SNA Visible Minorities 21: “A Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”, April 19, 2021

mytest

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SNA — I’ve been involved in activism in Japan for many years. Indeed so many that my online archive of work, Debito.org, just turned 25 years old last week. With that in mind, I’d like to devote this column to a retrospective of the past quarter century: What, if anything, has Debito.org contributed to help make conditions for Non-Japanese residents and Visible Minorities better?

Debito.org first went live on April 15, 1996, during the earlier days of the World Wide Web, as a means to respond to online bulletin board critics. When topics came up over and again, I’d just archive a previous essay on Debito.org and send a link. After a couple hundred essays were organized into general information sites, Debito.org became a platform for issues involving foreign residents of Japan.

The first major issue I took up was “Academic Apartheid” in Japan’s universities. This is where all Japanese full-time faculty were granted contract-free tenure from day one of employment, while all foreign academics, despite many being better qualified than their Japanese counterparts, got perpetual ninkisei contracts (some of them term-limited) without the opportunity for tenure.

I discovered a “smoking gun” one day in my university mailbox: A paper directive from the Ministry of Education encouraging national and public universities to fire their older foreign professors by not renewing their contracts. I scanned it, archived it, and sent a link to prominent advocates like Ivan P. Hall (author of Cartels of the Mind) for further exposure. It turns out that a government demanding their universities axe all their foreigners over forty is state-sponsored discrimination, and it blew up into an international issue that even then-US Ambassador Walter Mondale took up.

All of that information is still up on Debito.org today, and it turns out that a permanent archive that is searchable, citable, with context and without paywall, is a valuable resource, especially as many unscrupulous people would rather have a history of their actions and policies disappear into the ether. Once archived on Debito.org, it didn’t. Soon other issues on Debito.org garnered national and international attention, even generating public policy movements…

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/04/19/visible-minorities-retrospective-on-25-years-of-activism/

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German media Tagesschau on what it’s like to be Covid-quarantined in Japan (basically a prison run by sweaty-headed bureaucrats)

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s is a German TV show reporting on what life is like in Japanese Covid quarantine. At first, it seems like an April Fool’s article, but it rings all too familiar when one deals with Japanese bureaucracy, especially when it gets paranoid about contact with the outside world and contagion. (I remember once on an NHK news broadcast during the Avian Flu scare in 2003, where bureaucrats were filmed positioning chairs 2 meters apart in an international airport quarantine zone, measuring down to the millimeter (yes, with a measuring tape) the distance between them. Phew! That one millimeter makes all the difference.)

Anyway, read what the German media has to say about current life in quarantine in Japan (which TV news show Tagesschau compares to a prison, but with very Japanese-bureaucracy touches), and how Olympic participants will be bypassing it all. “Measuring-tape Science” at work again. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: Maximilian Doe
Subject: Great and nauseating article by “Tagesschau” (Review of the Day), Germany’s apex TV news, on the latest quarantine rules for overseas travelers returning to Japan
Date: April 1, 2021
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Maximilian Doe here. I wanted to draw you attention to a great and nauseating article by the “Tagesschau”, Germany’s apex TV news broadcasting (Germany’s equivalent to Britain’s BBC News). It deals with the current quarantine rules for incoming travelers and how they are enforced.

Here is the link: https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/asien/tokio-einreisebestimmungen-corona-101.html

And here is my translation. Comment from me follows:

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Corona-Entry to Japan
Jail-like quarantine
Tagesschau April 1, 2021, 12:17 p.m., translation courtesy of MD

The government of Japan gets seemingly nervous a couple of months to the Olympic Games: Many travelers from abroad have to go to a quarantine hotel – and that is a ripsnorter: No fresh air, roll call in the morning, cold food.

By Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Studio Tokyo

Lively singing of birds – that sounds nice at first glance, but the truth is that it is a sudden insolation forced upon the guests in a Covid quarantine hotel in Tokyo. And it is cynical, because all incoming travelers are sealed off from the outside world starting with boarding the plane for Japan. The windows of the hotel cannot be opened, the air-conditioning does not work. Those you want to exchange air by opening the door of the room just a crack wide will cause a crisscross of voices. The telephone will ring. Japan is watching you – and is scolding you as if you are a school child.

Roll call in the morning with spit test

There are roll calls at 6:30 in the morning. All who are captive the third or the sixth day have to do a Covid spit test. It will be collected one hour later, but that way you have plenty of time to collect your spit. And it wakes up everyone else, too.

Japan has decided two important things just a couple of weeks ago. First: Those who enter the country have to undergo three days of publicly financed mandatory quarantine and have to self-isolate afterwards for eleven days. Everything is rigidly double-checked with Apps, Skype, and written inquiries twice daily.

Second: The internationally accepted PCR-test is not enough for Japan’s bureaucracy any more. Now Japan demands swabs from the nose and throat. Those who do not agree to these swabs by signing and stamping must spend six days of quarantine without fresh air. Many travelers were affected by this during the last days, because these new rules were only mentioned in small print, a practice that also enraged multiple European embassies according to our information.

Food supply under surveillance

Three times a day a young Japanese voice wordily informs, that food will now be hanged at the doorknob and that it is prohibited to open the door in any case. Another announcement comes after the delivery has ended. Then you can take the food in, provided you are wearing a mask, and it is watched by a guard at the floor, who is standing there the entire day wearing a mask and face shield.

At the first time people curiously look into the bag with the food, but the joy dissipates already with the dinner at 6 p.m.: The food is always cold, it is always a pile of dry rice, always three snippets of white cabbage, often thin slices of pork with a rim of fat, and half a liter of water to gobble it down.

Alcohol is prohibited unless you coincidentally have some in your luggage. It is said that those who are hungry can – after extensive checks, of course – call friends to bring them dry food to the hotel.

Complicated way home

When the last gong rings after three or six days and multiple Corona tests the people affected are not allowed to take a taxi home. To not bother the neighborhood everybody has to go back to the airport first – probably with a colored rubber band at the arm again – and then they can go home.

Many Japanese are so embarrassed by this treatment of the bureaucracy towards incoming travelers that they apologize.

Participants in the Olympic Games are exempt from this

Participants in the Olympic Games and their teams are reportedly exempt from all of this next summer. According to current planning they can enter without any quarantine – and if they cannot bring the correct corona test Japan will probably welcome them anyway. After all, Japan wants to showcase itself as a tomodachi, a friend.
ENDS
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Comment from MD: I first hoped that it’s a very bad April Fools, but it wasn’t, since the article is still up today. It ranked #2 in the ranking of the most read articles at the time of translating, so people are curious about it, and rightly so.

This policy apparently applies to all returnees regardless of nationality, so the treatment is not necessarily racial discrimination. But it’s nonetheless a very problematic arrangement, basically punishing returnees with jail-like confinement. Also the part about food supply is dire. (sarcasm warning) I suppose Jewish and Muslim returnees will be extremely delighted by a bag of cold pork. Best regards, MD

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My SNA VM column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excerpt of my latest Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 20. Have a read before it goes behind paywall, and please subscribe if you want to see the rest of their articles — it’s but a dollar a week, and it supports progressive journalism. Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: The World’s First “Japanese Only” Olympics?
Shingetsu News Agency, March 15, 2021, By Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — Reuters and Kyodo recently reported that Japan is banning “foreign spectators” (or “overseas spectators”) from the Tokyo Olympics: “The government has concluded that welcoming fans from abroad is not possible given concerns among the Japanese public over the coronavirus and the fact that more contagious variants have been detected in many countries.”

Blogging about this at Debito.org, I worried aloud that excluding all “foreign spectators” would be interpreted to mean all foreigners, including Non-Japanese living in Japan. But commenters (some of whom already have tickets or will be volunteering to help) were quick to stress that the “overseas” wording meant only foreign tourists, not them.

But I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Granted, the original wording in Japanese is kaigai kara no ippan kankyaku (regular spectators from overseas), not “foreigners” (gaikokujin). But words matter, especially when you’re categorizing people, and doing it wrong will lead to discrimination.

I think Japan will do it wrong, due to linguistics and force of habit…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/03/15/the-worlds-first-japanese-only-olympics/

(Read a rough draft of the contents of this article before it became my SNA column at http://www.debito.org/?p=16480)

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UPDATE MARCH 20, 2021: The NYT reports that it’s a done deal now. The IOC has approved the exclusion of all “spectators from overseas”. And it’s just being passed off as a “concession to the realities of the pandemic”. Its possibly problematic enforcement in terms of NJ Residents is not touched upon — more focus is on the plight of overseas ticket holders. — Debito

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Spectators From Overseas Are Barred From Tokyo Olympics
The move, announced Saturday, is a significant concession to the realities of the pandemic, even as organizers remain determined to hold the Games this summer.

By Motoko Rich and Ben Dooley
New York Times, March 20, 2021
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/20/world/asia/tokyo-olympics-spectators.html

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

JOC’s official statement on this:

ABOUT THE GAMES
Statement on Overseas Spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020
Japan Olympic Committee 20 MAR 2021, courtesy of BM
https://tokyo2020.org/en/news/statement-on-overseas-spectators-for-the-olympic-and-paralympic-games-tokyo-2020

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School “Hair Police” lose case in Osaka (kinda): Court awards the victim a pittance, but rules that enforced hair coloring has “reasonable and legitimate educational purpose”. Another setback for Visible Minorities.

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has talked about Japan’s “Hair Police” before, where students of diverse backgrounds or phenotypical differences (including Wajin) are forced to dye and straighten their naturally non-black wavy hair to conform to Japanese Junior High and High School rules. (See for example here, here, and here.). I wrote a column on it in the Japan Times (version without paywall here) more than a decade ago. And some students have even been officially bullied (forced to have their hair cut by teachers in front of other students in a court case now pending) not only by students, but by teachers and administrators. This blog post focuses on a court case that just got handed down in the Osaka District Court on Feb. 16, where a student was essentially expelled from her school for not dyeing her naturally-brown hair.

On the face of it, the verdict looks like a victory for Japan’s Visible Minorities, with the Court awarding some damages to the plaintiff. However, these damages (330,000 JPY, or about 3000 USD) are minuscule, and will not cover the out-of-pocket costs of going to court in the first place (in discrimination cases, they rarely if ever do). But worse is that the Court in effect legitimizes these awful school rules by finding that hair policing has, “a reasonable and legitimate educational purpose, and so maintaining student discipline is within the discretion of the school“.

So in terms of legal precedent, this says that rules that enable teachers to scrutinize student hair follicles, and bully kids who don’t have what they consider to be “normal” coloration, are just an acceptable part of Japanese education.

Bullying is rife in Japanese education, but when it’s ignored (or even perpetuated) by officialdom, this feeling of powerlessness will leave children (particularly those NJ children with diverse physical features targeted for “standing out“) and their families scarred for life.  (As discussed at length in book “Embedded Racism“, pg. 154-5.)  Visible Minorities and their families thinking of putting their kids in Japanese Secondary Education should think very hard in advance about what sorts of trauma they would be putting them through (not to mention exposing their children to dangerous chemicals in hair dyes).

Thus the Osaka Court has done nothing less than approve of institutionalized bullying and enforced conformity with a racialized bent. The natural attributes of Visible Minorities should be celebrated, not treated as aberrations, singled out in public, and suppressed. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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National
Girl wins suit against Osaka Prefecture over school telling her to dye hair black
SoraNews24/Japan Today, Feb. 18, 2021
By Casey Baseel, courtesy of JDG
https://japantoday.com/category/national/girl-wins-suit-against-osaka-prefecture-over-school-telling-her-to-dye-hair-black

Ostensibly, school dress codes are supposed to be about eliminating distractions, and so it’s common for Japanese schools to prohibit students from dying their hair. However, problems can occur if schools rigidly assume that no one dying their hair will always result in everyone having the same hair color.

Though the vast majority of ethnically Japanese people, who make up the vast majority of students at schools in Japan, have naturally black hair, some Japanese people’s hair is instead a dark brown. This can lead to situations where a school tells a brown-haired student that they have to dye their hair black, often predicated by their not believing that the student’s natural hair color is brown, and that they’re trying to get away with dying it.

That was the case for a teen attending Kaifukan Prefectural High School in the town of Habikino, Osaka Prefecture. The girl enrolled in 2015, and was repeatedly told that she had to dye her brown hair black. The girl insisted that brown was her natural hair color, but the school says that three different teachers examined the roots of the girl’s hair and found them to be black, which they took as proof that she had been coloring her hair.

Eventually the girl, who is now 21 years old, claims she was told “If you’re not going to dye your hair black [i.e. back to black, in the school’s opinion], then there’s no need for you to come to school.” Feeling pressured and distressed, the girl did indeed stop attending classes, and the school then removed her name from her class seating chart and student roster.

But instead of seeing the school’s administrators on campus, the woman decided to see them in court, and in 2017 filed a lawsuit over the incident, asking for 2.2 million yen in compensation.

On Tuesday an Osaka district court handed down its ruling, finding neither side to be completely in the right. Presiding judge Noriko Yokota recognized the validity of the school to set and enforce rules relating to coloring hair, saying “Such rules have been established as having a reasonable and legitimate educational purpose, and so maintaining student discipline is within the discretion of the school.”

Yokota also declared “It cannot be said that the school was forcing [the girl] to dye her hair black,” seemingly taking the school’s word that the girl’s roots were black, and that the administrators were only requiring her to return to her natural hair color.

However, the school isn’t getting off completely free. The court also ruled that the administration’s actions after the girl stopped coming to class, such as removing her name from the roster and removing her desk from the classroom, were unacceptable, and has ordered Osaka Prefecture pay damages of 330,000 yen to the woman.

The amount is far less than she had been seeking, and the lack of any legal condemnation for the school insisting her hair should be black is likely to leave the plaintiff less than satisfied, and her lawyer expressed disappointment that the court took at face value the teachers’ assertation that the girl’s roots and natural hair color were black. This was likely a critical point of contention, as certain educational organizations, such as the Tokyo Board of Education, now have policies against pressuring students with naturally non-black hair to dye it black.

Meanwhile, Kaifukan says it has no plans to appeal the decision and attempt to avoid sanction entirely, and the school admits that it could make greater efforts to earn the understanding of students and their guardians regarding school rules. “We have not changed our standard of having students who have dyed their hair return it to black, but this case has been a learning experience, and we will be giving greater thought to how to better guide our students.”

ENDS

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Osaka court orders pref. gov’t to pay $3,100 after student forced to dye hair black
February 17, 2021 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210217/p2a/00m/0na/007000c

OSAKA — The district court here on Feb. 16 ordered the prefectural government to pay 330,000 yen (approx. $3,109) in compensation for mental suffering to a woman who stopped going to a prefecture-run high school after it instructed her to dye her naturally brown hair black.

The now 21-year-old woman had sought some 2.2 million yen ($20,700) from the prefecture.

Presiding Judge Noriko Yokota recognized the appropriateness of Osaka Prefecture Kaifukan Senior High School’s instructions toward students on hair color, saying, “It cannot be said that there was coerced dyeing of the hair,” but pointed out that it was illegal for the school to remove the woman’s name from the school roster when she started missing classes.

“We will respond appropriately after reading the sentence thoroughly,” Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura told reporters.

Kaifukan Senior High School, in the Osaka Prefecture city of Habikino, prohibits students from dyeing or bleaching their hair. The plaintiff in the court case matriculated at Kaifukan in the spring of 2015, and was repeatedly told to dye her hair black. She was even told that she need not come to school if she was not going to dye her hair black, which she said drove her to stop going to school. After she started missing classes, her name was removed from the class roster, and she no longer had a seat in the classroom, which the woman argued was “bullying in the name of student guidance.”

Meanwhile, the prefecture argued that when a teacher was offering guidance to the student, they confirmed that the students’ hair roots were black, meaning that her natural hair color was black. It rebutted the plaintiff’s claims and said that it was merely providing guidance because the student was in violation of a school rule, and that there was nothing illegal about what it had done.

Lawsuits have been fought over “student hair guidance” in the past. In a case in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Kumamoto, in which the legality of a school rule that stipulated that all male students at a public junior high school shave their heads was contested, the 1985 Kumamoto District Court’s decision that the rule was “not strikingly irrational” became finalized. In a damage lawsuit in which a female student attending a school run by the Nara Prefecture city of Ikoma in western Japan argued that being forced to dye her hair black was corporal punishment, the Osaka District Court in 2011 dismissed the student’s claim, saying that the school’s actions were “within the range of educational guidance.” The Supreme Court supported the lower courts’ decision.

ENDS

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Japanese version
「黒染め強要」訴訟 大阪府に33万円の賠償命令 地裁判決
毎日新聞 2021/2/16, courtesy of JK
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20210216/k00/00m/040/080000c

生まれつき茶色の髪を黒く染めるよう学校から強要されて不登校になったとして、大阪府羽曳野市の府立懐風館高校に通っていた女性(21)が府に約220万円の慰謝料などを求めた訴訟の判決で、大阪地裁は16日、府側に33万円の賠償を命じた。横田典子裁判長は「黒染めの強要はあったとはいえない」と頭髪指導の妥当性を認めた上で、不登校後に名簿から女性の氏名を削除したことなどを違法と指摘した。

大阪府の吉村洋文知事は記者団の取材に、「判決文をしっかり見た上で、適切に対応したい」と述べた。

同校は校則で、髪の染色や脱色を禁じている。女性は2015年春に入学後、髪を黒く染めるよう再三指導され、「黒染めしないなら学校に来る必要がない」などと言われて不登校に追い込まれたと主張。不登校になった後も、教室に自分の席がなくなったり、名簿から氏名を削除されたりしたとして、「生徒指導の名を借りたいじめだ」と訴えていた。

一方、府側は、教諭が指導した際、女性の髪の根元が黒かったことを確認しており、地毛は黒だと主張。校則に反して茶色に染めていたため指導しただけで、違法性はないと反論していた。

頭髪指導を巡る訴訟は過去にも起きている。熊本県内の公立中で男子生徒を丸刈りとする校則の違法性が争われた訴訟で、熊本地裁(1985年)が「著しく不合理ではない」とした判決が確定。奈良県生駒市立中の女子生徒が黒染めは体罰だとして市に賠償を求めた訴訟では、大阪地裁(11年)が「教育的指導の範囲内」として請求を棄却、最高裁で生徒側敗訴が確定した。【伊藤遥】

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NB: Debito.org Readers have already commented on this case in a separate blog entry.  Click here to see their comments

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SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest Shingetsu News Agency column recounts former Prime Minister and professional bigot Mori Yoshiro’s tenure as Japan representative, and the mystery behind Japan’s consistent waste of talent in favor of hopelessly incompetent and elitist old men. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities 19: Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 15, 2021
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

SNA (Tokyo) — When I started writing this month’s column, Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old fossil of Japanese politics, was still president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, where he had come under fire for comments claiming that women in leadership positions “talk too much,” cluttering meetings with competitive chatter. He has since resigned, but in the wake has come much media commentary about Japan’s sexism and women’s disenfranchisement.

Photos appeared showing meetings of top-level Japan business organizations (such as Keidanren) that look like old-boy clubs. Pundits noted that Japan has slipped in the World Economic Forum’s gender-empowerment index to 121st place out of 153 countries measured (the lowest amongst the developed countries, behind China, Zimbabwe, Brunei, and Myanmar). And my favorite: Japan idiotically sending a man (Kono Taro) to the world’s first meeting of women foreign ministers in 2018.

All this has occurred despite former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-touted policy of unlocking the women workforce as the “greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy.” He would create “a society in which women can shine.” Mori’s sexist comments make clear that hasn’t happened.

So let’s focus on what Mori himself represented: the worst of Japan’s politics, melding misogyny with racism…
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Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

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Kyodo: Japan developing GPS tracking system for foreign travelers as “anti-virus measure”. So Covid is now another international event, justifying more policing of foreigners only?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In a development that Debito.org has been anticipating for quite some time (see, for example, the remotely-trackable RFID chipped Zairyuu Kaado ID cards the Government rolled out in 2012 to keep better tabs on NJ Residents), according to a Kyodo article below the Government is using the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an excuse to enact programs digitally tracking all foreign tourists.  Read on:

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Japan developing tracking system for travelers from overseas as anti-virus measure
Kyodo News/Japan Today Dec. 27, 2020
https://japantoday.com/category/national/Japan-developing-tracking-system-for-travelers-from-overseas-as-anti-virus-measure

TOKYO (KYODO) — Japan is developing a system aimed at keeping track of travelers from overseas as part of efforts to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus within its borders, a senior government official said Sunday.

“There will be no point if we don’t implement it, so you will not be allowed to enter the country unless you use it,” Takuya Hirai, digital transformation minister, said on television.

Hirai said the government wants to complete the development of the monitoring system by the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, due to be held next summer.

Without providing in-depth detail, he said it will function by using global positioning system technology.

His comments on Fuji TV’s “The Prime” news program came a day after Japan said it will ban nonresident foreign citizens from entering the country, which has been seeing record daily numbers of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

The measure, which will take effect from Monday through January, was announced following Japan’s detection of a new and seemingly more contagious variant of the virus.

Among other measures to tighten its borders, Japan will require its nationals and foreign residents to quarantine for two weeks, show proof of a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of departure for the country and undergo another test upon arrival.
ENDS

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COMMENT:  Nothing quite like being forced to wear the equivalent of a GPS criminal tracker for your entire stay.  And it’s not a stretch to see it being applied beyond tourists to NJ Residents after that, as Covid is providing a pretense to “track and trace” those “foreign clusters“.  As CNN notes, “If visitors are allowed [to attend the Olympics], their experience will likely be high-tech. The government is developing a contract tracing app for attendees using GPS that will reportedly link visas, proof of test results, tickets and other information, authorities said.”

Visas? So we’re getting Immigration involved? As Submitter JDG notes, “Obviously, it’s just a matter of time until the Japanese demand all NJ are 24/7 tracked legally in real time with an automated alert popping up on some koban monitor the minute their visas expire. That ought to end that nefarious den of crime right there!  Whew.”

Finally, note how this proposed contract tracing and tracking is only being applied to foreigners, not Japanese:

“In doing so, [Kanagawa] prefecture would spend much less time pursuing contact history for what it described as the second most cluster-prone demographic — namely, kindergarten, day care and school teachers — and would completely stop investigating others. With the announcement, Kanagawa became the nation’s first prefecture to forge ahead with such a drastic scaling down of contact-tracing, which had been the linchpin of Japan’s battle against the pandemic.” (Japan Times, Jan 19, 2021, courtesy of JDG, emphasis added)

So with the advance of technology, the dragnet further tightens on “the foreign element” in Japan. As we have seen with the G8 Summits, the 2002 soccer World Cup, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, “Visit Japan” tourism campaigns in general, and now the 2020 Olympics, international events in Japan serve to inflame its knee-jerk “safety and security” reflexes, and justify all manner of bad overpolicing habits. They essentially become an excuse to invite foreigners in, then police them further.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities column 18: “Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner” (Jan 18, 2021), on how Covid countermeasures disproportionately target Non-Japanese against all science or logic

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column’s point is this: Even after political leadership has finally shed Shinzo Abe, the Japanese government has found new ways to discriminate against foreign residents of Japan. This is no accident, as NJ were in no way protected, considered, or involved in this policymaking that profoundly affects them.  Soon, any foreign resident of Japan may be under threat of immediate deportation. Excerpt follows, full article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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“Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner”

Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities column 18, January 18, 2021

[…] New year, new salvo of foreigner bashing: Last week, the Suga administration unveiled re-entry rules that permit non-Japanese residents to re-enter the same as Japanese, as long as they completed the same paperwork and fourteen-day quarantine.

Good, but here’s the wrinkle: If you are found in violation of any quarantine regulations, you don’t just get in trouble like Japanese by, err, having your name made public. You may lose your visa status and get deported from the country. You read that right.

This policy was in reaction to the discovery of the United Kingdom mutation of Covid within Japan this month. But like most policy created in times of shock, it has hasty assumptions: that a foreign variant meant that foreigners were somehow responsible. In fact, the Patient Zeroes who came back from England and went out partying instead of quarantining were Japanese.

This new policy is ironic. In addition to the past year of Japanese media blaming foreigners for creating “foreign clusters,” it also ignores the lazy government response to Covid. Nobody at the national level wanted to take the responsibility for declaring a blanket state of emergency. But since infections have now reached record numbers, here comes the crackdown—and once again foreigners are being disproportionately targeted.

Granted, the government is now threatening to mete out jail time and fines for Japanese who don’t cooperate with measures to reduce Covid’s spread. This has occasioned the perfunctory hand-wringing about the effectiveness of punishment in curbing infections and “infringing too much on personal freedoms” for Japanese. I see that as part of the healthy give-and-take of political debate, to make sure things don’t go too far. But where is the parallel debate about the “freedoms” of non-Japanese residents who are receiving unequal treatment under the law?

A Japanese getting a fine or a spell in the clink is one thing, but it’s incomparable to a foreigner losing their legal status gleaned after years or decades of residency, followed by deportation and permanent separation from their lives, livelihoods, and families in Japan.

We know that one of the reasons Covid became a pandemic is because of asymptomatic transmission. So what if a person who doesn’t know they’re sick and hasn’t left the country gets linked to a cluster by contact tracing? If that somebody happens to be a foreigner, his or her life in Japan may well be over…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/
======================
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Japan Times: J Govt’s pandemic border policy highlights their taking advantage of insecure legal status of foreign residents

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Hi Blog. In more remarkable reporting, Magdalena Osumi brings out the background thought processes behind Japan’s Covid measures that have constantly targeted foreigners in particular as vectors of infection. I will be talking more about this in my next SNA column out tomorrow, but before that, let’s get some insights into the mindsets of our government, which takes full advantage of the fact that foreigners in Japan have no guaranteed legal, civil, or even human rights under the Constitution in Japan because they don’t have citizenship. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Tokyo’s pandemic border policy highlights insecure status of foreign residents
By Magdalena Osumi, The Japan Times, Dec 30, 2020
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/30/national/japan-pandemic-foreign-residents/

Excerpt:
[…] Inequity between the treatment of Japanese and non-Japanese residents, including those with established residency status and decadeslong careers here, brought back to the surface long-standing frustrations over apparent struggles with multiculturalism in the nation, stirring debate on the status of foreign residents here and the extent of Japan’s preparedness for an influx of foreign workers that had been anticipated before the pandemic struck.

As questions linger over the government’s intentions behind the controversial rules, records and reports from behind the scenes of Japan’s fight against the pandemic have begun to emerge.

They highlight the limits of the nation’s immigration strategy, with decisions apparently made ad hoc amid chaos, and reveal the insecure status of foreign nationals in Japan and underlying discriminatory attitudes within society toward immigrants and expatriates.[…]

Japan’s handling of border control in the first months of the year was more chaotic.

That changed on April 3 when Japan introduced a draconian border control policy, banning entry by nearly all foreign residents from 73 countries and regions affected by the spread of the virus.

What prompted some of the most intense criticism of the policy was its failure to distinguish between short-term visitors and long-term residents — a decision that made it the only member of the Group of Seven that refused to allow residents with foreign passports to return to their homes in Japan from overseas.

What turned out to be the decisive factor in Japan’s implementation of the strict entry ban — and its reluctance to ease the restrictions — was a lack of preparedness to control entry procedures, together with poor testing capacity at airports. […]

Reports from government meetings do not show any sign of vigorous debate on the consequences of imposing strict restrictions on non-Japanese residents with legal residency status in the nation, despite concerns about international ties and a long-term impact on Japan’s economic interest. […]

On top of that, the government faced a challenge in implementing further restrictions on Japanese citizens, who are protected by a constitutional right to enter Japan. Foreign nationals, meanwhile, do not have such protection under the Constitution. […]

Throughout the year, health care experts on the government’s coronavirus task force expressed concern that they were unable to gain a comprehensive view of the attitudes held by foreign nationals toward the pandemic.

Officials were worried that language barriers, for example, may hamper access to information on basic anti-infection measures, such as avoiding the so-called Three C’s of closed spaces, crowds and close-contact settings.

But that their remarks suggesting inability among foreign nationals to adhere to health protocols were made alongside words of encouragement regarding the promotion of domestic tourism instilled a false perception that the pandemic in Japan was under control, in contrast to the situation abroad, while contributing to a narrative that foreign nationals may have posed a threat…

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/30/national/japan-pandemic-foreign-residents/
======================
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“Tired Panda” on how rural tax authorities specialize in targeting foreign taxpayers for audit. And Japan aims to be Asia’s #1 financial hub? Hah.

mytest

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

Hi Blog. In the wake of treating Non-Japanese Residents like they’re riddled with extra Covid contagion, here’s yet another example of how Non-Japanese taxpayers are treated with extra suspicion — with bored tax auditors even in the most rural areas of Japan dedicated to ferreting out rank-and-file sneaky foreigners’ assets and earnings socked away overseas. Courtesy of Debito.org Reader “Tired Panda”, edited and reproduced here with permission.

According to numerous sources, “Japan has explicitly stated its goal is to make Tokyo the number one financial city in Asia… Japanese officials see an opportunity to lure the Asian headquarters of global financial firms to Tokyo as Hong Kong struggles under new scrutiny from Beijing.” In a business climate like the one being described by “Tired Panda” below, who wound up giving up Permanent Residency status after being zapped by local tax authorities, this seems unlikely to happen in Japan.

Any Readers out there who can help this person out? Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: “Tired Panda”
Subject: Foreign taxation accountants in Japan
Date: January 2, 2021
To: debito@debito.org

Hi Debito,

Firstly, thank you for the tireless work you have done over the years to uncover the systemic racism in Japan and demystify many of the baffling issues ever present for a non-Japanese living in Japan.

I arrived on these shores in 199X, and after leaving the JET program, I went on to do various gigs and also teach in some of the Universities around the [Katainaka Prefecture] area.

In 201X, I joined a Japanese company, under the umbrella of a global company, and still work there to this day, now as a contracted employee. My salary has never increased and I have never received a bonus.

However, my beef is not with the contract (that’s a separate issue), it is with the ever increasing harassment by the [Katainaka Prefecture] Tax department.

I have scoured your columns to look for information on the “exit tax” which came into effect in July 2020, and also for any links to taxation experts.

Of course, there are the giants like KPMG and Price-Waterhouse Coopers, but they are geared more to the highly paid CEOs and other foreign workers whose taxation is more of a corporate nature.

It started with my tax accountant in [Katainaka Prefecture], who I have used for several years, suddenly asking me to declare my worldly assets, including how many mountains I owned. Being unaware of any such requirement, I was stunned by this and resisted but my accountant said just roughly write it down and as long as it’s under 5,000,000 you’ll be OK. Just sign it.

The tax department audited me a couple of years ago covering a period of 5 years. They have two young recruits whose full-time job is to concentrate on foreigners. They speak no English. They produced figures suggesting I had been evading taxes over this time and the amount of tax payable. They would not say what shares or investments were the source of the income and I had no way of disputing any figures. I’m aware that tax losses can be carried over to offset gains but they would not recognize this for my foreign investments, saying something about a “blue paper”. I made a start on trying to track everything over the years, but gave up when it became evident that unless something was in the format they required, such as a statement from Monex Japan, they would not accept it. They also slapped a penalty on each of the year’s taxes, compounding over the five year period. It became obvious that it was futile and I paid a substantial amount.

I thought this was the end of that horrifically stressful saga and I would make sure to try and do everything required and account for everything down to the last cent. I decided to revoke my permanent residency as I can’t see myself living indefinitely in this country which is forever tightening the tax noose in an effort to pay for the aging population. With the sponsorship of my company and using the new points system I changed to “Highly Skilled Professional (i) (b)” status.

I recently received an email from my accountant saying that the [Katainaka Prefecture] tax department is asking if I actually had more than 5,000,000 yen when I signed the statement over 5 years ago. I have ignored this.

I remember seeing that with the visa status I have, I do not need to declare foreign income. I don’t remember where I saw that, but I have no doubt that my current tax accountant is blissfully unaware of the implications of my current visa. I advised him for his information but received no response. The last communication was a relaying of the question from the [Katainaka Prefecture] Tax Office.

So, after that long-winded explanation, my question is; are you able to direct me to an English speaking tax accountant… who would be able to correctly lodge a tax return for me and offer advice? As I mentioned, the international tax specialists mentioned above are quite exorbitant, so I’m looking for a smaller scale accountant firm.

Thanks again and kind regards, “Tired Panda”
///////////////////////////////////////////
ENDS
======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 17: NIKE JAPAN Advertisement on Japan’s Visible Minorities does some good (Dec 21, 2020)

mytest

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Hi Blog. As promised in a previous blog entry, I would be giving my opinion on a recent advertisement from Nike Japan that got a lot of attention. We’ve already debated the ad itself on Debito.org here. Thanks for your feedback. Now here’s my take, as part of my latest Shingetsu News Agency column. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: Nike Japan Does Some Good
Shingetsu News Agency, DEC 21, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

SNA (Tokyo) — Nike’s television advertisement depicting a multiethnic Japan stands out as a bright spot to close out the dreadful year of 2020.

Entitled “We Will Continue Moving: Myself and the Future,” the two-minute ad depicts a series of diverse Asian youths pensive about their lives in Japan.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G02u6sN_sRc

Some are running about and kicking soccer balls while musing about their identity and their abilities. A voiceover has them wondering if they’re “normal,” or living up to expectations. One girl, shown in closeup in a school uniform, is clearly a Japanese with African roots. Another boy, after eating a Korean meal with his family, looks up the Zainichi issue late at night on his cellphone. Tennis champ Naomi Osaka’s photo makes a fleeting appearance, with a question about whether she’s American or Japanese. A girl finds Japan’s culture of cuteness doesn’t resonate with her, and wishes she could just ignore it all. Another girl gets glares for going out in public in her Korean school uniform. After more cuts to kids practicing their sports skills, scenes follow of school crowds staring and group-bullying minorities. One lad, drawn attention to by the teacher in class as a new transfer student, feels pressure to be liked by everyone. Another isolated kid feels pressure to tolerate her ostracisation, and then the African-Japanese girl reappears, trying to ignore the other kids who are making a fuss about her kinky hair in a school bathroom. As the music swells, these kids then seek solace in sports, becoming appreciated by their peers for their talents as star athletes—to the point where one girl tapes “KIM” over her Japanese name on the back of her jersey.

The takeaway message in a final montage of voices is the treatment they’re getting is not something they should have to tolerate. They shouldn’t have to wait for a world where they can live “as is,” without concealing themselves.

Now, before I say why this advertisement is important, let’s acknowledge some caveats. One is that this is from Nike Japan, and like all corporations their motivation is to make money. It is a stunt to attract attention and sell products.

Moreover, Nike taking a high road with social justice issues is a bit ironic, given their history of child labor and sweatshops. Above all, human rights and business do not always mix well, and businesspeople are essentially opportunists. So let’s first not delude ourselves to think Nike is primarily motivated by altruism.

The other point worth mentioning is the attention that the ad got: 11 million views so far on YouTube. Naturally, internet trolls, xenophobes, and haters got triggered. Unfortunately, even responsible media (such as the AFP and BBC) gave them oxygen by reporting their overblown calls for a boycott, then fumbled the issue by getting soundbites from unqualified “experts” with no real training in Japan’s history of civil rights, social movements, or race relations issues. These rubes missed the mark by denouncing Nike Japan as a “foreign brand,” or dismissing these kids as “outside voices.”

This is worse than just lazy journalist hackery. This fumble was a missed opportunity to highlight issues that have long been ignored in Japan’s media—the existence of a growing number of visible minorities. So let’s make up for that in this column by acknowledging that Nike Japan’s ad was a big step in the right direction.

First, let’s recap how big 2020 was for minorities in Japan sports:

Rest of the article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

Read it before it goes behind a paywall on Friday.

======================
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United Nations human rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation

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Hi Blog.  I wrote back in January in my Shingetsu News Agency column that Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan’s gaijin gulag was the right move — not least because Japan’s heavy-handed prosecutorial powers and treatment of criminal suspects is in itself a violation of human rights.  Now it turns out the United Nations would agree.  An AP article follows, courtesy of lots of people.  As Debito.org Reader JDG points out, “How’s that effort to turn Tokyo into an international financial hub going, BTW? Attracting much elite foreign talent? I guess Japan will be back in touch with the U.N. when it wants some more UNESCO listings…”

Given that Japan has been shamed for decades over its human rights record, and still has not passed a criminal law against racial discrimination as promised under international treaty it signed a quarter century ago (yes, way back in 1995!), I doubt this will mean much. But at least it’s a delicious vindication for our advocacy camp. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Crime
Human rights panel: Japan was wrong to detain Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation
Associated Press/Japan Today, Nov. 24, 2020
By JAMEY KEATEN
Courtesy https://japantoday.com/category/crime/Human-rights-panel-Japan-was-wrong-to-detain-Carlos-Ghosn-owes-him-compensation

GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.

The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country’s legal process.

In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.

While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.

Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.

In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.

The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”

The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.”

The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.

The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.

Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called daiyo kangoku system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.

“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”

“Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn,” it added.

Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr Ghosn, “specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media…”

Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said.

“He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.

Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.

Ghosn’s lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.

Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.
ENDS

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 15: “New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist”, on how they are actually a natural outcome of Japan’s bullying bureaucracy (Oct. 19, 2020)

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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////////////////////////////////

Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” column 15.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

=========================
Visible Minorities: New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist
OCT 19, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometime during your life in Japan, you will probably feel a chilling attitude in Japan’s bureaucracy: as a foreign resident, you don’t really matter. To Japan’s policymakers, you’re at best an existence to be tolerated, at worst an unpredictable element that needs constant policing.

You’ll see it in things like Japan’s special foreign registry systems, or the “Gaijin Cards” that must be carried 24-7 and leave you vulnerable to random street ID checks by racist cops.

But you might not have realized until recently the most dehumanizing tenet of all: That foreigners should have no legal expectation to belong here.

Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that Japan’s foreign residents have no “right of sojourn,” i.e., to leave Japan temporarily and expect to return. (Japan Times columnist Colin Jones called it a “reverse Hotel California”–you can leave any time you like, but can never check back in.)

That means that even if you invested your entire life in Japan, married a Japanese, had children, paid taxes, bought property, started a business, and even achieved Permanent Residency (which by definition should be a legitimate claim to reside here forever), nothing you did matters. You cross the border, you’re out.

Hypothetically, if push comes to shove, a Permanent Resident will have the same status as any foreign tourist at the border.

Well, that hypothetical came true last April when, due to Covid, Japan decided to bar all foreigners from re-entering Japan–even though Japanese could still return and merely quarantine. No other developed country does this, and there is no science indicating that Japanese passports offer enhanced epidemiological protection. It was purely arbitrary.

So foreign residents found themselves stranded overseas apart from their Japanese families, or watched helplessly from Japan as their overseas kith and kin died. This heartless and explicit racism attracted significant international attention, so from October 1, Japan announced it would open its borders to foreign residents under certain conditions.

But it turns out that, realistically, these conditions are still a ban…. By arbitrarily creating a tight 72-hour hour window requiring special paperwork unattuned to the realities of Covid testing overseas (especially when the test is meaningless if you get infected on the plane), Japan’s bureaucrats merely deflected international criticism from its regular racism by replacing it with new, improved racism.

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

======================
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W on Japan’s Kafkaesque and faulty re-entry procedures (even after October revisions to “open borders to Re-entry Visa foreign residents”): More elaborate racist barriers now.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  What follows below is an eyewitness account (redacted to remove personal identifiers) of a Permanent Resident of Japan, married to a Japanese for decades, who as a European went through re-entry procedures that apply to foreigners only (regardless of visa status) and not Japanese.  The Japanese Government claims they have made things easier for Non-Japanese re-entrants since October 1, but Debito.org Reader W would beg to differ below.

This Kafkaesque account will no doubt resonate with those who are used to Japanese bureaucracy, and doubly so when they see how racism (the belief that having a Japanese passport somehow makes you less contagious) is as usual part of the mix.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: W
Subject: My Investigation Story – W (posts on Debito blog)
Date: October 17, 2020 (revised version)
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Dear Debito,

Thank you for follow up on re-entry ban issue. It is very important that someone is trying to do something with this discriminatory measures. Here is my personal investigation. I have had enough with lack of clarification and just assumptions by posters around various news venues.

I spoke with one of the Japanese Embassies in Europe to ask about the procedure. They were very kind and helpful. I would advise everyone to contact them in the country you are staying, not to read the “assumptions” in other media.  I also asked about my Japanese spouse who is always with me in the same country where we spent the last half year. Let me start from her, because her case is short.

Well, my spouse doesn’t need anything even though we would re-enter together from the same country where we lived together. Japanese don’t need to prove negative Covid exposure (through a PCR test) prior to return to Japan. However, I as a foreigner need a) a PCR test, administered in the foreign country 72 hours before departure, and b) a “Confirmation Letter” with “Certificate of Testing for COVID-19” signed and sealed by the lab by the foreign country that conducted this PCR test. ( I sent you screenshot proof).  In spite of the kindness over the phone, I realized that their attitude is that only we foreigners carry viruses after all.

One of my questions was about PCR lab because officially without minor symptoms one cannot be tested in my foreign country.  The Embassy told me the whereabouts of some labs that do test without symptoms, and I was given the names. I was reminded that unlike regular PCR tests, these is not free and I will have to pay for it.

I continued to ask further questions about how it works, because it would be rather impossible to set up everything within 72 hours, including a getting that Confirmation Letter and “PCR Certificate” from the Embassy which takes a couple of days to receive.  That looks like this (PDF):

PCR Certificate for Japan

Also see example from the Japanese Consulate, Boston, USA. https://www.boston.us.emb-japan.go.jp/files/100098498.pdf

I also asked why do I need such letter at all when I already have a re-entry seal? The answer I received was:

The Confirmation Letter is necessary to control inflow of foreign re-entrants, so they can follow up with testing capacity at the airport. If too many of them ask to re-enter then the Government may ask to temporary stop issuing those letters. (This sounds like the option for a re-entry ban again).

Anyway, I continued with questions about timing. And this is where it shows totally different story from what people “assume” on various posts.

Test result time varies by countries. I want to point that I`m against of PCR test if it doesn’t involve everyone regardless of their nationality.

Interestingly, we don’t have to show to Embassy our PCR result in order to receive Confirmation Letter. I was advised to begin process with the letter, which takes couple of days to receive it and then do the test after that. If it comes up negative then I can purchase a ticket. (72 hours before takeoff the ticket price would probably be tripled.)

Anyway, I wanted to be sure, so I asked questions again:

Me Q: Does this mean I don`t have to bring PCR to show you in order to apply and receive Confirmation Letter?

Emb A: No, because you won`t be allowed in without PCR result with only the letter itself. This is why you can apply as soon as you want to.

Me Q: Do I have to come to the Embassy? It takes about an hour drive one way.

Emb A: Yes, we need your Passport and ID. (ONE MUST HAVE VALID RE-ENTRY)

Me Q: Fair enough. Do I have to pick up in person too?

Emb A: Yes, you have to come again to pick it up. (Note: another 2 hours lost from the 72-hour window)

Me Q: What happens when I arrive in Tokyo? I know there is another test and then…?

Emb. A: We don`t have such information, I will give you phone number so you can call to ask in Japan
Me: OK,Thank you.

I received the number, and my spouse called that number next day. I can say that the staff was extremely helpful and explained to us everything. We also called Japanese Immigration too. They also were very helpful.  A lot of hassle, but at least we had very kind people on the other side of the line.

Initially I gave up on returning to Japan for time being. My spouse was crying, because going back alone was not what we always do. We live and travel together. In our long marriage we are never separated. We are a happy couple. I cannot blame my spouse for what the Japanese Government does to separate international families.

Whenever we enter Europe, my spouse always goes with me to almost empty immigration line for EU Citizens, because residency permit holders can do it.  However in Japan at the entry point we are separated.  I`m fingerprinted and photographed as a suspicious resident — and now this extra set of hoops to jump through, because I may be a threat to Japan’s National Security. (The Covid re-entry ban is based on such an assumption.)  I admire Japan and people and always follow the rules, never had any problems and I don’t see myself having any wherever I go. National Security would some kind of real accusation IMO.

Now, back to testing abroad, which differs from the requirements for Japanese people:

I didn’t want to be separated from my spouse, so I decided to go ahead and go through all the hassle.

The PCR test certificate must be filled in on a specific document prepared by MOFA.  You can’t download it.  You have to go to the Embassy and get it.  On their paper. It’s the best if the PCR testing lab fills it in and stamps it. Foreign-issued certificates are not accepted, because they do not specify the exact method that the test has been done. They show COVID-19 Test – NEGATIVE or POSITIVE – and whether the sample was from nose or throat. That’s it.

The European labs I spoke with told me that they send test results within 24 hours, with the certificate either by email, or one must login to the lab portal and download it. I sent them the Japanese template sample and asked if they would fill in the form for me, as this is specific for Japan. They told me NO, because we send all certificates by email. Our certificate has been approved and accepted in many other countries that require all arrivals to bring negative PCR test result (not just foreigners). If I want, I can find another lab.

According to MOFA, the requirements must be specifically followed or one will not be allowed in. Besides, I checked drive-through testing that one can see on the edge of many European cities. I looked from the distance and found that all tests are done from throat swab. But these tests are for people who have Covid symptoms and are referred there by health authorities (free test).  But, again, they won’t test me unless I’m symptomatic.  I’m not.

Japanese PCR test rules from Japan Times (Aug 31, 2020):
====
Only negative results for molecular diagnostic tests conducted via nasopharyngeal swab or saliva samples using the real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction method (RT-PCR), loop-mediated isothermal amplification method (LAMP) or an antigen test using the chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassay (CLEIA) method will be recognized as valid. Such tests need to be conducted within 72 hours prior to departure and documents confirming the procedure need to be filled out entirely in English and need to be signed by a doctor from the medical institution where the test was conducted or have the institution’s stamp. The officials suggest using the certification form for COVID-19 tests, which can be found on the justice ministry’s website.
====

I found a lab which was new in my area and they would help me. After retrieving the Confirmation Letter from the Embassy, I scheduled PCR test 2 weeks later. Meanwhile, I took the risk to lose money by purchasing a plane ticket at the same time as the PCR test without the option to cancel it regardless of the situation. My Travel Insurance confirmed that they would not reimburse me either due to positive PCR test. I took the risk of a negative outcome because if I bought it after a negative PCR test, it would probably cost me triple within that 72-hour window. My spouse was incredibly happy that we will go together. I said to her: Darling, hold on, we need test result first. The same day late evening it arrived. NEGATIVE! Baby, we go together as planned.

It was not the end of story yet.

I received foreign certificate pdf which was signed and stamped by a doctor with blue pen. It was not enough though. Not enough for Japanese requirements. I was lucky that the lab was kind enough and told me to come back next day to give me a printed “negative “certificate they issued, my passport and Japanese printed form. They will do for me what I need.  It just cost me well over 100 Euros.

I went there the next day with pre-filled form with my details only to ask for REAL stamp and doctor’s REAL signature. Now I had everything that I needed to re-enter Japan.

My lab was close enough, but imagine if someone live far away or if they didn’t open new lab closer to me, then I would have to drive 1-2h to do the test in another city and then next day to waste the same time to get “REAL” certificate signed. I can tell you that immigration in Japan did not accept foreign issued document. I pulled it up first to see what happens. Well, I had to give them the form required by MOFA. They took away from me both. What if I didn’t have the Japanese version? Would I be sent back?

At the airport in Japan

Here, everyone of course goes through a lot of paperwork, stamps, signs etc. It should be more digitized to allow more arrivals. Anyway, after they take your foreign PCR test, Japanese Immigration then tests you again via PCR from saliva. One needs to spit 1mm into given small container. (it’s not always as easy as it seems). Then, next step is to go through another round of paperwork and then to a special room where you have an assigned chair with your number received earlier. The PCR result comes within about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once the result arrives, there is another small round paperwork, with all the documents such as PCR Certificates from abroad, PCR result from airport, 2 documents that everyone had to fill in in the plane plus passport being presented to the Immigration.

Japanese Citizens are free to go after showing a passport and taking a PCR test administered by Japanese Immigration, while foreign residents are stopped for a little bit longer than usual.  I spent about 10 minutes longer because of checking all document, having my photo and fingerprints taken.  Then one must go to another booth where another officer re-confirms again if all these docs are in order, then stamps it, signs it and at the end you are free to enter.

I don’t mind doing this procedure as long as everyone is treated equal regardless of their nationality.  Including Japanese. However, most of the European countries do the Covid test upon arrival. In Germany, for example, if you show negative test from your country you let through without additional tests at the border. (I’m not sure if this is the same for all countries). I do wish that Japan would change their stance towards residents such as at least Spouses of Japanese (first of all when traveling together to/from the same place) and PRs.

The biggest obstacles for some of you might be to return to the lab again to have the Japanese form filled in. Good Luck!

In the end, let me summarize what I went through:

Step 1:
Japanese Embassy – Apply for Confirmation Letter. 1h drive one way (probably not required anymore since Suga became PM).

3 Days later
Japanese Embassy – Pick up confirmation letter. 1h drive one way

Step 2:
PCR test (lucky they opened just recently a lab close to me)

Step 3:
Next day go back to the lab to stamp and sign the Japanese document by a doctor. This is only when test comes back negative.

Step 4 (when all above is done):
Airlines require to fill in (or rather tick boxes) on their own document. This must be done prior to boarding.

Step 5:
Japan now requires another form to be filled in once inside the plane to “catch” early those at high risk who may be infected and may need hospitalization. (This is not a failsafe; anyone can lie on any forms, including these given by airlines.)

Step 6:
Another PCR in Japan at the airport upon arrival. (Other countries, such as Germany, respect certificates issued elsewhere when showed at the border, and next PCR is not necessary then.)

Anyway, I hope this is quite clear what`s happening. I do hope you still fight for changing things. I don’t mind PCR testing in principle, but then test everyone the same, including Japanese, or at least accept foreign certificate sent by email as other countries do.

Sincerely, W

======================
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Oct 1, 2020’s new govt regulations for NJ Resident Re-Entry: Not much of a change. Racialized barriers still up; instead, “business travelers” and “foreign tourists” may soon be prioritized

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Hi Blog.  October 1, 2020 was announced to be a new day for Japan’s racist border controls.  From last April until then, all foreigner border crossers were legally treated as if they were a special source of contagion, affected differently by COVID than somehow-immune Japanese, and banned from entry.  Further, unlike any other advanced industrialized country, the Japanese Government banned re-entry even to all Non-Japanese Residents with valid visas.  Naturally, as covered before on Debito.org (see herehere, here, here, and here), this racist policy has separated families and destroyed NJ lives and livelihoods.

People have protested this, and media has questioned the actual science behind this differential treatment.  So on October 1, the government “changed” its policy to allow in “mid- to long-term visa” holders.  But as protest petitioner Sven Kramer points out:

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

https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-entry-ban-on-legal-foreign-residents-of-japan/u/27821948

On the reopening of the border for all non-Japanese nationals holding mid- and long-term visas

クラーマー スベン

Japan

OCT 2, 2020 — 

On October 1, 2020, the government of Japan reopened the border for all holders of mid- and long-term visas. Getting a negative PCR test result 72 hours before departing for Japan is a necessary requirement. I strongly welcome this reopening. As I have implied in the other status update one month ago, I personally can accept this overseas test requirement for foreign nationals who want to newly enter Japan. But it should be limited to new entries only. However, the government still is bestowing this requirement on all foreign residents, not distinguishing between new entry and re-entry (only special permanent residents and diplomats are exempt). It is my sincere belief that, at least when it comes to epidemiological issues, the procedure for re-entry should not be different per nationality. This is why I unfortunately have to announce that despite this very welcomed reopening of the border, this petition will stay up until every re-entrant gets treated equally at the quarantine booth.

The new official material by the government of Japan: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001329914.pdf

 

中長期在留資格を獲得した外国人の新規入国の再開に当たって

令和2年10月1日から日本国政府は、中長期在留資格を新しく獲得した外国人の新規入国を認めるようになりました。日本へ出発する前72時間以内の陰性のPCR検査結果を手に入れるのが条件です。この緩和を強く歓迎します。1か月前の進捗報告で示唆した通り、新規に入国しようとする外国人にこの条件をかけるのを少なくとも私が容認できます。ただあくまで新規に入国する外国人の場合だけです。しかし、この条件はもう日本に住んでいて一時的に出国した外国人にも相変わらずかかっています。言い換えれば、外国人(「特別永住者」、「外交」および「公用」の在留資格保持者を除く)に限って再入国と新規入国を同じに取り扱うわけです。しかし、私の深い信念では、防疫問題において国籍を根拠に再入国の手続きを違うものにすべきではありません。このため、残念ながら本陳情書をまだ閉じることができません。引き続きご賛同をよろしくお願い申し上げます。

法務省よりの資料: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327502.pdf

Review and sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-entry-ban-on-legal-foreign-residents-of-japan/u/27821948

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

Ironically, there’s also the issue of the Japanese Government now considering prioritizing “business travelers” and “foreign tourists” for special entry exemptions.  However, as usual, it seems our actual taxpaying NJ Residents (including “Green-Card”-holding regular Permanent Residents) with families and lives in Japan don’t matter as much.

On top of that, there’s an issue with how these PCR tests for clean bills of health have been enforced, from eyewitnesses at the border writing in to Debito.org.  I will get into this in my next blog entry. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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Updated petition against Japan Foreign Resident Re-Entry Ban: Still discriminatory: Requires extra hurdles for all NJ only, including extra GOJ permissions and overseas Covid tests

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader Sven Kramer sends this update to a petition he launched against the Japanese Government’s Re-Entry Ban on visa-carrying NJ Residents, who were barred (unlike Japanese citizens) on an unscientific supposition that foreigners are more likely to carry Covid.  And this racist policy caused great hardship to many.

As of September 1, 2020, thanks in part to some impressive international and domestic protests, the Japanese Government as amended this ban. Now it’s no longer a blanket ban. Instead, there are extra hoops, including an exit permission and an unreasonable expectation of test results abroad (when domestic tests can reveal the same symptoms) that are only applied to foreigners, same as before.

Moreover, Japanese citizens are still treated as less likely to have disease, in spite of all the science that shows that Covid does not recognize differences in nationality. Consider this new report from the Japan Times, excerpting (courtesy of W):

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

[…] Even so, entry procedures will differ for those abroad who are seeking re-entry and residents in Japan who are planning to leave… [sparking concerns that even legal residents may face deportation due to unclear and strict requirements that differ from those applied to residents with Japanese passports].

Non-Japanese who left Japan by the end of August will need to contact the nearest Japanese Embassy or diplomatic office to acquire a letter confirming they have valid visas and are allowed to return. Those who left as early as April 3 or after travel restrictions were imposed on their destinations, and were denied the right to return as their circumstances did not qualify for exceptional treatment, will also be able to obtain such certificates.

People who are planning to leave Japan after Sept.1 are required to give the Immigration Services Agency detailed plans on their itinerary and will be allowed to travel as soon as they receive a document confirming the request has been accepted. They will not need to apply for additional documents from an embassy or consular office.

The ISA has warned, however, that they may suspend document issuance for applicants seeking re-entry if testing capacity at airports is insufficient to handle all foreign travelers. Japan was planning to boost its testing capacity to 10,000 per day at the major international airports ー Haneda, Narita and Kansai.

The ISA is set to disclose an email address where requests for re-entry can be sent on its website at noon on Tuesday. Travelers will need to input their residence card number, nationality, and other details as stated on their passport, as well as details of the trip, including destination, planned departure and re-entry dates and information on which airports the traveler will use.

Residents planning to leave between Tuesday and Sunday are requested to share the date of their return during the departure procedure at the airport.

However, starting from September, all non-Japanese, including permanent residents, will be required to undergo specific tests for COVID-19 in accordance with Japan’s guidelines prior to their leaving for Japan. The government has warned that not complying may result in denied entry.

The Immigration Services Agency has claimed the strict conditions are aimed at limiting the spread of the virus in Japan. In contrast, however, Japanese nationals coming from abroad are not required to undergo pre-entry tests for COVID-19…

Full article at:https://www.japantimes.co.jp/?post_type=news&p=2739610
===============================

Sven’s amended petition is below, forwarding with permission. Feel free to sign it. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-entry-ban-on-legal-foreign-residents-of-japan/u/27637556

About the lifting of the reentry ban against legal non-Japanese residents of Japan since September 1

クラーマー スベン

Japan

SEP 1, 2020 — 

About the lifting of the reentry ban against legal non-Japanese residents of Japan since September 1, 2020, and the future of this petition

Since September 1, 2020, all legal non-Japanese residents of Japan can leave and reenter the country. This is a very important and uplifting development. With this most recent easing of restrictions, almost all points of this petition were met.

However, one vital point of this petition (equal treatment of all legal residents at the border regardless of nationality) is still not fulfilled. Only non-Japanese residents have to apply for a Receipt for Request of Re-entry at the Immigration Services Agency before departing from Japan. No explanation in given why this is necessary and why a valid residence card and the normal reentry permit is not enough. Furthermore, only non-Japanese residents (except for diplomats and special permanent residents) have to take a PCR test abroad within 72 hours before the departure for Japan. However, this requirement can nobody meet who stays in a country which does not test people without symptoms or does not deliver the results on time. And anyway, the PCR test at the Japanese port of entry should suffice. Residents of Japan have Japanese health insurance. This is why they are entitled to treatment in Japan if the PCR test at the Japanese airport should turn out to be positive.

Requesting negative PCR tests before going to Japan should be limited to non-Japanese who want to newly enter Japan. This requirement should not be bestowed upon legal residents, who have their livelihoods already in Japan. Therefore, this petition is going to continue until the requirement of PCR tests abroad is abolished for all legal residents of Japan regardless of nationality.

The official documents in question by the Ministry of Justice of Japan:
“Regarding denial of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19”: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327574.pdf
“Additional Epidemic Prevention and Control Measures for the Entry of Re-entry of Foreign Nationals”: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327575.pdf

Japanese Version:

令和2年9月1日開始の再入国拒否政策の緩和と今後の対応について

日本の中長期在留資格を有する外国人(外国籍の住民)は令和2年9月1日から水際対策が大幅緩和され、海外旅行の後で再入国できるようになりました。これは嬉しいこととして評価します。これで本陳情書の請願がほとんど叶いました。

しかし、本陳情書の重要な請願の一つ(外国籍住民と日本国籍保持者ならびに特別永住者との同等な待遇)にまだ適合していません。具体的には、外国籍住民だけ海外へ出国前に出入国在留管理庁に届け出なければなりません。なぜ有効な在留カードと通常の再入国許可だけで足りないのか、どこにも説明されていません。そして、8月5日からのルールと同じように、日本に帰る前に渡航先で出発前72時間以内に陰性のPCR検査の証明書を手に入れなければなりません(「外交」、「公務」、「特別永住者」という在留資格・身分を除く)。ただ、これは渡航先によってクリアできない条件です。症状がないと検査が受けられない国または検査結果が72時間以内に出ない国からの出発だったら、クリアできません。しかし、日本の空港でのPCR検査だけで十分のはずです。なぜかというと、住民は日本の健康保険に加入しており、仮に再入国時のPCR検査を陽性であっても、日本の健康保険を使った上日本の医療機関で治療を受ける権利があるはずです。

海外で出発前のPCR検査は新規に入国しようとする外国人に対して求めるべきだと考えております。すでに生活基盤を日本に築いたものに対する待遇であるべきではありません。よって、国籍を問わず日本の全住民に対して海外でのPCR検査を受ける義務が撤廃されるまで本陳情活動を続けます。

法務省HPからの史料:
新型コロナウイルス感染症の拡大防止に係る上陸拒否について(令和2年8月28日現在): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327502.pdf
外国人の入国・再入国に係る追加的な防疫措置について(令和2年8月28日現在): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327504.pdf

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Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities 13: “Japan’s Cult of Miserable Happy”, Aug 24, 2020, questioning whether “omotenashi” Japan is actually all that hospitable to anyone, what with such a strong “culture of no”

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest column. Enjoy the rest of your summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

/////////////////////////////////////
Visible Minorities: Japan’s Cult of Miserable Happy
Shingetsu News Agency, Column 13, AUG 24, 2020
By DEBITO ARUDOU
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/08/24/visible-minorities-japans-cult-of-miserable-happy/

…These are sobering times for Japan fans. Thanks to the pandemic, even the most starry-eyed and enfranchised foreigners are having their bubbles burst, realizing that their status in Japan, no matter how hard-earned, matters not one whit to Japan’s policymakers.

As covered elsewhere, current immigration policy dictates that Japanese citizens can leave and re-enter the country at will, as long as they subject themselves to testing and quarantine upon return. But that doesn’t apply to Japan’s resident non-citizens.

Despite widespread protest (and some token revisions), they still generally get barred from re-entry, meaning thousands of foreign workers, spouses, and students are either stranded overseas, watching helplessly as their Japan livelihoods and investments dry up, or stranded in Japan unable to attend to family business or personal tragedy, at a time when thousands of people worldwide die of Covid daily.

Targeting all foreigners only as vessels of virus makes it clearer than ever that Japan’s requirements for membership are racist. It strips yet another layer of credibility from the “Cool Japan” trope, such as the overhyped “culture of hospitality” (omotenashi) during Japan’s buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Since this is an opportune time to remove layers of lies from Japan’s narrative, let’s address another one: That Japan is an unusually hospitable place…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/08/24/visible-minorities-japans-cult-of-miserable-happy/

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SIM on the text of the Ministry of Justice’s “Foreigner Re-Entry Ban”, on paper. Debito.org Readers are invited to offer their experiences in practice.

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Hi Blog. Let me reproduce here some a comment that Debito.org Reader SIM made elsewhere:

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

SIM: I haven’t posted here in quite some time, but with the abhorrent situation as it is I must say something. The reprehensible circumstances for Chris above are something that nobody should face at any time in their life. The manner in which the government has taken this policy of banishing any legal resident with a foreign passport from returning to their livelihood, their family and any assets that they hold if they set one foot outside Japan because of a virus that cannot see the color of said passport is underhand to say the least.

Adding insult to injury is the law on which the MoJ is basing this discriminatory treatment. From a document called “Regarding refusal of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus)” on the MoJ website, I have found that the legislation relied upon is Article 5 of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act which reads as follows:

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

“Article 5 (1) A foreign national who falls under any of the following items is denied permission to land in Japan:
“Paragraphs (i) to (xiii) (abbrev.)
“(xiv) Beyond those persons listed in items (i) through (xiii), a person whom the Minister of Justice has reasonable grounds to believe is likely to commit an act which could be detrimental to the interests or public security of Japan.
“(2) (abbrev.)”

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

Basically, this shows that the government of Japan believes that, with the outbreak of COVID-19, notwithstanding the fact that we may be legal residents and taxpayers, anybody with a foreign passport is a ‘danger’ to the nation and should be banished if they dare to venture outside of its borders.

This is literally the Government of Japan sticking their middle finger at us who have contributed so much to the nation. With one 3 page notice, the MoJ has arbitrarily revoked both our legal status here and the basic human rights to free movement and to domicile, not to mention the human rights of our spouses and children.

Frankly, with the government’s complete lack of abilities and policies for the current pandemic, and now this, the latest instance of their complete disregard for legal residents, I’ve had enough. After 36 years here, with nearly 30 years as a law abiding taxpayer, I’ve decided to get out while I still can. I am in the process of tying up all loose ends and returning to my country of birth, which I might add has not had any community trasmission of COVID-19 for over two and a half months.  Regards, SIM.

(The MOJ documentation of border re-entry rules for non-citizens, as of July 1, 2020, is at the bottom of this blog post.)

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

COMMENT:  Debito.org invites Readers to comment on their experiences with the Ministry of Justice at the border.  Whether it’s a) you left and re-entered without incident, b) you inquired about leaving in advance and received information that inspired or dispelled confidence in the process, c) you received an unexpected surprise at the border despite all the information you had, or d) you wound up in exile, etc., please let us know. Please use a pseudonym.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

What follows are some excerpts of some of what I’ve heard so far.  Click on the names to read the full comment.

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

Chris:  “I had to go to a separate counter and forced to sign documentation barring me from re-entry which I reluctantly signed because had I not signed, immigration officials probably wouldn’t have let me proceed or questioned me. Had I known that I was essentially forced to sign documentation barring me from re-entry, I would’ve considered not leaving. Now, I can no longer see my wife and children.”

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

Japan Times courtesy Rochelle Kopp:

“Japan was been unique among the G7 nations in treating its foreign residents differently from its citizens, who are allowed to enter the country as long as they submit to a PCR test at their port of entry and agree to isolate themselves for two weeks afterward… The government permits exceptions to the re-entry ban on humanitarian grounds, such as when someone needs to visit a critically ill relative or attend a funeral. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, however, which doesn’t allow for certainty or reliability… A recent survey conducted by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan of its members showed that 78 percent of them regard the entry ban as a significant burden to their businesses. In addition, 79 percent of the affected companies say their turnover is endangered because ongoing projects cannot be completed and new projects cannot be initiated.”

Amelie Le Boeuf: “I resent having all the obligations of a Japanese citizen when it comes to paying tax etc., but not the same protection. Seeing how my fellow foreign residents are being treated makes me feel like we’ll always just be ‘pawns,’ second-class residents, that can be discarded whenever Japan enters into a crisis period.”

Joe Van Alstyne:  “Many of us are committed to living here and do everything we can to positively contribute to Japanese society. But this situation feels like we’re being treated no differently than basic tourists, despite the work we’ve put in to live here.”

Law Professor Colin P.A. Jones: “The courts have always been clear that non-Japanese people have no constitutionally protected ‘right of sojourn’ to leave the country temporarily and freely return. What we are now seeing is just a manifestation of a basic legal question that has always been there for non-Japanese residents: How safe is it to invest in Japan — time, energy, capital — if you suddenly may be unable to enter (or re-enter) the country?”

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

Chottomat: “I’m going to leave Japan on 7th August for the UK for ‘medical reasons’ with my spouse visa. I phoned the immigration and they said it was a case of “on the day you return, you state your reason for leaving to the immigration clerk, and they decide on the spot whether to let you back in or not. Supporting documentation would help, he said. Still doesn’t get around the blatant racism, though.”

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

Realitycheck:  “A Japanese person I know had the audacity to shrug off members of his international company being refused entry to Japan. He said it wasn’t discrimination but I put him right about that. I also told him he had benefited greatly from the non Japanese system in his company and had he been a foreigner in a Japanese company, he would never have reached his current position of privilege. He probably won’t speak to me again but that’s fine. This and other attitudes from a Japanese who has lived abroad and been given equal treatment in non-Japanese societies and companies, are pretty normal.”

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

Ben:  “Australia ensured that its permanent residents could return, particular if they had immediate family in Australia. Why should Japan bar me from returning? It’s simply unfair!”

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

NiklasDid anyone see the press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs? Basically this guy doesn‘t care at all that all foreign residents are barred from entering the country. Japan isn‘t even hiding it anymore, they just don‘t give a damn about foreign residents.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx-0he_oj20

Because of that Germany decided to ban Japanese travelers as long as German residents are not allowed in to Japan.
https://japan.diplo.de/ja-ja/service/-/2321032

Note how this only applies to travelers, since banning legal non German residents would be illegal according to German law of course.

出入国制限

ドイツへの渡航

疫学的状況が一部改善したことを受け、EU理事会は2020年6月30日にEU委員会による入国制限緩和に関する草案に基づく勧告を採択しました。この勧告に従って、加盟国では段階的に制限が緩和されていきます。理事会勧告では、制限緩和にあたって相互性も考慮されるべきであるとしています。

日本の長期滞在資格を持ったドイツ人が日本からドイツに渡航する場合、管理された枠組みの中で日本に再入国できる見通しが持てるようになることが、ドイツ連邦共和国にとって特に重要な懸案となっています。また、それ以外のドイツ人に関しても、特段の理由がある場合は管理された枠組みの中で日本への入国が認められるべきです。そのため、ドイツから日本への渡航者への入国制限緩和が合意に至るまで、当面、日本からドイツへの渡航者の入国制限は継続されます。

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

Jaocnanoni: “There are no regular direct connections between Japan and a country not on the ban list, and just changing planes at an airport in a country on the list makes you eligible for the ban. Under this circumstances it’s boiling down to a de facto blanket ban, and the few exceptions in place aren’t applicable for the vast majority of NJ residents.”

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

Sven Kramer: “– The number of foreign long-term residents, permanent residents and foreigners who live as relatives of Japanese citizens, is more than 2 million people.
– They are equal to Japanese citizens in regard of being part of Japanese society, and contributing daily to Japan as employees, teachers, business owners, or tax payers, to name a few of their contributions.
– Because of this, if they have to travel abroad for a very good or unavoidable reason, they must not be subject to the generic entry ban like short-term visitors and should be granted reentry into Japan under the same conditions that apply to Japanese citizens and special permanent residents immediately.
– One part of Japanese society must not be treated like random visitors even under the intention to prevent the international spread of COVID-19.
– Especially the reentry ban on foreign relatives of Japanese citizens is a huge problem, which is not only a human rights violation, but probably a violation of Japan’s constitution, too.”

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

John:  Latest iteration, courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of July 22, 2020:

https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html

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

The MOJ documentation as of July 1, 2020, courtesy of SIM (click on image to expand):

(Originals on MOJ site here)

ENDS

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“A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 12 on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry, July 20, 2020

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Visible Minorities Column 12: A Despotic Bridge Too Far
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 20, 2020

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

SNA (Tokyo) — How bad does it have to get? I’m talking about Japan’s cruelty and meanness towards its Non-Japanese residents. How bad before people think to step in and stop it?

I think we now have an answer to that due to Japan’s recent policy excluding only foreigners from re-entry at its border, even if they’ve lived here for decades, as a by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic. Japanese re-entrants get let in after testing and quarantine; no other G7 country excludes all foreigners only.

Consequently, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.

However, protests against this policy have been unusually mainstream, including institutions who have been for generations largely silent regarding other forms of discrimination towards foreigners in Japan. Consider these examples of how institutionalized and embedded racism is in Japan:

You’re probably aware that Japan has long advertised itself as a “monocultural, homogeneous society,” denying that minorities, racial or ethnic, exist within it. But did you know that Japan still refuses to include Non-Japanese residents as “people” in its official population tallies? Or to list them on official family registries as “spouses” of Japanese? Or that Japan’s constitution expressly reserves equality under the law for Japanese citizens (kokumin) in its Japanese translation? This complicates things for all Non-Japanese residents to this day…

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

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Info on Black Lives Matter demos in Japan in response to excessive police force towards a Kurdish Resident; also the backlash of right-wing Tokyo Katsushika-ku Assemblyman Suzuki Nobuyuki: “expel any foreign demonstrators”.

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

Hi Blog.  As you know, following the George Floyd et al. killings by police in America, there is an international wave of condemnation towards institutionalized racism and brutality in law enforcement.  Japan is not exempt from this (in fact, institutionalized embedded racism is one of the reasons Debito.org exists, and the Japanese police are notorious for their normalized racial profiling), and a recent case (see Reuters article below) of a Kurdish man being assaulted by police during a traffic stop has made news.  Given this flashpoint, a Black Lives Matter movement of protecting minorities against state-sponsored unchecked violence has taken wing around Japan.  Please join in if you’re interested.  Information website here:

https://blacklivesmattertokyo.carrd.co/

More on what BLM Kansai has been doing is also at SNA here:

 

Bravo. Meanwhile, as SNA has pointed out, certain elements within Japan have a problem with any Non-Japanese trying claiming their rights in Japan even through peaceful public protest:  Veteran anti-foreign rightwinger Nobuyuki Suzuki, currently a Katsushika Ward assemblyman, demands that any foreigner who engages in a street protest should be tracked down by the police and expelled from the country. (MP)”

 

After all, according to the Suzukis of Japan, foreigners don’t belong here.  They aren’t kokumin, and because they are only here by permission of the government, by definition they should not protest; they should be just good little Guests or get out.  Japan for the Japanese.  You know the mantra.  Even though public demonstrations (for example, by NJ workers in labor unions) are perfectly legal, and have been going on for decades.

That’s why social movements should crest and clean these exclusionary bigots out of government.  And Debito.org will at least add its voice in support.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Reuters article:

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

REUTERS WORLD NEWS, JUNE 6, 2020
Kurdish case becomes rallying cry for Japan protest against police
By Mari Saito
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-protests-japan/kurdish-case-becomes-rallying-cry-for-japan-protest-against-police-idUSKBN23D0JG

PHOTO CAPTION: A demonstrator wearing a mask holds an ”Antifaschistische Aktion” flag during a protest march over the alleged police abuse of a Turkish man, in echoes of a Black Lives Matter protest, following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis, in Tokyo, Japan June 6, 2020. 

TOKYO (Reuters) – The case of a Kurdish man who says he was stopped and shoved to the ground by Tokyo police became a rallying cry for protesters marching in solidarity with Black Lives Matter on Saturday.

Several hundred people chanting “I can’t breathe” to invoke the death of George Floyd in the United States marched through the trendy Shibuya district on a sultry afternoon, saying that police abuse – particularly against foreigners – was a problem at home as well.

“I feel very sad,” said Tomohiko Tsurumi, 43, who joined the march with his wife. “I always thought of this country as very safe and I realized that there is so much (police action) we cannot see.”

The 33-year-old Turkish man of Kurdish origin, who asked not to be named, told Reuters this week that he was stopped by police driving in downtown Tokyo on May 22 – three days before George Floyd died in Minneapolis when a police office knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

When the man would not allow police to search his car, two officers shouted at him and shoved him to the ground, the man said. A friend in his car filmed part of the incident.

Police declined to comment, saying they have not made anything public about the incident.

The video, seen by Reuters, includes the officers yelling at him to sit and not make trouble. One of the officers can be seen kicking the man in the leg before making him crouch on the ground.

That officer can be seen with his arms around the man’s neck, telling him to be quiet.

“I couldn’t breathe. If my friend hadn’t been filming I don’t know what would have happened,” the man said, adding the encounter left him with bruises on his neck and back.

“This was in the middle of the day and I was on the way to my dentist,” said the man, who said he has lived in Japan for 15 years and was not at Saturday’s protest due to what organizers said was fear of being arrested. “That’s what’s so upsetting.”

The man filed an assault suit against the two officers with Tokyo prosecutors on May 27, said his lawyer, Yasuaki Nara.

An African man at the demonstration with a friend said their appearance got them more scrutiny from Japanese police.

“I feel what George Floyd was feeling,” he said, declining to give his name or his country of origin. “We feel what his family is feeling.”
ENDS

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Debito interviewed by Shingetsu News Agency’s “Speakeasy” forum: “Japan’s Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus”, Apr 27, 2020

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Hi Blog.  In lieu of a longer blog entry, here’s an interview I had with the Shingetsu News Agency, in one of their “Speakeasys” (25 minutes):

I’m making the case that the GOJ could be doing a much worse job taking care of their NJ Residents, but that’s because people have been vigilant about potential human rights abuses. It could very easily revert to racist and exclusionary habits if systems get overloaded or panic hits. Also, I argue that it’s also incumbent upon NJ Residents themselves to step out of their “Guestism” mentalities and claim their due as taxpayers and residents.

(If you haven’t become a supporter of this important (and solitary) venue for independent journalism in Japan, please do. $2 a month gets you access to all articles, including my “Visible Minorities” columns. It’s a worthy venture.)  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Kyoto Nakagyou-ku issues comic book on local street safety to grade schoolers, created by Kyoto Seika Univ & Kyoto International Manga Museum, portraying “foreigners” as unintelligible ill-mannered tourists!

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Hi Blog. As I recently said in an interview with the Shingetsu News Agency, people who live in Japan (including NJ Residents) have to speak up if they feel they are being unfairly treated or depicted in public.  And they do, sometimes with success.

Consider the case of RJO below, who writes that he saw a Kyoto Government comic book (ironically, scripted and edited by Kyoto Seika University, in conjunction with the Kyoto International Manga Museum! ) issued to local grade-school children about traffic safety (a concern in Kyoto for commuting kids). Amidst other concerns, the booklet veered off on a tangent to target and alienate “foreigners” (not to mention Visible Minorities) as loud, ill-mannered loiterers and litterers.

That’s the NJ Community’s only appearance in the comic — as guests (not Residents).  Of course, according to eyewitness reports (and personal experience), this is in spite of ill-mannered loud littering Japanese around Kyoto as well.  (Those kind of manners, you see, are exogenous to Japan.  Even an elementary school student knows that.  Now!)

The good news is that RJO and a friend took this up on Facebook, then directly with the City Government. Within hours the downloadable link to this booklet disappeared!

Turning the keyboard over to RJO now to tell his story. Good job, you two. Again, if you live here as a Resident, you have to make yourself known as one sometimes. Demand non-differential treatment. And definitely demand not to be alienated in a primary school setting! Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

To: debito@debito.org
From: RJO
Date: April 26, 2020

Dear Debito, I am a French national living in Kyoto, Japan for 12 years now. I have a Japanese wife and two daughters.

My older daughter is studying at Kyoto International French School (LFIK), but she is allowed to attend classes at our local elementary school, one of the few in Kyoto where the head of school accepts students from international schools during the holidays.

We did not attend the school’s “nyûgakushi” (annual opening ceremonies), but managed to meet the teacher and grab some documents.

I noticed later, at home, that they had given us a booklet about “street safety”. The reason why is because downtown Kyoto is not very safe for children. No sidewalk, narrow streets, “nagara unten” from both cars and cycles, tobacco, etc…

[“Taking Back the Streets: A city where people can enjoy walking” produced by the Kyoto City “Nakagyou-ku Traffic Problems Project Meeting” Issued March 2020. Publisher details follow.  Click to expand in browser.]

Scripted and edited by the Kyoto Seika University (Kyoto International Manga Museum Jigyou Sokushin Shitsu)

Anyway, I started reading it, and found a depiction of Non-Japanese tourists, namely how they loiter and throw rubbish around. The young Japanese protagonists of the manga are all distressed, and go “Oh, such bad manners. I wish I could tell them something in English.”

[Right side bottom left quadrant shows racialized people making loud “Wai” noises.  The girl below says, “Boy, there are a lot of tourists here!”  The grandmother agrees.  Then the top left has unintelligible foreigners that are commented on for eating while walking, then throwing their garbage down a drain to the kids’ immense shock.  Just before the kids almost get hit by a car, they say, “What awful manners.  What would I say to them to caution them?” “Uh… in English!?  Uh, I dunno.  As you said, in English, where to start?”  Translations by Debito. Click to expand in browser.  The entire booklet can be read here as a PDF: Toori-no-fukken]

And I’m like, “What!?”

The thing is, “ill-mannered foreign tourists” are often in the news and in public communications. But actually I see lots more “local” people with bad manners everyday, and I tell them directly: “Koko wa tabako dame desu yo”, “Nagara unten yamete kudasai”, etc. I’m brave, I don’t care, and I show my daughter that you have to stand up for yourself.

So the authorities have made a booklet about street safety in Kyoto, a very relevant issue, but the only time Non-Japanese people appear in it, they are depicted as having bad manners.

Again, what’s the booklet about? Street safety.

If they want to bring in Non-Japanese people for some reason, they should show all kind of Non-Japanese people, not just the ill-mannered, loitering people. Or not just focus on the bad manners of “foreigners”. It’s a very bad association.

Plus, remember that this booklet is handed out to elementary school children. So they’ll see that depiction, the frustration of the child protagonist, and how “English-speaking people” don’t respect the rules and stuff.

Mixed-roots children (like my daughter) are part of Japanese society. They go to elementary school like everybody else. Some of them speak English, but not all do.

When my daughter used to go to a Japanese kindergarten (before the French school), I was often greeted by groups of kids shouting “Eigo no hito da!” while pointing their finger at me.

It was unsettling. I let their teachers know that, but they just said, “They’re kids, they don’t know any better.” So I said, “I know, it’s your job to teach them. I’ll be happy if they just say ‘konnichiwa’, like they do with everyone else.” (It worked, in the end.)

The street safety booklet reminded me of that, and I put a few pictures of it up on FB with English and Japanese comments.

A Japanese FB friend with English ancestry named Mariko picked up on it immediately, shared it with others, and called the City Office.

The City Office actually took everything off their website the next day (the booklet was downloadable) and promised to recall the booklet.

[Here’s the original link, and a screen capture of how it appeared on Facebook:]

https://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/digitalbook/page/0000000899.html 

It had just been published in March. They had just started giving it out and showing it in a few places.

I feel bad for the street safety campaign, but I’m happy with the result. We (Non-Japanese) are not outsiders, strangers, or just “ill-mannered tourists”. We live here. We understand Japanese. We also have to stand up for our kids.

Mariko made a good example of that. She wrote later on FB how her own kids were next to her the whole time she tried to reach the City hall. She said, “They need to see how we can defend ourselves. A phone call can change things.” She’s active against all kind of injustices.

I also believe in action. I sent letters to Combini chains to ask them to remove ashtrays close to my daughter’s kindergarten. I called the City services to urge them to put “no tobacco” signs in public parks where kids go. When I ride my daughter to school, we frequently have troubles with taxi drivers that break the speed limit or ignore the stop signs. I take picture of their plate and contact their company. I also go to the kôban to ask them to patrol the streets where such incidents happen frequently. That kind of thing. It’s not much, but I often get positive results.

I believe that many people, Japanese and Non-Japanese alike, feel the same about all of these issues (from street safety and tobacco control to racial discrimination), but they don’t think they can make a change. I think they can, we can.

Thank you Debito for your advice, and for sharing the story. Sincerely, RJO.

======================
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DF on Chugoku bank unlawfully demanding to check NJ customers’ visa stay durations and photocopy their Gaijin Cards, or face discontinuation of service

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Hi Blog.  From time to time Debito.org gets sent information from NJ residents being harassed by Japanese officialdom and businesses for the most basic things.  Such as checking into a hotel or using a bank.  Or being treated as objects of mistrust in official “Blame Games”.  Or being demanded unnecessary steps just to live their daily lives or conduct regular business. It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies.  (See here too).

Such as the following case below, where Chugoku Bank is demanding a Visa Check in order to maintain (not open; maintain) a bank account.  (In their words, “we have elected to confirm the period of stay for customers whose period of stay and other details have not been confirmed”  Meaning their nosying into somebody’s visa status is not even under the pretense of some legal requirement.)  And of course, in this era of identity theft that even foreign governments warn you against, Chugoku Bank wants to make a photocopy of the person’s ID, it turns out, for no reason whatsoever but reflex.

As “immigrants are not to be trusted” mindsets proliferate around democracies worldwide, remember where many of them take their cues from:  Japan.  PM Abe, remember, is “Trump before Trump“, and even Abe had his antecedents.  Another milepost on the march towards normalized ethnostatism worldwide.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: DF
Subject: Being made to show my gaijin card to my bank
Date: December 12, 2019
To: “debito@debito.org”

Hi Debito,

I recently got the attached postcard from my bank. It says that I have to go in and verify that I am in the country legally to keep using my bank account.

(click on image to expand in your browser)

I went in today and they wanted to make a photocopy of my card. Is this legal? They claimed that they are doing so at the request of the government, which I’m sure is true, and that they need a copy for “filing”, which I am not sure is true.

I told them that the card can usually only be requested by a police officer or an immigration agent. I finally relented only after they explained that they also photocopy other customer’s driver’s licenses. I offered my driver’s license, but they declined. I noticed that other than my visa status (PR), there is really no info on there that they don’t already have.

Who is in the right here, legally?

You may use my story on your site, there must be other people getting this kind of notice from their banks. Initials DF is fine.

Do you know of the specific law that states who may or may not request or copy a zairyuu card? I tried to look, but didn’t find it.

I want to email Chugoku Bank’s head office and try to get them to change their policy at all of the banks, not just my branch. I also want my photocopy returned to me.

I don’t begrudge the workers at the branch, the teller tried to make a copy, I stopped her and she said that the postcard mentioned a copy. We looked at it together and it doesn’t say anything about a copy. She immediately bailed out to a higher authority and I saw that man make a phone call. He then called me over to a private side booth to talk to me. Everybody was professional and polite, but they were just given the wrong information.

If I can quote the law to them and get a reply, I can give a follow-up for your blog.

Thank you for your assistance, DF

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

From Debito:  Hi DF. You are still in the right, legally.  The thing is, the laws I have (the Gaitouhou) pertain to the old Gaijin Card, which is very clear who can inspect the Gaijin Card.  Only police, Immigration Officials, and MOJ representatives.

“The Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, Clause 2. Foreigners, when asked to show their Gaijin Cards by immigration investigation officials (as outlined in separate laws), police, coast guard, or any other national or local public official or group empowered by the Ministry of Justice as part of the execution of their duties, must show.” https://www.debito.org/instantcheckpoints2.html

Now that the Gaitouhou is no more, I’m not sure what the new laws are.  I can’t seem to find them either.  I’ve asked around, but gotten no response.  I’m not a lawyer, so it’s time for the legal experts to weigh in, as they have done (in our favor) in terms of ID checks of NJ residents of Japan at hotels.

Sincerely, Debito

======================
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My Japan Times JBC 118: “Remain calm when stopped by the police”, on what to do if stopped by Japanese police for an Instant ID Checkpoint, Jan 20, 2020

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Hi Blog.  I’ve written about this many times before, but the JT commissioned me to write up this quick sidebar to a separate article about Japan police racial profiling on a NJ student of color (who has been cited on Debito.org before).

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no failsafe method that will work in all situations, given the enormous power of policing agencies in Japan.  However, submitting to unlawful and racialized enforcement of the law is not something Debito.org can abide.  So here goes.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Remain calm when stopped by the police in Japan
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, JAN 20, 2020
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/20/issues/remain-calm-when-stopped-police-japan/
justbecauseicon.jpg

Visible minorities in Japan are in a tough spot in a country where the police have a lot of arbitrary power and few enforceable checks (as we’ve been witnessing recently with the Carlos Ghosn case). As a result, we are facing two decades of police-promoted narratives of “the foreigner” as a visa overstayer and criminal.

What follows is my advice on what to do if you face a sudden ID check on the street — that is, assuming you don’t want to simply surrender your zairyū kādo (residence card) and eventually get on with your day. This is just a brief outline, you can find more details online at debito.org/whattodoif.html.

  1. Ask why you are being stopped: Ask if this is a “shokumu shitsumon” (police questioning of personal details). If yes, the law requires probable cause that a crime has been or is about to be committed, and the display of POLICE ID upon your request. If it is not, ask if you may leave.
  2. Ask to see their ID: “Sumimasen. Keisatsu techō o misete kudasai” will do. Write it down and/or take a picture of it. This will no doubt agitate, but without this record there is no personal accountability.
  3. Use your phone (or ask a friend) to start recording: You do not need consent and, even if done surreptitiously, a recording is admissible in court. They will tell you to put the phone away, but at least leave the audio on. No recording may result in a “he-said, she-said” outcome and nobody is likely to believe your side. It may also preemptively temper the cops’ behavior somewhat, but there’s no guarantee it won’t go the other way.
  4. Ask if compliance is optional (nin’i desu ka): If they ask to go through your backpack, pockets and wallet, you have the option to refuse the search without a warrant (reijō). Try: “Reijō ga nakereba, kekkō desu.” (“Without a warrant, no thank you.”)
  5. Above all, remain calm and polite, and never raise your voice: That can be difficult when surrounded by a phalanx of suspicious cops. But, as in other societies, the threshold of “resisting arrest” in Japan is arbitrary, and a judge will take the police officer’s word over yours in custody.

Arm yourself with the requisite vocabulary. Demonstrating some fluency with your statutory rights will also act as a natural check on abuses. Cops around the world take advantage of the ignorance of their targets, so if you come off as informed and confident, things might go smoother.

There’s no surefire means of getting out of an ID check (except perhaps getting your own personal chief of police to vouch for you except perhaps getting your own personal chief of police to vouch for you), but doing a few of these things might help you feel less powerless afterward. Good luck.

ENDS

======================
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My Japan Times JBC column 117: The annual Top Ten for 2019 of human rights issues as they affected NJ residents in Japan, Jan 6, 2020

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Hi Blog and Happy New Year. Here’s my Annual Top Ten for The Japan Times.  Thanks for putting this column in the Japan Times Top Five for several days running!

Let’s start with some Bubbling Unders/Notable Obits with didn’t make the cut for space concerns, and excerpt the rest. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
‘Low IQ’ kids, parental rights and problematic terminology dogged Japan’s international community in 2019
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, Column 117 for the Japan Times Community Page, January 6, 2020
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

For over a decade, Just Be Cause has recapped the previous year’s biggest human rights and human rights-related issues that have affected the non-Japanese community in Japan.

With the start of a new decade upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to mix a little of what was going on in 2019 and connect it to the broader topics that came up during the 2010s. Some are victories, some are losses — some are dangerous losses — but all of the entries below (in ascending order) are at the very least highly relevant to all of us.

Bubbling under:
The Ainu Recognition Law passes last February, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic.
Donald Keene, scholar who opened Japanese literature to the world but senselessly portrayed fellow NJ residents as criminals and cowards, dies aged 96.
Sadako Ogata, UN superstar for refugees who did surprisingly little for refugees in Japan, dies aged 92.
Yasuhiro Nakasone, assertive former Prime Minister with a history of claiming Japan’s superior intelligence due to a lack of ethnic minorities, and of operating wartime “comfort women” stations, dies aged 101.
Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister.

10) Otaru onsen, 20 years on

In September 1999, several international couples (including myself) tried to take a public bath at an onsen (hot-spring bath) in Otaru, Hokkaido, but were met with a “Japanese Only” sign rather than friendly customer service. The people who looked insufficiently “Japanese” (including myself and one of my daughters) were refused entry, while those who did (including a Chinese foreign resident) were allowed in.

The same onsen refused me entry again even after I became a Japanese citizen, and a group of us took them to court. The case, which went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, found the onsen guilty of “discriminating too much,” while the city of Otaru — which was also sued for not enforcing the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination that Japan had ratified in 1996 — was found not liable.

Twenty years later, “Japanese Only” signs are still posted in places and Japan is still not living up to its international treaty commitments, with no national law protecting non-Japanese communities from racial discrimination.

9) Diversity in sports…

See if your favorite issue made the Top Ten (yes, Ghosn did, again).  Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/

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

======================
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Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform

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ED’S NOTE DEC 31, 2019:  UPDATING THIS POST FROM FEB 2019 BECAUSE OF CARLOS GHOSN’S REEMERGENCE IN BEIRUT, HAVING SOMEHOW ESCAPED FROM THE CLUTCHES OF THE JAPANESE JUDICIARY.  THE BEST ARTICLE I’VE FOUND ON THIS EVENT IS ON THE DAILY BEAST HERE.  

DEBITO.ORG HAS COME DOWN DECISIVELY IN FAVOR OF GHOSN’S ESCAPE, AS CH 6 OF BOOK “EMBEDDED RACISM” DEPICTS JAPAN’S JUDICIARY AS DECIDEDLY AGAINST JUSTICE FOR NJ CAUGHT IN THEIR “HOSTAGE JUSTICE” SYSTEM.  FACT IS, GHOSN NEVER STOOD A CHANCE OF A FAIR TRIAL, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF ALLEGATIONS THAT HAVE SURFACED LATER THAT INDICATE NISSAN’S OWN (JAPANESE) CEO IS JUST AS GUILTY OF SIMILAR “CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR” THAT DID NOT RESULT IN ARRESTS.  

READ ON FOR THE REASON WHY DEBITO.ORG BELIEVES THE GHOSN CASE WAS A FLIMSY ONE FROM THE START.  AND HAPPY NEW YEAR.  — Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

Hi Blog. Debito.org has been holding back on commenting on the Carlos Ghosn arrest.  A former president of Nissan and Mitsubishi, Ghosn was a hero in many circles for saving the formerly struggling Japanese automakers and making them world players again.  (Disclosure:  I’ve owned a number of Nissans, and found their quality improved over the years.)  So imagine everyone’s surprise (not the least his) when he’s returning from an overseas meeting last November and suddenly gets arrested at Haneda Airport (along with a fellow NJ associate), and thrown in the clink without trace for the standard 48 hours without charge, then a couple of ten-day periods before re-arrest and repeat.

The reason Debito.org has been holding back is because, well, actually, what happened to Ghosn after arrest is not all that surprising from a jurisprudential perspective.  This could happen to anyone regardless of nationality (excepting the general denial of bail for NJ).  And I personally have to admit feeling just a shade of schadenfreude for a filthy-rich one-percenter getting taken down a peg.

Truth is, I wanted to see if he’d get the standard treatment afforded most perps in Japan — a few weeks, months, or even more than a year of disappearing while being put under constant duress until you sign a confession (aka “hostage justice“).  Plus the standard treatment given NJ under arrest — an additional presumption of a lack of human rights for foreigners.  More on all that in my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6, “A Chinaman’s Chance in Japanese Court”. I did comment on Ghosn for The Japan Times in my annual year-end round-up Just Be Cause column (published version here, “Director’s Cut” here).

Well, Ghosn has gotten the treatment.  Except for the fact he’s been able to communicate with the media in high-profile interviews.  More on that below.  So here’s Debito.org’s long-awaited comment about the Ghosn Case (from that “Director’s Cut”):

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DEBITO.ORG COMMENTS:  The former CEO of Nissan and Mitsubishi motors (but remaining as CEO at Renault), Ghosn was arrested last November and indicted in December for inter alia allegedly underreporting his income for tax purposes. As of this writing, he remains in police custody for the 23-day cycles of interrogations and re-arrests, until he confesses to a crime.

This event has been well-reported elsewhere, so let’s focus on the JBC issues: Ghosn’s arrest shows how far you can fall if you’re foreign. Especially if you’re foreign.

One red flag was that the only two people arrested in this fiasco have been foreign: Ghosn and his associate, Greg Kelly. Kelly is now out on bail due to health concerns. But where are the others doing similar malfeasances? According to Reuters, Kobe Steel underreported income in 2008, 2011, and 2013, and committed data fraud for “nearly five decades.” Same with Toray and Ube Industries, Olympus, Takata, Mitsubishi Materials, Nissan, and Subaru.

Who’s been arrested? Nobody but those two foreigners.

And Japan’s judicial system has a separate track for NJ suspects, including harsher jurisprudence for NJs accused of crimes, lax jurisprudence for NJ victims of crimes, uneven language translation services, general denial of bail for NJ, an extra incarceration system for subsequent visa violations while in jail, and incarceration rates for NJs four times that for citizens. (See my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6.)

Most indicative of separate and unequal treatment is that some of the accusations, which fall under a statute of limitations of seven years under the Companies Act, are still applicable. Prosecutors have argued that statutes do not apply to Ghosn because he spent time overseas. Apparently even the passage of time is different for foreigners, because the clock stops if they ever leave Japan!

It’s Debito.org’s view that this is a boardroom coup. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ghosn was planning to oust a rival, Hiroto Saikawa, who has since taken Ghosn’s place as CEO. A similar thing happened to at Olympus in 2011, when CEO Michael Woodford broke ranks and came clean on boardroom grift. He was fired for not understanding “Japanese culture,” since that’s the easiest thing to pin on any foreigner.

But in Woodford’s case, he was fired, not arrested and subjected to Japan’s peculiar system of “hostage justice” police detention, where detainees are denied access to basic amenities (including sleep or lawyers) for weeks at a time, and interrogated until they crack and confess, with more than 99% conviction rates.

The good news is that finally overseas media is waking up to what Japan’s Federation of Bar Associations and the UN Committee Against Torture have respectively called “a breeding ground for false charges” and “tantamount to torture.” Funny thing is, if this had happened in China, we’d have had howls much sooner about the gross violations of Ghosn’s human rights.

(Source on “statute of limitations does not apply:” “Japan’s Companies Act has a statute of limitations of seven years. Prosecutors argue this does not apply due to the amount of time Ghosn has spent outside the country.”
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Nissan-s-Ghosn-crisis/Ghosn-rearrested-for-alleged-aggravated-breach-of-trust
Other irregularities noted in the JT by Glen Fukushima: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/12/20/commentary/japan-commentary/seven-questions-ghosn-nissan/)

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

Well, the news is now Ghosn’s case has been picked over by the media (the charges are being called “thin soup” below).  And Ghosn’s high-profile status has enabled him to get a high-profile interview with the Nikkei newspaper below (for fifteen minutes, with a five-minute extension).  Few if any other people incarcerated in this system have this much ability to draw attention and make their case to the public.

Moreover, since Ghosn’s Japanese language abilities are probably not at the level of the language in his interview, it’s reasonable to assume  the interview was in English.  In my direct experience in dealing with other incarcerated foreigners, if they talk with anyone they must do it with a guard present, and they must speak in Japanese at all times so the guard can understand what’s being said.  Ghosn’s ability to get around that rule seems to be another trapping of his privilege.

That’s a bit annoying.  But if it eventually shines light on an abuse of the Japanese judicial system in specific (i.e., uneven enforcement of the law), and shames Japan into reforming its “hostage justice” interrogation system in general, then some good may come of it.

In the end, the Ghosn Case, on top of the the Woodford Case, remain excellent reasons why foreigners shouldn’t hope to become executives in Japanese companies.  One boardroom coup later by the nativists, you could be in jail for being CEO while foreign. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

NISSAN’S GHOSN CRISIS
Exclusive interview: Ghosn says ‘plot and treason’ led to arrest
Ex-Nissan chief claims rivals wanted to ‘get rid’ of him
Nikkei Asian Review, Nikkei staff writers, January 30, 2019
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Nissan-s-Ghosn-crisis/Exclusive-interview-Ghosn-says-plot-and-treason-led-to-arrest

In his first interview since being detained on Nov.19, ousted Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn claimed that certain people had “distorted reality” for the purpose of “getting rid of him.”

TOKYO — Former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn told Nikkei in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he had “no doubt” that the charges against him were the result of “plot and treason” by Nissan executives opposed to his plan for deeper integration between Renault and its two Japanese alliance partners.

Speaking on the 10th floor of the Tokyo Detention House, dressed in a black fleece jacket and gray sweatpants, Ghosn acknowledged that “there was a plan to integrate” Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors. The plans had been discussed with Nissan President Hiroto Saikawa in September, he added.

In his first interview since being detained on Nov. 19, Ghosn claimed that he had wanted to include Mitsubishi Motors CEO Osamu Masuko in the talks, but “Saikawa wanted it one-on-one.”

Once the three automakers were more closely integrated, Ghosn wanted to ensure there would be “autonomy under one holding company,” he said, adding that this plan was in line with how he had operated the alliance in past years.

Allies of Ghosn’s have argued that some Nissan executives feared a further concentration of power under his leadership, prompting them to cooperate with Tokyo prosecutors.

Nikkei had been requesting a one-on-one interview with Ghosn since his arrest last year. The approval was granted this week.

Ghosn was allowed by the Tokyo District Court to speak with Nikkei. Media interviews with prominent business leaders in detention are extremely rare in Japan.

“We don’t have much time. Let’s get started,” Ghosn said at the beginning of the interview from behind the acrylic glass partition. As the end of the allotted 15 minutes approached, he asked the officer for “a little more” time, and was granted a five-minute extension.

The Brazilian-born tycoon has dismissed accusations that his 19-year reign at Nissan was a “dictatorship,” saying this was a narrative created by rivals who wanted to remove him. “People translated strong leadership to dictator, to distort reality” for the “purpose of getting rid of me,” he added.

Ghosn has been held without bail for more than 70 days since Tokyo prosecutors arrested him on allegations of financial misconduct.

He was charged with underreporting his salary over several years, and aggravated breach of trust for allegedly transferring to Nissan personal trading losses from foreign exchange contracts.

The breach-of-trust charges center on $14.7 million in payments to a company run by Saudi businessman Khaled al-Juffali.

He denied the accusations and claimed “the executive in charge of the region signed [the approval].”

The payment was made from Ghosn’s “CEO reserve,” a pot of money that he was free to decide how to spend. He said the “CEO reserve is not a black box” and “four officers signed” for the payment to al-Juffali.

Ghosn is also accused of receiving 7.82 million euros ($8.9 million) in improper payments through Nissan-Mitsubishi B.V., a Netherlands-based joint venture between the two Japanese companies. He said the venture was established for “synergy and not for payment,” adding that the claims of improper payments were a “distortion of reality.”

Ghosn said his purchase of luxury properties in Rio de Janeiro and Beirut — which Nissan alleges were paid for improperly through a subsidiary — were approved by the legal department. Pointing to a former loyalist and long-time executive in the legal department, Ghosn said: “Hari Nada has done all this.”

He justified the houses on the grounds that he “needed a safe place where [he] can work and receive people in both Brazil and Lebanon.”

“[Have I] done [something] inappropriate? I am not a lawyer, I don’t know the interpretation of [such] facts,” Ghosn said, showing his frustration over Nissan’s internal investigation.

“These are known by everybody, why didn’t they tell me?”

Ghosn, whose second bail request was rejected Jan. 22, insisted that he was not a flight risk and he would not destroy evidence.

“I won’t flee, I will defend [myself],” he added. “All the evidence is with Nissan, and Nissan forbids all employees to talk to me.”

When asked about life in the detention center, Ghosn said “there is up and down.” As for his health, he simply said he was “doing fine.”

After his arrest, Ghosn appeared to have envisioned attending a Renault board meeting in Paris, explaining his position, and holding a news conference. But his prolonged detention in a Tokyo jail frustrated those plans.

Nissan dismissed Ghosn from his position as chairman in November. An extraordinary general meeting of shareholders scheduled in mid-April is expected to remove Ghosn as a director.

Ghosn resigned as chairman and CEO of Renault, and former Michelin chief Jean-Dominique Senard was appointed as the chairman.

The three members of the alliance are expected to revisit how it is operated in the absence of Ghosn’s leadership. “I cannot speculate about the future of the alliance,” Ghosn said.

The French government, Renault’s largest shareholder, has previously requested Ghosn make the relationship between the two automakers “irreversible.”

Following Ghosn’s arrest, France also informed Tokyo of an intention to press ahead with integration. Saikawa, in contrast, has insisted there is “no need for now to discuss [it].”

Interviewed by Nikkei commentator Atsushi Nakayama and Nikkei staff writers Akito Tanaka and Yosuke Kurabe.

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

OPINION
Ghosn charges are thin soup — case for ex-Nissan boss
Prosecutors fail to make a strong case against car maker’s former chief
By Stephen Givens, Nikkei Asian Review, January 29, 2019
https://asia.nikkei.com/Opinion/Ghosn-charges-are-thin-soup-case-for-ex-Nissan-boss

Two months after his arrest at Haneda Airport and confinement at Kosuge detention center, we now have a good picture of the criminal case against Carlos Ghosn-and it looks like pretty thin soup.

As reported in the media, the evidence shows not criminal malfeasance, but at most lapses in judgment and corporate protocol that ultimately did not result in any actual harm to Nissan Motor or its shareholders or personal enrichment of Ghosn.

The criminal case turns on a series of technical and subjective judgments about whether the words of the relevant statutes and regulations apply to the transactions in question.

By any objective measure, the misconduct alleged was less serious than the corporate misfeasance that is routinely overlooked in Japan or handled by noncriminal administrative wrist-slapping.

The first, and for many weeks the only, criminal charge brought against Ghosn was that Nissan’s periodic securities filings disclosed just the currently payable portion of his compensation. They failed to report the portion deferred until after his retirement.

Ghosn’s motive for not wanting to report his full compensation currently-that it was embarrassingly large in relation to that of other Japanese CEOs and Ghosn’s Nissan colleagues — does not constitute serious criminal intent.

Further, the evidence indicates that Ghosn tried in good faith to structure the deferred compensation in a way that would permit him legally not to report it currently under the rules, which require current reporting of director-level compensation only to the extent the right to receive it has become “clear.”

Though the documentation has not been made public, it appears that it was structured as some kind of post-retirement consulting arrangement that would, at a minimum, require Ghosn to provide Nissan with services after retirement to collect the compensation.

It is hard to imagine that Nissan would have failed to report Ghosn’s deferred compensation over many years without professional legal advice that it did not need to be currently reported because Ghosn’s right to receive it was conditional.

It is equally hard to understand why Nissan’s Japanese management, having condoned the deferred compensation arrangement and its nonreporting for years, is now using it as the lead card in the criminal case.

Beyond this, criminal liability under the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act for false disclosure is explicitly predicated on the requirement that it be “material”- that is, it would have a significant impact on an investor’s decision to sell or buy Nissan shares.

For investors, the amount of Ghosn’s unreported deferred compensation, about $10 million per year, is clearly very small compared to Nissan’s $90 billion in annual revenues.

Meanwhile, Japan’s weak securities disclosure standards permit Nissan not to reveal information that would be much more relevant to investors, such as the terms of the “alliance” contracts between Renault, Nissan’s major shareholder, and Nissan.

It does not inspire confidence in Japan’s justice system that Ghosn’s guilt or innocence on the this charge will hinge on semantic distinctions over the meanings of “clear” and “material.”

The second criminal charge against Ghosn is for two, related claims of “aggravated breach of trust” under the Companies Act. This vaguely-worded statute imposes criminal liability on directors of a company who for personal gain “commit an act in breach of such person’s duties and causes financial damages” to the company. Typically this statute is applied to cases of embezzlement-executives taking company assets.

The first prong of the breach of trust charge has been loosely characterized in the press as “the shifting of Ghosn’s personal foreign exchange losses to Nissan” but details of the transactions disclosed by Ghosn’s lawyers show it to be less pernicious than advertised.

Ghosn entered into a foreign exchange hedging transaction with Shinsei Bank to protect his yen-denominated Nissan compensation against the risk of depreciation. Like many others he failed to anticipate the financial crisis of 2008, which sent the yen soaring and reduced the value of the Nissan securities he had offered Shinsei Bank as collateral.

Shinsei Bank asked Ghosn for additional security. Ghosn considered offering the value of his uncashed Nissan retirement allowance-but doing so would have required him actually to leave Nissan at a time he was a vital part of the management. Instead, he asked Nissan to guarantee his downside risk on the hedge, but pledged to fully cover the liability.

Critically, Ghosn’s request for help with his unexpected difficulty received formal approval by the Nissan board. Admittedly the Securities Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC), deemed the transaction improper a few months later and ordered Nissan to get rid of the hedging contract.

So, Nissan carried a contingent liability — fully guaranteed by Ghosn — as an accommodation to its CEO for approximately four months. Nissan suffered no actual loss and was never at risk because it was fully covered by Ghosn’s retirement allowance. The transaction was not concealed; it was approved by the Nissan board and reported to the SESC, which saw no reason to request a criminal probe a decade ago.

So, you may ask, where is the crime? According to news reports, it turns out the prosecutors are not satisfied with the drafting of the board resolution. They are quibbling that the board resolution did not mention Ghosn by name and only referred generically to “foreign board members” as beneficiaries of the transaction. Moreover, the prosecutors are claiming the resolution was not specific on how Nissan was to be protected with 100% certainty against possible loss. Ghosn’s criminal liability turns almost entirely on the wording of a board resolution that Ghosn himself surely did not draft.

The second prong of the breach of trust charge relates to the subsequent transfer, in compliance with the SESC’s order, of the Shinsei Bank contract from Nissan to companies controlled by Saudi national Khaled Juffali. Nissan affiliates in the Middle East paid Juffali’s companies $14.7 million over four years for variety of “support activities” in the region. The prosecutors claim that Nissan’s money was paid for Juffali’s guarantee of Ghosn’s personal contingent liability.

It seems unrealistic, however, that anyone would pay $14.7 million of Nissan money for a guarantee of a contingent liability worth at most $16.7 million-a huge overpayment.

This strongly suggests that Juffali’s companies were being paid for doing more than simply backing Ghosn’s Shinsei liability. The more commercially-likely scenario is more innocuous, one in which Ghosn asked a friendly business counterparty to assume an essentially riskless contingent liability as a favor in the context of a long-term business relationship. This represents the kind of mutual exchange between companies with long-term relationships practiced daily by the Japanese corporate establishment.

No question, a more scrupulous and careful executive would have avoided pushing the gray boundaries of the law. But nothing we know that Ghosn allegedly did smells like a serious crime deserving prison. That he remains in confinement while the prosecutors argue semantics to deprive him of his freedom places Japan’s criminal justice system in an awkward light.

Stephen Givens is a corporate lawyer based in Tokyo.

ENDS

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

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My SNA Visible Minorities column 5: “Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners”, Dec. 16, 2019 (full text)

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Visible Minorities: Local Governments Classifying Japanese Citizens as Foreigners
Shingetsu News Agency, Dec 16, 2019. By Debito Arudou 
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/12/16/visible-minorities-local-governments-classifying-japanese-citizens-as-foreigners/

SNA (Tokyo) — According to the Japanese government, our resident Non-Japanese (NJ) population reached yet another new record, at 2.8 million last June. Last April, Japan started offering new visa regimes to greatly expand the NJ labor force, in response to Japan’s aging society and shrinking population. This, plus steady numbers of permanent residents, international marriages, and naturalizing citizens, are expanding our multicultural and multiethnic communities.

In response, local governments have been trying to accommodate the diversity through new concepts and policies. It started in earnest as far back as 2001 with the Hamamatsu Declaration, where multiple cities and towns near Shizuoka Prefecture called upon the national government to assist them in providing their NJ residents with education, welfare benefits, and streamlined administration. Since then, local governments have generally made positive proposals in good faith.

But sometimes they get it wrong. Last month, Debito.org reported how the city of Nagoya uses a very problematic term in their documents: Gaikokujin Shimin.

The closest translation would be a “foreigner city resident/citizen” (as opposed to, er, a gaikokujin kokumin, the contradictory “foreigner Japanese citizen”?). But the point is that people covered by this term officially belong in the city as dwellers and participants.

The concept sounds inclusive until you see how it’s officially being defined. According to one of Nagoya city’s “General Plans,” dated August 2018, a Gaikokujin Shimin is, as I translate it from the text:

“In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya city, people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”

(Original Japanese: 名古屋市内に住所を有する外国籍の人のほか、日本国籍を取得した人や国際結婚によって生まれた子どもなど外国の文化を背景に持つ人など、外国にルーツを持つ人。)

Let’s mull that over: This definition stretches “foreigner” far beyond the basic legal definition of someone with foreign citizenship. It also means Japanese citizens are foreigners.

As explicitly stated in Nagoya’s definition, even if you naturalize you’re still a gaikokujin, regardless of Japan’s Nationality Law. You can’t escape.

How about if you’re born in Japan to a Japanese but have one foreign parent? A “one-drop rule” seems to apply. You’re still a gaikokujin. It’s the same for all your descendants in perpetuity, what with “roots in a foreign country.”

What if you have any foreign cultures in your background? Such as a stint living overseas as an exchange student or as a kikoku shijo (returnee child)? Gaikokujin, now and forever.

Further, couldn’t you stretch “background” into “experience,” e.g., being acculturated through foreign friends with or having a romantic relationship with a foreigner? This is what you get when you stray from The Tribe: You get officially gaikokujin-ized.

But Nagoya city isn’t alone in this careless alienation. Google “Gaikokujin Shimin” in Japanese and you’ll find oodles of others: Tokyo Hachioji, Saitama, Kawasaki, Hiroshima, Kitakyushu, Toyohashi, Kofu, Sakai… Even Aichi Prefecture has tweaked the term into Gaikokujin Kenmin (foreign prefectural citizen).

That degree of legitimacy means the term was probably handed down from the national government, and that further explains its shortsightedness. I’ve written extensively elsewhere how national committees making policies for “foreigners” generally don’t include any, or any member who knows much about Japan’s diversity. So that’s what you get: official terms so staggeringly oblivious to reality they become exclusionary epithets.

If policymakers wanted to be inclusive, how about a term that doesn’t allude to legal status? For example, how about “multicultural citizen/resident” (tabunka shimin/jumin)? Or “international citizen/resident” (kokusai shimin/jumin)? These terms have been circulating for decades, and they allow you to belong to a place while being simultaneously diverse and Japanese.

Instead, by reinforcing a binary of “anything not 100% Japanese must be foreign,” Gaikokujin Shimin goes beyond issues of nationality and into eugenics.

Have we learned nothing from history? By making “foreigner” status inescapable even across generations, Gaikokujin Shimin toes the same path that ultimately led to officials forcing people to wear a Star of David. It is a profound step backwards in the face of Japan’s inevitable multiethnicization. Its use should be immediately abolished.

ENDS

More information and sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=15820.

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“Every Foreign Guest must present passport for photocopying” at Hotel Crown Hills Kokura; Japanese Police up to same old unlawful tricks in Fukuoka Prefecture

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Hi Blog.  Despite years of articles and corrections made by official bodies, the Japanese Police are still bending the laws to have Japanese hotels engage in racial profiling, targeting all “Foreign Guests” (not “Foreign Tourists” as the law explicitly says), and demanding they produce ID for inspection and photocopying, including passports.  More on all that here, here, here, here, and here.

Debito.org Reader MR sent word that the latest skulduggery can be found courtesy of the Fukuoka Prefectural Police at an establishment named “Hotel Crown Hills Kokura” in Kitakyushu.

ホテルクラウンヒルズ小倉(BBHホテルグループ): 093-521-0109

Here’s his report pieced together from texts:

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

MR: I made a reservation for a buddy on Japanese-language Rakuten Travel (楽天トラベル) website at the Hotel Crown Hills Kokura.  At check in tonight (12/9/19) at around 7:45PM, the Front Desk asked for his passport to photocopy.  He is a Permanent Resident (永住者), so I intervened and told them so.  They then immediately withdrew the request for the passport, but still asked for and checked his Gaijin Card (在留カード).

To their credit, the clerks at the Front Desk were cool, and I have nothing against them given this sign from the Fukuoka Police at the counter.  MR

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:

Here we have another multilingual sign (Japanese, English, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic) at a hotel front produced by the Japanese Police that ignores the law and encourages racial profiling.  This one not only lists the approval of the Fukuoka Prefectural Police (and erroneously cites the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), but also all Fukuoka Prefectural Public Health Departments (Fukuoka Kennai Kaku Hokenjo).  Even though we’ve already had at least one Hokenjo (in Mito) correct the overzealous local police before on the letter of the law, which is:

If you have an address in Japan, you do not have to show any ID at a hotel check in.  Just write that address in the hotel guest book.  That goes for Japanese and NJ residents of Japan.  

The law on hotel (and minpaku) ID checks only applies to foreign tourists without an address in Japan.  So demand it be it enforced (download a file to help you do so here).  

Meanwhile, if you want to do what Debito.org Reader Onur did some months ago, contact the local Hokenjo and get the law corrected.  Clearly the Japanese police are not going to police themselves.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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SITYS: MH Fox translation: “Gangsters and foreigners have no rights”, book excerpt by former J prosecutor Ichikawa Hiroshi Ichikawa on jiadep.org

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Hi Blog.  As mentioned before on Debito.org in 2011 and in book “Embedded Racism in Japan“, Japan’s judiciary trains its law enforcement that human and civil rights do not apply to foreign residents.  Here’s more on that from the person who exposed that, Ichikawa Hiroshi.  SITYS.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

“Gangsters and foreigners have no rights”
by Hiroshi Ichikawa (former prosecutor).
Translated by Michael H. Fox
Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center
www.jiadep.org

A translation of Chapter 2 (Yakuza to gaikokujin ni jinken wa nai ) from the book Kenji Shikkaku ( A Prosecutor Debarred ) by Hiroshi Ichikawa. Published by Mainichi Shinbunsha, 2012.  Copyright, 2019-Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center, excerpt reprinted on Debito.org with kind permission.

Translator’s Introduction:

Hiroshi Ichikawa was born in Kanagawa in 1965. In 1990, he passed the notoriously difficult national bar exam after graduating from Chuo University. Those who pass the exam then serve a two year judicial apprenticeship and work along judges, prosecutors and attorneys. At the end of this period, the apprentice can decide, for the most part, to become a lawyer, prosecutor, or judge.

“A Prosecutor Debarred” is the tale of a young idealistic jurist whose career began with a commitment to fairness and justice. This is finely demonstrated when Ichikawa anxiously consults a superior after forgetting to advise a suspect of the right to silence during investigation.

Some years later, Ichikawa would become mercilessly violent. In 2000, he was working in Saga prefecture in Kyushu, and undertook investigation of a financial scandal involving the Saga city Co-op. While interrogating a recalcitrant suspect, Ichikawa became enraged. He would later be called to testify in court, and admit on the stand to screaming “You lousy SOB. I’ll beat you to death!” in the face of a suspect.

The event was widely broadcast in the media. The suspect was tried and found not guilty in both the court of first instance, and the appeals case. Ichikawa would later be dismissed as a prosecutor, but allowed to continue to practice law, hence ‘debarred’ and not ‘disbarred.’ He performed a dogeza, a deep bow on hands and knees, in public, to the former defendant who was found not guilty. Until recently, this was viewable on YouTube.

This chapter begins with Ichikawa’s first day on the job at the Yokohama prosecutor’s office. In Japan, the fiscal year, the employment year, and the school year begin in April.

“Gangsters and foreigners have no rights”

Rest at http://www.jiadep.org/Ichikawa_Translation.html

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My SNA Visible Minorities Col 4: “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, Nov 18, 2019 (full text)

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Hi Blog.  My latest Shingetsu News Agency column is a variation on the Gaijin Blame Game that goes on in Japan whenever Japanese authorities want to tighten their control over society further.  Here’s the full text:

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Visible Minorities: The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween
Column 4, Shingetsu News Agency, Nov 18, 2019, by Debito Arudou
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/11/18/visible-minorities-the-xeno-scapegoating-of-japanese-halloween/

SNA (Tokyo) — “Madness.” “Mayhem.” “Chaos unfolded.” “Anarchic behavior.” “Police try to subdue massive crowds running amok.”

That was how one single article in the Japan Times depicted the big party at Shibuya Crossing last Halloween Night. Other media echoed similarly riotous language, noting the heavy police presence and suspended alcohol sales. Sheer anarchy!

Reading all that, you could be forgiven for thinking Shibuya was set aflame and Hachiko knocked off his plinth. But drop by sometime; everything is still there just fine.

Why the alarmist attitude towards Halloween? We don’t see it for the revelry at, say, Japanese sporting events, where Hanshin Tigers fans take over Shinkansens and leap into Osaka rivers; or for annual Seijinshiki Coming of Age Days, where binge drinking and youthful hijinks disrupt boring official ceremonies; or any time of the year in entertainment districts nationwide, with public urination, people passed out on sidewalks or subways, and drunk chinpira picking fights.

Why not? Because those things are normalized. After all, it’s often hard for adults in Japan to have fun without alcohol, and excesses are tolerated as anzen-ben, a “safety valve” for letting off steam given the stresses of life.

Why isn’t Halloween treated the same? Some might say that the difference is crowd size and mob rule. After all, last year the Shibuya Halloween crowd overturned a light truck, and a handful of people, all Japanese, were arrested for disorderly conduct this year.

But this column argues the real reason for all the police and media-manufactured alarmism is a matter of xeno-convenience: Halloween is seen as something foreign.

Even though Halloween isn’t celebrated in all other societies, officials frame it like it’s a foreigner magnet. A Shibuya representative reportedly claimed that foreign tourists travel to Japan especially for Shibuya Halloween, pointing out that “the people who gather are mostly from outside the ward” (as are, ahem, most people who venture to Shibuya Crossing every day). Yet most people who came to party at Shibuya Crossing were Japanese.

Halloween as an adult event in Japan is relatively new. During the 1990s, after a group of American revelers made an annual tradition of partying on the Yamanote Line, the tipping point came when Tokyo Disneyland held its first successful Halloween event in 2000. It’s since grown to the point where even Japan Rail Pass.com advertises (in English) BYOB Halloween street events in Roppongi Hills and Shibuya, and organized train parties you can sign up for.

Regardless, wherever foreigners go, Japan’s xenophobes follow, and they have decried Halloween as a corrupting influence for at least a decade. In 2009, the Yamanote foreign drinkfest got taken up by 2chan online trolls, who came out in force at train stations to shout abuse at anyone in costume. They, and flag-waving ultrarightists flanked by multitudes of cops deployed to keep order, wound up disrupting things far more than any foreign partiers.

Indicatively, the xenophobes bore signs like “Motherf*ck-foreigners” to “Go to Hell!” because “This is not a white country!” and “We Japanese don’t need Halloween.”

Au contraire, I say. If anything, Halloween has been culturally appropriated by Japan. Like a meal being an excuse for Italy to make pasta or for South Korea to eat garlic, Halloween is an excuse for Japanese to indulge their fantasies and dress up in costume. Japan gave the world the word “cosplay,” remember.

The Japanese police and media portraying Halloween as an opportunity for foreigners to swarm and disturb the wa isn’t supported sociologically or statistically.

What’s in fact going on is simple: Japan’s control-freak authorities don’t trust a crowd. To them, there’s a feeling of unpredictability and a frisson of revolt. However, you can’t easily stop Japanese having their anzen-ben, even in large numbers, and even if they decide to dress up and drink on the street or train. However, Halloween means you can: Just blame the event on foreigners and, hey, presto! alcohol bans passed and police budgets justified. In the end, it’s merely a convenient ruse to spoil everyone’s fun.

Advice for next year: Sure, control the crowds, litter, and disruption. Keep the peace. But don’t bring foreigners into it. Don’t mask Japan’s primal urges with foreign scapegoats.

ENDS

======================
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Dejima Award #7: Nagoya City officially classifies “Foreigner City Denizens” to include “naturalized persons, children of international marriages, people with foreign cultures or roots in their backgrounds”. Viva Eugenics.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Alert Debito.org Reader XY sends me the following cover, for the Nagoya City Next Term General Plan (Intermediate Draft), dated August 2018.

Striking is what’s found on page 62, under official city definitions of terms:

It offers a definition of “Foreign City Citizens/City Denizens” (gaikokujin shimin), which is itself a reasonable category, since we want to attribute citizenry/residency within a city regardless of nationality (which the juuminhyou Residency Certificate system tried to separate and exclude for six decades).

But look who falls under the definition of “foreign” (my translation):

“In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya City, this includes people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”

That pretty much makes it clear that you can’t ever be Japanese without “pure” Japanese blood and culture.  In Nagoya, officially that also means you can’t escape being foreign.  Ever.  Even if you naturalize, or have a Japanese parent (who alas coupled with a foreigner), have any cultural ties to a foreign country, or have any roots in a foreign land.

Any taint or connection means you’re “foreign”.  Not “international” (such as Kokusai Shimin).  Foreign.

This not only defies common sense, it also, like the racist Japanese Sumo Association, violates the Nationality Law.

Granted, the next definition distinguishes between a foreign resident (gaikokujin juumin) and a foreign, er, citizen/city denizen (gaikokujin shimin), where the former is solely made into a matter of foreign nationality.

But in a society like Japan’s that adheres pretty strictly to a binary, where you’re either Japanese or you’re not, i.e., you’re a Nihonjin/Wajin or a Gaikokujin/Gaijin, I doubt that most people will be this sophisticated in their worldview.  You’ve got any foreign ties?  Case closed and door shut.  You’re a foreigner, a gaikokujin.  At best a Japanese with an asterisk.  Even Nagoya City (Japan’s third largest city behind Tokyo/Yokohama and Osaka) officially confirms it.

Therefore, for this blatant and ignorant attempt to further classify, stigmatize, and alienate diverse Japanese away from a mythical “pure” Japan free from any foreign influences, I hereby award the coveted Debito.org “Dejima Award” to Nagoya City (only the seventh in Debito.org’s quarter-century of existence), for effectively reviving 19th-century discredited Eugenics theories about thoroughbredness.  That any Japanese tainted by foreign blood, culture, roots or ties is to be classified as a foreigner.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

UPDATE:  Kawaguchi City’s Mayor answers to say that their intent behind using this term is not to “force” people into “foreigner” categories.

======================
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My Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities col 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019 (full text)

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 3 is now up. And here is a link to sources for claims within the article. Enjoy. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities Column 3
Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins
Shingetsu News Agency OCT 23, 2019, by DEBITO ARUDOU
Courtesy http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/10/23/racial-profiling-at-japanese-hotel-check-ins/

SNA (Tokyo) — It’s dehumanizing to be denied service somewhere, not for what you did, but for who you are, and to realize that discrimination is real.

In Japan, your first experience might be with your apartment search—realtors may deny you a home simply because “the landlord doesn’t like foreigners.”

Sadly, there’s little you can do: racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan, even in 2019. You could report what happened to the Ministry of Justice’s Human Rights Bureau (which will generally do nothing), or take them to court where you’re at the mercy of a judge susceptible to narratives of “foreigners are different/difficult, so refusing them is okay,” which is known legally as “rational discrimination.” Still, you will need a place right away to call home.

Eventually, after getting an interlocutor to negotiate or an employer to vouch for you, you find one. You’ll forget about what happened. Something like this doesn’t happen every day, right?

But it may occur the next time you want a hotel room. Given the tourism boom and hosted international sports events, racial profiling and discrimination have become widespread in Japan’s hoteling industry. This is particularly insidious because it’s not just the occasional bigoted landlord calling the shots; this time it’s the Japanese police.

It begins when you arrive at a hotel and try to check in. Clerks are trained to demand a passport from any customer who “looks foreign” as a precondition for service. This includes Non-Japanese Residents of Japan, even though Non-Japanese Residents are not required to carry their passport, and even though the law says hotels cannot do it.

Explicitly stated in laws related to hotel management is that if you are a Japanese or a Non-Japanese with an address in Japan, you merely enter your name, address, contact details, and occupation into the guest book. No ID is necessary.

If you are a tourist with no address in Japan, however, the law is different. In that case, you must display your passport to the hotel clerk, have your passport number taken down, and (under some prefectural ordinances) have your passport photocopied in case the local police want to see it.

Overseas governments discourage such practices. The Canadian government, for example, makes it clear: “Never give out personal information from your passport or your passport application unless you’re sure it is for a trusted organization or individual. This includes photocopies. You take all responsibility for giving information in your passport to a third party.” So if you check in and become a victim of identity theft, that’s your own responsibility.

But here’s where hotel practices get racialized: Some require “all foreign guests,” regardless of residency, to display ID.

People who refuse to comply can be, under some prefectural ordinances, denied entry into the hotel, and sometimes the police are to be called. And how do clerks tell who a “foreign guest” is? If they have a foreign-looking face or name, of course. Hence the racial profiling at check-in.

But what happens to residents, Japanese children of international marriages, and foreign-looking citizens, such as myself, who brave the harassment and inform them of the actual letter of the law? Clerks will then claim the local police are demanding all foreign guests produce ID. Sometimes they even pull out a handy-dandy multilingual poster produced by those police saying as much. Nevertheless, that’s not what the law says.

I’ve been following this issue since 2005, when I encountered my first hotel ID checkpoint while attending a conference. After more than a decade of these shenanigans (and official confirmations from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, local police agencies retracting erroneous posters, and even the US Embassy that ID checks only apply to overseas tourists), it’s clear that the Japanese police are deliberately making up law to enlist hotels in their racial profiling.

Why do the police keep lying? Because, according to their posters, they’re looking for terrorists. (Naturally, Japanese cannot be terrorists, never mind Aum Shinrikyo or the Japanese Red Army.)

So here’s the bottom line: If you live in Japan with a Japanese address, you check in like any other Japanese citizen. You should only need to write your name and contact details in the guest book and get your key. No ID is necessary.

But since the Japanese police prioritize their power over actually following the law, it’s likely your protest about being treated like a terrorist will fall on deaf ears.

In fact, the cops have doubled-down. For example, the Shizuoka police recently issued yet another poster making up a rule that everyone must show their passport. (As if that’s going to apply to Japanese guests?)

Most people, tired at the end of a day, are probably not in the mood to fight the casual racial profiling at the hotel counter, or deal with a phalanx of paranoid cops. Claiming your legal rights might mean that you lose your room for the night, or at worst mean you enjoy a couple of weeks of hospitality at the local police detention center.

The ultimate solution is for some brave soul to suffer these indignities and to sue the hotel and police for damages, and to make it clear that this practice is not grounded in statute.

This is what happens when you encourage multitudes of overseas tourists come to a place like Japan, a society hobbled by strong xenophobic narratives and a weak system of checks on police power, without preparing the legal and social groundwork. Even after all these years, Japan’s officials and law enforcement still haven’t cottoned on to the fact that some people who look like tourists actually live here. Once again, Japan’s Visible Minorities get snagged in the dragnet. Unlawfully.

ENDS

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

NB: If you want to do something to stop this happening to you, download a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan here: http://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg

=====================
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Last word on NJ hotel passport checks (thanks to a lawyer): It’s as Debito.org has said for more than a decade: NJ Residents are exempt from showing any ID.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  With the influx of sports tourism (Rugby in 2019, Olympics in 2020), the National Police Agency (as reported before for years on Debito.org) has been erroneously telling hotels to demand passports and ID from all “foreigners”, including NJ Residents of Japan with addresses in Japan.

The Japanese police have been told for more than a decade now (even by the US Embassy!) that this is not lawful.  NJ Residents are exempt from passport AND ID checks after indicating their residency in the hotel Guest Book.

(And if you want to carry a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan, download it from here: http://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg)

So the police have become misleadingly legalistic, as Debito.org Reader Mamoru reports.  He sends along this poster from the Shizuoka Police that lays out the letter of the law as follows:

Courtesy https://www.pref.shizuoka.jp/police/kurashi/gokyoryoku/documents/syukuhakusya.pdf (now dead link)

Here they are making clear in the introduction that they are asking for hotel managers to target foreigners without addresses in Japan, and ask for their passport numbers (the justification proffered: incidents of overseas terrorism, of course, since apparently there are no Japanese terrorists).

Even visually (the green bits), the Shizuoka Police are saying that there are two tracks grouped together:  1) Japanese (Nihonjin) and Resident Foreigners (Zainichi/Zaijuu Gaikokukjin), who have to note (kisai) their name, address, and occupation (under the Hotel Management Law Art. 6); and 2) non-resident Foreigners (Rainichi Gaikokujin/Kokugai Zaijuu), who have to reveal their nationality and passport number under additional Regulation 4.2 (more on this below).

HOWEVER,

Then the yellow bit says that all parties have to have a RELIABLE (kakujitsu) entry for their data.

For Japanese and NJ Residents, this means that the hotels must put into effect an identity check (mimoto kakunin) (although it notes that if they have a copy of the passport then data entry (kisai) is not necessary, which is suss since most Japanese guests would not be carrying a passport).

But unlike other entries, this is not grounded in any law mentioned in the flyer, making this even more suss.

Especially since the final yellow bubble asks for “cooperation” (kyouryoku) with the police in case they want to inspect the Guest Book (shukuhakusha meibo); note that “cooperation” in practice means the police merely asking nicely, because the police don’t have the force of law to compel.  (It also asterisks that if there is a copy of the passport it is not necessary to write it down.)

As grounding in legal writ, the poster here does cite a “Notification” (tsuuchi) from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare that enables police inspection of the Guest Book. But as the below-mentioned Fukuoka Now website (citing a Japanese lawyer) states, these ministerial “directives” are “not laws and are therefore not legally binding, however, they are in practice extremely important as administrative bodies, who execute/enforce laws, follow these internal notifications until the law is clarified by amendment or a judge denied a specific interpretation at court.”

The point is still this is not grounded in actual law.  Hence the request for “cooperation”.  But any hotelier not a legal scholar will no doubt interpret these “weasel words” as a requirement to ask guests for ID.

What’s misleading in these yellow sections is whether or not ALL people regardless of nationality have to show ID (they don’t; they didn’t before, and there’s no law cited now to say that they do).  But in practice, hoteliers will interpret this to mean that all “foreigners” will have to show ID, and the regular unwillingness to inconvenience “regular” Japanese customers will mean that Japanese won’t.

Finally, in the magenta balloons the Shizuoka Police mention that if the person asked for ID refuses to cooperate, then the hotel has the obligation to refuse that person accommodation.  The law cited is not the Hotel Management Law, but a local Shizuoka Prefectural Ordinance (jourei) governing hotels.

In sum, the Shizuoka Police are reinforcing the status quo with weasel words asking for “cooperation” when law doesn’t require.

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

On a second page, the Shizuoka Police also cite various bits of the laws as substantiation:

Bits of this are backed up by an article at Fukuoka Now (courtesy of Debito.org Reader MR), which cites not only the letter of the law but also a lawyer opining:

(Courtesy https://www.fukuoka-now.com/en/can-hotels-take-a-photocopy-of-my-id/, current as of May 14, 2019):

旅館業法施行規則 [4]
第四条の二
3 法第六条第一項の厚生労働省令で定める事項は、宿泊者の氏名、住所及び職業のほか、次に掲げる事項とする。
一 宿泊者が日本国内に住所を有しない外国人であるときは、その国籍及び旅券番号
二 その他都道府県知事が必要と認める事項

Ordinance for Enforcement of the Inns and Hotels Act [5]
Article 4-2
(3) The matters provided for by the Order of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare set out in the Act shall be the following, in addition to the name, address, and occupation of the guests.
(i) The nationality and passport number if the guest is a foreign national who does not possess an address in Japan; and
(ii) Other matters that prefectural governors find necessary.

旅館業法施行規則 [4]
第四条の二
3 法第六条第一項の厚生労働省令で定める事項は、宿泊者の氏名、住所及び職業のほか、次に掲げる事項とする。
一 宿泊者が日本国内に住所を有しない外国人であるときは、その国籍及び旅券番号
二 その他都道府県知事が必要と認める事項

Ordinance for Enforcement of the Inns and Hotels Act [5]
Article 4-2
(3) The matters provided for by the Order of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare set out in the Act shall be the following, in addition to the name, address, and occupation of the guests.
(i) The nationality and passport number if the guest is a foreign national who does not possess an address in Japan; and
(ii) Other matters that prefectural governors find necessary.

(All translations certified by Fukuoka Attorney Miyake Atsushi of Miyake Law, Apr. 2019.)

The Skinny:

At a bare minimum, this Shizuoka Police poster confirms that there are two separate tracks at check-in:  One for Foreign Tourists, and another one for ALL Residents of Japan regardless of nationality (Japanese and NJ):

Foreign Tourists with no address in Japan must show ID, meaning a passport.  Some places will require, as per local ordinance, that passport to be photocopied.

(I will let various governments continue to criticize the potential dangers of this practice, including fraud and identity theft:  The Canadian Government, for example, explicitly says, “You take all responsibility for giving information in your passport to a third party.”

But there is still nowhere in the law that requires NJ Residents of Japan to show any ID after writing down their details in the hotel Guest Book.

And the fact that even this police poster is being intentionally confusing and misleading about the letter of the law, even when the law (or ministerial directive) is being selectively cited, indicates once again how the Japanese Police are continuing their SOP to bend the law and encourage hotels to racially profile their “foreign” guests.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

=====================
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Reuters: Japanese police urged to take “light-touch” towards NJ during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. Yeah, sure.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It turns out Japan has earned a reputation from past experiences hosting international events.

The racism-riddled debacles that were the soccer World Cup 2002 and the G8 Summits (here and here) made me question whether Japan as a society (let alone its politicians and police) was mature enough to handle any temporary influx of NJ, let alone as visa-legal NJ workers and residents of Japan.

But it seems it wasn’t just me. Some months ago, the Rugby World Cup and staff from two embassies actually cautioned the Japanese police to ease up on their overzealousness towards NJ.  As previous blog entries have shown, it’s questionable whether they are actually doing that (as they are bending the law to encourage racial profiling at hotels etc.).

But the following article deserves to be recorded on Debito.org because it shows at least somebody out there is taking notice, despite all the official “omotenashi” wallpapering over Japan’s latent exclusionism that goes ignored, if not encouraged, by Japanese authorities.  I look forward to seeing what the International Olympic Committee has to say in Tokyo in a year.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

Rugby – Japan police urged to take ‘light-touch’ approach at World Cup
REUTERS APRIL 18, 2019, By Jack Tarrant, courtesy of JDG
https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-rugby-union-worldcup-police-interview-idUKKCN1RV079

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese police have been encouraged to take a “light-touch approach” during the Rugby World Cup, with organisers telling Reuters they had visited host cities to emphasise that while fans will be boisterous they are unlikely to cause trouble.

More than 400,000 foreign fans are expected to descend on Japan for the Sept. 20 to Nov. 2 tournament and concerns have been raised that police might not have enough experience to deal with the influx.

Staff from two embassies have expressed concern to Reuters that police may overreact to perceived intimidation from fans.

Mick Wright, 2019 executive director for operations, said host cities had received briefings on what to expect and that organisers had downplayed concerns about unruly fans.

“We have been on a bit of a mission, we have had a roadshow going around all the cities talking about … rugby fans and what they expect from their behaviour,” Wright told Reuters.

Wright, who also works as a technical advisor to the International Olympic Committee, said host cities would be swamped by large numbers of fans drinking huge quantities of alcohol but that the mood would be a positive one.

“We have been explaining to all the cities that they better stock up on beer because we know from history that rugby fans will drink a lot,” he said.

“It is part and parcel of rugby’s ethos and culture.

“The way the fans behave, it might be loud and it might be raucous but it won’t be intimidating.

“With the police, I think we have been really successful in explaining to them that the light-touch approach is going to be better,” added Wright.

Yoshiya Takesako, Japan 2019 director of security, said the police had been told what to expect from fans and how to react.

“Rugby fans may seem scary but they are not,” said Takesako, who has been seconded from the Japanese police.

“This has been explained to the police so they have been educated that fans will drink a lot and may sing or be loud but it is not like they will hurt anybody.

“I have told the police forces many, many times to respond to fans in a reasonable way.”
ENDS

================================
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Fujisankei-owned Japan Today posts article on “What to do if stopped by J police” for Rugby World Cup visitors, after consulting with Debito.org. Then does not acknowledge Debito.org and leaves out valuable advice

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Hi Blog.  Debito.org Reader JDG had this to say about a recent article in Japan Today:

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

JDG:  Right wing Sankei owned Japan Today put out this ‘what to do if you get stopped by the police in Japan’ article for the Rugby World Cup.

https://japantoday.com/category/features/lifestyle/What-to-do-if-you-are-stopped-by-the-police-in-Japan

Half the article about having fun and getting travel insurance, the other half about complying with all police requests because, y’know, cultural differences.

Failure to blindly comply with police stop requests will be ‘escalating the situation’ and grounds for arrest because, y’know, cultural differences.

What about police discrimination and your rights? ‘Don’t believe all the hoopla you read online’.

Basically article’s advice is;
If stopped by Japanese police, do as you are told.

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

For the record, the article is archived below.

COMMENT:  Well, interestingly enough, Japan Today consulted with Debito.org before doing the article.  And then it made no mention of Debito.org or its advice therein.  Here’s the exchange:

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

From: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>
Subject: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 8, 2019 at 11:08:36 PM
To: debito@debito.org
Hello Dr. Arudou,
My name is Jeff Richards and I’m an editor for Japan Today.
I’m currently putting together a piece on “What to Do if Stopped by the Police in Japan” as primer for both residents and tourists alike visiting for the upcoming Rugby World Cup (and by extension the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and other large-scale sporting and entertainment events).
I have been using your website as a resource in this regard (and have since I arrived in Japan over a decade ago… ). I was wondering if you had done any updates on this topic (on your website either as a post or in one of your many news columns):
I realize that most of the posts on your site dealing with the police, unwarranted checkpoints, unlawful ID checks by hotel/train staff etc. seem to relate to the former “Gaikokijin Torokushou” but I was wondering if there have been any significant changes to the law with the advent of the Residence Card? Or would these same laws still apply with just a terminology change?
My goal with the article is purely to provide facts to readers about what they are required to have on them (passport or residence card), what they are legally bound to do and what they are entitled to ask before submitting to a check and their rights. It is really a “just the facts, ma’am” type of piece. I wold like to have readers informed of what they should know about these types of situations — especially since more people are a little more reticent about Japanese police and due process since the recent Carlos Ghosn detention shining a spotlight on how the justice system here is stacked against them.
Any insight or updates from you would be appreciated and if you have any other outside sources I might contact or read that would be very welcome, too.
I hope all is well and I look forward to reading any upcoming articles for the Shingetsu News Agency.
Kindest regards,
~Jeff Richards
Jeff W, Richards
Editor
4F 1-8-1 Higashi Azabu IS Bldg.,
1-8-1 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Japan 106-0044

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

Well, I was happy to oblige, so here was my response:

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

From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 11, 2019 at 7:38:42 PM
To: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>

Dear Mr. Richards,

Thank you for your email, and I apologize for my late response.  Please find my answers below in your text:

 

On Sep 8, 2019, at 11:08 PM, Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com> wrote:
Hello Dr. Arudou,
My name is Jeff Richards and I’m an editor for Japan Today.
I’m currently putting together a piece on “What to Do if Stopped by the Police in Japan” as primer for both residents and tourists alike visiting for the upcoming Rugby World Cup (and by extension the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and other large-scale sporting and entertainment events).

Excellent.  This sounds very helpful.  I will be happy to point to it on Debito.org when it comes out.

 

I have been using your website as a resource in this regard (and have since I arrived in Japan over a decade ago… ). I was wondering if you had done any updates on this topic (on your website either as a post or in one of your many news columns):
I realize that most of the posts on your site dealing with the police, unwarranted checkpoints, unlawful ID checks by hotel/train staff etc. seem to relate to the former “Gaikokijin Torokushou” but I was wondering if there have been any significant changes to the law with the advent of the Residence Card? Or would these same laws still apply with just a terminology change?

I haven’t updated the site in a while, as you know, but I have found that the systems in place are largely unchanged.

As for the Gaikokujin Tourokushou issue, there have NOT been any significant changes with the advent of the Zairyuu Card.  In fact, things have gotten a bit worse, as police don’t always believe the new Gaijin Card will suffice for visa kakunin purposes, and instead ask for passports more often on street ID checkpoints (which is what the Zairyuu Card is supposed to act as a substitute for).  In any case, the Zairyuu Card is basically the Gaijin Card Part Deux.  Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.  As you put it, it’s just a terminology change as far as police enforcement and racial profiling is concerned.

 

My goal with the article is purely to provide facts to readers about what they are required to have on them (passport or residence card), what they are legally bound to do and what they are entitled to ask before submitting to a check and their rights. It is really a “just the facts, ma’am” type of piece. I wold like to have readers informed of what they should know about these types of situations — especially since more people are a little more reticent about Japanese police and due process since the recent Carlos Ghosn detention shining a spotlight on how the justice system here is stacked against them.

That sounds good.  And people are surely right to feel targeted after the Ghosn Case.  Because they are.  As you saw from recent articles, Ghosn’s peers just got the axe for similar misdeeds but Ghosn got sent to jail.

 

Any insight or updates from you would be appreciated and if you have any other outside sources I might contact or read that would be very welcome, too.

How about these?

Scroll through these and see what catches your eye.

 

I hope all is well and I look forward to reading any upcoming articles for the Shingetsu News Agency.

My next one comes out in a few days.  Enjoy.

Sincerely, Debito

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

I then received no response, acknowledgment, or thanks for this email, so I refowarded the mail with a message:

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

From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Fwd: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 17, 2019 at 2:30:12 PM
To: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>
Hi Mr Richards.  Just checking to see if you got this.  Sincerely, Debito

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

Then Mr. Richards responded:

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

From: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>
Subject: Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 18, 2019 at 12:50:42 AM
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Yes, thank you so much for getting back to me and sorry for not doing the same. Apologies.
Your information has been very useful. It’s seems pretty cut-and-dried (regardless of personal opinions on the police’s reasoning or racial bias) but I did just want to give people a very good idea of what will indeed happen if you are stopped by the keisatsu (either just letting you continue on or taking you “downtown” depending on how important it is for people to be outraged).
I ended up taking all of my “opinion” out of it and just presented what will happen and your rights — and how to just make it go smoothly so you can get on to enjoying the rugby. If people really are incensed, probably best to make a complaint later — unless it’s truly egregious. Our readers can discuss it in the comments.
I believe we’ll be publishing the story tomorrow night ahead of the first Rugby World Cup game on Friday.
Thanks again for getting back to me. I’d love to be able to contact you again on other matters involving foreigners in Japan for future stories (I’m planning to one on if you happen to get injured or have an accident and a follow up on if you are unfortunate enough to be detained by the police in Japan).
Regards,
~Jeff
Jeff W, Richards
Editor
4F 1-8-1 Higashi Azabu IS Bldg.,
1-8-1 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Japan 106-0044
Tel: +81 3-5561-7755

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

Then the article came out, and as noted, there was no mention of Debito.org or any of the information therein. So I asked about it.

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

From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 22, 2019 at 10:29:47 AM
To: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>

Hello Jeff,

Thanks for the article.  But if the information on Debito.org was so useful, why wasn’t it cited anywhere in the article, even as a potential information site like the others?  Please explain.  Thank you.
Sincerely, Debito

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

I received no response from Mr. Richards for three days. So I drew some conclusions, and told him so:

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

From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Please respond within 48 hours. Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 25, 2019 at 10:02:44 AM 
To: Jeff Richards <jeff@japantoday.com>

Hello Jeff again.  I didn’t receive a response from you, so here’s my interpretation of what happened:

1) You wrote up an article that had your “opinions” in it, and some of them were based upon information you found on Debito.org.
2) As you are owned by Fujisankei, you were told by your bosses to remove that information, and all references to Debito.org.  (We can’t have foreigners in Japan knowing their rights, after all.)
If so, I find this overall trend in media complicity in disempowering NJ to be most distressing, as I noted in my Shingetsu News Agency articles that you say below you have seen.
That is precisely a Debito.org issue, which I will be going public with (including our correspondence, since it was not private, and you were writing expressly in your public capacity as an Editor at Japan Today) in 48 hours from this time stamp.
If you would like to clarify the record or my interpretation beforehand, I am inviting you to respond within that 48 hours.
Sincerely, Debito

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

Mr. Richards responded soon afterwards:

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

From: Jeff Richards <jeff@gplusmedia.com>
Subject: Re: Please respond within 48 hours. Re: Journalist Asking about Any Updates on “What to Do if Stopped by Police in Japan”
Date: September 26, 2019 at 1:09:53 AM PDT
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Wow. Well, those are some rather unexpected and confrontational email replies.
I’m not sure what I did to warrant that type of reaction or what in fact you were expecting from me.
The article I wrote is for the benefit of people visiting Japan for the RWC (and residents who might be interested). There is no sway over my editorial by higher ups at Fuji at all.
My article steers clear of my “opinions” to keep it as objective as possible without editorializing on the matter since it is not an opinion piece, per se.
While your website has information on it that can be useful, so, too, do the official sites for Japan Customs, the National Police Agency, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the Immigration Services Agency of Japan as well the information I received from embassy officials that I interviewed.
One of the reasons I originally reached out was to find out if you had any actual new content on debito.org that updated some of the older stuff (the links in your original reply direct to articles well over 10 years old). To be fair, some other official Japanese sites (mostly ward and prefectural) contain info that isn’t that much more up-to-date, so I didn’t use those links, either.
Is there a personal quote from you or reference to your website content that perhaps I didn’t attribute? If so, please let me know and I’m more than happy to rectify.
Regards,
~Jeff

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

FINAL COMMENT:  I didn’t respond further to Mr. Richards.  I acknowledge his courteous inquiries at the beginning, and appreciate his efforts to find out the most current information; I also acknowledge that his article is very helpful for the most part.

However, I felt things were certainly different when it came down to reporting any information that might let people know their rights in Japan.  Because, after all, foreigners aren’t supposed to have any rights, according to the Japanese Police, and that’s generally the line that much of the “foreigner-friendly” media basically maintains — just do as you’re told like a good “guest” and all will go well.  Until it doesn’t, of course.

Racial profiling in Japan is Standard Operating Procedure for the Japanese police, and that should be acknowledged somewhere, not simply worked around or removed as a matter of “opinion”.

I remain unswayed in my belief that the inconvenient truths that Debito.org has always offered were not something a media outlet like this was keen on publishing.  And I believe that this is because it is owned by the right-wing Fujisankei group, which has substantially changed the tone of the once foreigner-owned Japan Today.

For the record, shortly after its founding two decades ago, Japan Today’s NJ editors invited me to write columns for them.  I did in fact write eighteen over the course of two years (until they stopped paying me as promised, which is why I quit and went to The Japan Times).  That was then.  Now, I strongly doubt Japan Today would ever publish information found in my columns again.  What I’m saying is simply not what “gaijin-handling” (i.e., putting forth a positive image of Japan under all circumstances) Japan-owned and -managed outlets want published.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

The current text of the Japan Today article, for the record:

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

Lifestyle

What to do if you are stopped by the police in Japan

148 Comments

By Jeff W Richards

This year — for the first time in its 32-year history — the Rugby World Cup will be held in Asia. On Nov 2, 2019, the International Stadium Yokohama in Japan will become just the seventh stadium ever to host the final of the world’s third-largest sporting event.

While a fantastic time is expected to be had by all involved: hosts, teams and fans; that’s not to say some cultural scrums won’t form. The arrest and detention of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn last year has shone an international spotlight on Japan’s justice system. This could have some people worried.

Japan is — for the most part — a forward-thinking, modern democracy. It’s justice system, however, still relies on solitary confinement, forced confessions and apologies (with financial compensation to “victims”) for its verdicts. The most worrying aspect of criminal justice in Japan is its detention system (suspects can be held for up to 23 days without being charged) and its bias against non-Japanese detainees.

Stating this is not meant to scare people. Your experience at the World Cup and other events will probably be as fun and enjoyable as you expect, or even more so — whether in Tokyo, Yokohama or farther-flung Kyushu. The locals want you to come and to enjoy yourself at the matches as well as learn and experience the delights of their city and region — police included

But differences in culture and behavior exist. For example, it may be completely normal in your home country — fellas! — to relieve yourself outside, in an alley or on the side of building, whereas here the keisatsu (police) may stop you for defacing private property or indecent exposure. From even minor encounters, major troubles can occur.

This is a no-nonsense guide to what you should do if you are stopped by the police in Japan, prefaced with some common-sense advice to prevent any problems before they might occur.

Before you come

A word to those arriving from overseas: before you leave for Japan, do your research.

Read up online. Visit the website of your embassy in Japan and read its travel advisories. Here they will post relevant information and updates on everything from extreme weather forecasts, natural disasters, pertinent crime reports and lists of prohibited goods you might inadvertently pack.

Websites and resources to check out before you leave:

Purchase travel insurance. When I asked representatives at the British Embassy in Tokyo about their recommendations for Brits coming to Japan, this was No. 1 on their list — and it applies to visitors from all countries. If an accident should occur, Japanese hospitals and clinics do not accept foreign medical insurance. We will have more on this in a second installment of this series for visitors to Japan.

To avoid any hassles before you pass Japanese customs at the airport, find out what medications (if any) from your home country might be illegal in Japan. You could encounter problems with pharmaceuticals as mundane as over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief (anything with codeine is prohibited) or certain allergy medications (pseudoephedrine is also illegal). If you do find an OTC medication you use is listed — don’t bring it. There will be a suitable alternative readily available here — and it won’t cause you grief should be stopped by the police and searched.

If you do require specific medication, make sure to bring the prescription with you and don’t bring more than a 30-day supply. And even if you do have a prescription, Jiminy Christmas, do not bring any medicine containing opium, cannabis, amphetamines, methamphetamines and certain medicines for treating attention deficit disorders (such as Adderall, Vyvanse and Dexedrine) as these are strictly prohibited.

If you’re already concerned about what might happen if you’re stopped by the police in Japan — do yourself a favor: Don’t get detained before you even clear customs.

Before you go out to an event

Make sure you have the proper identification on you when you go out for the day. You will be asked for it if you are stopped by authorities.

For tourists, this means that you must carry your passport with you at all times. Failure to do so could result in more than embarrassment — it could mean detention by the police (as proper ID will be the first thing they ask for) and a fine of up to ¥200,000 (U.S.$1,850) may ensue. “Proper ID” in this case does not constitute your driver’s license from back home.

Also, carry the name and contact info for your accommodations. If you’re staying at a hotel, grab a business card (with Japanese and English on it) from the front desk. This is not just to give to peace officers, but it can help you return safely as cab drivers or people you stop to ask for directions may not speak English.

If you’re a resident of Japan — and you should know this — you need to carry your zairyu, or Japanese Residence Card, with you at all times. Any immigration or law enforcement officers in the course of their uniformed duties can ask for it and — by law — you need to have it on your person at all times. Not doing so carries a fine of ¥200,000.

If you get stopped

During the Rugby World Cup, understand that there will be an increased police presence across the country, especially around match venues and fan zones.

“During the rugby, we are expecting people to be stopped or arrested for boisterous behavior considered minor in the UK or at least in [other] rugby countries,” says Marion Auclair, consular sporting liaison officer for the British Embassy in Tokyo. “That can get you detained for up to 23 days in Japan.” Nudity — like we mentioned above about answering “when nature calls” — is one of those behaviors.

Is it possible you may be stopped simply because you’re a foreigner? Absolutely.

Is there any reason for you to be unduly worried about it? I would say no.

By and large — especially at an international sporting event — police are deployed to assist the public, keep the peace and look for anything suspicious or unfamiliar. Foreigners quite often tick the “unfamiliar” box. They’ll ask you some questions about where you’re from, what you’re doing in Japan and where you might be coming from (or going to). I mean, it depends on how morally outraged you’d like to be about the situation. Contrary to the discussion board hoopla you’ll find online, there is no need to get your back up. This is not #blacklivesmatter. Nobody is going to shoot you because of the color of your skin. In fact, the police in Japan rarely use their firearms.

You are, however, in danger of causing yourself and your companions more trouble than it’s worth should you decide to escalate the situation — and the perception of “escalation” in Japan is quite different than it might be in the West. Here, even raising your voice can be interpreted by Japanese police as noncompliance or obstruction. It’s why you’ll often see Japanese citizens stopped by law enforcement stand perfectly still during an encounter all the while speaking in a non-hysterical voice. The cops as well. No sudden moves. No surprises. Nobody goes to jail.

Raise your voice indignantly, though, and you risk being seen as obstructing police duties. Reason enough for them to ask for your identification, search your person and even ask if you’d like to come “downtown” to the koban (police box). You do not want to do this.

The police in Japan have every legal right to stop you and ask to see your ID. You, in turn, have the right ask them why you’re being stopped. Best to politely pose the question and then submit to their request when they tell you the reason. They’ll note your registration card or passport information, ask you a few more questions and — most likely — you’ll be on your way.

A quick note if the situation does escalate and you find yourself being detained. It’s important to know that in Japan you do not get to make a phone call. By international convention — assuming your country has signed this bilateral agreement (not all have) — if you are held by the police in Japan, they will inform the consular department of your embassy about your arrest.

The British Embassy, for example, would then send the detainee a prisoner pack with a list of lawyers and check if they want a consular visit.

“If so, we automatically visit,” says Auclair. “Then we assess together what kind of assistance [the embassy] can provide to them.”

To avoid this in the first place — use your common sense.

“Because I think fundamentally everybody knows the things that are illegal, right?” says Emma Hickinbotham, the British Embassy’s head of media, communications and marketing. “That you shouldn’t smuggle drugs. That you shouldn’t steal things. Those things — they’re universal. It’s more the nuances of the cultural differences. That is, you might not get arrested but [the situation] could potentially escalate and if you don’t speak the language — maybe in Tokyo it’s different — but out in some of the regions where the rugby is being played, if the local police don’t speak English and they are asking you nicely to put your clothes back on or whatever, it might be [a good idea]. If you don’t understand anything they’re saying, then you might respond and if you’re being too loud, they might misunderstand that as aggression. So, it’s really trying to stop any of those kinds of misunderstandings happening where people may end up getting in trouble for very minor things that are just avoidable.”

To put it in perspective, while many people of all nationalities are stopped daily in Japan, the number of foreigners arrested is significantly small.

So how many UK citizens are arrested or detained in Japan in a year? “I would say about 50,” says Auclair.

Auclair adds something all embassy staff and Japanese people are likely thinking. “We want people to have fun, in the end. We actually want them to enjoy the rugby because we also are very excited about the rugby. [Laughs] You know, we are rugby fans ourselves, so it’s more about: ‘Yeah, just pay attention.’ Have some common sense. Maybe don’t moon in public, that might not be as well received as in the UK.”

For more information on being culturally aware, Auclair and Hickinbotham suggest visiting the UK government’s advisory page with tips for fans traveling to the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

The more you know before you head out to enjoy a match — whether live at a stadium, in a fan zone with friends or gathered in a bar with strangers — the better time you will have and the less chance of having a bad experience with the police.

Most of it, though, is just common sense — like not urinating on private property or mooning people in public.

ENDS

=====================
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ICI Hotel Kanda unlawfully requires ID from all “foreign guests”, including NJ residents of Japan, as a precondition for stay; claims it’s demanded by Tokyo Metropolitan Police (UPDATED)

mytest

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(UPDATE OF SEPT 29 BELOW:  JENIFER CLARIFIES LAW WITH HOTEL, YET HOTEL INSISTS THAT THEY HAVE CHECKED WITH THE POLICE, AND THE POLICE INSIST ALL NJ INCLUDING RESIDENTS MUST SHOW ID AS A PRECONDITION FOR STAY.)

Hi Blog. Here we go again. Debito.org Reader Jenifer (a pseudonym) sends evidence that the ICI Hotel Kanda will not only be demanding ID from all of its “foreign guests” (no doubt, as typically enforced, as a precondition for stay), but also unlawfully requiring even the NJ residents (who have addresses in Japan) display their ID (something not required by law of Japanese guests). The status of “foreign guest” will no doubt be determined on sight or by recorded name, so cue the racial profiling.

(And if you want to carry a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan, download it from here: http://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg)

The justification? Once again, the Japanese Police (in this case the Tokyo Metropolitan Police) are stretching the law and demanding hotels act as their agents to check all “foreign ID” (something only people with the proper ministerial credentials can do).  And as the ICI Hotel Kanda explicitly says in the Update below, they will refuse accommodation if that ID is not displayed, in direct violation of the laws governing hotel management.

The ICI Hotel Kanda also cites “safety for our guests and other residents in Japan”.  No doubt the Rugby World Cup will be used as a pretext, even though the reservation is for November. Once again, bring in an international event, and use it as a pretext to further alienate Japan’s resident non-citizens and international citizens. I can hardly wait to see what tricks the police come up with next year for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics. Debito Arudou Ph.D.


UPDATE SEPT 29:  JENIFER REGISTERS A COMPLAINT WITH THE HOTEL

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

On Wed, 18 Sep 2019, Jenifer wrote:
> To whom it may concern,
>
> This is the second time I’ve stayed here and I have another reservation for November but am considering cancelling it.
>
> I just checked in and was asked for my passport. When I stated I live in Japan, I was asked for my residency card. This goes against the laws of Japan. As a hotel, you cannot not ask anyone who states they live in Japan for ID. Not only that, your hotel staff made the assumption I was not Japanese and not living in Japan by asking for my passport. This is blatant racial profiling. The only people who have a right to ask for a residency card is the Japanese police and immigration. As a hotel, it is illegal to ask people you assume to be non Japanese for their residency card.
>
> I checked in speaking Japanese. In the end I showed her my Japanese driver’s license but I’m not happy I felt I had to do that. Do you ask Japanese for picture ID?
>
> I would like to ask that you train your staff better and have them understand the laws of Japan.
> Sincerely, Jenifer

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

THE HOTEL RESPONDS (EMPHASIS ADDED IN BOLD):

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

From:kanda@icihotel.com” <kanda@icihotel.com>
Date: September 27, 2019 at 23:03:10 GMT+9
To: [Jenifer]
Cc: イチホテル神田 <kanda@icihotel.com>
Subject: Re: Check in procedures

Dear [Jenifer],

We greatly appreciate your response.

First, We would like to sincerely apologize once again to you to what happened during your check-in with us. We have no intention to discriminate anyone as we are only following the check-in policy of the hotel.

Please do know that we are fully aware of Japanese law and we have consulted your case to the Tokyo Police Department. As mentioned to our previous emails, They have strictly ordered us to ask for any identification card for foreign visitor or foreign residence of Japan due to security purposes. Otherwise, We won’t be able to accommodate you. Please understand that we are only complying to the city rules and our hotel rules and regulations.

We have coordinated this matter to the authorized personnel, for further specifications kindly contact them directly.

As we already explained our side, If you need further explanation regarding this situation, Please contact Expedia where you have made your reservation.

Please bear in mind that we didn’t meant to have any misconceptions at all. We are truly hoping for your kind understanding.

Sincerely,
ICI Hotel Kanda
Front staff
■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□

┃ イチホテル神田 担当
E-mail: kanda@icihotel.com
┃ 〒101-0044
東京都千代田区鍛冶町1丁目9-15
┃ TEL: 03-3251-1118
FAX: 03-3251-1117

ICI HOTEL Kanda
┃ 101-0044
1-9-15, Kaji-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
┃ TEL: 03-3251-1118
FAX: 03-3251-1117
┃ E-mail: kanda@icihotel.com

■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□

Jenifer concludes:  “It’s like they don’t want to admit the cops aren’t following the law… ”

======================
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XY on being racially profiled–by a designated police task force looking for “bad foreigners”–for a traffic fender bender caused by someone else!

mytest

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Hi Blog. I found this experience online a few days ago from someone I trust, who has extensive Japanese experience and knowledge. The author had an interesting experience with a traffic accident (which wasn’t the author’s fault) and it resulted in being racially profiled.

But what makes this a Debito.org Issue is that the Japanese police are now apparently dedicating a special unit just to investigate “bad foreigners”, even those involved in traffic fender benders!

(Making the story even more authentic is the part about the cop afterward asking for further cooperation in the racial profiling.  It happened too me to on the day I naturalized!)

Read on. Reproduced with the permission of the author. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

===================
XY: I had a bitter but enlightening experience today.

Returned to a supermarket parking lot this morning to find my car surrounded by a small group of Japanese police and onlookers. Apparently a lady backed into my car when I wasn’t there and had called the police to file a report. I think they were all quite surprised to learn that the car was driven there by an American and even more surprised that the American could speak Japanese. Everyone was very kind and both the cops and the woman who hit my car took the time to speak over the phone to my boss and apologize for the incident.

Things got strange when the regular uniformed police called in their racial profiling specialist unit for backup. This was a man wearing a plain white polo shirt who told me I needed to stick around after letting the woman who had hit my car go, did not present a badge, and introduced himself only when I asked him who he was as a man whose job it is to catch “bad foreigners.” He explained that he wanted to check if my visa card and drivers license were fake because “it’s very easy to make fakes these days.”

If the prevalence of fakes was the only issue at hand, one would wonder why he let the woman who had hit my car go without also checking to see whether her license was also a fake, but I didn’t bother pointing this out because it was obviously taken for granted that only “bad foreigners” would make fake IDs and conduct whatever nefarious activities they were potentially looking for beyond the ID pretext.

I stood around for 30 minutes in the heat batting around irrelevant questions until I was cleared to go. The racial profiling unit explained to me without a smile that catching “bad foreigners” is hard work and told me to keep an eye out and let him know if I saw anything in the future. I told him I’d do my best.

Altogether, the issue was resolved without any incident, other than the bullshit that I went over the meter time in the parking lot because my car was hit, and that they made me pay this out of my own money. I left with only a small dent and a learning experience.

Coming from the U.S., it’s an interesting experience as a white person with blonde hair to become an ethnic minority in another country, and to get a few molecules of a taste of the kind of shit ethnic minorities in the U.S. and other countries have to put up with on a regular basis.

It also adds a bit of perspective to experience firsthand that racial profiling and mistrust of “foreigners” isn’t a uniquely American concept, but that human beings do the same shit the whole world over, even in countries like Japan that are often stereotyped as nations grounded in respect for others.
===================
ENDS
======================
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“Visible Minorities”: My first monthly column for the Shingetsu News Agency, Aug 19, 2019 (FULL TEXT)

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Hi Blog. Welcome back from a Summer Break. I’m pleased to announce that I have a new monthly column at the progressive Shingetsu News Agency, the only place left (following the rightward editorial shift at The Japan Times) offering independent journalism on Japan in Japan.

Here’s an excerpt, where I stake out what the column space will be about:

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

Visible Minorities: Debito’s New Column for the Shingetsu News Agency

SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, AUG 19, 2019 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMNS
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/08/19/visible-minorities-debitos-new-column-for-the-shingetsu-news-agency/

My name is Debito Arudou (or Arudou Debito, if you prefer), that guy from Sapporo who started writing about Japan from the early 1990s on a long-dead mailing list called the Dead Fukuzawa Society. I wrote so much there that I decided to archive my writings on a webpage. Debito.org soon blossomed into an award-winning reference site on life and human rights in Japan, and later a platform for newspaper articles and fieldwork research on racial discrimination.

After moonlighting at places like the now-defunct Asahi Evening News and Japan Today, I began writing in 2002 a column for Japan Times, first under Zeit Gist and then Just Be Cause.

Decades later, here we are with a new monthly column at the Shingetsu News Agency, under the title Visible Minorities.

I chose this title for two reasons.

The first is because my doctoral research, and most recent book, was on “visible minorities,” a term used by academics, and even the Canadian government, to discuss a more subtle form of discrimination. It is used when a minority is treated differently by a society, even if they formally have the same legal rights as fellow residents and citizens, because they don’t look physically the same as the majority group in that society.

In Japan, this term is especially useful because our hegemonic national narrative claims that Japan is monocultural, monoethnic, and homogeneous. In other words, Japan allegedly has no minorities. But, of course, it does: the Ainu, the Uchinanchu, the “Zainichi” ethnic Koreans and Chinese, the Burakumin, foreign residents, and naturalized citizens.

Naturally, academia and the Japanese government have habitually promoted the fiction that Japan has no racial discrimination because Japan has no “races.” After all, Japan’s minorities are supposedly indistinguishable from the Japanese majority.

In other words, since everyone allegedly “looks Japanese,” Japanese racism is somehow different—it’s not a matter of skin color, so therefore it’s not the real racism found in other countries.

But what about those foreigners and naturalized Japanese citizens like myself who do have a different skin color? They are ignored because they’re apparently too small a number to really count, or they’re here by choice and therefore somehow aren’t really part of Japan.

Nowadays, Non-Japanese residents make up about 2.1% of the total population of these islands, and the demographic trends reveal clearly, as the Japanese population ages and decreases, that this proportion will continue to rise in the decades ahead.

And yet, still overlooked are the people—including the Japanese born from the hundreds of thousands of international couples—who are sometimes refused entry to bathhouses, shops, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, schools, colleges, or other places offering licensed services to the public.

That’s why the term “visible minorities” matters. All you need to be treated unequally in many cases is to look foreign, and this is an issue that Japan needs to better grapple with at both the social and political level.

A second, related reason why I chose this term as the column’s title is because minorities in Japan, as noted above, have in fact been made invisible for quite some time.

This wasn’t always the case. Prewar Japan once prided itself on how ethnically diverse it was. Interbellum Japan had a sizable foreign-born population, and offered imperial citizenship to the peoples it colonized. Indeed, the Japanese government even claimed it was unique in colonizing peoples without the trappings of racial discrimination. Japan’s Pan-Asianism was better than the yoke of White Imperialism, they argued, because everyone being liberated was of the same Asian “race.”

Of course, a colonizer is still a colonizer, and minorities in Japan back then, as anywhere, not only endured exploitation, but also faced extra hurdles as Pan-Asians to “prove” themselves loyal subjects of Japan. This included conscription into the Japanese military and collaboration in the often brutal subjugation of their homelands.

When the Japanese Empire disappeared after the Pacific War, so allegedly did all the minorities in Japan. The subjects of empire were stripped of their Japanese citizenship and given marching orders to go back overseas. They could only remain in Japan with their investments if they took jobs on Japan’s economic peripheries (such as pachinko parlors or the criminal underworld), or if they registered as potentially subversive elements to the state (with criminal penalties for not carrying fingerprinted identification at all times). Putting them on a separate “foreign registry” system also enabled the government to exclude “foreigners” from Japan’s official population tallies—making them statistically invisible. The homogeneous Japanese ethnostate was a postwar invention.

But in this increasingly globalized world, Japan’s minorities need to become visible again. This column will highlight the underrepresented minorities, unpacking what keeps them disenfranchised from “mainstream” debate and dialog.

In the English-language news media, where foreign residents had a voice going back to the late 19th century, the trend has actually been in the direction of increased marginalization. Hardly ever do Non-Japanese get to create their own public image.

First you have the vanity-press English versions of the major newspapers: Asahi, Yomiuri, and Mainichi, which have long ago purged their ranks of actual foreign reporters doing original reporting.

Then there is the rightwing Fujisankei Communications Group, which bought up the foreigner-founded Japan Today and shifted its editorial bent away from foreign voices and toward Japan boosterism. That doesn’t even touch on the content of the unspeakable Japan Forward.

The once last-man-standing Japan Times has famously changed its tone under the new ownership that arrived in 2017, firing several of its major columnists who were critical of the government, and adopting officially-sanctioned terminology about historical events that adhere to an ahistorical line.

Other media run by minorities and Non-Japanese, including ethnic newspapers, newsletters, and websites, sadly have little reach and minimal impact on Japanese society.

Let’s try to change that. I look forward to writing for a Shingetsu News Agency that challenges the stale conventions and speaks truth to power. The point is to increase the visibility of minorities, and to assist Japanese of goodwill in dismantling the systems that keep them disenfranchised.

Thank you for reading me over the years. Let’s do some more good work.

ENDS

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

Read the full text also at
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/08/19/visible-minorities-debitos-new-column-for-the-shingetsu-news-agency/

Enjoy.  Let’s hit the last three months of this year running, and help reverse the tide of xenophobia that has swept liberal democracies worldwide.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

======================
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Kyodo: Japan celebrates its South American Japanese diaspora. Praising them for doing what it complains NJ immigrants to Japan do. (Like take Nippon Foundation money to sterilize Peruvian indigenous peoples?)

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Hi Blog. Check out this article that appeared recently in The Japan Times, courtesy of the wire services:

///////////////////////////////////////
Princess Mako meets with Peruvian president, expresses gratitude for acceptance of Japanese immigrants
KYODO, JIJI JUL 12, 2019 (excerpt), courtesy of Andrew in Saitama
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/12/national/princess-mako-meets-peruvian-president-expresses-gratitude-acceptance-japanese-immigrants/

LIMA – Princess Mako paid a visit to Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra on Thursday in Lima during her trip to mark the 120th anniversary of the start of Japanese immigration to the South American country.

“I feel Japanese Peruvians are treated very well in Peru. I’m grateful that Peru accepted Japanese immigrants,” the 27-year-old princess, the eldest daughter of Crown Prince Akishino, said during the meeting at the president’s office.

Vizcarra said he is glad that Japanese Peruvians are actively involved in various fields.

The president also showed his gratitude to Japan’s contribution to Peru in the areas of technological and economic cooperation and archaeology. […]

She later met at a hotel in Lima with representatives of Japanese people living in Peru and Japanese volunteers dispatched by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, thanking them for their efforts in the country. […] On Wednesday, she attended a ceremony marking the immigration anniversary and met with Peruvians of Japanese descent. She is scheduled to travel to Bolivia on Monday to mark the 120th anniversary of the start of Japanese immigration to that country, and return home on July 22.
/////////////////////////////////////////

Full article at
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/12/national/princess-mako-meets-peruvian-president-expresses-gratitude-acceptance-japanese-immigrants/

As Debito.org Reader Andrew in Saitama recently commented:

“Team Japan celebrates its emigrants for their contributions (i.e. being Japanese) – essentially praising them for doing what it complains its immigrants do.”

But Reader JDG went even further:

“Notice they don’t talk about LDP members funding Peruvian government forced sterilization of ethnic minorities. That’s some Japanese contribution to Peruvian society!”

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

Mass sterilisation scandal shocks Peru
BBC News, Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, courtesy of JDG
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2148793.stm

More than 200,000 people in rural Peru were pressured into being sterilised by the government of former President Alberto Fujimori, an official report has revealed.

The Health Minister, Fernando Carbone, said the government gave misleading information, offered food incentives and threatened to fine men and women if they had more children.

Poor indigenous people in rural areas were the main targets of the compulsive family planning programme until 2000, when Mr Fujimori left for Japan amid mounting corruption allegations against him.

Mr Carbone said there was evidence that Mr Fujimori and a number of high-ranking ministers could be held responsible for “incorrect procedures” and “human rights violations”.

He called for a deeper investigation and promised that action would be taken against those found responsible for the forced sterilisations.

‘Deceitful’ campaign

Figures show that between 1996 and 2000, surgeons carried out 215,227 sterilising operations on women and 16,547 male vasectomies.

This compared to 80,385 sterilisations and 2,795 vasectomies over the previous three years.

The result has been a demographical drop in certain areas, leaving an older population and the economic disadvantages which will result from fewer people able to earn a living.

The report, by the commission investigating “voluntary contraceptive surgery” activities, concluded that there had been numerous programmes during the Fujimori regime which threatened poor women in Peru.

The operations were promoted in a “deceitful” publicity campaign of leaflets, posters and radio advertisements promising “happiness and well-being,” the report said.

Investigations found that there was inadequate evaluation before surgery and little after-care.

The procedures were also found to have been negligent, with less than half being carried out with a proper anaesthetist.

The commission’s report said the inadequate family planning policy had a psychological and moral impact and harmed the dignity and physical integrity of men as well as women.

Threats

Five hundred and seven people, from rural areas such as Cuzco and Ancash, gave testimonies to the commission.

Only 10% of these admitted having voluntarily agreed to the sterilisation procedure after promises of economic and health incentives such as food, operations and medicines.

Others said that if they refused they were told they would have to pay a fine and would not be able to seek medical help for their children.

The report added that most of the women interviewed said they were scared of talking because of threats made against anyone who spoke out.

The programme was found to have been designed, encouraged and monitored at the highest levels in Fujimori’s government, including the president’s office.

The number of operations, and pressure from government, started to fall after increasing concerns from human rights organisations within Peru and the international community.

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Now, before anyone writes in and says, “You’re being racist.  Alberto Fujimori didn’t do this BECAUSE he is Japanese.  He just happened to be of Japanese descent.” (And self-claimed citizenship.) While doing monstrous things.

However, remember that Fujimori WAS being funded by the right-wing Nippon Foundation (founded by war criminal Sasakawa Ryouichi), especially when it was being headed by self-proclaimed South African Apartheid supporter (and apparently personal friend of Fujimori’s) Sono Ayako.

Meaning Fujimori, with the help of Japanese eugenicists, was cleansing Peru’s countryside of Peruvian indigenous peoples without proper medical procedure or oversight.

We’ve covered Sono Ayako’s ideological hijinks and Alberto Fujimori’s international criminal activity (which is why he is in prison now) on Debito.org before.  What’s missing from this celebration of Japanese history in South America, as JDG notes, is Japan’s hand in modern human rights atrocities overseas.  Thanks to Debito.org Readers for keeping this information alive.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

============================
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Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation

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Hi Blog.  The Mainichi updates us on how Japan’s oft-toted “wider open door” new visa regimes make sure any actual immigration is held in check, with continuing draconian and deadly treatment for detained NJ.

The Mainichi calls them “haphazard immigration policies”, but that’s inaccurate.  Japan still has no policy in place to encourage newcomers become immigrants (imin, i.e., firmly-established taxpaying residents and citizens).  Au contraire, they’re still part of what Debito.org has called a “revolving-door” visa policy that has been in place for nearly thirty years now (what with the “Trainee” and “Technical Intern” programs that won’t even call NJ laborers “workers” (roudousha) in order to avoid granting them some legal protections), to make sure we take them in young, fresh and cheap, and spit them out when they’re too expensive or past their working prime.

For those who fall afoul of this exploitative system, they face being made an example of within cruel “gaijin tank” detention centers (which don’t fall under minimum standards covering prisons), which in effect send a deterrent message.  It’s similar to what’s happening in the concentration camps now being run by the US Customs and Border Patrol (which, given that 45’s supporters are in thrall to Japan’s putative ethnostate, should not be too surprising).

As an interesting aside, the Mainichi below mentions how Japan even ethnically cleansed itself of Iranians in the 1990s, which can and will happen again.  Now public policy is going one step further — trying to nip any possibility of marriage and children with Japanese.  There are even bans on NJ on certain work visas having international liaisons, marriage, and children!

For all the new “open-door” visas being advertised, it’s clear that NJ are still seen more as work units than human beings.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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Left in limbo: Japan’s haphazard immigration policies, disrespect for human rights
April 19, 2019 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190419/p2a/00m/0fe/004000c

PHOTO CAPTION: Farhad Ghassemi’s father, Seyfollah Ghassemi, had been detained at Higashi Nihon Immigration Center, also known as Ushiku Detention Center, until his provisional release in October of last year. Pictured here at his home in Kanagawa Prefecture on March 12, 2019, Seyfollah says he is worried that his provisional release could be revoked at any time. (Mainichi/Jun Ida)

Japan is expected to see an influx of at least 340,000 people in the next five years, as a result of the amended Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act that went into effect April 1. But are this country’s people, society and legal system ready for such a sudden shift? Foreign nationals who have already lived in Japan for years and their Japanese supporters cast doubt not only on Japan’s preparedness, but on its willingness.

【Related】Japan opens door wider to foreign workers under new visa system
【Related】Japan born and raised, boy of Iranian-Bolivian descent fights deportation order
【Related】Housing complex with foreign, Japanese residents provide model for a diverse society

Kanagawa resident Farhad Ghassemi, 17, was born in Japan to an Iranian father and a Japanese Bolivian mother. He’s an Iranian national, but the extent of his skills in Farsi and Spanish, his father’s and mother’s mother tongues, respectively, are minimal. He filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court seeking, among other things, the invalidation of a deportation order that was issued when he was 6 years old. On Feb. 28, however, Presiding Judge Chieko Shimizu dismissed all of his requests.

Farhad was sitting in the gallery the moment the ruling was handed down. He cradled his head in his arms and did not move for a while afterward. “I was shocked,” he says. “I can’t help but think they’re just bullying us.”

Farhad’s father, 50-year-old Seyfollah Ghassemi, entered Japan in 1992, seeking work. Here he met Liliana, 50, and the two married. Their son Farhad was born in 2002. In 2009, the year after Seyfollah was arrested for overstaying his visa, the family of three was issued a written deportation order.

Farhad’s status until now has been “provisional release,” meaning he does not have a residence permit but is not in detention, allowing him to receive an education alongside his Japanese peers. The latest ruling has forced Farhad to enter his final year of high school not knowing what will happen to him, under an unauthorized status. He wants to further his education, but does not know how many universities here accept foreign nationals without authorization to live in Japan. Farhad appealed the district court’s ruling to the Tokyo High Court.

Farhad is naturally worried about what lies ahead. “I can’t plan my future,” he said.

This reporter has recently visited the family’s home in Kanagawa Prefecture. By the window was a photo of the family taken at an aquarium before Farhad had started elementary school. “Japan is the only place where all three of us can live together,” Seyfollah said.

Seyfollah is Muslim, while Liliana is Christian. In Iran, even the inter-sect marriage of Sunnis and Shias is highly controversial. Under Iranian law, Liliana would be forced to convert to Islam. Farhad, who does not follow any religion, would also be forced to become Muslim.

The Tokyo District Court acknowledged that there was a “risk of great loss” if Farhad’s request for permission to stay in Japan were not granted, because Farhad’s life was deeply rooted in Japan, both in terms of language and lifestyle. Moreover, the court stated that “the plaintiff could not be held responsible” for the fact that he has been on overstay status since he was 6 years old. And yet, the reasoning that is given for the government’s ultimate decision not to grant Farhad special residence permission is that it is “within the discretion of the government,” and is “legitimate.”

“This is the true face of a country that amended its immigration law to say, ‘Welcome, foreign laborers,'” says journalist Koichi Yasuda, who witnessed the sentencing in the gallery of the courtroom. “For self-serving reasons, the state is trying to kick out people who have actually put down roots in Japan. It’s a complete contradiction.”

Yasuda writes about discrimination against foreign nationals and human rights issues in his latest book, “Danchi to imin” (Danchi apartments and immigrants). He points out that until 1992, the year Seyfollah arrived in Japan, Iran and Japan had a mutual visa waiver agreement in place. “At the time, micro-, small- and mid-sized businesses were highly dependent on Iranian laborers, making their presence crucial. Many people can probably recall the sight of many Iranian workers who, on their days off, would congregate at parks in Tokyo to exchange information,” Yasuda says. “The Japanese government was effectively giving its approval to Iranian labor.”

However, once Japan’s economy tanked, society’s anti-foreign rhetoric spread. It was against this backdrop, Yasuda explains, that the government beefed up its policy of urging Iranians to leave Japan. Meanwhile, the 1990s saw a surge in the number of laborers coming into Japan from Brazil and other countries due to relaxed visa requirements for foreign nationals of Japanese descent.

“(Farhad’s mother) Liliana, who is of Japanese descent, arrived in Japan in 1994. Families like the Ghassemis are precisely the result of Japan’s haphazard immigration policies. And now the children of the couples who met in Japan are being told to leave the country. The phenomenon is symbolic of Japanese society,” Yasuda says.

Once in Japan, Seyfollah experienced discrimination at the workplace when he was an automobile mechanic, and also in his everyday life. But he recalls that ever since he met Liliana, they “helped each other lead their lives in Japan, a country that was unfamiliar to both of us.” Reading the court ruling handed to Farhad, it makes one wonder whether foreign nationals who come to Japan are forbidden from falling in love or getting married depending on their visa status.

“Such bans actually exist in Japan,” Yasuda tells the Mainichi Shimbun.

Through interns with the Technical Intern Training Program whom he has interviewed, Yasuda has learned of cases in which bans on dating and getting married — regardless of the other party’s nationality — are clearly outlined in the interns’ workplace regulations. “It’s like middle school ‘seito techo’ (school rulebooks that most Japanese middle schools distribute to their students), but they’re forcing these rules on foreign nationals in their 20s and 30s,” he says. “One rule even went like this: ‘Conduct that could result in pregnancy is banned.’ Japanese employers think they can include such a rule in their work regulations if they’re targeted toward foreign laborers.”

At the same time that the amended immigration laws went into force in a bid to bring more foreign workers to Japan, the long-term detentions of foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas is a common sight at immigration detention centers across the country. As of the end of July 2018, of the 1,309 detainees nationwide, 54% had been detained for six months or longer. According to attorneys and others who provide assistance to foreign workers in Japan, 13 foreign nationals died by suicide or from illness while in detention between 2007 and 2018. Many detainees complain of appalling health conditions at detention centers, saying they are hardly permitted to see physicians.

A damages lawsuit brought against the central government at the Mito District Court for the 2014 death of a then 43-year-old Cameroonian man while he was detained at Higashi Nihon Immigration Center in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Ushiku is ongoing. His mother, who resides in Cameroon, filed the suit.

According to the legal complaint that was filed, the man had been confirmed as diabetic after a medical consultation at the immigration center. He began to complain of pain in February 2014, and died at the end of March that year. Security cameras at the center captured him saying in English that he felt like he was dying starting the night before his death, and the footage has been saved as evidence. Even after the man fell from his bed, he was left unattended, and a staff member found him in cardiopulmonary arrest the following morning. He was transported to a hospital where he was confirmed dead.

“Immigration officials have a duty to provide emergency medical care,” says the plaintiff’s attorney, Koichi Kodama. “The government should be accountable for revealing who was watching the footage of the man rolling around on the floor, screaming in pain, and whether anyone went directly to his room to check on his condition.”

There is no way a society that does not respect the human rights of individual foreigners and only sees them as “cheap labor” or “targets of public security measures” can flourish.

Says journalist Yasuda, “There are times when I wonder if Japan should be allowed to bring in foreigners, or has the right to bring in foreigners. At the same time, though, I believe that it’s a good thing for society that people with different roots live together. I think that the media should stop reporting on foreigners as people to be pitied, and not forget that this is a problem with our society.”

(Japanese original by Jun Ida, Integrated Digital News Center, Evening Edition Group)
Japanese version (excerpt)

特集ワイド
外国人労働者は恋愛禁止? 場当たり政策が生む「悲劇」
毎日新聞2019年4月1日 東京夕刊
写真:昨年10月まで東日本入国管理センターに収容され、仮放免中のガセミ・セイフォラさん。「また仮放免を取り消されるのではないかといつも不安です」=神奈川県の自宅で
外国人労働者の受け入れ拡大を目的にした改正入管法が1日、施行された。今後5年間で34万人以上の増加を見込む外国人とともに暮らすための法制度や社会の準備は本当に整っているのか。長く日本で生活しながら差別的な扱いに苦しむ外国人と、支援者からは不安の声が聞こえる。【井田純】

改正入管法施行 消えぬ不安の声
判決が言い渡された瞬間、傍聴席に座っていた神奈川県在住の原告、ガセミ・ファラハッドさん(17)=イラン国籍=は頭を抱えてうつむき、しばらくの間動かなかった。「ショックでした。自分たちをいじめているようにしか思えません」。父はイラン人、母は日系ボリビア人。日本で生まれ育ち、両親の母語はあいさつ程度しか話せない。6歳の時に出された「退去強制令書」の無効確認などを求めて東京地裁に提訴したが、2月28日、清水知恵子裁判長はすべての請求を退ける判決を言い渡した。

この訴訟については途中経過を昨年9月の「特集ワイド」で取り上げたが、改めて経緯を振り返りたい。

Rest available by subscription at http://mainichi.jp/articles/20190401/dde/012/040/015000c

ENDS
=================================
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Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Related to recent discussions about public refusals of service for either not complying with (unlawful) demands for NJ ID, or denial of service anyway when people in charge arbitrarily decide a visa’s length is not long enough, mentioned below is a move by the GOJ to require hospitals demand Gaijin Cards etc. (as opposed to just requiring medical insurance cards (hokenshou), like they would from any Japanese patient) as a precondition for providing treatment to sick NJ.

Granted, the Yomiuri article below notes that for Japanese patients, the government is “considering” requiring a Japanese Driver License etc. as well, because the hokenshou is not a photo ID.  But once again, NJ are clearly less “trustworthy” than the average Japanese patient, so NJ will have more (again, unlawful) rigmarole first.

But there’s a deeper pattern in this policy creep.  Recall the “Gaijin as Guinea Pig” syndrome we’ve discussed on Debito.org for well over a decade now:  Public policies to further infringe upon civil liberties are first tested out on the Gaijin — because foreign residents even Constitutionally have much fewer civil liberties — and then those policies are foisted on the general public once the precedent is set.   So once again, the GOJ is taking advantage of the weakened position of NJ to assume more government control over society.

NB:  There’s also a meaner attitude at work:  Note in the last paragraph of the article below the echoes of 1980‘s “foreigners have AIDS” paranoia creeping into LDP policy justifications once again.  I say “mean” because the point would have been made by just stopping at “the person fraudulently used somebody else’s insurance”.  And I’m sure presenting a Gaijin Card would have fixed the AIDS issue!  (Not to mention that the GOJ apparently WANTS people to get AIDS screening, especially if they’re visibly foreign!)  Such ill-considered policymaking signals!

Meanwhile, don’t expect equal treatment as a patient if you get sick while foreign.  It’s official policy.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

病院で「なりすまし防止」外国人に身分証要求へ
2018/11/18(日)  読売新聞, Courtesy of SendaiBen and MJ
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20181118-00050002-yom-pol

(写真:読売新聞)

政府は外国人が日本の医療機関で受診する際、在留カードなど顔写真付き身分証の提示を求める方針を固めた。来年4月開始を目指す外国人労働者の受け入れ拡大で、健康保険証を悪用した「なりすまし受診」が懸念されるためだ。外国人差別につながらないよう、日本人にも運転免許証などの提示を求める方向だ。

来年度にも運用を始める。厚生労働省が在留外国人への周知徹底を図るとともに、身分証の提示要請を各医療機関に促す。

国民皆保険制度を採用する日本では、在留外国人も何らかの公的医療保険に原則として加入することが求められる。保険証を提示すれば、日本人か外国人かを問わず、原則3割の自己負担で受診できる。ただ、保険証には顔写真がついていない。「別人かもしれないと思っても『本人だ』と主張されると、病院側は反論が難しい」(厚労省幹部)という。

自民党の「在留外国人に係る医療ワーキンググループ」が医療関係者や自治体から行ったヒアリングでは、なりすまし受診の実例が報告された。神戸市では不法滞在のベトナム人女性が2014年、日本在住の妹の保険証を悪用してエイズウイルス(HIV)の治療を受けていた。他人の保険証で医療費の自己負担軽減を受けることは、違法行為に当たる可能性がある。

ends

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

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My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s and excerpt of my latest Japan Times Just Be Cause Column 115, on NJ check in at hotels and Airbnb.  Reports to Debito.org are already coming in that police are willfully misinterpreting the law, so be prepared if necessary to produce the law and stand your ground.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE

Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, 
THE JAPAN TIMES, APR 17, 2019

Last year, the government passed a law covering minpaku, which is when people rent out space on their properties to travelers (a la Airbnb). The law is part of an effort to regulate accommodations amid a tourism boom ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

One issue for non-Japanese travelers, though, has been whether they must show ID such as a passports at check-in.

For hotels, which fall under the Hotel Business Law, the regulation has always been this: For any adult, Japanese or non-Japanese, who has an address in Japan, ID is not required. You just write your contact details in the guest registry. However, for guests who don’t reside in this country, displaying ID (i.e., your passport) is required.

Seems straightforward so far, right? But as has been reported several times over more than 10 years of this column, the police (and occasionally the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) have confused things. Some hotels have been instructed that all “foreign guests” must show ID, specifically their passports…

Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/04/17/issues/know-rights-checking-airbnb/

More information at http://www.debito.org/?p=15559.

=============================
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XY: Hotel calls cops on NJ Resident at check-in for not showing passport. And cops misinterpret laws. Unlawful official harassment is escalating.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Let me forward this first and then comment:

//////////////////////////////////////
From: XY
Subject: My experience allowing the cops to be called after refusing to show my passport at a hotel as a foreign resident of Japan
Date: March 22, 2019
To: debito@debito.org

Hello Debito,

If you like, you can publish anything I have written here that feels useful, but please don’t publish my name.

Just now I tried using your website to avoid having my passport scanned at a hotel after it escalated all the way to the police. The short story is:

1. Just don’t do it, it won’t work. It’s not worth it at all.
2. The thing they finally got me with is that the hotel can scan (yes, scan) the driver’s licenses of Japanese citizens as well. I don’t know if this place actually does it but that’s actually a fair argument in my mind.

Since this was clearly a very serious case, three officers showed up, one head guy, one lower ranking guy who watched me while the head guy was on the phone, and one lady who took the report of the lady behind the reception desk before coming to watch over me as well. We went through part of the script for the residence card thing but I decided that that was a fight for another day.

The main officer showed me where it says 日本国内に住所を持たない外国人 in the law (actually the exact text of the law uses 有しない, I copied that from the MHLW website), and then I pointed out the obvious problem with that: I have an address in Japan. He said that the hotel had a right to refuse me if I didn’t identify myself.

I showed him the three reasons that hotels can refuse service. He tried to make an argument that it fell under the “public morals” part of clause 2, but when I pressed him on that even he agreed that it was a stretch. He went and talked on the phone for a while, but not before talking about searching my possessions, which I said was no problem. When he came back, he had written down the name of a certain law, which I’m sorry I don’t remember the name of, but it apparently allows hotels to scan IDs of its customers.

I gave up at that point, and my possessions were never searched. I gave my passport to be scanned and apologized to the police and apologized more profusely to the receptionist.

I have the feeling that if the cops that showed up were less nice, they would have found some reason to take me to the station. So I’m currently feeling very lucky. I won’t roll the dice again.

Thanks for standing up for foreigner’s rights in Japan. I did it because as a white dual citizen exchange student at a prestigious university, I have a higher standing in society than a Filipino migrant worker out in the countryside.

Sincerely, XY
///////////////////////////////

COMMENT: At the risk of appearing like I’m rubbing salt in a wound, it’s a pity that Submitter XY didn’t get the name of the law the cop cited.  Prepare for the next round of counterarguments for NJ Residents to use at check-in.

But the point still stands: When it comes to dealing with hotel check-ins, Japan’s police have been bending the law (if not simply making it up) for well over a decade. As recently reported on Debito.org (moreover reported to me off list by a NJ AirBnB owner friend), they’re also doing it now with AirBnBs allegedly under the new Minpaku Law.  Yet the cop above was, according to XY, clearly making the case that the hotel had the legal right to refuse service someone who didn’t show ID, which is simply not true under the law.  The law:  If you have an address in Japan, you don’t have to show ID, regardless of citizenship.

(And if you want to carry a file substantiating that you don’t have to show any ID as a resident of Japan, download it from here: http://www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg)

As Submitter XY would probably argue, the issue is now whether or not you are willing to stare down the police at the risk of being detained. (Under Japan’s system of arbitrary arrest and “hostage justice” brought to light by the Carlos Ghosn Case, no less.) I would. But it’s not for everyone, so be advised from XY’s experience what the stakes may be.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics around the corner (and the reflexive fearmongering that Japan’s officialdom reflexively does before they invite foreigners in for a visit), it’s clear Japan’s law enforcement and hosteling industry are amping up the enforcement regardless of the unlawfulness.  They are now on a mission to racially profile all tourists, especially those who “look” like tourists.  And this is how racism becomes further embedded.  Debito Arudou PhD

==============================
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Fox on getting interrogated at Sumitomo Prestia Bank in Kobe. Thanks to new FSA regulations that encourage even more racial profiling.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  My old friend Fox in Japan writes in with a tale of being, as he puts it, “interrogated” at the bank for trying to send $500 overseas while foreign.  And if you think the claim “while foreign” is a bit of an exaggeration, Debito.org has numerous records of racial profiling by Japanese banks for sending or receiving funds (or exchanging money) of even minuscule amounts (such as 500 yen).

New regulations, however, require a “risk-based approach” (which is, according to the Nikkei, recommended but not required), meaning the scale of “risk” depends on how much money the sender/receiver has in that bank.  Or as the Nikkei puts it, “Consider a customer with a direct payroll deposit of 300,000 yen ($2,660) a month who receives 200 million yen from an overseas bank. The government would require that the bank not only follow up confirming the identity of the person withdrawing the funds, but also check the deposit history and what the cash will be used for.”  Meaning that this is no longer a matter of transfer amount — i.e., a large transfer of 5,000,000 yen (later 2,000,000 yen) used to raise flags while smaller transfers didn’t.  (Japan’s FSA Guidelines of 2018 mention no money amount whatsoever.)

The problem now becomes, without an objective minimum transfer amount to be flagged, that any “foreigner” can be arbitrarily deemed “risky” at any time simply by dint.  It encourages racial profiling even further, in addition to what you already have at Japan’s hotels and other public accommodation, police instant ID checkpoints, and tax agencies.  (See here too).  More Embedded Racism.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

Interrogation at the Bank
By Fox in Japan, March 14, 2019

Dropped into Sumitomo Prestia in Kobe to send a telegraphic transfer to a friend in Africa. Completed the form two days ago, but the IBAN number was incorrect. Brought the corrected form in today. Under the category of “purpose,” I have written in “education fees.” The amount is $500. The following dialogue ensued. We are speaking in Japanese.

T= teller
M=me

T: So this if for “gakuhi” (tuition)?
M: Yes.
T: And who is the person receiving the transfer?
M: A friend.
T: Is this money for your own child’s education expenses?
M: No.
T: Who is it for?
M: My friend’s child.

The bank teller’s face becomes pained. This the stereotypical expression indicating that a request will be rejected. My blood slowly starts to boil.

T: Have you ever sent money to this person before?
M: Yes, during the days of Citibank.

(Note: Prestia took over Citibank some years ago).

T: Well, things have changed since then.

M: Is that right?

T: Hmm, so you are not sending this for your own child?
M: No.

T: Well, what is your relationship with this person.
M: He is a friend.

(More pained looks)

T: So, you are sending this to someone you know?

M: Yes, that’s what I just told you.

T: Is this a gift?
M: It might be.

T: Well, is it, or is it not?

M: What is the purpose of the question?

T: We have strict rules now about money being sent overseas.

M: Look, this is only $500, not five hundred man ($45,000). Listen. (My voice rises to crescendo, and the bank is extraordinarily quiet.) I was in your Osaka branch two days ago and they did not ask me any of these questions.

T: They didn’t?

M: No. I am not going to answer any more questions. Please call the branch manager!

A woman who has overheard this heated exchange conversation sneaks out of the office and the two begin to chat.

T: Please be seated.

The women exchange words and the original teller is on the phone.

Some ten minutes later, I am called back to the counter.

T: We just phoned the Osaka branch and they admit that they did not question the purpose of the transaction.

M: Is that right? (Ah soo desu ka)

T: The branch in Osaka said that you looked up some information on your computer when at the counter.

M: Uh-huh.

T: Well, we have very stringent rules now. If it is not for your own child, then….do you have an invoice “seikyusho” for the school expenses?

M: I certainly do not.

T: For your own children, sending money is OK, but for other’s children, it is …

M: Should I change the purpose to “living expenses then?”

(Note- I have frequently sent money overseas for this purpose-without any hassle.)

The teller looks bewildered.

T: Is it for living expenses, you said it was for educational expenses.

M: Yeah, that’s right.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the end I succeeded and the money was sent.

I looked around at other customers in the bank, all Japanese, all of whom look very sunao. I wonder how they would react to the teller’s questions? Would they just say “shigata ga nai,” and walk away? And then forget that a bright young promising social science student in Malawi will soon be tossed out of college?

On the other hand, who knows if Japanese countrymen are even being interrogated like this? Has a directive been issued to hassle foreigners-all of whom are likely prone to money laundering?

But in fact, harassment it is. Financial transactions, both local and international, are regulated by strict laws. Not policies, but laws. My transaction was completed, and this means that it was perfectly legal. Apparently, Prestia has a policy of harassing customers (certainly foreign customers) who wish to send even even low amounts of money overseas.

Are all foreign clients of the bank potential money launderers? I urge all good people to stand up and question authority.  

Sincerely, Fox in Japan

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

The referenced Nikkei articles, for the record:

BANKING & FINANCE
Japan to strengthen money-laundering guidelines
Banks adopting a risk-based approach to flag suspicious actions
NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW, DECEMBER 08, 2017
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Banking-Finance/Japan-to-strengthen-money-laundering-guidelines

TOKYO — Japan will issue new guidelines against money laundering in an effort to prevent funds from getting into the hands of terrorist and criminal organizations and to shake its reputation as weak on dirty money.

The Financial Services Agency is expected to announce the rules soon and implement them as early as January. Currently, Japan’s law preventing the transfer of criminal proceeds only says that suspicious transactions should be reported to authorities after the fact. Risk-based approaches are recommended but not required.

But the agency will now demand that financial institutions use a risk-based approach. Consider a customer with a direct payroll deposit of 300,000 yen ($2,660) a month who receives 200 million yen from an overseas bank. The government would require that the bank not only follow up confirming the identity of the person withdrawing the funds, but also check the deposit history and what the cash will be used for.

Although it is difficult to tell whether an account is related to criminal activity when first opened, this proactive approach identifies high-risk transactions early so that they can be continuously monitored.

The agency will verify that financial institutions are following the guidelines through questioning and on-site inspections. It will also order operational improvements to be made if it catches lax compliance that could invite money laundering.

The Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body that combats money laundering, plans to examine Japan’s financial sector in 2019, the year before the Tokyo Olympics. Public and private institutions are cooperating to strengthen their prevention systems.
ENDS

////////////////////////////////////
ECONOMY
Japan’s FSA beefs up anti-money laundering measures
Financial regulator highlights steps taken ahead of visit by international watchdog
TAKERO MINAMI, Nikkei staff writer
NIKKEI ASIAN REVIEW, SEPTEMBER 28, 2018
https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Japan-s-FSA-beefs-up-anti-money-laundering-measures

TOKYO — The Financial Services Agency has made anti-money laundering measures a top priority in its annual policy report as it braces for inspections by an intergovernmental watchdog next spring.

The latest guidelines, which outline steps the regulator is taking over the next 12 months, highlight measures against money laundering and terrorism funding, including on-site inspections of financial institutions.

The Financial Action Task Force has previously criticized Japan for insufficient legal safeguards against money laundering. The government hopes to clean up its tarnished image, particularly as it will host the Group of 20 summit next year.

Financial authorities around the world are taking steps to prevent countries under United Nations sanctions, such as North Korea, from conducting prohibited transactions. Japan wants to avoid becoming a target for international criticism again.

The report urges financial institutions to take steps to halt money laundering, requiring them to identify and analyze the risks associated with certain types of transactions, such as the stated purpose of cross-border cash transfers, customer attributes and countries of origin or destination.

In February, the FSA issued anti-money laundering guidelines and directed smaller financial institutions such as regional banks and shinkin banks to conduct emergency inspections. To close the loopholes on overseas remittances, the policy requires institutions to come up with plans to train staff.

“Our inspections have shown that many financial institutions still fall short of requirements,” said an FSA official. “Stopgap measures will not be enough, and regional banks should put anti-money laundering measures at the top of their agenda,” said another senior FSA official.

Japan is not the only country to have run into problems over money laundering. Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, faces allegations that its Estonian unit illegally remitted as much as $230 billion, forcing CEO Thomas Borgen to resign.
ENDS

=======================================
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MC on new Minpaku Law and NJ check-ins: Govt. telling AirBnB hostels that “foreign guests” must have passports photocopied etc. Yet not in actual text of the Minpaku Law. Or any law.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It seems the GOJ is up to its old tricks:  Reinterpreting the law to pick on “foreigners” again.  This was seen previously on Debito.org to encourage racial profiling at hotel check-ins, and now with the new Minpaku Law affecting AirBnB-style private homes opened for public accommodation (minshuku), it’s more of the same.  Read on from Debito.org Reader MC:

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

From: MC
Subject: An experience with the new minpaku law that might interest your readers
Date: February 11, 2019
To: debito@debito.org

Hi Debito,

This might interest you and your readers. Feel free to post it if you think it might be appropriate. Sorry for the length, but it’s a bit of a complicated story.

I had an experience recently that raises a new aspect of the recurrent hotel registration problems that some people have. I have to admit I’ve rarely had problems at Japanese hotels, and on the few occasions I’ve been asked for ID, my polite refusal (aided by Debito’s very useful legal information -thanks Debito) has always been accepted. However the recent experience was a little different.

I was catching an early flight from Kansai, too early for the trains from home, so I decided to stay the previous night at a minpaku close to the airport, PLUS 9 Station Inn in Izumi Otsu, booked through booking dot com. They emailed information before check-in, among which they said “This is a staff-less guest house. You have to get your key at the accommodation and check in yourself.” No problem. The instructions for getting the key were clear. A later email, though, told me that there was an ipad in reception, and could we please scan and send copies of our passports, or in the case of Japanese people, driving licences (no mention of resident foreigners). Obviously realising that not everyone carries a driving licence, they asked for people without photo ID to photograph themselves on the iPad and upload the photo.

It was close to our departure day, and not having time to argue and possibly be asked to find somewhere else, I decided to simply ignore this. Arriving there, we retrieved the key from the key box, and stay went fine, with no contact from the company to ask why we hadn’t checked in through the iPad.

Afterwards I wrote to them with an explanation of the problematic nature of their system in regards to Non-Japanese customers. I also put a similar comment on their booking dot com page. First, they had no right to ask for photographs of anyone, resident or not, Japanese or not. The idea of requiring guests to upload a scan of a driving licence or passport, or even just a face shot, is just asking for identity theft, and is certainly illegal.

I explained the law on this as follows:  The Japan Hotel Laws are quite clear on this: If the guest is NOT a resident of Japan you DO have the right to ask for a passport number (not a copy of the passport). But if the guest IS a resident of Japan, on the other hand, whatever the nationality, they have no responsibility to provide any kind of copy of an official document or any photograph. It’s a gross invasion of privacy.”

They replied, saying that the new Minpaku Law of 2018 allowed for online check-in, and required photographic ID. The former is true, but I didn’t think the latter was. However, I checked out the wording at the Minpaku system portal on the MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) site, and it looks to me as though there is some cause for worry.

I’m not sure whether these pages quote the actual law, or whether they are simply guidance for owners regarding the effects of the law.  The main MLIT portal site is here: http://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/minpaku/business/host/responsibility01.html
(The page links to an English translation, but only of part of this section.)

[Ed:  For the record, the MLIT portal page is a reinterpretation of the legal writ in plain language.  For example, one of the main subject headers from MLIT is(1)本人確認の方法, or “Method for Confirming Identity”. Yet nowhere in the actual text of the law did I find the word “本人確認”.  To check for yourself, here’s the actual text of the Minpaku Law in Japanese, word-searchable here online and here as a .txt file.]

Section 4 of the MLIT reinterpreted version deals with the requirement on minpaku owners to keep a register and to be able to provide it to the police on request. There’s no ambiguity in the first paragraph. Owners have to keep a record of the name, address, occupation and dates of stay for all guests. If the guests do not have a Japanese address, the owner also needs to record the nationality and passport number. All good so far.

Part (1) of this section, though, is a bit more worrying. First (A and B) it says that a photograph of the guest’s face or passport should be clearly confirmed to be accurate, and that this photograph should be identifiable as having been taken at or close to the premises. It suggests that a video phone or tablet in the minshuku could be used for this. There’s no mention here of Japan residency. Or of what sort of ID would be suitable for ALL guests (not just foreign guests), since not all guests carry passports.

上記の措置は、対面又は対面と同等の手段として以下のいずれも満たすICT(情報通信技術)を活用した方法等により行われる必要があります。
A 宿泊者の顔及び旅券が画像により鮮明に確認できること。
B 当該画像が住宅宿泊事業者や住宅宿泊管理業者の営業所等、届出住宅内又は届出住宅の近傍から発信されていることが確認できること。

Then (Part (1), 2) is where it seems to require, or at least suggest, photographing the passports of non-resident foreigners. (Here it does specifically mention residence.) It even suggests that this photograph can be submitted as an alternative to filling in the guest register columns relating to nationality and passport number. (Part (1), 3) says that in cases where the guest refuses to provide a copy of their passport, they should be told that this is a government requirement, and if they still refuse it is possible that they do not have the passport on them, and therefore the police should be informed. 

住宅宿泊事業者等は以下の内容に従って本人確認を行う必要があります。
1 宿泊者に対し、宿泊者名簿への正確な記載を働きかけること。
2 日本国内に住所を有しない外国人宿泊者に関しては、宿泊者名簿の国籍及び旅券番号欄への記載を徹底し、旅券の呈示を求めるとともに、旅券の写しを宿泊者名簿とともに保存すること。なお、旅券の写しの保存により、当該宿泊者に関する宿泊者名簿の氏名、国籍及び旅券番号の欄への記載を代替することもできます。
3 営業者の求めにも関わらず、当該宿泊者が旅券の呈示を拒否する場合は、当該措置が国の指導によるものであることを説明して呈示を求め、さらに拒否する場合には、当該宿泊者は旅券不携帯の可能性があるものとして、最寄りの警察署に連絡する等適切な対応を行うこと。

[Ed:  Which means that if a NJ resident of Japan (who is not required to carry a passport; that’s why Gaijin Cards exist) shows up without a passport, under these directives he’s likely to have the cops called on him by careless or overzealous clerks.  And as the Carlos Ghosn Case shows quite plainly, you do not want to be detained for questioning by the Japanese police.

[Moreover, after doing a word search of the actual text of the law, I CANNOT find the word 本人確認, or the words passport パスポート/旅券 or even photo/image 写真/画像.  What section of the Minpaku Law (or of any law — the Japanese police have lied about the nonexistent photocopying requirement before) is the MLIT-reinterpreted version referring to?]

MLIT’s official English translation of the law is:

Private lodging business operators need to verify identity according to the following contents:
1. Keep an accurate record of guests on the guest list.
2. For foreign guests who do not have an address in Japan, accurately record the name, nationality and passport number in the appropriate column for each guest, request that each guest present their passport and save copies of each passport together with the guest list. By saving a copy of the passport, you can accurately record the name, nationality and passport number on the guest list.
3. If a foreign guest who does not have an address in Japan refuses to present their passport despite the request of the private lodging business operator, explain that the measures are based on national government regulations. If the guest continues to refuse, and there is the possibility that the guest is not carrying a passport, take the appropriate action such as contacting the nearest police station.

More worryingly, there is a link from this page to a model of a guest register. It’s here: http://www.mlit.go.jp/kankocho/minpaku/business/system/regular_report.html

The model has a list of categories that need to be filled in: name, date etc. The last two are ‘nationality’ and ‘passport number’. Under ‘passport number’, it clearly says “If the nationality is other than Japanese, passport number must be entered.” There’s nothing, though to say a) that Japanese nationality does not need to be recorded, and b) that neither does nationality for foreigners with Japanese addresses.

[Ed:  As MC notes, this is misleading. In the opening part of Section 4 of the MLIT-reinterpreted version, it says, as is proper, that “lodgers that are foreigners without addresses in Japan need to give nationality and passport number”: 宿泊者が国内に住所を有しない外国人であるときは、その国籍及び旅券番号.  So why is this not continuously pointed out in this section?  Again, as before, this encourages racial profiling of all guests who look “foreign”.]

So there are several inconsistencies here. On the one hand the guidance (if that’s what it is) confirms the requirement of the hotel law to date, namely that passport numbers (not copies) are required from non-resident foreigners, and only from them. On the other hand since they clearly want to allow for places to operate without any check-in staff, the distinction between providing a passport number and providing a copy of the passport, and the distinction between resident and non-resident gets blurred, and it’s easy to see how owners trying to keep up with this legislation will not be too conscientious about it.

I haven’t yet replied to the minshuku about this. I’d appreciate any advice, or any information anyone has about the new law, that I might have missed or misinterpreted.

Sincerely, MC

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

COMMENT:  Interestingly enough, and on the plus side, there’s a special section in the Minpaku Law that specifically says that minpaku accommodations must aim for the comfort and convenience of “foreign tourists”.  Clearly, none of these damned refusals of NJ reservations on the grounds of “we only have futons, not Western-style beds” or “we don’t speak any foreign languages” (as has happened to me on various occasions, even when I’m speaking Japanese).

外国人観光旅客である宿泊者の快適性及び利便性の確保

第七条 住宅宿泊事業者は、外国人観光旅客である宿泊者に対し、届出住宅の設備の使用方法に関する外国語を用いた案内、移動のための交通手段に関する外国語を用いた情報提供その他の外国人観光旅客である宿泊者の快適性及び利便性の確保を図るために必要な措置であって国土交通省令で定める者を講じなければならない。

Now, on the MLIT plain-language site, this is reinterpreted more clearly as follows:

住宅宿泊事業者は、外国人観光旅客である宿泊者の快適性及び利便性の確保を図るために必要な措置として、以下のことを宿泊者に対して講じる必要があります。
(1)外国語を用いて、届出住宅の設備の使用方法に関する案内をすること
(2)外国語を用いて、移動のための交通手段に関する情報を提供すること
(3)外国語を用いて、火災、地震その他の災害が発生した場合における通報連絡先に関する案内をすること
(4)外国人観光旅客である宿泊者の快適性及び利便性の確保を図るために必要な措置

Boldface added to item (3) because it includes information from a different clause (such as the one just before it on disaster information):

第六条 住宅宿泊事業者は、届出住宅について、非常用照明器具の設置、避難経路の表示その他の火災その他の災害が発生した場合における宿泊者の安全の確保を図るために必要な措置であって国土交通省令で定めるものを講じなければならない。

which says nothing about rendering it in a foreign language.  Commonsensibly, this would be nice to do.  But portraying translation as something required by law is another stretch.

So this seems to be a freewheeling interpretation of the law being made by MLIT (as keeps happening by Japanese officialdom, particularly the Japanese police, over-interpreting the law for their convenience to target foreigners).  Again, I’m not sure where MLIT is getting the bit about passport numbers (and by extension and hotel interpretation, passport copies and mugshots).

But where is this going?  Towards more rigmarole, policing, and official harassment of NJ-resident customers who just want to get a berth for the night.  And I have been hearing (thanks SC) of other Japan-lifers now finding it harder to check-in while foreign.

Bottom line:  The new Minpaku Law hasn’t fundamentally changed anything in regards to NJ resident customers.  You are still not required to show ID, passport, or photo if you have an address in Japan.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

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Hi Blog.  Now that the clicks have died down on my latest Japan Times JBC column of January 28, 2019 (thanks for putting it in the Top Ten trending articles once again), what follows is the first final draft I submitted to the Japan Times for editing on December 29, 2018.  I blog this version because a lot of information is lost (inevitably) as we cut the word count from 2800 to 1600 words. (I generally put everything in the first final draft, then cut it down to fit the page; that way we don’t overlook anything and have to backtrack.)

People have been asking what got cut (and yes, the original version mentions Michael Woodford and Jeff Kingston), so the piece below is quite a bit different from what appeared in the Japan Times here (meaning it shouldn’t draw away any readers from the JT version; in fact, it will probably spur more views from readers wanting to compare). Also, having links to sources matter, so here it all is, including my regular acerbic tone.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

A TOP TEN FOR 2018
By Debito Arudou, Japan Times Just Be Cause Column 114
To be published January 3, 2019
DRAFT SIX: VERSION WITH LINKS TO SOURCES INCLUDED

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. Ranked in ascending order, these issues are bellwethers for how NJ in Japan may be treated in 2019 and beyond:

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

10) Fourth-Generation Japanese Brazilians snub new visa program

Last March, the Justice Ministry announced a new diaspora visa regime to attract back children of Brazilian-Japanese who had previously worked in Japan. The latter had been brought in from 1990 under a former preferential “Returnee Visa” regime, which essentially granted a form of permanent residency to NJ with Japanese bloodlines.

The Returnee program was so successful that by 2007, Brazilians had swelled to more than 300,000 residents, the third-largest NJ minority in Japan. Unfortunately, there was a big economic downturn in 2008. As Returnees lost their jobs, the government declined to assist them, even bribing them to “go home” (JBC Apr 7, 2009) and forfeit their visa, unemployment insurance, pensions, and other investments in Japan over a generation. They left in droves.

Fast forward ten years, and an unabashed government (facing a labor shortage exacerbated by the 2020 Olympics) now offers this reboot: Fourth-gen Nikkei, with sufficient Japanese language abilities, plus a secure job offer and family support already in Japan, can stay up to five years.

They expected a quota of 4000 workers would soon be filled. Except for one problem: This time they stayed away in droves. By the end of October, three months into the program, the Nikkei Shimbun reported there were exactly zero applicants.

So much for bloodlines. The word is out and the jig is up.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/30/national/preferential-visa-system-extended-foreign-fourth-generation-japanese/
Nikkei: http://www.debito.org/?p=15191
JBC Apr 7 2009 http://www.debito.org/?p=2930

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

9) Naomi Osaka’s victory at US Open Tennis.

Speaking of bloodlines, JBC wrote about American-Haitian-Japanese Naomi Osaka’s win last year (“Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing for Japan can seriously shorten your career,” Sep. 19) as a cautionary tale for anyone representing this country as an international athlete. However, as far as the Top Ten goes, her victory matters because it inspires discussion on a fundamental question: “What is a Japanese?”

Japanese society relentlessly polices a narrative of purity of identity. That means that some Japanese citizens, despite spending their lives in Japan, often get shunted to the “half” category if they don’t “look Japanese,” or relegated to “returnee children” status because their dispositions don’t “fit in” with the putative norm due to living overseas. Uniformity is a virtue and a requirement for equal treatment here. The “nail sticking up” and all that, you know.

Yet what happens to Japanese citizens who spend most of their life overseas, even take foreign citizenships, and publicly grumble about how they wouldn’t have been successful if they’d remained in Japan (as some Nobel laureates with Japanese roots have)? They’d get hammered down, right?

Not if they win big internationally. Suddenly, they’re “Japanese” with few or any asterisks. It’s a common phenomenon in racialized societies: “They’ll claim us if we’re famous.”

Naomi Osaka won big. May she continue to do so. But let’s see if she can follow in the footsteps of other diverse Japanese chosen to represent Japan, such as former Miss Japan beauty queens Ariana Miyamoto and Priyanka Yoshikawa (who as “halfs” also spoke out against racial discrimination in Japan; alas, their impact was minimized because they didn’t win big internationally).

In any case, the more successful diverse Japanese who can highlight the fallacies of Japan’s pure-blood narrative, the better.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=15160
http://www.debito.org/?p=15156
http://www.debito.org/?p=15145

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

8) Zainichi Korean wins hate speech lawsuit on grounds of “racial discrimination”.

The wheels of justice turn slowly in Japan, but sometimes in the right direction. Ms. Lee Sin Hae, a “Zainichi Special Permanent Resident” generational foreigner, was frequently defamed in public hate rallies by Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean hate group. She sued them in 2014 for hate speech, racial discrimination, and gender discrimination. She won in the District Court in 2016, the High Court in 2017, and shortly afterwards in the Supreme Court when they declined to review the case.

Ms. Lee’s case stands as yet another example of how Japan’s new hate speech laws have legally-actionable consequences. Others similarly defamed can now cite Lee’s precedent and (mildly) punish offenders. It’s also another case of discrimination against Japan’s minorities being classified as “racial,” not “ethnic” etc.

This matters because Japan is the only major developed country without a national law criminalizing racial discrimination. And it has officially argued to the United Nations that racism doesn’t happen enough here to justify having one. Lee’s case defies that lie.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=14973 “Officially argued”: http://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html (For context, do a word search for the following paragraph: “We do not recognize that the present situation of Japan is one in which discriminative acts cannot be effectively restrained by the existing legal system and in which explicit racial discriminative acts, which cannot be restrained by measures other than legislation, are conducted. Therefore, penalization of these acts is not considered necessary.”)

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

7) Setagaya-ku passes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance specifically against racial discrimination etc.

On that note, movements at the local level against racial discrimination are afoot. Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, one of Japan’s first municipalities to recognize same-sex marriages, passed an ordinance last March that will protect (after a fashion) racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities from discrimination and hate speech.

I say “after a fashion” because it, as usual, has no punishments for offenders. The best it can do is investigate claims from aggrieved residents, inform the mayor, and offer official evidence for future lawsuits.

But it’s a positive step because 1) we’ve had city governments (such as Tsukuba in 2010, home of a major international university) go in exactly the opposite direction, passing alarmist resolutions against suffrage for NJ permanent residents; and 2) we had a prefectural government (Tottori) pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2005, only to have it unpass it mere weeks later due to bigoted backlash.

That didn’t happen this time in Setagaya-ku. The ordinance stands. Baby steps in the right direction.

Sources: http://www.kanaloco.jp/article/314740
http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/static/oshirase20170920/pdf/p02.pdf
http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/kurashi/101/167/321/d00158583_d/fil/tekisuto2.txt
http://www.debito.org/?p=14902
Tottori: http://www.debito.org/japantimes050206.html
Tsukuba: http://www.debito.org/?p=8459

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

6) Immigration Bureau to be upgraded into Immigration Agency.

Last August, the government said that to deal with the record influx of foreign tourists and workers (more below), more manpower would be needed to administrate them. So as of April this year, the Nyukyoku Kanri Kyoku (“Country-Entrant Management Bureau”) is scheduled to become the Nyukoku Zairyu Kanri Cho (“Country-Entering Residency Management Agency”), with an extra 500 staff and an expanded budget.

Critics may (rightly) deride this move as merely a measure to tighten control over NJ, as the “Immigration Bureau” was a mistranslation in the first place. Japan has no official “immigration” policy to help newcomers become permanent residents or citizens, and the Bureau’s main role, as an extension of Japan’s law enforcement, has been to police NJ, not assist them. (After all, according to the Justice Ministry, 125 NJ workers have died under work-related conditions since 2010; where was the Bureau to prevent this?)

However, the fact remains that if Japan will ever get serious about its looming demographic disaster (where an aging society with record-low birthrates is shrinking its taxpaying workforce to the point of insolvency), it has to deal with the issue of importing workers to fill perpetual labor shortages. It has to come up with an immigration policy to make foreigners into permanent residents and citizens.

The only way that will happen is if the government establishes an organization to do so. An upgrade from a Bureau to an Agency is one step away from becoming an actual Ministry, separate from the mere policing mandate of the Justice Ministry.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/
http://www.debito.org/?p=15129
Agency name change: https://www.sankei.com/politics/news/180828/plt1808280006-n1.html
125 NJ workers died: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/13/national/justice-ministry-reveals-174-foreign-technical-interns-japan-died-2010-2017/

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

5) Govt. to further centralize surveillance system of NJ.

Now, to acknowledge the naysayers, last year the government gave more power to the Justice Ministry to track NJ, in an effort to stop “visa overstayers” and keep an eye on tourists and temporary workers. This is on top of the other measures this decade, including the remotely-readable RFID-chipped Gaijin Card in 2012, proposing using NJ fingerprinting as currency in 2016 (in order to “enable the government to analyze the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists;” yeah, sure), and facial recognition devices specifically targeting “foreigners” at the border from 2014.

This is the negative side of inviting NJ to visit as tourists or stay awhile as workers: Japan’s police forces get antsy about a perceived lack of control, and get increased budgets to curtail civil liberties.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/18/national/counter-illegal-overstayers-government-plans-system-centrally-manage-information-foreign-residents/
RFID: http://www.debito.org/?p=10750
Fingerprinting: http://www.debito.org/?p=13926
Facial recognition: http://www.debito.org/?p=12306 and http://www.debito.org/?p=14539

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

On the positive side, however:

4) Tourism to Japan reaches record 30 million in 2018.

Admittedly, when the government launched its “Visit Japan” campaign in 2010, and cheerily projected a huge expansion of NJ tourism from single-digit millions to double- a decade ago, JBC was skeptical. Government surveys in 2008 indicated that 70% of hotels that had never had NJ guests didn’t want them anyway. And of the 400+ “Japanese Only” places I surveyed for my doctoral fieldwork, the vast majority were hotels—some even encouraged by government organs to refuse NJ entry (JBC, “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Jul 6, 2010)!

Times change, and now NJ tourism (mostly from Asia, chiefly China, South Korea, and Taiwan) has become a major economic driver. Local and national business sectors once pessimistic about the future are flush with cash. And by the 2020 Olympics, the tourist influx is projected to skyrocket to 40 million.

Naturally, this much flux has occasioned grumbling and ill-considered quick-fixes. We’ve had media gripes about Chinese spending and littering habits, a “Chinese Only” hotel in Sapporo, separate “foreigner” taxi stands at JR Kyoto Station (enforced by busybodies disregarding NJ language abilities), and even a “Japanese Only” tourist information booth in JR Beppu Station.

The worst fallout, however, is the new “Minpaku Law” passed last June. It adds bureaucratic layers to Airbnb home-sharing, and shores up the already stretched-thin hotel industry’s power over accommodation alternatives.

The government also resorted to coded xenophobia to promote the law. Citing “security” and “noise concerns,” Tokyo’s Chuo Ward indicated that letting “strangers” into apartments could be “unsafe.” Shibuya Ward only permitted Minpaku during school holidays, so “children won’t meet strangers” on the way to school. Not to be outdone, NHK Radio implied that ISIS terrorists might use home lodging as a base for terrorist attacks.

It’s one thing to be ungrateful for all the tourist money. It’s quite another to treat visitors as a threat after inviting them over. If not handled properly, the influx from the 2020 Olympics has the potential to empower Japan’s knee-jerk xenophobes even further.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/18/national/japan-marks-new-record-foreign-visitors-top-30-million-2018/
2008 hotel survey: http://www.debito.org/?p=12306
“Visit Japan” and “new economic driver” stats: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/25/reference/tourism-emerges-new-economic-driver-japan/
Exclusionary hotels encouraged by govt. organs: http://www.debito.org/?p=1941 and JBC http://www.debito.org/?p=7145
Tourism Stats: https://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-database/stats/inbound/#annual
Grumbling about tourist manners: http://www.debito.org/?s=Chinese+tourist and http://www.debito.org/?p=2301
Chinese Only hotel: http://www.debito.org/?p=6864
Beppu: http://www.debito.org/?p=14954
Minpaku xenophobia and ISIS: http://www.debito.org/?p=15051

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

3) Japan Times changes wording on controversial historical terms and topics.

Previously, JBC (July 6, 2015) noted how the Fuji-Sankei acquisition of news outlet Japan Today had shifted the English-language media landscape rightward politically, with articles becoming more assiduous in pointing out NJ misbehavior, yet muted in their criticism of Japan.

This was after the English-language arms of Japan’s major newspapers, including the Daily Yomiuri (now The Japan News), the Daily Mainichi, and the Asahi Evening News, had relegated their foreign staff away from investigative journalism into mere translation duties. Not to mention the chair of NHK, Katsuto Momii, stated publicly in 2016 that his TV network would not report on contentious subjects until the government has “an official stance” (effectively making NHK a government mouthpiece).

These “contentious subjects” included portrayals of historical events, like NJ forced into labor for wartime Japanese companies, and “Comfort Women” forced sexual services under Japanese military occupation.

Back then, JBC concluded that the JT is “the only sustainable venue left with investigative NJ journalists, NJ editors and independently-thinking Japanese writers, bravely critiquing current government policy without fretting about patriotism or positively promoting Japan’s image abroad.”

But last November, the JT, under new ownership since 2017, came out with a new editorial stance.

Stating that “Comfort Women” (already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu) was potentially misleading, because their experiences “in different areas throughout the course of the war varied widely,” the JT would henceforth “refer to ‘comfort women’ as ‘women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers’”. Likewise with the term “forced laborers,” which would now be rendered as “wartime laborers” because of varying recruiting patterns.

Aside from journalistic concerns about rendering these wordy terms in concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media pundits to portray this as a response to government pressure, already seen on Japanese media and overseas world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light. And with at least one government-critical columnist (Jeff Kingston) no longer writing for us, JBC now wonders if the JT remains the last one standing.

Sources: Govt. pressure on Japanese media: https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/27/the-silencing-of-japans-free-press-shinzo-abe-media/ and plenty more.
Govt. pressure on overseas history textbooks: http://www.debito.org/?s=history+textbook

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

2) Carlos Ghosn’s arrest.

The former CEO of Nissan and Mitsubishi motors (but remaining as CEO at Renault), Ghosn was arrested last November and indicted in December for inter alia allegedly underreporting his income for tax purposes. As of this writing, he remains in police custody for the 23-day cycles of interrogations and re-arrests, until he confesses to a crime.

This event has been well-reported elsewhere, so let’s focus on the JBC issues: Ghosn’s arrest shows how far you can fall if you’re foreign. Especially if you’re foreign.

One red flag was that the only two people arrested in this fiasco have been foreign: Ghosn and his associate, Greg Kelly. Kelly is now out on bail due to health concerns. But where are the others doing similar malfeasances? According to Reuters, Kobe Steel underreported income in 2008, 2011, and 2013, and committed data fraud for “nearly five decades.” Same with Toray and Ube Industries, Olympus, Takata, Mitsubishi Materials, Nissan, and Subaru.

Who’s been arrested? Nobody but those two foreigners.

And Japan’s judicial system has a separate track for NJ suspects, including harsher jurisprudence for NJs accused of crimes, lax jurisprudence for NJ victims of crimes, uneven language translation services, general denial of bail for NJ, an extra incarceration system for subsequent visa violations while in jail, and incarceration rates for NJs four times that for citizens. (See my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6.)

Most indicative of separate and unequal treatment is that some of the accusations, which fall under a statute of limitations of seven years under the Companies Act, are still applicable. Prosecutors have argued that statutes do not apply to Ghosn because he spent time overseas. Apparently even the passage of time is different for foreigners, because the clock stops if they ever leave Japan!

It’s JBC’s view that this is a boardroom coup. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ghosn was planning to oust a rival, Hiroto Saikawa, who has since taken Ghosn’s place as CEO. A similar thing happened to at Olympus in 2011, when CEO Michael Woodford broke ranks and came clean on boardroom grift. He was fired for not understanding “Japanese culture,” since that’s the easiest thing to pin on any foreigner.

But in Woodford’s case, he was fired, not arrested and subjected to Japan’s peculiar system of “hostage justice” police detention, where detainees are denied access to basic amenities (including sleep or lawyers) for weeks at a time, and interrogated until they crack and confess, with more than 99.9% conviction rates.

The good news is that finally overseas media is waking up to what Japan’s Federation of Bar Associations and the UN Committee Against Torture have respectively called “a breeding ground for false charges” and “tantamount to torture.” Funny thing is, if this had happened in China, we’d have had howls much sooner about the gross violations of Ghosn’s human rights.

Sources: Kelly health concerns: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/26/business/corporate-business/greg-kelly-close-aide-carlos-ghosn-denies-allegations-release-bail/
Kobe Steel Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kobe-steel-scandal-ceo/kobe-steel-admits-data-fraud-went-on-nearly-five-decades-ceo-to-quit-idUSKBN1GH2SM
Ghosn planned to replace CEO Saikawa https://www.wsj.com/articles/carlos-ghosn-planned-to-replace-nissan-ceo-before-his-arrest-1544348502
Olympus and Takata other issues https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-12-06/carlos-ghosn-s-arrest-and-the-backlash-to-japan-nissan
Statute of limitations does not apply. “Japan’s Companies Act has a statute of limitations of seven years. Prosecutors argue this does not apply due to the amount of time Ghosn has spent outside the country.”
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Nissan-s-Ghosn-crisis/Ghosn-rearrested-for-alleged-aggravated-breach-of-trust
Woodford Olympus: http://www.debito.org/?p=9576
World waking up: https://www.standard.co.uk/business/jim-armitage-carlos-ghosn-treatment-shines-harsh-light-on-justice-in-japan-a3998291.html
JFBA: https://www.nichibenren.or.jp/library/en/document/data/daiyo_kangoku.pdf
Tantamount to torture: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=2ahUKEwjW_7Pcp8XfAhV1GDQIHcSIDTEQFjAAegQICRAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdocstore.ohchr.org%2FSelfServices%2FFilesHandler.ashx%3Fenc%3D6QkG1d%252FPPRiCAqhKb7yhsmoIqL9rS46HZROnmdQS5bNEx%252FmMJfuTuMXK%252BwvAEjf9L%252FVjLz4qKQaJzXzwO5L9HgK1Q6dtH8fP8MDfu52LvR5McDW%252FSsgyo8lMOU8RgptX&usg=AOvVaw22H5dQMWcKYHizy8NNIuqY
Other irregularities noted in the JT by Glen Fukushima: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/12/20/commentary/japan-commentary/seven-questions-ghosn-nissan/

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

1) New immigration visa regime to expand nonskilled labor in Japan.

The event with the largest potential for impact on NJ residents in Japan would have to be the government’s passing of a new visa regime to officially allow unskilled workers (a departure from decades of policy) to make up for labor shortfalls in targeted industries, including nursing, food service, construction and maintenance, agriculture, and hotels.

It would allow people to stay for longer (up to five years), and even beyond that, if they qualify with secure job offers and language abilities, to the point of permanent residency. In theory, at least.

Disclaimers have been typical: Officials have denied that this is an “immigration policy,” sluicing off concerns that Japan will be overrun and undermined by hordes of NJ.

But this new visa regime matters because the government is clearly taking the inevitable measures to shore up its labor force against the abovementioned demographic crisis. To the tune of about 345,000 new workers. It’s an official step towards what we are seeing already in certain industries (like convenience stores in big cities), where NJ workers are no longer unusual.

Yes, the government may at any time decide to do a housecleaning by revoking these visas whenever NJ might reach a critical mass (as happened many times in the past). And it also has insufficiently addressed longstanding and widespread labor abuses in its Technical Trainee and Interns market. But the fact remains that bringing in proportionally more NJ, as the Japanese population shrinks, will make them less anomalous.

One way that minorities make themselves less threatening to a society is by normalizing themselves. Making people see NJ as co-workers, indispensable helpers, neighbors, maybe even friends. The cynical side of JBC thinks this is unlikely to happen. But it’s not going to happen without numbers, and that’s what this new visa regime is encouraging.

As evidence of change, the rigorous Pew Research Center last year surveyed several countries between about their attitudes towards international migration. One question, “In your opinion, should we allow more immigrants to move to our country, fewer immigrants, or about the same as we do now?” had positive responses from Japan that were the highest of any country surveyed—81% saying “more” or “the same.”

I was incredulous, especially since the word “immigration” (imin) has been a taboo term in Japan’s policy circles (JBC Nov 3, 2009). So I contacted Pew directly to ask how the question was rendered in Japanese. Sure enough, the question included “imin no suu” (immigration numbers).

This is something I had never seen before. And as such, changing policies as well as changing attitudes may result in sea changes towards NJ residents within our lifetimes.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/02/national/major-policy-shift-japan-oks-bill-let-foreign-manual-workers-stay-permanently/
345,000: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/14/national/politics-diplomacy/345000-foreign-workers-predicted-come-japan-new-visas-government/
Pew: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/10/many-worldwide-oppose-more-migration-both-into-and-out-of-their-countries/#more-309372 and https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-am-aca76f69-2982-4b0e-a36c-512c21841dc2.html?chunk=4&utm_term=emshare#story4
JBC Nov 3: http://www.debito.org/?p=4944
See also forwarded email from Pew below.

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

Bubbling under: Registered Foreign Residents reach new postwar record of 2.5 million. Alarmist government probe into “foreigner fraud” of Japan’s Health Insurance system reveals no wrongdoing (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/09/12/national/probe-abuse-health-insurance-foreigners-japan-stirs-claims-prejudice/). Fake rumors about NJ criminal behavior during Osaka quake officially dispelled by government (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/19/national/different-disaster-story-osaka-quake-prompts-online-hate-speech-targeting-foreigners/).
Former British Ambassador and Japan Times columnist Sir Hugh Cortazzi dies.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/08/23/commentary/japan-commentary/bidding-sir-hugh-cortazzi-farewell/

ENDS

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

Source on Pew Question in original Japanese. Forwarding email exchange from Pew Research Center itself:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Pew Research Center <info@pewresearch.org>
Subject: RE: Question about your recent Global Attitudes survey
Date: December 11, 2018
To: ” Debito A”

Hi Debito,

Thank you for reaching out. The original Japanese text is below:

Q52 In your opinion, should we allow more immigrants to move to our country, fewer immigrants, or about the same as we do now? Q52 日本に受け入れる移民の数を増やすべき、移民の数を減らすべき、または現状を維持すべき、のどれだと思われますか?

1 More 1.増やすべき
2 Fewer 2.減らすべき
3 About the same 3.現状を維持すべき
4 No immigrants at all (DO NOT READ) 4. 移民はまったくいない(読み上げない)
8 Don’t know (DO NOT READ) 8.わからない(読み上げない)
9 Refused (DO NOT READ) 9. 回答拒否(読み上げない)

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Best, [HT], Pew Research Center

ENDS

=================================
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Fuji TV’s “Taikyo no Shunkan”: Reality TV targeting NJ as sport. Again.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Japanese TV is at it again. Fuji TV is taking advantage of the weak position of Non-Japanese in Japan’s media, presenting sensational programming that specifically targets NJ for entertainment purposes.

Consider this report from Nevin Thompson at Global Voices (excerpt):

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

Japanese television program turns migrant raids and deportations into entertainment

deportation entertainment japan

Captions: (Top) “Full Coverage: Immigration Bureau G-Men: Tracking down a Vietnamese illegal alien over the course of one month” (Bottom) “ILLEGAL OVERSTAYER” “FORCED DEPORTATION”

Screenshot from the television show “At the Very Moment They Were Deported” (タイキョの瞬間) on YouTube.

As Japan predicts a rise in the number of immigrants and foreign tourists in the coming years, a new television show has turned migrant deportations into entertainment. The program provoked some outraged viewer reactions and insights about the plight faced by visa overstayers and undocumented migrants in Japan.

Taikyo no Shunkan (タイキョの瞬間) (English translation: “At the Very Moment They Were Deported”) premiered on Fuji Television in a Saturday evening prime time slot on October 6, 2018.

Using a typical reality show format, the two-hour program follows a group of so-called “G-Men”, or immigration officers, employed by the Tokyo regional office of the National Immigration Bureau as they hunt down visa overstayers and so-called “illegal aliens” (fuhotaizaisha, 不法滞在者) and squatters (fuhosenshu, 不法占有) on camera.

In one segment, the immigration officers stake out the apartment of a Vietnamese man suspected of violating the conditions of his trainee visa. He and two others are arrested and interrogated on camera before being deported 24 hours later.

In another segment, the immigration officers storm a factory and detain a group of Indians suspected of being undocumented workers — the owners of the factory never appear on camera.

A final segment investigates the problem of Chinese “squatters” who have set up a vegetable patch on public land on an isolated stretch of riverbank in Kyoto.

For now, a fan upload of the video of the entire program can be viewed on DailyMotion…

Rest at https://globalvoices.org/2018/10/10/japanese-television-program-turns-migrant-raids-and-deportations-into-entertainment/

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

COMMENT:  Debito.org has focussed on this kind of programming before.  Consider this segment from a larger archive of broadcast media bashing NJ as terrorists and criminals, a phenomenon that gained political traction as former Tokyo Gov. Ishihara fanned the flames of xenophobia starting from around 2000.  Not to mention the racist and propagandisticGaijin Hanzai” magazine (2007) that also seemed to be made with the cooperation of the Japanese authorities,  More on this issue in general in Chapter 7 of book “Embedded Racism“.

Debito.org Reader JDG began discussing this issue on a blog post elsewhere, and sent a link that is already dead.  Even the Asahi had something to say about it:

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

フジ「タイキョの瞬間!」に批判 「外国人差別を助長」
朝日新聞 2018年10月9日, courtesy of NH
https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASLB965QCLB9UCVL033.html

フジテレビ系で6日夜に放送された「タイキョの瞬間!密着24時」に、反発の声が上がっている。外国人問題に取り組む弁護士らが「人種や国籍等を理由とする差別、偏見を助長しかねない」とする意見書をフジに送ったほか、ネット上でも番組の姿勢を問題視する声が出ている。

タイキョの瞬間!は、午後7~9時放送の単発番組で、副題は「出て行ってもらいます!」。ナレーションによると「法を無視するやつらを追跡する緊迫のリアルドキュメント」で、テーマは強制退去。不法占拠や家賃滞納の現場を紹介する中で、外国人の不法就労なども取り上げた。

技能実習生として来日した後に逃亡したベトナム人女性が、不法就労をしたとして東京入国管理局に摘発される様子のほか、同局の収容施設を「約90通りの料理を用意できる」「刑務所とは異なり、食事と夜間以外は自由に行動できる」などと紹介する場面などを放送した。「取材協力 東京入国管理局」と明示され、東京入管のツイッターも放送前に「ぜひご覧下さい!」と番組をPRしていた。

弁護士の有志25人は9日、フジに送った意見書で、技能実習制度の問題点や、収容施設の医療体制の不十分さ、自殺者が出ていることに番組が一切触れなかったことなどを指摘。「外国人の人権への配慮が明らかに欠如する一方、入管に批判なく追従し、主張を代弁しただけの、公平性を著しく欠いた番組」だと批判した。ネットでも「入管のプロパガンダ番組だ」などの声が上がっている。

フジテレビ企業広報室は取材に対し9日、「この番組では、さまざまな退去の瞬間にスポットを当て、その様子を放送いたしました。東京入国管理局が、不法滞在・不法就労の外国人を摘発するシーンもございましたが、取材に基づいた事実を放送しており、決して外国人を差別する意図はございません。番組に対して、いただいたご意見は真摯(しんし)に受け止め、今後の番組制作に生かして参りたいと考えています」と答えた。
ENDS

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

In the end, will there be any retractions, apologies for stereotyping, or even acknowledgments and caveats that NJ do good things in Japan too?  As book “Embedded Racism” points out in Ch. 7, not likely.  After all, NJ have so little right-of-reply in Japan’s media that bashing and blaming NJ for just about anything has long been normalized in Japan’s media. It’s simply part of standard operating practice — at the level of entertainment.  Even a sport.  It’s a foxhunt for gaijin.  Dr. Debito Arudou

==================================
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Excellent Japan Times feature on dual citizenship in Japan: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy leaves many in the dark

mytest

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Hi Blog. This lengthy feature from The Japan Times conducts original research on dual nationality in Japan, and gives vital insights into the game of legal chicken played by the Japanese Government to get people to forfeit their dual nationality (and by extension, part of their identity), all for mere allegiance to the fiction that Japan is monocultural and homogeneous. This suppression of diversity must stop, but few are taking notice. That is, until recently, when it’s become clear that “Japan-Claiming” of diverse Japanese such as Osaka Naomi helps with the other thing the insecure Japanese Government craves: respect and recognition for excellence on the world stage.

That’s why it’s worth revisiting this older JT article below.  The takeaway is this: As the JT has also recently reported, there is no real penalty from the Japanese Government for not surrendering your non-Japanese nationality:  “There have been no reported instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked.” So as Debito.org has always advised: Declare Japanese nationality and quietly keep renewing your foreign passport. The foreign government will not tell the Japanese authorities (it’s none of their business), and the Japanese authorities cannot strip you of a foreign nationality (or even confiscate a foreign passport–it’s the property of the foreign government). Only you can give one up. So don’t. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Dual citizenship in Japan
A “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy leaves many in the dark
By Sakura Murakami and Cory Baird
The Japan Times, Feature, Undated, Mid-2018
Start from http://features.japantimes.co.jp/dualcitizenship/

INTRO: Seeking elusive answers to a big question

Forfeiting your citizenship might seem like a strange way to better connect with your country, but Hana Dethlefsen was compelled to make such a decision after getting caught up in the complicated legal web of Japan’s Nationality Act.

“I had to give up my Japanese nationality in order to qualify for the JET Programme, which I did at age 21. My understanding was that I would have to give it up at age 22 anyway, so giving it up one year earlier wouldn’t have made a difference,” Dethlefsen said. JET is a state-sponsored program that invites non-Japanese college graduates to work mainly as language teachers at local schools.

“(But) in my discussions with other half-Japanese friends, I’ve come to understand that we all have different understandings of what is acceptable,” said Dethlefsen, who now has German and Canadian citizenship.

Confusion about the legality of holding dual nationalities stems from the opaqueness of the law and the difficulties surrounding its enforcement, causing some to forfeit one of their nationalities while others live in fear of a day when they are forced to choose between their citizenship, identity and family ties.

The nationality law officially obliges those who have multiple citizenships by birthright to choose one by the age of 22.

But in fact, possibly hundreds of thousands have maintained multiple nationalities and to date the government has never cracked down on any of them.

In response to questions over the number of dual nationals, the Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times that some 890,000 people were or are in a position to have dual nationality. This figure is based on official family registries maintained by local municipalities between 1985 and 2016, and includes people who have declared or forfeited Japanese citizenship, as well as people assumed to have multiple nationalities based on their birthright.

“If I were forced to decide which citizenship to retain and which citizenship to relinquish, I would view it as which culture and which nation am I to abandon.”

According to a survey conducted by The Japan Times of 1,449 people with dual nationalities, 76.8 percent maintain dual citizenship while 23.2 percent decided to forfeit one of their passports.

The same survey showed that 39.5 percent of multiple passport holders “always” switch passports depending on the country they enter, while 37.3 percent “sometimes” switch passports.

With the government’s official position becoming more divorced from a globalizing society where a large number of people maintain dual nationalities, many have to rely on word-of-mouth for information on what they see as an important, life-changing decision regarding their citizenship.

“We had received different information about what is and isn’t acceptable, and therefore, some of us had dual nationality and some of us had given up our Japanese citizenship when we came of age,” Dethlefsen said.

May, who declined to give her real name for this article, citing privacy concerns, has both Japanese and Australian citizenship. She told The Japan Times that years ago when she was unsure about what to do with her dual nationalities, she often relied on internet forums and social media websites such as Mixi to connect with others in similar situations.

“We would talk about what we would do with our dual citizenship, we would try to give each other anecdotal advice. This is still the same now. These topics come up all the time and nobody knows the answer,” she said.

“When I renewed my passport most recently — two years ago — I had a massive meltdown because there was a new section where I had to report whether I had dual nationality. I bawled my eyes out. … I was worried I would have to give up one of my citizenships,” she continued.

“We had received different information about what is and isn’t acceptable, and therefore, some of us had dual nationality and some of us had given up our Japanese citizenship when we came of age.”
Like May, many dual citizens are surprised to see that passport renewal forms include a section regarding dual nationality. This is in order to confirm whether the applicant has naturalized as a citizen of another country, which under the law would automatically mean the revocation of their Japanese passport, according to a Foreign Ministry official.

But having multiple passports does not mean that the ministry won’t issue a Japanese passport, the official added, since the Foreign Ministry does not track dual citizens.

While the murkiness over the law has left those with multiple nationalities anxious about their status and has prompted many to take steps to hide it, many dual nationals spoke of experiences that seem to indicate the government has been quick to look the other way when it comes to enforcing the law.

“I remember I once stupidly handed in the wrong passport — my American one instead of my Japanese one — at the immigration desk for Japanese passports,” Chris, who also requested anonymity when talking to The Japan Times, said of an experience when entering Japan.

“There was a moment of panic but the Japanese immigration agent just said, ‘No sir, the other passport.’ I handed in my Japanese passport and he took it, stamped it, and let me pass. … It was as if he had experienced this kind of situation multiple times, and saw this particular episode as a nonissue,” he said.

Yet, there appear to be some cases where dual nationals have experienced pressure from local government officials to choose between one of their nationalities.

That was the case for James, who requested he be identified by his first name only. During a visit to his local government office, he was informed, much to his surprise, that he also was a Japanese national. Since James had already registered as a foreign resident at the same local government office, it was obvious to the local officials that he, in fact, possessed multiple nationalities.

When he decided to register as a Japanese citizen, the local city officials appeared to be agitated by the decision.

“Because I was already registered as a foreigner, it caused quite a stir at the city office. … An employee told me that I needed to turn in my American passport to the city office and sign a document saying that I give up my American citizenship,” James recalled.

“I said that I’m not comfortable doing that (giving up my American citizenship), and that I’d like to consult a lawyer familiar with this type of issue. … (The official) said that I was just unwilling to do things that were inconvenient. I left after that, feeling pretty bad about the experience.”

“I strongly connect with my Japanese heritage, but I don’t feel welcomed by Japan. Having to choose a nationality at age 22 was the first formal instance of feeling as though I was ‘not Japanese enough.’ ”

One factor behind the confusion over the law is that it fails to specify any penalties against dual nationals who do not pick a nationality. It instead only states that the justice minister reserves the right to “warn” them to choose a nationality. If a dual national does not make a choice within a month of receiving the warning, their Japanese nationality is automatically revoked.

However, this right to warn such nationals under the 1985 revision of the nationality law has never been exercised, a Justice Ministry official confirmed earlier this month, partly because the act of tracking down citizens with multiple nationalities and encouraging them to make a choice would be a bureaucratic nightmare.

“We actually cannot be sure about who has multiple nationalities,” Kei Kurayoshi, then the ministry official in charge of nationality issues, told a parliamentary session in 2008.

“Given that uncertainty, sending reminders to those we just happen to know have multiple nationalities by chance is a questionable practice,” Kurayoshi said. “There are a lot of opinions about this, but we have not sent out any reminders due to such reasons.”

That is not to say that the law itself is completely ineffective, because in theory Japanese citizenship could be revoked if a dual national does not make a choice. Its very existence serves as a threat, said Yasuhiro Okuda, a law professor at Chuo University who specializes in the Nationality Act.

Even if it may be only on paper and not in practice, the official stance that one can have just a single citizenship sends a powerful message to those with multiple nationalities.

“I strongly connect with my Japanese heritage, but I don’t feel welcomed by Japan. Having to choose a nationality at age 22 was the first formal instance of feeling as though I was ‘not Japanese enough,’ ” Dethlefsen said.

This sentiment was echoed by Chris.

“If I were forced to decide which citizenship to retain and which citizenship to relinquish, I would view it as which culture and which nation am I to abandon,” he said. “I think of that decision as emotionally charged.”

Michiko, who asked to be identified only by her first name, was born to a Japanese mother and a German father but never lived here and only received her Japanese passport at the age of 22 on a visit to Japan. She was unaware of the intricacies of having dual nationalities in Japan, yet she could tell that something didn’t feel quite right when her mother took her to the local municipality to get her first Japanese passport.

“When we got the passport in Japan at the local city hall, it didn’t feel legal to me,” she said. “It felt a little weird. I never researched it or anything … but I just had this feeling that it was illegal to have a second passport.

This climate of fear is creating a vicious cycle of negativity, said Teru Sasaki, professor of sociology at Aomori Public University.

“For some, nationality is the final stronghold of the Japanese identity. The very notion of dual nationality challenges that and creates fear for those who are unfamiliar with the concept,” said Sasaki.

Regardless of whether dual nationality is tacitly approved or not, “the idea of single nationality also tied in with, and reinforced, the Japanese postwar belief in a pure, homogeneous nation-state,” said Atsushi Kondo, a professor at Meijo University in Nagoya. “The wording of the current law shows a very strong hope in maintaining that ideal.”

“For some, nationality is the final stronghold of the Japanese identity. The very notion of dual nationality challenges that and creates fear for those who are unfamiliar with the concept.”
Sasaki noted that this climate of fear became especially prominent during last year’s media frenzy over whether Renho, who at the time was leader of the Democratic Party, held both Japanese and Taiwanese citizenship.

“The recent public backlash over whether Renho had dual nationality created an atmosphere of fear for the individual,” he said.

As multiple citizens languish under this cloud of uncertainty, any hopes of spurring momentum on the issue within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has been lost in the wake of the Renho furor. In addition to the already entrenched beliefs about identity, this lack of political momentum has contributed to the inertia surrounding the law.

“The question of nationality is an issue of great significance to nationalists, as well as some politicians,” said Kondo, who expressed his skepticism that any changes to the nationality law would come about.

He added that Renho’s case is an example of the reluctance to change the political climate, saying that “Some politicians made a big fuss about the possibility that she was a dual national, despite the fact that none of the facts were confirmed.”

Even politicians once in favor of changing the law appear to be avoiding commenting on what has become a politically charged issue.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono — who was once a vocal champion of changing the law and even published a proposal that allowed dual citizenship under certain conditions — has taken a noticeably softer stance on the issue.

When asked earlier this month by The Japan Times whether the Nationality Act was outdated, Kono was curt in his answer, refusing to champion a cause he once served.

“You should ask the Justice Ministry,” he said.

Rest at http://features.japantimes.co.jp/dualcitizenship/

==================================
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TJ on “Doing a Debito”: Gaijin Carded at Nagoya Airport and Airport Comfort Inn

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Every now and again I hear from people how Debito.org has been helpful in dealing with daily life in Japan.  Here’s one such example.  After more than twenty years of the Debito.org Archive, and ten years of the Debito.org Blog, things like this make it all worth it.  Thanks for writing in, TJ.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

To: debito@debito.org
From: TJ
Date: August 12, 2018
Subject: Well, I put on my Debito hat today!

I’m an American married to a Japanese, and we’re on an adventure doing standby flights from Japan to overseas. However, unluckily we got bumped at Nagoya Airport. So we checked into a Comfort Inn at the airport in my (Japanese) spouse’s name.

He filled out the card for our twin room. But the receptionist looked at me and said that she needed to photocopy my passport. But I know from Debito.org that she doesn’t have the legal obligation to photocopy my passport, or even see any ID, when I have a Japanese address as a Japanese resident, and I told her so. So she said she needed to copy my “Gaijin Card”, or Zairyuu Residence Card.

I gave her a chotto matte kudasai… and dug out that nifty Japanese paper you posted on Debito.org years ago and I held it up to her to read, showing her the letter of the law that says that ID is only required for tourists, not for residents of Japan, including foreign residents.

(http://www.debito.org/whatif-id-check.doc
from http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#checkpoints)

Another receptionist came over to investigate, and I repeated that I live in Japan permanently. Basically, the other woman’s attitude was since my Japanese spouse was with me, I didn’t have to hand any ID to be photocopied. Because I’m “one of the good ones”. Not a win, but I don’t think she expected me to stand my ground the way I did.

I cannot understand why they need my most intimate and personal information photocopied. What is done with it later? How is it disposed of? It seems like a waste of paper, toner, etc., and because of identity theft, it makes me really nervous.

So… fresh off this experience, we went out to dinner at Nagoya Airport. The hotel is connected so we went back over. My spouse popped into a shop to get toiletries and I sat down in a public chair to wait.

A security guard — I wasn’t sure if he was a police officer, but my spouse later thinks he was — came up and said he was randomly checking passengers’ passports.

Well, I answered in fluent Japanese, which I think he did not expect and threw him off. I explained I am staying at a hotel at the airport and am with a friend who is in the shop over there and we are having dinner. I didn’t have a passport, so I flashed my Zairyuu Residence Card.

But that wasn’t enough. He said he needed me to remove it from my wallet so he could make a written “memo”.

Now, I’m a pretty easygoing person. But at this point my aggressive alter ego, I call him “Pinky”, came out and refused to comply. Pinky told him he was targeting only foreigners, and that wasn’t right, even from a legal standpoint. And at that point my spouse walked up, but could see Pinky had taken over and stepped back to let us handle it.

The security guard eventually backed down, but again, I know it’s because a Japanese was with me. He tried to compliment my Japanese but Pinky wasn’t having it. Pinky told him that I have lived in Japan longer than he has. He was some 20 year old kid who has a tin badge and hat, and thinks he can boss people around and invade their privacy without just cause.

So, I went over to a comment box for Nagoya Airport and wrote a lengthy complaint. It probably won’t even get read, but it made me feel better. The point is, thousands of other people, including foreigners were in the vestibule, and I was basically getting targeted for “sitting while being a foreigner.” So much for kokusaika ahead of the Olympics. Geez. Not very welcoming.

These instances immediately took me back to the time some years ago when we invited you to speak at our university, and how you handled that hotel clerk who Gaijin-carded you. You knew the law and your ground. So did I. And Pinky.

Debito-sensei, arigato! — TJ.

==========================
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Kyodo/Mainichi: Japan increases “nuclear security” before 2019 Rugby World Cup, 2020 Olympics (again, insinuating NJ are potential terrorists)

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Entry #715 in the continuing saga of Japan’s “Blame Game”, where Non-Japanese are falsely blamed for all manner of unrelated things.  According to the article below, this time it’s potential “nuclear security” issues, with measures taken to prevent “intruders” from getting their hands on “radioactive materials”, by putting them “in rooms with solid doors” — as recommended by the IAEA back in January 2011.

All sensible precautions.  Yet the GOJ has taken its time to implement them, even in light of the Tohoku Earthquake and Fukushima Disasters in March 2011.  It’s only suddenly seeing the light because of “intruders”, clearly in this case meaning NJ coming to Japan during the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  Clearly?  Yes.  You’re telling me Japan didn’t have issues of “intruders” before this?  It does have “terrorists”, but so far they’ve all been Japanese (i.e., Aum, The Red Army, etc).

As I wrote in my Japan Times column last week, “Japan invites over waves of foreign nationals (be they workers, tourists or diplomats), hate speech and reactionary policies emerge.”  I mentioned there about the weird new minpaku laws stopping AirBnB style homestays with the general public (because NJ might be ISIS terrorists or child molesters!).  This new policy has a similar Embedded Racism, and it’s unproblematized in the article below.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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Japan to beef up nuclear security before Rugby World Cup, Olympics
July 11, 2018 (Mainichi Japan), Courtesy of JDG
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180711/p2g/00m/0dm/106000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s nuclear watchdog decided Wednesday to oblige facilities using any of about 200 radioactive materials to introduce antitheft measures to enhance nuclear security ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

As part of the country’s efforts to boost counterterrorism steps before hosting the major sporting events, the government will aim at enforcing related laws in September 2019, in time for the Rugby tourney kicking off on Sept. 20 that year, which would cover some 500 business operators, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said.

Hospitals and companies and the like would be required to install surveillance cameras near their storage sites for radioactive materials. The containers must be kept in rooms with solid doors and manuals and communication equipment must be provided for personnel to deal with intruders, to prevent such materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Nuclear power plants have already introduced a personal background investigation system to prevent potential terrorists from being hired as workers.

According to the NRA, the planned regulation would cover radioactive substances including cesium 137 and cobalt 60, which are widely used for medical and industrial purposes, but which could be used in so-called dirty bombs.

Amid the globally mounting threat of terrorism, the International Atomic Energy Agency advised countries in January 2011 to take measures to better manage radioactive materials.

Tokyo, however, has yet to introduce these steps due to its need to deal with the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

In Brazil, instruments for radiation therapy were taken away from the former site of a hospital and then dismantled. But it led to large-scale exposure and the deaths of four people in 1987.
ENDS

【Related】Nuclear watchdog OKs restart of aging nuclear plant hit by tsunami
【Related】Editorial: Time to transform Japan’s nuclear plant inspection system
【Related】Japan drops in Hiroshima Report [an annual evaluation of atomic disarmament efforts among 36 nuclear- and non-nuclear-armed states] rankings due to refusal to sign nuclear ban treaty

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

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Reuters/Asahi: New “minpaku” law stifles homesharing with tourists, on grounds insinuating foreigners are “unsafe” for children walking to school! (or ISIS terrorists)

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Dr. Debito Arudou (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog.  Here’s a new twist to the “Blame Game” often played whenever there’s a foreigner involved with any economy in Japan.  I started talking about this in earnest in my Japan Times column of August 28, 2007, where I pointed out how NJ were being falsely blamed for crime, SDF security breaches, unfair advantages in sports, education disruptions, shipping disruptions, and even labor shortages (!!).  That soon expanded to false accusations of workplace desertion (remember the fictitious “flyjin” phenomenon of 2011?) and looting, despoiling sumo and fish markets, and even for crime committed by Japanese!  More here.

Now we have recycled claims of disruptive NJ tourism.  But as submitter JDG points out, this time it’s getting mean.  In the same vein of a World Cup 2002 Miyagi Prefectural Assemblyman’s claim that visiting foreigners would rape Japanese women and sire children, we have official insinuations at the local government level that renting your apartment or room out to NJ would be “unsafe” — not only for Japanese in the neighborhood, but for children walking to school in Shibuya!  (Or, according to the JT update below, NJ might be ISIS terrorists.)  At this point, this is hate speech.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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In Japan, new rules may leave Airbnb industry out in the cold
REUTERS/ASAHI SHINBUN, April 23, 2018,  courtesy of JDG, with underlined emphases added
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201804230010.html

Japan’s new home-sharing law was meant to ease a shortage of hotel rooms, bring order to an unregulated market and offer more lodging options for foreign visitors ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Instead, the law is likely to stifle Airbnb Inc. and other home-sharing businesses when it is enacted in June and force many homeowners to stop offering their services, renters and experts say.

The “minpaku,” or private temporary lodging law, the first national legal framework for short-term home rental in Asia, limits home-sharing to 180 days a year, a cap some hosts say makes it difficult to turn a profit.

More important, local governments, which have final authority to regulate services in their areas, are imposing even more severe restrictions, citing security or noise concerns.

For example, Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, home to the tony Ginza shopping district, has banned weekday rentals on grounds that allowing strangers into apartment buildings during the week could be unsafe.

That’s a huge disappointment for Airbnb “superhost” Mika, who asked that her last name not be used because home-renting is now officially allowed only in certain zones.

She has enjoyed hosting international visitors in her spare two-bedroom apartment but will stop because her building management has decided to ban the service ahead of the law’s enactment.

“I was able to meet many different people I would have not met otherwise,” said Mika, 53, who started renting out her apartment after she used a home-sharing service overseas. “I may sell my condo.”

Mika added that if she were to rent the apartment out on a monthly basis, she would only make one-third of what she does from short-term rentals.

The ancient capital of Kyoto, which draws more than 50 million tourists a year, will allow private lodging in residential areas only between Jan. 15 and March 16, avoiding the popular spring and fall tourist seasons.

Similarly, Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya Ward will permit home-sharing services in residential areas only during school holidays, with certain exceptions, so children won’t meet strangers on their way to class.

In short, renters and experts say, the new law is doing more to hurt than help, even as a record 28.7 million tourists flocked to Japan last year, up 19 percent from the year before. Japan aims to host 40 million foreign tourists a year by 2020.

Yasuhiro Inaoka, who manages about 15 properties for Airbnb hosts in Tokyo, says the net effect of the law is “banning individuals from offering home lodging.”

‘STRANGE PRACTICE’

Central government officials say that excessive local limits could defeat the law’s objectives, but that they cannot force local governments to loosen their policies.

Restricting home rental due to vague concerns that foreigners are unsafe or that it is a strange practice goes against the concept of the new law,” said Soichi Taguchi, an official at the government’s Tourism Agency.

The annual cap of 180 days for home sharing and stricter rules set by local governments is a victory for the hotel industry, which opposes private properties being used for tourist accommodation.

“While each city and town is unique, we believe that by following the national recommendations, all Japanese cities and communities will be able to benefit from the growing economic opportunity provided by home sharing and short-term rentals,” said Jake Wilczynski, spokesman for Airbnb in Asia Pacific.

About 62,000 Airbnb listings have sprung up in Japan, far smaller than other major tourist destinations, such as Italy, which has 354,400 listings, or France, with 490,000.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore allows home sharing, but requires a minimum period of three months. Two Airbnb hosts were fined S$60,000 ($45,800 or 4.9 million yen) each by a local court in April for unauthorized short-term letting.

Hyakusenrenma Inc., a Japanese rival to Airbnb, has 2,000 listings for its “Stay Japan” service, and online travel agency Booking Holdings’s Booking.com and Chinese agents have also entered the Japanese market.

The new law requires home owners to register rental properties for short-term stays with the local government by undergoing fire safety checks and submitting proof that the owner is not mentally disturbed.

San Francisco-based Airbnb said it would obey the new law and remove all the non-compliant listings from its site by June.

But the company is also confident the number of listings will bounce back and eventually exceed the current level because Japan still has a great deal of potential to expand, said country manager Yasuyuki Tanabe.

“We will have clear rules for home lodging, which will encourage more people to list their properties,” Tanabe said.

HOTEL LICENSE

One alternative for home renters is to apply for a hotel license. That process has been simplified to relax requirements for a reception area and no longer mandate a minimum number of rooms.

One 42-year-old man who asked not to be named has gone this route. He stopped renting out Airbnb apartments in Tokyo and instead obtained a license to run a five-room hotel out of a converted traditional wooden “machiya” house in Kyoto.

He still advertises on his property in Kyoto on Airbnb and the hotel license frees him from the 180-day limit.

“With the hotel license I can provide the service all year round,” he said.

But for many, this isn’t an option because their buildings won’t allow home-sharing at all, regardless of licensing.

When the land ministry asked apartment management unions to decide whether to permit short-term rentals, only 0.3 percent of them nationwide said they would, according to the Condominium Management Association.
ENDS
==============================

UPDATE JUN 30:

— Japan Times also reports on the backlash to this policy, with the same undertones, except this time foreigners might be “terrorists”. Excerpt:

Implementation of minpaku laws lambasted
The Japan Times, June 30, 2018
BY MARK SCHREIBER
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/30/national/media-national/implementation-minpaku-laws-lambasted/

[…]
On its morning program on June 15, NHK Radio chimed in with its own justification for the crackdown on minpaku. Citing the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks by ISIS terrorists in Paris in which 130 people were killed and another 413 injured, the broadcast implied that minpaku might serve as a base for terrorists — despite there being no evidence that the attackers in France had availed themselves of online booking services.

Nevertheless, at the urging of the Metropolitan Police Department ahead of the 2020 Olympics, minpaku hosts will be encouraged to report any “suspicious behavior” on the part of guests, including refusing to allow their passport to be photocopied, referring to a memo or other separate document when transcribing their own name or address, or when the actual number of staying guests turns out to vary from what was initially reserved.

“It’s possible terrorists will choose to stay at minpaku, where identification checks are vague,” explained Isao Itabashi, head of the Research Center at the Council for Public Policy, during the broadcast, adding, “So it’s important that along with sharing data on suspicious guests, the minpaku operators liaise closely with the police.”

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/30/national/media-national/implementation-minpaku-laws-lambasted/
==============================

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