why this situation exists. We plan to take at least two months off from our current employment in spring 2008, and dedicate ourselves full time to edit and finalize the film. We aim for a screening at a film festival before the year is out. Our intention is to show it outside Japan first, garnering international support to create “gaiatsu” (outside pressure) that will force Japan to address and take responsibility for addressing the current situation. Matt and I want to make a film with tremendous impact in a prompt time frame, and to do that will require a much greater amount of funds than we have at this point. It is our goal to raise close to a quarter million dollars for this purpose. We ask all of you to consider making a donation within your budget toward our goal. For American tax payers we will soon have information about how you can donate tax free to our non-profit account at IDA.

We will have a Fundraiser at the Pink Cow restaurant in Shibuya on December 11th from 7:30 to 10:00pm. Tickets cost 10,000 yen include a beautiful buffet dinner two drinks (then cash bar), speakers and discussion about the current situation and a video presentation. For tickets contact:

Murray Wood, Steve Christie and Debito Arudou are among the list of attendees.

Please visit our website at:

View our trailer and find out more details about the film, links to other important websites, and donation details.

Matt’s e-mail is:
Dave’s e-mail is:

Thank you for your time and consideration.

David Hearn and Matt Antell

“Remember the Children
One year on, has anything changed in the fight against international child abduction?”
Follow-up article in Metropolis by Kevin Buckland

Children’s Rights Network Japan
ENDS Powerpoint Presentation on what’s wrong with new NJ Fingerprinting Program


Hi Blog. Want a quick-and-dirty (and easy to understand) presentation on what’s wrong with the upcoming NJ Fingerprinting Program?

Download my powerpoint on this subject (from a speech given at Waseda University on Monday, October 22, 2007) at

Spread it around. Show it to others. It’s all there.

Most newsworthy piece of information within the presentation, regarding the US-VISIT Program, upon which this new program is modeled:

“Roger Dow, president of the Travel Industry Association, told me that the United States has lost millions of overseas visitors since 9/11–even though the dollar is weak and America is on sale. ‘Only the U.S. is losing traveler volume among major countries, which is unheard of in today’s world,’ Mr. Dow said. Total business arrivals to the United States fell by 10 percent over the 2004-5 period alone, while the number of business visitors to Europe grew by 8 percent in that time. The travel industry’s recent Discover America Partnership study concluded that ‘the U.S. entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is turning away foreign business and leisure travelers and hurting America’s image abroad.’ Those who don’t visit us, don’t know us.”
–Thomas Friedman, New York Times, Sept. 30, 2007


And Japan thinks this will be good for not only “YOKOSO Japan”, but also it’s balance sheets? Beg to differ.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Online petition against NJ Fingerprint Policy you can sign


Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard over to Thomas in Kyoto:

Hi there. Here is an online petition against the NJ fingerprintings law:

Best, Thomas in Kyoto


Thanks for creating this, Thomas. Debito

Template protest letter to authorities re new gaijin fingerprint laws



“I know many have written comments about the new fingerprinting laws for all non-Japanese reentering Japan’s borders. So i had a Japanese friend draw up a letter of protest. Here it is in English and Japanese. For the cost of stamp and an envelope i think its well worth sending it. Even if nothing is done, it’s great for our health just to let them know and get it off our chests. Nothing ventured nothing gained right?

I have kept it to one A4 size so that it is read, points out politely why i think it the law should be removed or amended, and specifically makes a request. I don’t expect much but i do expect it to make me feel better. Feel free to amend it as you like.” Scott Wallace



“平成18年5月24日, 法律番号043.

前略 私達は最近可決された、日本での永住権を持ち、日本に居住し、労働し、日本に家族を持つ全ての外国人に対して写真及び 指紋押捺を義務付けるとする新しい法律に関して、非常に懸念しております。

Mr Suzuki

Your address

To the right honorable………

Reference finger printing and immigration law.

“Heisei 18.5.24, Law No. 043.

We are concerned at the recent passing of a new law by the government which forces all foreign permanent residents who live and work in Japan, or have a Japanese family to be photographed and finger printed。

This law stigmatizes us as criminals, separates us from our families, children, colleagues, and friends, as well as the Japanese community that we live in.

We believe that to provide an equal and fair society, the government should ensure that all people who live in Japan should be treated equally as written in our constitution.

We would kindly like you to support/propose a change in this law so that all people, who have permanent residence or have a Japanese family, are exempt from this law. This would bring us in line with other special permanent residents who have been granted an exemption from this law. We believe this will provide a harmonious, peaceful, and a fair society that we live in, and we hope you will support us by proposing such an amendment to the law.

If you wish to contact us please do not hesitate in contacting me at the above address.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Jane/John Smith.

Wash Post on Brazilian Immigrants & Education in Japan


Hi Blog. Here’s an update in the Washington Post on the situation in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, site of the Ana Bortz Lawsuit of 1998-99 (although mentioned below, now apparently fading into the folklore), and the Hamamatsu Sengen of 2001.

Decent rosy article, with some ideas on how the government tackled certain problems. Wish the reporter had also mentioned the Hamamatsu Sengen, and how the Hamamatsu city government has been spearheading efforts to make things more equitable throughout Japan for NJ. Much more important than repeating over and over again in the article how people can teach each other how to sort garbage. Ah well. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

In Traditionally Insular Japan, A Rare Experiment in Diversity
School Fills a Gap for Immigrants Returning to Ancestral Homeland
By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Saturday, October 6, 2007; A12

Courtesy Mark Schreiber

HAMAMATSU, Japan — Five years ago, in this coastal city southwest of Tokyo, Mari Matsumoto sank her life savings into building a school for the children and grandchildren of immigrants coming to Japan. But at Mundo de AlegrXXa (World of Happiness), the students aren’t what one might expect: Children with Japanese faces and names like Haruo and Tomiko dart around the two-story building chattering in Spanish and Portuguese.

The school is the result of an unusual social experiment. Faced with labor shortages, the Japanese government opened the doors in 1990 to allow immigrants to come to the country — so long as they were of Japanese descent. Government officials thought they would blend into the country’s notoriously insular society more easily than people from other ethnic backgrounds.

But many found they didn’t quite fit. Their names and faces were Japanese, but they didn’t speak the language. They didn’t understand local customs, such as the country’s stringent system for sorting garbage into multicolored containers. In cities such as Hamamatsu, where many settled, government officials and Japanese neighbors didn’t know what to make of newcomers who seemed familiar but foreign at the same time.

Despite the frictions here and in other communities, pressure is building in Japan to take in more immigrants, forcing the country to reconsider its traditional bias against outsiders. Its population is aging and shrinking. Analysts say Japan must find new sources of labor if it is to preserve its economic power and support its retirees.

Hamamatsu was a natural magnet for the newcomers because its many factories offered entry-level employment and required virtually no language skills. Officials here like to brag that their community became the most “international” of Japan’s cities. About 30,000 of its residents, or 4 percent, are foreign-born. That’s almost twice the proportion of foreign-born residents in Japan as a whole. (About 13 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born.) Most newcomers are from Brazil and Peru. They are offspring of Japanese who immigrated to South America in the early 1900s to work in coffee fields and take other jobs.

The new arrivals here brought Latin culture with them. In Hamamatsu’s downtown, billboards in Portuguese advertise cellphones and air conditioners. In a popular market, Brazilians who long for a taste of home can buy a platter of bolinho de queijo — cheese croquettes — fresh from the fryer or rent DVDs of popular Brazilian shows.

Other parts of the city have Brazilian and Peruvian churches. One enterprising woman has built a small catering business making box lunches for homesick Peruvians.

But even as officials here tout their international credentials, they struggle to manage the diversity. That’s where Matsumoto, her life savings and the school come in.

For years, Matsumoto, a Japanese who learned Spanish and Portuguese in college, worked for Suzuki Motor, where she trained foreign workers from South America.

She soon grew alarmed by the number of immigrant children who were dropping out of Japanese public schools. Because many didn’t understand Japanese, they were falling behind in their studies. Others were bullied because they didn’t look Japanese (some of them are biracial, having Latin parents). Even though some schools hired aides to help the children, many were left to flounder, she said.

The parents urged Matsumoto to open a school for their children. Unable to get funding from government or school officials, she sank her savings into the enterprise. She began recruiting teachers willing to work for very little pay.

One recent day, as she watched her spirited charges dash around the makeshift classrooms in an office building on the city’s south side, Matsumoto said she wouldn’t have had to do this if the government had made an adequate effort to accommodate immigrant children. “That’s the root of the problem,” she said.

Problems in schools were just one sign the newcomers weren’t going to simply “blend in.” Those who lacked health insurance began turning up in local emergency rooms when they got sick. Since many depended on employers for housing, they ended up homeless if they lost their jobs.

Hidehiro Imanaka, director of Hamamatsu’s International Affairs Division, shook his head recalling angry citizens who would call city hall to tattle on foreign-born neighbors who didn’t sort the garbage properly or parked in the wrong places.

Some newcomers threw all-day barbecues with large crowds and loud music — just as they had back home. Their Japanese neighbors were horrified. At one point, tensions were so high that some merchants banned certain groups from their stores, until a lawsuit prompted them to stop.

But many immigrants say the struggle is worth it.

Roberto Yamashiro, who came to Japan from Peru when he was 15, said the adjustment was difficult. He didn’t know the language and didn’t like the food. He worked in a factory that made ice chests for several years. Now 24, he is one of a handful of immigrant students at Hamamatsu University. “I like it here a lot,” he said. “There is much more opportunity if you work hard.”

Officials in Hamamatsu say they never expected the outsiders to live in Japan for more than a few years. But now they realize they’re here to stay and must be helped along.

At city hall, officials have moved the foreign registration desk to a prominent spot on the first floor. Signs and forms are printed in Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and English. The International Affairs Division, which used to focus on foreign exchange programs, now concentrates on the needs of the immigrant community. In an attempt to quell disputes over garbage, instructions on how to sort it are now available in four languages.

But the broader question of Japan’s traditional reluctance to accept outsiders remains.

Eunice Ishikawa, who was born in Brazil, teaches cultural policy and management in the Department of International Culture at Shizuoka University of Art and Culture in Hamamatsu. She said that when people learn where she was born, they can’t believe she’s a college professor.

For many of the immigrants from South America, “it’s almost impossible to assimilate because people have such negative images” of outsiders, she said. Sometimes her husband, a Japanese American who was born in San Diego, complains that people look down on him because they see him as an American.

Ishikawa said the Japanese may have no choice but to learn to live with outsiders, because their numbers are growing, not only in Hamamatsu, but in the country as a whole.

In 1990, about 1 million registered foreign residents lived in Japan; by 2004, that figure had nearly doubled, to just below 2 million. Most say the actual numbers are probably higher because not all foreigners register.

The pressure to let in more immigrants is building. Population experts project that by 2050, Japan’s population, about 128 million in 2005, will shrink to 95 million, about 40 percent of whom will be 65 or older. By some estimates, Japan will lose more than 4 million workers.

“With the age of globalization, these borders are going to open up,” said Fariborz Ghadar, director of the Center for Global Business Studies at Pennsylvania State University. “Unless they don’t want to see their economy grow as rapidly, they’re going to have to do something about it.”

Recently, the country struck an agreement with the Philippines to bring in qualified nurses and certified care workers. “In the near future, Japan must make a decision to receive immigrants into this country,” said Kazuaki Tezuka, professor of labor and social law at the University of Chiba, who has studied immigration policy around the world.

Joao Toshiei Masuko, a Brazilian immigrant of Japanese ancestry who opened the first Brazilian Japanese restaurant in Hamamatsu and then expanded his business to include a bakery and supermarket, predicted that immigrants will be accepted.

As he strolled through the aisle of his shiny new supermarket next to the downtown branch of Japan’s Entetsu department store, he noted that his customers are both Japanese and non-Japanese. Pointing to aisles that stock U.S., Peruvian and Brazilian products, he said his market — decorated in green and yellow, the colors on the Brazilian flag — has an “international flair” that he’s certain will translate in his adopted country.

“I opened my market to sell to Brazilians,” he said. “But now everyone comes.”

What to do about fingerprint law: letter of protest, Amnesty Int’l meeting Oct 27



(UPDATE: OCT 9: Comments section below contains suggestions on where to send your complaints.)


I’ve been getting quite a few inquiries as to what we can do about this from very frustrated people. Some want to march in protest, others want to lobby legislators, still others want to launch a lawsuit or just refuse to be fingerprinted.

Not to douse any fireworks (and I never like to tell anyone not to utilize a peaceful form of protest, even if it may not work in the Japanese system), but be advised of the obstacles you are facing:

1) LAUNCHING A LAWSUIT means a lot of time and energy (and often a considerable amount of money) you invest, and probably no way to stop this law from being promulgated in the first place. It’s been in the pipeline for years now, and at the risk of saying I told you so, I did, from at least 2005, so the “foregone conclusion” effect is very powerful by now. Moreover, I speak from experience when I say that the legislative and judicial processes in Japan are not going to interfere with one another (not the least due to the Separation of Powers mandate), at least not for the many years spent in civil court anyway.

Wanna try it? Go for it. I’ll hold your coat. But the simple argument you’re going to get back from any lawyer with a retiring personality (and no activist proclivity) is that you’re not going to be able to sue for discrimination–when many laws don’t treat citizens and non-citizens equally anyway; it’s like suing because you don’t have voting rights, and that definitely won’t wash in court.

2) CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, i.e. refusing to comply with the law, is an option, but the GOJ has already out-thunk you there. When protests against fingerprinting happened before (mostly by Zainichis), they were possible because people were already inside Japan when they protested. Refuse to hand in your fingerprint? Fine, go home and have dinner and wait for the next scolding letter from the GOJ. You weren’t going to get kicked out of the country. This time around, however, you’re outside the country, so refuse to be fingerprinted and you won’t be let in; you can sit in the airport lobby or Gaijin Tank all year for all Immigration cares. Moreover, to save themselves a repeat Zainichi protest performance, the Zainichis were conveniently made exempt. Touche. Refuse to comply if you like, but be aware of the potential risks–and unless enough of you do it and fill up the Gaijin Tanks they’re not going to notice.

You can, of course, in a similar vein make your complaints known and loud via you or your spouse and family by all lining up in the same Gaijin Line together, and grumbling when it’s your turn that you are not a tourist and should be treated like a resident of Japan like any other.

3) LOBBYING LEGISLATORS sounds interesting, but it’s extremely labor intensive, and legislators in my experience are not as accessible as they are, say, in the US Congressional lobbying experience I have had. Again, go for it if you want. They have email addresses and phone numbers. Just remember that unless you are an entrenched interest, Japanese Diet Members will generally be nonplussed about what you’re doing in their office; they don’t usually even pretend to listen to the commoners unless it’s election time.

4) A PUBLIC MARCH is also viable, and you might be able to get something going by attending the Amnesty International/SMJ meeting in Tokyo Oct 27. Attend if only to salve your angst that you feel alone in this issue–because you’re definitely not, but it sure is difficult to get the NJ community mobilized around much.

Anyway, first, the details of the Oct 27 Amnesty/SMJ Tokyo Meeting are blogged here.

Next, if you want to raise awareness of the issue, I have some letters below which Martin Issott has kindly said I can include to inspire us. He’s sent these out to various agencies, particularly the tourist-based ones, and I suggest you adapt them to your purposes and do the same.

Anyone have time on their hands (I don’t right now), please translate into Japanese for the public good and I’ll put it up here.

But don’t do nothing about it if this bothers you–otherwise the aggravation will build up inside you and fossilize into resentment. Arudou Debito in Sapporo




Dear Sir or Madam,

I am a 20 plus year resident of Kobe, and I am taking the liberty of writing to you to describe what I regard as the grossly unfair manner in which Japan’s Ministry of Justice intends to implement amendments to the Immigration Law, which come into effect from 23rd November this year.

I am hoping that you will be able to support the case that I describe, and will use your good offices in the UK to publicise this situation to all of your Japanese national members, in the hope that together their and your influence may be able to affect change to MOJ’s plans.

As you may already be aware, the amended Immigration Law requires that all foreigners, be they visitors, residents, or permanent residents, must submit fingerprints and photographs on each and every entry, or re-entry, to the country.

However the law also stipulates for those resident foreigners who have pre-registered their bio-metric data with the authorities, they may use what is termed an Automated gate system to facilitate their immigration procedure.

Since 23rd August I have on several occasions requested the Kobe Immigration Office to allow myself and my wife to provide the required bio-metric data.

At no time have I received an actual response to this request, but have been told, initially, only that the automated gate system would be established at Narita Airport by 23rd November.

Subsequent follow up finally resulted in a letter from the Kobe Immigration authorities dated 21st September clearly stating that the automated gate system is only to be established at Narita Airport, and there are no plans to establish this system at any of Japan’s other international airports.

As a Kobe resident, it is impractical for me to use Narita Airport, and thus as the situation stands at present I will be required to join the lengthy queues of arriving foreigners to provide my fingerprints and photograph each time I reenter the country.

It is a classic Catch-22 situation!

I regard it as grossly unfair to all resident foreigners residing outside of the immediate Tokyo area that the automated gate system is not to be established at all Japan’s International Airports.

Even more galling is the fact that at all international airports special immigration channels, effectively automated gates have recently been established for non Japanese APEC business travel card holders.

The final irony is that as a 20 year resident my fingerprints have long since been on file with Kobe City authorities, so I appealed to them to provide a copy of my data that I could submit to Kobe Immigration – they proudly proclaimed that they had long since destroyed such data!

I also applied to the local police, and was informed that the police never, ever, take the fingerprints of citizens in good standing!

Sir, this is really quite a ridiculous situation, but one which will very seriously inconvenience a great many resident businessmen, and in my case as an Area Director I need to enter and reenter Japan 2 or 3 times per month!

Finally I repeat whatever you are able to do to publicise this situation will be very much appreciated – noting that of course frustrated businessmen here will very soon be making loud appeals to the British Immigration authorities to treat resident Japanese businessmen in the UK in the same unfriendly manner which would be another retrograde step.

Yours sincerely,



Attention: The Director, Visit Japan Campaign [or whatever avenue you wish to pursue]

Dear Sir or Madam,

As I am sure you are well aware, the amended Immigration Law, contains a stipulation that an Automated gate system shall be established to facilitate the entry and re-entry to Japan of resident foreigners, however the Automated gate will only be established at Narita Airport by 23rd November this year, the date of the new law’s enforcement.

Kobe Immigration have confirmed to me by letter dated 21st September that there is no plan to establish the automated gate system at any other international airport in Japan.

You may claim that this has nothing to do with your organisation, but I believe very strongly that it has everything to do with your activities in your attempts to promote tourism to Japan.

When resident foreigners such as myself, with over 20 year residence in the city of Kobe, are as from 23rd November, on entry or re-entry to Japan treated as suspected criminals or terrorist despite our pleading with authorities to pre-register our bio-metric data in advance, I’m sure you can imagine that this does not give us a good impression about the quality of life living in Japan as a foreigner!

Therefore we will pass on these views and opinions to friends, relatives, and colleagues who might by considering to visit Japan with a strong warning to stay away!

There are still 2 months to go before implementation of the amended Immigration Law on 23rd November this year; I urgently request you to do your best to remonstrate with the Ministry of Justice about their unfair implementation of the new Immigration Law.

Sincerely yours,



Protest Sept 29 re Monkashou’s Okinawa History Revisionism, Okinawa Convention Center


Hi Blog. Just got word of this from friend Gene van Troyer, regarding a protest tomorrow in Okinawa over WWII history revisionism from the Ministry of Education. Details below. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Perhaps Japanese are complacent when it comes to MEXT rewriting the history textbooks about Comfort Women and the Nanking Massacre during WWII, but what about here at home? It seems that there is no rest for the revisionists. Earlier this year (1) the GOJ through MEXT ordered all references to military-encouraged mass suicides in Okinawa to be expunged and replaced with less controversial and damning phrasing like “many people committed suicide.” Okinawans are in an uproar over this slap in their collective face (2), (3).

Coming up tomorrow, Saturday, Sept 29, from around 3:00 P.M. there is to be a general protest (kyoukasho kentei shuudanjiketsu) staged at the Okinawa Convention Center over MEXT’s attempt to rewrite history regarding the Japanese military’s policy of encouraged civilian “mass suicides” during the Battle of Okinawa. MEXT is pushing the view that it never happened. Scores of Okinawans who were there and witnessed it say it did (4), (5).

(1)***Okinawa Outcry Grows Over Japan Textbook Revision on WWII Suicides t-view-on-military-role-in-war-suicide/? Farticle.php%3Fid%3DD8PLABLG0%26show_article%3D1%26catnum%3D0&frame=true

(2)***1,000 Protest in Okinawa at Gov’t View on Military Role in War Suicide t-view-on-military-role-in-war-suicide/? Farticle.php%3Fid%3DD8PLABLG0%26show_article%3D1%26catnum%3D0&frame=true

(3)***Okinawans Outraged by What They Say is a Cover-up of Military-urged Mass Suicides During WWII Battle t-view-on-military-role-in-war-suicide/? Farticle.php%3Fid%3DD8PLABLG0%26show_article%3D1%26catnum%3D0&frame=true

(4) Ryuukyuu Shinpo article (Japanese)

(5) Okinawa Times article (Japanese)

UN passes resolution on indigenous peoples (hello Ainu, Ryukyuans)


Hi Blog. Sorry for not talking about the PM Abe resignation (truth is, I don’t know what to say. Yet. Nor does anyone, really). Instead, topics germane to the focus of

Just received this from the United Nations. This may become a historical event, especially given the indigenous peoples in Japan (Ainu, Ryukyuans) and their lack of official recognition (in 1997, the Ainu received tentative recognition for their aboriginal status from the GOJ, not that it meant they got any money or special favors for it). FYI. Debito


New York, Sep 13 2007 3:00PM

Courtesy of

The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour have all welcomed today’s adoption.

Sheikha Haya said “the importance of this document for indigenous peoples and, more broadly, for the human rights agenda, cannot be underestimated. By adopting the Declaration, we are also taking another major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.”

But she warned that “even with this progress, indigenous peoples still face marginalization, extreme poverty and other human rights violations. They are often dragged into conflicts and land disputes that threaten their way of life and very survival; and, suffer from a lack of access to health care and education.”

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban described the Declaration’s adoption as “a historic moment when UN Member States and indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories and are resolved to move forward together on the path of human rights, justice and development for all.”

He called on governments and civil society to ensure that the Declaration’s vision becomes a reality by working to integrate indigenous rights into their policies and programmes.

Ms. Arbour noted that the Declaration has been “a long time coming. But the hard work and perseverance of indigenous peoples and their friends and supporters in the international community has finally borne fruit in the most comprehensive statement to date of indigenous peoples’ rights.”

The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues estimates there are more than 370 million indigenous people in some 70 countries worldwide.

Members of the Forum said earlier this year that the Declaration creates no new rights and does not place indigenous peoples in a special category.
2007-09-13 ENDS

Tangent: Rebecca Walker on the “Identity Police”


Hi Blog. Friend Michael Fox sent me this article from Heeb Magazine, Issue 13. An interview with Writer/Activist Rebecca Walker. Now, while the focus may be on how one person grew up straddling two cultures within the same country (Black and Jewish), the points she makes about having a healthy attitude towards people who would try to police her identity (and towards activism in general) merit reprinting on Bonus points for showing us the merits of growing up under joint custody after divorce, something Japan’s divorce laws will not allow, much to the detriment of the children. Great feedback from a person well-adjusted to diversity and adversity. Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo




In 1967, civil rights lawyer Mel Leventhal, a white Jew from Brooklyn, married African-American activist and writer Alice Walker. His mother sat shiva for her son, not acknowledging his marriage until her granddaughter was born three years later. Young Rebecca was “the movement child,” living proof of the triumph of love over racial divisions. But soon the political climate changed and solidarity was replaced by segregation. Leventhal and Walker divorced, leaving Rebecca shuttling back and forth, spending two years with her Jewish father on the East Coast, then two with her African-American mom in California, then back again.

In her bestselling childhood memoir, BLACK, WHITE AND JEWISH, Rebecca Walker wrote about moving between worlds and belonging nowhere. Her second book, BABY LOVE, is about deciding to become a mother herself, and was recently published by Riverhead Books.


You are, like both of your parents, a writer and an activist. What do you think is different about being an activist today as compared with the turbulent ’60s and ’70s?

Being an activist today means understanding the limitations of the political system and making smart decisions about how you use your finite energy to make not just the world, but your home and even your synagogue, a better place. Our political leaders are not necessarily evolved as human beings, so we can’t expect them to lead us into a world they can’t envision…

How do you explain that rupture of the political alliance between American’s outsiders: African-Americans and Jews?

I think Jews feel betrayed by black anger about the treatment of Palestinians and Jewish participation in slavery. Blacks feel betrayed by the assimilation track so many Jews have taken in the last couple of generations. They feel that white-skin privilege has afforded American Jews access that most black people may never have, and they don’t see those Jews reaching back to pull them thorugh. I think as Jewish communities in America assimilated and became more secular, money and status replaced devotion to God and to healing the world.

In your first book, BLACK, WHITE AND JEWISH, you wrote that traveling between these two cultures blurred your notion of identity.

I would pretend to be Puerto Rican at school in the Bronx and then be the nice Jewish girl back in our apartment building in Riverdale. I was ghetto fabulous at the tough public school in Brooklyn and the hippie girl at the progressive alternative school in San Francisco. Because I performed all these different roles, I didn’t feel like I was completely any of them.

How do you think about your identity now?

People are constantly trying to tell me I’m not really Jewish. I didn’t go to Hebrew school, my mother’s not Jewish. I wasn’t Bat Mitzvahed and I’m Buddhist. I used to roll out a complete discussion about being culturally rather than spiritually Jewish–like a whole lot of American Jews my age–but these days, I just don’t care to expend a lot of energy proving I belong somewhere. If you get it, cool. If not, go police someone else’s identity. The only way to deal with this is to go on a psycho-spiritual journey of self-love, have babies and focus on strengthening your created family. You have to let go of people who can’t love you or who are ambivalent about loving you because of who you represent racially or culturally, even if they are your family members. The risk of letting them in is self-doubt and lifelong confusion about whether or not you deserve happiness.


Ijuuren publishes “Living Together with Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Japan, NGO Policy Proposals”


Hello Blog. Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ, Ijuuren) has just published a book you might be interested in ordering. Debito in Sapporo

Living Together with Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Japan
NGO Policy Proposals

Table of Contents

Part I: At the Crossroads of Migrants Policies
Chapter 1: Toward the Future of Harmonious Multiethnic and
Multicultural Coexistence
Chapter 2: Enactment of Legislation for Human Rights and Harmonious

Part II: Over Individual Issues
Chapter 3: Right to Work and Rights of Working People
Chapter 4: Rights of Migrant Women
Chapter 5: Human Rights for Families and Children
Chapter 6: Education of Children
Chapter 7: Healthcare and Social Security Services
Chapter 8: Local Autonomy and Foreign Residents
Chapter 9: Opening the Gates to Refugees
Chapter 10: Detention and Deportation
Chapter 11: The Right to Trial
Chapter 12: Eliminating Racism and Discrimination against Foreigners

Publisher: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuuren, SMJ)
Date of publication: July 31, 2007, 1st English edition
Price: JPY 1500 (excluding mailing cost)
ISBN 4-87798-346-8 C0036

This book is translated from the Japanese version published in 2006.

More information on both books at



頂いたメールを転送します。有道 出人

Subject: [s-watch] 政策提言の英訳版を出版しました!
Date: August 9, 2007 6:41:41 PM JST



Living Together with Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Japan
NGO Policy Proposals

Table of Contents

Part I: At the Crossroads of Migrants Policies
Chapter 1: Toward the Future of Harmonious Multiethnic and
Multicultural Coexistence
Chapter 2: Enactment of Legislation for Human Rights and Harmonious

Part II: Over Individual Issues
Chapter 3: Right to Work and Rights of Working People
Chapter 4: Rights of Migrant Women
Chapter 5: Human Rights for Families and Children
Chapter 6: Education of Children
Chapter 7: Healthcare and Social Security Services
Chapter 8: Local Autonomy and Foreign Residents
Chapter 9: Opening the Gates to Refugees
Chapter 10: Detention and Deportation
Chapter 11: The Right to Trial
Chapter 12: Eliminating Racism and Discrimination against Foreigners

TEL:03-5802-6033 FAX:03-5802-6034
e-mail fmwj