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

mytest

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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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  My latest Shingetsu News Agency column has just come out, and it’s 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 an excerpt:

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

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? Because…
Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/11/18/visible-minorities-the-xeno-scapegoating-of-japanese-halloween/

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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.

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

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 3 is now up. Here’s an excerpt. 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…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/10/23/racial-profiling-at-japanese-hotel-check-ins/

And 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)

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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

mytest

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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…

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

Read the rest 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?)

mytest

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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

mytest

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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.

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

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

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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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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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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.

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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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Japan Times JBC 114 DIRECTOR’S CUT of “Top Ten for 2018” column, with links to sources

mytest

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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

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. 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

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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
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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

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

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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JT/JIJI: Japan plans new surveillance system to centralize NJ residents’ data. (Actually, it’s to justify police budgets as crime overall continues to drop.)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s yet another example of your tax dollars at work:  Further tightening surveillance on foreign residents:

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

To counter overstayers, Japan plans new surveillance system to manage foreign residents’ data
JIJI/JAPAN TIMES JUN 18, 2018
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/17/national/counter-illegal-overstayers-government-plans-system-centrally-manage-information-foreign-residents/
Japan plans to set up a system to centrally manage information on foreign residents to prevent overstayers from growing as the national labor crunch worsens, officials said.

The Justice Ministry will play a key role in handling the information, which will include records on employment, tax payments and marriage that is currently being separately managed by central and local government agencies.

The system is intended to strengthen government surveillance of overstayers as the nation imports more foreign labor to ease a severe nationwide labor shortage.

As part of the effort, a new organization might be set up within the ministry to collect and analyze information on foreign residents.

Japan had about 1.28 million foreign workers as of October last year, but the construction industry alone is expected to need as many as 900,000 extra workers by fiscal 2025.

On Friday, the government unveiled plans to create a new resident status to let foreign people with certain levels of expertise and Japanese ability work in Japan. The new status is expected to cover the nursing care, lodging, agriculture, construction and shipbuilding sectors.

The government also plans to cooperate with companies to give livelihood support to foreign workers, including multilingual guidance, Japanese-language education and housing.

ENDS

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

We’ve talked about this centralization of this policing of NJ residents before on Debito.org (including arrest quotas to entrap NJs), and what motivates it (the need to justify increased police budgets, rather than to provide services for NJ — which like above is thrown in as an afterthought).  But for a new angle, let’s turn the keyboard to Debito.org Reader JDG, who submitted this article with the following comment. Dr. Debito Arudou

JDG: Government plans to take responsibility for ‘managing’ NJ away from city halls and ‘centralize’ the management of all NJ by the Justice Ministry in order to ‘increase surveillance’. To this end, the police will have access to all NJ info; addresses, employment, tax, marital status, visa information, etc.

Imagine that the police will now demand to see your residence card so that they can radio the office and check all your details.  ‘Increased surveillance’? Why are NJ being surveilled at all to start with? Here’s a top tip for the police; detect crime, and then investigate it.

Strangely, it reminded me of this article:

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

Japan’s crime problem? Too many police, not enough criminals
Tokyo Letter: As they run out of things to do, officers are becoming more inventive

The Irish Times, Fri, Apr 6, 2018, 01:00
David McNeill in Tokyo (excerpt)

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/asia-pacific/japan-s-crime-problem-too-many-police-not-enough-criminals-1.3451997?mode=am

It was a crime that once would have attracted little attention in Tokyo’s lurid undertow: police are this week hunting a man who used his smartphone to film under a woman’s skirt. The suspect fled across the tracks of Ikebukuro Station after the woman cried for help.

Women subjected to sexual assault on Tokyo’s crowded transport system were once as likely to ignore it: Chikan (groping) was not widely dealt with as a crime until the mid-1990s. Now the police spend considerable energy trying to catch offenders.

One reason is that the police have more time. Crime rates have been falling for 14 years. In the last six months of 2017 they set a new low after falling the previous year below the one million mark for the first time since the second World War.

The murder rate of 0.3 per 100,000 people is among the lowest in the world, and roughly half Ireland’s rate. (In America, where violent crime is rising at its fastest pace since the 1970s, it is more than 5). Gun-deaths rarely rise above 10 a year.

Virtually the one rising criminal fraternity is the elderly. Senior citizens now account for about 20 per cent of arrests and detentions. As the population ages the over 65s commit nearly four times more crimes than they did two decades ago.

One result is that Japan’s jails are filling up with the infirm: more inmates need help with walking, bathing and even using the toilet. The government recently allocated a budget to send care workers to about half of the nation’s prisons.

Yet, Japan has more than 15,000 more police personnel than it had a decade ago, when crime rates were far higher. The density of officers per population is particularly marked in Tokyo, home to the world’s biggest metropolitan police force.

Forensic rigour
In practice, this means lots of police attention. Petty drugs offences are treated with forensic rigour. Police have arrested athletes, rock stars and university students for smoking pot. One woman recalls five officers crowding into her cramped apartment after she reported her knickers being swiped from a clothesline.

As they run out of things to do, however, police are becoming more inventive about what constitutes a crime, says Kanako Takayama, a professor of criminal law at Kyoto University. In one recent case, she says, they arrested a group of people who had shared the fees for a rented car because they judged it was an illegal taxi.

Critics who fret about over-enthusiastic police cite a week-long stakeout in 2016, in Kyushu, southwest Japan. Five officers watched over a case of beer in an unlocked car outside a supermarket in Kagoshima, scene of a series of car robberies, before pouncing on the hapless middle-aged man who eventually helped himself.

A judge dismissed the case, which he called an unnecessary and expensive sting operation.

In another incident reported by the liberal Asahi newspaper, police in rural Gifu Prefecture spied on local citizens who opposed a wind power project, then repeatedly called executives from the power company in 2013 and 2014 with detailed reports on the activists, including ages, academic background and medical records.

Oddly, the police increasingly struggle to solve crimes. The rate of detection for total offences fell to a post-war low of less than 30 per cent in 2013, which suggests that while crimes happen increasingly rarely, the police are not very good at solving them.

The latest annual White Paper published by the National Police Agency cites weakening community ties as well as widespread use of mobile phones, the internet and other technological advances as factors for falling detection rates.

People police themselves
Confessions, often made under duress, form the basis of nearly 90 per cent of criminal prosecutions. The reason why Japan looks so good is that people police themselves, says Yoshihiro Yasuda, a campaigning lawyer.

Japan’s justice system gets a lot right. Rates of recidivism (reoffending) are low and much effort is made to keep young offenders out of prison. Adults are incarcerated at a far lower rate than in most developed countries – 45 per 100,000 compared with 666 the United States.

Precisely because it is so safe, however, some fear the system is ripe for abuse. With little else to do, police may start finding new things to enforce, says Colin Jones, a legal expert at Doshisha University.

In 2015, a man was arrested for scribbling Adolf Hitler moustaches on to posters of prime minister Shinzo Abe. Leaked internal police documents in 2010 described intensive surveillance of Tokyo’s largely trouble-free Muslim community. A “mosque squad” made up of dozens of officers monitored Muslims and cultivated informants.

Last year the government gave the police even more powers with a new “conspiracy” law that allows them to investigate and arrest people who plan to commit crimes.

Whereas in some parts of the world, you can never find a cop when you need one, Japan may have too many.
ENDS

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

JDG:  With fewer crimes, and more police than ever before, Japanese police are getting ‘inventive’ in order to look busy; investigating crimes way beyond the level of resources that the crime warrants, and setting up intensive sting operations for minor offenses.

The police are looking to criminalize people in order to defend their budgets. I guess the japanese won’t mind hundreds of officers and millions of ¥ being squandered in operations that end up with NJ being harassed until the police can charge them with any petty crimes.

Given Japan’s huge national debt, not enough crime, too many police, should equal some lay offs. But TIJ!

Also, if they’re so overstaffed, how come it takes them six months to raid big companies like Kobe steel who admitted defrauding their customers for years with sub-standard product data manipulation? How come they didn’t send a truck load of cops straight round to the finance ministry to investigate dodgy land sales and public document falsification?

Nah, got to collar that guy who overstayed his visa!  RegardsJDG

===============================
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NHK World: Japan’s social media “rife” with fake rumors after recent Osaka quake, including foreigner “thefts and burglaries”, “looting convenience stores”. Again.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s NHK reporting on the spread of false information on Japan’s social media about foreigners committing crimes in the wake of June 18’s Osaka earthquake. Comment follows the article:

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

Post-quake social media rife with fake news
NHK World, Tuesday, June 18, 2018. Courtesy of JDG.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180618_31/

Osaka prefectural officials are urging people to keep calm and refrain from sharing unsubstantiated information on social media after Monday’s earthquake.

One widely shared tweet claimed the roof of the Kyocera Dome Osaka stadium is cracked. The operator denies this.

Other cases of false information include a train derailment and a zebra escaping from a zoo.

Messages inciting discrimination against foreigners living in Japan are also spreading.

One post advises people to watch out for thefts and burglaries by foreign residents. Another says foreigners are not accustomed to quakes, so they will start looting convenience stores or rushing to airports.

Social media users are posting messages to counter the discriminatory ones.

One user says people should be aware that racists use major disasters to spread false information.

Another says fake news spreads during disasters, and that people need to improve their media literacy so they can detect false information.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  It seems like earthquakes in Japan (although depicted as orderly, stoic affairs in Western media) are for some internet denizens a call to create a live-action version of the movie “The Purge“.  Debito.org has reported numerous times in the past on how false rumors of NJ residents have spread through Japan’s social media — to the point where even the generally “hands-off-because-it’s-free-speech-and-besides-it-only-affects-foreigners” Japanese government has had to intervene to tamp down on it (since, according to a 2017 Mainichi poll, 80% of people surveyed believed the rumors!).  I’m glad to see the Osaka government is intervening here too.

By the way, if you think I’m exaggerating by making a connection to movie “The Purge” in this blog, recall your history:  The massacre of Korean Residents in the wake of the 1923 Kantou Earthquake was precisely “The Purge”.  And what happened in the aftermath of the Fukushima Multiple Disasters of March 11, 2011 (where foreigners were being blamed online for all manner of unconnected events, including the earthquake itself) was similarly redolent (albeit less deadly, thank heavens).  As were mudslides in Hiroshima back in 2014.  And that’s before we get to then-newly-elected racist Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro’s famous call in the year 2000 for a priori roundups of “evil foreigners committing heinous crimes” in the event of a natural disaster.  So much for the stoicism. Dr. Debito Arudou

Racial Profiling by Japanese Police in Tokyo Azabu: Uprizine’s Interview with Austin Freeman, a student at Temple University Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has talked for years about racial profiling by the Japanese police (see for example here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, not to mention demanding urine samples from “foreigners” in Roppongi only; seriously). Clearly it’s still going on. The issue here, however, is how institutions that are supposed to support and inform NJ in Japan of their rights, options, and protections in Japan (in this case, Temple University in Japan) are apparently not doing so. Read on. Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Racial Profiling by the Japanese Police: An Interview with Austin Freeman (excerpt)
Upri-Zine.com, April 2, 2018. Courtesy of NC

INTRO:  In December 2017, TUJ added a new section to their Student Handbook titled Public Safety and Encounters with Law Enforcement (pages 21-23), “TUJ does not assume obligations for students’ off campus behavior or for their interactions with Japanese law enforcement personnel or the criminal justice system.”

Read more at https://www.upri-zine.com/single-post/2018/03/28/Racial-Profiling-by-the-Japanese-Police-An-Interview-with-Austin-Freeman

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

UPDATE APRIL 7, 2018: Response from UPRIZINE after I notified them that their article appeared on Debito.org:

送信者: UPRIZINE
Dear Mr. Debito, First, we would like to thank you for your interest in our website, article, and what we are doing. However, we request that you take down our article which you have copied and pasted onto your own website. As a Temple University Japan affiliated group and as owners of the website, we ask that all reproduction of our material be done with our permission and with the consent of all participating members of an article. Not doing so minimizes our work, what we are trying to achieve, and could pose as an issue for the image of our magazine and institution. Mr. Freeman is also not comfortable with your usage of this piece as it is not an excerpt of the article but rather an appropriation of it. We politely request that the article be taken down from your website and that all social media posts linking to your website regarding it be taken down as well. If you would, however, like to continue helping this cause, you can edit your post to link our website with only the first paragraph of the article and “read more at (https://www.upri-zine.com/single-post/2018/03/28/Racial-Profiling-by-the-Japanese-Police-An-Interview-with-Austin-Freeman) “ in order to direct readers to our site. You can also write your own article based off ours as Mr. Freeman has agreed to this. We thank you once again for your interest and hope you understand our stance on this. Sincerely, UPRIZINE

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

Debito.org’s response:

////////////////////////////////////
Dear Uprizine,

Thank you for your personalized email response. I have complied with your command to include only the first paragraph of your article on Debito.org. I hope this provides enough context to inspire readers to read further.

Debito.org apologizes for inadvertently minimizing your work, what you are trying to achieve, and the image of your magazine and institution.

Please also send my apologies to Mr. Freeman for making him uncomfortable by drawing attention to his cause.

Sincerely, Debito Arudou (Ph.D.)
====================================
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Kyoto City Govt. subway advert has Visible Minority as poster girl for free AIDS/STDs testing. Wrong on many levels, especially statistically.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a flashback to a time (dating from the mid-1980s, see here and here, for example) when people were saying that “foreigners have AIDS”.  I was there; I remember it well.

The Kyoto Government is offering free AIDS and STD testing.  Good.  But check out what image they’re using for the face of sexually-transmitted diseases:

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

From: XY
Subject: Embedded Racism, AIDS, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Date: March 8, 2018
To: debito@debito.org
Hello Debito,

Please see the attached photo, snapped on a Kyoto metro yesterday afternoon.  The only non-Japanese face visible in the metro car (other than mine) is on an advert for AIDS and STD testing by Kyoto City Government. 

The poster seems to imply the foreign as the source of danger, illness, social decay. The (dyed? or at least not black) permed, and slightly disheveled hair accord with the stereotype of the western woman of lax morality.

I wonder whether they used a stock image or hired a model and whether the model was aware or consented to the use of her image in this context? While technically she is contributing to a good cause – increasing awareness of AIDS, STDS, and of a useful public health service, she most likely did not realize that her image also contributes to the construction and maintenance of negative bias against non-Japanese women.

I also wonder about the designers. Who decided to use a non-Japanese model and what was their rationale (or rationalization)? Japan as a multi-ethnic society, where non-Japanese can be employed for health service publicity?  Or the purely functional message that the service itself is available for both J and NJ? How does it relate to the actual epidemiology of AIDS and other STDs in Japan? Does the poster reflect any reality in the situation or is it a complete misrepresentation of the epidemiology?

Cheers and keep up the good work.  Sincerely, XY

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

COMMENT:  Now, some might argue (and believe me, pedants, naysayers, and White Samurai will) that this is merely an IStock photo and that there was no association meant.  But that’s not how advertising works.  (Why add an image of a person at all if that were true?)  Others might say that she’s representing a medical professional pleased to see people coming in for testing.  But there is no context grounding that, either.  (No clear nurse’s uniform, nor a background that is clearly a hospital.  It looks more like a government front desk area to me; if you look closely at the poster, that’s in fact where the testing is happening, not at a hospital; she’s a patient, not a government representative.)

Again, why are we targeting a Visible-Minority demographic with this ad?  As XY says, that’s the embedded racism of this campaign.

My suspicion is that they are targeting Japan’s sex workers, and a frequent association is that any foreigner imported for this task has diseases.  This poster merely fortifies that.

And, to answer XY, it’s wrong.  According to the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, in 2015, non-Japanese people accounted for the minority of 108 (88 male; 20 female) out of 1,006 AIDS cases in Japan (and homosexual men, not women, remain the largest affected demographic). Plus don’t forget that historically, a significant number of AIDS cases in Japan were the result not of sexual contact, but of HIV-tainted blood recklessly given to hemophiliacs by the Japanese government in the late 1980s. That’s why this poster is visually misrepresenting the issue on many levels.

As XY also notes, I wonder what the model herself thinks about being associated with sexually-transmitted diseases?  I wish we could ask.  Dr. Debito Arudou

==============================
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XY: My experience with a Harajuku shop keeper – “F*ckin Foreigner kill” racist signs and threatened violence

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. We’ve covered this “F*ckin Foreigner kill” Harajuku store called “Richards” before on Debito.org, and obviously media attention hasn’t deterred this nasty shop from putting up nasty anti-foreigner signs. Now, according to customer [whom I will anonymize as XY], the manager bullied her as a customer with verbal abuse and threatened her with violence. And the local police refused to do anything about it. This is beyond the pale, and XY intends to fight it. Good for her, and Debito.org puts this up as a matter of record at her request to draw attention to the issue. Dr. Debito Arudou

Richards Harajuku Maruichi Blog. 1F, 1 Chome-6-11 Jingūmae, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0001
Phone:  03-5410-0069

////////////////////////////////////////////////
From: XY
Subject: My experience with a Harajuku shop keeper – racist signs and threatened violence
Date: December 19, 2017
To: debito@debito.org

Hi Debito,
I’m a long-term resident of Japan and I’m writing to you to share and get you to share my encounter yesterday with a racist shopkeeper in Takeshita dori in Harajuku.

It started with racist signs and ended with him threatening me with violence.

Sample signs (dated December 18, 2017):


Full report:
===========================

This happened to me today – my experience with a racist violent shopkeeper in the center of Tokyo’s busiest tourist town.
Warning … horrible language- completely NSFW or children.

Today I went to Harajuku and while I was there I did a little shopping. I went to buy a cute bag in this shop in Takeshita dori and realised that the shop had startlingly crude insulting signs up aimed at foreigners (non- Japanese).

I originally thought that it might have been because of an ignorance of English, but when I spoke to the shop keeper he said “Nihon wa jiyu na Kuni” (Japan is a free country) and I realised he meant every word.

Now I understand that he was getting annoyed that people were taking photos and not buying things, but that level of insulting hate driven language is never okay, and especially not in a place where children may go.

I even told him that I was buying it for my child, and that I would have brought my child there… and it was not something that a child should be exposed to. He didn’t care.

At that point I decided that there was no way I was going to spend any money in his shop, and anything I bought there would just feel bad so I told him that I no longer wanted the bag.

He cursed me out for being cheap and wasting his time (although in fact I was going to buy the bag and already had my money out).

Later after I had finished my other business I decided to get photos of the signs so I could publicize his nastiness, so I went back to the shop and took photos.
He yelled at me to stop taking photos and I told him I was only taking photos of the signs and not of his merchandise.

Then he grabbed something and went to hit me with it.
I screamed in shock and ran out of the shop.

Totally shaken by this experience I decided to walk down to the large police station around the corner. I wanted to make a report because I felt it needed to be on record.
The police refused to take a report and told me I should call 110 next time.

UPDATE DEC 28: I have realised that the police insistence I give the exact address before they could make a report was most likely a measure to deflect me. I had a photo of the shop front with the shop name clearly written which I showed to them.

I was already appalled by his signs, but then when he topped it off with attempted assault made me worry about what else he has done to foreign tourists or what he will do.
I’m amazed that the local business groups aren’t doing anything to stop him ruining their image with foreign visitors.

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

I’ve made this report public so that it can be shared, and I am giving everyone permission to share and use it.

I’m also happy to answer questions and do what needs to be done to get the word out and stand up to a bully like him.

I’m glad you are here fighting the fight for all of us. It needs to be done and I intend to fight this.

Sincerely,
XY

//////////////////
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Bitcoin purchasing and racial profiling by Quoinex and BITPoint Japan: Hurdles for NJ customers only

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. We’ve talked before about differing standards for NJ in regards to equal treatment as consumers, customers, residents and taxpayers, equal pricing for services, and access to credit. Now here’s another report about barriers for NJ only to purchase Bitcoin, the international cryptocurrency, in Japan.

I didn’t know much about Bitcoin until recently (here’s a good primer from NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross), but now it’s become a legitimate currency, accepted by the likes of Microsoft for payment, so denial of access to it affects Japan’s NJ residents’ abilities to pay a bill easily, quickly, and without extortionate bank fees. (Especially ironic is that the pseudonym for Bitcoin’s creator is “Satoshi Nakamoto”, but never mind.)

I’ll let Debito.org Reader Shiki take the keyboard from here with his report.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

From: Shiki
Subject: Discrimination of good and services based on nationality
Date: December 2, 2017
To: debito@debito.org

Hello Dr. Debito,

Recently, because of the Bitcoin fever, I’ve been looking at bitcoin and other crypto exchanges in Japan, and signing up for almost every single one of them.

Most of them have presented no problem, they follow the law in which they have the obligation to ask for an official ID,  just like PayPal does in Japan, for which I have been sending the front of my Personal Number Card (My Number Card), and then they send you a post card to your address to confirm you actually live there.

That’s what these exchanges and basically any virtual money company in Japan is required to do by law.

That’s except for 2 exchanges, Quoinex and BITPoint.

The law states that any valid official ID can be used, but these 2 exchanges only accept a Resident Card for foreigners, and Quoinex go so far as to ask for a passport to those individuals who are Japanese but are “suspected” of being foreigners from their names, etc. (basically racial profiling).

The following is the conversation I had with the support staff from Quoinex who, after more than a week after I sent all my info in, told me “My documents didn’t match”.

—————————
QUOINEX Support (QUOINEX Japan)
Nov 15, 3:08 PM JST
平素より大変お世話になっております。
QUOINEX運営事務局でございます。
このたびは、弊社に口座開設をお申込みいただき誠に有難うございます。
口座開設審査にあたり、下記項目に関しましてご返信いただきますようお願い申し上げます。
【氏名の表記につきまして】
申込時にご入力いただいた氏名と本人確認書面に記載の氏名に相違がございました。
恐れ入りますが、正確な氏名とフリガナをご教示いただきたくお願いいたします。
氏名:
フリガナ:
ご返信をいただき次第、口座開設手続きを再開させていただきます。
引き続きQUOINEXをよろしくお願い申し上げます。

—————————
Shiki
10日前
これはどういうことなのか全くわかりません。
今でももう一回確認しましたが、入力した名前と本人確認に使った書類には全く同じ名前が書いています。

—————————
QUOINEX Support
10日前
平素より大変お世話になっております。
QUOINE運営事務局でございます。
ご返信ありがとうございます。
このたびは、弊社に口座開設をお申込みいただき誠に有難うございます。
口座開設審査にあたり、下記項目に関しましてご返信いただきますようお願い申し上げます。
【国籍につきまして】
現在口座開設審査の手続きを進めており、その一環として国籍をご教示いただきたく
お願いいたします。
日本国籍でない場合は、下記の内いずれかの本人確認書面が
必要となりますのでご提出をお願いいたします。
・在留カード
・特別永住者証明書
・外国人登録証明書
日本国籍である場合は、確認の為下記の本人確認書面をご提出をお願いいたします。
・パスポート
ご返信をいただき次第、口座開設手続きを再開させていただきます。
引き続きQUOINEXをよろしくお願い申し上げます。

—————————
Shiki
10日前
申し訳ありませんが、法律上では外国人であっても個人番号カードは身分証明書になります。
法律上では在留カードの提示が必須となる場面は入国管理官や警察官に提示を命じた時のみとなります。
後、日本国籍ではパスポートのみというのは可笑しいですね。パスポートは本来誰でも持っている身分証明書のではなく、海外に行くときに使われる身分証明書のはずです。
そして、パスポート使わずQUOINEXでアカウントを開いている人知っています。
実際にあなた達のサイトでは私は出している個人カードが使えると書いております:
https://quoine.zendesk.com/hc/ja/article_attachments/115008790827/document_details.pdf
もし私の名前か顔で在留カードかパスポートのみというポリシーを取っているのであれば、それは法律上では人種差別的な行為になるます。

—————————

After this, I went to their public telegram group and posted about this, for which I received the following answer:

—————————
この度は当社の対応に気分を害されたとのこと誠に申し訳ございません。
QUOINE は犯罪収益移転防止法に則り口座開設審査を行っておりますが、仰るとおり本法律には国籍を聞くことまでは求められておりません。
ただし当社が内規として行うKYCスクリーニングのため、国籍情報を使用しております。そのため氏名等で外国籍の可能性のある方は、内部プロセスとして、上記のご案内を行っております。(実際に、外国籍で在留カード以外を提出される等の方がいるため)
金融庁登録の事業者としての責任を果たすため、上記プロセスをとっております。
ただプロセスについては改善途中でして、重ねてになりますが、今回の件について、お客様に不快な想いをさせてしまいましたこと誠に申し訳ございません。
—————————

What Quoinex basically says is that they are asking for “proof” of nationality as part of their KYC (Know Your Customer) policy, which somehow does not apply to people who are not suspected of being foreigners.

The other exchange, BITPoint, basically rejected my registration, and told me to send them both sides of the Resident Card, as the following main shows:

—————————
お客様へ
この度は、ビットポイント総合口座開設に必要な本人確認書類をアップロードしていただき、誠にありがとうございました。
さて、書類を確認させていただきましたところ、「在留カード両面」と「振込先金融機関の口座名義人(カナ)」の確認ができなかったため、
本人確認が完了しておりません。
度々申し訳ございませんが、当社では外国籍のお客様の口座開設の際には、「在留カード両面」と「振込先指定口座の口座番号および口座名義(カタカナ)」が
表示されている書類のコピーの提出をお願いしております。
大変お手数ではございますが、以下の本人確認書類アップロード用URLから、再度ご本人確認書類のご提示をお願い申し上げます。
弊社にて、お客様のご本人確認書類の確認が取れましたら総合口座の開設手続きは完了となり、お客様のご登録メールアドレスへ「総合口座開設完了のお知らせ」を送信いたします。
その後、ご登録住所へお取引に係る重要な情報を記載した『口座開設完了のお知らせ』を、簡易書留(転送不要)にて郵送いたします。
・在留カードの両面
・振込先金融機関の口座名義(カナ)が確認できる書面
(通帳の1ページ目など、ネット銀行等で通帳が発行されていない場合は、キャッシュカードやネット上で表示されてる部分をコピーの上アップロードをお願いいたします。)
本人確認書類アップロードURL
[Redacted]
本メールと行き違いで本人確認書類をご提示いただいておりました場合は、なにとぞご了承ください。
なお、このメールにお心あたりがない場合やご不明な点等がございましたら、大変お手数ですが下記カスタマーセンターまでお問い合わせくださいますようお願いいたします。
【弊社カスタマーセンター】
お問合せフォーム:https://www.bitpoint.co.jp/contact/
TEL:0120-210-040(平日9:00~17:00)
e-mail:support@bitpoint.co.jp
今後とも、ビットポイントジャパンをご愛顧賜りますよう、よろしくお願い申し上げます。
—————————
ENDS

Shiki: Let me be very clear, most exchanges do not ask for this. I registered with the major Japanese exchanges like bitFlyer and Coincheck among other minor exchanges. With all of them I used my Personal Number Card, and no one told me I had to do something different because of my face.

But like these 2 exchanges, more and more companies who like racial profiling are starting to ask for the Residence Card for extra-legal purposes, basically discriminating in the way people are able to open accounts or register to services based on their nationality unless you comply with some extra requirements.

One of the worst examples of this is AU [as did NTT and Softbank], which is starting to reject foreigners for buying phones in multiple payments, if the expiration of their current status in Japan does not exceed the payment timeframe for their phones, which is usually 2 years. This basically means that if your current stay permit is of 1 year, or your stay is about to expire in less than 2 years, you won’t be able to get a phone at the same price than Japanese people.

Let’s remember that the maximum stay period in Japan for most visas is of 5 years, and that you cannot renew your stay until 3 months prior to the expiration date of your current permit, which I would make the case that it excludes most foreigners under a non-permanent residency status.

“日本国籍をお持ちでない方で、在留期限がある方が個別信用購入あっせん契約をお申し込みされる場合、在留期限が確認できる書類および、クレジットカードが必要です。在留期限が分割支払い期間に満たない場合、個別信用購入あっせん契約をお申し込みいただけない場合がございます。”

Just like the My Number law states very clearly that it is illegal for someone who isn’t required by law to ask for your “My Number”, or taking copies of the part of your card which shows the actual number, I think we require a law to stop people who for asking for someone’s Residence Card if they aren’t legally required to do so. In some respects I would argue that the information inside the Residence Card is in many respects just as sensitive as your “My Number”, and asking for it is an invasion of privacy at best.

I’m also wondering if there is any law, even in those international agreements like the one used for the Otaru case, that makes it illegal to have different requirements based on someone’s nationality.

Sincerely, Shiki

ENDS

(Answer from Debito:  There are laws protecting against unsanctioned Gaijin Card checks.)

==============================
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My Japan Times JBC 108: “In wake of Charlottesville, U.S. should follow Japan and outlaw hate speech”, Aug 24, 2017

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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All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

In wake of Charlottesville, U.S. should follow Japan and outlaw hate speech
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES AUG 23, 2017

Let’s talk about Charlottesville.

As you probably heard, two weeks ago there was a protest in a small Virginia town against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general who defended slavery in the American South. Various hate groups, including white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, assembled there with shields, weapons, fascist flags and anti-Semitic slogans. They were met with counterprotest, and things got violent. A supremacist slammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

Charlottesville has shaken hope for a post-racial America to the core. But before readers in Japan breathe a sigh of relief and think, “It couldn’t happen here, not in peaceful Japan,” remember this:

Japan has also had plenty of hate rallies — there was about one per day on average in 2013 and 2014, according to the Justice Ministry. Rightist xenophobes and government-designated hate groups have assembled and held demos nationwide. Bearing signs calling foreign residents “cockroaches,” calling for a Nanking-style massacre of Koreans in an Osaka Koreatown, even advocating the extermination of “all Koreans, good or bad,” Japan’s haters have also used violence (some lethal) against the country’s minorities.

As JBC has argued before (“Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step,” Jan. 31, 2016), freedom of speech is not an absolute. And hate speech is special: It ultimately and necessarily leads to violence, due to the volatile mix of dehumanization with flared tempers.

That’s why Japan decided to do something about it. In 2016 the Diet passed a law against hate speech (albeit limiting it to specifically protect foreign residents). And it has had an effect: Japanese media reports fewer rallies and softer invective.

America, however, hasn’t gotten serious about this. It has no explicit law against hate speech, due to fears about government censorship of freedom of speech. Opponents argue that the only cure is freer speech — that somehow hate will be balanced out by reasonable and rational counter-hate. That persuasion will win out.

But in 2016, it didn’t. Hate speech is precisely how Donald J. Trump got elected president…

Read the rest at: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/08/23/issues/wake-charlottesville-u-s-follow-japan-outlaw-hate-speech/

===================
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Abe Admin backlashes against UN Rapporteur criticism against Conspiracy Bill, overseas Gaijin Handlers kick into gear

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.  The Government of Japan (GOJ) is at it again — curtailing fundamental civil and human rights for its people and getting nasty if you object to it.  Once upon a time (see below), the GOJ merely denied that Japan is in violation of any of its human rights treaties by giving sophistic counterarguments.  Now, under the ultrarightist Abe Administration, those denials are on steroids, with leading politicians injecting indignant anger into their denialism, even activating the Gaijin Handlers abroad to whitewash optics on Japan’s policies in places like the New York Times.

First, the Japan Times offers a primer on the emerging Conspiracy Bill that received sharp criticism on May 18 by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy and University of Malta Law Professor Joseph Cannataci, on the heels of criticism from UN Special Rapporteur and UC Irvine Law Professor David Kaye leveled at Japan’s already diminishing press freedoms in a report last year.

From Cannataci’s letter:

“Serious concern is expressed that the proposed bill, in its current form and in combination with other legislation, may affect the exercise of the right to privacy as well as other fundamental public freedoms given its potential broad application.  In particular I am concerned by the risks of arbitrary application of this legislation given the vague definition of what would constitute the ‘planning’ and ‘preparatory actions’ and given the inclusion of an overbroad range of crimes in the Appendix which are apparently unrelated to terrorism and organized crime.” (Full letter from Cannataci’s letter to the Japanese government, dated May 18, 2017.)

From Kaye’s introduction:

“I learned of deep and genuine concern that trends are moving sharply and alarmingly in the wrong direction. This is especially acute in the context of media independence. Japan has well-earned pride in a Constitution that expressly protects the freedom of the press. Yet the independence of the press is facing serious threats: a weak system of legal protection, persistent Government exploitation of a media lacking in professional solidarity, and the recent adoption of the Specially Designated Secrets Act are all combining to impose what I perceive to be significant challenges especially to the mainstream media, where the vast majority of Japanese citizens get their news. Numerous journalists, many agreeing to meet with me only on condition of anonymity to protect their livelihoods, highlighted the pressure to avoid sensitive areas of public interest. Many claimed to have been sidelined or silenced following indirect pressure from leading politicians. A country with such strong democratic foundations should resist and protect against such interference.”  (Full text of Kaye’s report at the UN OHCHR website:  “Preliminary observations by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression“, dated 19 April 2016.

After the Japan Times article, let’s look at how the New York Times reports on the Conspiracy Bill, and how the GOJ quickly responds with its Gaijin Handlers.

They doth protest too much, methinks.  Even an academic source cited in the Japan Times below says he’s “not aware of any other developed nation that had protested against special rapporteurs so vociferously and consistently as Japan.”  And, as far as Debito.org goes, you just know that these “terrorism” and “organized crime” tropes, once further embedded in law, will be used to further racially profile and crack down in particular on (foreign) “terrorists” and (foreign) “organized crime”.  But this new law will normalize it for everyone.  Dr. Debito Arudou

(More on Debito.org regarding prior UN Rapporteur reactions to Japan’s human rights issues, with Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene and Special Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante (here and here).)

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

Abe government clashes with U.N. rapporteurs critical of Japan (excerpt)
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, MAY 31, 2017, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/31/national/abe-government-clashes-u-n-rapporteurs-critical-japan/

Weeks after a U.N. special rapporteur released a surprise open letter slamming a state-backed conspiracy bill that critics warn could erode privacy and free speech rights, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shown no sign of letting up on its targeting of the statement.

If anything, it has been hellbent on discrediting what it claims was an “inappropriate” rebuke by the United Nations expert.

Tokyo’s ongoing clash with Joseph Cannataci, a U.N.-commissioned expert on the right to privacy, is reminiscent of a similar war of words it has fought with U.N. special rapporteurs in recent years. Many of the probes by those officials into the human rights situation in Japan have led to conclusions often at odds with the government line…

As he spoke to the Upper House plenary session on Monday, Abe openly blasted Cannataci’s assessment as “extremely unbalanced” and said his behavior was “hardly that of an objective expert.”

On Tuesday, his Cabinet approved three official statements condemning the official’s letter, which it claimed was drawn up “based on misunderstanding” and without the government ever being afforded an opportunity to thoroughly explain to him about the proposed legal revision.

In these statements, the Cabinet reiterated the government position that Cannataci’s critique did not reflect U.N. views. Prior to these statements, Tokyo had swiftly lodged a direct protest over the issue with the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva.

“When there is a misunderstanding of facts, it is of course our position that we get our message across,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, the government’s position was on full display when Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda launched into a separate attack against another U.N. special rapporteur’s criticism of the government.

Hagiuda said it was “extremely regrettable that the government position was not fully reflected” in a report issued Tuesday by David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. In his report, Kaye had pointed out “significant worrying signals” for Japan’s freedom of expression.

[Kaye’s criticism: While welcoming government efforts to clarify the four specific categories under which information may be designated as secret — defense, diplomacy, prevention of specified harmful activities and prevention of terrorist activities — Kaye warned that “specific subcategories remain overly broad” and thus involve the risk of being arbitrarily applied.

Regarding government pressure on media, Kaye raised concerns over the broadcasting law and particularly its Article 4, which provides the basis for the government to suspend broadcasting licenses if TV stations are not “politically fair.”

Kaye said that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications “should not be in the position of determining what is fair.” (Source)]

“Government evaluation of such broadly stated norms would lead to deterrence of the media’s freedom to serve as a watchdog, if it is not already creating such disincentives to reporting,” he added.

In yet another incident, the Foreign Ministry lodged a strident protest with special rapporteur Maud de Boer-Buquicchio in 2015 over what it labeled a factually dubious claim that “13 percent of Japan’s schoolgirls have engaged in compensated dating (enjo kosai).”

According to the OHCHR website, special rapporteurs are independent human rights experts who “are appointed by the Human Rights Council and serve in their personal capacities,” with mandates to report and advise on human rights. They are not U.N. staff members and receive no financial remuneration, it says.

In this regard, the government assertion that Cannataci’s letter does not represent the U.N. stance is “valid,” said Ichiro Kawabe, a professor of U.N. studies at Aichi University. But at the same time, he said, these experts’ commentaries are not hostile in nature and are designed to foster constructive discussions on human rights issues.

“Being a developed country, Japan is in a position to improve the global standards of human rights. So what it should be doing is not to overreact to what it considers to be a factual error every chance it gets, but listen humbly to what the experts have to say,” Kawabe said, adding that he was not aware of any other developed nation that had protested against special rapporteurs so vociferously and consistently as Japan…

In slamming Kaye’s preliminary report on freedom of expression, a circle of conservative scholars in Japan last month released an open letter questioning his methods. In it, the group alleged his report was “based on interviews with a limited number of journalists when he visited Japan for just one week” and that “the academic analysis is sorely lacking.”

This claim, however, failed to note that Kaye did meet government representatives to hear their side of the issue, as well. ENDS

Full JT article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/31/national/abe-government-clashes-u-n-rapporteurs-critical-japan/

Now for the New York Times article:

/////////////////////////////////////////
Conspiracy Bill Advances in Japan Despite Surveillance Fears
By MOTOKO RICH, THE NEW YORK TIMES, MAY 23, 2017
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/world/asia/japan-anti-terror-conspiracy-abe.html

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan won a crucial vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday on an anti-conspiracy bill that he said was needed to fight terrorism but that critics feared could give the authorities broad surveillance powers over citizens.

With protesters gathered outside the country’s lower house of Parliament in Tokyo, Mr. Abe’s party and its allies approved a bill that would make it a crime to conspire with others to commit terrorism and a raft of other crimes.

Speaking before the vote, Hiroshi Hiraguchi, a member of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, expressed condolences for the victims of a suicide bombing that killed 22 people at a concert in Britain on Monday. He said that the bill was needed to help Japan fulfill “the grave responsibility” of hosting the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Mr. Abe’s party called for the vote even as a United Nations expert on human rights accused the government of rushing the measure without sufficient debate on appropriate safeguards for privacy and free speech.

Joseph Cannataci, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to privacy, wrote to Mr. Abe warning that the bill, if adopted, could “lead to undue restrictions to the rights to privacy and to freedom of expression.”

A day before the lower house voted, Mr. Abe’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, lashed out against Mr. Cannataci’s letter, calling it “clearly inappropriate” and dismissing the special rapporteur’s concerns. The Japanese government also lodged an official protest with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mr. Abe has repeatedly argued that Japan needs to pass the bill in order to ratify a United Nations convention on international organized crime originally signed in 2000, as well as to protect Japan from terrorism in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics.

This was not the first time Mr. Abe pushed for legislation over public opposition. Two years ago, the government defied mass public protests and passed a package of security-related bills authorizing limited overseas combat missions for the country’s military for the first time since World War II. The Japanese anti-conspiracy bill also comes as the Chinese government is considering an intelligence law that would allow its authorities to monitor both foreign and domestic suspects.

Recent polls show the Japanese public is split over the anti-conspiracy bill, but more than three-quarters said the government had not sufficiently explained why it needed to pass the legislation. The bill is expected to go before the upper house of Parliament for final passage before the current legislative session ends in mid-June. Mr. Abe’s party and its allies have a two-thirds majority in both houses.

In an email, Mr. Cannataci said the government should take more time to discuss and amend the bill to include more safeguards for privacy and freedom of speech.

“This is the time for the government of Japan to sit back for a minute, reflect, realize that it can do things in a better way and then proceed to behave like a world-class democracy by taking the time necessary” to modify the bill, he wrote.

In a country where terrorism is extremely rare, critics say that the bill is far too vague in defining terrorism and that the list of crimes subject to possible surveillance was arbitrary.

An appendix to the bill includes unlicensed bike racing, copyright infringement and stealing plants from forest preserves, exposing those involved in the planning of such activities to prosecution.

Such crimes, critics say, seem to have little to do with terrorism. They say the bill would merely give the government wide latitude to put people under surveillance.

“There are no apparent reasons certain crimes are covered and others are not,” said Koichi Nakano, a political scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo.

Mr. Nakano said that because people might be worried about the government trawling emails, text messages and social media posts for evidence of criminal conspiracy, anyone who protests government policies might be reluctant to speak out.

“There will be more self-censorship in a country where there is already not a very vibrant civil society,” he said.

Although Japanese law requires the police to obtain warrants to install wiretaps on phones, the courts almost always grant such requests.

As a result, opponents of the bill say that it could strip citizens of their rights to privacy in the name of preventing terrorism. Japan has had few major terrorist attacks since 1995, when members of a cult killed 13 and sickened more than 5,800 in a sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway.

“How far are we willing to sacrifice our privacy is the question,” said Kenta Yamada, a journalism professor at Senshu University in Tokyo. “We may possibly get into the world of ‘1984,’” he said, referring to the dystopian novel by George Orwell in which citizens are constantly under surveillance.

Concerns about the bill were stirred during testimony by Japan’s justice minister, Katsutoshi Kaneda, when he gave examples of the kinds of activities that might cause the authorities to suspect that an individual or group was planning a crime. In one instance, Mr. Kaneda suggested that someone visiting a park with a map and binoculars could be suspected of plotting a terrorist attack.

“It’s so vague that it allows the police to justify whatever they do,” said Kanako Takayama, a professor of criminal law at Kyoto University. “If you buy a pair of scissors, that may be viewed as preparing for a crime.”

But supporters of the bill said the opposition and the news media had inflated the justice minister’s comments rather than focusing on the content of the bill. “They just enjoy picking up the funny things of the minister who cannot explain things very well,” said Keijiro Kimura, a lawyer in Osaka who supported the bill.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr. Hiraguchi, the lawmaker, said that the bill was explicitly limited to “organized crime groups.”

“It is further clear that common people will not be the target of punishment stipulated by this legislation,” Mr. Hiraguchi said.

But the United Nations special rapporteur, Mr. Cannataci, said in an email that the bill was “defective.”

“With great power comes great responsibility,” Mr. Cannataci wrote. “Yet this bill is not accompanied by a stiffening of measures intended to safeguard privacy. Other rights like freedom of speech and freedom of association are likewise not reinforced.”

Opposition lawmakers said that the governing party had stifled debate and that the legislation needed more public input.

The Japanese people deserve to “decide for themselves where they want their freedoms restricted in order to protect their security,” said Shiori Yamao, a member of the opposition Democratic Party. ENDS

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

And here’s the response from the Gaijin Handlers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

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

The New York Times Opinion Pages | LETTER
Japan and an Anti-Conspiracy Bill
JUNE 1, 2017
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/01/opinion/japan-and-an-anti-conspiracy-bill.html

To the Editor:

Re “Anti-Conspiracy Bill Advances in Japan” (news article, May 24):

Concluding the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, or Untoc, is a pressing issue for Japan, as we prepare to play host to major events, particularly the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Although Japan signed the convention, domestic laws do not fulfill the obligations of the treaty, impeding Japan from concluding it.

After recent terrorist attacks in Britain, Sweden and Belgium, last week in Sicily the G-7 leaders called for more cooperation to implement international agreements, including Untoc.

Updating domestic laws and concluding the treaty will allow Japan to fill an international legal loophole and contribute to preventing organized crime, including terrorism. Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, has welcomed Japan’s efforts in this regard.

Regarding claims of surveillance fears, the proposed provision criminalizing an act of planning and preparation to commit terrorism and other serious crimes will apply only to “organized criminal groups,” and the listed crimes to which the provision may apply are rigorously limited to those likely to be committed by such groups.

Few other countries limit the scope of the law as strictly as Japan does.

NORIO MARUYAMA, TOKYO

The writer is press secretary for the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

ENDS

===================================
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Japan’s High School Hair Police: Asahi on “Survey: 57% of Tokyo HSs demand hair-color proof”. Still.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Ten years ago I wrote a JT column on Japan’s “Hair Police”, i.e., how Japanese schools force their kids of diverse backgrounds to conform to a Wajin ideal of “black straight hair” imposed by inflexible school rules, and dye their hair black.  It’s recently been revisited by the Asahi and Business Insider.com.

As I wrote back then, the damage to children is both physiological (Google “hair coloring” and “organ damage” and see what reputable sources, such as the American Journal of Epidemiology and the National Institutes of Health, have to say about side effects: lymphatic cancer, cataracts, toxins, burns from ammonium persulfate), and psychological.  And yet it persists.

And not as a fringe-element trend — the majority of Tokyo high schools (the most possibly cosmopolitan of the lot) police hair color.  In any case, woe betide Japan’s Visible Minorities for daring to not “look Japanese” enough.  Here are the two articles, the second of which actually references my old JT column.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

Survey: 57% of Tokyo high schools demand hair-color proof
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN May 1, 2017, courtesy of AT
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705010035.html

Photo: Some Tokyo-run high schools ask guardians to sign and seal a form to verify students’ claims of having naturally light-colored or curly hair. (Ippei Minetoshi)

Nearly 60 percent of public high schools in Tokyo ask students with light-colored hair for proof, such as childhood photos, that these locks are their “real hair,” an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Many schools run by the Tokyo metropolitan government prohibit their students from dyeing or perming their hair as part of the dress code. The system of asking for “proof of real hair” was introduced to prevent schools from scolding or humiliating students whose hair is not naturally black.

The Asahi Shimbun interviewed all 173 full-time high schools run by the Tokyo metropolitan government on whether they ask students to submit forms of “proof of real hair.”

Ninety-eight of the 170 schools that responded to the survey answered “yes,” representing 57 percent of all schools contacted.

At least 19 schools ask their students to submit pictures of themselves as infants or junior high school students to prove the true color of their hair, the survey showed.

“Some students insist that their hair is natural even though it is dyed,” said a teacher at a metropolitan-run school in Setagaya Ward. “We ask their parents to confirm these claims as their responsibility.”

The style of the form varies from school to school. Most schools ask guardians to describe their children’s hair, such as, “My child’s hair is brown,” on the forms. The guardians’ seals are required to validate the information.

The number of students who submit the forms ranges from a few to a few dozen every year at each school.

Many schools hand out forms to new students who appear to have dyed or permed hair at a school information session attended by their guardians before the beginning of the academic year.

The school said the forms are intended to avoid unnecessary problems with the students if they are admitted. But the forms also show that the school is making efforts in providing “non-academic guidance.”

As the nation’s birthrate declines, competition between public schools and private schools to secure enrollees has intensified. Strict discipline can be a strong selling point.

Katsufumi Horikawa, chief of the guidance department at Tokyo’s board of education, said asking for proof of natural hair “is a valid process to prevent mistaken warnings to students (with naturally non-black or curly hair) and making them feel bad.”

However, he expressed concerns that some schools are going too far.

“Photographs are private documents, and extra consideration to protect personal rights is needed,” Horikawa said.

The education board of Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, said it is “aware of the practice at several high schools.” Also in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures said they do not have information about the practice.
ENDS

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

Most Tokyo high schools demand students prove their real hair color, study finds
Business Insider.com, by Chris Weller
May 4, 2017, courtesy of BS
http://www.businessinsider.com/japanese-students-hair-color-2017-5

In the US, dress-code violations might include an offensive t-shirt or a mini skirt. In Japan, a dye job can do you in.

According to a new survey published by Tokyo news outlet The Asahi Shimbun, 57% of public high schools in the city require students to prove that their hair color is natural.

The measure is designed to uphold strict Japanese standards regarding physical appearance: In addition to prohibiting students from perming or dyeing their hair, many Japanese schools mandate crisp, respectable dress and don’t allow overly long or unkempt hair.

According to Asahi Shimbun, 98 of the 170 schools surveyed by the paper had such a policy in place. The number of children who’d been made to prove their hair color was real ranged from a few to a few dozen during the most recent school year.

“Some students insist that their hair is natural even though it is dyed,” one teacher told Asahi Simbun. “We ask their parents to confirm these claims as their responsibility.”

Unlike the US, Japan’s population is fairly homogeneous. As a result, the culture often places a premium on uniformity — even slight deviations from the norm tend to stand out, and provoke criticism in more conservative circles.

Natsuko Fujimaki, a Tokyo-based entrepreneur, says this is where the Japanese concept of majime comes into play. The term refers to a preference for order, tidiness, and often perfectionism. It tracks closely with a desire to stay reserved and sensible in comportment.

“They try to follow the rules for everything,” Fujimkai [sic] tells Business Insider.

In order to prove that a student’s hair is natural, schools will often ask parents to submit childhood photos depicting the kid’s hair color. In less extreme cases, parents only need to verify in writing (with a signature) that their child’s hair hasn’t been treated in any way.

The practice is not new. Even a decade ago, some schools required students to prove they hadn’t dyed or curled their hair. In extreme cases, schools would even require foreign-born students to dye their hair to conform to the rest of the student body as part of a forced assimilation process.

“Every week teachers would check if Nicola was dyeing her hair brown,” a Brazilian-born student named Maria told Japan Times of her sister, Nicola, in 2007. “Even though she said this is her natural color, she was instructed to straighten and dye it black. She did so once a week. But the ordeal traumatized her. She still has a complex about her appearance.”

Hair dye and perms aren’t the only beauty choices subject to Japanese dress-code standards. Many male students can’t wear spiky or messy hairstyles, allow their hair to cover their eyes, or let it grow past their collars. Some schools require female students to pin their hair back “in a way that does not interfere with classroom instruction,” as one school’s code put it.

According to Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s falling birth rate plays a role in these rules. With fewer students to fill the schools, public and private schools have started competing for parents’ attention. One strategy they’ve adopted: Highlight their strict hair policies to show how majime they are about education, in hopes parents will be impressed by the rigor.

Some critics say the requirement that students prove their hair is natural violates their privacy.

Meanwhile, advocates allege it does the students a favor, since one verification process can prevent headmasters from constantly asking whether a child’s hair is real. They say asking for initial proof ends up sparing kids even greater psychological harm.
ENDS

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

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Fukushima Pref Police HQ online poster asking for public vigilantism against “illegal foreign workers, overstayers”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check this notice out, from the Fukushima Prefectural Police HQ:

Courtesy http://www.police.pref.fukushima.jp/i/onegai/jyouhou/gaijin.html
(Love how the link is simply “gaijin.html”.  Nice non-racist computer programmers you got there.)

It reads:

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

PLEASE COOPERATE IN INVESTIGATIONS OF CRIME BY FOREIGNERS COMING TO JAPAN.

Nationwide, there are many cases of things like theft and heinous crimes by foreign muggers coming to Japan. In Fukushima Prefecture as well, the following have occurred:

  • Widespread cases of burglaries targeting [including grammatical error of wo tou wo] precious metal shops.
  • Burglaries at pachinko parlors using body-sensitive machines (taikanki) [whatever those are].
  • Cases of auto break-ins.

ILLUSTRATIONS:  WHAT IS THIS PERSON UP TO?

  • Illustration caption one:  Skulking around vending machines.
  • Illustration caption two:  Looking for anti-theft devices.
  • Illustration caption three:  Peeping around other people’s cars.

If you see or hear about a suspicious person such as this, contact your nearest police station or police box, or call 110 if an emergency.

PLEASE COOPERATE IN UNCOVERING FOREIGN ILLEGAL OVERSTAYS AND ILLEGAL WORKERS.

Illegal entrance to the country of course applies to foreigners who enter the country legally and stay beyond their legal residency period, and if they work under the wrong visa laws.

Employers who also employ foreigners illegally are punishable under the laws.  We ask that employers who employ foreigners follow the laws strictly.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR NEAREST POLICE BOX OR STATION IF YOU DISCOVER ANY FOREIGNER ENTERING THE COUNTRY OR WORKING ILLEGALLY.

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

As submitter XY says, “Not only are they perpetuating the stereotype of NJ being criminals, they’re basically asking the public to act as vigilante immigration officers.”

And there’s a bit more.  Look at the tab for the website above all this:

「ヤミ金融業者に注意!!福島警察本部」, or “Beware of Black Market Financiers!” What’s this got to do with “gaijin”?  Oh, I guess if falls under the “Anti Group-Crimes Policy Section” (soshiki hanzai taisaku ka, see very top of poster), which, according to the National Police Agency, foreigners are allegedly more likely to commit even in “group-oriented Japanese society”.  So I guess the gaijin are somehow also involved in Black Finance as well.

COMMENTS:  Well, let’s put this into context with all the other police posters we’ve been cataloging here at Debito.org for many years.  We’ve had the local police claiming that many crimes have been committed by foreigners in their area (while we’ve found that at in at least one case, despite police claims of “many cases”, crimes committed by foreigners were actually ZERO), and once again demonstrating how enlisting the public in racial profiling is their modus operandi.

In Fukushima Prefecture itself, according to the prefectural government, crime has been going steadily down without fail since 2002 (with no mention of foreign crime in the stats; you can bet that it would have been mentioned if it was significant).  Foreign crime in Fukushima doesn’t even make the top 80% of all foreign crime committed by prefecture in 2011, the year everything went pear-shaped, according to the Ministry of Justice (see page 58).  In the general NPA foreign crime report dated April 2015, Fukushima is only mentioned twice (talking about two individual crimes as case studies illustrative of “what foreign criminals do”), without overall crime breakdown by prefecture. And after a fairly exhaustive search, I can’t find ANY recent official stats on foreign crime in Fukushima, either in terms of numbers or rate of change.  So I think this is probably just another example of the Japanese police manufacturing a fictitious foreign crime wave.

Another comment I’d like to make is about the irony here.  Fukushima has grumbled about how its exiled citizens are being treated as radioactively contaminated pariahs across the country and refused service.  How sad that, despite this experience, the Fukushima Police haven’t learned that you shouldn’t target people this way.  Oh, but then again, they’re only talking about foreigners, and they don’t count:  foreigners shouldn’t be here in our peaceful society anyway if they’re just going to commit crime (or are, incorrectly, rumored to commit crime).  And here is just another example to see how racism is embedded in Japan all over again.  Dr. Debito Arudou

————————–

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NHK repeatedly racially profiles prototypical criminal (the only NJ person in a crowd) on TV program Close-Up Gendai, Apr 5, 2017

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JF has this to report:

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

Date: April 5, 2017
From: JF
Re: Close Up Gendai 4/5 – Bad stereotyping
Hi Debito,

Just watched today’s Close Up Gendai on NHK, [“Can smartphones steal fingerprints? The over-transceiving society has arrived“]. Topic was how biometric data from pictures and security cameras can be used and abused.

While the experts were taking, during the entire program, they kept on showing relevant clips in the background. One of the clips shows how a face recognition system picks a criminal from a group of faces in a public place. Sure enough, among the group of Asian faces, there is one Western-looking foreigner, who happens to be “blacklisted”….

Please see attached picture taken from my TV. As reinforcement of the image linking foreigners to crime, I counted our “blacklisted” gaikokujin friend reappearing on continuous loop 6x, but I may have missed some as I just skimmed it. One in the beginning, two more in-between and the rest in the last 5 minutes when they had the discussion in the studio, including one at the very end.

What does this, on a subconscious level, suggest to the Japanese audience? Not sure if you know somebody at NHK, they should be more sensitive about these things!

When they briefly explained the face recognition system it also picked Japanese faces, but the clip that kept on running in the background only showed the foreigner being selected every single time.
Regards, JF

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

Here’s a link to the program (which even includes the foreign blacklisted person in its signature image:
http://www.nhk.or.jp/gendai/articles/3955/

View the entire program at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx43rQql6-8

COMMENT:  It’s an interesting program in terms of content and execution, but how far the mighty have fallen.  Close-Up Gendai was one of those programs you could count on for at least trying to strike a reasonable balance.  Clearly not anymore.  Especially after the purges of the show to reflect NHK’s hostile takeover by political leaders who explicitly (as a matter of officially-stated policy) can only act as the government’s mouthpiece.

Okay then, if that’s the way you want it.  Here again we have more evidence of latent racial profiling as probable representations of government policy  — NJ are more likely to be criminals (if not terrorists — watch from minute 18:30), all over again.  Beware of them in a crowd!  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

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Kyodo: “Russian’s conviction for handgun possession dismissed”, due to bent J-cops’ “arrest quotas” that illegally entrap NJ

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another case of bent cops in Japan targeting NJ (Want more?  Click here.) even if it means resorting to illegal activities.  Comment follows article:

//////////////////////////
Russian’s conviction for handgun possession thrown out
JAPAN TIMES/KYODO, MAR 7, 2017, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/07/national/crime-legal/russians-conviction-handgun-possession-thrown/

SAPPORO – Following new testimony from a former police inspector about a Russian man who was caught in an illegal police sting operation, a court Tuesday overturned his 1998 conviction for handgun possession.

The Sapporo District Court acquitted former seaman Andrei Novosyolov, 47, who served two years in prison, but did not rule on the legality of the police operation.

Novosyolov was arrested in November 1997 at the port of Otaru in western Hokkaido for possessing a handgun and was found guilty of violating the firearms control law by the district court in August 1998. He had been seeking a retrial, claiming he was the victim of an illegal operation by the Hokkaido police.

Novosyolov’s defense counsel filed for a retrial in September 2013 following new testimony from a former police inspector stating the person who approached Novosyolov about exchanging a used car for a handgun was in fact working for police investigators.

The defense council claimed that Novosyolov was the victim of an “illegal sting operation” by the police and asked the court to make a “bold judgment” on the illegality of the operation in the retrial. Prosecutors had also sought Novosyolov’s acquittal.

The district court approved holding a retrial in March last year, recognizing that the sting operation in Novosyolov’s case was illegal, prompting prosecutors to file an immediate appeal with the Sapporo High Court.

The high court in October rejected the prosecutors’ appeal and called for the retrial to be held on the grounds that police officials at the time made false statements in investigative documents, but it did not rule on the legality of the police operation.

Yoshiaki Inaba, the 63-year-old former police inspector who worked in the Hokkaido police’s firearms control division at the time of his arrest, was arrested in 2002 on suspicion of stimulant drug use, and admitted during his trial that the Hokkaido police had engaged in a sting operation.

“It was a sting operation conducted to aid the police,” Inaba said in a recent interview. “He must have gone through a lot of hardships in prison in a foreign country. I want to apologize to him.”

“His acquittal would lift a great weight from my shoulders,” Inaba added.

At the time of Novosyolov’s arrest, police officers had been assigned a quota to confiscate illegal guns following a series of sniper shootings targeting key figures in Japan.

Police officers instructed an informant to encourage foreigners to bring firearms to Japan as part of efforts to meet the quota. Novosyolov was arrested in the process of exchanging the handgun.

“Me and the organization jumped to grab the opportunity to get the credit,” Inaba said, recalling Novosyolov’s arrest. “I still remember his frightened face at the arrest scene.”

“(My superiors) must have acknowledged that it was an illegal operation. I thought this method was wrong but couldn’t fight back,” Inaba said. “We did many other dirty things and I thought we would have to pay for them someday,” he added.

Inaba said he testified about the police’s sting operation out of his desire to reveal the truth.

Hokkaido police officials declined to comment on the legality of its investigatory method concerning the case. ENDS

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

As submitter JDG put it:

—————————————-

JDG:  It’s NOT the fact that this guy was framed in an illegal entrapment by police and wrongly served 2 years.

No, what is BLOWING MY MIND is that the J-cops;
1. Set quotas for gun related arrests…in ‘safety Japan’, because they claim…
2. There were a series of high profile incidents of sniping at ‘key’ figures! (I never saw ANYTHING about that in the news!). And therefore, to meet the quota…
3. J-police instructed informants to tell NJ to bring guns into Japan, so they could be arrested! Because…
4. Y’know, ‘quotas’ and stuff…err…

Oh, and yeah, let’s not forget;
5. Wrongly imprisoned NJ gets released, BUT why are all these corrupt cops not being prosecuted? Where is the government mandated review of the NPA to stop a BS quota system that engenders abuse?

—————————————-

Let me add a couple of things:

1) As the article alludes, entrapment is illegal in Japan.  Japanese police are not allowed to catch criminals by engaging in criminal activity themselves.  Which is why Japanese doing illegal things overseas act rather indignant (as opposed to penitent) when being caught by, for example, American sting operations.  That’s why this case should have been thrown out of court, at least in Japanese jurisprudence — the ill-gotten evidence was inadmissible.  And doubly so when the cops are pressuring themselves to nail NJ just to fulfill a “quota”.  Triply so when the cop who trapped him and later came clean, Inaba Yoshiaki, was himself a druggie.  (Hokkaido cops are actually pretty famous for being bent, see here and here; and as I discovered for myself here and here.)

2) One detail not properly outlined was the timeline. Novosyolov was arrested in 1997 — nearly twenty years ago — and convicted in 1998.  He served two years in prison.  Yet druggie cop Inaba comes clean in sometime around 2013 and… it takes three more years to spring Novosyolov?  Since he was surely not allowed to leave Japan, where was he for the nearly twenty years?  Languishing in a Gaijin Tank between the ages of 28 and 47?  Bang went the best twenty years of his young life.

And something closer to my heart:

3) This took place in Otaru, my old stomping ground, and the site of the “Japanese Only” racist bathhouses that resulted in the landmark Otaru Onsens Case.  Otaru cops are also rather famous for their arrogance, conducting spot Gaijin Card checks just to alleviate their own boredom (my first one happened there in 1987, shortly after I first arrived), so to me this is all within character.

Congrats to Novosyolov for getting sprung.  But I doubt this will result in any reforms to the system that illegally entraps NJ for sport.  Dr. Debito Arudou
——————————

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Problematic Fukuoka Pref. Police sign warning against “Foreign Travelers in Rental Cars”

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Hi Blog.  Following the “foreign driver” stickers put on cars to stigmatize the NJ tourists (and NJ residents renting cars) in Okinawa and Hokkaido, now we have the Fukuoka Prefectural Police taking it upon themselves to associate bad driving with foreigners.  Based upon one cited accident (Japanese drivers, after all, never have accidents, right?), the police put up a multilingual sign to caution everyone, and apparently teach NJ how to drive all over again.  How presumptuous.  Let’s see what submitter XY has to say:

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

Date: August 22, 2016
From: XY

Hi Dr. Debito,
I am a long-time reader – and very occasional commenter – on your blog. However, this Obon I encountered a sign at a rental car office at Fukuoka Airport that was hard to ignore. The sign is attached.

The multilingual translations of everything BUT the warning up top [which specifically mentions “foreign tourists driving rental cars” (gaikokujin ryokousha no unten suru renta-ka-)] seem quite disengenuous to me, almost as if the intention of the author was to create a literal honne/tatemae on the page:

Tatemae: we want everyone to be safe on the road so we have put these reminders out for everyone’s good, even our foreign guests.

Honne: beware, there are dangerous foreigners on the roads of Kyushu. We are doing our omotenashi to remind them of the “common sense” of driving as you can see below, but you need to be extra alert because there is only so much we can do to control their foreign ways of driving

Not the best vibe to be giving off exactly 4 years before the Tokyo Olympics if you ask me.

By the way, a very cursory web search brought up this article, which I am pretty sure reports on the same accident that the poster describes:
http://qbiz.jp/sp/article/84684/1/

I cannot read to the end without an account, but my initial thoughts are:

– There are assumptions galore. The article mentions police making a poster to warn people of the “prohibited” act of dozing off behind the wheel, imploring them to take rests, etc. Incredibly, it implies that these practices are not common sense for people who are not experienced driving in Japan. This argument might hold a sliver of credibility if there was testimony from the driver proving that one of these factors was a cause of his accident. But the article gives no such proof.

– The article offers many statistics to show that the number of foreigners renting cars has indeed increased. Unfortunately, it does not bother to provide statistics proving that this has resulted in an increase in accidents (above and beyond the normal expected increase with more drivers on the road). Even if they did provide evidence showing an increase in accidents, they would still need to go a step further to show how this is directly related to foreign drivers and not something else (the rapid aging of licensed Japanese drivers, perhaps??).

When you take away the need to consider your foreign audience — this article being designed for domestic consumption only — it seems to me that this is another classic case of the Japanese authorities using foreigners as a punching bag for societal angst.

Cheers, XY

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

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Pacific Affairs journal book review of “Embedded Racism”: “a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan”

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Book Review in Pacific Affairs Journal
http://www.pacificaffairs.ubc.ca/book-reviews/book-reviews-2/forthcoming-book-reviews/ (page down)

EMBEDDED RACISM: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. By Debito Arudou. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. xxvi, 349 pp. (Tables, figures.) US$110.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-4985-1390-6.

Arudou’s book is a timely and important contribution to social and scholarly debates about racial discrimination in Japan. It comes on the heels of both the Japanese government’s 2014 official claim that an anti-racial discrimination law is not necessary (third combined report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [CERD]), and recent developments in Japan that have politicized the issues of dual nationality and hate speech, and even the Miss Universe Japan pageant.

Arudou draws on a quarter-century of research involving personal interviews, action research, and cataloguing, to highlight micro-level observations that illuminate the broader macro-level structural workings of the racialized dimensions of what it means to be “Japanese” in Japan. The contribution of this book is not only in its richness of information, but also in Arudou’s focus on a paradoxical blind spot in both the quotidian status quo understandings of and academic discourses on racialized social dynamics in Japan: the invisibility of visible minorities. Borrowing from Critical Race Theory (CRT), and applying its analytical paradigms present in Whiteness Studies to the case of Japan, Arudou argues that “the same dynamics can be seen in the Japanese example, by substituting ‘White’ with ‘Japanese’” (322-323). He introduces the concept of embedded racism to describe the deeply internalized understandings of “Japaneseness” that structurally permeate the psyche and sociolegal elements of Japanese society, resulting in systemic discriminatory treatments of individuals based on visible differences.

Instead of defining the Self/Other binary in oft-conceptualized terms of citizenship, he uses an original Wajin/non-Wajin heuristic. By original Wajin, he refers to visually identifiable “Japanese” who are members of Japan’s dominant and privileged majority, and for non-Wajin he refers to both invisible (e.g., ethnic minorities who can pass as “Japanese”) and visible (Gaijin, foreigners and naturalized Japanese citizens who do not “look Japanese”) minorities who are not members of Japan’s dominant and privileged majority. He uses this heuristic to parse out the nuanced sociolegal-structural logics that differentiate between not only citizens and non-citizens, but also non-citizens who can phenotypically pass as “Japanese” and citizens who cannot, in which the former is often given preferential sociolegal treatment, and the latter is often subject to overt racial discrimination.

More specifically, the book opens with a theoretical primer on race and the universal processes of racialization and nation-state formation. The author then critiques how studies on Japan often suffer from flawed conceptualizations of foreignness, viewing it as a function of either ethnic differences within the Asian-phenotype community or legal membership status, thereby overlooking overt discrimination against visible minorities that are racial in nature.

The first chapter contextualizes racial discrimination in Japan and explicates Arudou’s usage of the concept of visible minority and his theory of embedded racism in the context of Japan. The second chapter then addresses the historical roots of extant racialized understandings of “Japaneseness” by tracing national self-image narratives that Arudou argues undergird the dynamics of present-day treatments of foreigners in Japan. The next chapter surveys approximately 470 cases of establishments that have engaged in racialized refusals of entry and services and three civil court lawsuits, to demonstrate that “Japaneseness” is determined by racialized paradigms such as physical appearances (37–38).

In chapter 4, Arudou explains how Japanese nationality laws, family and resident registries, and policing regulations/practices constitute the legal underpinnings of the racialized “Japanese” identity, and asserts that Japan’s legal definition of a “Japanese citizen” is closely intertwined with “Japanese bloodlines” (11). The following chapter shifts the focus to how “Japaneseness” is enforced through exclusionary education laws, visa (residence status) regimes, and racial profiling in security policing. This chapter is supplemented with chapter 6, which highlights differential judicial treatments of those who are seen as “Japanese,” and those who are not. Chapter 7 details how media representations of “foreigners” and “Japanese” as well as the criminalization of “foreigners” popularize the racialized narratives of “Japaneseness” established by the processes discussed in chapters 4 to 6.

Chapter 8 shifts gears as Arudou turns his attention to domestic civil society and international criticisms of Japan’s embedded racism, and discusses the government’s passive reactions. Arudou traces the correspondence between the government and the (CERD) before and during its first two CERD report reviews in 2001 and 2010 (but not the most recent CERD review in 2014). Chapter 9 then takes two binaries that can be used to understand how sociolegal distinctions of “Japaneseness” are often made—by nationality (citizen/non-citizen) and by visual identification (Wajin/Gaijin)—and superimposes them to form a heuristic matrix of eleven categories of “Japanese” and “foreigner.” The author thus drives his point across that social privilege and power in Japan are drawn along lines that straddle conceptual understandings of and assumptions about both legal and phenotypical memberships. The book concludes with a final chapter on the implications of embedded racism for Japan’s future as an ageing society, and argues that Japan’s demographic predicament could be mitigated if Japan can begin eliminating its racism to create a more inclusive society for all.

The book does not touch on the voices and local/community advocacy initiatives among and on behalf of visible minorities, and stops short of systematically testing how the proposed heuristic matrix and its combinations of characteristics empirically lead to differential treatment. However, it does cover a lot of ground, and would be of interest to a wide audience, from the casual reader interested in learning about the racial dynamics in Japan, to researchers with area studies interests in Japan and/or substantive field interests in international migration, ethnic and race studies, citizenship and human rights, and advocacy politics at both the domestic and international levels. Arudou argues that Japan’s passive stance to addressing racial discrimination is “the canary in the coal mine” regarding its openness to “outsiders” (xxiii), and by starting this conversation, he addresses “the elephant in the room” that needs to be reckoned with for Japan to navigate its way through its impending demographic challenges.

— Ralph Ittonen Hosoki, University of California, Irvine, USA

Ends


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Japan Times JBC Column 104: The Top Ten Human Rights Events of 2016

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Japan’s human rights issues fared better in 2016
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, Jan 8, 2017, Column 104 for the Community Page

Print version at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/01/08/issues/japans-human-rights-issues-fared-better-2016/

Version with links to sources follows

Welcome back to JBC’s annual countdown of the top issues as they affected Non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. We had some brighter spots this year than in previous years, because Japan’s government has been so embarrassed by hate speech toward Japan’s minorities that they did something about it. Read on:

No. 10)  Government “snitch sites” close down after nearly 12 years

We’ve named and shamed this before (“Downloadable Discrimination,” Zeit Gist, March 30, 2004). From Feb. 16, 2004, Japan’s Immigration Bureau had websites where anyone could anonymously rat on foreigners for any reason whatsoever — including (as a preset option) the xenophobic “repugnance and anxiety” (ken-o fuan). This occasioned calls for abolition from rights groups, including Amnesty International, and government leaders. As the Japan Federation of Bar Associations pointed out in 2005, “The program has ordinary citizens essentially spying on people suspected of being illegal aliens, which serves only to advance prejudice and discrimination toward foreigners.”

Yet Japan’s police “see no evil” when it suits them. According to the Asahi in 2015, the sites were being inundated with hate emails “slandering” Japan’s Zainichi generational Korean community. Immigration suddenly realized that false leads from trolls were a waste of time. Yep, we told you so more than a decade ago. Glad it sunk in.

9 Priyanka Yoshikawa wins Miss World Japan

This year showed us that 2015 was not a fluke. In 2015, multiethnic American-Japanese Ariana Miyamoto won the Miss Universe Japan competition as Japan’s first biracial national beauty queen. In 2016, Indian-Japanese Priyanka Yoshikawa was elected to represent Japan despite protests about whether she is a “real” Japanese. Although these events are cheer-worthy because they demonstrate that “Japaneseness” is not purely a matter of looks, they’re more important because the women’s stories of being “different” have highlighted their struggles for acceptance. When the domestic media bothers to report them, that is.

The discussion has mostly been a shallow one about “looks.” Sadly, this is par for the course. As I said to ABC NewsRadio Australia, “Why do we keep doing these 19th-century rituals? Demeaning women by putting them on a stage, making them do debasing things, and then saying, ‘This is a standard of beauty that is or is not Japanese?’ How about we just call it what it is: incitement to superficial judgment of people not as individuals but by physical appearance?” Progress made, yes, but the real progress will be when beauty pageants stop entirely.

8 Japan’s multiethnic citizens score at 2016 Olympics

Similarly, Japan’s athletes have long been scrutinized for their “foreignness.” If they are “half” or even naturalized, their “foreignness” becomes a factor no matter what.

If they do badly, “It’s the foreigners’ fault.” As seen when Japan’s men’s rugby team lost in 2011 and the nation’s rugby union criticized coach John Kirwan for using “too many foreign players” (including naturalized former NJ). The team was then ethnically cleansed. When multiethnic Japanese figure skaters Chris and Cathy Reed underperformed in 2014, Tokyo 2020 Olympics Chair Yoshiro Mori essentially labeled them leftovers, bashing them (mistakenly) as “naturalized citizens” who couldn’t make the U.S. Team.

But if they do well, they get celebrated. Remember October 2015, when Brave Blossoms, the men’s rugby team, scored an upset over South Africa, and their players’ enhanced physical strength was attributed to their multiethnicity? Suddenly the fact that many players didn’t “look Japanese” (11 were even born outside Japan) was no problem.

Same when Japanese athletes did well in Rio last year. Prominent performances by multiethnic Japanese, including Mashu Baker (Gold in Judo); members of Japan’s Rugby Sevens (the men’s team came in fourth); other members of Japan’s soccer, basketball and athletics teams; and most prominently, runner Asuka Cambridge (who missed out on Gold only to Usain Bolt) made it clear that hybrid Japanese help Japan in sports. If only people would stop putting up the extra hurdle of attributing success or failure to race.

7 Renho Murata takes helm of the Democratic Party

After years of tired leftist politics with stale or uninspiring leaders, last September the main opposition Democratic Party made young and dynamic Taiwanese-Japanese politician Renho Murata its leader. It was the first time a multiethnic Japanese has ever helmed a major party, and immediately there were full-throated doubts about her loyalties. Media and politicos brought up Renho’s alleged ties to untrustworthy China (even though Taiwan and China are different countries; even the Ministry of Justice said that Taiwanese in Japan are not under PRC law), or that she had technically naturalized (Renho was born before Japanese citizenship could legally pass through her mother) but had not renounced her dual citizenship, which wasn’t an issue when she was a Cabinet member, nor when former Peruvian President and dual citizen Alberto Fujimori ran for a Diet seat in 2007 (Zeit Gist, May 5, 2009).

Whatever. Renho has proven herself a charismatic leader with an acerbic wit, ready to ask difficult and pointed questions of decision makers. She famously did so in 2009, during deliberations to fund the “world’s most powerful computer,’ when she asked, “What’s wrong with being number two?” The project still passed, but demanding potential boondoggles justify themselves is an important job. The fact that Renho is not cowed by tough questions herself is good for a country, which with 680,000 Japanese dual citizens deserves fresh unfettered talent with international backgrounds.

6 Abubakar Awudu Suraj case loses once and for all

This has made the JBC annual Top 10 several times, because it’s a test case of accountability when NJ die in official custody. In 2010, Ghanaian visa overstayer Abubakar Awudu Suraj was so “brutally” (according to this newspaper) restrained during deportation that he was asphyxiated. Suraj’s widow, unsuccessfully seeking justice through Japan’s criminal justice system, won civil damages from the Immigration Bureau in a 2014 Tokyo District Court decision. However, last January, the Tokyo High Court overturned this, deciding that the lethal level of physical force was “not illegal” — it was even “necessary” — and concluded that the authorities were “not culpable.” Suraj’s widow took it to the Supreme Court, but the appeal was rejected last November.

Conclusion: Life is cheap in Japan’s Immigration detention systems (Reuters last year reported more NJ deaths in custody due to official negligence). And now our judiciary has spoken: If NJ suffer from a lethal level of force — sorry, are killed by police — nobody is responsible.

5 2016 Upper house elections seal Shinzo Abe’s mandate

Past JBC columns on Japan’s right-wing swing anticipated that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would capitalize on the left’s disarray and take Japan’s imagined community back to an imagined past. Sure enough, winning the Upper House elections last July and solidifying a majority in both houses of Parliament, he accomplished this hat trick. Since then, Abe’s popular support, according to the Asahi, remains at near record-highs (here and here). There’s even talk of changing the rules so he can be PM beyond his mandated five-year term.

That’s it then, really. Everything we feared his administration would do since 2012 is all coming to pass: the dismissing of universal human rights as a “Western concept,” the muzzling and intimidation of the press under a vague state secrets act, the deliberate destabilization of East Asia over petty territorial disputes, the enfranchising of historical denialism through a far-right cabal of elites, the emboldening of domestic xenophobia to accomplish remilitarization, the resurgence of enforced patriotism in Japan’s education system, the further exploitation of foreign workers under an expanded “trainee” program, and the forthcoming fundamental abrogation of Japan’s “Peace Constitution.”

Making Japan “great” again, similar to what’s happening in the United States under President-elect Donald Trump, has been going on for the past four years. With no signs of it abating.

4 Next generation of “Great Gaijin Massacres” loom

In April 2013, Japan’s Labor Contracts Law was amended to state that companies, after five years of continuous contract renewals, must hire their temporary workers as “regular employees” (seishain). Meant to stop employers from hiring people perpetually on insecure contract jobs (“insecure” because employees are easily fired by contract nonrenewal), it is having the opposite effect: Companies are inserting five-year caps in contracts to avoid hiring people for real. Last November, The Japan Times reported on the “Tohoku University job massacre,” where 3,200 contract workers are slated to be fired en masse in 2017.

JBC sees this as yet another “Gaijin as Guinea Pig” scenario (ZG, July 8, 2008). This happened in Japanese academia for generations: Known as “Academic Apartheid,” foreign full-time scholars received perpetual contract employment while Japanese full-time scholars received permanent uncontracted tenure from day one. This unequal status resulted in the “Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-4, where the Ministry of Education (MOE) told National and Public Universities not to renew the contracts of foreigners over the age of 35 as a cost-cutting measure. Then from 1997, the MOE encouraged contract employment be expanded to Japanese full-time educators. From 2018, it will be expanded to the nonacademic private sector. It’s a classic case of Martin Niemoller’s “First they came …” poem: Denying equal rights to part of the population eventually got normalized and applied to everyone.

3 The government surveys NJ discrimination

Japan has been suddenly cognizant of “foreigner discrimination” this year. Not “racial discrimination,” of course, but baby steps. The Asahi kicked things off in January by reporting that 42 percent of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward encountered some form of discrimination, and nearly 52 percent of that was in finding apartments. Glad to have the stats, albeit localized.

Then the Ministry of Justice’s Bureau of Human Rights conducted its first-ever nationwide survey of discrimination toward longer-term NJ residents by mailing them a detailed multilingual survey (available at www.debito.org/?p=14298), asking questions specifically about unequal treatment in housing, employment, education, social situations, etc. It even mentioned the establishment of “laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination against foreigners” (not a law against discrimination by race, natch).

Although this survey is well-intentioned, it still has two big blind spots: It depicted discrimination as 1) due to extranationality, not physical appearance, and 2) done by Japanese people, not the government through systemic racism embedded in Japan’s laws and systems (see my book “Embedded Racism” for more). As such, the survey won’t resolve the root problems fundamental to Japan’s very identity as an ethnostate.

2 Blowback involving NJ tourism and labor

Japan’s oft-touted sense of “selfless hospitality” (omotenashi) is an odd thing. We are seeing designated “foreigner taxis” at Kyoto Station (with a segregated stop), “foreign driver” stickers on Hokkaido and Okinawa rental cars stigmatizing NJ tourists (and NJ residents touring), and media grumblings about ill-mannered Chinese crowding stores, spending scads of money (diddums!) and leaving behind litter. (Japan’s tourist sites were of course sparkling clean before foreigners showed up. Not.)

Then there’s the omnipresent threat of terrorism, depicted for years now by the government as something imported by foreigners into a formerly “safe Japan” (although all terrorist acts so far in Japan have been homegrown). To that end, 2016 was when Japan’s Supreme Court explicitly approved police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion. (What’s next? Surveilling foreign residents due to their extranationality?)

Yet foreigners are a necessary evil. Japan still needs them to do its dirty work in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, fishery and nursing sectors. So this year the foreign “trainee” work program was expanded, along with measures against abuses. About time — bad things, including NJ slavery and child labor have been happening for decades, with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry acknowledging that about 70 percent of employers hiring “trainees” engage in illegal labor practices. Omotenashi has been counterweighted by government-sponsored exploitation of NJ, and now with the upcoming 2020 Olympics, there’s plenty more dirty work out there.

And after all this, 2016 offered one big bright spot:

1 Hate speech law gets passed — and enforced

Japan’s first law protecting “foreigners” from group denigration in public was passed nationwide in May. JBC (Feb. 1) heralded it as a step in the right direction. Critics quickly pointed out its shortcomings: It doesn’t actually ban hate speech, or have penalties for violators, and it only covers people of overseas origin “who live legally in Japan” (meaning “foreigners,” but not all of them). Plus it skirts the issue of racial discrimination, natch.

However, it has had important effects. The law offered a working definition of hate speech and silenced people claiming the “Western construct” of hate speech didn’t exist in Japan. It also gave Japan’s bureaucrats the power to curtail haters. The Mainichi Shimbun reported that this year’s xenophobic rallies, once daily on average somewhere in Japan, had decreased. Rallies also reportedly softened their hateful invective. Since Japan’s outdoor public gatherings need police and community approval (ZG March 4, 2003), even an official frown on hatred can be powerful.

Official frowning spread. The National Police Agency advised prefectural police departments to respond to hate speech demos. A court banned a rally in a Korean area of Kawasaki for “illegal actions that infringe upon the personal rights for leading a personal life.” Another court ordered hate group Zaitokukai to compensate a Zainichi Korean for public slurs against her. Both judges cited the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination, which has been ignored in lawsuits against “Japanese only” establishments.

These are remarkable new outcomes in a society loath to call “No Foreigners Allowed” signs discriminatory, let alone order police to take them down. Progress to build upon.

Bubbling under the top 10

11 Population of registered NJ residents reaches record 2.23 million despite significant decreases in recent years.

12 “Special economic zones” expand to the aging agriculture sector, and want “skilled foreigners” with college degrees and Japanese-language ability to till fields on three-year visas. Seriously.

13 The Nankai Line train conductor who apologized to passengers for “too many foreigners” on an airport-bound train is officially reprimanded, not ignored.

14 Osaka sushi restaurant Ichibazushi, which was bullying foreign customers by deliberately adding too much wasabi, is forced by social media to publicly apologize.

15 Debito.org’s archive of human rights issues in Japan celebrates its 20th Anniversary.

——————–
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Onur on Fukuoka hotel check-ins in: Police creating unlawful “foreign passport check” signs in the name of (and without the knowledge of) local govt. authorities!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Onur, our local watchdog on Japan’s hotel policies towards “foreign guests”, has submitted another report, this time on hotels in Fukuoka.  The last case he submitted exposed how police in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, were deliberately lying about the law to create notices requiring the racial profiling of all “foreigners” at hotel check ins.  Now in Fukuoka the same thing is happening, only worse:  Fukuoka Prefectural Police are creating erroneous signs in the name of local government authorities without the knowledge of those local authorities!

This is odious.  Given the recent Debito.org report about racist check-ins at Sakura Hotel in Jimbocho, Tokyo (done according to the hotel itself “to provide safety for our guests“, whatever that means), and the fact that I uncovered this unlawful practice more than ten years ago in my Japan Times columns (“Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005; “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” JBC, July 6, 2010), it seems the problem is nationwide and systemic.  Our police forces continue to enlist the public in their racial profiling of “foreigners” (whether or not they are tourists or residents of Japan), whether or not the law or the local authorities permit them to. (It doesn’t.)

Read on for Onur’s latest.  Well done.   Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Date: Nov. 17, 2016
From: Onur
Hello Dr. Debito,

I am Onur, who sent the poster that Ibaraki Police distributed to the Hotels. I had a similar experience in Fukuoka. I stayed in S.B Hotel Hamanomachi. I saw the attached poster on the reception desk. I asked permission and took a photo it. It clearly says that they ask every foreigner to present his/her passport.

20161030_175006b

However, I just wrote my Japanese address to guest registration form during check-in and the reception did not ask me to show a passport or a card. The check-in was smooth.

Later I stayed in Hotel New Gaea Hakata-Eki Minami. The reception asked my passport. I said I don’t carry it. Then they asked my residence card. I don’t have to show it but I showed my residence card to reassure them. Then the receptionist took my card and went to another room without saying anything. I was shocked. I asked what are you doing? He said he is copying my residence card. I said no. According to the law as I am a foreigner with an address in Japan, no copying is necessary. Then the receptionist was shocked when I said no. He did not say anything and gave my card back to me.

I decided to solve this problem by contacting the people in charge. At the bottom of the poster, it is written “Health Center in Fukuoka Prefecture and Fukuoka Prefectural Police”. Therefore, first, I went to Central Health Center (中央保健所) in Fukuoka City. I talked with the person in charge for the hotels. He was very friendly and helpful. I showed the poster in the first hotel and told the incident in the second hotel. He said that even though the poster says “Health Center in Fukuoka Prefecture” at the bottom of the poster, the poster is not prepared by the health center and he has never seen this poster before. He said the information in the poster is definitely wrong and the poster may have been prepared by the hotel. He said they will contact to those two hotels and warn them.

Then I went to Fukuoka Prefectural Police Headquarters. I showed the poster and asked to talk with the officer in charge. As the prefectural headquarters is very big, it took a long time to find out the officer in charge. Three officers came. They were friendly and willing to solve the problem. First I showed the poster. They accepted that the police printed the poster and distributed to the all hotels in Fukuoka prefecture. I showed the official announcement of the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry at https://www.city.shinjuku.lg.jp/content/000062471.pdf and said that their poster is clearly different. They were very surprised. It seems that they did not know the details of the hotel law and regulations well. They could not understand what is wrong in their poster. I gave a long speech about the law and the guidelines of the ministry. They finally understood the problem and apologized. They said they will check it in detail and fix the poster.

A few days later I got a phone call from the police. They apologized again. They said they will print a new poster, but it may take a long time to replace all the posters in the prefecture. They said they will ask the hotels to check only the residence card without copying it to verify the address, if the foreigner guest says he has an address in Japan. I said it is wrong again. I said “I called the ministry and they told me that there is no need to check the residence card or passport if a foreigner says he is living in Japan and writes the Japanese address to check-in form. Please call the ministry for the details and follow their guidelines exactly”. Later the Central Health Center in Fukuoka called me. They said they talked with those two hotels and also the police headquarters and warned them about following the rules. They said please call us if you experience such a problem again.

In short, if you experience such a problem in a hotel, I think the best way to solve is to contact the local Health Center, which is the local authority over the hotels, and also the police headquarters if they are involved.

Best Regards,
Onur
ENDS

===========

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Shiki on unlawful and racist check-in practices at “foreigner-friendly” Sakura Hotel Jimbocho, Tokyo

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Turning the keyboard over to someone who had a bad experience at one of the allegedly “foreigner friendly” public accommodations in Japan.  According to Shiki, this hotel is racially profiling its customers in violation of the law and blaming the police for it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

November 6, 2016
Hello Dr. Debito,

My name is Shiki, and I’m a long term resident in Japan, having been living for almost 9 years now, and I’m actually in the process of naturalization.

I wanted to report about the most horrible experience I’ve had in Japan, which happened on October 25, 2016, at a Hotel called “Sakura Hotel Jimbocho“.

I live in Sapporo, and a few weeks ago I was told by my boss that they needed me to go Tokyo in less than a week from that date. I reserved my air ticket, and looked for hotels near where is the Tokyo office of my company.

I looked at many capsule hotels, but since I needed to finish some work before the next day I preferred to get a single room so that I could work in my Notebook, but the problem was that all hotels around that area where more expensive that what the company was willing to cover for my stay.

Then I remembered that near that place, I saw once this “Sakura Hotel”, which even thou I never used any of “Sakura” services, I knew it they offered guest houses and weekly mansions mainly targeted to foreigners, so I just went to their site to see what that place was about, and it appeared to be a normal hotel, mainly targeted to tourists, but they were also offering it as a cheap business hotel for Japanese people. So I took a look at the prices, and it was perfect.

It was a small room, with free wifi, and so close to the office that I could actually just walk to it, and I could arrive late at night to check in (which I needed to), so with no second thoughts I just reserved it.

And this was the time I saw the first red flag of what was about to come. In the registration they asked for my nationality, which is something I’ve never been asked before. And it said that “Foreigners were required to show their passports”, so I looked at this, and saw your posts about the subject, and then I just thought “Thet are just doing this for the tourists”, so I just left the default that was “Japanese” in nationality.

I arrived at the hotel past 11pm, and went to the lobby and it was the usual check-in, until the guy asked me for my passport, to what I just said “I’m not a tourist”, then this guy asked me if I was Japanese, and I told him that no but that I was not a tourist and didn’t even had my passport with me.

So he then started to ask for my Residence Card, and I told him that my Residence Card contained private information, so I was not comfortable showing it, and then the guy, late at night told me that then they could not take me as a guest unless I showed them my residence card.

At that moment I was not sure if it was even legal for them to refuse me service, so I insisted that the whole thing of the passport is supposed to be targeted at tourists who do not have a residence in Japan, and that since I had an actual address in Japan that rule did not apply to me.  Then this guy proceeded to say that it was “hotel policy”, and that if I didn’t wanted to comply with “hotel policy” I was free to search for another hotel.

It was late at night, I’ve searched mant cheap hotels on internet and I knew all of them were full, my phone battery died, so i couldn’t even search anything, so really I was forced to give him my card, which he took a copy witbout my permission, and asked him to destroy the copy, thing he refused to do, and threatened me to “return me my money” if I continued “causing trouble”.

So I got to my room and immediately searched for my legal standing on this matter, and this us when I knew that they cannot refuse me service, so I went down with a copy of the law, and told the guy on the lobby to read it.

He took a look at it, and then told him that it was actually illegal for him to refuse me service, and that I wanted them to destroy the copy of my residence card or that I would sue them.

The first response of this guy was “you are free to do whatever you want”, and then I proceeded to ask for his name, and told him I was going to contact management of the company and tell them what he just said.

The he proceeded to make excuses that he dodn’t knew about the law, that he has to report foreigners to the police, and almost telling me that he was gping to “get scolded” by the police if they saw my name without any ID.

I told him it wasn’t my problem, and that he just needed to show the police that I have an address in Japan. He told me that police was going to scold him for not giving the ID of a foreigner, and when I asked him how would they even know if I’m a foreigner and not of Japanese nationality, he proceeded to make a racist statement about how “He can tell by their face, or their accent”. I told him that was racist and he proceeded to once again threaten me about “returning me my money” even after was I told him.

So I returned to my room, and wrote a mail of what just happened to the management of the hotel.  The next day when I was about to check out, this new guy told me he was in charge of the hotel and that he saw my mail.

He apologized for how the guy last night handled the situation, and then he started to explain me that they have many foreign customers, and because of this they are tightly under the watch of the police, and that ws tbe reaspn for their policy.

I told him that his policy is illegal, since the residence card is contains sensitive information and that they cannot ask and then try to refuse service if I don’t comply.

He told me that they need some kind of identification, and I told them that I was more than happy to give them my identification, but just not my residence card.

He continued trying to justify himself, at one point he even started out of nowhere to speak in broken Spanish (he probably saw in the residence card info I refused to give that I was from a Spanish speaking country, which made me more mad than anything, specially when I was talking with him in Japanese without any problem), and I was running late, so I just told him that I have never been asked by a hotel to provide any extra information outside of my name and address, and he told me that they “may” change their policy.

I’m really considering taking legal action against this company, and I hope this helps to expose this company to their foreign customers, so that next time they want to use their services they are aware that they are a company that racially profiles people and ask them illegally based on this to provide personal information under the illegal threat of refusal of service.

Regards, Shiki.

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

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Japan Center for Michigan Universities: Report and video interview of Muslim Lawyer Hayashi Junko on issues faced by Muslims in Japan (surveillance by police, including of Japanese kith and kin)

mytest

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JCMU Resident Director Benjamin McCracken says:

Dear Debito, Thank you so much for your promotion of this lecture a few weeks back. We had some people come all the way from Tokyo to see it. Amazing! This is a link to an interview I did with Junko before her lecture. We focused on her recent court case finding no constitutional violation for the surveillance of Muslims in Japan. Scary stuff indeed. https://jcmuofficialblog.com/2016/08/08/issues-faced-by-muslims-in-japan/
Please feel free to post the link to Debito.org along with any of the commentary from article on the blog.

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

Excerpt: On July 23, 2016 the Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) in Hikone welcomed Junko Hayashi, Japan’s first female Muslim attorney, to speak about Islam and the issues faced by Muslims in Japan. In a recent court battle, Mrs. Hayashi represented Japanese Muslims that were being observed by the Japanese government for no reason other than the fact that they were Muslims. Their surveillance came to light after information gathered by police was accidentally leaked to the public on the internet. Despite this, Japanese courts ruled that there was no constitutional violation and that the threat of international terrorism outweighed any right to privacy held by the plaintiffs. […]

In the interview, Mrs. Hayashi lamented that “all Muslims are equal to criminal suspects” in Japan. She noted that because of prejudice against practitioners of Islam, she and the rest of the Japanese Muslim community are denied personal and privacy rights enjoyed by most other citizens. “Their rights are violated and they can’t do anything about it,” Mrs. Hayashi explained. The stereotypes of Muslims have little factual support, as no acts of terrorism have been carried out by Muslims in Japan to Mrs. Hayashi’s knowledge. To redress this discrimination and support those affected by the government’s continued surveillance, she hopes to start a human rights organization.

Rest at https://jcmuofficialblog.com/2016/08/08/issues-faced-by-muslims-in-japan/

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

COMMENT: And from this, it’s but a few steps until approving surveillance of Non-Japanese residents as “criminal suspects“. And from that their kith and kin. Japan’s Police State is returning. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Nikkei Asian Review wrongly reports “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports”. Corrected after protest, but misreported text still proliferates

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check this article out, put out by the Nihon Keitai Shinbun (Japan’s WSJ):

/////////////////////////////////////////
Japan to allow fingerprint authorization for visitors
Nikkei Asian Review, July 24, 2016
http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Japan-to-allow-fingerprint-authorization-for-visitors
(Original text below courtesy of http://www.anirudhsethireport.com/japan-allow-fingerprint-authorization-visitors/, and numerous other websites found by Googling the article title, demonstrating how reported misinformation proliferates across the media and becomes the narrative.)

Visitors to Japan will be able to use their fingerprints instead of passports to identify themselves at some hotels thanks to technology introduced by a Tokyo venture.

With financial help from the economy and industry ministry, Liquid will start offering a fingerprint-based authorization system by March in a bid to increase travel convenience. Some 80 hotels and Japanese-style inns in major tourist spots like Hakone and Atami, two hot spring resort areas not far from Tokyo, will be among the first to install the system. More inns and hotels will follow.

The ministry will cover part of the installation costs.

Visitors to Japan can register their fingerprints along with their passport information in their home countries or at registration spots at airports or elsewhere in Japan. Foreign travelers can then identify themselves at a hotel’s front desk by waving their fingers over a contactless device.

Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports. But the economy ministry and the ministry of labor have decided to treat “digital passports” as legitimate alternatives.
/////////////////////////////////////////
ENDS

Debito.org Reader XY found this article and wrote to the Nikkei for a correction. Their response, and his original post, follow:

==================================
From: NAR Customer Support <nar-inquiry@nex.nikkei.co.jp>
Subject: 00004389 – Editorial
Date: August 4, 2016 at 15:23:58 GMT+9
To: XY, XXXX University

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your inquiry. This is Nikkei Asian Review (NAR) Customer Support.

Please find our editorial team’s answer as follows.
Thank you.

Best regards,

Nikkei Asian Review
Customer Support

————————————————————–
Thank you so much. We will check the Ryokan Law and see if we need to change the sentence.
—————————————————————

Your inquiry:
—————————————————————
This article contains an incorrect statement: “Japanese law requires hotels to check and keep copies of foreigners’ passports.” In fact, Japanese law requires hotels to check the passports of foreigners who don’t have an address in Japan:

For details, including a quote of the relevant Japanese law go to

https://www.facebook.com/Kumamotoi/posts/1091156614291103

The most important point is that the law does not apply to all foreigners but to foreign tourists who do not have an address in Japan. This is a matter of concern to many who live in Japan and occasionally are asked for passports based on a misunderstanding of the law. A second point is that keeping copies of passports is not mentioned in the law — it is a directive from the police. The law only calls for keeping records.

Would you consider correcting the article?

XY, XXXX University
==================================

COMMENT: As you can see by following this link to the new article, Nikkei corrected it to remove the last paragraph entirely — and that’s about as close as we’ll ever get to them admitting they made a mistake. But as we’ve written here many times before, the National Police Agency and its branches keep lying about their lawgiven powers regarding tracking foreign guests at Japanese hotels. XY wonders if somebody at the NPA wasn’t involved in creating this misinformed article. It wouldn’t be the first time, and a recent (and very funny) article came out over the weekend describing how the Japanese Police have historically stretched laws to outlaw public behavior they basically just personally disliked. Just another example of how Japan is actually a mild (or sometimes not) police state.  And that’s even before we get to the whole issue of re-fingerprinting NJ and the flawed reasoning behind it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Asahi: Japan’s Supreme Court approves police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion: Next up, surveilling NJ residents due to their extranationality?

mytest

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Hi Blog. Article first, then comment:

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

It’s OK to snoop on Muslims on basis of religion, rules top court
By RYO TAKANO/ Staff Writer
The Asahi Shinbun, August 2, 2016, courtesy of RD
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608020076.html

Muslims can still be monitored in Japan solely based on their religion, while in the United States courts are cracking down on granting such approval.

An appeal by 17 Muslim plaintiffs accusing police of snooping on them was dismissed by the Japanese Supreme Court in late May, which upheld lower court decisions.

The plaintiffs argued that “carrying out surveillance of us on grounds of our religion amounts to discrimination and is a violation of the Constitution” in the lawsuit filed against the Tokyo metropolitan and the central government.

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department had been keeping close tabs on Muslims solely because of their religion, reasoning it was pre-empting possible terrorism.

The tide changed in the United States after the leak in 2013 of global surveillance programs and classified information from the National Security Agency by U.S. computer expert Edward Snowden, said Ben Wizner, attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Snowden, a former CIA employee, revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies had secretly collected personal information and communications from the Internet.

The leak revealed the extent of clandestine surveillance on the public by the government for the first time.

The recent Japanese case came to light in 2010 after 114 articles from internal MPD documents containing personal information on Muslim residents in Japan were leaked online. Data included names, photos, addresses, employers and friends.

The leaked data showed that the documents were compiled in a style of a resume on each individual, along with a record of tailing them.

Compensation of 90 million yen ($874,000) was awarded to the plaintiffs by the Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court, which ruled there was a “flaw in information management.”

However, the plaintiffs appealed because the courts stated “surveillance of Muslims” was “unavoidable” in order to uncover terror plots.

The top court sided with lower court rulings, declaring the surveillance was not unconstitutional. A Moroccan man, one of the 17, said he was upset by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“I am disappointed with the Japanese judiciary,” said the man in his 40s.

He said he was terrified by the sarin gas attack of 1995 on the Tokyo subway system, which he himself experienced. The attack left 13 people dead and thousands injured.

“Has there been a terror attack by Muslims in Japan?” he said. “Surveillance is a breach of human rights.”

After the 9/11 attacks in the United States in 2001, investigative authorities heightened their surveillance of Muslim communities.

But recent U.S. court rulings have seen the judiciary move against the trend.

Two lawsuits were filed in the state of New York and New Jersey after The Associated Press news agency in 2011 reported on the wide-ranging surveillance of Muslim communities in the two states by the New York Police Department.

Last October, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit handed down a decision in favor of the plaintiffs, sending the lawsuit in New Jersey back to the district court for further proceedings.

New York police reached a settlement with plaintiffs in January, banning investigations solely on the basis of religion.

In 2006, the German Constitutional Court delivered a ruling restricting surveillance.

Masanori Naito, a professor of modern Muslim regions at Doshisha University’s Graduate School in Kyoto, blasted the Supreme Court’s decision as a manifestation of its “sheer ignorance” of Islam.

Although Muslims account for more than 20 percent of the global population of 7.3 billion, only a fraction reside in Japan.

“As a result, Japanese tend to think that all Muslims are violent,” he said. “Conducting surveillance will only stir up a feeling of incredulity among Muslims and backfire. What police should do is to enhance their understanding of Muslim communities and make an effort to gather information.”
ENDS

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

COMMENTS:

MAYes, I remember how it was a Muslim who slashed forty throats in the night last week…no, wait, that was a Japanese lunatic with no religion…I got it, it was a Muslim who attacked people in [Akihabara] with knives…no, not Muslim…OK, it was a Muslim who killed several elementary school children in ….no, hang on, not Muslim…

Debito:  The obvious extension of this legitimization of racial profiling (defined as using a process of differentiation, othering, and subordination to target a people in Japan; it does not have to rely on phenotypical “looks”) is that for “national security reasons” the next step is to target and snoop on all foreign residents in Japan.  Because they might be terrorists.  The National Police Agency et al. have already been justifying the targeting of NJ as terrorists (not to mention as criminals, “illegal overstayers“, holders of “foreign DNA”, and carriers of contagious diseases).  And Japan’s Supreme Court has now effectively given the green light to that too.  The noose further tightens around NJ residents in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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Shibuya Police asking local “minpaku” Airbnb renters to report their foreign lodgers “to avoid Olympic terrorism”. Comes with racialized illustrations

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Hi Blog. Buzzfeed News’s Hatachi Kouta wrote up a report dated June 26, 2016, where he found the following Shibuya Police poster in a residential area:

Courtesy of Hatachi Kouta of Buzzfeed.
Courtesy of Hatachi Kouta of Buzzfeed.

The poster reads:

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

WE ARE ASKING FOR INFORMATION FROM MINPAKU HOSTELERS

“Minpaku” is defined as the service of offering paid accommodation using empty rooms etc. from individual homes.

To prevent terrorism and for the success of the Olympics, we need information from everyone.

We are especially asking for information from individually-standing homes doing Minpaku.

Please call the Shibuya Police Department, Head of Crime Prevention, at 3498-0110 ext 2612.

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

That’s the literal translation of the text.  Note how there is no reference whatsoever textually about foreigners.  However, contextually, in the margins there are illustrations of eight racialized “foreigners” of ostensibly European, African, and Middle-Eastern extractions complete with differentiated eye color, hair color, skin color, and facial hair.  Note how there is no representation of “Asian” foreigners, even though they make up the majority of Japan’s tourists.  I guess they’re not the type that Shinjuku cops are looking for.

My comments about this are seasoned to the point of predictably:  1) Once again, Japan’s police are using racial profiling to determine who is a foreigner as well as a terrorist.  2) Japan’s police are rallying the public to do their bidding on unlawful activities (i.e., scaring them with the threat of terrorism into reporting their foreign lodgers to the police, which neither minpaku nor actual hotels are required to do).  3) The use and proliferation of racialized caricature seems to be normalized standard operating procedure with Japan’s police.  (Why not?  Nobody’s going to stop them when they keep Japan’s public constantly afraid of foreigners to the point of normalized targeting.)  And 4), as I have written before, Japan is not mature enough as a society to host these international events, for the National Police Agency whips everyone up into a frenzy about foreign crime, hooliganism, and/or terrorism.  And then the NPA uses the events to clamp down on civil liberties for everyone.  Thus there is insufficient check and balance to keep these bunker-mentality bureaucrats from exaggerating their mandate.

The Tokyo Olympics are still more than 4 years away.  Expect even more of this embedded racism to surface into full-blown state-sponsored xenophobia in the meantime.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS:  The Buzzfeed article in itself is interesting, as the author tries to hold the Shibuya Police accountable for their poster, and (citing inter alia his lack of membership in the Press Club) they evaded answering written questions about the poster’s contents, intent, or how it reflects police attitudes or official policy towards foreigners.  (As they did with me here when they were taking urine samples for drug tests only from foreign-looking customers on the streets in Roppongi back in 2009.)  According to the article, Shibuya Police also denied any ill-will towards foreigners, claiming that the foreign caricatures appeared “so foreigners can also have more relaxed stays too” (gaikokujin no katagata mo, anshin shite taizai shite itadaku shushi de, gaikokujin fuu no irasuto o mochiita mono).  Oh, so being racially profiled is for NJs’ own peace of mind?  Makes perfect sense — in NPA Bizzarroworld.

Read the article for yourself here.

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

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Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 98, “Ibaraki Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth”, June 6, 2016 (UPDATED with links to sources)

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Police still unfettered by the law, or the truth
Repeat-offender Ibaraki force called to account for backsliding on the issue of hotel snooping
By Debito Arudou.  Column 98 for The Japan Times Community Page, June 6, 2016 Version updated with links to sources.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/06/05/issues/japans-police-still-unfettered-law-truth/

Japan’s police are at it again: Lying about the law.

A reader with the pseudonym Onur recently wrote to me about his experience in the city of Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, when he checked into a hotel. Even though Onur clearly indicated he was a legal resident of Japan with a domestic address, clerks demanded he present his passport for photocopying. They pointed to a sign issued by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police.

IbarakipolicehotelposterApr2016
But that poster has three great big stripy lies: 1) “Every foreign guest must present their passport” 2) “which must be photocopied” 3) “under the Hotel Business Law” — which states none of these things. Not to mention that Japan’s registered foreign residents are not required to carry around passports anyway.

What’s particularly egregious about this sign is that the Japanese police know better — because we told them so a decade ago.

The Japan Times first exposed how police were stretching their mandate in “Creating laws out of thin air,” Zeit Gist, March 8, 2005, and, later, two updates: “Ministry missive wrecks reception,” ZG, Oct. 18, 2005, and “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Just Be Cause, July 6,2010.

It made an impact. Even the usually noncommittal U.S. Embassy took action, posting in their American Community Update of May 2005:

“After we sought clarification, according to the Environmental Health Division, Health Service Bureau, Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the new registration procedure at lodging facilities does not apply to foreigners who are residents of Japan but only to tourists and temporary visitors. If you write a Japanese address on the check-in sheet, hotels are not supposed to ask for your passport.”

Right. So why do the Ibaraki police still feel they can lie about the laws they are entrusted to uphold?

Because … Ibaraki. I’ll get to that shortly…

But back to Onur, who also took action. He stayed an extra day in Mito and raised the issue with local authorities:

“I went to Mito City Public Health Department (Hokensho), who were very helpful, and confirmed that as a resident I need not show ID at hotels. Then I showed them the poster from the Ibaraki police department. Surprised, they said they had never seen this poster before, and the police had not contacted them about it. They said it is clearly different from the real law, especially the bit about ‘every foreign guest.’

“The Hokensho added that the police have become stricter because of the G-7 (Ise-Shima) summit and 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They said they would check the hotel and inform me of the result.”

But Onur wasn’t done yet: “Then I talked with two officers at the Mito City Police Department’s Security Division. They listened without making any comments. I showed them an official announcement from the Health Ministry and said that their poster is clearly different.

“The police read the ministry announcement and took notes like they were unaware of the law, asking questions like ‘Do the other hotels in other parts of Japan ask for your ID card?’ and ‘Isn’t checking the ID card necessary to confirm that a foreigner really has an address in Japan?’ I offered the contact number at Health Ministry for more information, but they said it wasn’t necessary. Finally, I asked them to fix their poster. They said they would check the law and behave accordingly.”

Shortly afterwards, Onur got a call from the Hokensho: “They checked my hotel and saw the poster was now changed. It seems the Ibaraki police had printed a new one and distributed it to all hotels within a few hours! The Hokensho said the new poster clearly states ‘foreign nationals who do not possess an address in Japan,’ which follows regulations. They said the police warned the hotel not to make the same mistake again. Finally, they thanked me for informing them about this problem.”

Well done. It’s satisfying to have others retrace our steps and get even better results. It’s just a shame that he should have to.

However, two issues still niggle. One is that photocopying requirement, which, according to The Japan Times’ own legal columnist, Colin P. A. Jones, may also be questionable:

“According to the Personal Information Protection Act (Kojin Joho Hogo Ho), the hotel should explain to you why they are collecting personal information from you, which is what they are doing if they take a copy of your passport,” Jones said in an email. “So if they can confirm that you are a resident of Japan by looking at your residence card or driver’s license, they do not need to take a copy because they have confirmed that the Hotel Act no longer applies. If they take a copy they are collecting personal information beyond what is necessary for the expressed purpose. In my experience, once you point this out, hotel staff then start mumbling about ‘their policies,’ but of course those don’t trump the law.”

Second issue: Ibaraki.

Ibaraki is where cops take local grumps seriously when they report a “suspicious foreigner” standing near JR Ushiku Station — seriously enough to arrest him on Aug. 13, 2014, for not carrying his “gaijin card.” Well, that “foreigner” turned out to be a Japanese, and Japanese are not required to carry ID. Whoops.

Ibaraki is also the site of a mysterious and under-reported knife attack on Chinese “trainee” laborers (the Japan Times, Feb. 23, 2015), which resulted in an as-yet-unresolved[*] murder. (Funny that. Imagine the media outcry if foreigners had knifed Japanese!)

Do Ibaraki police have anything to do with this? Actually, yes.

Ibaraki police have posted in public places some of Japan’s most militantly anti-foreign posters. I mean this literally: Since 2008, at least three different versions have depicted cops, bedecked in paramilitary weaponry, physically subduing foreigners. The slogan: “Protect (Japan) by heading (foreigners) off at the shores.”

Ibaraki police have also offered the public online information about “foreign crime infrastructure,” as if it’s somehow separate from or more ominous than the yakuza. They claim that foreigners are responsible for drugs, illegal medical activities, underground taxis, false IDs — and paternity scams to get Japanese citizenship. And, conveniently, the National Police Agency argued within its 2010 white paper that foreign crime infrastructure “cannot be grasped through statistics” (see “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism,” JBC, July 8, 2013). It’s enough to make the public paranoid.

And Ibaraki is a strange place for such militancy. It does not have a particularly high concentration of foreigners. Except for, of course, those behind bars at Ibaraki’s Ushiku Detention Center.

Japan’s infamous immigration detention centers, or “gaijin tanks,” are where foreign visa overstayers and asylum seekers are left to rot indefinitely in what Amnesty International in 2002 called “secret detention facilities.” Gaijin tanks don’t get the oversight governing Japan’s prisons because the former do not officially qualify as “prisons.” They’re pretty bad places to be.

And Ushiku’s gaijin tank is notoriously bad. It has made headlines over the past decade for drugging and subjecting detainees to conditions so horrendous that they have gone on hunger strikes, committed suicide or died having received improper medical care and under other mysterious circumstances.

Therein lies the point I keep banging on about in this column: What happens when racial discrimination is left unrestrained by laws? It just gets normalized and embedded.

Treating people badly without official checks and balances eventually makes abuse tolerated and ignored — like background radiation. And, fueled by the innate fear of The Outsider, the abuses just get worse and worse. Because they can.

In this case, the unfettered xenophobia radiating from the Ushiku Detention Center, Ibaraki’s fast-breeder reactor of foreigner dehumanization and abuse, has clearly corroded Ibaraki police’s judgment — to the point where they feel they can outright lie about the laws they are supposed to enforce, and have their propaganda irradiate hotels, street-corner busybodies and the general public.

It’s time for people to realize that Japanese police’s free rein to maintain our allegedly “safe society” has limits. For officially treating an entire people as potentially “unsafe” is dangerous in itself.

Ibaraki Prefecture thus offers a fascinating case study. Of what happens to a neighborhood when xenophobia goes beyond the occasional international summit or sports event, and becomes regularized into official extralegal standard operating procedure.

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

Debito’s latest project is the mockumentary film “Go! Go! Second Time Gaijin,” which is now being funded on Kickstarter. Twitter @arudoudebito. Send all your comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

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

[*]  Correction:  According to Chinese media translated into Japanese, the abovementioned knife attack and murder of Chinese “Trainees” has resulted in the arrest of 5 Vietnamese nationals:

日本の中国人技能実習生、ベトナム人5人に包丁で襲われ1人死亡1人負傷=茨城県警察は殺人と殺人未遂容疑で逮捕―中国紙
http://www.recordchina.co.jp/a114724.html

2015年7月23日、人民日報(電子版)は日本の報道を引用し、中国人技能実習生を殺害したとして、茨城県警察が殺人と殺人未遂の容疑でベトナム人5人を逮捕したと伝えた。

警察によると、今年2月22日午後9時40分ごろ、当時農業技能実習生だった中国人の孫文君(スン・ウェンジュン)さん(33)は茨城県鉾田市の路上を同僚と歩いていた際、包丁を持ったベトナム人の男女5人に襲われた。

これにより孫さんは死亡し、もう1人の中国人技能実習生も負傷した。その後の調査で、ベトナム人男女らの中には元農業技能実習生もおり、警察は動機などについて調べを進めている。(翻訳・編集/内山)ENDS

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Telegraph: Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash; another case of Gaijin as Guinea Pig

mytest

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Hi Blog. First the article, then some commentary:

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash
The system aims to make shopping and checking into hotels more convenient for overseas visitors
The Telegraph, by Danielle Demetriou, Tokyo 11 APRIL 2016 • 9:20AM Courtesy of JK and BB
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/11/tourists-in-japan-to-use-fingerprints-as-currency/

Visitors to Japan may soon be able to forget the hassle of having to change money – with the launch of a new system enabling fingerprints to be used as currency.

The system, which will launch this summer, aims to make shopping and checking into hotels faster and more convenient for overseas visitors, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.

It will involve foreign visitors first registering their details, including fingerprints and credit card information, in airports or other convenient public locations.

The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists.

Registered tourists will then be able to buy products, with taxes automatically deducted, from select stores by placing two fingers on a small fingerprint-reading device.

The fingerprint system will also be used as a speedy substitute for presenting passports when checking into hotels, which is currently a legal obligation for overseas tourists, according to reports.

In its first test phase, the project will involve 300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments frequented by tourists in popular destinations including the mountainous hot spring resort area Hakone and the coastal town Kamakura.

The fingerprint experiment is part of a wider effort by the Japanese government to encourage visitors from overseas to visit the capital in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Officials are hoping to launch the system throughout the country – including Tokyo – by 2020, with as many as 40 million overseas annual visitors expected by that year.

The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists, with anonymous data to be managed by a government-led consultative body.

The data obtained from the project will be used to help government officials create effective tourism management policies, according to Yomiuri.

One concern among officials, however, is that some tourists may be reluctant to provide fingerprint information voluntarily due to fears relating to privacy issues.

Fingerprint as payment

Biometrics – using your body to as an alternative to passwords – are on the rise. In February, Mastercard confirmed it would accept selfies and fingerprints instead of account passwords in the UK.

Several mobile wallets already use fingerprints as a way to authenticate payment. Registering debit or credit cards to an Apple Pay-compatible iPhone allows users to make payments or transactions by pressing a thumb or finger to the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the home button to verify their identity.

Customers can also use it to travel around London’s TfL networks.

Samsung Pay and Android Pay have also started to let consumers pay for things using the fingerprint scanner.

How secure are fingerprints?

In the case of mobile payments, the smartphone maker, such as Apple, does not store your card numbers on the device you’re using for Apple Pay, nor on their servers. Instead, when a card is added, a unique Device Account Number is created and encrypted. This number is stored in a chip within your device called the secure Element.

When you go to make a transaction, the Device Account Number is matched with a dynamic security code unique to that specific payment, which is then processed.

If your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch is lost or stolen, you can suspend Apple Pay remotely or wipe it fully using Find My iPhone.

Fingerprints, like any other security measure, can be spoofed. In fact, researchers have claimed they have hacked a Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Huawei Honor 7 phone by taking a photo of someone’s finger and printing it out with special ink. The other problem is you have only 10 fingerprints – and they can never be changed. [Really? — Ed.]

However it is still considerably more difficult to steal and reproduce a fingerprint than to brute-force guess a password or a pin. Perhaps the most secure approach is to have a two-step authentication system that includes both a password and a fingerprint.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  This article seems a bit too much in thrall to the possibilities of the new technology to pay sufficient attention to the possible abuses of fingerprinting (and no attention to the history of fingerprinting in Japan in particular).  Culturally speaking, fingerprinting in Japan is associated with criminal activity, which is why so many Japanese (and let alone other NJ and Zainichi Korean minorities) are reluctant to have their fingerprints taken (let alone be forced to carry ID) and stored in a leaky government database.  That’s why once again, the Gaijin as Guinea Pig phenomenon is kicking in — where it’s the powerless people in a society who are having government designs for social control being foisted upon them first, before it gets suggested as policy for the rest of the population.

The point is that Japan has long been trying to find ways to track their Gaijin population best (and has managed it with new remotely-trackable RFID-chipped Gaijin Cards).  It is merely expanding upon their reinstitution of border fingerprinting for foreigners only in 2007 that was once seen as a “violation of human rights” barely ten years earlier.  They’ve got all these Gaijin fingerprints from the border.  Why not use them and not only track their whereabouts but also what they do with their money and time?  Once there is enough data for the government to claim, “It’s convenient.  It’s precedented.  It’s safely stored.  And it’s going to make us No. 1 again in something technological,” then watch as public policy switches to suggest it for everyone else in Japan.  Japan’s control-freak bureaucracy will settle for nothing less than as much information and control over its people as possible.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

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YouTube video of Tokyo Police using excessive force to subdue a Non-Japanese in public

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Check this out:

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

Al:  Hi Debito, In the wake of the case of Mr. Suraj, the Ghanian who was killed by Japanese immigration during a botched deportation, I’d like to share a video of clear use-of-excessive-force by Tokyo police on NJ:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee6eV2dMo4w

Though we don’t know what the NJ did or how they took him to the ground, clearly he is already on the ground, subdued with 3 officers on top of him. The disturbing part is the officer who is sitting on his lower back, applying unnecessary and excessive pressure to bend his spine. Why was this necessary?? He’s already on the ground, with his hands behind his back, and poses no threat to any of the officers.

He’s clearly in a lot of pain, which shows in his voice. The officer sitting on his lower back could have simply just pinned his legs to the ground rather than bending his spine the way he does in the video. The officers are from Tokyo as can be seen by the 「警視庁」emblem on their uniforms.

Please get this video out as it is a disturbing case of excessive use-of-force on an NJ. Additionally, I find that use-of-force by Japanese police tends to be very arbitrary, without any clear goal or regulating doctrine. I myself have had my arms grabbed and pulled out of a department store for an ID check. Thanks, Al

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

COMMENT: Do people still doubt the Japanese police are incapable of breaking a NJ’s leg while subduing him? Or in the UG Valentine Case, crippling him for life?  Are they trying out a new technique to see if NJ can withstand more pain than average?  Or are they using actual police training, which has resulted in the mysterious death of at least one NJ in Tokyo and at least five more between 2014-2015.  Maybe these other NJ deaths are less mysterious now too.

Somebody please feel free to make a copy of the video for us before it disappears and send to debito@debito.org.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS: Although we have some bystanders repeatedly telling the police they’re overdoing it, I find it especially chilling how one unempathetic person starts calling it “revenge”?

Stigmatization thru “foreign driver stickers”: First Okinawa, now Hokkaido (Mainichi Shinbun)

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Hi Blog.  Check this out:
Hokkaido creates car stickers for foreign rent-a-car drivers
April 16, 2016 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160416/p2a/00m/0na/005000c

HokkaidoForeignDriverSticker2016
A sticker for foreign people using rent-a-cars, created by the Hokkaido Prefectural Government. (Mainichi)

The Hokkaido Prefectural Government has prepared 2,500 stickers for use by foreigners driving rent-a-cars, in order to identify them to other drivers and prepare against on-the-road trouble.

The stickers, which read “A person from a foreign country is driving,” were distributed to rent-a-car companies in Hokkaido. In fiscal 2014, around 24,000 rent-a-cars were used by foreign tourists, around 14,000 more than in fiscal 2012. Accidents and driver arguments are expected, so the stickers were created to warn other drivers, similar to stickers for new drivers.

The magnetic stickers are 14.5 centimeters square and carry Hokkaido’s tourism character “Kyun-chan,” a Japanese pika. A prefectural government official says, “When people see (a car with the sticker), we want them to act kindly.”
ENDS

Japanese version
外国人観光客
レンタカー利用でステッカー 北海道
毎日新聞2016年4月7日 20時01分(最終更新 4月7日 22時35分)
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20160408/k00/00m/040/051000c

外国人運転の車に配慮してもらおうと、北海道は、「外国の方が運転しています」とメッセージを記載したマグネット式ステッカー2500枚を作製し、道内レンタカー会社に配布した。

外国人観光客のレンタカー利用は2014年度で約2万4000台に上り、12年度より約1万4000台増。事故やトラブルも予想され、初心運転者向けの「若葉マーク」のようにアピールすることにした。

ステッカーは14.5センチ四方で、北海道観光のPRキャラクター「キュンちゃん」(エゾナキウサギ)のイラスト入り。担当者は「うさぎを見たら、温かく見守ってほしい」。【一條優太】
ENDS

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SUBMITTER JK COMMENTS:  Hi Debito.  “Friendly Driving”…um…right…more like 注意:外人の運転手だよ!

I wonder how MOFA would react if, oh I dunno, rent-a-car companies in Hawaii started issuing stickers for Japanese drivers stating “A person from Japan is driving”, in order to “identify them to other drivers and prepare against on-the-road trouble” because after all, “accidents and driver arguments are expected”.

DEBITO COMMENTS:  It would seem that the Japanese reflex of pointing out differences over similarities (a byproduct of the quest to keep Japan “unique” in the world narrative) has created perennial blind spots towards the effects of “stigmatization”.  That is to say, if you keep pointing out how different a group of people is (in this case, “foreign drivers”, even if you say you are doing it “out of kindness”), it still differentiates and “others” people — with the inevitable subordinating presumption that foreign drivers are somehow more prone to accidents, need to be taken notice of, or treated with special care.  Why else would the public be notified (if not warned) that a foreign driver is present?

Shoe on the other foot:  How would people like it if females behind the wheel had to bear a “women driver” sticker?  What if the “foreign driver” (for example, somebody who has been driving in Japan not as a tourist for years, or on the British side of the road the same as Japan?) would rather opt out of all the special attention?  And what of the Japanese tourists from the metropolises who are “paper drivers” and probably have much less road experience than average compared to any motorized society in the world?  Let’s see how a “tourist driver” sticker (slapped on Japanese drivers too) would fare.

This sticker is, to put it bluntly in Japanese, 有り難迷惑 (arigata meiwaku), or “kindness” to the point of being a nuisance.   And it is not even the first “foreign driver” sticker Debito.org has heard of — last October we reported on similar stickers in Okinawa with the same purpose:

OkinawaGaikokujinDriverstickerOct2015

For more on Japan’s poor history of stigmatization of “foreigners” in the name of “kindness”, see Embedded Racism pp. 21-8, 94, and 281-282.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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