NUGW labor union “March in March” Sunday March 8, 3:30 Shibuya


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 Japan
Forwarding:  Debito


Sisters and Brothers,  Please forward this email to all your friends and family.  So that I can track the progress of this email, please put me on the list when you forward it.
    If you are reading this email it means you are welcome to join us at the Fifth Annual Tokyo March in March for job security and equality.  Come to Miyashita Park in Shibuya, an 8-minute walk from Hachiko behind the tracks on the way to Harajuku at 3:30pm on Sunday, March 8, 2009.  March departs at 5pm.
   Each year we hold the March in March to appeal to the thousands of people in Shibuya on a Sunday afternoon with a message of strength and solidarity.  We demand that employers and the government cooperate to ensure job security and an equal society for all workers in a Japan that is increasingly multiethnic.   Dance, music, performances from areas around the world, colors, costumes, and huge placards make March in March a protest parade you will never forget.  This year we are going national, with March in Marches slated to take place in other cities around Japan as well.
    Bring your friends, family, coworkers.  March in March would make a memorable first date.  Or a second one.
    Make a difference and have fun at the same time.   That is the March in March.
For questions, please contact me at     See you there!
In Solidarity,
Louis Carlet
NUGW Tokyo Nambu



We need help preparing for the March in March! Come to the Shimbashi office this Sunday March 1, starting at 2pm, to lend a hand.

Specifically, we need people to
1) make posters (make your own picket sign!)
2) help build the huge mushirobata signs that we carry each year
3) pick up flyers and take them to various spots in Tokyo
(e.g. your favourite English bookstore, or neighbourhood

If you cannot come in, but would like us to send some
flyers for you to distribute, please send us your land

And, of course, come to the March in March, Sunday, March 8, 2009.
Where: Miyashita Park in Shibuya, an 8-minute walk from
Hachiko beside the JR tracks on the way to Harajuku.
When: From 3:30 on. March departs at 5pm.

This is the 5th annual March in March, a parade for job
security and equality for all. Featuring performances of
Peruvian music, capoeira, and huge multi-lingual banners,
the march winds through the crowded streets of Shibuya,
passing in front of the station, and is watched by
thousands of passers-by. Be a part of it! Photos from last
year can be seen on the following websites:

March in March 2009

For questions, please contact Louis Carlet at See you there!

In Solidarity,

Catherine Campbell
NUGW Tokyo Nambu




Only four poster-painting days left til the March in March!

Sunday, March 8, 4:00 pm in Miyashita Koen, near Shibuya Station.

We’re expecting capoeira performers, Peruvian musicians,
the NOVA bunny, maybe some samba dancers, along with
hundreds of workers from around the world and Japan:
eikaiwa teachers, factory workers, salarymen, temp staff,
freeters, university professors, parents, children, and
labour organizers, united behind the banner “Job Security
and Equality for All.”

Come by the Nambu office in Shimbashi on Saturday evening
to make a poster about your workplace, or just to lend a
hand with the preparations.

For more information, and photos from last year, see the
following sites:

Grupo Bantus Capoeira Japão


The following day, Monday, March 9, Nambu and other unions
will be negotiating with the ministries of education,
labour, and justice, on issues related to foreign
workers’ rights.

Time: 10:00 – 17:00
Place: Sangiin Daigiin Kaikan (House of Representatives
(Kokkaigijidomae Station, Exit 1, turn right, cross the
street, and walk past the Shugiinkaikan 1 and 2)

10:00〜11:30 General policy
11:30〜13:00 Lunch break
13:00〜15:00 Language schools, dispatch, subcontracting
15:00〜17:00 Intern system

See you all there,

Catherine Campbell
NUGW Tokyo Nambu

Free Legal Consultation for NJ workers March 1, Sapporo


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 Japan

Hi Blog. Here’s a PSA from my lawyer. Upcoming free legal assistance in Hokkaido at the beginning of next month. Not everyone can attend this, I know. But FYI.  Debito in Sapporo

==Free Legal Consultation for NJ Workers==

The legal service network for non-Japanese, a group of experienced lawyers dedicated to supporting non-Japanese residents, will provide free legal consultation to NJ working and living in Hokkaido on labor issues such as wrongful termination, unpaid wages, discrimination, harassment, and injury in the workplace. If you would like to seek legal advice about what course of action to take, please feel free to give us a call or come in for a consultation.

Date: March 1st, 2009 (Sun) 10:00-15:00

How to Request a Consultation

– Consultation by Telephone
Please call 011- 272-8871 (The number is valid only for the day of consultation.)

– Consultation by Face to Face Meeting
Please come to the following place on the day. Reservations are not necessary.

Sapporo Bengoshi Bldg. 5F
Kita 1 Nishi 10, Chuo-ku, Sapporo
(3 min. on foot from Exit 4, Nishi 11-chome Subway Station)

Languages: Japanese, English and Chinese are available.
(For other languages, please be accompanied someone who can speak Japanese or English.)

Fees: Consultation is free of charge.
(If you choose to retain a lawyer, ensuring fees will be discussed at the time of retainment. For those who cannot afford a lawyer for financial reasons, Legal Aid is available.)

The legal service network for foreigners
c/o Hokkaido Godo Law Offices
Odori Nishi12, Chuou-ku, Sapporo
TEL 011-204-9535 FAX 011-204-9545



あなたは、理由のない解雇、給料・残業代の未払い、職場での差別や 嫌がらせなどで悩んでいませんか?

私たち、外国人法律支援ネットワークの弁護士が、雇用・労働に関する 皆さんからの相談をお受けし、適切なアドバイスをさせていただきます。 お気軽にお電話またはご来場ください。

● 日時 2009年3月1日(日)10時〜15時

【電話相談】 当日、時間内に下記番号にお電話をください。

011-272-8871 (当日のみの専用電話です)

【面接相談】 当日、下記の場所までお越しください(予約不要)。

札幌弁護士会館 5F(札幌市中央区北1条西10丁目)

● 対応可能言語  日本語・英語・中国語

● 相談料  無料
但し、具体的に事件処理を行う場合は別途費用が必要です。 なお、法律扶助制度がありますので、お金がないから弁護士に 依頼できないということはありません。


札幌市中央区大通西12丁目 北海道合同法律事務所内
TEL 011-204-9535FAX 011-204-9545



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 Japan

  日時  2009年2月28日(土) 午後1時30分〜4時30分
  場所  文京区民センター 3A
  参加費  資料代として500円
第1部 シンポジウム
  コーディネーター 鈴木亜英(議長、弁護士、国民救援会会長)
  パネラー 新倉 修(青山学院大学教授)、吉田 好一(代表委員)
伊賀 カズミ(日本国民救援会副会長)
第2部 各分野からの発言と討論
第3部 まとめと課題の提起
主催 「国際水準からみた日本の人権」集会実行委員会
【呼びかけ団体】 国際人権活動日本委員会/自由法曹団 
事務局/国際人権活動日本委員会 � 03-3943-2420 Fax 03-3943-2431


Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discrim employment conditions


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 Japan
Hi Blog. Here’s something that didn’t make the English-language news anywhere, as far as Google searches show. Japanese stewardesses are suing Turkish Airlines for unfair treatment and arbitrary termination of contract.  They were also, according to some news reports I saw on Google and TV, angry at other working conditions they felt were substandard, such as lack of changing rooms.  I even saw the headline “discrimination by nationality”.  So they formed a union to negotiate with the airline, and then found themselves fired. 

Fine.  But this is definite Shoe on the Other Foot stuff, especially given the conditions that NJ frequently face in the Japanese workplace.  Let’s hope this spirit of media understanding rubs off for NJ who might want to sue Japanese companies for the same sort of thing. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(Text of article below follows, quickly translated by Arudou Debito)


Dispatch stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines, demand acknowledgment of their status within the company

Sankei Shinbun January 29, 2009


PHOTO CAPTION:  “We want to be directly employed.”  So charged Funada Akiko (R), member of the Turkish Airlines Union at a press conference at the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare.

On January 29, 13 Japanese women contract workers under dispatch company “TEI” (Tokyo), who were working as flight attendants for Turkish Airlines, filed suit at Tokyo District Court.  “We were effectively working under the same conditions as if we were directly employed by the airline,” they said, and demanded recognition of this status in their contracts from both companies.

The litigants were members of the “Turkish Airlines Union”, led by Funada Akiko (34).

According to the lawsuit filed, the women were dispatched from TEI. Nevertheless, they were treated as if they were workers under a contract with Turkish Airlines.  They were given essential training as flight attendants from Turkish Airlines, and had employment time slots as per Turkish Airlines flight plans.   Each fulfilled their duties as a Japanese flight attendant, supervised by the airline.

At the press conference after filing suit, Ms Funada claimed that TEI would issue a notice dated February 28 that Japanese flight attendant contracts would be terminated.  “The contract period would last until June.  We are furious at how one-sided this termination of contract was.  We want to be employed directly as Japanese flight attendants.”  

She continued, “There was an invisible division between us and the Turkish flight attendants, in terms of differential treatment and salary.  We want to highlight this as a social problem, so that there won’t be any more second- and third-class treatment of staff in the airline industry.”

In September 2008, the 13 Japanese flight attendants formed a union of supporters.  They filed for group negotiations with Turkish Airlines to demand direct employment.  However, the airlines still apparently refuses to meet.

A 33-year-old woman who attended the press conference spoke strongly, “If there are no Japanese flight attendants in the airplane, what happens if there’s an emergency?  How will Japanese passengers be attended to?”

The Japan branch of Turkish Airlines said in a statement, “We haven’t seen the legal brief yet, so we cannot comment at this time.”  TEI:  “We haven’t received the brief, so we will reserve official comments for now.” ENDS


派遣乗務員、地位確認求め提訴 トルコ航空など相手取り

2009.1.29 20:01









ENDS  More at:トルコ航空&btnG=検索

Newly-elected Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese on the hows and whys of getting elected in Japan


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  What follows is an interesting (and in places deliciously irreverent) essay by Jon Heese, newly-elected naturalized Tsukuba City Assemblyperson, who encourages others to join him as elected local officials in Japan.  He shows in this essay how he did it (he even looks a lot like Bill Clinton), with an important point:  As long as you do your homework and figure out how your local system works, it should be possible for any number of people with international backgrounds (such as Inuyama’s Anthony Bianchi) to get in office and start making a difference.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Some background links, courtesy of Jeff Korpa:

Jon Heese Running for City Council « TsukuBlog:

Jon’s Stunning Victory « TsukuBlog:

ヘイズジョンの「愛してる、つくば」 Jon Heese -Aishiteru Tsukuba-:


Yes you can. Yes you should. -jon heese

October 26, 2008 was a very satisfying day. I woke up around the crack of noon, went to the local polling station to vote in the city election and took my family to the park for a beautiful afternoon. Dinner was a relaxed affair. All in all, it was quite a change from the previous seven days. The week beginning the previous Sunday was rather more hectic since I was quite busy kissing hands and shaking babies as I began my campaign for city councilor in Tsukuba-shi, Ibaraki-ken.

The election was the culmination of years of plodding…(plotting?). Four years before, after a few gin and tonics (four parts gin, one part ice and a whiff of tonic) in my favourite bar, I happened to mention to the barkeep how if I had half a mind, I should run for city council. Clearly, he believed I did in fact have only half a mind since he immediately became extremely excited and began to encourage me to take the plunge. He went on for awhile, trying to explain the election system to me, but as I had had at least 3 of those gin and tonics by that time, I was rather befuddled. What I did understand was that he believed I could win, if I ran. I had more than a hangover to think about the next morning.

It was one thing to convince myself that running for office was a good idea. Convincing my wife, Nori, was rather more arduous. Fortunately I had subjected her to many a crazy idea in the past so didn’t really need to convince her per se. She listened to my rant and more or less wrote off this latest plan as just another harebrained scheme. That said, she was willing to help do the necessary paperwork to get me started, the first step on the long road: citizenship.

I had quite a few obstacles to pass to get my citizenship, least of which was the actual application. My first task was to get my taxes paid off. That was not as easy as that sounds since I owed considerable sales taxes from a business that went south. I also needed to get birth records for my large family from various local governments. In any case, I finally managed to get all the required records together at the same time and applied.

The actual citizenship process wasn’t so difficult. My case officer was a friendly guy. No one in his office had ever processed a Canuck before so I believe he was rather excited by the challenge. Other than providing endless copies of paperwork, there really wasn’t much for me to do, with the exception of writing the requisite essay in Japanese. This essay was the one real challenge, the one actual test in Japanese-ness. The original request was for a one page essay written in pencil. At the next meeting I presented my case officer the essay and he claimed it was good enough. Now please rewrite it in ink. Could I just copy over the existing essay and erase the pencil after? Sure, no problem. I presented the ink version the next week. Ah, Heese-san, that’s great. Could you please make one more copy in ink? No, a photocopy was not good enough. Well, I didn’t choke the snivel serpent on the spot, so I guess I passed the “gaman” (patience) test. From start to finish, the process took about 6 months. This meant that the tax documents needed to be renewed and resubmitted since official docs expire after 3 months. More “gaman”.

On June 5th, 2007 I officially became Japanese. By this time pretty much anyone who bothered to listen to my blathering had heard of my political ambitions. Curiously, getting my citizenship did not convince many people of my seriousness. Even my wife still thought that the whole citizenship hoop-jump was a big step forward, but when push came to shove, I’d chicken out or find some excuse not to run.

Fast forward to spring of 2008. By then most of the candidates who were planning to run already had their flyers and campaign posters designed and their meishi printed. They had their political support clubs already registered and were gathering funds. Nori had been emphasizing for months I should stop my candidacy, since she felt that to lose would be a severe blow and not worth risking. True, many a losing Japanese candidate also loses vast amounts of face. I, however, was not afraid of losing since that would imply I had some pride (Bzzzz, wrong answer). In fact, the way I saw it, to run and lose would still prove to be a plus. In spite of the many foreigners in our city the principals have never really had anyone they could approach for advice whenever serious issues arose. Sure there were a few of the usual suspects that attended the various advisory boards and panels, but no one was really seen as a definitive voice for the foreign community. Worst case, by stepping forward for the election and losing, I would still become the go-to guy for any future dialogue. That couldn’t be bad.

When I approached my barkeep in July 2008 to see about selecting a campaign manager, he pretty much bit my head off for being so slow off the mark. OK, well, I had no answer but “Gomen nasai.” Still, I give barkeep a lot of credit since once he saw I was serious about running, in spite of my slow start, he started to make a few calls to a few of the movers and shakers around town. The first heavyweight to show up was Mr. O, a real firecracker. He’d spent his youth hitching around Europe and Asia, a true English speaking internationalist. That first meeting was just to satisfy him that I really was serious. Some days later, I got a call from the challenging mayoral candidate, and would I be interested in meeting? Mr. F is a sweet old guy, 72 in 2008. Would I support him in the coming election? Sure would, especially as his group promised to distribute 20,000 of my pamphlets throughout the city for free.

Ah, shit, those pamphlets… Ever notice that whenever you procrastinate for a long time, suddenly you get that feeling that everything needs to be done at once? Nori, my lovely and supporting wife, now had me over a barrel. As the designer-in-chief, she knew that if she was to get her best deal, that was the time. Working full time 6:30 AM to 11 PM in Tokyo, she was not at all interested in having even more work thrust on her because I needed something translated or designed for free. If she was going to support me in the campaign, it would be as an advisor only. She would not campaign with me, knocking on doors and generally bothering others. More importantly, if I won, she would not read the voluminous documentation, the many bills or other paperwork. She had her own job and I was on my own. But yes, she’s do the necessary design work for the election only. She sat down at the Mac and whipped up both my meishi and the pamphlet, sent everything off to the the printers in time to have everything back 3 weeks before the election and just in time for the challenger’s campaign supporters to stuff into mailboxes. In the meantime she also managed to get my web page up. And just 3 days before the actual campaign started, my posters arrived. Whew, safe.

By now the buzz was starting to happen. The pamphlets in the mailboxes were having an effect. People were approaching me and mentioning they’d seen my flyer in their post. Was I really going to run? YES PEOPLE, DAMMIT! I’M SERIOUS!!! The reactions were naturally varied. Many of my Japanese friends were all very supportive. The strangest reactions tended to come from my foreign friends. One guy even had the temerity to say his wife, a doctor, was a member of the Pink Ribbon society, a breast cancer awareness group. Since I was going to get my ass thumped in this first election he didn’t want his wife to use up her sway in the group for this election, but perhaps during the next election she might bring me around and introduce me. Well f*** you very much, friend. Generally, the only negative responses came from my foreign acquaintances. And when I say negative, I mean there was a lot of disbelief that I stood any chance. But “E” for effort Jon. Gambatte!

October 19th, the official start of the campaign. All my paperwork was done, posters ready and all the candidates gathered at the city office for the official kickoff. The atmosphere was more gold rush than election. Every candidate had his paperwork re-examined (we’d all had the paperwork gone over by the election officials the week before). As soon as the candidate was processed, out the door they raced, ready to stake their claim. The reality is that we all had to get our posters put up on the official boards erected throughout the city. This was no small feat as there were 450 locations, many in the middle of nowhere. The maps provided by the city were crappy photocopies at best. Fortunately I had made another connection to a group of like-minded candidates who divvied up the locations. My poster team would put up the posters of 6 other candidates at 30 locations and they would do the same for me around the city. Score.

Nori’s advice now came into effect. Number one: NO LOUDSPEAKER CAR. Yes, we all complain about it. The other candidates claimed that they too hate the damn cars and the grief they cause the voters. Well, I had to walk the walk. Number 2: forget about the train stations, especially in the early mornings. Everyone is in a rush and no one wants my damn meishi or flyer. If I want to catch the morning rush, stand outside the daycares and kindergartens and greet the mothers as they drop off their kids. The mothers will encouraged their husbands vote for me too, those same husbands rushing off to work on the trains. Number three: put a pole with my poster on the back of my bicycle and ride around town to my campaign stops. All good advice.

That first Sunday was rather special. It was the first day of campaigning so my manager and I went downtown and greeted the shoppers. As the other candidates were driving around and making a ruckus, I shouted “My name is Jon Heese and I’m running for city council” to all and sundry. A lot tougher than it sounds. After a couple of hours, my voice was thrashed. Towards the evening, we moved to another location and canvased local businesses until around 8 PM. Officially, campaigning can only occur between 8 AM to 8 PM. One day down.

Weekdays my manager and I got into a rhythm. We picked a daycare, greeted parents (see above) until just before 9, moved to the nearby kindergarten and greeted the mothers who usually formed a gaggle around the entrance. Unlike daycare parents, kindergarten mothers often don’t have a job to go to so this presented a nice opportunity to talk briefly about what I wanted to do. My manager had a real job to go to in the afternoons so I went home, had a short nap and lunch and went on the trail by myself in the afternoons and evenings. I tried doing the door to door a few times, but realistically, that’s a losing strategy. The few people at home on weekdays usually don’t open their doors, using their inter-phones. As soon as they heard I was a politician and a foreign one to boot, they’d hang up, some more politely than others.

While the other candidates went around bugging everyone with their loudspeakers, I spent my afternoons and evenings bothering people in their businesses. The nice thing about a business is that the staff are all trained to be polite to everyone. No slammed doors, no rude gestures, no buckets of blood thrown in my face. I walked in, asked for the boss, introduced myself and left. At the beginning of the week the news that a foreigner was running still wasn’t generally known. Over the course of the week, that changed somewhat. I still surprised a lot of folk. I’m sure there were a few people who were wondering which comedy show I was working for and where the hidden cameras were. Day 2 ~ 6 done.

Saturday rolled around; last day of campaigning. No daycares or kindergartens so I went back downtown and accosted, uhh, I mean greeted people. By this time my candidacy was common knowledge. Pretty much everyone had seen my posters and/or heard stuff via the grape-net or the inter-vine. I had many positive responses, people coming up to me and wanting to shake my hand and encourage me. Many voters told me they had used the early voting system to vote for me already. By the end of the 7th and final day, I knew I had at least 50 votes. Eight PM rolled around I was delighted to be able to take off my sash and take a long deserved sauna. The campaign was officially over. I was very confident that I was going to kick ass the next day. For my friends who really wanted to know what I thought my chances were, I told them top five. Otherwise, I just espoused optimism. I didn’t want to come across as over confident.

Sunday came, polling started and I relaxed. Candidates traditionally spend election day on the phones, encouraging the folk credulous enough to give out a working phone number to go vote. Campaigning is verboten, but burning up the land lines is fair game. I only had a few phone numbers of Japanese friends or foreign friends married to Japanese. Five calls later I was done. Time to relax and enjoy the day with my family. Polls closed at 8 PM. Counting began around 9. Mayor votes are counted first. My wife and I went to Mr. F’s campaign headquarters around 10:30 PM. We were late. The results were already in and he’d lost again. Sucked to be him. We arrived to doom and gloom, some of the supporters in tears. I wasn’t surprised. F-san is really a sweet guy, but he just didn’t have the charisma of his opponent. Piss-pots of money yes, but his oomph was gone.

Around 11 we went to my campaign headquarters, my favourite bar, to await the outcome. The first results came in around 11:30. I had been told that the winning candidates, based on previous elections, needed at least 1,600 votes. Someone at the computer was hitting refresh every 10 second or so from around 11:15. Another was on the phone talking to someone at the counting station. A cheer from the computer brought the whole bar to the monitor. After 30% of votes counted, there I was, tied for 1st place with 1,800 votes. It was all over but the cheering, multiple rounds of toasts, hugs, pictures and a special present from my brother, a stack of bribe envelopes with a million yen as the minimum amount. By midnight the final tally was in. I’d moved down to 2nd place with a total of 4,011 votes. First came in with 4,500. Still, not bad for a beginner.

OK, a nice story. Yeah me! What does this have to do with you? Well, here’s the dope. All city elections are pretty much run the same, following rules set up by the national government. Ergo, if you understand the structure, my story is repeatable… by you! “Me?” you say. Yes you. Let me explain.

Most cities have between 25 and 30 seats in their council. Usually there are around 10 ~ 20% more candidates than there are seats in any given city election. In Tsukuba, I had 40 competitors running for 33 seats. That is worth considering on its own. How much easier for me, all things being equal, to place in the winning 33 than to place in the losing 7?

The remarkable characteristic about most of candidates is how they are mostly nice gray men in nice gray suits. They are all very amiable and, above all, competent guys but pretty much lacking in charisma. They are all looking to make the city a better place by keeping the mayor in check. I say good for them. I’ve gotten to know our winning clutch over the last few months and I think they are a nice bunch. My opinion may change in the coming years, but so far, very positive.

Let’s have a look at the voters. The nice gray men all have their support groups and the better ones have better machines. However, in any given election, there are about 30% independent voters. In Tsukuba, about 90,000 citizens voted, meaning 30,000 voters were not aligned to any organization. Here are the numbers needed to win. The winner of seat 33 garnered 1577 votes (the guy below him had 1,552). The numbers show that anyone who can get 5% of independent voters will win. Now add on the votes from your spouse’s family, friends, the shopkeepers where you are known, your students/co-workers/underlings and all their friends and pretty soon you are vying for top dog.

How do independent voters decide who to vote for? Well, we can assume they have no clue who to vote for or they’d already be aligned. In 2004, the first time I paid attention to a local election, the number one vote getter was a 26 year old who went around saying, “Vote for me, I’m 26.” Of course he had a pamphlet with all the changes he wanted to make but his real message was very clear. This year I came in a respectable second. I also had a policy-filled flyer but my underlying campaign message was, “I’m foreign, vote for me.” OK, I’m being cynical, but sue me!

My impression is that independent voters are attracted to different and new things. Figure out what your attraction might be and play it for all it’s worth and you will do just fine. Just your foreignness already makes you prominent. Elections are really just advertising campaigns and if your product is being talked about, you will get votes. Remember, voters unhappy with your candidacy can’t vote you off the islands. At worst, they can only not vote for you. Certainly the other candidates will not waste their breath trying to block you as mud slinging just makes you even more famous.

OK, so you’ve read this far and maybe even have a dreamy “What if” look as you imagine the possibilities. Here is a brief overview of what you’ll need: 1. You need to be Japanese. Get over it. It is not that hard to do. The biggest obstacle will be giving up your previous citizenship. Chances are you are already here for the duration. Why not let everyone else know too. It will be cathartic. 2. If you have been a good boy or girl you have not only learned to speak Japanese fairly well, but can even read a significant amount of kanji. Everything else is just details. Is that brief enough?

Things you won’t need: lots of money, lots of friends. Both help but are not deal breakers. As for money, campaigns are funded by the city. The nice gray men need to spend the big yen over and above the city funding to get their “Look at me!” message out. I was stupid and wasted Y400,000 of my own money. If I’d procrastinated less, I could have been elected for free. As for friends, they are useful. That said, I have no clue who cast most of the 4,000 votes I got. I’ll never know and it’s not important. One advantage you have already that I did not is my help and experience. Contact Debito if you need my e-mail or phone number (don’t call before noon).

The fact you are reading this on Arudou Debito’s blog tells me you are a concerned inhabitant and hopefully future citizen. You are interested in the way Japan is being run. That you own a computer and are net literate already makes you exceptional when compared to the nice gray men running your city. Consider this, Tsukuba is hailed as Japan’s Science City, it’s Palo Alto. And yet, fewer than 30% of the candidates even had an election home page. Doesn’t that strike you as more than just odd, but disastrous for this country? When the country’s smartest city (highest average IQ) elects a majority of its councilors with no net presence, that is worrying. Chances are it’s worse where you are.

In spite of all of the negative shit you read on this blog, there is another side to Japan that Debito freely recognizes. There are so many super kind and generous Japanese out there who will gladly support you in your efforts, should you decide to try to be the next foreign candidate. The silent majority in Japan are just keeping their heads down and trying not to get singled out. However, there is an active minority who really do believe in Japan’s place in the fabric of humanity, that Japan should honour their pledges to the world.

Debito’s blog often points out where Japan is falling down on their commitments because good people do nothing. However, there are plenty of people out there who are doing great things but don’t have the charisma to get into politics. You’ve met them, your spouse knows them. This is a fifth column that is just waiting for you to stand up and be counted. They will stand behind you and find the resources you need to win.

I praise Debito for his work in poking the establishment in the eye for their lack of backbone and I hope my story provides a little balance to Debito’s efforts. Now imagine what will happen when Debito, and yes, I do mean WHEN Debito takes his scrotum in hand and changes Hokkaido forever by becoming Sapporo’s first western politician. Can you imagine the changes that will take place when Japan’s biggest pain in the ass foreigner starts to point the spotlight on all those politicians who are not living up to our obligations because they do nothing? Oh Happy Day! Now imagine, 30 of us throughout the nation. This is not a dream, this is very doable. The election system is designed with you in mind. Take advantage of it. Yes you can. YES YOU SHOULD!

January 30, 2008


IMADR: 管理ではなく「共生」のための制度を!—入管法改悪「在留カード」制度 など


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 Japan




・主催: 「在留カードに異議あり!」NGO実行委員会
・日時: 2009年1月24日(土) 午後 2時〜5時
・場所: 在日本韓国YMCAアジア青少年センター 9Fホール
・資料代: 500円(英語同時通訳あり)

1. ビデオ上映 「2007年11月20日 法務省前」
2. 報告(1)「外国人管理は何処へ」:旗手 明さん(自由人権協会)
3. 報告(2)「住民登録」とは何か:西邑 亨さん(反住基ネット連絡会)
4. 報告(3)「在留カード」徹底批判:難波 満さん(弁護士)
5. 外国籍市民のリレートーク
6. NGOのリレーアピール:渡辺英俊さん(移住連共同代表)/
7. 特別報告「自由権規約第5回日本報告書に対する
8. 特別アピール:外国人研修生権利ネットワーク
9. 「在留カード制度に反対するNGO共同声明」採択

    Tel: 03-5802-6033 Email:







  Tel: 03-3586-7447  Fax: 03-3586-7462 E-mail:
  Tel: 03-3568-7709  Fax: 03-3586-7448 E-mail:

 〒106-0032 東京都港区六本木3-5-11  Website:

Public Meeting: NGOs protest new Gaijin Card System Sat Jan 24 Tokyo


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 Japan
Public gathering against the government’s new plan
to introduce “Zairyu Kaado (resident card)” system

We want a system for a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society, but not for control!
Date: Saturday, 24 January 2009
Time: 14:00 – 17:00
Venue: B1F, YMCA Asia Youth Center
2-5-5 Sarugaku-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0064, Japan
JR Suidobashi sta. 6min, Ochanomizu sta. 9min, Subway Jimbocho sta 7min
Admission: 500 yen
Simultaneous translation service available (Japanese-English)

Organized by:
NGO Committee against the introduction of “Zairyu Kaado (resident card)” system

For further information:
Research-Action Institute for The Koreans in Japan (RAIK)
TEL: 03-3203-7575
Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
TEL: 03-5802-6033


  • 1. A short documentary video on a public action in front of the Ministry of Justice
  • against a new fingerprinting system on 20 November 2007
  • 2. Report 1 Framework of the new Immigration Control System
  • By Mr. Akira Hatate(Japan Civil Liberties Union: JCLU)
  • 3. Report 2 Overview of the ‘Jumin Touroku (Residents Registration System)’
  • By Mr. Tohru Nishimura (HanJukinet Renrakukai)
  • 4. Report 3 Problems and concerns over ‘Zairyu Kaado (resident card)’
  • By Mr. Mitsuru Namba (Attorney)
  • 5. Relay talk by foreign national citizens
  • 6. Relay appeals by NGOs:
  • 7. NGO joint statement against the “Zairyu Kaado (resident card)” system

The Ministry of Justice is currently pressing forward measures aiming at integrating personal information of foreign residents in Japan. A revised bill of the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act is expected to be discussed during the ordinary diet session in 2009 to abolish the current ‘Gaikokujin Torokusho’ (alien registration card)’ and introduce a new ‘Zairyu Kaado’ (resident card), which will be issued directly from the Ministry of Justice. However, we, NGOs are concerned that once a ‘Zairyu Kaado’ is introduced, control over foreigners would be more tightened. We particularly fear that foreign residents without VISA status such as overstayers would be excluded from the new resident registration system (“Gaikokujin Daicho Seido”) and lose access to most of public services including education and medical care. Thus the system would make these people socially invisible.

In this public gathering, we, NGOs and foreign national citizens, will discuss the framework of the bill (abolishing the ‘Gaikokujin Torokusho’and introducing a ‘Zairyu Kaado’) and the issues that might occur when the new system is introduced. We will also propose a new system toward a true Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Cultural Society in Japan.

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


Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Japan Roadshow Feb and March 2009. Contact Debito for a screening.


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 Japan
Hello All. Something to announce while there’s still two months’ lead time:



I’m planning my annual round-robin tour for the end of March. I’m booking some dates for an important documentary on Japan’s labor markets and what kind of working conditions NJ are enduring under the current “Trainee”, “Researcher”, etc. visa regime.

It’s an hourlong film that came out in Germany in late 2008 by Daniel Kremers and Tilman Koenig of Leipzig. More information from the directors below, but a trailer for the movie may be seen in Japanese, English, and German at

Promo in English with stills from the film at

There’s a scene where I’m taking a business operator in Kabukichou to task for his “Japanese Only” sign. I’m told it’s the funniest scene in the movie. You can see an excerpt and a still from it at the above links.

So far, I will be screening and speaking on the film at the following dates:

If you’d like me to screen in your neighborhood between March 20 and 31, please contact me at

Director Daniel Kremers will also be touring the movie in February and March, so if you wish to contact him for a screening please see the contact details below. Thanks for considering. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is Daniel from the documentary “Sour Strawberries – Japan’s hidden ‘guest workers'”. I am coming to Japan in March to present and promote our movie.
Mr. Arudou Debito was so kind to offer his help, and offer to show the movie[between March 20 and 31].

Unfortunately I cannot attend these screenings. So I would be really happy if someone could recommend some other places to show the movie before, so I could attend and answer questions from the audience. I will be in Japan from February 27th to March 20th. I would like to show the movie in as many places as possible to reach a more heterogenous audience. Please note that I am not free from the 9th to 13th of March, but anything before and after that is fine.

Attached to this email you will find an information sheet with pictures and an English synopsis.
With best regards and thanks to you all,

Daniel Kremers
daniel.kremers AT

Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions


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 Japan
Hi Blog. As another template about “what to do if…” (or rather, a model for what the GOJ should be more proactive about) when you get a restaurant refusing customers on the basis of race, ethnicity, national background, etc., here’s an article on what would happen in New Zealand.  Here’s a Human Rights Commission and a media that actually does some follow-up, unlike the Japanese example.  Then again, I guess Old Bigoted Gregory would rail against this as some sort of violation of locals’ “rights to discriminate”.  Or that it isn’t Japan, therefore not special enough to warrant exceptionalism.  But I beg to disagree, and point to this as an example of how to handle this sort of situation. Anyway, courtesy of JL. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Cafe owner ‘breached ‘human rights’ kicking out Israelis

By EVAN HARDING – The Southland Times (New Zealand) | Thursday, 15 January 2009

An Invercargill cafe owner’s refusal to serve Israelis on the basis of their nationality is a clear human rights breach, Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says.

Sisters Natalie Bennie and Tamara Shefa were upset after being booted out of the Mevlana Cafe in Esk St yesterday by owner Mustafa Tekinkaya.

They chose to eat at Mevlana Cafe because it had a play area for Mrs Bennie’s two children, but they were told to leave before they had ordered any food, Mrs Bennie said.

“He heard us speaking Hebrew and he asked us where we were from. I said Israel and he said ‘get out, I am not serving you’. It was shocking.”

Mr Tekinkaya, who is Muslim and from Turkey, said he was making his own protest against Israel because it was killing innocent babies and women in the Gaza Strip.

“I have decided as a protest not to serve Israelis until the war stops.”

He said he had nothing against Israeli people but if any more came into his shop they would also be told to leave, and he was not concerned if he lost business.

Mr de Bres said the Human Rights Act prohibited discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of ethnic or national origin, or of political opinion.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation in Palestine, it is simply against the law for providers of goods and services in New Zealand to discriminate in this way,” he said.

Mr Tekinkaya’s stance was supported by neighbouring Turkish Kebabs shop owner Ali Uzun, who said he was also refusing to serve Israelis.

Mrs Bennie said she did not disagree that Israel was committing crimes against children.

“I just don’t think I should be declined service because I am from Israel.”

She had rung the Human Rights Commission and was told the cafe owner’s actions were against the law because he was discriminating on the basis of ethnicity.

“I wouldn’t mind having a chat to him. Someone has to put him in his place,” Mrs Bennie said.

Ms Shefa is visiting Mrs Bennie at her Makarewa home, on the outskirts of Invercargill, where she lives with her New Zealand husband and two children.

Both women said they had travelled widely, and to places much more hostile than New Zealand, but had never been treated in such a way.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt was shocked when told of the incident.

“Oh my god, the Gaza Strip has come to Invercargill. Hell’s bells.”

He said he was bewildered.

“Generally speaking I am against all wars and I suppose people have got a right to protest. I couldn’t really deny that. It would have been upsetting for the women and I feel sympathy for them.”


JOHN HAWKINS/Southland Times

SHOCKED AND HURT: Israeli nationals Natalie Bennie, left, and Tamara Shefa, with Mrs Bennie’s two children Noah, 2, and Ella, 4, were told to leave Mevlana Cafe in Invercargill because they were from Israel.

JOHN HAWKINS/Southland Times

TAKING A STAND: Mevlana Cafe owner Mustafa Tekinkaya, left, with family and friends.


Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied for NJ workers with PR


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 Japan

Hi Blog. Here’s some very mixed news. The GOJ will study how to offer help unemployed NJ to make sure inter alia their kids stay in school. Thanks, but then it limits the scope to Permanent Residents. Probably a lot more of the NJ getting fired are factory workers here on visas (Trainee, Researcher, etc) that give the employer the means to pay them poorly and fire them at will already. So why not help them too? Oh, they and their kids don’t count the same, I guess. Considering how hard and arbitrary it can be to get PR in the first place, this is hardly fair. Expand the study group to help anyone with a valid visa. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Gov’t to set up office to support foreign residents who lose jobs


The Japanese government will establish an office to study measures to support foreign nationals with permanent residency status who lose their jobs amid the recession, Yuko Obuchi, state minister on Japan’s declining child population, said Friday. ‘‘We would like to expedite studying measures needed based on reports from people concerned on their actual difficulties and needs,’’ she said at a press conference.

Last month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said Japan will provide support to foreign nationals with permanent residency who have lost their jobs and are suffering economic hardship amid the deteriorating economy. ‘‘Japanese people are facing difficulties under current employment conditions, and foreigners must be facing more difficulties,’’ Kawamura said, adding that the government will set up a team to tackle the issue. The measures are expected to include one to help them find jobs and another to help foreign children attend schools, Kawamura said.


Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational


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 Japan

Hi Blog. In yet another excellent article from the Japan Times (with information on what countries are in Japan’s league of strict jus sanguinis) indicating how the worldwide trend has been towards granting people, or allowing them to keep, dual nationality. The GOJ and their online apologists are running out of excuses. Debito in Sapporo



News photo

Multinationalism remains far from acceptance in Japan
By SETSUKO KAMIYA, Staff writer
THE JAPAN TIMES, Sunday, January 4, 2009 Third in a series

In a country notorious for its exclusive immigration policy, the question of whether to allow Japanese to hold dual citizenship became a surprisingly hot policy topic last year after members of the ruling party breached the issue.

In many other parts of the world, it’s a matter that has already been discussed in great depth, and observers agree that an increasing number of countries are moving toward allowing citizens to become multinational.

As of 2000, around 90 countries and territories permitted dual citizenship either fully or with exceptional permission, according to the “Backgrounder,” published by the Center for Immigration Studies in the United States, and “Citizenship Laws of the World” by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Since the reports came out, several countries have lifted bans on dual nationality. As a consequence, there are more than 90 countries backing dual nationality by default today.

“The trend is dramatic and nearly unidirectional. A clear majority of countries now accepts dual citizenship,” said Peter Spiro, an expert on multi nationality issues at Temple University Beasley School of Law.

“Plural citizenship has quietly become a defining feature of globalization.”

Countries such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom who go by the principle of jus soli, which gives nationality to everyone born on their soil and territories, have long been lenient in permitting dual citizenship.

The shift is also being seen in countries that have traditionally adhered to jus sanguinis, which says that a child’s nationality is determined by his parent’s citizenship.

The change in jus sanguinis countries first grew prominent in European countries, followed by some South American and Asian states, largely as a result of economic globalization and the expansion in people’s mobility over the past few decades.

Europe’s general acceptance of dual nationality is stated in the 1997 European Convention on Nationality, which stipulates that while member states can define their own citizens, they must at least allow children of international marriages and immigrants to hold dual nationality.

This was a major shift from traditional attitudes in the region, stated in a 1963 convention that supported the single nationality principle.

Atsushi Kondo, a law professor at Meijo University, explained that the economic growth after World War II and the formation of the European Union are two major reasons driving the change.

After WWII, the western European countries, who had been a source of emigrants, began accepting foreigners in their labor forces to deal with the rise in economic development they were enjoying.

Contrary to the initial presumption of European states that immigrant workers will eventually pack up and leave at some point, many foreigners have stayed longer and settled. They not only brought in more family members to their new homes, but married citizens of those countries as well, Kondo said.

As more immigrants virtually became permanent residents, many governments eventually reached the conclusion that securing the rights of foreigners and integrating them with society was unavoidable if they were to bring about a fair and democratic society, he explained.

“These countries have become aware that leaving the status of foreigners unstable was violating their human rights and making society unfair” and wanted to avoid that, Kondo said.

Meanwhile, countries whose citizens are migrating to other countries have also granted dual citizenship to the Diaspora.

Among them are many Latin American countries, who took this step in the 1990s because many of their citizens were immigrating to the U.S.

For example, Colombia acknowledged dual nationality in 1991, the Dominican Republic in 1994, Brazil in 1996 and Mexico in 1998.

Joining the club in recent years have been Asian countries, such as the Philippines, India and Vietnam.

Since September 2003, native Filipinos who have become citizens of other countries through naturalization have been able to reacquire Filipino citizenship by taking the oath of allegiance to their motherland.

In 2005, India began granting people of Indian origin living in other countries, except Pakistan and Bangladesh, “Overseas Citizenship of India” if their habitual resident countries recognize dual citizenship.

While voting rights are not given, OCI holders will be allowed multiple-entry visas and hold equal economic, financial and educational benefits.

And from this year, some 3.5 million Vietnamese living abroad will also be able to obtain citizenship thanks to legislation passed by the Vietnamese parliament in November allowing dual nationality.

Last year, South Korea began reviewing ways to permit Koreans to hold dual nationalities under certain conditions. This is in line with the policies that President Lee Myung Bak has said he wanted to actualize.

Spiro of Temple University, who recently wrote the book “Beyond Citizenship,” said states that are major producers of immigrants have been looking into cementing ties with emigrant populations, largely for economic reasons.

“Embracing dual nationality is like a tool for harnessing the economic power of external citizens,” Spiro said.

“Instead of forcing emigrants to make a choice, or treating them like traitors to the homeland, emigrants can both integrate with their new place of residence at the same time that they maintain the citizenship tie with their homeland,” he noted.

While simultaneously holding citizenship in more than one country can bring more opportunities to individuals, it also brings risks, such as mandatory military service or taxation obligations.

But both Spiro and Kondo said many countries have reconciled this on the basis of residence.

For example, in European countries, if one holds citizenship in two countries where military service is mandatory, the person only need serve one of them, usually the country in which they reside.

People with dual nationality are also warned about the risk of running into trouble or accidents when one of the two countries does not acknowledge dual citizenship. In those circumstances, the other government is limited in what it can do for the person.

Kondo, however, said that in many cases, especially emergencies, many governments take humanitarian actions and make claims to the other country in a peaceful manner to secure the safety of the citizen.

Jus sanguinis countries like Japan have traditionally been less tolerant of dual nationality because people tend to regard themselves as an exclusively racially homogeneous, Kondo explained.

While Japan does not allow dual citizenship, people can acquire more than one nationality upon birth if the parents are a Japanese and a foreigner, or if a Japanese couple have a baby in countries where citizenship is given to those born on their soil.


For babies, nationality depends on birthplace, parents

In such cases, Japanese nationality law stipulates that the child must select one of the nationalities permanently before turning 22 years old.

While the law is rigid about this rule, the reality is that the Justice minister has never strictly imposed it on anyone who actually has two nationalities.

“It’s not favorable to force a citizen to choose one among his parents,” Kondo said.

“It will take a very, very long time before Japan becomes a jus soli country, but at least it is possible to gradually set the bar lower” and accept dual citizens as other countries have done, he said.

Even in countries like the U.S., for example, there are voices calling for scaling back birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants.

However, Spiro said that there is very little real political support in U.S. for opposing dual citizenship.

This is partly due to the rise of dual citizens among powerful political constituencies, such as Irish-, Italian- and Jewish-Americans, but also because dual citizens pose very little threat of any description to local society, he said.

“The U.S. and many European nations now understand that dual citizenship doesn’t pose much of a threat . . . In many states, the acceptance is now nearly absolute,” Spiro said.
The Japan Times: Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Jan 6 2009 reviewing 2008’s human rights advances


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 Japan

Morning Blog.  Here’s my latest Japan Times column, which came out last Tuesday.  Links to sources provided.  Debito

By Arudou Debito, Article 11 for JBC Column
Published January 6, 2009
Draft Seven as submitted to editor.
Published version at

As we start 2009, let’s recharge the batteries by reviewing last year’s good news. Here is my list of top human rights advancements for 2008, in ascending order:

As we start 2009, let’s recharge the batteries by reviewing last year’s good news. Here is my list of top human rights advancements for 2008, in ascending order:

6) The U Hoden Lawsuit Victory (Dec. 21, 2007, but close enough): The plaintiff is a Chinese-born professor at Japan Women’s University, who sued for damages on behalf of his Japanese grade-school daughter. Abused by classmates for her Chinese roots, she suffered at school and was medically diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Professor U took the parents of the bullies to court and won.

WHY THIS MATTERS: In an era when elementary schools are seeing the byproduct of Japan’s frequent international marriages, this ruling sets a positive precedent both for insensitive local Boards of Education and parents who want to protect their kids.

5) Strawberry Fields Forever (Feb. 11): Fifteen Chinese Trainees sued strawberry farms in Tochigi Prefecture for unpaid wages, unfair dismissal, and an attempted repatriation by force. Thanks to Zentoitsu Workers Union, they were awarded 2 million yen each in back pay and overtime, a formal apology, and reinstatement in their jobs.

WHY THIS MATTERS: This is another good precedent treating NJ laborers (who as Trainees aren’t covered by labor laws) the same as Japanese workers. It is also the namesake of German documentary “Sour Strawberries” (, premiering in Japan in March. and

4) The increasing international awareness of Japan as a haven for international child abductions. It’s one of Japan’s worst-kept secrets, but not for much longer: Japan’s laws governing access for both parents to children after divorce are weak to non-existent. Consequently, in the case of international breakups, one parent (usually the foreigner) loses his or her kids. As this newspaper has reported, even overseas court decisions awarding custody to the NJ parent are ignored by Japanese courts. All the Japanese parent has to do is abduct their child to Japan and they’re scot-free. Fortunately, international media this year (America’s ABC News, UK’s Guardian, and Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald) have joined Canada’s media and government in exposing this situation.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Our government has finally acknowledged this as a problem for domestic marriages too, and made overtures to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (for what that’s worth) by 2010. More in upcoming documentary “From The Shadows” (

3) Opening the 12,000 yen “financial stimulus” to all registered NJ (Dec. 20). The “teigaku kyufukin” first started out as a clear bribe to voters to yoroshiku the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Then complaints were raised about the other taxpayers who aren’t citizens, so Permanent Residents and NJ married to Japanese became eligible. Finally, just before Christmas, all registered NJ were included.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Even if this “stimulus” is ineffective, it’s a wall-smasher: Japan’s public policy is usually worded as applying to “kokumin”, or citizens only. It’s the first time a government cash-back program (a 1999 coupon scheme only included Permanent Residents) has included all non-citizen taxpayers, and recognized their importance to the Japanese economy.

2) Revision of Japan’s Nationality Law. If a Japanese father impregnated a NJ out of wedlock, the father had to recognize paternity before birth or the child would not get Japanese nationality. The Supreme Court ruled this unconstitutional on June 4, noting how lack of citizenship causes “discriminatory treatment”.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Tens of thousands of international children have lost their legal right to Japanese citizenship (or even, depending on the mother’s nationality, become stateless!) just because a man was too shy to own up to his seed, or didn’t acknowledge paternity in time. This ruling led to a change in the laws last December.

1) The government officially declaring the Ainu an indigenous people (June 6).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Because it not only affects the Ainu. This finally shows how wrong the official pronouncements that “Japan is a monocultural monoethnic society” have been. It also voids knock-on arguments that enforce ideological conformity for the “insiders” and exclusionism for the foreigners. On Sept. 28, it even became a political issue, forcing an unprecedented cabinet resignation of Nariaki Nakayama for mouthing off about “ethnic homogeneity” (among other things). Even blue-blood PM Aso had better think twice before contradicting the Diet’s consensus on this issue.

Let’s see what 2009 brings. Proposals to watch: a) the possible abolition of Gaijin Cards, b) the registration of NJ residents with their Japanese families, and c) dual nationality. Stay tuned to, and Happy New Year, everyone!

Debito Arudou is coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.” Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to

German movie SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  I’ve been interviewed for a couple of documentary movies in the past.  The first one came out in Germany a few months ago.  Entitled SOUR STRAWBERRIES, about labor migration (“Japan’s hidden ‘guest workers'”) and human rights in Japan, one of the directors, Tilman Koenig, has this to say (in excerpt):

We had a German version of the documentary already done in September, and showed it in some cinemas arround here and had some very good reviews in newspapers. At this time we are working on the English and especially the Japanese version. Daniel [one of the other directors] will come to Japan in March 2009, so we are planning to show the documentary several times in March. The documentary is 58 Minutes long (45h of raw material) in the actual version…

The five-minute coming attractions reel is here, in English and Japanese:

I’m thrilled to report that the interview with me was even in the coming attractions (watch to the end from the link above), which featured a little visit to Kabukichou where we uncovered some of the JAPANESE ONLY signs.  Apparently a little tete-a-tete I had with one of the exclusionary shopkeeps was also included in full in the final cut.

If I hear word of where those screenings will be in March, I’ll let readers of know.  Happy Xmas Eve, everyone.  Debito

Oyako-Net Candlelight vigil for abducted children to Japan after divorce Dec 18 7PM Shinjuku


Oyako-Net’s World Wide Candle Light Vigil in Tokyo
Let’s get together and send our love to our estranged children!

When: Dec 18, 2008 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Where: In front of Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku

(If you have a trouble in finding us, please contact Mashito-san 090-6139-8609.)
Please bring a search light and a picture of your child..

The police will not allow neither to use candles nor to organize a public assembly with more than a few people in the park.

No freedom of speech, nor freedom of assembly.

We cannot enjoy basic human rights in this country.
(Today, Dec 10, is the World Human Rights Day when the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed 60 years ago.)

We will keep fighting until the day when children will enjoy their rights to be loved by both parents.

Please join us & Please spread the word!
Ayumi Temlock

Japan Times: Eric Johnston on Gunma NGO stopping ijime towards NJ students


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  Here’s an article from the JT regarding bullying of NJ schoolchildren, and grassroots efforts to ameliorate it.  Yet another helpful bit of journalism from the Japan Times, well done.  Get in touch with these people if you’re having a problem in school.  Debito in Sapporo


An NGO reaches out to bullied foreign kids

By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer
The Japan Times Friday, Nov. 28, 2008

KYOTO — Bullying is widely recognized as a problem affecting Japanese children. But non-Japanese kids and their parents who are also harassed can have a particularly hard time finding either sympathy or practical advice in their native language.

Now, the Gunma Prefecture-based nongovernmental organization Multilingual Education Research Institute is reaching out to non-Japanese parents and students throughout Japan, as well as to concerned Japanese who want to stop the bullying of foreign children.

The Ijime (Bullying) Zero campaign provides a number of services, including a telephone hotline and a Web page with advice in English, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish.

“No one in Japanese education is talking about the xenophobic aspects of bullying. There is a need to train people to be aware and to do something,” said Cheiron McMahill, president of the International Community School in Tamamura, Gunma Prefecture, and head of the institute.

McMahill noted that while the government assists Japanese victims of bullying, there are fewer resources for foreign children in their native language. To fill the void, the institute is using its Ijime Zero campaign to offer three kinds of assistance.

First is a multilingual forum where foreign children and their families can disclose their concerns and help each other. Second, educators nationwide, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, who have foreign students can get information and assistance on dealing with bullies. Third, anybody who wishes may borrow, for the price of return postage, multilingual literature and DVDs on dealing with bullies. About 3,000 items are available for lending, McMahill said.

Nationwide, there are more than 25,000 foreign children in schools. The majority are believed to be Brazilians, followed by Chinese. Truancy among foreign children, who are often bullied because they are different or don’t speak Japanese, has become a concern in recent years, especially in prefectures like Gunma and in the Chubu region where large numbers of foreigners reside.

Local governments and the central government both say more needs to be done to integrate foreign children into Japanese schools. But they are often at odds over what exactly should be done and who should take the lead. The central government has long urged local governments to do more, while cash-strapped local governments say there is little more they can do unless Tokyo formulates a national policy and provides funds for assistance.

Human rights activists note a fundamental reason for truancy among foreign children is that they are not required by law to attend public school, which means those who drop out due to bullying or other reasons are not legally obliged to return. The education ministry’s position is that while public schools cannot turn away foreign children, they don’t have to make sure they’re in class.

“Revising the Compulsory Education Law to insure foreign children are covered is a top priority for Japan,” McMahill said.

Last year, a government survey revealed that at least 1 percent of foreign children living in Japan did not attend school, but because the whereabouts of 17.5 percent of children in Japan registered as foreigners was unknown, the real truancy figure is probably much higher.

“The different languages that foreign children speak need to be seen as a resource for Japanese society as a whole, not as a problem to be solved. Having foreign children in the classroom helps Japanese children become more multicultural, and that will pay benefits for all when they grow up and go out into the world,” McMahill said.

For more information on the Ijime Zero campaign and the kinds of assistance available to international parents and children, visit the Multilingual Education Research Institute’s Web site


Thoughts on seeing the Dalai Lama at the FCCJ Nov 3, 2008


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 Japan
Hi Blog.  I meant to write down a few thoughts earlier, but today’s a light day, so I might as well use it productively, and get to something I’ve been meaning to write about for some time now:  learning activism from the experts.

I attended the Dalai Lama’s speech at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan on November 3, 2008.  As a person who loves public speaking and presentations, I thought I’d just offer what I gleaned from a world-famous speaker and public figure:

In his two-hour speech with Q&A, he demonstrated many of the hallmarks of an effective activist:  Optimistic, poignant, informed with the points he wanted to get across that day, yet self-effacing, making jokes (and laughing at them if necessary), moreover avuncular and retiring (something the more elderly activists have in their favor).  He was sure to deny his divinity (this was what some members of a skeptical Western audience I believe expected), even have his given name included as part of the FCCJ’s program.  While making a number of subsidiary points, even aiming for a few laughs, he still got his main (and important) points across.  See them from an article in the Japan Times here.

But that’s the thing about activism:  how tied our hands are when trying to get our message across to a worldwide audience.  There is no substitute for seeing people do their thing live and in full.  I’ve noticed time and time again the difference between “live and Memorex”, or, rather, live vs. filtered through the media.  

I first noticed that when PM Koizumi gave his first Diet speech after September 11, 2001, in which he first announced his anti-terrorism plans in the Upper House on September 28.  I was there in the Gallery listening live.  It was a rousing speech, delivered with panache and conviction.  And although I am very unhappy with what eventually came out of this anti-terrorism putsch (particularly because it singled out NJ as terrorists), I was also discomfited with how his speech was chopped up and served to the public by the media.  

Almost always what reaches the public is a pale imitation of what was said and, often more importantly, how it was said:  Quotes lifted out of context or without surrounding disclaimers and qualifiers.  Editorial constraints or bents bleaching out the humanity of the speaker (or even, sometimes, the accuracy of the speech itself).  It’s the Telephone Game, where the more steps removed the speaker and the end-listener are, the more distortion enters the message.

It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault.  In a busy world where we cannot be everywhere at once, it’s generally impossible to get information directly through the source unfiltered and unscathed.  This is probably not the media’s intention, but we as listeners have to be skeptical of media, or at least of getting our information entirely from one source.

I experienced that firsthand and repeatedly in how we and our arguments were portrayed in the media in the Otaru Onsens Case (that’s why we have a website for people to have direct access).  We were winning the debate, then losing (thanks to government undercurrents and policies targeting NJ for political and budgetary reasons), then we ultimately won — both in court and largely in the court of public opinion.  But not handily enough for us to make sure it never happened again — by getting that law we wanted against racial discrimination.  An anti-discrimination law with enforcement mechanisms is truly the Brass Ring.  I’m just not equal to the task.

But somebody like the Dalai Lama is.  I’m trying to learn from the best, and the Dalai Lama is clearly doing better than average.  He’s got a pretty good image worldwide despite an entire antipathetic newsagency speaking to a fifth of the world’s population.  In sum, as I saw at the FCCJ, The Dalai Lama a master of controlling his Truth Octane.  He’s active while avuncular, critical yet not alienating — and he gives his information with the right amount of sugar-coating.  In other words, he makes activism fun, yet still gets his message across.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS:  For another wonderful example of how disarming the Dalai Lama is, check out Pio D’Emilia’s report on him for Sky24, Italian TV last Nov 2.  Never mind about it being in Italian:  The trick is to make yourself more accessible despite language barriers.  That happens, as you’ll see in the opening segment.


NUGW’s Louis Carlet on recent labor union moves


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 Japan
Hi Blog. I don’t usually post these notifications (which come near daily from one of Japan’s most active labor unions, the National Union of General Workers) here. But this one is meaty and timely enough to warrant everyone’s attention. Have a look and see if there’s anything here you’d like to check out. I fully support Louis Carlet and labor unions in Japan, and if you’re not in one, you’re not going to have your employment rights protected in Japan protected, full stop. More on why I can say that with such conviction here.

Over to Louis. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


From: nugw DOT carlet AT
Subject: [Nambu FWC] Berlitz Sues Union Execs
Date: December 9, 2008 4:52:57 PM JST
To: action AT nambufwc DOT org

Sisters and Brothers

Three weeks after we sued Berlitz for illegal strike-breaking, management has sued two Nambu executives and all five Begunto execs for damages caused by what Berlitz claims is an illegal strike.
Execs received subpoenas today to appear before court. Management prefers to pursue frivolous litigation rather than settle 2008 shunto demands for a 4.6% base-pay hike and a one-month bonus.

Management hopes to intimidate and divide us, but we will stand together to fight these suits and protect our right to strike. Email me and ask what you can do to help our Begunto brothers and sisters.

Meanwhile come to the following events.

1 Little Garden Labor Commission Talks
Friday Dec. 12 at 10:00am at Tokyo Labor Commission

Take Oedo Line to Tochomae Station, Exit 3A, up two escalators, pass parsport office, up Elevator Bank H to 34th floor. Check bulletin board for Life Communications Corp and “roh” for room number.

The union has Little Garden on the ropes. Not only has management agreed to reinstate Joyce and pay partial back wages, they have also agreed to help with her visa, pay a penalty if she doesn’t get the visa, to deduct her monthly dues from wages, to give us a union-only bulletin board and even to let the union hold annual recruiting orientations at Little Garden.
Come and support Joyce during what may be final resolution talks. There has been a surprising new development in this case as well.

2 Govt Talks on Foreigners’ Rights

Monday, Dec. 15, 9am to 5:30pm. Upper House Bldg – Sangi-in Kaikan. Take Marunouchi Line to Kokkai-Gijidomae Station. Free simultaneous interpreting with machines provided.

Ever want to speak your mind to the government? Now’s our chance. We will talk tough directly with the various ministries (actually mid-level bureaucrats) regarding abuse of the foreign trainee/intern system as well as fingerprinting, teacher’s labor rights, and many other issues that affect foreign residents.

3 [Anonymous teacher’s] Second Court Date

Thursday Dec. 18 at 10am. Tokyo District Court – Take Marunouchi Line to Kasumigaseki Station, Exit A1. TDC is right there. Go to 13th floor. Room number to be announced.

As many of you know Anonymous Teacher’s first court date was anti-climactic because St. Mary’s management didn’t show up. They are unlikely to make that mistake again so come out and show AT your support.

4 Berlitz Labor Commission

Dec. 22 at 3:45pm at South Exit of JR Shinjuku Station


Same day at 4:45pm at Tokyo Labor Commission

Take Oedo Line to Tochomae Station, Exit 3A, up two escalators, pass parsport office, up Elevator Bank H to 34th floor. Check bulletin board for Berlitz Japan and “roh” for room number.

Come on down to the first hearing in the now-famous Union vs. Berlitz strike-busting case.

Berlitz claims our historic strike is illegal. We say Berlitz strike-busting is illegal … AND unconstitutional.

Come support our heroic, striking sisters and brothers at Berlitz and watch the sparks fly (albeit in a subdued, orderly and courtroom like manner).
The hearing at the commission starts just before 5pm but we may have an action near Shinjuku Station just prior so come to both.

See You All There!

Louis Carlet
NUGW Tokyo Nambu

Nambu 2008 Bonenkai/Oyster Bar
2000 yen, Nambu HQ Shimbashi
Thursday December 18 6:30pm-

NUGW Tokyo Nambu – Nambu FWC

GOJ Human Rights Week commemorative pamphlet includes NJ issues of discrimination


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  Good news, of sorts.  Today starts Japan’s official “Human Rights Week” (Jinken Shuukan), when the GOJ spends money (and claims to the UN national campaigns of awareness raising) to promote issues of human rights.

The Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu), the window-dressing department within the Ministry of Justice entrusted to spend tax money but not actually enforce any human rights mandate, usually glosses over discrimination against NJ (heaven forfend they actually use the breathtaking word “racial discrimination”, or actually call for a law against it!) as a matter of cultural misunderstandings (a wonderful way to reduce the issue down to next to nothing), and holds it low regard in comparison to other (worthy) issues of discrimination against Burakumin, Ainu, the handicapped, AIDs patients, etc.  This has been reflected in dismissive GOJ human rights surveys and past “awareness-raising” campaigns in previous Human Rights Weeks.

So it comes as a welcome surprise that this year the GOJ has issued a commemorative pamphlet including discrimination against NJ as a real issue.  Of course, the old bone about “cultural issues” is still there to dilute the Truth Octane.  But it’s a start.  Here’s my translation:



Reflecting the era of internationalization in recent years, the number of foreigners making a living in our country has increased dramatically, but there have been various cases of human rights problems including being refused entry to public baths, discrimination in the workplace, and being refused apartments, due to differences in languages, religion, lifestyle customs etc.  Human rights has no borders.  It is desirable in future for us as a member of the international community to show respect and acceptance to foreigners who have different cultures and diversity.


Well, actually, looking over information from last year archived on, it’s not that much of a change.  Except that the BOHR site now actually includes on its official website a new video game for its cartoon characters, called “The Grand Adventure in Human Rights Land”!  Have a play!  Hey, it’s your taxes, might as well use them.

Here’s a scan of the pamphlet, courtesy of KGD.  As the submitter notes: “It comments that ‘there are no national boundaries to human rights’ and notes that foreigners have been refused entry to public baths in Japan.  While the pamphlet won’t get anyone the Nobel Prize, it does indicate that your message is reaching some bureaucrats in the central government.”

Well, good, I guess.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Britain’s “Gaijin Card” system comes online: UK Telegraph warns against potential foreign celebrity backlash


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 Japan
Hi Blog.  Compare and contrast the introduction of fingerprinting (moreover Gaijin Cards) for foreigners in the UK. At least high-profile Britons are protesting it, and the media (the conservative media, even) is giving them a voice. That’s more than can be said for Japan last year around November 20, when the J media suppressed the opinion of NJ residents and NGOs when fingerprinting was reintroduced.  Still sad that these ID carding tendencies for foreigners only are spreading.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Celebrities like Madonna won’t come to Britain because of ID cards

Britain will suffer cultural and economic damage from the introduction of identity cards for foreigners, preventing stars such as Madonna staying in the UK, according to a group of academics and writers.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor 

Daily Telegraph, Last Updated: 8:20AM GMT 25 Nov 2008

Courtesy of Sendaiben

From today, anyone from outside the European Union who wants to live and work in the UK for more than six months will have to apply for a compulsory British ID card.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, wants 90 per cent of foreign residents in Britain to have identity cards by 2014.

To get an ID card, people will have their faces scanned and will have to give 10 fingerprints.

Campaigners fear that this will put off celebrities like American singer Madonna from setting up home here and so damage the cultural life of the nation.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group including author Philip Pullman, musicians Neil Tennant and Brian Eno, campaigning QC Baroness Kennedy and comedians Mark Thomas and Lucy Porter, warn of the damage to Britain’s image abroad.

Footballers, such as Manchester City’s £32.5million Brazilian striker Robinho, would also have to carry ID cards if they came to the UK after today.

The letter says: “If this scheme is continued … fewer of the world’s leading performers in every field will choose to make their homes here than do now.

“Successful foreigners such as Robinho or Kevin Spacey, and the overseas students who subsidise our universities, have a lot of choice where they study or exercise their talents. Some will decide Britain has become too unfriendly.”

The group, which also Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti and singer Crispian Mills, also warns of a steep drop in fee income as foreigners decide that the UK is not a “friendly” country to come to study.

It warns: “If this scheme is continued it will lead to less fee-income and lower international status for our educational institutions.

“British students will have to pay higher tuition to make up, and will have less money to spend with local businesses. ‘ID cards for foreigners’ is not just a small-minded slogan – Britain will suffer culturally and economically.”

Last night Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary, supported the concerns that British cultural life will lose out from the introduction of ID cards.

He said: “Foreign nationals continue to make an enormous contribution to British culture, from the Premier League to the performing arts.

“If these people choose to go elsewhere to places that won’t treat them like criminals, this country will be all the poorer for it.”

Speaking yesterday ahead of the first ID cards being issued, Miss Smith said: “In time identity cards for foreign nationals will replace paper documents and give employers a safe and secure way of checking a migrant’s right to work and study in the UK

“The Australian-style points system will ensure only those we need – and no more – can come here. It is also flexible, allowing us to raise or lower the bar according to the needs of business and taking population trends into account.”


FYI: People working for American companies in Japan are covered by US Civil Rights Law


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 Japan
Hi Blog.  Here’s a note on a subject that may help people working for American multinational companies.  They have double labor rights/civil rights protections — both American and Japanese.  And apparently the American government links to the civil rights authorities of other countries/unions like Canada and the EU.  More on the EEOC site.  Further, HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS has been helping people define their terms and anchor their arguments.  Happy to hear.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Did you happen to know that U.S. civil rights law (equal employment opportunities, or EEO) applies to U.S. citizens working abroad for U.S. multinational companies?
under:  “Multinational Employers”

This is a heads up to the expat community.    Very few know that if they are working for the Japanese sub of an American company, and feel they are being discriminated or not given equal opportunities (based on a U.S. understanding of what that is!), they can go to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) in the US.

EEOC Charge mediation is confidential.

Very few American-parent companies here tell their workers about the EEO coverage.   Basically, Congress wrote the law to hold the American parent liable for the activities of the overseas company that it controls.   So one possible remedy is filing an EEO complaint, which can be done over the internet.  Employers are supposed to tell the employees about these coverages and remedies — it says so in the 1964 act.

One thing that should also be pointed out is that there is a statute of limitations on EEOC charges.    Usually this is 300 days, but in some instances might only be 180 days.    It isn’t clear, though, that if the company does not NOTIFY you of the coverage, whether these limitations would apply.  So to be on the safe side, assume 180 days.

There is also a non-retaliation provision:   Form 5 information page states:
“Please notify EEOC or state and local agency where you filed your charge if retaliation is taken against you or others who oppose discrimination or cooperate in any investigation or lawsuit concerning this charge.   Under Section 704(a) of Title VII,  . . . [etc.], it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against present or former employees or job applicants, for an employment agency to discriminate against anyone, or for a union to discriminate against its members or membership applicants, because they have opposed any practice made unlawful by the statutes, or because they have made a charge, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the laws . . . “
HANDBOOK has been very handy in explaining Japanese labor law, since it is not exactly the subject of substantial English-language literature in other countries or languages.   In addition, letting people around Japan know about the EEO coverage, it helps anyone who is caught in a similar bind.  Japanese labor law investigators don’t seem to be all that vigilant when it comes to foreigners — not only language barriers, but also a sense that the foreign person “really isn’t supposed to be here” in the first place.


Compare: Good survey of “non-Japanese citizens in Sapporo” by City


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 Japan
Hi Blog.  I mentioned yesterday about Careercross’s lousy survey of NJ employers, with loaded and leading questions galore about how NJ bosses apparently view their J subordinates.  Contrast it with this thorough, culturally-sensitive survey (down to the phrasing of the questions) put out by the Sapporo City Government.  Courtesy of Olaf, who got surveyed (I didn’t, of course.)

They do these once or twice a decade; their last one was in 2001, and they completely rewrote the 2008 version after a lot of groundwork from other city offices and help from their NJ staff, the International Relations Department told me last month.

Now this is how you do a survey.  I’ve seen a lot of crappy ones over the years.  (Government agencies seem to be incredibly inept at good social science.  Consider this periodic survey from even the PM Cabinet regarding human rights, where they offer rights for other humans (NJ) as optional, not required!  Keeps incurring the wrath of the United Nations.)  Not Sapporo.  Other cities should take note of this and use it as a template.  So should Careercross.

Survey in English (cover plus 19 pages), then Survey in Japanese (cover plus 19 pages):

Well done!  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Nov 20 NGO Public gathering: 1-year anniversary of the NJ fingerprinting program


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 Japan
Public gathering marking the 1-year anniversary of the new fingerprinting program

NGOs raise concerns about the government’s new plan to abolish the ‘Gaikokujin
Torokusho (alien registration card) ‘and to introduce a ‘Zairyu Kaado (resident card)’
and ‘Gaikokujin Daicho Seido (alien register system)


Date: Thursday, 20 November 2008
Time: 12:45 – 14:15
Venue: Conference room No.1,
Diet Members’ No. 2 Office Building of the Lower House
3 minutes walk from Kokkai Gijido Mae station or Nagatacho station of
Tokyo Metro
* Please collect a pass on 1st floor of the building
Admission: Free
Language: Japanese (If you wish to make a speech in English, we will interpret into
Japanese for you)

– From the abolition of fingerprinting in 2002 to its re-introdution in 2007
– Review plan of the Immigration Control Law in 2009: Abolish the ‘Gaikokujin
Torokusho’and introduce a ‘Zairyu Kaado’ and ‘Gaikokujin Daicho Seido’
– Concerns raised by civil society: What would happen to those who are unable to
apply for a ‘Zairyu Kaado (resident card)’, such as overstayers, including asylum
seekers and children? We will examine issues of education and medical provision, etc..

Comments or appeals from participants are welcomed.

Organized by: Amnesty International Japan, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan,
Network for Human Rights Legislation for Foreigners and Ethnic Minorities, National
Christian Liaison Conference to struggle with Issues of Alien Registration Law,


The Ministry of Justice is currently pressing forward measures aiming at integrating
personal information of foreign residents in Japan. It is anticipated that a revised bill of
the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act will be discussed during the
ordinary diet session in 2009 to abolish the current ‘Gaikokujin Torokusho (alien
registration card)’ and introduce a ‘Zairyu Kaado (resident card)’ which will be issued
directly from the Ministry of Justice. However, we NGOs are concerned about that
once a ‘Zairyu Kaado’ is introduced, control over foreigners would be more tightened.
We particularly fear that the certain foreign residents such as overstayers may lose
access to most of basic public service including education and medical care by
excluding them from registering for the ‘Gaikokujin Daicho Seido’. Thus would make
these people more socially invisible.

At the public meeting, we will discuss the framework of the plan (abolishing the
‘Gaikokujin Torokusho’and introducing a ‘Zairyu Kaado’) and issues that might occur
when the new system is introduced. Also we again express our strong opposition
toward the obligation to provide the biological information.

For further information:
Sonoko Kawakami
Amnesty International Japan
2-2-4F Kanda-NIshiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 101-0054 JAPAN
TEL:+81-3-3518-6777 FAX:+81-3-3518-6778

* The US government launched ‘the United States Visitor and Immigration Status
Indicator Technology (US-VISIT) in 2004. Japan was the second country that
introduced the similar program.

Sonoko Kawakami
Campaign Coordinator
Amnesty International Japan
2-2-4F Kanda-NIshiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 101-0054 JAPAN
TEL:+81-3-3518-6777 FAX:+81-3-3518-6778
E-mail:ksonoko AT

2008.11.20 日本版US-VISIT開始から1年 院内集会 [えっ!外国人登録証がなくなるの?」


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 Japan
2008.11.20 日本版US-VISIT開始から1年 院内集会

日時:2008年11月20日(木) 12時45分 ~ 14時15分
会場:衆議院第二議員会館 第一会議室
※ 地下鉄「国会議事堂前」駅下車 徒歩3分)
※ 1階ロビーにて通行証をお渡しします。

(1)     指紋押捺制度廃止から日本版US-VISIT導入まで
(3)     どうなる? 2009年入管法改定

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Post#1000: Oyako-Net and “From the Shadows” Documentary Forum on post-divorce child abductions


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 Japan
Hi Blog. This marks the 1000th post on the blog since it started a little over two years ago, in June 2006.  Long may we run. To celebrate, some good news about the developing documentary called FROM THE SHADOWS, on child abductions after divorce in Japan, and the growing attention being devoted to it (including NHK). Word from David Hearn, one of the directors (along with Matt Antell). Arudou Debito in Sapporo

A brief update: Matt told me that the filming of Murray Wood in Vancouver went well last weekend.
It was a busy three days and a lot of material was shot. Our volunteer assistants were very helpful.

I joined 5 other panelists at the Oyakonet event today. There are a couple photos below. I talked about my experience growing up to show an example of how custody after divorce was handled in the US.

At one point they asked for a show of hands for how many people were first timers to an Oyakonet event. About half of the crowd of 50 put their hands up.

There was also quite a bit of discussion afterward that the 20 minute segment which appeared on NHK (zenkoku) last Tuesday was well received. Many people also pushed attending the Nichibenren (Japanese Bar Association) event this coming Saturday Nov. 15th.

That’s all for now. Warm regards, David Hearn, one director, FROM THE SHADOWS documentary (reachable at ghosty eighty seven [write as numbers, no spaces] AT cablenet DOT ne DOT jp)

This is the video clip from the BBC that has been in the works for a little while now.



Filmmakers tackle contentious issue of parents’ abduction of children to Japan THE JAPAN TIMES, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008

Spirited Away: Japan Won’t Let Abducted Kids Go
American Parents Have Little Hope of Being Reunited With Children Kidnapped to Japan

ABC News (USA) Feb. 26, 2008

Here’s the powerpoint my speech last December 2007 at the upcoming film documentary on this subject, FOR TAKA AND MANA. Glad he’s gotten the attention his horrible case deserves. 

More on this issue on here.

MX on “Gaijin” harassment in Tokyo elementary school


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  Pursuant to yesterday’s Asahi article mentioning kids bullying a child with international roots, here’s a letter from a father who felt the diversity-stripping effects of the word “gaijin” firsthand, when his Japanese daughter first entered a Tokyo grade school.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


From:   MX

Subject: my 6-year-old (Japanese) daughter called “gaijin”

Date: October 24, 2008

Hello Debito,

You probably don’t remember, but I wrote you several years ago to ask about the complicated issue of children’s names in the case of “international couples” here in Japan, and you kindly answered that query. 

Well, it is about 6 years later and my daughter XXXXXX is getting ready to enter elementary school next April. We happen to live right between two schools in Tokyo, and my wife took XXXXXX to visit both of them yesterday. XXXXXX is quite excited to be an ichi nen sei next year and was looking forward to the visit, but it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. 

In one of the classes they were visiting, a boy pointed at XXXXXX and shouted 外人だ!外人がいる! The teacher went on “teaching” as if nothing was happening, while the shouts grew louder and soon the entire class was pointing and staring at poor XXXXXX, who was in complete shock. Ultimately, my wife had no choice but to leave the classroom and try to console XXXXXX.

I can’t say this came as a complete surprise, as XXXXXX does indeed look quite “European,” but it was depressing that the teacher saw no reason to intervene in some way to make the experience less mortifying for my daughter. If this had occurred on the street it would have been  bad enough, but it is even more disheartening that it happened at a school, a place that should be at the forefront of efforts to curb stupid racial discrimination. 

Anyway, the reason that I am bothering you with this sad little tale is that I was wondering if you happened to know anything about the Ministry of Education’s “policy” towards racial discrimination and what (if anything) the schools are doing to explain the simple fact that Japanese people now come in all shapes, sizes and faces. I suspect there is no effort being made whatsoever to counter the ignorance of students and teachers, but I thought if anyone was up to date on this subject it would be you.

So far, my wife and I have sent a letter to the Principal of the school and depending on the response (if any!) we receive I may pursue the matter further, whether writing to The Japan Times or to the Ministry of Education itself. Do you have any other suggestions on how to raise a bit of a stink about this (assuming, of course, you think that the incident is as stinky as it seemed to me and my wife).

I’m sorry to take up so much of your time with this, but any advice you might have would be much appreciated. 

Best regards, MX



2008/10/25 Arudou Debito <> replied:

Hello Michael.  Thanks for sharing this.  May I post this up on my blog?  I’ll anonymize it if you like.  It’s an important tale.  If you’d like to add anything more, please do.  Meanwhile, consider what I did in this situation here.

Do take it up with your school.  Schedule an appointment and meet with the people in charge with the school face to face.  Get in writing what the school intends to do about this.  The teacher was completely irresponsible.  Debito


Hi again,
Thanks for writing back. Please feel free to post it on your blog, but I would prefer the anonymizing (?). It’s been a couple days and no news back from the principal yet. I suspect they are having some endless (and probably fruitless) meeting about this, or it has been brushed off completely. Anyway, I will follow up on it.
It seems to tie in to the debate over the g-word in the Japan Times. I must admit to being somewhat on the fence about the word when it comes to myself, as it is at least factual accurate, but there isn’t much justification when it is directed against a “fellow citizen.” I thought the incident showed, though, that the word is less important the ugly sentiment that is often behind it, that is basically: We’re over here, and you (strange people) are over there. In fact, the kid in that class could have just pointed and said nothing and the effect would have been similar. I suppose my point is that the problem is not so much this or that word, but racial discrimation itself (not to mention the nonsensical concept of “race” itself). In that sense, the word g-word and the n-word do have more than a little in common, although to argue which is worse is sort of like saying that one atrocity is not as bad as this one.
I’ll stop rambling, though, and just thank you again for taking the time to write me. Take care, MX

Japan Focus runs translation of Asahi Oct 5 2008 article on discrimination


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  Academic website JAPAN FOCUS ran my translation of the October 5 2008 Asahi article earlier this week.  Now it’s got an international audience.  Good.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Japan’s Entrenched Discrimination Toward Foreigners
The Asahi Shimbun October 5, 2008
Translation by Arudou Debito

Japan Focus, October 25, 2008

Will Japan ever overcome its distrust of foreigners?  This question has been forcefully posed in various guises, most notably perhaps by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights Doudou Diene.  In 2005 he concluded after a nine-day investigation in Japan that the authorities were not doing enough to tackle what he called Japan’s “deep and profound racism” and xenophobia, particularly against its former colonial subjects.  The report appeared to vindicate the work of campaigners such as naturalized Japanese Arudou Debito, who argue that Japan needs, among other things, an anti-discrimination law. 

Now, unusually perhaps for a major national newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun has waded into the debate with a major article on the issue.  Titled, “Opening the nation: Time to make choices,” the article recounts tales of discrimination by long-term foreign residents before looking at how Japan compares to other nations, including perhaps its nearest equivalent, South Korea.  A lively illustration helps makes the point that foreigners sometimes feel like second-class citizens.  The Asahi concludes that the dearth of laws here protecting the livelihoods or rights of non-Japanese makes the country somewhat unique.  “In other countries…there is almost no example of foreigners being shut out like this.”  Interestingly, the Asahi did not translate the article for its foreign edition. David McNeill


Apartments, hospitals…even restaurants

“They’re judging me on my appearance.  They suspect me because I’m not Japanese.”  Pakistani national Ali Nusrat (46), a resident of Saitama Prefecture, was stopped near his home by a policeman and asked, “What’s all this, then?”  He soon lost his patience.  This is his twentieth year in Japan and he has a valid visa.  However, since last year, he has gotten more and more questions about his identity and workplace, to the point where he was stopped by police every day for seven days.  He was aware that security was being tightened because of the G8 Summit of world leaders [which took place in Hokkaido in July 2008], but still thought it over the top. 

Nusrat has admired Japan since childhood.  There are lots of nice people here, he says.  But after the terrorism of 9/11, he feels that local eyes have grown more suspicious towards non-Japanese.  Realtors have told him, “We don’t take foreign renters.”  When he took a Brazilian friend to a hospital, they refused to treat him:  “Sorry, we don’t take foreign patients.”  

Recently, an American male (44) who has lived in Japan 23 years took his visiting American friend to a yakitori shop in Tokyo.  Nobody took their order.  When he eventually asked in Japanese for service, a woman who appeared to be the head manager said, “No gaijin” [the epithet for “foreigner”].  It was a shock.  “If this were the US, the first thing we’d do is report it to the police.  But there is no law against discrimination in Japan, so there’s nothing the cops will do about it.”

In Otaru, on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, there were public bathhouses with signs saying “we refuse entry to foreigners” back in 1998.  A court determined that this “qualified as discrimination”, handing down a verdict ordering one establishment to pay compensation.  However, non-Japanese making a life in Japan still to this day face various forms of discrimination (see illustration).  “Japanese Only” signs have still not disappeared, and some establishments charge non-Japanese entry fees many times higher than Japanese customers.  


“If you’re worried about people’s manners, then make the rules clear, and kick out people who don’t follow them,” is the advice offered to these businesses by Arudou Debito, a native of the United States with Japanese citizenship and an associate professor at Hokkaido Information University. He was also a plaintiff in a lawsuit against an exclusionary bathhouse.  “These days, when Japan needs labor from overseas, properly protecting foreigner rights sends an important message that people are welcome here.” 

What about other countries?  While there are punitive measures, there are also moves to encourage communication.

From July 2007, South Korea began enforcing the “Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea”.  It demands that national and local governments “strive towards measures to prevent irrational cases of discrimination,” proclaiming in Article 1:  “Foreigners will adapt to South Korean society in a way that will enable them to demonstrate their individual abilities.”  South Korea’s aging society is outpacing Japan’s, and international unions now account for over 10 percent of all marriages.  Forty percent of South Korean farmers and fishermen have welcomed brides from China, Southeast Asia, and other countries.  The acceptance of foreign laborers continues apace.  This law is the result of strong demands for improvements in the human rights of foreigners, who are propping up South Korean society and economy.

In Western countries, in addition to punitive laws against racial discrimination, there are very powerful organizations backing up foreigners’ rights, such as Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has a staff of 500 people.  Public-sector residences doled out to white residents only; a child denied entry into a school “because he’s a Gypsy;” job promotions slow in coming — many of these types of cases and claims flow into the offices of the Commission, which carries out redress against discrimination by race, gender, and disability.

After investigating a bona fide case of discrimination, the Commission proposes all parties talk to each other.  If mediation fails, then the organization issues an order for parties to improve their behavior.  In the event of a lawsuit, the Commission provides legal funding and offers evidence in court.  In recent years, as more people have emigrated from Eastern Europe, as well as from Africa and Asia, it has become harder to argue that discrimination is simply between “Whites” and “non-Whites”.  According to [Patrick] Diamond, head of a government policy and strategy division within the Commission, “There are new duties concerning the prevention of antagonisms between ethnicities within communities.”

It is not only a matter of cracking down on discrimination after the fact, but also how to prevent it happening in the first place.  France has begun trying out a procedure where application forms for public housing, as well as resumes for employment, are made anonymous; this way, people do not know by an applicant’s name if the latter is from an ethnic minority or a foreign country.  In England, local governments are supporting events where immigrants and long-term residents cook each other food.  By methods including trial and error, they are breaking down deeply-held insecurities (kokoro no kabe), creating “a leading country of immigration” (imin senshinkoku).

Creating anti-discrimination laws in Japan — the debate stalls

Saitama Prefecture, 2007:  A non-Japanese couple in their seventies had just begun renting an upscale apartment, only to find the day before moving that they would be turned away.  The management association of the apartment found that bylaws forbade rental or transfer of their apartments to foreigners.  The couple’s oldest daughter called this a violation of human rights and appealed to the local Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights.  The Bureau issued a warning to the association that this was “discriminatory treatment, conspicuously violating the freedom to choose one’s residence”.  However, the association refused to revise its decision, and the couple had to look elsewhere.  

Nationwide, the Bureau of Human Rights took on 21,600 cases of rights violations in 2007, including cases of violence or abuse towards women or the elderly, invasions of privacy and bullying.  But there were also 126 cases of discrimination towards foreigners, a figure that is increasing year on year, with numerous cases involving refusals of service by renters, public baths, and hotels.  However, even in cases determined to involve discrimination, the Bureau only has the power to issue “explanations” (setsuji) or “warnings”, not redress measures.  Many are deterred by lawsuits and the enormous investment of time, emotional energy, and money they demand.  In the end, many people just put up with it.

Japan still has no fundamental law protecting the livelihood or rights of non-Japanese.  A bill for the protection of rights for handicapped and women, which also covers discrimination by race and ethnicity, was defeated in 2003.  Debate is continuing within the government and ruling party on whether to resubmit it.  Still, a “Human Rights Committee”, entrusted with the duties of hearing and investigating violations of human rights, has engendered great criticism from conservatives on the issue of appointing foreigners as committee members.  The government eventually did a volte-face, saying that “only residents who have the right to vote for people in the local assemblies” are allowed, thus limiting appointments to Japanese.

In other countries, where organizations protect foreigners from discrimination, there is almost no example of foreigners being shut out like this.  Even people within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have been critical:  “The very organizations that are supposed to help foreigners in all manner of difficulties, such as language barriers, are in fact putting up barriers of their own.  Their priorities are truly skewed” (honmatsu tentou).

This article first appeared in The Asahi Shimbun morning edition, October 5, 2008 in the ashita o kangaeru (With Tomorrow in Mind) column. The original text of the article is archived here. Posted at Japan Focus on October 25, 2008.

ARUDOU Debito is an Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University. A human rights activist, he is the author of Japaniizu Onrii–Otaru Onsen Nyuuyoku Kyohi Mondai to Jinshu Sabetsu and its English version, “JAPANESE ONLY”–The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan (Akashi Shoten Inc) and coauthor of a bilingual Guidebook for Immigrants in Japan. 

With thanks to Miki Kaoru for technical assistance in rendering the cartoon in English.

South Korea’s 2007 “Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea”. Hello Japan?


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  As the Asahi Shinbun August 5, 2008 article on discrimination in Japan notes (my translation):

SECTION TWO:  How it is in other countries:  While there are punitive measures, there are also moves to encourage communication.

From July 2007, South Korea began enforcing the “Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea”.  It demands that national and local governments “strive towards measures to prevent unrational cases of discrimination, etc.”, proclaiming in Article 1, “Foreigners will adapt to South Korean society in a way that will enable them to demonstrate their individual abilities.”  South Korea’s aging society is outpacing Japan’s, and international marriages are currently more than 10% of the total.  Forty percent of South Korean farmers and fishermen have welcomed brides from China, Southeast Asia, and other countries.  The acceptance of foreign laborers continues apace.  This law is the result of strong demands for improvements in the human rights of foreigners, who are propping up South Korean society and economy.

Article in Japanese at

Well, I’m sure the system is far from perfect (the UN’s comments below are eerily similar to those about what goes on in Japan), but if South Korea can pass a law on this, so can Japan.  Here is more information on it from the ROK and the UN.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(portions of note bolded)



Opening Statement of Korea at the Universal Periodic Review
by H.E. Mr. Kim Sung-Hwan,
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea

Courtesy of South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website:

(Now let me touch upon the issue relating to Multi-cultural Society)

Korean society is now becoming increasingly diverse. We have a long tradition of harmony and inclusiveness. We celebrate diversity, recognizing it as a source of strength. More peoples of foreign origin enter our country to live due to international marriages or to seek employment. International marriages reached 11.9 per cent (41% in rural areas) of the total number of marriages in 2006 and 1.1 million migrants, legal or illegal, are in the Republic of Korea. The Government has made efforts to build a society where their rights are fully respected and better opportunities are provided. New legislation such as the Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea strengthens the obligations of central and local governments concerning education, public relations and other measures in order to protect the human rights of foreigners and their children in Korea. The Government, through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Policies Regarding Foreigners, will continue to devise measures to foster an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect for human rights.

The vulnerability of migrant workers requires a more human rights-centered approach. They are vulnerable due to distance from their home country and subject to a certain degree of discrimination for many reasons. 

Lack of effective domestic legislation, cultural misunderstanding or forms of racism might be root causes of such discrimination. We introduced the Employment Permit System (EPS) in 2004 to give the protection of legal status to migrant workers, to prohibit discrimination, to recognize their rights of access to a system of redress and to ensure access to national health insurance. Under the EPS, Korean labor laws are applied equally to foreign workers. We will continue to monitor the operation of the system and are willing to improve it. 

The Government guarantees the right to education of the children of migrants irrespective of their residence status. The Government has pursued various programs to support the provision of good quality education to the children of multicultural families. (rest of text here)



(Although this report is one eyebrow raiser after another, sections at the beginning of note bolded)


Press Release










Committee on elimination of Racial Discrimination       

10 August 2007

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has considered the thirteenth and fourteenth periodic reports of the Republic of Korea on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. 

Presenting the report, Chang Dong-hee, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Government had been making efforts to legislate the Discrimination Prohibition Act for a comprehensive and effective response to discrimination in accordance with the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission in 2006. That Act would include specific references to discrimination on the basis of race being considered an illegal and prohibited act. In addition, as part of efforts to meet the growing demand for supporting the adjustment of foreigners to Korean society, the Basic Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea had been passed and had come into operation just last month. The legislation included provisions such as extending support for married immigrants and their children to help their social integration, assisting education of the Korean language and culture, as well as providing childcare. Moreover, foreigners who had obtained Korean nationality could, for three years, also enjoy the benefit of a range of measures and policies to assist their social integration. 

A representative of the National Human Rights Commission, in a statement, pointed out that, while the Human Rights Commission could conduct investigations of discriminatory acts of legal bodies, organizations and private individuals and give recommendations on the basis of those investigations, those recommendations remained non-binding. 

In preliminary concluding observations, Anwar Kemal, the Committee Expert who served as country Rapporteur for the report of the Republic of Korea, commented on issues including the definition of racial discrimination in domestic law, and actions to alleviate discrimination faced by those of “mixed blood”, including high-level acknowledgement that such discrimination existed, and the possibility of instituting foreign exchange programmes for students, as well as more scholarships to foreign students. The five-year National Plan on Discrimination should not be set in stone, but should be allowed to evolve. In developing it, the Government should be in touch with the National Human Rights Commission, and as many non-governmental organizations as possible, as well as the people affected. As for the treatment of migrants and migrant workers, one of the important objectives of the Government, taking into account the principle of mutual benefit, should be for such workers to have security of tenure, so that they could not be expelled after three years automatically. 

Other Committee Experts raised questions and asked for further information on subjects pertaining to, among other things, reports of injuries incurred by foreigners in a detention centre; a lack of clarity in the provision allowing trafficking victims to stay in the country; reports of racially motivated incidents against foreign workers; repeated complaints from refugees that they had been forced to work for longer hours and for less pay than Korean nationals; whether discrimination suffered by “mixed bloods”, which apparently was not illegal in the past, was illegal under current domestic legislation; and whether the notion of ethnic homogeneity was reflected in school curricula. Several Experts expressed discomfort about the prevalent notion in Korean culture of “pure bloodedness”. An Expert noted, that that implied, by contrast, that some people were of “impure” blood, and thus the whole concept came very close to ideas of racial superiority that the Convention, and the Committee, sought to eliminate. 

The delegation of the Republic of Korea also included other members of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Labour.

The Committee will present its written observations and recommendations on the combined thirteenth and fourteenth periodic reports of the Republic of Korea at the end of its session, which concludes on 17 August.

When the Committee reconvenes at 3 p.m. this afternoon, it will discuss organizational matters.

Report of the Republic of Korea

The combined thirteenth and fourteenth periodic reports of the Republic of Korea (CERD/C/KOR/14), says that the Republic of Korea is an ethnically homogeneous country with a total population of 47,254,000 as of November 2005. Recently, the Republic of Korea has been experiencing a rapid growth in its foreign population, of migrant workers in particular. As of October 2005, the total number of resident foreign nationals in the Republic of Korea stood at 711,869 (approximately 2 per cent of the total population). By nationality, Chinese are the most numerous (36.9 per cent of the total), followed by Americans (14.8 per cent), Filipinos (5.1 per cent) and Japanese (4.2 per cent). As of October 2005, 24,588 ethnic Chinese, generally referred to as Hwagyo, were residing in the Republic of Korea. As most of them, although eligible, have not applied for naturalization, the majority of Hwagyo are regarded as foreigners under the law. A total of 762 foreigners applied for refugee status in the Republic of Korea as of October 2005, among which 40 persons were recognized as refugees and 28 persons were granted humanitarian protection. One hundred and one persons were rejected, 72 persons withdrew their applications, 71 persons filed an objection to the decision, and the remaining 450 applications for refugee status are still being examined. The number of applications for refugee status per year is on the rise. Between 1994 and 2000, 96 persons applied, 37 in 2001, 34 in 2002, 84 in 2003, 148 in 2004 and 363 in 2005. The applicants comprised of 229 Chinese, 134 nationals of Myanmar, 48 Congolese, 47 Ugandans, 45 Ivorians, and 259 from other States. 

As an ethnically homogeneous State, the Republic of Korea has been traditionally unfamiliar with the problems of ethnic minorities. However, the dynamic exchange of human resources between countries and an increase in the number of interracial marriages have recently raised a range of concerns involving ethnic minorities. The principle of the “pure-blooded”, based on the Republic of Korea’s pride in the nation’s ethnic homogeneity, has incurred various forms of discrimination, largely invisible and not illegal, against so-called “mixed-bloods” in all areas of life including employment, marriage, housing, education and interpersonal relationships. This is particularly serious since such practices are passed down from one generation to the next. Given that most of the “mixed-bloods” and ethnic minorities have low-wage jobs and are subject to poverty, the Government is particularly keen to devise a comprehensive plan for their welfare and safety, including employment training and housing support. Moreover, the Government is stepping up its efforts to make prompt changes in social awareness through education and public-awareness campaigns in order to eliminate sources of discrimination and prejudice.

Presentation of Report 

CHANG DONG-HEE, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said, with regard to concerns raised by the Committee on the absence of specific legislation on the elimination of racial discrimination in the Republic of Korea, that he would like to touch briefly upon the Government’s ongoing efforts towards that end. The Republic of Korea, with a long history as a homogenous society, had had little cause or practical reason to deal with the issue of racial discrimination. Against that cultural backdrop, article 11 of the Constitution elucidated the general principles of equality, without specific reference to racial discrimination. However, that subject was deemed to be covered under the comprehensive terms of article 37, of the Constitution, which provided that the “freedom and rights of citizens shall not be neglected on the grounds that they are not enumerated in the Constitution”. The principles of the respect for human rights and equality of individuals before the law, as enshrined in the Constitution, also applied to foreigners, with the exception of rights that were premised upon Korean citizenship, such as the right to vote and the right to hold public office.

Nevertheless, Mr. Chang underscored, by no means had the Republic of Korea excluded the possibility of taking further legislative measures in the future for the more effective and faithful implementation of the Convention. The Government had been making efforts to legislate the Discrimination Prohibition Act for a comprehensive and effective response to discrimination in accordance with the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission in 2006. That Act would include specific references to discrimination on the basis of race being considered an illegal and prohibited act. The Planning Office for the Enactment of the Discrimination Prohibition Act had been established in 2006 to coordinate that matter and the Ministry of Justice was now working with other concerned ministries to speed up the enactment process.

Mr. Chang drew attention to the promulgation of the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (2007 to 2011) in May 2007, on the basis of draft recommended guidelines formulated by the National Human Rights Commission. That comprehensive nationwide master plan, which presented an overarching perspective for all human rights related laws, systems and policies, would indeed be constructive in terms of helping to build and strengthen the infrastructure for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Republic of Korea. Since its promulgation, the relevant government ministries and institutions had been working on its implementation, the results of which would be released at the end of each year by the Consultative Council for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. 

In addition, as part of efforts to meet the growing demand for supporting the adjustment of foreigners to Korean society, the Basic Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea had been passed and had come into operation just last month, Mr. Chang underscored. The legislation included provisions such as extending support for married immigrants and their children to help their social integration, assisting education of the Korean language and culture, as well as providing childcare. Moreover, foreigners who had obtained Korean nationality could, for three years, also enjoy the benefit of a range of measures and policies to assist their social integration. 

With regard to the situation of foreign migrant workers and industrial trainees, a number of important steps had been taken to promote the human rights of migrants. The Industrial Trainee System had been phased out and finally abolished as of 1 January 2007. Accordingly, the Employment Permit System, which had been adopted in 2003, and had been in effect since 2004, had become the sole gateway for foreign workers employment in the Republic of Korea. The abolition of the previous system was expected to provide an opportunity to solve various problems, Mr. Chang noted, such as the infringement of foreign workers’ human rights and the illegal use of foreign workers.

Mr. Chang said that the report maintained the position of the Republic of Korea in strongly condemning any notion or theory of superiority of one race or ethnic group over another, as was explicitly stipulated in Article 11 of the Constitution. Also, acts of racial discrimination could be punished under the Korean Penal Code, pursuant to articles 307 and 309, which concerning defamation, and Article 311, concerning libel. Moreover, racist motivation could be taken into account as an aggravating factor for criminal offences, in accordance with Article 51 of the Penal Code.

With regard to refugees, Mr. Chang said that the Government had been making efforts to improve the refugee recognition procedure and refugee relief policies. For example, to protect the human rights of refugee applicants, the Government was working on legislatively prohibiting the forced repatriation of applicants whose refugee status determination procedure was not yet complete. Moreover, a legal framework would soon be laid down to create refugee support facilities and to allow employment for refugee applicants and for those permitted to stay on humanitarian grounds, if they met certain minimum requirements.

Regarding protective measures to victims of racial discrimination, Mr. Chang noted that foreigners were entitled to the same rights as Korean nationals with regard to protection, remedies and compensation in the case of acts of discrimination. Foreigners were also provided with foreign language interpretation services and notified of available services. In addition, starting from 10 May 2007, undocumented foreigners were granted permission to stay and even work in Korea until any procedure for remedy, such as the provision of medical treatment or compensation for industrial accidents, was completed.

As for human rights education, starting in 2009, human rights education would gradually be included as a topic of study in a wide range of school subjects at the primary and middle school level. Teaching of the value of human rights would be incorporated in a comprehensive and systematic manner. Also, training programmes on the prevention of human rights violations were now being offered to law enforcement officials dealing with foreigner-related matters, Mr. Chang concluded.

Response by the Delegation to Written Questions Submitted in Advance

Responding to the list of issues submitted by the Committee in advance, the delegation said, with regard to the definition of racial discrimination in national legislation, that the Korean Constitution provided for the general principles of equality. Even though the Constitution did not make specific reference to racial discrimination, the Convention had the same legal effect as domestic laws in the Republic of Korea, and therefore there was no need for additional legislation.

Regarding comprehensive measures to eliminate discrimination against naturalized foreigners and children born from inter-ethnic marriages (so-called “mixed bloods”), the delegation said that protection was provided for those groups through the Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea, which had been in operation since last month. Taking into account possible difficulties in adapting to the new environment, the Act provided for naturalized Koreans to have the right to have access to the governmental supporting system for married migrants for three years. In order to allow early settlement of naturalized Koreans, the Government provided them with assistance for their Korean language education, education on the Korean system and culture and childcare. 

As for measures to assist children of married migrants, in May 2006, the Government had established and initiated an Educational Plan for Children from Multicultural Families. The Government also intended to establish, in 2007, a multicultural education support committee, composed of regional stakeholders, including city/provincial offices of education, universities, local governments, non-governmental organizations and mass media organizations. A base centre for multicultural education would also be set up. In addition, the Government would build an information sharing system among central and local governments, and between cities and provinces, to find effective ways to support the children of married migrants.

In May 2006, the Government established the Basic Direction and Promotion System for Policy on Foreigners, which laid out general policy guidelines for the marriage of migrants and their children, migrant workers, professional foreign manpower, permanent foreign residents, Koreans of foreign nationality and refugees. The legal basis for that policy was the Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea, which had been operational since 18 July 2007. That Act stipulated basic treatment for foreigners in Korea, which enabled them to better adapt to Korean society and to fully demonstrate their ability. Also, the Act aimed at contributing to development and social integration through the promotion of mutual understanding and respect between foreigners and Korean nationals. For the effective implementation of that Act, the Ministry of Justice would establish a five-year implementation plan and other concerned ministries would establish and operate their own implementation plans.

It was also significant that the Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice had been restructured and expanded to the Korea Immigration Service. Within the Korea Immigration Service, the Planning Evaluation Division had been established and it was charged with formulating and evaluating basic and operational plans. The Social Integration Division had also been established to take charge of social integration of foreigners, the delegation said.

As for the revision of the Immigration Control Act, the delegation said that the comprehensive review and ultimate revision of the current Immigration Control Act was behind schedule. With regard to the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers, taking into account the length of time for a refugee status determination procedure, legal grounds were expected to be formulated to allow employment under certain conditions for refugee applicants and those permitted to stay on a humanitarian basis. Also, the legal basis for permission to stay on humanitarian grounds and for the establishment of refugee support facilities would be laid down through the revision. In addition, the revised law would include provisions on the establishment of the Refugee Recognition Review Committee, extended period of appeal, and the prohibition of forcible return of refugee applicants to their country of origin while they were undergoing the refugee status determination procedure. The new Korea Immigration Act would stress the principle of respect for the human rights of the detainee and the prohibition of unfair discrimination based on gender, religion, country of origin, and others. The Act would also provide the right of appeal for detainees.

The Government was also making continuous efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Human trafficking of foreigners for prostitution was severely punished under the law, and the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office had established guidelines for the effective enforcement of the relevant laws. Along with that, since August 2001, the anti-human trafficking squad had been operational in cooperation with related agencies to perform steady crackdowns on human trafficking.

Judicial relief, such as the right to trial under the Constitution and the right to appeal to the National Human Rights Commission, were guaranteed even for illegal aliens in cases of infringement of their fundamental rights, the delegation noted. From 10 May 2007, illegal aliens gong through the relief procedure for the infringement of their human rights owing to the forced sex trade, frequent beating and abuse, and damages caused by serious crimes, were granted permission to stay and work in the Republic of Korea.

As for protections for migrant workers, the Republic of Korea had various legal and institutional devices for eliminating discrimination against foreign workers and protecting their rights and interests under the Employment Permit System. In accordance with the Constitution, the Labour Standards Act, and the National Human Rights Commission Act, the Government prohibited discrimination based on race, colour, or ethnic origin, and guaranteed equal working conditions regardless of nationality. In particular, the Act on Foreign Workers Employment provided for the protection of foreign workers and the prohibition of discrimination against them. Accordingly, labour-related laws, such as the Labour Standards Act, the Minimum Wage Act, and the Industrial Safety and Health Act, applied equally to foreign and domestic workers.

With reference to the particular vulnerability of female migrant workers, the delegation noted that individual labour-related laws, including the Labour Standards Act and the Act on Gender Equality in Employment, provided for granting special protection for all female workers, including remedies for delays in the payment of wages and abuses, as well as discriminatory treatment in the workplace. The Act on Gender Equality in Employment also had provisions on counselling and preventive education sessions on sexual harassment.

In terms of support for migrant workers, the delegation said that the Ministry of Labour was running Call Centres and Job Centres. Call Centres provided counselling services regarding wages, severance pay, dismissal, trade unions, and employment equality. Job Centres provided services such as job placement, vocational guidance, and employment insurance. The Interpretation Support Centre for Foreign Migrant Workers had also been established in June 2006 to facilitate conversation among foreign workers, their employers and officials of relevant organizations. It provided services in seven languages and helped to resolve labour disputes, and provided information on dispute settlement mechanisms. In addition, to help strengthen their vocational ability and to help them to adapt to living in Korea, prior education was provided to foreign workers who had concluded labour contracts with Korean employers, including training on the Korean language, Korean culture, the employment permit system, industrial safety, and the basic function of industries. A Migrant Workers Centre had been established with a view to facilitating the early adaptation of foreign workers to life in Korea and to protecting their rights.

Responding to reports that the leaders of the Migrant Workers Trade Union had been arrested and forcibly returned to their countries of origin, the delegation said that foreign workers with legal status were allowed freely to organize or join trade unions. Illegally staying workers might receive protection in terms of payment of wages or compensation for industrial accidents, but they did not enjoy the same basic labour rights, such as the right to organize trade unions. There was a pending lawsuit filed against the decision to turn down the Union registration submitted by the Seoul/Gyeonggi/Incheon Migrant Workers Trade Union, which consisted mainly of illegally staying workers. Whether or not illegally staying foreign workers had the right to set up a trade union would be decided by the Supreme Court’s final ruling.

As for statistics on human rights complaints relating to foreigners, from 26 November 2001 to 31 December 2006, out of a total of 2,137 complaints registered by the National Human Rights Commission, 593 complaints related to foreigners – that is, the complainant or victim was a non-national). Of those, 576 had been closed and 17 were still pending. There had been 47 cases of discrimination based on race, skin colour, and national origin.

Oral Questions Raised by the Rapporteur and Experts

ANWAR KEMAL, the Committee Expert who served as country Rapporteur for the report of the Republic of Korea, said that, having achieve remarkable successes in raising the standard of living of the Korean people, the Committee had every right to expect a very high standard of adherence to human rights and concerted efforts to eliminate racial discrimination. An overwhelming majority of the people in the Republic of Korea belonged to the Korean race and culture. Only 2 per cent of the population belonged to other ethnic groups, mainly immigrants and workers from overseas, of whom more than one third were of Chinese origin. The Republic of Korea had become a magnet for economic migrants from China, Southeast Asia and the South Asian subcontinent in search of a better life. They gravitated to relatively low paying jobs that were deemed difficult, dangerous or dirty by the Korean population. The Committee’s concern was thus focused largely on that group of overseas workers who were subject to exploitation, as well as those very few people who were the product of mixed marriages, in which one of the parents was a Korean and the other a foreigner. Discrimination against the so-called mixed bloods was a distressing problem that had been recognized and accepted at the highest level of the Korean Government.

Noting the explanation for not separately incorporating the definition of racial discrimination in Korean domestic law, in particular as the Convention itself was held to be part of domestic law, Mr. Kemal felt that, while perhaps in a technical sense that might be true, it might be advisable for purposes of clarity, emphasis, dissemination of public information and education to have separate legislation spelling out the illegality of racial discrimination. 

One of the most positive developments in recent years had been the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission in 2001. That Commission had been tasked with drafting a National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. However, Mr. Kemal noted that some non-governmental organizations had pointed out shortcomings in the consultation process between the National Human Rights Commission and non-governmental organizations. Non-governmental organizations had also said that the Plan was passive and unsatisfactory, including that it did not establish plans for problems relating to minorities and the socially disadvantaged. While the Plan had now been adopted, he would appreciate a comment from the delegation on these allegations.

The Republic of Korea was to be commended for implementing an important measure relating to the Employment Permit System to legalize employment of foreign workers. However, in that context, Mr. Kemal drew attention to allegations of restrictions on workforce mobility, and the Government’s response that such a measure was inevitable to prevent confusion and to resolve workforce shortages. Would it not be better for the economy if workers had freedom of movement and the ability to change jobs? Also, what administrative steps were being taken to address the shortage of personnel to monitor abuses against workers from overseas?

As for mixed marriages, Mr. Kemal was concerned to know the status of foreign women who were married to Korean nationals if they became separated or divorced from their husbands.

Mr. Kemal said there was a genuine fear that overemphasis on and excessive pride in the ethnic homogeneity of the Republic of Korea might be an obstacle to the realization of equal treatment and respect for foreigners and people belonging to different races and cultures. The steady influx of immigrants into the country to fill jobs that Koreans did not wish to undertake, and the low birth rate in the country (1.08 per cent), meant that the Republic of Korea needed immigrants. It also needed to make the country friendly to foreign workers. 

Other Committee Experts raised questions and asked for further information on subjects pertaining to, among other things, reports of injuries incurred by foreigners in a detention centre; a lack of clarity in the provision allowing trafficking victims to stay in the country; reports of racially motivated incidents against foreign workers; repeated complaints from refugees that they had been forced to work for longer hours and for less pay than Korean nationals; whether discrimination suffered by “mixed bloods”, which apparently was not illegal in the past, was illegal under current domestic legislation; whether the notion of ethnic homogeneity was reflected in school curricula; and why was it that, although Republic of Korea had made a declaration under article 14 some time ago, there had never been an individual complaint lodged with the Committee from that country.

Several Experts expressed discomfort about the prevalent notion in Korean culture of “pure bloodedness”. An Expert noted, that that implied, by contrast, that some people were of “impure” blood, and thus the whole concept came very close to ideas of racial superiority that the Convention, and the Committee, sought to eliminate. An Expert, in that connection, noted the need for a law specifically prohibiting organizations that propagated ideas of racial superiority.

Statement by National Human Rights Commission

A representative of the National Human Rights Commission said the Commission had been established in 2001 by the Human Rights Commission Act with the mandate of making recommendations on human rights policies, investigating and remedying cases of human rights violations, including discrimination based on race, skin colour, national and ethnic origin, and implementing human rights education and raising public awareness on human rights.

Turning to the report submitted by the Republic of Korea, the National Human Rights Commission said that the statement contained therein, that the Human Rights Commission Act provided the legal basis for declaring discriminatory practices a crime, thereby making them subject to prosecution, was not true and should be revised. The Human Rights Commission could only conduct investigations of discriminatory acts of legal bodies, organizations and private individuals and give recommendations on the basis of those investigations. But those recommendations remained non-binding.

In addition, the National Human Rights Commission had recommended to the Government that the excessive emphasis on pride in ethnic homogeneity had to be reduced, and that a human rights awareness programme that stressed understanding of societies with multiple ethnic/cultural backgrounds should be included in the official education curriculum. The report showed that that recommendation had not been followed. In that connection, the Commission had also recommended that the report provide a more specific plan of action through which support for the so-called “mixed-bloods”, as they were titled in the report, would be provided. With regard to the terminology “mixed-bloods”, when the Commission had been asked last year by the Ministry of Gender Equality and the Family to give its opinion on the draft Assistance Act for Families with Mixed-Blood, the Commission had recommended that the Ministry not use that discriminatory terminology. The Commission had also produced several television public awareness messages targeted at eliminating prejudice against this group, which were broadcast several times over the course of the past year.

Naturalized foreigners continued to suffer from social discrimination despite established laws and institutional mechanisms designed to protect them. The Commission had recommended that the report include information noting that the Korean Government had recognized and was striving to resolve that situation, and it had also recommended that the Government include actual examples of Government efforts to address social discrimination. That recommendation had not been followed either.

Response by Delegation to Oral Questions

Responding to oral questions put by Experts, on the issue of “mixed” and “pure” bloods, the delegation said that the Government had no intention whatsoever of promoting that concept. Some background was needed. Historically, Koreans had not differentiated between ethnicity and race. Faced with imperialist aggression in the first half of the twentieth century, the Republic of Korea had constructed its own concept of unitary identity. After liberation from the Japanese imperialists in 1945, the unity of the Korean nation was generally taken for granted. The strong sense of ethnic unity and nationalism had been a crucial source of inspiration during the transition to modernity in the Republic of Korea. Being sandwiched between great world powers, the development of a sense of cultural homogeneity had not been done as a means of aggression, but rather as a defence system to ward off the imposition of ideas of superiority by others. The Government understood that ideas of mono-ethnic ethnicity could lead to dangerous ideas of cultural superiority. 

Concerning the term “mixed bloods”, it was a direct translation of concepts that existed on the ground, not an endorsement of them, the delegation stressed. The Government recognized that concepts such as pure bloodedness and mixed blood were a problem to be overcome in the Republic of Korea path towards a democratic and multi-ethnic society. By putting those terms in quotes throughout the report, the intention had been to show that those terms were received ideas, and not ones that were being promoted.

As for the case of African-American workers that had asserted that they received less remuneration for the same work, the delegation said that, equal pay for equal work was guaranteed by law. However, that did not mean equal pay for the working the same hours: it was based on actual productivity. The Government was not aware of cases in which foreigners were paid less in this respect, and would appreciate receiving more information on any such claims.

Regarding the fire in the Yeosu Foreigners Detention Centre in February 2007, which had killed 10 and severely injured 17, the delegation said that, right after the incident, six Government officials had been prosecuted. On 23 July, two officers had been sentenced to two years imprisonment, three had received suspended sentences with confinement, and one was fined. Compensation had also been paid to the families of those who had died, and to the victims that had been injured. The injured had also been provided with full medical treatment. The 17 victims had left the country in March this year. In addition, some 28 detainees had been lightly injured. Twenty-one of them had since been voluntarily repatriated. In response to the incident, the Government was now working to strengthen the fire safety regulations for such facilities, and had increased the number of officials present in the facilities responsible for ensuring security and safe conditions.

Turning to issues related to foreign white collar workers, the delegation noted that for such workers there was no discrimination on the length of stay or working conditions for such workers.

As for reports that it was difficult to obtain Korean nationality under the current laws, the delegation admitted that there were stringent requirements in that regard. To minimize the impact, the Government had revised its regulations for long-term visas, making it easier to obtain permanent residence status.

As to why there had been no individual complaints lodged under the Convention’s complaint procedure, the delegation stressed that the Government widely disseminated information about the individual complaints procedures associated with the human rights treaties to which it was a party. Indeed, several individual complaints had been raised on issues including conscientious objection and national security law under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It was not believed that the lack of individual complaints under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination was owing to a lack of awareness, but the Government would nonetheless ensure that information on it would be included in human rights education and training in the future.

As for job mobility and the short length of stay (3 years) as set out in the Employment Permit System, the delegation agreed that as such permits began to expire that could result in the illegal stay of workers and that job mobility was an issue. A certain amount of flexibility had therefore been introduced on both of those issues. Foreign workers were allowed to change their place of employment four times during the course of their three-year stay. As for the period of stay, there were a number of ways to extend those terms. Also, previously, a six-month break was required between employment permits, which had now been shortened to a one-month break, if both employer and employee agreed to a re-employment contract.

As for the periodic labour inspections of workplaces to verify conditions for foreign workers, in particular with regard to hazardous work conditions, the delegation noted that, in 2005, 4,287 of the workplaces which legally employed foreigners had been inspected. Of the 1,197 workplaces which used normal-Hexan (a dangerous gas), 65 were prosecuted. 

Further Oral Questions Posed by Experts

Several Experts responded to the explanation given by the Korean delegation about the concepts of pure and mixed blood. One Expert was concerned that the Government had to be careful of how it described itself, because such descriptions had consequences, even it the Government was merely recognizing a concept that it did not itself promote. He also cautioned against the dangers of creating a fixed identity. The opposite of intolerance was not tolerance, but recognition. The Republic of Korea should ensure that it was ready to recognize the positive contribution to the country made by those of other ethnicities. An Expert encouraged the Government to take action on this issue in its educational curricula, particularly at the secondary level. Also essential would be a census on mixed marriages and their offspring. An Expert observed that, in today’s globalized world, it was no longer possible to talk in terms of unitary identities. 

An Expert wondered if there were any racial or ethnic types that received preferential treatment in the Republic of Korea, in particular in the employment context.

Replies by the Delegation

Responding to those questions and others, the delegation reiterated once again the concept of a homogenous Korean society had been given as historical background. Today the Republic of Korea was moving forward towards a multicultural society.

On barriers to ethnic Chinese living in Korea to become naturalized citizens, the delegation said that there were four criteria for naturalization: five years’ residence; adulthood; the ability to make an independent living in Korea; and a test on basic knowledge of Korean language and culture. The ethnic Chinese that had resided in the Republic of Korea for over five years, as long as they could show they could make an independent living in Korea and they were adults, should have no problem in applications for citizenship. It was the Government’s understanding that a lack of naturalization among the long-term ethnic Chinese population living in the Republic of Korea represented a matter of choice, and that the Chinese wished to retain their nationality.

Preliminary Concluding Observations

In preliminary concluding observations, ANWAR KEMAL, theCommittee Expert who served as country Rapporteur for the report of the Republic of Korea, thanked the delegation for an illuminating, excellent and dynamic series of responses, and a good quality report. 

Highlighting issues discussed, Mr. Kemal accepted the fact that, legally, the Convention was part of domestic legislation. At the same time, perhaps consideration needed to be given to the definition of racial discrimination in domestic law, because the Convention might not be readily be available to the public at large. In any case, it was an indirect way to proceed, and domestic legislation might be of help.

The term “mixed blood” had been the subject of much discussion, Mr. Kemal noted. The issue had received a lot of attention in recent years. In that connection, he noted the Presidential reception of the half American, half Korean sportsman and Super Bowl star, Hines Ward, in 2006. When Mr. Hines was received in the Blue House by the President and the First Lady, the President had commented “I wonder if Mr. Ward would have had as much success if he had been raised here”. A high-level acknowledgement of discrimination against such offspring represented an important first step to changing the prejudices of the people, and in cultivating in them a respect for persons who looked different from the norm. Foreign exchange programmes for students, and more scholarships to foreign students would be another manner to promote cultural exchanges and to allay cultural misunderstandings.

As for the five-year National Plan on Discrimination, it should not be set in stone. It should be allowed to evolve, Mr. Kemal stressed. In developing it, the Government should be in touch with the National Human Rights Commission, and as many non-governmental organizations as possible, as well as the people affected.

The treatment of migrants and migrant workers had received a lot of attention in their discussions. One of the important objectives of the Government, taking into account the principle of mutual benefit, should be for such workers to have security of tenure, so that they could not be expelled after three years automatically. It would probably be more humanitarian to give greater concessions to them. In that connection, Mr. Kemal acknowledged the delegation’s statement that this was an area that was under constant review and reform.


For use of the information media; not an official record



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 Japan

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Japan Times editorial Oct 6: Japan’s foreign workers


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 Japan

Hi Blog. A lot of what we’ve been saying here all along…
The Japan Times, Monday, Oct. 6, 2008

Japan’s foreign workers

Japanese companies are not as Japanese as they once were. Japanese banks are taking over the assets of failed Wall Street investments firms, of course, but in addition to those economic assets, Japanese companies have been obtaining another asset — foreign workers. Statistics released two months ago by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare found that the number of foreign workers at Japanese firms took a huge leap from 2007 to 2008, rising by nearly one-third to a total of 330,000, the largest number ever. This may not constitute a large percentage overall, but it signals a large shift in attitude.

The rise in the number of foreign workers indicates the beginning of quantitative and qualitative changes in the working environment in Japan. If the attitude toward work has been changing among younger Japanese, the addition of foreign workers will surely accelerate those changes and add new ones. The government’s proposal earlier this year to progressively allow more foreign students and workers in the next few years will ensure that the nature and structure of many Japanese companies will evolve in the future to accommodate and integrate them.

Part of the upsurge in numbers can be partially attributed to new requirements in reporting employees. Finding so many more workers than expected may not have been the government’s intention when it set out to check the name, nationality, address and visa status of each foreign worker at every workplace, but it is one of the interesting results. Perhaps the numbers were vastly underreported in the past, but clearly the number of foreign workers is rising much more quickly than expected. Even with many firms not yet finalizing their reports on foreign workers, it appears that a great deal of change has already taken place.

Surveys taken in 2007 also show that even more of these workers than in the past received education in Japan. A larger percentage of foreign workers than ever now find work after graduating from a Japanese college or special training school. More and more graduates are deciding to stay on in Japan, thousands every year, with more workers going into nonmanufacturing firms and nearly a third staying on as translators and interpreters. The government proposal this summer called for increases of foreign students to nearly 1 million by 2025. Many of those future students are likely to remain to work in Japan.

The number of regular foreign employees has also leaped to its highest level ever, giving evidence that the new workers are not merely here for a few years, but intend to stay much longer.

More than one-third of all foreign workers are listed as heads of household with contract worker or temporary worker status. This suggests that many of these workers are starting to call Japan home. Workers are still coming over for short-term work, but even those short-termers are working here for increasingly longer periods of time.

Having all workers documented by companies and reported to the government signals a more responsible approach than the often-exploitative conditions for many foreign workers in the past. Though the total percentage still remains small, these workers are integrating more deeply into Japanese workplaces and society. That integration demands better conditions and a more concerted effort to find ways of successful and productive integration. Finding the right way forward on this issue is rather tricky, but can be expedited by focusing on the essentials of work and health.

First of all, it is essential that past problems with foreign workers be resolved. The importing of “trainees” and “interns,” terms often used to cover up exploitative and even illegal work practices in the past, needs closer oversight. Foreign workers should also be enrolled in social insurance, including pensions and health care, on an equal basis with Japanese workers. Contracts, too, need to be better negotiated and clearly written. When contracts are broken, on an individual or large-scale basis, foreign workers should be assured of the same rights as Japanese.

If the government is serious about letting the number of foreign immigrants rise, then internationally accepted working practices will have to be gradually introduced alongside traditional Japanese work customs. Japan is still far behind other industrialized countries in many aspects, but this will change. Estimates of a 15 percent foreign workforce in the United States and a slightly lower percentage in the European Union show that globalization of the workplace is arriving more slowly in Japan than in other countries.

That should not be cause for accelerating the process, nor for excessive caution, but should be simply understood as another stage of Japan’s economic and social development. Development brought through foreign workers will surely be to Japan’s benefit, even as the very concept of Japan becomes more diverse and participatory than in the past.


Jerry Halvorsen on suspicious bank treatment for receiving money from overseas while NJ


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 Japan
From: Jerry Halvorsen, Sapporo
Subject: What happened this morning with thanks for the expert advice and useful links!
Date: October 8, 2008 5:19:47 PM JST

Yesterday, October 7, at about 4:30 p.m., I received a phone call from my bank requesting that I show up in person and present ID and a reason for receiving funds from overseas. I said that I was busy and that there should be no need to do anything as the amount was not enough to worry about. I was told that the bank would not release the funds unless I came in person. I said you’re mistaken, please check. The clerk replied that he couldn’t because the bank was closed and that I should come in the morning. Again I asked that they release my funds without my being there and again I was told this was not possible.

I was at the Hokuto Branch of Hokuyo Bank (1-1 Kawashimo 3 jo 4 chome, Shiroishi-ku, 003-0863 phone: 011-872-3151) today, October 8, before 9:00 a.m. and was the first to visit the foreign exchange area when it opened. I was again asked to show ID and state the reason for the transfer and I refused. Instead I asked if everyone who transfered money was asked to show ID or was it just foreigners? I was told that it is policy to ask everyone, but I have no way to confirm that.

I then asked to see the bank’s policy and a copy of any applicable laws in writing. I also said it was my understanding that for any bank transfers under 5 million yen that no other special ID or in person appearance was needed. I said that he should confirm that with someone higher up and then hurry up and transfer my funds so I could go to work.

The desk clerk, unfortunately I didn’t get his name, but I think it was Kato, then called the main office in Sapporo. I sat in my chair and read a novel. After a few minutes of conversation he said that I was indeed correct and that there would be a transfer of funds by 10:30 a.m.

I said that’s not good enough anymore. I was inconvenienced by having to come down here from work without just cause and that I wanted a formal apology in writing from the bank. I also wanted to make sure this doesn’t happen again, to me, or any other customer, foreign or Japanese, and that the bank endeavor to better train its employees in the law because apparently they haven’t had very good training until now. I said it should not be up to me to instruct them and I have better things to do with my time. The desk jockey said he couldn’t issue an apology other than his own personal regret at his ignorance of the law. I said find me someone who can because I’m not leaving without one. I then went back to reading my novel.

Frantic discussions and phone calls followed. A few minutes later, I was told the branch manager, Tomoyuki Nishimura, would see me. A few seconds after that a harried looking Nishimura-san escorted me into his office. I gave my spiel about wanting a formal written apology and assurances that the bank would better train its employees in the law and that it was unacceptable that they would not know better. Nishimura-san, expressed his regret and promised that he would personally conduct a training session this evening and inform me of the results. I asked that he put that in writing. He demurred and begged me to accept his verbal apology and promised to call me tomorrow, October 9, to verify that the training session had taken place. I said that I have been a customer of this bank for over 25 years and had never been subject to such treatment I was appalled at the lack of knowledge on the part of its employees. I again requested a written apology and again was asked to accept a verbal one.

As it was nearing 10:00 a.m. and time when I had to leave to get my second period class, I reluctantly said that this time it was acceptable and that I expect much better service in the future and also expected that no customer would be subject to such checks again. After much bowing and scraping from pretty much the entire staff, I made my exit. I got to my class on time and checked my bank balance as soon as I finished teaching. The money was indeed in my account and I had not needed to do anything (other than complain).

It was good to complain and I hope that some good will result. I am still considering sending a formal letter of complaint depending on what Nishimura-san says tomorrow. As of now, I am leaning toward sending the letter to Hokuto Branch and to the main office and also doing some more follow-up to see that this is not just Hokuto Branch policy, but any Hokuyo Bank. I’ll probably keep on nagging until I reach someone higher up than branch manager. I’ll let you know how it works out.

Feel free to edit and post this if you feel it would help someone else. Again, my thanks for the advice. Jerry


From: Jerry Halvorsen
Subject: Second talk with Hokuto Branch manager Nishimura
Date: October 9, 2008 11:15:37 AM JST

Hokuyo Bank Hokuto Branch manager Kazuyuki (my mistake, not Tomoyuki) Nishimura called me this morning around 9:00. He reported that he had a meeting with all employees present yesterday afternoon and that they discussed my complaint and that all employees were instructed in the proper procedures for customers who receive funds from overseas or who transfer or exchange funds in different currencies at their branch. He thanked me for taking the time to visit yesterday, as if I had a choice, and promised that there would no more trouble in the future. I thanked him and said that I was happy that the Hokuto Branch had undergone some necessary training, but that as far as I was concerned it didn’t end the issue.

I then asked that he contact the main office and inform them that since they had obviously failed in their training that I would like an apology from them also. He said the main office was aware of what took place yesterday and approved the training session and would that please be sufficient this time. I said sorry, but that is not good enough. I want proof that the home office is aware that they made a mistake and that it needs to be corrected by proper training for all its managers and employees. Hokuto Branch has done a good thing, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. Nishimura-san said that he would get back to me with the response of the home office.

Finally, I said that I did not wish to see this problem escalate but at the same time the responsibility of the headquarters is at least as great, if not more so, as that of the Hokuto Branch. If the main office did not contact me then I would have to go to them. I also said that the substance of the conversation yesterday and the one today would be posted on the Internet and if I did go to the main office I would not go alone but I would bring the media with me. I am now waiting for the bank’s response. Jerry



From:   Jerry Halvorsen
Subject: Apology received from Hokuyo main office 
Date: October 9, 2008 5:19:21 PM JST

I just received an apology by phone from Mr. Kaoru Yanagihara, the person in charge of the Hokuyo customer service section (okyuyakusan sodan chitsu). He said that on behalf of everyone in the Hokuyo organization he was very sorry for the trouble I experienced yesterday at the Hokuto Branch. He also said that with the merger next week between Sapporo Bank and Hokuyo Bank that there will be even more employees coming into the Hokuyo system in the near future. He asked that I accept his promise that shortly after the merger takes place, he will send a memo to all the branch managers informing them of the respective laws regarding currency transactions and that they are not to unduly bother customers when not legally required to do so. He promised to tell me when this occurred and stated that he would most likely be able to do so near the end of next month when the merger business has had time to settle down. I said that would be sufficient and that I was looking forward to receiving this news. In the meantime, he said he informed the Hokuyo officers of the action taken yesterday with the training session at the Hokuto Branch. I thanked him and asked that I be informed of any further developments. That’s where we stand for now. If by December 1 I do not hear anything, I will again contact Mr. Yanagihara and Mr. Nishimura and see what has been done in regards to training.  However,  if any readers have any similar complaints about treatment from Hokuyo or Sapporo Bank, don’t hesitate to contact Kaoru Yanagihara at the Hokuyo Main Branch, telephone 011-261-1311.   All of my conversations took place entirely in Japanese, but there are English speaking staff available. Jerry


COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened.  It’s happened to me too, and to others just for exchanging money while looking NJ/having a connection with a NJ-looking name at Japanese banks.  Even when the amount is far below amounts that would legally trigger alarms for potential money laundering.  Don’t tolerate customer service that treats NJ customers as suspicious just because they’re bringing money to a bank, I say.  Ask for the bank rules governing the situation in writing and see if you’re an exception or not.  For starters.  Debito

REFERENTIAL LINKS: (see Olaf’s entry)


Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information Association lists “No Foreigner” hotels on their official website, 2007


 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 Japan

Hi Blog.  As a matter of record, here is a notification I received from a reader last year regarding the Tourist Information Fukushima website, an official prefectural government site, which offered information about sights and stays in the area.  They allowed — even publicized — hotels that expressly refused accommodation to NJ guests (I called a few of them to confirm, and yes, they don’t want NJ guests due to the owner’s own classic fears — language barriers, no Western beds, a fear that NJ might steal, or noncommunication in case of emergency or trouble).  As the emails I received from TIF later on indicate (it took them some time to get back to me), they have since instructed the hotels that what they are doing is in violation of hotel laws, and have corrected the TIF website to remove the option of refusing foreigners.  

Thanks, I guess.  Now why a government agency felt like offering hotels an exclusionary option in the first place is a bit stupefying.  

Given October 2008’s GOJ hotel survey indicating that 27% of respondents didn’t want NJ staying on their premises, this may be but the tip of the iceberg.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

From: TH
Subject: Fukushima – discriminatory hotels
Date: September 12, 2007 7:36:54 PM JST

Hi Debito,

A friend told me about Fukushima Prefecture’s English tourism website, which bizarrely lists 142 hotels and categories for them including “Acceptance of foreigners” and “Admittance of foreigners.” I don’t understand the difference between the two categories, but many hotels have one or both of these categories checked. The accommodation website is

I looked at all 142 accommodations listed on the website. The 35 listed below bar foreigners in one or both of the above categories.

I think this kind of categorization is completely unacceptable, even for a rural area like Fukushima. 

I was also wondering whether you might be willing to look into this. I think you would be the best person given your tact and expertise. 

Please let me know what you think. 


Hotel & Ristorante Irregarro

Hotel Tawaraya

Nihon Kanko Hotel

Hotel Iseya

Hotel Higenoie


Hotel Tamagoyu, Inc.

Anahara Hot Spring Izumiya

Hotel Kajikaso

Oku-tsuchiyu Hot Spring, Hotel Kotaki

Guesthouse Tanno

Hotel Fukushima

Matsukawa Masuya Hotel

Hotel Shinobuso

Hotel Fukushima Green Palece

The Garden Hotel Shokeien

Koshi Highland Fujiya Hotel

Wafutei Morinoyu

Resort Hotel Yuzuru

Guesthouse Yamari

Hotel Minatoya

Hotel Fujiya

Business Hotel Denen

Business Hotel Orient

Hotel Nakanoyu

Hotel Oshima

Mizuho Hotel


Hotel Horai


Kagamiishi Daiichi Hotel Kagamiishikan

Toraya Shinkan

Hotel Kashiwa

Spa Hotel Sumirekan

Tamayama Hot Spring Fujiya Hotel



From: Arudou Debito

Sent: Friday, September 14, 2007 10:17 AM
Subject: 有道 出人より転送します。Fukushima – discriminatory hotels
(社)福島県観光連盟の加藤さま、有道 出人(あるどう でびと)です。きょうのお電話のこと、誠にありがとうございました。



 お多忙のところで申し訳ございませんが、宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人



Subject: Re: 有道 出人より転送します。Fukushima – discriminatory hotels

Date: September 14, 2007 10:32:07 AM JST



あるどう でびと様 


Subject: 調査状況について(中間報告)

Date: October 1, 2007 2:49:25 PM JST







(福島県観光連盟 総務情報担当 齊藤)



Subject: 当ホームページにおける外国人宿泊可否表示について

Date: September 14, 2007 5:26:58 PM JST


ほんものの旅 オーダーメード うつくしま。
社団法人 福島県観光連盟
【総務・情報課長】 齊藤登
Ph 024-521-3812 fax024-521-3811


From: (福島県観光連盟 総務・情報課長 齊藤登)
Subject: 当ホームページにおける外国人宿泊可否表示に関する件(ご回答)
Date: October 22, 2007 7:35:30 PM JST




● 外国人を拒否するようなことはまったくしていない。24軒

● 外国人を拒否してはいないが、英語ができる人がいないので、外国人を積極的には受け入れていない。8軒

● 廃業や連絡とれず 3軒





(福島県観光連盟 総務・情報課長 齊藤登)


Oyako-Net street demo regarding parenting rights after divorce in Japan Oct 26 1PM Ebisu



Hi everyone!

We will meet at Ebisu-Kouen on Oct 26th!

THE STREET DEMONSTRATION to establish parenting rights after divorce -part 2

We will have another street demonstration in Tokyo since the first demonstration in July. Please come and join us! Music, Dancing and other performances are welcome !

When: Oct 26th, 2008 meet at 1:00 pm/ start at 1:30pm. Where: Meet at Ebisu-Kouen, Shibuya and walk to Kodomo no Shiro (Children’s Castle), Aoyama.

※Ebisu-Kouen (1-19-11 Ebishu Nishi) 

5 minutes walk from Ebisu-Station West Exit.


Who: The Nationwide Network for Realizing Vistation in Japan ( The Oyako-Net) Tel 042-573-4010 (Space F)

Ayumi Temlock


Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column on how “gaijin” concept destroys Japan’s rural communities


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 Japan

THE JAPAN TIMES Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008
Gaijin mind-set is killing rural Japan

JUST BE CAUSE Column 8  DIRECTOR’S CUT, with deleted paragraph reinstated and links to sources.  Article inspired after several lengthy conversations with James Eriksson of Monbetsu, Hokkaido, quoted below.

‘Gaijin’ mind-set is killing rural Japan

Allow me to conclude my trilogy of columns regarding the word “gaijin” this month by talking about the damage the concept does to Japanese society. That’s right — damage to Japanese society.

I previously mentioned the historical fact that “gaijin” once also applied to Japanese — to “outsiders” not from one’s neighborhood. But as Japan unified and built a nation-state, it made its “volk” all one “community,” for political and jingoistic reasons. Anyone considered to be Japanese became an “insider,” while the rest of the world became “outsiders,” neatly pigeonholed by that contentious term “gaijin.”

However, old habits die hard, and “outsiderdom” still applies to Japanese. Even if not specifically labeled “gaijin,” the effect is the same: If Japanese aren’t from “around here,” they don’t belong, and it’s destroying Japan’s rural communities.

You don’t choose your ‘hood

Here’s the dynamic: Postwar Japanese society has been surprisingly mobile. Japan’s high-speed growth and corporate culture sucked people to the cities and overseas. Afterward, people found themselves unable to return to their rural hometowns because they no longer “belonged” there.

(Referential links here and here)

Consider this phenomenon in microcosm at the school level. Pluck a kid out of class awhile, then witness the trouble “fitting back in.” The readjustment problems of Japanese students who leave the fold, then find themselves socially isolated, are well-reported (there’s even an established term: “kikoku shijo“). And that’s after only a year or two’s absence.

It’s worse for adults. Whole classes of occupations do round-robin transfers throughout Japan. If they take their families along (called “tenkin zoku”), their kids speak of solitary childhoods unable to make friends. To avoid this, fathers often choose “tanshin fu’nin,” where the husband lives apart from his wife and children for years, so as not to disrupt the kids’ schooling. Thus transplanting in Japan is so painful a prospect that people break up their families.

People also move around later in life. Some want that quiet country home away from the rat race. Others want to be closer to their grandchildren, or have their grown-up kids closer to them during retirement. Yet after moving in they often find the locals distant.

“I know some ‘newcomers’ who have waited 20 years for someone to make them feel welcome,” says James Eriksson, a 16-year resident of Monbetsu, a remote seaport city in eastern Hokkaido. “It’s tough in Japan. There’s no Welcome Wagon. In Canada, when my parents moved to a small town 40 years ago, within two days somebody dropped by with flowers and coupons. Then once a month for a year Welcome Wagon had meetings for them to make contacts. People also invited them out. Thanks to that, my parents still live there.

“But imagine a new arrival in Hokkaido being invited to the local Rotary or Lion’s Club. Not likely. Newcomers need to feel welcomed, be included, invited to take part in things — not feel like the perpetual stranger in the room.”

Eriksson concluded, “You can always tell the tenkin zoku here in Monbetsu. They don’t tend their gardens. It’s a great metaphor for how they don’t feel like investing in their community. But without newcomers relocating here, Monbetsu will continue to shrink.”

Monbetsu is but one example.  As business and industry has concentrated in the urban areas (called “ikkyoku shuuchuu”), all of Japan’s rural prefectures are watching in alarm as they lose people to the big cities:  Since 2000, Tokyo’s population has risen by 3%, Nagoya by 2.5%, while the Kansai region stays at equilibrium.  However, rural regions like Hokkaido (-1%), Tohoku and Shikoku (-2%) are watching people flee, and property values drop by double digits (Hokuriku by a stunning 35%).

Can’t even give it away

In fact, according to the New York Times (June 3), Hokkaido towns Shibetsu and Yakumo are offering land for free if people build and live on it. Yet takers are few. Why bother if “outsiders” have to ingratiate themselves like stray cats, having no say for decades in how locals run things? No wonder people favor urban communities where everyone else is “from somewhere else.”

I know this firsthand because I once lived in a small Hokkaido farming town of 10,000 souls. It was only possible to make friends and get politically involved because 40 percent of the population were bed-town newcomers. Woe betide if you lived in the surrounding towns, however.

Here’s how bad it’s getting: The Economist (Aug 24, 2006) mentioned the village of Ogama, Ishikawa Pref., where everyone is above retirement age, and people are too elderly even to farm. The plan is — after everyone moves out and takes their ancestral graves with them — that Ogama’s beautiful valley will become a dump for industrial waste. Thus, in a nation where 40 percent of rural residents are older than 65, whole histories are winking out of existence, fine old structures are collapsing from lack of maintenance, and arable land is going fallow. Or worse.

Treating Japanese as ‘gaijin’

People are trying to reverse the trend, but again, exclusionary Japanese communities are strangling themselves. I witnessed this last July at a Hokkaido forum I emceed near Niseko, the site of a tourism and property boom thanks to Australian skiers and developers.

The forum launched Takadai Meadows ( ), an organic farm run by Japanese and non-Japanese (NJ). T.M.’s aim is to revitalize the local economy, bringing urbanites out to the countryside for fresh air, healthy locally-grown food — and perhaps even a pastoral home and lifestyle.

Attendees, including dozens of local farmers, were receptive but leery. I realized it wasn’t due to the “foreigner factor.” It was the generic “outsider factor.” During the Q&A, a newcomer Japanese farmer who had retired here many years ago said he still felt unwelcome. Why? Because despite all those years and investments he was still an “outsider.” A Japanese “gaijin.”

This must stop, for Japan’s sake. And believe it or not, the “real gaijin” are in the best position to show the way.

Save us from ourselves

Some of the most culturally fluent and conservation-minded individuals in Japan are not from “around here.” They are immigrants.

Consider author Alex Kerr, who preserves old houses and warns against public works concreting over Japan’s rich past. Or naturalist C.W. Nicol, columnist for this newspaper, who buys up Nagano forests before the loggers arrive. Or viticulturist Bruce Gutlove, who has helped revitalize rural Tochigi by running Coco Farm and Winery. Or Tyler Lynch, of Kamesei Ryokan in Chikuma, Nagano Prefecture, who seeks to save his local onsen town from crapulence and decrepitude. Or Sayuki, Japan’s first Caucasian geisha, who wants to preserve geisha traditions while opening things up to the modern world. Or Anthony Bianchi, twice-elected city councilor in Inuyama, Aichi Pref., who wants people to discover his under-promoted city, which is steeped in history.

Newcomers they all are, but they are also die-hard fans-cum-curators of things Japanese, trying to save ancient structures and cultures from public-pork-barrel, cookie-cutter “modernizers.” Many come from societies where centuries-old buildings are commonplace, so they know the value of their upkeep. They don’t fall for the scam of recycling homes and mortgages every 20 years, and have an innate appreciation of time-worn wood and stone over sterile concrete kitsch.

Non-Japanese as net gain

Best of all, NJ newcomers represent two absolute pluses. The first is as a repopulater. A native Japanese moving from one place to another is zero-sum: one community gets, another loses. Bring in an immigrant, however, and the entire country net-gains a new taxpayer.

The other boon is cultural. NJ aren’t necessarily culturally hidebound by the notion that “newcomers should shut up and wait to be invited in.” They’re also less likely to swallow the excuse of lack of precedent, i.e. “it can’t work because we’ve never done it here before.” Fortunately, NJ aren’t always expected to be familiar with or follow “the rules” anyhow.

These opportunities, plus the “can-do,” “make-do,” and “muddle-through” attitudes of many immigrants, make them invaluable for revitalization.

Friends must help friends break bad habits. Your friendly neighborhood “gaijin” should speak out against the word and the concept itself. “Gaijin,” in the sense of “outsiders who don’t belong,” is hurting Japan, because it ultimately affects Japanese too. Create the Welcome Wagon, not the Gaijin Cart.

Readers, lead the charge. Don’t accept “gaijin” outsider status. Open Japan and its communities to newcomers, regardless of where they’ve come from. Otherwise this very rich society, in every sense of the word, will continue to wither despite itself.


Debito Arudou is co-author of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan.” Send comments and story ideas

10月5日朝日新聞(朝)「後絶たぬ『外国人お断り』」Oct 5’s Asahi on NJ discrimination and what to do about it


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 Japan
Hi Blog. Had a couple of telephone interviews with the Asahi this week, and some quotes got incorporated into a tidy big article on discrimination against NJ in Japan in what should be done about it. Have a read. Good illustrations too — get the point across. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(click on images to expand in your browser)


FCCJ Kansai Professor’s Workshop Sat Nov 15, Doshisha Univ for Profs who want to use journalistic techniques in class


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 Japan
Hi Blog. An interesting workshop coming up in the Kansai, forwarding from Eric Johnston of the Japan Times. Sponsored by the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Dear All, We’ve finally set the date for the FCCJ Kansai Professor’s Workshop, so mark your calendar. It will be held on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15th, from 3 to 5 p.m., at the Imadegawa Campus of Doshisha University. See details below.

WHEN: Saturday, November 15th, 3-5 p.m.,
WHERE : Imadegawa Campus, Doshisha University (map will be provided later)
COST: 3,000 yen/person (includes tea and coffee)

PROGRAM (tentative)
I. Welcome and Introduction by Eric Johnston, The Japan Times, Osaka bureau, and member of the Scholarship Committee
II. Explanation of FCCJ by Martyn Williams (Tokyo bureau chief, IDG, and 2007-08 President of FCCJ)
III. Explanation of the role of the FCCJ Scholarship Committee, including the Scholarship Fund that is available to interested students and the Student Internship Program
IV. Workshop Exercise, including mock press conference
V. General Discussion –Ethical and Practical Issues facing foreign correspondents today
VI. Wrap Up

Afterwards, those who wish can join us for dinner and drinks in central Kyoto.

Please let me know as soon as possible if you can attend, and please let any other interested professors know about the workshop. As FCCJ is a journalism organization, we’re especially interested in reaching out to following types of educators and hope they will attend:

1) Those teaching journalism
2) Those teaching media studies or media ethics
3) Those who teach English or other subjects, but are interested in introducing investigative journalism techniques into their classroom presentations.
4) Those who teach English or other subjects, but wish to make contact with FCCJ journalists for professional reasons.

If you have any other questions, please contact me at japantimes AT sannet DOT ne DOT jp

Eric Johnston, Deputy Editor, The Japan Times.

Linguapax Conference Symposium Univ of Tokyo Sun Oct 26


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 Japan
Hi Blog. Just to let you know that there’s a free conference at the University of Tokyo Komaba Campus at the end of October. Called Linguapax Asia, they’re an annual event on media, language, semantics, and their effects on society; well worth your time.  And yes, I’ll be speaking there, about propaganda in Japan’s media as concerns NJ in Japan. (I’ll be my second speech for them — Download the paper I did for them in Word format here, and the Powerpoint presentation here.)  Do consider attending if you have time that Sunday. Just register in advance at the links below. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Linguapax Asia

Symposium 2008, Oct. 26 (Sunday) 
University of Tokyo
Language & Propaganda
Program: Word  PDF

Working Session 2007
University of Tokyo
Language, Religion, and Ethnicity
 PDF  Word

Symposium 2006
University of Tokyo
Who Owns Language?

Symposium 2005
Embassy of Canada, Tokyo
Language in Society/Classroom
Proceedings (PDF)

Symposium 2004
United Nations University
Language Diversity/Language Ecology

Linguapax Asia works in partnership with the Linguapax Institute, a non-governmental organization affiliated with UNESCO and located in Barcelona, SpainIn its role as the Asian associate of the Linguapax Institute, Linguapax Asia carries out the objectives of both the Linguapax Institute and UNESCO’s Linguapax Project with a special focus on Asia and the Pacific Rim. These objectives are:

  • Promoting bilingual and multilingual education

  • Elaborating new approaches to language instruction that facilitate intercultural understanding

  • Fostering respect of linguistic diversity and linguistic heritage

  • Supporting initiatives to preserve and revitalize endangered languages

  • Raising awareness of the links between language, identity, human rights, and the quest for peace

Participation in Linguapax Asia activities is open to the general public as well as to those engaged in academic research. 

                                  Direct inquiries to


The Aso Cabinet gaffes start from day one: Minister retracts “ethnically homogeneous Japan” remark


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 Japan
Hi Blog. As AdamW sent yesterday, the Aso Cabinet is already starting to show the shortsightedness of a “thoroughbred” cabinet (no fewer than four cabinet members are related to former Prime Ministers!)–with a standard comment about Japan’s monocultural nature being taken to task at last (in the bad old days, i.e. last year, this would probably be let slide without much comment).

Looks as though there is a good legacy happening here for a change. PM Obuchi left us with an anthem and flag which is used to beat the Left over the head and enforce patriotism. Koizumi left us with increased surveillance of NJ. Abe left us with an education system which legally requires people to be taught to love their country. But Fukuda has left us with a resolution that works in our favor for a change… Read on. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

LEAD: Nakayama apologizes over gaffes, opposition demands dismissal+
Sep 26 2008 02:30 AM US/Eastern
TOKYO, Sept. 26 (AP) – (Kyodo)—(EDS: RECASTING, ADDING INFO)New transport minister Nariaki Nakayama on Friday apologized over his controversial remarks that included calling Japan “ethnically homogenous,” in face of criticism triggered not only from opposition parties but from ruling party members.While Nakayama denied resigning over his verbal gaffes, made just a day after he assumed the post under Prime Minister Taro Aso, opposition parties called for his dismissal and said they will question Aso’s responsibility for appointing the minister. Yukio Hatoyama, secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, called the remarks extremely rude, telling reporters a mere retraction of them is not enough and that Nakayama “needs to give up his post, not the remarks.”

Similar previous remarks by lawmakers that Japan is a mono-racial society drew protests mainly from the Ainu indigenous people in Japan.

Mizuho Fukushima, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said, “Is he ignorant of a Diet resolution which all the members (of both houses of the Diet) supported?” referring to the parliamentary resolution that urged the government to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people and to upgrade their status as they have led underprivileged lives under the past assimilation policy.

Fukushima said her party will pursue Aso’s responsibility for appointing a person who is insensitive to human rights to the Cabinet.

Nakayama offered an apology in a news conference Friday, saying, “My recognition is that the Ainu are an indigenous people with various distinctive points.”

He also apologized for another remark in media interviews about those who have engaged in years of struggle against the construction of Narita airport, calling them “more or less squeaky wheels, or I believe they are (the product) of bad postwar education.”

“I’m very sorry for causing much trouble. I retract the comment,” he told a press conference Friday, while refusing to step down to take responsibility over the remarks.

Members of the New Komeito party, the coalition partner of Aso’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, also complained about the remarks, with Diet affairs chief Yoshio Urushibara saying, “They are not something that a minister should say.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told a regular press conference that he told ministers during an informal session following the day’s official Cabinet meeting “to be careful not to make remarks that would cause misunderstanding among the public.”


Speaking this Saturday at Peace as a Global Language Conference, Seisen University, Tokyo


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 Japan
Hi Blog.  Just wanted to call your attention to a conference this coming weekend at Seisen University, Tokyo.  The Peace as a Global Language Conference.  I’ve been to (and spoken at) more than half the conferences since they started earlier this decade, and I think they’ll be worth your time.

Sat Sep 27, 11AM-11:50, Peace as a Global Language Conference 2008:  Arudou Debito speaks on ”NJ:  From Visitor to Resident”, Seisen University, Tokyo.  More details:

7th Annual Conference

Peace as a Global Language
September 27-28, 2008

‘Imagining Ourselves in a World of Peace!

Seisen University,

Tokyo, Japan

Welcome to the website for the 7th Annual Peace as a Global Language Conference. We are delighted once again to be invited back to Seisen University – the third time that the conference has been held in this location.

PGL conferences began in 2002, and have quickly become an established part of the yearly calendar for students, teachers and activists. We encourage anyone interested in the following areas to join us as presenters, participants or conference volunteers.

  • peace
  • the environment
  • human rights
  • global issues
  • intercultural communication
  • values,
  • health
  • gender
  • media literacy,
  • foreign language education focusing on global issues.

The theme of this year’s conference will be:

Imagining Ourselves in a World of Peace!


Please do join us in celebrating PGLVII and share in the joy of contributing to peace and the advancement of global studies.

Presentation Schedule 2008  

Sat. Sep.27

9:00-  Registration

9:30-9:45  Opening


  • Human Rights
    • Presenter: Matthew Sanders (Room.1)
  • Break through of that Critical Barrier…Peace Education
    • Presenters: Hanaoka, Kusube (English/Japanese) (Room.2)
  • Poetry and Pedagogy
    • Presenter: Hugh Nicoll (Room.3)


  • Presumptous Pronouns: Examining Our Way of Life
    • Presenter: Philip Adamek (Room.1)
  • From Visitor to Resident
    • Presenter: Arudou Debito (Room 2)
  • Hidden Language: Hatha Yoga (M Lounge)
    • Presenter: Moira Izatt (Room 3)

12:00-12:50 Lunch Break (with poster sessions) for both days

            Poster session I

  • “Perigo Minas!” – Taking a Stand at Our School Festival
    • Presenter: Kirk Johnson and students from Kanda University of International Studies

13.00-14.50: Keynote I

Peace Boat: Sailing for a New World
Tatsuya Yoshioka


  • Stereotypes Everywhere
    • Presenter: Nicholas Degrego (Room 1)
  • Gender and Japanese Language”
    • Presenter: Barry Kavanagh (English/Japanese) (Room 2)
  • EFL Topics with Tibet
    • Presenters: Itoi, Inose (English/Japanese) (Room 3)
  • Using Cross-Cultural Idioms and Literature to Introduce Peace Studies”
    • Presenter: Charles Montgomery (Room 4)
  • The Global Nine Campaign” (English/Japanese)
    • Presenters: Meri Joyce and others (Room 5)


  • Danger: Patriotism
    • Presenter: John Spiri (Room 1)
  • Combining Peace Education with Business English
    • Presenter: Anthony Torbert (Room 2)
  • Global Issues in EFL around the World”
    • Presenter: Kip Cates
  • Am I Japanese or American?
    • Presenter: Yujiro Shimogori (Room 4)
  • The PGL 2007 Conference: A Report on the PGL Committe-Student-University Staff Collaboration
    • Presenters: Craig Smith, Yuiki Takenoshita, Junichiro Kawaguchi, and Albie Sharpe


17:30-19:30 PARTY!


Sun. Sep.28 

9:00- Registration


  • Using Student Activation and Social Awareness
    • Presenter: Kirk Johnson (Room 1)
  • Rm.2 The Wiki As A Collaborative Tool for teaching Global Issues
    • Presenters: Daniel Douglas, Barbara Stein


  • Promoting International Understanding through Asian Youth Forum
    • Presenter: Kip Cates (Room 1)
  • Using Songs in Language Class for a Global Understanding
    • Presenter: Mercedes Castro Yague (Room 2)
  • Support freedom of speech on NORTH-WEST of the Russia
    • Presenter: Rebrov Alexei (Room 3)
  • Citizens Initiatives for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education with an ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) Perspective”
    • Presenters: Kazuya Asakawa / Motohiko Nagaoka (Room 4)


12:00-12:50 Lunch Break (with poster sessions) for both days

            Poster session II

  • War Violence in the Media
    • Presenter: Josef Messerkliger

13:00-14:50: Keynote II

“Yasukuni” Documentary
directed by Li Ying


  • Panel Discussion on Yasukuni (Room 1)
  • Daitobunka University Education Dept. Fujita (Room 2)
  • Peace Pilgrim (Video & talk)
    • Presenter: Charles Kowalski (Room 3)
  • Art, social responsibility and activism
    • Presenter: Jane Joritz-Nakagawa (Room 4)


  • Light from the Shadows, Hiroshima Nagasaki Film
    • Presenter: Robert Kowalczyk (Room 1)
  • Daitobunka University British & American Literature
    • 2 graduate students (Room 2)
  • Peace Pilgrim (Video & talk)
    • Presenter: Charles Kowalski (Room 3)
  • “Video message project building a bridge between the Philippines and Japan”
    • Presenter: Naoko Jin(BRIDGE FOR PEACE) (Room 4)




More details, including information on how to get there, at


Japan Times: GOJ Panel begins process to rectify Ainu woes


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 Japan

Panel begins process to rectify Ainu woes 

The Japan Times August 12, 2008

By MASAMI ITO, Staff writer
Courtesy AW
The government panel on Ainu policies held its first meeting Monday, aiming to look into the lives and discrimination the indigenous group faces and come up with remedial action.    

The group, headed by Koji Sato, a professor emeritus of constitutional law at Kyoto University, will meet about once a month and submit proposals to the chief Cabinet secretary by next summer.

“There needs to be broad public understanding and cooperation,” Sato said. “The most important starting point is to have the public accurately understand the history and grasp the situation of the Ainu.”

The panel’s creation followed the Diet passage in June of a resolution to officially recognize for the first time the Ainu as an indigenous people.

Tadashi Kato, who chairs the Ainu Association of Hokkaido and has been active in pursuing their rights, was elected one of the panel members.

After the meeting, he told reporters of the ongoing discrimination against the ethnic minority.

Kato recalled a junior high student who wrote in an essay that “the Ainu should go away from this town” and a little Ainu boy who cried at home because he was teased at school for having more body hair than others.

“I want people to know that (discrimination) is still going on,” Kato said. It “makes me despondent and brings tears to my eyes.”

Up until the June resolution, the government had refused to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people.

“The government seriously accepts the historical fact once again that despite being legally equal as Japanese people, there were many Ainu who were discriminated against and forced to live in poverty in the course of the nation’s modernization,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said at the beginning of Monday’s meeting.

Japan voted in favor of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples last September.

“I would like the members of this panel to come up with proposals that lead to establishment of a comprehensive policy that is necessary for the Ainu to hold on to their honor and dignity for generations to come,” he said.



LetsJapan Blog on new Saitama Pref stickers for NJ-friendly realtors


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  Have a look at this.  This is long overdue indeed!  Well done Saitama Prefecture!  Debito

Foreigner Friendlier Area

Saitama multicultural real estate agents logoMulticultural real estate agents

To make renting an apartment easier for non-Japanese, and deal with discrimination by apartment landlords and owners, one prefecture in Japan is sponsoring an effort to establish a database of “multicultural” real estate agents.

The government of Saitama Prefecture began it’s effort in 2006. There are now 113 multicultural real estate agents registered. Saitama is located 23 kilometers north of of Tokyo.

Information pamphlets in Chinese, English, Portuguese and Spanish are available, and telephone interpretation is offered by volunteers. (English .pdf)

Saitama multicultural apartment help

The Daily Yomiuri reports the project has become widely known among foreigners by word of mouth.

Phone numbers and addresses of the participating agents are included in the list. Lets Japan viewed 42 websites listed in the multicultural real estate registry, and found the logo displayed on only three sites: RoomspotRisouhouseSaihokujisho



Asahi Shinbun on how some NJ are assimilating by joining neighborhood associations


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  Here’s a happy tale–about how a local approached a newcomer, broke the ice, and brought more newcomers on board in the local neighborhood association and helped everyone get along.  Well done.  Here’s hoping it happens more often.  Arudou Debito


A life less complex as foreigners join local board


Courtesy Dave Spector


Yorio Kuramata, center, with Indian residents in Tokyo’s Koto Ward (SHOHEI KAMATA/ THE ASAHI SHIMBUN)

Three Indian nationals have been appointed to the board of the community association at the Ojima 6-chome public apartment complex in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, in a rare move among such buildings.

With Japanese companies recruiting more and more technology experts from India, the number of Indians living in the complex has steadily increased to 80.

The apartment building in Tokyo’s old residential district accommodates nearly 3,000 households.

Locals hope that the trio, who are also IT engineers, will help promote dialogue between Indian and Japanese residents for mutual understanding, and create a harmonious multicultural environment at the complex.

During an annual summer festival in late July organized by residents of the complex, three of 80 food stands sold Indian cuisine, including Indian burgers.

Among the vendors at the booths were the three new board members: Hemant Visal, 34; Naren Desai, 35; and Yogesh Punde, 35, who were appointed in spring 2008.

“Working as a board member of a residents’ association here is a fresh experience, and I do not feel bothered at all,” said Yogesh, although the three are busy working at IT companies in Tokyo.

The three joined the residents’ association after veteran board member Yorio Kuramata approached one of their compatriots in an attempt to open a dialogue with Indian residents during the same festival two years ago.

Kuramata, 74, said he had gone to say “hello” to Sankar Narasimhan, the trio’s friend, believing there was an urgent need for the residents’ association to improve understanding between Japanese and Indian residents.

At the time, Japanese residents were increasingly complaining that Indian residents were unaware of the rules of the complex.

With the building complex located close to an Indian school, the number of Indian residents has increased in the past few years. Of 2,900 households, 55 are Indian, with a total of 80 members.

Residents’ complaints included that some Indian residents talked loudly on cellphones on balconies at night, or that they hosted noisy house parties on weekends, Kuramata said.

Aside from cultural differences, there apparently were lifestyle differences between the relatively young Indian immigrants and aging Japanese residents at the complex, he added.

Sankar, for his part, had trouble finding opportunities to talk with Japanese residents.

“Because Japanese residents seemed to like living quietly, I thought they would feel bothered if I talked to them,” he said.

Once they started talking, Kuramata taught Sankar about the roles played by the local community and its residents’ association in locals’ daily lives and emergencies. For instance, he learned that Japanese communities stock water and emergency foods to help each other in case of a major disaster, Sankar recalled.

While working for the residents’ association, Sankar brought some of his countrymen, including Hemant and Naren, in to the association’s activities.

One of their primary roles was to translate community news on matters such as residents’ events and utility maintenance works into English, to notify Indian and other foreign residents of such information via e-mail.

“It has made it easier for foreign households who do not have Japanese-speaking members to join community life,” Hemant said.

Thanks to their activities, an unprecedented number of Indian participants joined activities at this year’s spring koinobori festival to hang carp-shaped pennants to pray for healthy growing children.

According to the nationwide council of residents’ associations at apartment complexes built by the former Housing and Urban Development Corp., it is quite rare for residents’ associations at public apartment complexes to appoint several foreign residents to a board.

And although residents had asked Sankar to become a board member, he moved to another complex with more spacious rooms this spring so he could invite his mother to live with him.

Despite the move, Sankar said he plans to join residents’ association activities at his new home.

He also said he will introduce himself to his new neighbors, like Kuramata did for him, to establish a dialogue and friendship.

“It is because I want to be part of the community with my neighbors,” Sankar said.(IHT/Asahi: August 19,2008)

First Zainichi resident to refuse fingerprinting in 1980 dies at 79


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 Japan

Hi Blog. We’ve just lost a hero. Here’s a quick obit for the person who started the end of fingerprinting in Japan–at least permanently for Special Permanent Residents (the Zainichi).

My great thanks to Mr Han for his great work. We all benefit when somebody stands up and refuses to cooperate with an irrational system. Arudou Debito.


First foreign resident to refuse fingerprinting dies at 79
Japan Today/Kyodo Friday 25th July, 02:17 PM JST
Courtesy of Mark MT

TOKYO — The first foreign resident in Japan to reject alien fingerprinting, Han Jong Sok, died of respiratory failure at a Tokyo hospital on Thursday, his family said Friday. He was 79. Han, a Korean resident in Japan, in 1980 rejected the fingerprinting required under the then alien registration law, and was the first foreign resident to do so.

He was convicted over the violation of the law at lower courts. But in 1989, the Supreme Court dismissed the charge against Han, invoking imperial amnesty that was declared on the funeral of Emperor Hirohito. Han was known as a symbolic figure in an anti-fingerprinting movement that spread among foreign residents in Japan during the 1980s. Japan’s fingerprinting requirement for foreign residents, which drew international fire for infringing upon human rights, was lifted in 2000 after the alien registration law was revised in 1999.

More on the 1999 abolition here.

More on the 2007 resurrection of fingerprinting for all NJ except a select few with political power here.

Tangent: Hong Kong’s new anti racial discrimination workplace laws


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 Japan
Hi Blog.  Here’s a post I got from friend Mak talking about how other societies deal with matters of racial discrimination.  Hong Kong, according to the article below, already has specific laws against discrimination by gender, family status, and disability.   Now it has made racial discrimination in the workplace illegal.

Glad to hear it.  What’s keeping you from doing the same, Japan?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

From: “AW&Co”
Date: July 21, 2008 2:35:37 PM JST
Subject: New Racial Discrimination Laws in the Hong Kong Workplace

New Racial Discrimination Laws in the Hong Kong Workplace
July 2008

It may seem odd that Hong Kong : Asia’s business hub a diverse modern metropolis and a city of live has no remedy for individuals experiencing private racial discrimination. Ethnic minorities form 5% of the population in Hong Kong and those who face racial discrimination whether in employment, housing, provision of medical services, education or transport have no protection. This is despite laws against discrimination in other areas such as gender, family status and disability.

The much debated Race Discrimination Bill (the “Bill”) was only passed by the Legislative Council on 10 July 2008. The Bill aims to make racial discrimination and harassment in prescribed areas and vilification on the ground of race unlawful, and to prohibit serious vilification on that ground. It also seeks to extend the jurisdiction of the Equal Opportunities Commission to cover racial discrimination, harassment and vilification.

This Bill targets 6 different areas and this article focuses on the provisions concerning employment.

1. Main Acts in the Workplace outlawed under the Bill

(a) Discrimination against Job Applicants

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant on racial ground :-

(i) in arrangements which the employer makes for the purpose of determining who should be offered that employment;
(ii) in the terms on which the employer offers that other person employment; or
(iii) by refusing, or deliberately omitting to offer, the other person that employment.

(b) Discrimination against Employees

It is also unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee on racial ground :-

(i) in the terms of employment which the employer affords that employee;
(ii) in the way the employer affords the employee access to opportunities for promotion, transfer or training, or to any other benefits, facilities or services, or by refusing or deliberately omitting to afford the employee access to them; or
(iii) by dismissing the employee, or subjecting him or her to any other detriment.

For a period of 3 years after the Bill is enacted, apart from discrimination by way of victimization, the aforesaid provisions do not apply to any employment where fewer than 5 persons (inclusive of the number employed by any associated employers of that employer) are employed by the employer.

2. Major Exceptions

(a) Genuine Occupational Qualification

Some acts mentioned above will not be treated as a breach, where, being of a particular racial group is a genuine occupational qualification for the job. For example, the job involves participation in a dramatic performance or other entertainment in a capacity for which a person of that racial group is required for reasons of authenticity, or the job involves providing persons of that racial group with personal services of such nature or in such circumstances as to require familiarity with the language, culture and customs of and sensitivity to the needs of that racial group, and those services can most effectively be provided by a person of that racial group, etc.

(b) Employment Intended to Provide Training in Skills to be Exercised Outside Hong Kong

It is not unlawful if an employer carries out any acts for the benefit of a person not ordinarily resident in Hong Kong in or in connection with employing the person at an establishment in Hong Kong. Where the purpose of that employment is to provide the person with training in skills which the person appears to the employer to intend to exercise wholly outside Hong Kong.

(c) Employment of Person with Special Skills, Knowledge or Experience

The Bill also contains an exception for employment that requires special skills, knowledge or experience not readily available in Hong Kong. The employee in question must possess such skills, knowledge or experience and is recruited or transferred from a place outside Hong Kong. If any acts mentioned in paragraph 1 above were reasonably done by the employer for such person with special skills knowledge or experience in places outside Hong Kong such acts shall not be regarded as unlawful.

(d) Existing Employment on Local and Overseas Terms of Employment

For existing employment falling into the meaning in Schedule 2 of the Bill, the employers are allowed to differentiate treatment towards employees under local contract and those under overseas contract. Different treatment is also permitted between employees from different countries but under the same set of overseas contracts.

3. Next Step Forward

There is no timetable for the enactment of the Bill but it is expected to be in place by the first quarter of 2009. It is feared that the Bill will lead to substantial increase in litigation against employers and the Equal Opportunities Commission will be providing a code of practice on employment to raise awareness and understanding of the new legislation.

Employers are advised to pay close attention to the development of the Bill as it is expected to have major impact on human resources management and relationship with and among employees.

Lawyers in our Employment Department will be happy to provide you with a copy of the Bill or assist you with any queries you may have on any employment matters.

ANGELA WANG & CO, Solicitors
Hong Kong
14th Floor, South China Building,
1-3 Wyndham Street, Central,
Hong Kong
Tel : (852) 2869 8814
Fax : (852) 2868 0708
Web Site:
3708 37th Floor Westgate Tower,
1038 Nanjing Road West,
Shanghai 200041 PRC
Tel : (8621) 6267 9773
Fax : (8621) 6272 3877
Disclaimer: The information presented in this eNews Alert is not legal advice. Any liability that may arise from the use or reliance on the information is expressly disclaimed.

Contributor Most Read In Hong Kong

In February, March and June 2008, Angela Wang & Co received an award from for contributing the most widely read articles in Hong Kong on its worldwide legal web site.

Discussion: Softbank’s policy towards NJ customers re new iPhone


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 Japan

Hi Blog.  This issue has been brought up on other blogs (most notably Japan Probe), so I thought I need not duplicate it on (I try to limit myself to one blog entry per day).  But recently I received through the FRANCA Japan list a series of thoughtful discussions on the iPhone that are good enough to reprint here.  Anonymized.  And note that Softbank already seems to have reacted to the situation.  Arudou Debito

From: Writer A
Subject: [FRANCA] Yodabashi Akiba Restricts iPhone 3G Sales To Foreigners
Date: July 17, 2008 8:14:32 PM JST

Where else but Japan would one find a huge electronics retailer, located in a tourist center, that refuses to sell to certain foreigners a phone marketed simultaneously around the world, designed by an American company and distributed by a firm headed by a [naturalized] Zainichi Korean?

Yodabashi Akiba (YA), the largest store of the Yodobashi Camera electronics retailer chain, is located in Akihabara, the tourist center that is Ground Zero for anime nerds (otaku). On any given day, one is likely to find Western and Chinese customers shopping at YA, in addition to Japanese customers. Like any cell phone retailer that wants to remain in business. YA has a huge display for Apple’s 3G iPhone, which went on sale in Japan on July 11 and promptly sold out at YA.

But if a foreigner wished to buy an Apple 3G iPhone at YA, that foreigner would find that YAs policy is to refuse to sell a phone to a person with an authorized stay of less than 90 days, and refuses to allow a sale on the installment plan to foreigners with less than 16 months of authorized stay.

Check the Files section of this Group for a scan of the offending policy document (original Japanese).

Softbank itself does not mention any such restrictions in its iPhone 3G contract terms

and Softbank was the first cell phone provider to take the attitude that if a foreigner is using a credit card, Softbank does not care about the length of stay (because the credit card issuer guarantees payment to Softbank). So, this appears to be a YA policy.

Now, some apologists will offer the following defenses:

1. YA is worried about not being paid by short-stay foreigners: wrong, YA is paid by the credit card company. Softbank already accepts credit cards, and can cut off service if a customer fails to pay. Why is a foreigner with 15 months 29 days of stay a poor credit risk while one with 16 months is not a credit risk?

2. YA is going out of its way help misguided foreigners who might buy a cell phone in Japan only to find it does not work outside of Japan: wrong, the iPhone 3G is designed to work with most 3G systems around the world, and in fact can work as a wireless terminal without any 3G system at all. The phone is multilingual (Japanese-English-Chinese- whatever) out of the box.

3. Apple/Softbank are trying to prevent iPhone 3G units from being taken out of Japan and unlocked (made useable with carriers other than Softbank): Wrong, only YA has this policy, and if anyone is going to buy up hundreds of iPhone 3G units and sell them abroad, it is going to be a yakuza or a snakehead with access to someone who has the proper credentials.

4. The police made them do it: well, the bigotry of Japanese cops is unlimited, but why can a foreigner show a Japanese health insurance card (no photo, certainly no visa info) or a Japanese driver’s license (no visa info) and be exempt from the restrictions on purchase/ installment payment?

One has to wonder about Japan’s future when flagship stores in major tourist areas go out of their way to discriminate against foreign customers, without any business or logical reason.

In the meantime, one can always boycott YA. Bic Camera has much better service, Yamada Denki is cheaper, and Best Denki has better parking !

From: Writer B

Check the Files section of this Group for a scan of the offending policy document (original Japanese).




The document says nothing about restrictions on foreigners. It talks about restrictions on people using a foreigners registration card as their means of identification. Being a foreigner does not mean that your foreigner registration card is your only means of identification. Just show your driver’s license or your health insurance card instead.

BTW, it isn’t Yodobashi specifically; this is very much a Softbank policy. Always has been. The blogosphere has been talking about this for the past week, because of the iPhone, but I remember this from when I first switched to Softbank a couple years ago. I showed my alien registration, it was going to be a problem, so I showed my drivers license instead.


From: Writer C

I would wait a little on this one. They just announced this morning that all the major cellphone companies are going to implement new, tougher rules on registering phones. The police will be involved, and people will have to provide ID (driving licences were mentioned) and possibly have it copied by the companies. People refusing would be denied contracts, and ‘suspicious’ people refusing would be reported to the police.

And this will affect everyone. How they deal with non-Japanese, and non-residents, within this, remains to be seen.


From: Writer A

To the posters on the subject:

True, the YA document I discussed and posted does not say foreigners cannot buy an iPhone 3G. It does say that NJ with a stay of less than 91 days cannot buy an iPhone 3G. These very short-term NJ most likely won’t have a Japanese driver’s license or health insurance card. NJs who do have a Japanese driver’s license or health card, as I pointed out, can show either and get around the permitted stay restriction (one hopes), but many NJs with a 91 day to 15-month stay will not have either alternate document.

No, it is not a Softbank policy. It is not a stated policy and it is not an actual policy. I posted the stated policy (the hyperlink to the contract), and it mentions nothing about period of stay. Neither does any official Softbank literature on the iPhone 3G. It is not an unofficial Softbank policy either: I have used Softbank for many years and have never once been asked for a “gaijin card”. I have been asked for other ID and was able to satisfy the ID requirement by producing an official Japanese document that does not include my visa status. My understanding is that official iPhone 3G registration in every country requires some kind of proof of identity, but Japan is the only instance I have heard of in which proof of visa status is required. Indeed, in most countries phone companies love foreigners with adequate credit because they make long international telephone calls to their foreign homes.

Why do you think the policy appears in tiny letters at the bottom of a photocopied handout at YA? Perhaps because YA knows the policy is offensive and arbitrary. You won’t find a similar document at your local Softbank shop: the white Softbank iPhone 3G brochure has nothing restricting contracts to persons of a certain permitted stay.

Did [Writer B] switch from DoCoMo to Softbank, and is perhaps melding Softbank into the trauma of dealing with DoCoMo? DoCoMo is infamously NJ-unfriendly. It is the spawn of NTT, the phone company that would not hook up NJ to black rotary line telephones in the days when that is what a telephone meant.

Another poster mentioned that the police want to have tougher proof of identity requirements for registering cell phones. Actually, the Japanese police have a multi-year history of trying to tie cell phones more conclusively to individuals. The police are the reason one can no longer anonymously purchase a prepaid cell phone in Japan. The police are trying to make it a crime to sell a SIM (telephone number ID chip) from another phone in Japan. The reason is simple: yakuza use untraceable or stolen cell phones for defrauding people. A recent factoid states that Japan is victim to $1 million per day in telephone fraud (the frauds are quite varied, and change frequently, but many of the frauds are perpetrated against the elderly). The yakuza use the phones for a blitz of fraudulent calls, then throw away the phones– and the police can’t find out who is behind the frauds. By itself, requesting positive ID when one registers a cell phone is, I think, NJ-neutral. However, the police in Japan always end up requesting ID from NJ well beyond what is adequate to establish identity, and always end up backing down on the rigor of ID from Japanese citizens. Many of the forms of ID a Japanese can present to satisfy the policy have no photograph, no counterfeiting security, no standard format and are easy to turn out flawlessly with a good computer printer.

If YA has some legitimate business concern, there are ways to satisfy the concern without discriminating against NJ.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Go blog it, Debito!


 From: Writer B

No, it is not a Softbank policy. It is not a stated policy and it is not an actual policy.




Well, here is Softbank’s actual policy from Softbank’s official web page:

This is what lists the documents required to sign up for 3G service. There are many choices, one choice of which is “foreign registration card plus foreign passport”. If you choose that option, you may sign up for Softbank provided that you are not on a 90-day visa.

Now, there are actually two things at play here: The ability to sign up for 3G service and the ability to buy an iPhone on installments. If you pass the first thing, and you are willing to fork over the unsubsidized cash price for an iPhone 3G (70,000-80,000 yen depending on which model), then you have no problems.

But this is where the 3-15-month period of stay thing comes in:

Oh, hmm, Softbank has deleted the document since I saw it a few days ago:

The link that Japanprobe linked to before gave limitations as to who would purchase a phone on installments rather than upfront. It’s gone now. It was a page on Softbank’s official site, however.

To be perfectly honest, I think that their requirements are fair: To have service, all you have to do is prove that you live in Japan. If you want to buy a phone on installments (ie, take out credit), you should prove that you intend to pay back that loan, either by proving that you’re integrated enough in society that you have a driving license or health insurance, or at least have a visa that is long enough to cover the period of the loan. If you don’t, you don’t have to buy the phone on installments — you can buy it up front if you like.

But whether or not you think that’s fair, the point is you are barking up the wrong tree. It is very definitely Softbank that you are angry at, not Yodobashi. the fact that I (and many others) saw those requirements on Softbank’s website means that, at least as of a week ago, those were Softbank’s policies. I assume that they still are and that Softbank took away the link because people were complaining. But even if not, depending on the timing of when Yodobashi printed up their flyers, it is almost certain that it was because of Softbank’s directions.

Did [Writer B] switch from DoCoMo to Softbank, and is perhaps melding Softbank into the trauma of dealing with DoCoMo?




I did switch from DoCoMo, but your insinuation that I don’t know the difference between phone companies is, quite frankly, insulting.

DoCoMo is infamously NJ-unfriendly.




Maybe.. I never had a problem with them, though I understand that a lot of people have, so I am probably in the minority.



Oyako Net followup–photos and press conference July 13-14 2008


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 Japan

Matt Hearn writes:
Here are some photos from the events sponsored by Oyako Net last Sunday and Monday.

July 13th. The street demonstration was attended by about 40 people and marched to Suidobashi station from Miyogadani.

The closer we got to Suidobashi the more bystanders were around to witness it and it definitely got the attention of those who watched. It was very well organized by Oyakonet and the police had at least 6 offficers helping with the escort. Munakata-san, Furuichi-san and Morita-san of Oyakonet lead the organization and execution. The drink up after was good there was a good feeling of international community in approaching the issue.

July 14th. The press conference despite feeling short for time went well too. Many left behind parents in addition to the panel of Takao Tanase, Colin Jones, Thierry Consigny had the chance to address the media and state their opinions. Afterwards the new representative from the US Embassy came by to catch up on the recent events and there was lots of discussion about what to do next.

More information on these issues at the Children’s Rights Network Japan (click here).

Photo gallery:


Good News #1: Zainichi lodges complaint re Nihon U debate club discrim, university takes appropriate action


 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 Japan

Hi Blog. Good news for a change–the mechanisms for investigating and taking action against claims of discrimination seem to be working at Nihon University, at least. Well done, and thanks to 1) the investigators for doing their job and taking action, and 2) the victim and family for not just naki-neiri-ing this situation.

Additional comment from T3:
“Investigators confirmed that the refusal to allow the 3rd generation korean resident into the university debate team was based on racial discrimination. bizarrely so, because members of the team claimed that they might not be able to assimilate with a foreigner – a 3rd generation “foreigner”.”

One more piece of good news coming up today. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

University debate team suspends activities after resident Korean student claims discrimination

Courtesy of Mak and T3

The debate club of Nihon University’s College of Law suspended activities after a third-generation Korean resident said she was refused entry because of her ethnicity, The Asahi Shimbun learned.

The 21-year-old first-year student said she could not join the club in April because several senior members had a problem with her South Korean nationality.

Along with her mother, she lodged a discrimination complaint to the Tokyo-based university in early June.

The university administration commissioned lawyers to investigate the case and determined that the student was indeed discriminated against because of her nationality and ethnicity.

But members of the club denied that discrimination had anything to do with their refusal to let the student join.

The investigative team found that concerns were raised by senior club members over “how they would get along with a foreigner” and the possibility that she might be involved in a “radical religious activity.”

The club suspended activities in late June after a request from the university’s human rights committee.

Three senior members and two professors serving as club supervisors issued an apology to the student for causing “grief and pain.”

The student has refused to accept the apology because of their denial of discrimination.

The student attended an introductory session for prospective new members in late April, but was told the following day that she could not join.

A senior student told her that her class schedule would likely conflict with the club’s activities and that the club supervisor might dislike “the light color of her hair.”

However, she said she later learned from a friend who was a member of the club that senior members had said to the effect that they would “have a problem with her cultural background as a resident Korean.”

(IHT/Asahi: July 16,2008)


お知らせ:2008年7月29日(火)午後6時30分 JIPI 外国人政策研究主催:「日本型値移民政策がめざすもの」


Hi Blog.  July 29 Symposium on Japan’s immigration policy, sponsored by Japan Immigration Policy Institute.  Courtesy of the sponsor. Arudou Debito 


自民党国家戦略本部が6月20日、福田首相に「日本型移民政策の提言」を提出しました。この提言は実際には自民党人材交流推進議員連盟(会長・中川秀直元幹事長 約80人)がまとめ、党国家戦略本部がオーソライズしたものです。    







[主催]JIPI 外国人政策研究所|HP:
[後援]UNHCR 国連難民高等弁務官事務所|IOM国際移住機関|
[お申し込み]>> こちらからメールにてお申し込み下さい。|入場無料:先着250名|
[お問い合わせ]JIPI 外国人政策研究所|電話:03-3453-5901|

SMJ Tokyo July 21 Tokyo Symposium on amnesty for visa overstayers


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 Japan


Please forward information below to anyone interested in this issue.
July 21 Symposium

“Unqualified Foreign Residents (Overstaying Foreign Residents)”:

Do we build a Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Cultural Society over the Elimination?

Date: Monday July 21
Time: 14:00〜17:00 (door opens at 13:30)
Where: Korea YMCA 9th floor
(2-5-5 Sarugaku-cyo Chiyoda-ku)
JR “Suidobashi-station” (6 min walk)/ JR”Ochanomizu-station” (9 min walk) /Tokyo
Subway “Jinboucyo-station”(7 min walk)
Admission: 1000yen

* English-Japanese simultaneous interpretation available

It has past almost 20 years since the arrival of “new comers”. The number of the unqualified foreign residents who recorded its peak in 1993 started to decline and currently there are about 170,000 living in Japan. Until now, tens of thousands of unqualified foreign residents were amnestied by receiving “special permanent residents”. On the other hand, in Japan, people started to see unqualified residents as “Illegal residents” which is considered as a nest of crime. In this circumstance, the government has strengthened its regulation. In addition, from 2008, the new system to control residents was built and the government is trying to eliminate the unqualified foreign residents completely.

Take place the background of declining birth rate; the argument on “acceptance” of immigrants is developing among various fields as using a keyword of “multi-cultural society”. However, that is the “society” over the elimination of unqualified foreign residents, and it differs from “multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society” that the NGOs and civil societies have been aiming to create.

In this symposium, from the viewpoint of the unqualified residents, we will be discussing the current situation that the “multi-cultural society” and “elimination of unqualified residents” is preceding simultaneously.

Program (tentative)
● Transformation of the surrounding circumstances of the unqualified residents in the
past 20 years.
● Panel discussion
「Amnesty Now!〜the unqualified residents -then and now-〜」
Mr. Akira Hatate(Japan Civil Liberties Union: JCLU)/ Mr.Ippei Torii(Zentoitsu(All United)
Workers Union, Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)/ others
● Mr. Rey Ventura and the film “DEKASEGI”screen
Mr. Rey Ventura:born in Philippine Isabela. The author of books “I have always hidden-a
diary of illegal work by a Filipino student” and “Yokohama Kotobuki Filipinos”.

Comments from other foreign residents


Contact: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)
Bunkyo-ku,Koishikawa 2-17-41, TCC 2-203, Tokyo, Japan
tel: 03-5802-6033, fax: 03-5802-6034, mail:

2008緊急シンポジウム 非正規滞在(オーバーステイ)2008年7月21日東京都千代田区、など


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 Japan
Subject: 【IMADR-INFO N0.123】イベントのご案内
Date: July 16, 2008 3:33:57 PM JST


1)2008緊急シンポジウム 非正規滞在(オーバーステイ)者
2)第3回人権市民会議シンポジウム 戸籍って何?


■日時:2008年7月21日(月・祝日) pm. 2:00〜5:00 (開場 pm. 1:30)
■会場:韓国YMCA (東京都千代田区猿楽町2-5-5)
■参加費:1000円  通訳:英語





◇ 20年の総括
◇ パネルディスカッション:
◇ レイ・ベントゥーラさん発題と“DEKASEGI”上映
◇ 質疑応答


東京都文京区小石川2-17-41 T C C 2-203
tel: 03-5802-6033, fax: 03-5802-6034, email:

「戸籍」って何? 〜戸籍をめぐる問題と国内人権救済機関の役割〜






■場所:松本治一郎記念会館 3F会議室
   (東京都港区六本木3-5-11 TEL. 050-3532-5523)
    TEL.050-3532-5523 FAX.03-3585-8966 EMAIL.

【13:00〜13:30 全体会】
 ……金子 匡良さん(高松短期大学講師)
【13:30〜15:00 グループワーク】
 各グループのモデレーター:黒坂 愛衣さん(ハンセン病首都圏市民の会)
              佐藤 文明さん(元区役所職員、『戸籍が作る
              李 嘉永さん(部落解放・人権研究所)
【15:00〜15:20 休憩】
【15:20〜16:00 まとめ】
 ……山崎 公士・人権市民会議代表(新潟大学法科大学院教授)




26(土)  第3回人権市民会議シンポジウム
     「戸籍」って何? 〜戸籍をめぐる問題と国内人権救済機関の役割〜


8(月)  第17回ヒューマンライツセミナー「スリランカの平和構築と人権」



※訂正とお詫び 本メールマガジン前号(122号、2008年7月3日発行)にタイ

  Tel: 03-3586-7447  Fax: 03-3586-7462 E-mail:
  Tel: 03-3568-7709  Fax: 03-3586-7448 E-mail:

 〒106-0032 東京都港区六本木3-5-11  Website:


OYAKO NET Meeting and rally July 13th Tokyo: The First Conference of the Nationwide Network For Realizing Visitation In Japan


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 Japan

“Why can’t we meet?—the children and parents after divorce—”


The First Conference of the Nationwide Network For Realizing Visitation In Japan

l     July 13th 2008  Open 12:30pm, 13:00~16:30

l     Academy Meidai  Gakusyu-Shitu A, Kasuga 2-9-5 Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

(Tel 03-3817-8306) 15 minutes-walk from Kourakuen station or Myo-ga-dani station. (Tokyo Metro, Marunouchi-line)

l     1. Guest Speaker Subjects: “Children in the custody battle.”

Paul Wong, US citizen, Attorney at law admitted in California.

After the death of his wife, he has been alienated from his daughter by his wife’s parents who alleged Wong’s child abuse.

Misuzu Yuki (an alias)

Yuki was forced to leave home by her ex-husband after he had declared divorce in front of their children. Her ex-husband’s attorney prevented her from having contact with the children in the mediation session. Yuki cannot see her three children now.

Mitsuru Munakata

He cannot see his biological child from the common law marriage or his stepchild. His ex-common law wife registered Munakata’s child under her new husband’s family registration without his consent. Thus, Munakata has little possibility to contact his children. His ex-wife has not appeared at the mediation.

2. Lecture: “Joint Parenting After Divorce and ‘The Best Interest of the Children.’”

Takao Tanase, Chuo Law School Professor of Sociology of Law, Attorney at Law.

Tanase is the author of “Visitation and Parenting Rights after Divorce—Study of Comparative Legal Structure” (“Kenri-no Gensetsu” Keisou-Shobou, 2003) and many other books.

l       Question, discussion, and report from the Oyako-Net about lobbing the Diet members and local council initiatives.

l       Street Demonstration 16:30~

l       Admission  \1,000

The Nationwide Network For Realizing Visitation In Japan, Tel 042-573-4010 (Space 1)

e-mail  blog




We demand that the government of Japan enact laws of visitation and support adequate visitation so that children can maintain sincere relationships with non-custodial parents after separation or divorce.

We urge that the sole custody system be replaced into a system where both parents can share responsibilities to care for children after separation or divorce.

In Japan, only the parents that have possessing the children can decide on visitation between the children and the other parents. Since we, non-custodial parents, legally cease to be parents of our children after divorce, no remedy do we have to enforce our visitation agreement made by the mediation or granted by the court.

Until today, few have criticized this inhumane treatment: worse, we suffer from discrimination by the public who consider non-custodial parents lacking in parenting skills.

It is time to establish an adequate visitation system.

The parents are divorcing; yet, the children are not divorcing from their parents.
Children have the right to maintain regular and personal contact with their parents. In fact, alienating children from non-custodial parents, without just reasons, not only harms the children psychologically, but also violates the rights of children under the UN Convention.

Lacking of stipulation for joint custody and visitation, indeed, exacerbates custodial battles in Japan. Parental abduction, abusing of habeas corps, false allegation of domestic violence and child abuse is prevalent.

Children are suffering from this outdated Japanese family law.
It is time to establish an adequate visitation system.

No longer will we tolerate this ongoing plight. In order to protect children from discrimination or misery after parent’s divorce, we establish a network to; exchange information and opinion; press the Judiciary, the Executive, the Legislature, and local councils to enact laws and systems to comply with the UN Convention.

On July 13th 2008, we will have the first conference of Oyako Network.

We urge your support!