Kyodo: “Overseas work, study seen as negative point for hiring anyone handling state secrets” Such as multiethnic Japanese?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Continuing with this month’s theme of how a reactionary-nationalist Japan will treat its NJ and Visible Minorities in future, the article below is very indicative.  Although I did refer to it in my end-year JT roundup of Japan’s Top Ten Human Rights Issues for 2014, somehow it escaped being properly put on Debito.org as a single blog entry.  So here it is:  people with connections abroad will be considered a security risk and potentially be excluded from pubic service.  No doubt that will include Japanese citizens with NJ roots.  This is, in a word, odious.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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NATIONAL
Overseas work, study seen as negative point for anyone handling state secrets
KYODO DEC 8, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/08/national/overseas-work-study-seen-negative-point-anyone-handling-state-secrets/

The Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office has warned government offices before the new state secrecy law takes effect Wednesday that people who have studied or worked abroad have a higher risk of leaking secrets.

According to the 2011 documents obtained at the request of Kyodo News, the Cabinet Secretariat, the office that will supervise the controversial law with tougher penalties for leaking state secrets, pointed to the need to check educational and employment records in examining which public servants are deemed eligible to handle sensitive information.

Under the secrecy law, which was enacted in December last year, civil servants and others who leak sensitive information on foreign policy, defense, counterterrorism and counterespionage face up to 10 years in prison.

The legislation has drawn criticism over the possibility of arbitrary classification of state secrets that will undermine the people’s right to information.

The government plans to screen those who may be given access to state secrets, including public servants and defense industry workers.

Their background, links to spying or terrorism, mental condition, criminal records, drug use, drinking habits and debts will be checked. Only those who are believed to have no risk of leaking secrets will be approved to handle classified information.

Those being vetted will be asked about their educational history from high school and employment record over the past 10 years.

The documents presented by the intelligence and research office at a meeting with other government bodies in November 2011 state that the experience of attending schools overseas or foreign schools in Japan as well as working abroad or working for foreign companies “could be an opportunity to nurture a special feeling about foreign countries.”

The papers said such people “tend to be influenced by” approaches from foreign countries and there is a “risk” that they “prioritize the benefits of foreign countries and voluntarily leak secrets.”

The office of the Cabinet Secretariat said that academic and employment backgrounds are just “one of the check points” and will not solely decide who is deemed capable of dealing with classified information.

The office said the view of overseas experience was presented as part of a free exchange of opinions with other government entities to create an effective system to control state secrets.

Masahiro Usaki, a professor at Dokkyo Law School who is familiar with the secrecy law, said that “the government has been encouraging young people to go abroad amid the trend of globalization. So it doesn’t make sense that it will now judge (overseas experience) as a negative factor.”

“From the viewpoint of the right to privacy, research (on people’s background) should be minimum,” Usaki added, adding that checking only final educational status would be sufficient. He also said the period of 10 years covering past employment records is too long.

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Honolulu Weekly Feb 9 1994: “Prints of Darkness”: Ronald Fujiyoshi, Hawaiian fighter of GOJ fingerprinting of NJ, 20 years ago says prescient things about future Japan

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Sorry for the delay — latest book revisions taking up a lot of time.  I thought we’d go back to the archives today and look at a twenty-year-old article that appeared in Honolulu’s late, great alternative newspaper (which folded only recently), that has as much to say about the present situation of human rights for NJ residents of Japan as it did when it came out about a generation ago.  In retrospect, it’s amazing how little has changed. Have a read.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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PRINTS OF DARKNESS

When civil-rights activist/missionary Ronald Fujiyoshi refused to be fingerprinted in compliance with Japan’s Alien Registration Law in 1981, he launched a personal attack on the Japanese government which still hasn’t ended.  

February 9, 1994. Honolulu Weekly magazine, by David Flack

For Ronald Fujiyoshi, the Japanese government’s abusive fingerprinting requirement for foreign residents is only part of a vast matrix of institutionalized racial discrimination and totalitarian social control.

PHOTO: Fujiyoshi holds a press conference during his 25-day hunger strike.

Perhaps few people in Hawaii are watching Japan as closely as Ronald Fujiyoshi. His primary interest is the way the new government is officially dealing with racism. On this issue Fujiyoshi is fervently and outspokenly critical of Japan, and he speaks from experience. Living there for 15 years, working as a missionary in Osaka in the Korean-Japanese community, he engaged in an act of civil disobedience when he refused to be fingerprinted — as all foreign residents were then required by the government to do. Compelled to leave Japan in 1988, he is allowed to return only to attend court hearings for his trial, which is still in progress.

Last summer Japan embarked on what may be its most important transition period in recent history. Fed up with the “business as usual” tactics that have led to rampant corruption in Japan’s political circles for the last several years, on July 18 the country’s voters deprived the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of its majority in the Japanese Diet for the first time since World War II. The resulting coalition, a curious collection of opposition parties from both the left and right of the political spectrum, took the helm of the world’s second largest economy with little more than high hopes as its guide. Many experts predict the alliance’s demise before the end of 1994.

Fujiyoshi is keeping his fingers crossed that real change is in the air. After waging his own personal battle against the Japanese government for the greater part of the last two decades, the 53-year-old Hilo resident is hopeful that the recent change in government is a sign that the Japanese people have at last begun to fight back against what he contends is a sinister system which has been unjustly subjugating them for centuries.

Fujiyoshi’s personal beef is Japan’s latent racism, which he maintains is knowingly cultivated by the country’s ruling circles in order to foster an “us vs. them” mentality. Japan’s alien-registration laws are widely known to be among the most rigid and strictly enforced in the world. It has long been a complaint among non-Japanese immigrants in Japan that the laws are also part of a greater government scheme to prevent them from feeling completely at ease in their adopted homeland, withhold full citizenship rights and relegate them to positions of permanent underclass status in the overall economic tapestry of the nation.

Especially onerous to Fujiyoshi was the Japanese government’s longstanding policy of insisting that all foreign residents and criminal suspects in Japan submit fingerprints for identification purposes.

Being grouped with criminals and thus treated as undesirables created acute resentment in the Korean-Japanese community, over 700,000 strong and representing roughly four out of five of Japan’s foreign residents. Many of them have lived in Japan for several generations; their relatives were originally brought there forcibly during World War II as military conscripts or factory workers. They are still treated as outsiders, and their “alien” status frequently denies them jobs, housing and scholarships. Fujiyoshi contends that the fingerprint policy is both unconstitutional by Japan’s own admitted standards and an abhorrent violation of the United Nations International Covenant of Human Rights, to which Japan is a signatory.

Bowing to pressure which Fujiyoshi helped to apply, the Japanese Diet finally dropped the controversial fingerprinting clause for those non-Japanese who were bom and raised in Japan.

Despite being widely recognized as a front man for the grass-roots movement to have the law overturned, Fujiyoshi is hesitant to claim much credit personally for the Diet’s decision to repeal the statute. “You must remember that I was not the only person who refused to be fingerprinted,” he says. “Since 1980 nearly 15,000 people have done it.” Neither was he the first to disobey the law; several Japanese of Korean ancestry preceeded him. Most will agree, however, that among those who did protest, Fujiyoshi was certainly among the most energetic — and, as a result, emerged as a leader and spokesman for the movement.

Fujiyoshi has long been involved with civil rights. Bom in Los Angeles and raised on Kauai, he moved to the Big Island with his family when his father was transferred to Hilo by his chuch. As a young man in his 20s, Fujiyoshi left Hawaii in 1963 to attend the Chicago Theological Seminary, the same institution that Jesse Jackson would join a year later. The two became good friends; Jackson visited him in Japan in 1986. Fujiyoshi spent much of his seminary service in Chicago working in a black ghetto on the city’s west side. “Can you imagine me,” he says, “a local boy fresh off the Big Island, going from here to a Chicago ghetto? That was a real baptism.”

Fujiyoshi first journeyed to Asia in 1968 on a fellowship in Singapore with the World Council of Churches. He remained in Southeast Asia for five years, working as a lay missionary and slowly gaining notoriety for his activist, hands-on approach to organizing and helping groups of industrial workers in economically distressed communities. “The Church was saying all the right things on Sunday mornings,” he says, “but the world was not changing. I became more interested in learning the skills necessary to actually solve some of the problems.”

His reputation for problem solving in the real world grew. In 1973 the Korean Christian Church asked him to relocate to Japan to help improve the living conditions of the sizable Korean population there. He took up residence in Osaka’s Ikuno Ward, home of Japan’s largest Korean community, where he spent the next 15 years living and working, voluntarily subjecting himself to the same long hours and low wages of the people he had come to help. Eventually he was able to earn their trust.

Fujiyoshi’s first open clash with the Japanese government came in 1981. Claiming that it was a violation of his basic human rights, he refused to comply with the fingerprinting requirement of Japan’s Alien Registration Law. He was indicted in 1982 and embarked on a civil-rights campaign within Japan’s court system which soon became a twisted game of cat-and-mouse. Four years after his initial indictment, Fujiyoshi was found guilty by the Kobe District Court but fined a mere $70. He faced another token fine after his appeal was rejected at the Osaka High Court. “It was just a slap on the wrist,” Fujiyoshi says of the fines, which were deliberately set at levels low enough for him to be able to afford. “They wanted to make sure that the decision was ‘guilty’ but also give the impression that the Japanese government is very benevolent.”

This face-saving charade was finally abandoned when the Japanese government refused to grant Fujiyoshi a permit that would have allowed him to re-enter Japan after returning to the U.S. to visit his ailing father-in-law. He responded to this action by embarking on a 25-day hunger strike aimed at publicly embarrassing the intransigent Japanese officials. He has since been given a special visa which allows him to return to Japan — but only to attend his own court hearings. Though he has been back in Hawaii since 1988, it is clear that his thoughts still lie in Japan. “I don’t feel like I ever left,” he says. “As long as my case is still being tried by the Japanese courts, I cannot separate myself from Japan.” Fujiyoshi has appealed his case to the Japanese Supreme Court, where it currently sits in quiet and secret deliberation. The process can take years, and a decision can come unannounced at any time. Feeling certain that his appeal will eventually be rejected by Japan’s highest court, he is already planning his next move. “If I lose this appeal,” he says, “then I will conclude that the Japanese judicial system cannot give me the justice I deserve. It is then my right to appeal the decision to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.” This might prove to be Fujiyoshi’s most powerful weapon. At a time when Japan is struggling with itself and the rest of the globe to find its appropriate niche in the world community, Fujiyoshi’s charges of racism and his refusal to be silenced could be a severe embarrassment to the Japanese government.

Those in power in Japan attempted to render the entire issue moot after the Showa emperor Hirohito’s death. In his honor an Imperial pardon was promulgated which granted amnesty to most of the defendants of fingerprinting cases still in litigation. It was purely a political move, Fujiyoshi asserts, a feeble effort to diffuse the issue before it could gain a measurable amount of publicity outside the country. With Fujiyoshi’s assistance and encouragement, other fingerprint refusers declined the offer and instead called a press conference to denounce the pardon. “The court’s acquittal of the refusers presumes that they are guilty and should be judged,” Fujiyoshi points out, “when it is the government and the emperor’s system that need to be examined.”

Fujiyoshi’s disdain for Japan’s governing institutions extends beyond the fingerprinting issue. The system in place in today’s Japan, he asserts, is the direct descendant of the nationalistic bodies that evolved following the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the country emerged from a prolonged period of political chaos with a reinvigorated sense of national identity and a perceived “divine right” to culturally convert other Asians and make them loyal citizens of Japan.

Fujiyoshi characterizes Japan’s approach to its minority peoples as one of “assimilation and control.” He has argued in court that the Alien Registration Law is part of a larger Japanese government policy of controlling other Asian and Pacific peoples by forcibly “Japanizing” them: compelling them both directly and indirectly to conceal their ethnicity. This system of assimilation and control results directly in the exploitation of Asians by relegating them to the lowest echelon of the country’s economic caste system, he contends. He sees it as a continuation of repressive prewar policies which forced colonial subjects to adopt Japanese names, speak Japanese exclusively in public, wear Japanese clothing and worship only at Shinto shrines.

Fujiyoshi lambasts the myth painstakingly cultivated by the government that the Japanese are descendants of a pure race. “The people in authority perpetuate the myth that Japan is a homogeneous society,” he claims. “It provides strong socialcohesiveness, and people can then be more easily controlled. And by keeping the people controlled, the government can also keep control of the economy.”

Therein lies the import of Fujiyoshi’s thesis, that the core issue is not merely a dispute between the central government and its peripheral minorities; the policy affects all of Japan’s citizens in equally disastrous ways. The Japanese nation can be compared to a crowded boat, the theory goes, and if too many more are allowed on board, the boat will capsize and everyone will drown. It stands to reason that the few who are permitted on board will be those whom the Japanese government deems to be of little threat to its fostered image of Japan as a single-race country. “Discrimination against the Korean people is not just a holdover of some misunderstandings of history, and it’s not a part of a modem ideology to control non-Japanese people,” Fujiyoshi warns. “It is an attempt to control the Japanese people themselves.”

For Fujiyoshi, state-sanctioned racism is bad enough, but even more repugnant is the denial of its existence by most Japanese. He maintains that the power structure, for its own purposes, is using its tremendous control over the media (and consequent influence on public opinion) to perpetuate the traditional notion that there are only three major races in the world. “According to this view, all there are are Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid stocks,” says Fujiyoshi, recounting the argument he has heard more times than he cares to remember. This belief is worse than oversimplistic: It makes it possible for the Japanese government to exclude from the category of racial discrimination its dealings with other Asian and Pacific peoples living in the country. Japan can safely perceive itself as a country of only one race and sincerely believe that the racial conflicts plaguing the rest of the world can’t happen there.

According to Fujiyoshi, the primary flaw in this reasoning is that it completely disregards ethnicity: vast differences in culture, language and religion among peoples of the alleged three major racial stocks. And in the process it allows Japan to impose a bureaucratic system for other Asians living within its borders which, practically anywhere else in the world, would be denounced as institutionalized racial discrimination.

The Japanese government is a manipulative entity, Fujiyoshi asserts, which must be forced to confront the falsehoods it has been knowingly (and unknowingly) propagating. Sadly, the problem did not go away with the change in the country’s fingerprint laws. Now that Japan’s resident Koreans have had their burden partially lifted, the recent trend in the country has been to target South Asian peoples whose appearance is more easily discernible from their Japanese hosts. With the current economic slowdown proving to be stubbornly resilient, Fujiyoshi fears that these newer immigrants will become the scapegoats of the recession. “The assimilation and control policy attempts to stamp out the identity of long-term Asians and replace it with Japanese identity,” he says. “Until the Japanese government’s policy is ended, no real solution is in sight. Until their internal economic colony is eliminated, the other Asian and Pacific people in Japan will continue to be exploited because they are considered inferior. Until the national state ideology is exposed for what it is, the Japanese people will continue to be indoctrinated with a hidden racism toward other Asian and Pacific peoples.”

The coalition that assumed control of Japan a few months ago has the potential to effect profound changes rather than mere cosmetic modifications to enhance the government’s image. Fujiyoshi fears that even if his motives are genuine, the newly elected prime minister, Morihiro Hosokawa, may not be powerful enough to make a real difference. But his early actions show some promise. In an attempt to distance himself from past LDP bungles, Hosokawa has already delivered several sincere apologies for Japan’s controversial actions in World War II. Specifically mentioned were the “comfort women” of Asia who where forcibly conscripted and supplied to Japanese soldiers on the front lines during World War II. “Up until now the Japanese government wouldn’t admit its complicity,” Fujiyoshi says. “With the comfort women, once they admit what they are capable of, an entire can of worms is opened. Any official statement that relates to their attitude toward foreigners is significant. After that their treatment of all foreigners can then be called into question.” Now that the fingerprinting requirement has been abolished for permanent alien residents of Japan, does Fujiyoshi see a fundamental shift in the Japanese government’s way? “If the government was halfway repentant,” he says, “they would have done away with fingerprinting entirely.

If they were truly repentant, they would do away with the entire policy of assimilation.” Fujiyoshi’s brightest hope is the Japanese people. Now that Japan has emerged as one of the world’s most affluent nations, the Japanese are traveling abroad in record numbers. Young people are venturing overseas and experiencing other cultures. Many become exchange students. Fujiyoshi predicts severe conflict in the years ahead as the Japanese people become more accepting of other cultures on the one hand, and the government continues to espouse its hard-line stance on the other. “To be honest, I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out,” Fujiyoshi admits, “but if this new coalition can hold together, it will be very significant.” The leadership of the country, after all, will still be in control of education and the media. “Japanese history books refer to Korea as a dagger pointed at the heart of Japan. Just think how different it would be if Korea was instead viewed as a bridge connecting Japan to the wealth and riches of other Asian cultures.”

Now that he has all but exhausted his options in Japan’s legal system, Fujiyoshi’s passions are turning toward the recently formed United States-Japan Committee for Racial Justice, which assigned to itself as one of its first missions the daunting task of formulating a set of guidelines to help prevent potential future racist confrontations between the two countries from erupting into uncontrollable conflagrations of hate.

Despite these recent changes, Fujiyoshi still remains cautiously pessimistic about long-term prospects for United States-Japan relations. Racism is alive and well in both countries, he declares, evidenced by the lack of sensitivities on both sides of the Pacific during the 50th-anniversary observations of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. America exploited the anniversary as an opportunity to boost patriotism at a time when the U.S. government and economy had both come down with symptoms of terminal gridlock. Japan used the occasion to further alienate itself from America and the rest of Asia by not only refusing to apologize for the attack but even suggesting that Japan may not have been entirely responsible for the war in the Pacific. Fujiyoshi sees the possibility of an alarming increase of similar misunderstandings in the future as the once-solid friendship between the United States and Japan is further taxed by the economic slowdowns currently sapping both countries. “We need to adjust to the changes that are occurring,” he says, “and to join with others in dealing with some of the fundamental contradictions that remain in our societies. Only when people feel proud of what they are can they work well with others.”

ENDS

Postscript:  Ronald Fujiyoshi now lives on Big Island and continues his human rights work there.

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japan Today: Narita airport ends ID security checks for non-passengers

mytest

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Hi Blog.  One of the larger issues that Debito.org has taken up, that of Instant Gaijin Card Checkpoints (as in, racial profiling) for people for walking in public while NJ, might be (overtly) coming to an end, at least in the place where new entrants (and their entourage) get their first taste of it:  Narita International Airport.

We have discussed Narita Airport’s treatment of NJ customers in detail before.  According to the article below, they are installing spy cameras instead of having the labor-intensive (and unnecessarily invasive, given that the Narita Prefectural Police Force stoppages that Debito.org has concentrated on were targeting NJ who had ALREADY cleared security screenings) face-to-face singling out of people for extra scrutiny in a not-at-all-random manner.  One might counterargue that this is swapping Big Brother for Bigger Brother.  But I will still say that not having a potentially temperamental local cop, trained to see NJ as suspicous, getting into a jet-lagged person’s face is an improvement.  Let’s at least see if this will make Narita Airport behave less like a fortress, with cops manning the pikes against the international hordes.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Narita airport ends ID security checks for non-passengers
JAPAN TODAY National Mar. 30, 2015, Courtesy of MS
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/narita-airport-abolishes-id-security-checks-for-non-passengers

NARITA — Narita International Airport on Monday abolished ID checks for non-passengers at the airport in Chiba Prefecture.

Since the airport opened in 1978, cars and buses have been stopped at various points, with occupants having to show ID such as passports, even if they weren’t departing on flights. Drivers were also required to get out and open the trunk of their cars. The ID checks at railway ticket gates have also been scrapped.

The checks were put in place early on because of violent protests against the airport by farmers and radical groups opposing the government taking their land. Officials determined that security efforts at the airport would have to be a maximum priority in order to ensure safe and smooth operations. As a result, all visitors to the airport have been subjected to long lines, thorough baggage checks, and large numbers of security personnel at each stage of entering and exiting the terminals.

Airport officials said new high-tech camera-based surveillance systems will use face-recognition technology, track license plate numbers and perform other tasks that in the past, have required a great deal of money and man-power, Sankei Shimbun reported.

Another reason for the change is that government officials feel the old way of enforcing security measures at Narita Airport may present serious problems during the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics as record numbers of foreign tourists are expected to be in attendance.

A state-of-the-art camera surveillance system consisting of 330 individual cameras will be used with 190 of the units dedicated to facial recognition and related tasks, while the other 140 would be monitoring the exterior of the buildings and tracking license plate numbers, suspicious behavior and other relevant security information.
ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enemies of the State?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Renewed GOJ projections of hard and soft power: Yomiuri argues for remilitarization “to protect J-nationals abroad”, Reuters reports GOJ reinvestment in overseas universities, claims “no strings attached”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In the recent vein of the GOJ’s more aggressive stance towards projecting its power abroad, we have two articles of note:  One is on the harder power of militarism “to protect Japanese nationals abroad” (as the Yomiuri capitalizes on the ISIL beheadings to nudge public policy), and the other is on a (renewed) softer power to fund American universities, particularly Georgetown and Columbia, and therefore have more control over future research directions before they become published.  (The institutions below may claim that there are no strings attached, but as the GOJ knows full well through its domestic education monopolies, once you get people hooked on your funding, they have a helluva time dealing with the threat of withdrawal).

One might argue that all countries project power to some degree, and they would be right.  But we as consumers, researchers, and concerned critical thinkers should be aware of it.  Especially in Japan, an economy with this degree of public debt (more than twice its GDP, the highest in the developed world), a tsunami and nuclear meltdown aftermath that still needs cleaning up, and an upcoming porkbarrel 2020 Olympics, these are interesting budgetary choices.  Cherchez l’argent.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Comprehensively bolster measures to protect Japanese nationals abroad
February 04, 2015, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Courtesy of JK
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001906749

To prevent Japanese nationals from being targeted by international terrorism, the government must comprehensively reinforce countermeasures to protect Japanese living abroad, gather information on terrorism and guard key facilities.

The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is recently believed to have killed two Japanese in Syria, is threatening to continue to carry out terrorist attacks against Japanese. Lacking common sense, the fanatic criminal group will not listen to reason. Other radical groups inspired by ISIL’s latest attack may also target Japanese.

We should realize that the threat of international terrorism has entered a new stage.

The headquarters tasked with promoting measures to handle international organized crime and international terrorism at the Prime Minister’s Office adopted a policy Tuesday of keeping Japanese living abroad informed, through Japanese embassies and other diplomatic missions, about local security conditions.

The government will also step up security for Japanese schools abroad. Such facilities are easy targets for terrorism because they symbolize Japan, so their security systems as well as commuting routes must be checked thoroughly.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made clear Tuesday that the government will increase the number of defense attaches, who are Self-Defense Force officials, at Japanese diplomatic missions abroad.

Following a hostage crisis in Algeria in 2013 that involved Japanese nationals, the government increased the number of defense attaches. At present, more than 50 defense attaches are stationed in about 40 countries.

An SDF official can more easily access classified information held by local military authorities. SDF officials should be proactively deployed in such regions as the Middle East.

In the latest crisis, the issue of keeping Japanese travelers informed of possible risks has become an important task.

Review travel advisories

The Foreign Ministry issues four different levels of travel advisories for potential threats in accordance with local security conditions. The ministry has issued an evacuation advisory, the highest level in terms of risk, to nationals living in Syria or traveling there.

But the advisory has no binding power since the Constitution guarantees the freedom of traveling to a foreign country.

The ministry had repeatedly asked Kenji Goto, who was killed in the latest hostage crisis, to refrain from entering Syria — but to no avail.

The government must examine improvements to the advisory levels according to the risks involved, as well as the best way to communicate and distribute such information.

Terrorist attacks must also be prevented in Japan. Immigration checks need to be tightened further to block terrorists at the water’s edge. Security at governmental organizations, airports, nuclear power plants and other key facilities should be enhanced. It is also vital for the government to cooperate with the intelligence agencies of other countries.

ISIL is trying to spread its radical beliefs beyond national borders by manipulating online resources. It is also necessary to prepare for home-grown terrorism that could be launched by those influenced by such terrorist propaganda.

For example, in Australia, an attacker who had apparently been influenced by ISIL took hostages at a cafe in Sydney in December. The incident ended with two hostages killed.

Are there suspicious people apparently devoted to radicalism, collecting weapons and explosives?

Investigative authorities must vigilantly monitor online activity, detect any sign of terrorism and respond swiftly.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 4, 2015)
///////////////////////////////////////////////////

To counter China and South Korea, government to fund Japan studies at U.S. colleges
BY TAKASHI UMEKAWA
REUTERS, MAR 16, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/16/national/to-counter-china-and-south-korea-government-to-fund-japan-studies-at-u-s-colleges/

The Abe government has budgeted more than $15 million to fund Japan studies at nine universities overseas, including Georgetown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of a “soft power” push to counter the growing influence of China and South Korea.

The program, the first time in over 40 years that Japan has funded such studies at U.S. universities, coincides with efforts by conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to address perceived biases in accounts of the wartime past — moves critics say are an attempt to whitewash history.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgetown University in Washington will receive $5 million each from the Foreign Ministry’s budget for fiscal 2015, which has yet to be enacted, a Finance Ministry official said.

In addition, the Japan Foundation, set up by the government to promote cultural exchange, will allocate ¥25 million per school to six yet-to-be selected universities in the United States and elsewhere, the official said.

That comes on top of $5 million in an extra budget for fiscal 2014 for Japan studies at New York’s Columbia University, where Japan scholar Gerry Curtis will retire late this year.

“The Abe government has a sense of crisis that history issues concerning Japan . . . are not properly understood in the United States, and decided to make a contribution so that Japan research would not die out,” the Finance Ministry official said.

The official said Japanese diplomats will vet professors hired for the programs to ensure they are “appropriate.” However, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said there were no such conditions placed on the funding.

The Foreign Minister “is not placing any such condition as the GOJ’s (Government of Japan) inclusion in the selection procedure of a new scholar,” Takako Ito, the ministry’s assistant press secretary, said in an email.

Georgetown University and MIT declined comment on the funding, while Columbia University spokesman Brian Connolly told reporters by email: “As a matter of long-standing university policy, donors to Columbia do not vet or have veto power over faculty hiring.”

Many Japanese politicians and officials worry Japan has been outmaneuvered by the aggressive public diplomacy of China and South Korea.

After a decade of shrinking spending on public diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry won a total of ¥70 billion for strategic communications in an extra budget for fiscal 2014 and the initial budget for the next year from April, up from ¥20 billion in the initial fiscal 2014 budget.

Those funds are to be used for “soft power” initiatives such as the Japan studies programs at foreign universities and setting up “Japan House” centers to promote the “Japan Brand.”

But the government is also targeting wartime accounts by overseas textbook publishers and others that it sees as incorrect.

One such effort has already sparked a backlash from U.S. scholars, who protested a request by Japan’s government to publisher McGraw-Hill Education to revise a textbook’s account of “comfort women,” the euphemism used in Japan for those forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 79, on Japan’s Visible Minorities, Sept. 4, 2014 (version with links to sources)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Thanks as always for reading, and for putting this column once again at #1 for two days at the Japan Times Online:

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

“VISIBLE MINORITIES” ARE BEING CAUGHT IN THE DRAGNET
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
Column 79 for the Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Community Page, September 4, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/09/03/issues/visible-minorities-caught-police-dragnet/
Version with links to sources, previous discussion on Debito.org about this issue here.

Around noon on Aug. 13, in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, a local apartment manager notified the police that a “suspicious foreigner” was hanging around the nearby JR train station.

Cops duly descended upon someone described by the Asahi as a “20-year-old male who came from the Philippines with a Japanese passport” (sic). [archived here if dead link]

When asked what he was doing, he said he was meeting friends. When asked his nationality, he mentioned his dual citizenship. Unfortunately, he carried no proof of that.

So far, nothing illegal here: Carrying ID at all times is not legally required for Japanese citizens.

But it is for foreigners. So the cops, convinced that he was really a foreigner, took him in for questioning — for five hours. Then they arrested him under the Immigration Control Act for, according to a Nikkei report, not carrying his passport, and interrogated him for another seven.

In the wee hours of Aug. 14, after ascertaining that his father is Japanese and mother foreign, he was released with verbal apologies. That hardly suffices. If any of you have ever undergone Japan’s “voluntary questioning” and/or 23 days of interrogation after arrest, you know how harrowing it can be.

And this isn’t the first instance.And this isn’t the first instance. On Feb. 25, 2006, a 28-year-old foreign-looking Japanese woman was arrested in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, for not carrying a foreign passport.

Grounds for suspicion? According to the Mainichi Shimbun, she was carrying an envelope with Portuguese writing on it. Unable to talk because she was reportedly “not good at speaking to strangers,” she was released when they finally contacted her family after more than a full day of interrogation.

Milder cases are more commonplace: The New York Times (July 8, 2010) featured the account of a Japanese writer-translator who had been pulled aside repeatedly by Tokyo police officers for being “too tall and dark-colored,” and had even been asked to show the contents of her purse.

I too have been stopped and asked the personal questions reserved only for criminal suspects (shokumu shitsumon) on numerous occasions, but fortunately talked my way out of getting arrested for being a Japanese without a “gaijin (alien registration) card.”

As The Japan Times has been chronicling for years, the people particularly vulnerable during Japan’s perennial mission to smoke out “illegal foreign visa overstayers” are those who “look foreign.” That leads us to the point of this piece: Japan desperately needs a new concept to account for Japanese who don’t look it. How about visible minorities?

This concept and term has gained currency in minority studies. For example, the Canadian government uses it when referring to the treatment of people who may not at first glance “look” like the majority population.

Of course, it’s tough to discuss minority issues in allegedly “homogeneous Japan.” Our government has long denied any domestic minorities exist (see www.debito.org/japanvsun.html) You still get the occasional politician doing so (such as a Sapporo city assemblyman on Aug. 11), despite Japan’s parliament formally recognizing the Ainu as one in 2008.

But that hasn’t deterred Japan scholars from studying the Ainu, as well as the Okinawans, the burakumin historical underclass, Zainichi Korean and Chinese generational foreigners, South American workers of Japanese descent, and the 2 million registered foreign residents.

Yet Japanese studies have generally overlooked how physical appearance plays a part in Japan’s racialization dynamics. Even recent work, such as Kyle Cleveland’s insightful chapter on ethnic minorities in the 2013 book “Critical Issues in Contemporary Japan,” does not mention physical appearance or skin color as an issue in discrimination. He describes minorities in Japan as “invisible.”

I disagree. And those detained for looking foreignly suspicious, singled out for bullying for being “half” or “gaijin” in schools, and denied entry to “Japanese only” establishments, might also.

Moreover, unlike other minorities, visible ones cannot “pass” as Japanese in terms of physical appearance, and thus face different forms of discrimination. Further, visible minorities also include Japanese citizens, bringing in issues of guaranteed equal protection under the law.

It also leads to the fundamental question of “What is a Japanese?” As my doctoral research demonstrated, “Japaneseness” is linked to physical appearance by Japan’s laws, law enforcement, public policy, jurisprudence and media messages. And as seen in the Ushiku, Tokyo, Sapporo and Saitama cases above, you have to “look Japanese” to be treated as such.

Overlooking the existence of Japan’s visible minorities must stop. Thousands of Japanese children have been born to international marriages. Thousands have naturalized. Nearly half of Japan’s entire registered non-Japanese population are permanent residents. Well over half of those again (the regular permanent residents, as opposed to the Zainichi) are people who came from overseas. There is enormous diversity that is being under-analyzed.

In fact, let’s go one step further: Permanent residents should claim their minority status themselves. After all, if you can stay here as a permanent part of a society, you can qualify as a minority. That includes the foreign scholars of minority issues, who despite decades living in and researching in Japan, don’t appear to consider themselves members of a minority.

That’s the big-picture stuff for this month. Now let’s turn to some concrete policy measures the government can take to reduce the chances of people getting wrongfully detained.

First, if the Japanese police must go gaijin hunting, then train them properly in immigration law.

Any Immigration Bureau official knows that: a) foreigners are not required to carry a passport at all times (that’s why gaijin cards exist) unless they are unregistered tourists; b) naturalized Japanese exist; and c) dual nationality is legally possible until the day you turn age 22 — and, in any case, it is not grounds for suspicion, detention or arrest.

The Ushiku police in particular should have known all this. Ushiku hosts one of Japan’s biggest foreigner prisons, the East Japan Immigration Control Center. Then again, conditions there are so harsh that detainees carried out hunger strikes and even committed suicide there in 2010. So maybe this is how Ushiku police are trained.

Law enforcement also needs to let go of the narrative that “foreigners are suspicious.” If some old crank busybody calls the cops on some kid waiting for his friends, officers should demand more grounds than just his or her “foreignness.”

But, above all, the authorities need to acknowledge Japan’s diversity by accepting the concept of visible minorities, and start making policies to protect the Japanese who cannot “pass.”

Once again, that means creating that Holy Grail of a racial discrimination law. However, we can start off small by officially depicting Japaneseness as a legal status, not a bloodline-determined mystical concept entwined with racial purity. Fat chance under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, I know, but it must happen someday.

Ultimately, Japan’s visible minorities are the canary in the coal mine. How they are treated is a bellwether of how Japan will handle its inevitably increasing diversity. Otherwise, if you — or your kids — happen to be too tall, dark or scary, you had better start carrying your Japanese passport around.

==================================
Debito Arudou’s “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants to Japan” is available on Amazon as an ebook. For more details, see www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause usually appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Nikkei: Another Japanese nabbed for being like a “suspicious foreigner” in Ibaraki. Adding it to the collection

mytest

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Hi Blog. This in from Debito.org Reader NH:

==============================================
Debito, Here’s another one for your files:
日本国籍気付かず誤認逮捕 茨城、旅券不携帯と判断
2014/8/14 日本経済新聞
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXLASDG1400K_U4A810C1CC0000/?n_cid=TPRN0009
茨城県警牛久署は14日、日本国籍とフィリピン国籍を共に持つ、さいたま市のパート工員の男性(20)を、日本国籍に気付かないまま誤って入管難民法違反(旅券不携帯)容疑で現行犯逮捕したと発表した。約7時間後に釈放した。

牛久署によると、13日昼すぎ、牛久市のJR常磐線ひたち野うしく駅近くで「不審な外国人がいる」と駅前の交番に通報があった。交番で署員が男性から事情を聴き、外国人なのにパスポートを常に携帯する義務を守っていないと判断し、午後5時10分ごろ、現行犯逮捕した。

その後、通訳が同席して取り調べた際、男性が「日本国籍もある」と説明。確認が取れたため、13日深夜に釈放した。父親が日本人、母親がフィリピン人という。

橋本康一郎署長は「おわび申し上げる。指示を徹底し、再発防止に努める」とコメントした。〔共同〕

English summary: A no-good busybody “reported” to the police that there was a “suspicious foreigner” around. The police duly rushed to the scene and questioned a Philipino 20-year-old they found. They arrested him as caught in the act of not carrying his passport with him.

After 7 hours of questioning, through an interpreter it came to light he also had Japanese citizenship and his father is Japanese. They double-checked, and since it was true released him in the middle of the night.

The police stated “We are sorry. We will try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The article and police statement does not find any fault with the person who reported a suspicious foreigner, or with the police for going and questioning people alleged to be suspicious foreigners. That is pretty much just the whole story.

It’s not a bad law exam question, since we could ask, did he have to give up his Filipino citizenship now that he is 20, etc.? The article doesn’t go there either, of course.

Another example of this law’s failure to account for Japan’s diverse population, and people getting caught in the cross-fire. I can only imagine how this young man felt about all of this.

==============================================
COMMENT: I can imagine. I myself have been racially profiled (although not arrested) by J-cops on numerous occasions (see here and here, for example), even after naturalizing.  So were these people (one of whom actually was arrested in 2006 for looking “too foreign”.) This is yet another reason why Japan needs laws against racial discrimination — because you can’t always tell anymore who’s “Japanese” based upon physical appearance alone. Innocent Japanese who don’t “look it” are going to get caught in any dragnet of suspicion.

I think Nishanta-san, a longtime acquaintance of mine and naturalized citizen, would agree (he’s in the center of the Newsweek cover). Below is what happened to him recently in Japanese (courtesy of Becky and others).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

newsweek091106

日本人のあなたが外国人として逮捕される日。

にしゃんた | 社会学者(羽衣国際大学准教授)・タレント

Yahoo News 

http://bylines.news.yahoo.co.jp/nishantha/20140818-00038350/

写真:Rosemary McKevitt

日本出国の窓口は一緒くたになっているが、入国審査のゲートは大きく二種類ある。一つは「日本人」、もう一つは「外国人」である。余談ながら外国人の英語表記は今では「foreigner」になっているが私が日本に初上陸した頃は、「alien」となっていたことを懐かしく思い出す。

10年ほど前から日本国籍である筆者が持っているたった一つだけのえんじ色パスポートの表紙には、美しい菊の紋章がしっかりデザインされている。2週間ほど前に海外から日本に戻って来たのだが、国籍の正しい自覚はあるため入国審査の段階では当然「日本人」カウンターを目掛けて進んだ。しかし、私の行動を憚る男性が現れた。入国管理局の職員であると思われる。進もうとも、ずっと何回も「貴方は違う」と繰り返す。避けて通ろうとしても、追っかけてくる。最後には目の前に立ちはだかり私を押さえ込んだ。

一連の流れ、みなさんはここで何が起きているか想像できますか?これは、私の肌の色で判断して国籍は日本人のはずがないと決め付けて私を外国人の枠に引っ張り込もうとしているのである。これは、今年の8月7日付けの日本の玄関口成田空港での話である。私のような日本人はいないはずと決め付けているのは、何も無知なド素人ではない、知識豊富で日本国家のエリートのはずの法務省職員である。私ごときの場合は、このような経験も前向きに考えれば、人前で喋ったり書いたりとネタにもなるので歓迎しても良いが、このような事が、誰彼かまわずに日本の彼方此方で起きているとしたら、私達は一度立ち止まって考える必要がある。

空港での出来事から一週間も経たぬ内に、同じようなことがこの社会において珍しく無いということが伝わってきた。13日、日本国籍を持った日本在住の20歳の男性が、出入国管理法違反、つまり旅券不携帯容疑の罪で茨城県警牛久署に誤認逮捕されたのである。警察側の言い訳によると、

13日午後、JR常磐線ひたち野うしく駅近くのマンションの管理人から「不審な外国人がいる」と駅前の交番に通報があった。駆けつけた署員が男性から事情を聴き、外国人なのに旅券を常に持ち歩いていないと判断し、同日午後5時10分ごろに現行犯逮捕した。 (8月14日産経新聞・朝刊

何の罪も犯していない20歳の青年を、昼ごろから警察に連行し(警察発表では任意同行となっているが…)、5時過ぎに逮捕した。逮捕から約7時間後に釈放したのだから実際には総拘束時間は10時間超えている可能性も考えられる。ちなみに誤認逮捕の被害者の男性は日本国籍の父とフィリピン国籍の母の間に生まれ、国籍法上22歳までにどちらかの国籍を選択できるようになっており、逮捕された時点では実際には二重国籍である。

今回の事件から何が見えてくるのか?

(1)事件の発端となった、電話連絡してきたという「通報人」と警察双方で一致した「不審な外国人」の「定義」についてまず問い、整理する必要がある。一人の青年が、一般市民によって不審者と決め付けられ、警察がそれに輪をかけて対処した今回の件は「日本の多数派と権力が一緒になって少数者虐めをした」と指摘されても言い訳はできない。

(2)今回の警察の失態の原因は、他ならぬ本人たちの「無知」と凝り固まった「思い込み」に基づいた終始にわたる言動にあったことが明確である。被害者は、警察に「どこの国の人?」と日本語で質問され、「フィリピンと日本の二重国籍」であると伝えている。そこで警察は入国管理局にフィリピン旅券での出入記録の有無を問い合わせており、記録が無かったため逮捕したとなっている。フィリピン旅券での入国の記録が無かったのならば、誤認逮捕された被害者の「日本人」としての出入記録をなぜ問い合わせをしなかったかという事も、警察の犯した大きな過ちではないか。あくまでも「外国人」と決め付けた偏った捜査に執着するあまり、現場では逮捕された被害者の声に耳を傾けるという最低限の人権すら保障されていことが明確である。

(3)早急に改善に取り組む必要性のある課題も見えてくる。誤認逮捕された被害者は、自分から「国籍は日本とフィリピン」であることや「友達に会いに駅前に来た」などと警察に伝え、伝わっているはずにも関わらず、警察の言い分だと、逮捕後に通訳を通して初めて日本人であることを知るようになったと言っている点、ここでも警察の決め付けた言動の怖さが改めて感じると同時に、逮捕する前になぜ通訳を活用しないのかという制度的な大問題を指摘できる。

(4)合わせて今回の件に関してメディア側にも問題がある。ここで伝わってくるのは一方的に警察の言い分のみであって、被害者の声が不在である。日本社会が犯した過ちの改善と再発防止を本気で考えているのであれば被害者青年の言葉こそ最も参考になるだろう。なぜ日本のメディアがその点を疎かにしているのか、自問自答する必要があろう。

このような誤認逮捕は昨日今日はじまったものではない。実はもっと酷いケースもある。2006年02月25日、埼玉でも誤認逮捕があった。逮捕されたのは、女性で容疑は今回と同じく旅券不携帯であった。

午後7時40分ごろ、川口市内の路上を歩いていた女性にパトロール中の署員3人が職務質問。署員は女性の容姿が東南アジア出身者に似ており、名前や国籍を尋ねたところ、小さな声で「日本人です」と言ったきり何も話さなくなったため、署に任意同行した。女性は署でも日本語の質問に対し無言を通したため、同署は「外国人」と判断。パスポートの不所持を確かめて同容疑で逮捕した。

女性は逮捕後に家族の名前を紙に書き、母親に確認すると娘と分かって誤認逮捕が判明した。母親は「娘は知らない人とは話をしない性格」と話していたという。 (毎日新聞2006年2月28日)

つまり、日本社会において、日本人であっても外国人として逮捕される可能性は充分にあると理解する必要がある。「誤認逮捕に至り、おわびする。再発防止に努める」と警察責任者は謝っているが、一般の人は謝っても許されないことでも、人を深く傷つけようとも、権力のある側が行ったことならば、謝罪だけで済む話なのだろうか。一つははっきり予言できる。このまま放っておけば今後このような問題が多発するということである。

公僕をする任務を担っているといえ、権力を持たされている人間にこそ正しい知識を伝え、人権教育を施す必要がある。日本の公務員、筆者の個人的な経験からだと、特に「入国管理局員」および「警察」に対して行っている「犯罪者予備軍扱いとしての外国人」という偏った視野の狭い教育を正し、国際感覚を伴った視野の広い教育を行う必要がある。

最後になるが、「日本人」であってもあなどってはならない。あなたは日本人であってもいつの日か「外国人」と決め付けられ逮捕される可能性は充分にあるということを心に留めておく必要がある。合わせて是非、日本の社会において常日頃「外国人」というだけで心身とも窮屈な思いをしている者もいるということに思いを馳せて頂きたい。

※ 参考資料として下記の記事も合わせて読んでいただきたい。

ジャパニーズ・オンリー!(Japanese only!)繰り返さないために。

あなたは、ジャパニーズ・オンリーを見分けられますか!?

にしゃんた社会学者(羽衣国際大学准教授)・タレント

1969年7月18日、スリランカのキャンディー市(世界遺産)生まれ。 高校生だった87年にボーイスカウトで初来日。その翌年に留学のため再来日をし、立命館大学に入学。新聞奨学生をしながら大学在学中に全日本空手道連盟公認四段・全国空手道連盟公認指導員を取得したほか、多数の弁論大会に出場し優勝する。大学を卒業後、大学院に進み、経済学の博士号を取得。現在は京都に在住し、羽衣国際大学で教鞭をとる傍ら、テレビ・ラジオ出演、講演会や執筆活動などを行っている。2005年日本国籍取得。08年日本女性と結婚、一男一女の父。近著は『日本で知った「幸せ」の値段』(講談社)

ENDS

SITYS: JT publishes lawyer’s analysis of J-cops’ arbitrary “stop and frisk” procedures. It’s now actually worse for NJ than Debito.org has reported before (correctly)

mytest

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Hi Blog. Hokay, let’s go over this issue one more time on Debito.org (the previous times from here): the ability of J-cops to racially profile and subject any “foreigner” to arbitrary Gaijin Card ID-checks. I offered advice about what to do about it (print and carry the actual laws around with you and have them enforced).

Last time I talked about this (in my Japan Times column last April), I noted how laws had changed with the abolition of the Foreign Registry Law, but the ability for cops to arbitrarily stop NJ has actually continued unabated. In fact, it’s expanded to bag searches and frisking, with or without your permission (because, after all, NJ might be carrying knives or drugs, not just expired visas).

Well, as if doubting the years of research that went into this article (and affirmed by Japanese Administrative Solicitor Higuchi Akira in our book HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS), the JT put up a “featured comment” saying that my article was wrong and a source for misinformation:

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

MM333:  I’m sorry, but the information in this article and on the website describing the powers of the police to stop foreigners and demand passports or residence cards for any reason ‘whenever’ is inaccurate. The law does not give the police in Japan arbitrary powers to conduct suspicionless questioning.

As specified in Article 23 of the ‘Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act’ (see below), a police officer may demand to see a passport or residence card if it is in the execution of his/her duties, in other words only when s/he is doing what s/he is empowered to do by the ‘Police Duties Execution Act’ or other relevant acts.

The main duties of the police are specified in the ‘The Police Duties Execution Act’ (see below). The duties of the police are of course very wide ranging but they are not unlimited. In a nutshell, the police may question someone if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed a crime, is about to commit a crime or the person may have information about a crime.

Also, the police must offer assistance if they believe that the person is a danger to themselves or others (this is why the police may stop someone when they are riding a bicycle without a light at night even though the police may have other motives for the stop).

They may also stop you if they believe you might be a victim of a crime (As when they stop you on your bicycle and ask if you have registered it in light of all the thefts in the area) or if your acts may endanger anyone with a view to preventing any crime from occurring. The police also have additional duties imposed on them by other laws. For example, executing warrants under the ‘Code of Criminal Procedure’ or issuing fines under the ‘Road Transportation Act’.

Therefore, the police in Japan are not legally permitted to randomly stop anyone whether Japanese or foreign and demand to see their passport or residence card. The reason for this is quite simple and obvious. If the police randomly stop someone, they cannot have reasonable grounds to suspect that any crime has been committed, whether that be overstaying a visa or any other crime.

There is no doubt that in practice police in every country may try to exceed their powers, but it is quite another thing to assert that the police actually have the right to do this. In may interest people to know that the laws imposed on the police in Japan with regards to questioning are actually more restrictive as compared with the US (ie. Stop and Frisk) or the UK (ie. CJPOA Section 60).

I would recommend that everyone read the law themselves and consult a Japanese attorney if they have questions about the law. I would also ask the Japan times to have this article reviewed by a Japanese attorney and corrections made where appropriate to avoid misinformation being spread.

(Article concludes with cited laws.  See the bottom of the JT article at the top of the comments section.)
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Well, I’m not a lawyer (I can just read the laws; but naturally that doesn’t count in the face of an anonymous commenter of unknown credentials), so the JT was probably just thinking it should cover its glutes. However, eventually the JT DID consult a lawyer and ran the following article — where it’s even worse than I argued:

The lawyer is essentially suggesting that you had better cooperate with the police because the laws will not protect you — especially if you’re in a “foreigner zone” of Tokyo like Roppongi. Excerpt:

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

Legal hurdles are high when it comes to seeking redress
Limits on ‘stop and frisk’ open to interpretation by Japan’s police and courts
BY AKIRA ISHIZUKA, The Japan Times, July 20, 2014
Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/07/20/how-tos/limits-stop-frisk-open-interpretation-japans-police-courts/

JT:  In short, the police are permitted to:

1) stop a person for questioning, and, if they try to escape, to seize them (although the officers are not allowed to restrain or arrest them).

2) question them (although they have no obligation to answer these questions).

3) request (but not force) them to accompany the officers to a nearby police station or police box for the questioning.

[NB: ALL OF THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN SAID ON DEBITO.ORG FOR YEARS NOW.  CORRECTLY.]

4) frisk them with or without consent. (This is not written in the act, but precedents have established this. Basically, the frisking is limited to patting down over their clothing.)

Legal precedents in these cases have tended to stress the importance of balancing the public’s right to privacy with the necessity and urgency of the specific investigation and the public interest in preventing the crime the individual stopped by the police was suspected of being involved in. […]

Regarding the profiling, considering it was in Roppongi, which has a bit of a reputation for crime involving foreigners, the police officials could probably come up with a number of explanations for why they stopped [a NJ named P], such as a suspicion that he was carrying or selling drugs. It is unlikely that any judge would rule that this was a case of profiling and that the questioning was illegal.

As for the frisking, it was legal for the officers to pat P down over his clothes and bag, even without his consent. However, it would be illegal if an officer searched inside P’s pockets or clothing without consent or intentionally touched his genital area, even over his clothes. […]

So, in conclusion, what can you do if you are approached and questioned by police officers? Cooperating may be the smartest option and the fastest way to get the whole ordeal over as quickly as possible, but if you don’t feel like being cooperative, you can try asking the police officers what crime they are investigating and attempt to explain that you are not doing anything illegal, clearly express the will to leave and then do just that. Don’t touch the police officers, don’t run and don’t stop walking — and don’t forget to turn on the recorder on your smartphone in front of the officers, thus making it clear that you have evidence of any untoward behavior.

You cannot be forced to turn the recorder off, no matter what the police officers yell at you. Best of luck!

===========================
Akira Ishizuka is an attorney with the Foreigners and International Service Section at Tokyo Public Law Office, which handles a wide range of cases involving foreigners in the Tokyo area (www.t-pblo.jp/fiss; 03-6809-6200). FISS lawyers address readers’ queries once a month. Questions: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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

COMMENT: You know there’s something seriously wrong with a system when legally all you have is luck (and a cell phone recorder) to protect you from official arbitrary questioning, search, seizure, and racial profiling by Japanese cops. Even a lawyer says so. So that’s definitive, right?

Now, then, JT, what misinformation was being spread here by my previous article? How about trusting people who give their actual names, and have legal experience and a verified research record (several times before in past JT articles)? And how about deleting that misinformative “featured comment” to my column?

SITYS.  Dr. ARUDOU Debito

JDriver on J Driver License renewals and questionable legality of residency/Gaijin Card checks to ferret out “illegal overstayers”

mytest

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Hi Blog. We’ve discussed on Debito.org before the rigmarole of NJ drivers in Japan getting J Driver Licenses, being subjected to extra intrusive procedures that are of questionable legality. Well, a Debito.org Reader decided to do his civic duty and ask for some reasons why. And this is what he found out. Read on and feel free to contribute your own experiences. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////
July 13, 2014
Hi Debito, I’m a long time reader, but rarely have time to comment. I’ve had a pretty disheartening, if not entirely surprising, experience recently when I went to renew my drivers license and thought I’d share it with you and perhaps your readers if you find it worthwhile to share.

As you might know, residents of foreign citizenship (外国籍の方 in the bureaucratic parlance) are required to show their residence cards or in other way demonstrate their status of residence when getting or renewing their drivers license. Obedient citizen as I am, of course I went along with it and presented it when asked, but I did make clear I would like to be clarified on the legal basis for such a request. I didn’t expect that the person doing the registration would know something like this off the top of their head, but I was intended on talking to someone eventually who could point to this and that paragraph of this or that law that governs these circumstances.

So after all the procedure was finished and I got my license, I went to the window I was told I’d get my questions answered. The first person could only, after quite a while, produce the Immigration law article 23, which only says that you are in general required to present the passport or the residence card when the police and other authorities ask for it “in the execution of their duties.” So I asked for a specific law or ordinance that shows that in this concrete case it is indeed their duty to ask for the card. I got sent to her boss, who again only wasted my time with the same answer (Immigration law) and got irritated and dismissed me, but not before arranging for me to see the final boss of bosses, who should be able to answer my, I thought very simple, question i.e. what is the legal basis for what you’re doing?

Neither the last guy could legitimize the demand in legal terms, so we agreed that he will research it and call me later to let me know. He did call later the same day, only to tell me that after all, the legal basis would have to be in the Immigration law, because he couldn’t find any other! He said it is all done to prevent the “illegal overstayers” from getting drivers license, as if that, or any other goal, would justify working outside of legal framework.

I was flabbergasted that apparently no one in the whole Koto drivers center (江東試験場) knew the legal basis of their actions. I understand the receptionists, but I went four stages up their hierarchy and still nobody could justify their demands in legal terms. I’ve read the law on traffic before I went there and knew it did not specify this (道路交通法 http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S35/S35HO105.html) but I revisited it again afterwards. Neither it, nor the other major traffic law (道路法 http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S27/S27HO180.html) even mention status of residence or residence cards at all, and most certainly not when specifying the circumstances in which the authorities can refuse to issue you the license (physically unfit, alcoholism etc) It actually specifically states that they must issue you the permit if these do not apply, and you’ve passed the test (Article 90
公安委員会は、前条第一項の運転免許試験に合格した者(当該運転免許試験に係る適性試験を受けた日から起算して、第一種免許又は第二種免許にあつては一年を、仮免許にあつては三月を経過していない者に限る。)に対し、免許を与えなければならない。)

So I am now faced with an inevitable conclusion that they asking for residence cards is likely ILLEGAL. Of course, this is a condition which only applies to foreign residents, so it is unlikely to cause a national uproar, but it is nevertheless very unsettling, and not only for NJ, which might be the primary target at present. My biggest problem in all this is that they seemed genuinely baffled that someone is asking for a legal basis for their conduct, and the inability of the whole place to come up with a justification. It seems to me the bureaucracy is very much used to acting outside the legal framework, or at the very least, do not think of their daily work as something done only on the firm basis of law.

I would be very much interested to hear your and your readers thoughts and perhaps similar experiences. I am seriously considering refusing to show the card next time, but bring the printed letter of the law which says they are obliged to issue me with a permit.

Sincerely, JDriver

World Cup 2014: Held in Brazil, but causes tightened police security in Tokyo due to alleged possibility of “vandalism”

mytest

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Hi Blog. As you probably know, the World Cup kicked off today. I found today’s Brazil vs. Croatia match a rather lackluster performance by the favored Brazilian team.  And for the record, I especially disliked ESPN’s announcer pointing out that the ref, who called the crucial penalty kick on questionable grounds, is a Japanese (insinuating he made the bad call BECAUSE he’s a Japanese), as it’s completely irrelevant.  Bad form, ESPN.

But what you probably didn’t know is that back in Japan, the Japanese police are back up to their old tricks of linking foreigners anywhere in the world to domestic crime. Get a load of this:

////////////////////////////////////////
Police to flood Shibuya as Japan kicks off World Cup campaign
The Japan Times NATIONAL JUN 11, 2014
Comments at the JT at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/06/11/national/police-flood-shibuya-japan-kicks-world-cup-campaign/

Tokyo police will deploy about 800 officers in the Shibuya area Sunday to control crowds and reduce jams, noise and possible vandalism as Japan faces Cote d’Ivoire in the opening round of soccer’s World Cup.

“We expect considerable congestion with soccer fans, shoppers and tourists,” a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department said Wednesday. “We will take necessary security measures to ensure a smooth traffic flow, control the congestion and prevent trouble.”

Officers will be deployed around the main scramble intersection outside Shibuya Station, as well as in the Hachiko statue square and several adjacent streets where bars and cafes are likely to have the match playing on TVs. There will also be several public viewing spots in the area.

The police presence will last from 10 a.m., when the match kicks off, until 2 p.m., the spokesman said.

On an average day, 2.26 million passengers pass through Shibuya Station.

“It depends on the degree of congestion, but officers will direct the crowd of soccer fans not to flock to one area,” the spokesman said.

The police have no plans yet to cordon off areas or enforce traffic controls, he said.

The crossing in front of Shibuya Station attracts soccer fans every time Japan plays an international match, leading to rowdy, good-natured revelry.
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: Sooo…. once again we see the bad precedents established by bringing any major international event to Japan.  I’ve written before on the bad precedents set by, for example, the G8 Summits (where foreigners anywhere in Japan, even hundreds of miles away in Hokkaido!, are cause for NPA crackdowns in the capital).  And also the same with the 2002 World Cup, where the media was whipped into a frenzy over the possible prospect of “hooligans” laying waste to Japan and siring unwanted babies from rapes (seriously).  This time, in 2014, the games are thousands of miles away in Brazil.  But the NPA has still gotta crack down!  Who knows what those Ivory Coasters might get up to!  The paranoia, bunker mentalities, even outright falsification of data in order to justify a more-policed Japan are reaching ever more ludicrous degrees.  How immature this all is.  Dr. ARUDOU Debito

 

New facial recognition systems at J border: Once again, testing out the next-gen loss of civil liberties on the “Gaijin Guinea Pigs”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  First, take in this:

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

Face recognition system to be tested again at Japanese immigration
Kyodo News, April 19, 2014, courtesy of JK
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/140419/face-recognition-system-be-tested-again-at-japanese-im

The government plans to restart from August a test on a facial recognition system to speed up immigration checks at airports and prepare for an expected surge in visitors for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, officials said Saturday.

The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau will reintroduce the system on a trial basis for Japanese passengers at Haneda and Narita airports for about five weeks, after a series of errors in the first test in 2012 led the ministry to forgo its plan to adopt the system.

Facial recognition systems check passenger photos taken during inspections against data in a chip in their passports. Britain and Australia have introduced such systems.

The bureau conducted the first test on roughly 29,000 people between August and September 2012, but the system failed to recognize about 17 percent of the passengers.

A panel of experts told the Justice Ministry in May last year it should introduce the facial recognition system to increase use of automated gates to leave and enter the country, quicker than conventional immigration inspections.

Automated gates at major airports equipped with fingerprint recognition technology are unpopular with passengers as they require prior registration. The facial recognition system will not need it.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Now let’s survey the narratives of justification in this article.  We have the argument that it’s allegedly for a looming event (NJ swarm from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, even though it’s more than six years away!), the convenience factor (faster processing of people, this time without even registering!), and the bandwagon argument that others are implementing it (Britain and Australia, whose civil societies have had more robust debates on the issues of privacy and civil liberties).  All of these arguments were made during the reinstitution of NJ fingerprinting in 2007, and that time it wasn’t for a specific event, but rather for anti-terrorism [sic] in general.  And as Debito.org has argued many times before, once you get the public softened up on the idea of taking away civil liberties by testing it on one sector of the population (in this case, the Gaijin Guinea Pigs, since foreigners in every society have fewer civil and political rights), it gets expanded on the rest of the population.

Let’s enter the No-Brainer Zone:  I anticipate the facial recognition software will be implemented nationwide more seamlessly than any other intrusive technology yet, since it is so convenient and doesn’t require individual registry or even much hardware installation.  There’s even a profit motive.  Consider this:

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

EDITORIAL
Stores sharing shoppers’ faces
The Japan Times, APR 12, 2014, courtesy of JK

Over 100 supermarkets and convenience stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area have been recording images of shoppers’ faces as part of antishoplifting measures. Though the stores have posted signs stating cameras are in place, the stores have been sharing the biometric data of customers without their knowledge.

Such sharing should be considered an invasion of privacy and going against the intention of Japan’s Personal Information Protection Law.

After 115 stores of 50 separate companies installed a shoplifting prevention system, they obtained the power not only to record every customer’s face but also to share that record in a network.

If a person shoplifts or makes unreasonable complaints, camera footage of the person is turned into biometric data and classified into categories such as shoplifter or complainer. That data is then stored on the firm’s server and made available to other stores.

When the same face is recognized at another store, the staff is notified that the blacklisted person is in their store.

Because the accuracy rate of current recognition software has become extremely high — 99.9 percent accurate by some accounts — the data is more or less equivalent to the original image. That means that even when the original images of the faces are not made available, a nearly complete replication of that face, in data form, is being shared.

The problem is the lack of checks on the system. Seemingly whoever has access to the network could classify customers according to an arbitrary criterion. But what constitutes an “unreasonable” complaint is open to question. And whether an act of shoplifting is reported to the police and whether the suspect is convicted of the crime is a matter of the law. It should not be a matter of how an employee feels about it.

Unfortunately with this technology, stores are now able to put people on a blacklist for any reason whatsoever.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/04/12/editorials/stores-sharing-shoppers-faces/

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

Comments at the JT to this article were very poignant regarding the probable treatment of Visible Minorities:

Steve Jackman
I suspect that this technology and sharing of data is also being used to target shoppers who are visible minorities for extra surveillance. If so, that would explain accounts I have heard from some foreign residents of Japan that security guards seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere when they are visiting shops (especially, certain large department stores in the Tokyo area).

=============================
phu
While I’d stop short of absolutely connecting this to such accounts, it was also my first thought that the abuse of this system would immediately (or at least very promptly) swing to surveillance of minorities.

The article uses the term “blacklist” without explicitly stating that the customers HAVE been blacklisted, as in disallowed from entering one of the stores in the network. In the absence of that actual claim, and based on what should be the illegality of this practice, I’m not convinced that’s actually happening: As presented, the whole thing seems more arbitrary than barring a convicted criminal from the premises of one store (which would be reasonable in some circumstances) and closer to cooperative discrimination, whether legally justified or not, and whether directed at minorities or at ethnic, resident Japanese.

=============================
Steve Jackman
The risk and a likely scenario of a system like this, which lacks proper checks-and-balances, is that the actions of a single shop employee at a store can result in a shopper getting forever blacklisted and tagged for extra surveillance at many other stores.

What if this employee is inherently suspicious of all foreigners in general, or harbors racist feelings towards anyone who does not appear Japanese? Such an employee can end up blacklisting and tagging a foreign shopper not for anything specific that the customer has done, but rather out of the employee’s own paranoia against non-Japanese shoppers.

=============================
phu
Certainly. In places where minorities are either accepted or largely ignored, this would still be unacceptable (as you say, it puts too much power in arbitrary and unchecked hands, regardless of how it’s used), but Japan’s pronounced discrimination problem does make it hard to ignore the likelihood of abuse skewing towards minorities.

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

Food for thought as the dragnets draw ever tighter. Although the 2020 Olympics have been used as justification for positive pro-NJ rights issues (see for example here and here), here’s an example of where it’s doing the opposite. Japan’s policymakers get weird whenever the outside world is going to drop by for a visit. Not only when they’re being called over to stay awhile. ARUDOU Debito

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 74, Apr 3, 2014: “Knowing your rights can protect against fake cops”, updating the NJ Spot ID Checkpoints issue

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest Japan Times column is out now. Excerpt:
ISSUES| JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Knowing your rights can protect against fake cops
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES, APR 2, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/04/02/issues/rights-can-protect-against-fake-cops/

Long-time readers of The Japan Times will already be aware of some of the information in today’s column. But within is an important update, so press on.

As you no doubt know (or should know), non-Japanese residents are required to carry ID 24/7 in the form of wallet-size “gaijin cards,” nowadays known as zairyū kādo (resident cards). (People without those cards — i.e., tourists here for less than three months — must instead always carry a passport.) Don’t leave home without yours, for you could face detention and a criminal penalty if a police officer suddenly demands it.

Which they can do at any time — underscoring the weakened position of non-Japanese under domestic law and social policy. According to the former Foreign Registry Law, any public official empowered by the Ministry of Justice may demand ID from a non-Japanese person, whenever. Inevitably, this encourages racial profiling, as cops with systematic regularity target people who “look foreign” (including naturalized citizens, such as this writer) for public shakedowns that are intimidating, alienating and humiliating…

Exacerbating this is social policy (see Community pages passim), with the National Police Agency and other ministries expressly portraying non-Japanese as agents of crime, terrorism, hooliganism and infectious diseases. They have also encouraged the general public to pile on, unlawfully demanding that hotels and other public facilities, taxation agencies and non-Japanese employers also carry out gaijin-card checks.

Note that this sort of thing cannot be done to Japanese. Even the prospect of creating standardized IDs (let alone being forced to carry one at all times) has caused public outrage (recall the scandal over the Juki Net system). No wonder: Citizens are in fact shielded by the Police Execution of Duties Law, which states that police officers can ask personal questions only if there is probable cause — that is, adequate suspicion that a crime has been or is about to be committed. Although there are cases of Japanese being similarly harassed by police, the attitude of those on the receiving end of such treatment — at least according to numerous videos on YouTube (search for shokumu shitsumon, or 職務質問) — generally seems to be alarm over capricious invasions of privacy.

Not so for non-Japanese. Last month I received reports that police officers in Roppongi have recently included searching bags and sticking their hands down the pockets of non-Japanese, heightening the invasiveness. (This is the same police branch, remember, that came up with non-Japanese urine checks — until The Japan Times questioned its legality. See “Cops crack down with ‘I pee’ tests,” July 7, 2009.)

Moreover, as general awareness has increased that non-Japanese must carry gaijin cards, I have received reports that weirdos posing as police (most recently in Kichijoji, Tokyo) are coming up to non-Japanese (particularly women) and demanding their personal information.

One might think things changed for the better when the Foreign Registry Law was abolished in 2012 — after all, non-Japanese can finally be registered as residents with their Japanese families — but no: The section that permits spot ID checks was incorporated into the revised Immigration Control Act (Article 23).

Fortunately, so were safeguards against cop masqueraders. So here is a revised version of your legal rights:

  • If someone who purports to be a police officer (some prowl in plainclothes) asks for your ID, ask if this is shokumu shitsumon (literally, a professional inquiry; download a dialog you can put in your wallet at www.debito.org/shokumushitsumon.html) If he says yes, ask if there is probable cause of a crime. If he says no, ask if you may leave. Repeat as necessary. This should stop some ID checks, especially if you start videoing it with your phone. (Legally you can, as YouTube demonstrates.)
  • If the police officer responds that as non-Japanese, you are required by law to display ID upon request, counter that by law, cops are also required to display badges upon request. Say “• Keisatsu techō o misete kudasai• ” and take a picture of both the badge and the hologram ID on the back. (Beware of fake badges; see an image at www.debito.org/?p=12138). This will stop most abuses. Then show your gaijin card.
  • If the officer refuses to show his techō (pointing to the number on his uniform lapel — or, according to one account, patting his gun — is insufficient), then head to the nearest kōban • (police box). That should send imposters scurrying away. Once there, by law, you will have to show your gaijin card, but try to get a techō from somebody, because you will need all the information (on front and back) for future reference.
  • If the officer demands a bag or pocket search, ask if he has a warrant, and that you won’t comply until he gets one. Say “Reijō ga arimasu ka? Reijō ga nai to dekimasen.”
  • If you feel as though you have suffered abusive treatment, then contact the Public Safety Commission (kōan iinkai) in your prefecture (Tokyo’s is at www.kouaniinkai.metro.tokyo.jp/osirase.html) with the exact details of the officer’s badge. You can file a formal complaint in English — they have translators. Admittedly, these are wolves policing other wolves, but do something and you might get an answer; do nothing and there is no possibility of a check or balance on abusive cops or cosplay stalkers.

Remember: Only police and other officials of the Justice Ministry (such as immigration officials) may demand to see your gaijin card specifically. When necessary, you can choose to show other ID, such as a driver’s license or health insurance card, like any Japanese.

The point is, be aware of your rights. Like anywhere, Japan has people with foreigner fixations (such as killers Joji Obara and Tatsuya Ichihashi), and they prey on the weakened position of non-Japanese in Japanese society. Empower yourself.

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

ARUDOU, Debito is the author of the “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” (www.debito.org/handbook.html) A discussion of this issue is at www.debito.org/?p=12138. Send comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.
ENDS

YouTube: Police NJ Passport Checkpoint at Shibuya March 3, 2014 (targeted NJ does not comply)

mytest

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Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog. Just got this one from RS, where he writes about something that happened last night in Shibuya:

========================================
March 3, 2014:
Debito-san, Thanks for your work. This incident happened tonight and we’ve already put it up on Youtube. Please have a look.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aObKykGpnLQ&feature=youtu.be

Because I’ve read your articles, I knew that I did not have to comply, and did not. Thank you and keep up the good work.
========================================

Well done. Although the video is a bit incomplete (it’s not clear how this started or how it ended), it’s clear that the police certainly do not want to be filmed, and it’s a good guess that BECAUSE it was filmed that the police showed restraint, if this video is any guide:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoS8tiPsW0c

Anyway, what RS is referring to is this section here on Debito.org which says that the Japanese police cannot ask you personal questions (let alone passports, as in above) without probable cause. Except if you’re a NJ, under the Foreign Registry Law. But the NJ can also ask for the cop’s ID before showing his, so ask for it first, has been the point.

However, with the abolition of the Foreign Registry Law in 2012, it remains unclear under what law in specific the Japanese police are empowered to ask NJ without probable cause. I have consulted informally with legal scholar Colin P.A. Jones (of Doshisha and The Japan Times), and he too has had trouble finding anything in specific codified in the laws that now empowers cops in this manner. Nevertheless the institutional practice is in place, encouraging racial profiling, as last night’s performance indicates. I’ll give Colin a nudge to see if he will cover this in a column, if he hasn’t already. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE MARCH 5: Debito.org has received word that there is at least one case of somebody in mufti flashing badges and asking select NJ (what appears to be visibly-NJ women, in Kichijouji, Tokyo) for their ID. In all cases, check the police badge (keisatsu techou o misete kudasai), as you are legally entitled to. What to look for:

fakeandrealpolicebadges
Courtesy of Reddit.
The creep in question:

NHK World: Tokyo Court orders Tokyo Metro Govt to compensate Muslim NJ for breach of privacy after NPA document online leaks

mytest

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Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog. In what I consider to be good and very significant news, the Tokyo District Court ruled that NJ who had their privacy violated, due to National Police Agency leaks of personal information, were entitled to compensation.

This is good news because the government rarely loses in court. Considering past lawsuits covered by Debito.org, the police/GOJ can get away with negligence (Otaru Onsens Case), grievous bodily harm (Valentine Case), and even murder (Suraj Case).

But not privacy violations. Interesting set of priorities. But at least sometimes they can protect NJ too.

Note also what is not being ruled problematic. As mentioned below, it’s not an issue of the NPA sending out moles to spy on NJ and collecting private information on them just because they happen to be Muslim (therefore possible terrorists). It’s an issue of the NPA losing CONTROL of that information. In other words, the privacy breach was not what’s being done by The State, but rather what’s being done by letting it go public. That’s also an interesting set of priorities.

But anyway, somebody was forced to take responsibility for it.  Good news for the Muslim community in Japan.  More background from the Debito.org Archives on what the NPA was doing to Japan’s Muslim residents (inadequately covered by the article below), and the scandal it caused in 2000, here, here, and here.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE JAN 17:  I was convinced by a comment to the Japan Times yesterday to remove this entry from the “Good News” category.  I now believe that the court approval of official racial profiling of Muslims has made the bad news outweigh the good.  That comment below the article.  

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

Tokyo ordered to pay police leak compensation
NHK World, January 15, 2014, courtesy of JK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140115_36.html

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been ordered to pay compensation of more than 90 million yen, or about 860,000 dollars, for breach of privacy resulting from a leak of police documents.

The case involves 114 documents related to international terrorism that were leaked online in 2010. They contained the names, addresses and photos of Japanese people and foreigners who provided information to police investigators.

About 2 months after the documents were leaked, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department acknowledged the documents as their own, and pledged protection and support for those whose identities have been revealed.

But the police were never able to identify who was responsible for leaking the documents, which was done with special software that made the leak untraceable. The statute of limitations on the case expired in October.

On Wednesday, the Tokyo District Court ruled in a lawsuit filed by 17 Muslims who claimed that their privacy had been violated.

Presiding judge Masamitsu Shiseki acknowledged that the police created the documents and called intelligence-gathering by investigators an unavoidable measure to prevent international terrorism.

But the judge said the documents were probably leaked by Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department personnel, and held the Superintendent-General responsible for failing to properly manage their intelligence.

One of the plaintiffs told reporters that he felt a bit relieved that the court acknowledged the responsibility of the police. But he said that what he and others really wanted the court to acknowledge was that the police investigation was discriminatory and illegal. He said he was sorry that the court did not find the investigation illegal.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department says it is regrettable that the court did not accept its claims. It also said it will decide whether to appeal the ruling after studying the content of the decision.

ENDS

COMMENT FROM STEVE JACKMAN AT THE JAPAN TIMES (see full comment here):

So, the Japanese court has legally sanctioned the government to racially profile its Japanese citizens and residents, by giving the Japanese government its official approval and permission to racially profile them based on their religious beliefs. This smacks of the early days of the rise of Nazism, when the Nazis racially profiled Germany’s Jewish population based solely on their religious beliefs.

The Japanese court has ruled that the police can gather information on Japanese citizens and residents, based solely on the reason that they are Muslim. It cited that terrorist attacks had been carried out by Islamic radicals around the world, and the ruling stated that, “There is a sufficient danger that such acts could also occur in Japan”. Never mind, that these muslim citizens and residents have committed no crimes, have nothing to do with terrorism, and that until now Japan has only experienced home grown terrorism, which has nothing to do with its muslim population.

After the court’s verdict, the lawyer for the muslim plaintiffs stated, “The ruling allowed the gathering of information just because an individual happened to be a Muslim”. He further raised concerns about the effects of the court’s ruling in light of the recent enactment in Japan of the state secrets protection law, which defines information related to terrorism as being subject to classification as a state secret. “The gathering of information itself will become a secret and there would be no brakes applied on investigations conducted by those in public security,” he said.[…]

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 70, Dec. 4, 2013: “In Japan, no escape from The Eye’s perpetual policing glare”

mytest

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ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Hi Blog.  Thanks once again for putting this article on the JT Online’s Top Ten for more than a day.  Channelling Foucault’s Panopticon, here’s my latest.  Arudou Debito

In Japan, no escape from The Eye’s perpetual policing glare
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, DEC 4, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/12/04/issues/in-japan-no-escape-from-the-eyes-perpetual-policing-glare/

TheEyeNPAstarephoto

NJstarephoto

(More about these “Eye” signs at http://www.debito.org/?p=11951)

Hey, all you residents heading abroad for the holidays, here’s a little experiment to try on yourself: When you return to Japan, take note of an interesting phenomenon that starts just as you deplane and plug back into Japanese society.

You’ll feel a palpable and intractable pressure — a pressure to conform to The Order, that standardized way of doing things in Japan. You can use it to get what you want, or you can defy it and feel the burn of its stare.

I call this pressure The Eye.

Of course, you can find The Eye in all societies. Also known as the “evil eye” or “hairy eyeball,” it’s a glare you get when you’re doing something the crowd doesn’t like. Humans as a species have an innate sensitivity to the feeling of being watched. Perhaps it’s a primal instinct to keep us in formation and out of trouble.

But The Eye in Japan is so powerful that it doesn’t need a crowd. Just step out into public view and you’ll feel it. And because it is so constant, normalized and pervasive, it triggers a conditioned reflex.

Consider the reflex triggered by Chinese water torture: The victim gets water dripped between the eyes and blinks it away. Enough drops over a long period and the victim’s self-control erodes, and he blinks uncontrollably even without the dripping water.

The Eye similarly conditions you. It makes the feeling of being watched involuntary — to the point where you feel the need to look around before doing something unusual in public.

The Eye thus compels you towards collective behavior: Mustn’t be forceful or push back against the status quo, lest you get hairy-eyeballed.

For example, call upon a Japanese student in any classroom and ask his opinion about something. The Eye turns on him like a heat lamp on the back of his neck. He’ll pause, look around and wonder — if not flat-out ask — what the consensus opinion is.

Even if you clarify that you are asking for his personal opinion, you’ll generally get evasion or a noncommittal answer.

Understandably. After all, nobody wants to stand out in the spotlight and push against something, especially if they have no stake or emotional investment in it. And even if they did, who wants to be judged for it? Life is less complicated for an anonymous member of a crowd. The Eye thus keeps Japanese classrooms quiet.

Of course, peer pressure exists in classrooms worldwide. But even outside class, where there are fewer “peers” to worry about, the lack of individual push-back in Japan is marked and noticeable.

Let’s say you’re walking down the street in the middle of the night and you see a “don’t walk” red light at an intersection. Assume there are no cars coming, so you could actually cross safely. In Japan, people often still don’t cross. You wait for it to turn green, especially if somebody else is there ready to look at you funny if you break ranks.

Or let’s say you’re walking down that street again and see a cordon of orange traffic pylons around half a sidewalk that squeezes pedestrians into one lane and inconveniences everyone. After sizing up the situation, you notice that the cordon serves no practical purpose because it’s Sunday and no one’s working on the site.

Yet you still don’t move the pylons over. You squeeze into the narrowed foot traffic and silently negotiate with oncoming pedestrians who can’t decide which side to walk on (as often happens in societies that lead with the right hand yet drive on the left).

The Eye thus forces everyone to assume that something beyond individual control is probably there for a purpose, and that no individual should stand out by interfering.

Rarely are there enough standouts to balance the scales, or even tip them in the iconoclast’s favor. It creates the inverse of “breaking ranks”: If only one person reasserts the status quo, the rest will generally fall into line.

Now consider the extra pressure on people who often cannot avoid The Eye: the non-Japanese (NJ).

It is said that privacy in Japan is the art of not being seen. This means that natural standouts, such as Japan’s “visible minorities” (i.e. the NJ and Japanese who don’t “look Japanese”), cannot opt out of The Eye’s glare. They attract attention no matter what they do — even if they do absolutely nothing.

Granted, sometimes that works in the NJ’s favor — that is, if they happen to appeal to a desirable standard (e.g., tall, well-groomed, moneyed and male). They attract the attention of the Giggly Ingenue and Bored Cougar. In other words, they get “the look,” not The Eye.

But that also means they don’t get left alone. They have to endure more intrusions into their space. Random bystanders barge in and try to be A Gracious Host to The Gaijin Guest.

Not to mention the other people who hijack The Eye for their own purposes: the Culture Vultures, for one example, who ostensibly want to practice their English with any NJ face, but in actual fact harbor a gaijin (foreigner) fetish.

Such fetishists want to “study” anything NJ do, believing it to be somehow symptomatic of how all foreigners behave, right down to checking on what’s in their supermarket carts or garbage bags. Some even follow NJ around and photograph them surreptitiously, as if tracking rare animals. It can get creepy.

As for the motley NJ who don’t fit that aforementioned desirable standard, The Eye eventually convinces them that they really are somehow deviant and undesirable. And many go a bit nuts due to their apparent inadequacy. They’ll be ignored, but studiously so.

On the other hand, there are NJs who do “look Japanese” and can “pass” as such. By donning drab colors, effecting a sullen public mask and adopting unobtrusive behaviors like everyone else, they can escape The Eye.

But these are the exceptions that prove the rule — the rule being that NJ in Japan are naturally viewed as suspicious. And the law as enforced reinforces that.

As detailed in previous Community Page articles passim, aside from the (now remotely trackable) “gaijin cards” that must be carried 24-7, racial profiling by Japan’s police is normal and legally sanctioned. Probable cause is not necessary for search and interrogation of NJ, since every one of them is potentially a visa overstayer. NJ are also given extra and distinct procedures in criminal jurisprudence, incarceration and public registration.

Then there’s the extra scrutiny from neighbors, encouraged by extralegal intrusive regimes such as government online “snitch sites” (see “Downloadable discrimination,” Zeit Gist, March 30, 2004) and unlawful visa checks by hotels, businesses and workplaces (“Gaijin card checks spread as police deputize the nation,” ZG, Nov. 13, 2007). All of these practices are part and parcel of The Order for NJ — for NJ in Japan must be watched.

But less considered is how Japan’s top-down enforcement mechanisms are also enforced bottom-up and side-to-side — for everyone.

That is how The Eye is manifest. And it completes the circuit of the system by making everyone watch and police one another.

Usually I like to conclude a column with advice about what to do about the issue in question. This time, however, shikata ga nai — there is no escape from The Eye. In fact, you’ll even resort to hairy-eyeballing someone yourself if you see aberrant behavior, glad to be the one staring for a change.

The only escape is to head back to the airport and exit Japanese society. As many Japanese do.

Then you’ll notice the opposite effect. Japanese free of The Eye often go overboard in their conduct, doing loud, brazen things in public they’d never dream of doing in Japan, given the sudden easing of societal boundaries.

Tabi no haji wa kakisute (“throw away your shame while on a trip”) is the Japanese proverb that justifies such behavior: You don’t know anyone around you and you won’t be there for all that long, so you can do even shameful things if you like. After all, few locals will police them like Japanese would police NJ back home; overseas, cultural relativism turns many a blind hairy eyeball.

Break over, they’ll come back to Japan and plug right back in. As will you.

Scholar Kenichi Yoshida once famously wrote that “Japan is a circle.” I’d amend that: It’s a closed loop of perpetual policing.

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

Debito Arudou adapted this essay from the introduction of his 2011 book “In Appropriate: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan,” now available as an e-book for ¥935. See www.debito.org/inappropriate.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday Community page of the month. Send your comments on these issues and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013: “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”

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Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013:
“Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”
BY ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/09/30/issues/triumph-of-tokyo-olympic-bid-sends-wrong-signal-to-japans-resurgent-right/
Version with links to sources

Blame news cycles, but I’m coming in late to the discussion on Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics. Sorry. The most poignant stuff has already been said, but I would add these thoughts.

Probably unsurprisingly, I was not a supporter of Tokyo’s candidacy. Part of it is because I have a hard time enjoying events where individuals are reduced to national representatives, saddled with the pressure to prove an apparent geopolitical superiority through gold medal tallies. Guess I’m just grouchy about international sports.

That said, this time around, the wheeling and dealing at the International Olympic Committee has been particularly distasteful. Unlike the IOC, I can’t forget Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose’s denigration of fellow candidate city Istanbul for being “Islamic” (conveniently playing on widespread Western fears of a religion and linking it to social instability). This was especially ironic given rising xenophobia in Japan, where attendees at right-wing rallies have even called for the killing of ethnic Koreans who have lived in and contributed to Japan for generations.

Nor can I pretend to ignore the risk of exposing people to an ongoing nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima. Even if you think the science is still unclear on the health effects of radiation in Tohoku, what’s not in doubt is that there will be incredible amounts of pork sunk into white-elephant projects in Japan’s metropole while thousands of people still languish in northern Japan, homeless and dispossessed. When so much work is incomplete elsewhere, this is neither the time nor place for bread and circuses.

All of this has been said elsewhere, and more eloquently. But for JBC, the most important reason why the Olympics should not come to Japan is because, as I have argued before, Japan as a government or society is not mature enough to handle huge international events.

I know, Japan has held three Olympics before (in Tokyo, Sapporo and Nagano), as well as numerous international events (such as the G-8 Summits in Nago and Toyako) and one FIFA World Cup. But with each major event it holds, Japan keeps setting precedents that hemorrhage cash and make life miserable for residents. Especially those who don’t “look Japanese” — Japan’s visible minorities.

Media memories tend to be short, so some refreshers: More money was spent on “security” at Nago’s G-8 Summit in 1998 than at any previous such powwow — by a factor of five (“Summit wicked this way comes,” Zeit Gist, Apr. 22, 2008). Then Toyako in 2008 spent even more than Nago.

When you devote this much time and energy to policing, consider the effects on those being policed. As reported on these pages before (I have gone as far as to call Japan a “mild police state”), Japan’s police forces have inordinate powers of search, seizure, and detention even at the most mundane of times.

Now, bring in the eyes of the world for an international event, and Japan’s general bunker mentality produces a control-freak guest/host relationship, where nothing is left to chance, and nobody will be allowed to spoil the party.

That means Japan’s authorities get a freer hand to smoosh not only alleged threats to social order, but also dissenters in general. Because our media generally ignores contrarians and naysayers for the sake of putting the best face on Japan for guests, they forget their own duty to act as a check and balance against official over-enforcement and paranoia.

But paranoia tends to peak when there are “foreigners” gadding about. Remember the 2002 World Cup, when politicians, bureaucrats and the media declared open season on “foreigners” (popularizing the word “hooligan” among Japanese), justifying enormous budgets and infrastructure to subdue their international guests if necessary? (It wasn’t.)

Years later, Toyako slingshot off that precedent, with “foreigners” equated with “terrorists,” further normalizing the act of subjecting any foreign face to extra scrutiny and racial profiling.

Plus, you might recall, Japan still has no law against racial discrimination, so treating foreigners like crap can happen anytime, anywhere, by any vigilante who can scribble “Japanese Only” on a storefront window.

But wait — there’s something more sinister afoot. In terms of domestic politics, this was in fact the worst possible time to award Japan the Olympics.

Over the past year, this column has charted the re-ascendance of Japan’s right wing into power, and its rout of the more liberal elements who tried to rein in Japan’s endemic corporatism and bigotry.

Now we have government once again run by and for Japan’s ruling class — i.e., the political families, entrenched bureaucrats, corporate conglomerate heads and hereditary elites.

These types can only see the world in terms of power. Their forebears cheered loudest when, for example, Japan triumphed in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. It showed both them and the rest of the world that Japan had become mighty enough to defeat a world power!

This victory transformed Japan into a colonial empire, cocksure that it was on the right track because it could beat white people. This hubris led to enormous suffering worldwide, as the elites led Japanese society to a destiny of total war and utter defeat.

Three generations later, these elites still have not learned their lesson. The biggest reason why Japan’s ruling class respected and once emulated America is because they lost a war to them. Now that postwar Japan has rebuilt and re-enriched itself, they believe it’s nigh time to re-militarize, restore Japan to its rightful place in the geopolitical hierarchy and rally Japanese society behind repeating a glorious (yet ultimately tragic) history.

If you read the subtext of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposals for constitutional reform closely, you’ll realize that this is precisely what Japan’s ruling politicians are calling for. From that will flow the restored trappings of a prewar-ordered Japanese society.

And now, these jingoists have had their mind-sets rewarded with an Olympics. What a windfall! Even if Abe were to step down tomorrow (he won’t — he’s got a good three years left to machinate if his health holds up), he will be remembered positively for bagging the 2020 Games. But now he and his ilk can leverage this victory into convincing the general public that Japan is still somehow on the right track.

Even when it’s not. For the fallout still remains: Abe lied about how “safe” and “under control” Japan’s nuclear industry is. And Japan’s already massive public debt will balloon further out of control. And once again, the invisible slush monies available to fund elite projects will remain unaccountable.

After all, Japan won its last Olympics, according to Time magazine (“Japan’s sullied bid,” Feb. 1, 1999), through blatant corruption and bribery of IOC officials. How much corruption? We don’t know, because Japan burned all of the Nagano Olympics financial records!

Slush clearly didn’t bother the IOC this time either, as they seated themselves at the trough. I guess we can’t expect corrupt bedfellows to police each other. So anyone who outspends, outbids and outdoes their rivals, even to the detriment of their respective societies, gets rewarded for it — precisely the wrong geopolitical incentives for societies in flux.

In Japan’s case, the damage will be political as well as economic: Everyone must get behind the Olympic effort or else. Then, when the party’s over, remember those who got steamrollered: The people living outside of greedy Tokyo; our non-Japanese residents, who will once again be targeted as a destabilizing force; and the rest of Japanese society, who will have to live under illiberal regimes where individual rights will be further subordinated to the maintenance of social order.

In sum, international events undermine Japan’s democracy. Shame on you, IOC, for being a party to it.

ENDS

Arudou Debito’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send your comments on these issues and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 65, “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism”, July 8, 2013

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Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism
BY ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE JUL 8, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/07/08/issues/police-foreign-crime-wave-falsehoods-fuel-racism/ Version with links to sources.

These Community pages have reported many times on how the National Police Agency (NPA) has manufactured the illusion of a “foreign crime wave,” depicting non-Japanese (NJ) as a threat to Japan’s public safety (see “Upping the fear factor,” Zeit Gist, Feb. 20, 2007; “Time to come clean on foreign crime,” ZG, Oct. 7, 2003; “Foreigner crime stats cover up a real cop-out,” ZG, Oct. 4, 2002, for just a few examples).

A decade ago, the NPA could make a stronger case because NJ crimes were going up. However, as we pointed out then, Japanese crimes were going up too. And, in terms of absolute numbers and proportion of population, NJ crimes were miniscule.

Then bust followed boom. According to the NPA (see www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai/H23_rainichi.pdf, or the images accompanying this article), “foreign crime” has fallen below 1993 levels (see H5 column, representing the year Heisei 5)!

NPAprelimcrimestats2011barchart

That’s why the NPA has found it increasingly difficult to maintain its claims of a foreign crime wave. So, to keep up appearances, the agency has resorted to statistical jiggery-pokery.

For example, look again at the NPA chart. The time frame has been expanded to 30 years; in previous annual reports, it covered just a decade. By stretching the parameters, the overall chart depicts a comparative rise rather than a small peak before a precipitous drop.

Not accounted for, however, is the fact that the NJ population has also risen — more than doubling since 1993.

Another method of manipulation has been to focus on partial rises in certain types of NJ crime, despite the overall fall. And I bet you can guess which got more media attention.

The most creative NPA rejig is arguing that NJ crime has been “stopped at a high plateau” (takadomari no jōtai) — even if that “plateau” is downward-sloping.

Every NPA argument leads to the same predictable conclusion: Further crackdowns on “foreign crime” are necessary, because NJ are importing criminality into a once-peaceful Japan.

Sources:
http://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=1372
http://www.debito.org/?p=7781

Yet neither the NPA, nor the Japanese media parroting their semiannual reports, have ever compared Japanese and NJ crime, or put them on the same chart for a sense of scale. If they had, they would see something resembling the 3-D graph that accompanies this column (courtesy of Japan Times).

crimeJandNJJapanTimesJuly2013

The other chart in Japanese (that can be found at hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/jp/59/nfm/n_59_2_1_1_1_0.html and in the accompanying images) — on whose data the 3-D graphic is based — breaks down all crime committed in “peaceful” postwar Japan. Note the (less-reported) concurrent “Japanese crime wave” (especially the middle, yellow set of bars, which depict thefts alone).

NPAJcrimestats19462007

Since the right-hand scale is in tens of thousands, the graph tells us that there was a spike to well over 2.5 million non-traffic crimes in the peak year of 2002, a number that dropped to just over 1.5 million by 2009. Compared to 2009′s total “foreign crimes” of 30,569 (including visa violations, which Japanese cannot by definition commit), there is a difference of about a factor of 49. Thus “foreign crime” would barely even register on the chart.

So how can the NPA still sex up the stats? They found a new way.

In its 2009 white paper, the NPA talked about how “foreign crime gangs” are increasingly moving into Japan and creating “crime infrastructure” (hanzai infura).

It’s still such an obscure term that NPA websites have to define it for the public as “things and organizations that are the basic foundation of crime,” i.e., cellphones under fake names, fake websites, false marriages, false adoptions and fake IDs (see www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_04.gif)
hanzaiinfrakanagawakenkeisatsuJune2013

Although this “crime infrastructure” technically assists thieves of any nationality, the NPA’s online explanations focus on non-Japanese, with five out of eight examples offered specifically depicting NJ misdeeds (complete, of course, with racist caricatures, at www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/a01_safety/security/infra.html)
hanzaiinfuraibarakijune2013

You see this “criminal NJ” narrative again and again on NPA posters, such at the one reproduced here (www.debito.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/bouhaninfurabokumetsutaisakuJune2013.jpg), found at an immigration bureau last March, warning potential NJ miscreants against “forgery,” “bogus marriage,” “false affiliation” (i.e., claiming paternity on a foreign child to get it Japanese citizenship) and “false adoption.”
bouhaninfurabokumetsutaisakuJune2013

Note at the bottom, where the NPA has secured a special goro awase mnemonic phone number (hanzai infura nakuse — “get rid of crime infrastructure”) to help Japanese remember it better.

Clearly this “crime infra” campaign is not bowing out anytime soon. In fact, the NPA is now citing it to discount the drop in foreign crime! As their 2010 white paper reports, “the extent of how much crime has become globalized cannot be grasped through statistics” (Kyodo News and Mainichi Shimbun, July 23, 2010).

Seriously? So, suddenly, despite all the Nihonjinron mythologies, NJ are now supposedly more likely than Japanese to act in groups?

Swallow this, as well as the argument that foreigners are somehow more “invisible” in Japan (of all places), and voila, the only conclusion you can possibly draw is that all “foreign crime” statistics come from a little black box that only the NPA has access to.

Look, this is getting silly. You can’t ask for a more docile foreign population than Japan’s.

Almost all NJ do their work (no matter how unequal salaries and benefits are compared to those of Japanese), pay their taxes and try to get along without committing any crimes. NJ don’t even cause trouble by clumping into huge ghettos or keeping a high profile (a recent government poll indicated that 46 percent of Japanese surveyed didn’t even know nikkei South Americans are living in Japan!). Nor do they riot every now and again about how horrendously they get exploited; they just hang on by their fingernails hoping for a fair shake in society — one that rarely comes, as protection from discrimination is far from guaranteed by enforceable laws.

That should be enough hardship to contend with, but then in pounces the NPA to make things worse, picking on the weakest members of Japanese society (as it has done for decades, according to scholar Wolfgang Herbert’s “Foreign Workers and Law Enforcement in Japan”) to justify bogus budgets for fighting exaggerated NJ crime.

Of course, foreigners are a soft target anywhere (by definition, they do not have rights equal to citizens in any country), but in Japan they are so disenfranchised that if anyone points a finger at them, there is no way for them to point back.

NPA excesses have gone on long enough to encourage other bullies. We’ve seen a recent spike in the activity of Japan’s hate groups, most famously the “kill all Koreans” march through Tokyo on Feb. 9. Now how about these anonymous posters making the rounds?
gizokekkonjune2013gaikokujinhanzaitsuihouJune2013

One (reproduced in the images accompanying this column) warns of the allegedly “rapid rise” in fake international marriages for illegal overstayers and workers. Another one calls for kicking out foreign crime (murder, mugging, arson, rape and theft, totaling 25,730 cases — again, a drop in the bucket of Japanese crime).

So, the threat to public safety isn’t “crime infrastructure”; it is in fact the “propaganda infrastructure,” reinforced by false NPA arguments, that normalizes public displays of xenophobia and hatred in Japan.

One measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members. Japan’s systemic and unchecked bullying of NJ is going to hurt others, as emboldened haters eventually turn their attention to other weak social minorities.

Message to government: Rein in the NPA, and stop them constantly bashing Japan’s foreign residents. Expose their statistical hogwash for what it is, and redirect budgets to fight crime in general, not “foreign crime” specifically.
=========================

Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html . Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp .
ENDS

NPA “Crime Infrastructure Countermeasures” campaign also targets “foreign crime” anew. Justifies more anonymous anti-NJ signs

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Last blog entry we talked about how the National Police Agency exaggerates and falsifies data to whip up media panic about “foreign crime”.  We’ve also talked for many years on Debito.org about how the NPA has been putting out racist public notices about NJ criminals (including, in my opinion, assisting the seedier J-media to publish some examples of hate speech).  Well, anonymous postermakers are now getting into the act, what with the NPA’s most recent anti-crime campaign:

First, check these out (courtesy of Welp):

gizokekkonjune2013gaikokujinhanzaitsuihouJune2013

http://image.blog.livedoor.jp/kankyotoshisetsu/imgs/c/9/c9eaf02e-s.jpg
http://image.blog.livedoor.jp/kankyotoshisetsu/imgs/3/1/318b27b8-s.jpg

The poster at right calls upon Tokyo Immigration Bureau to do something about fake international marriages, claiming they’re “rising rapidly” (kyuuzouchuu), and says (with the obligatory plural exclamation points that are characteristic of the alarmist far-right) that we cannot permit illegal foreign labor or overstayers!!

The poster at left calls for the “expulsion of foreign crime” (!!), with murder, mugging, arson, rape, and theft listed at 25,730 cases! (Again, no comparison with Japanese crime, which is far, far higher — especially if you look at theft.) The bottom boxes are not to me fully legible, but the blue one asks the authorities not to give up in the face of fake applications for visas, Permanent Residency, and naturalizations!

(I would love to get larger copies of these posters. If anyone sees them on the street (take a photo!) or finds them online with greater resolution, please send to debito@debito.org.  Thanks.)

COMMENT:  Neither of these posters has a source or an organization listed on them, so anonymous vigilante hate groups are getting into the act. I find the first poster in particular unsettling, where brides are portrayed as merely cowls of flags.  You can’t trust NJ women, because under their pretty faces are lurking nationalisms that are not part of “us”.

Back to something more professional.  Again, from Welp:

sonokouihanzaijune2013

Courtesy http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_03.gif

This is from the Kanagawa Prefectural Police site (a proud sponsor of the door-to-door neighborhood resident checks and forked-tongue friendly cops who produce racist posters). It warns people in four languages that what they’re doing is criminal activity, including forgery, “bogus marriage” (wow, the language level is getting better), “false affiliation” (gizou ninchi, meaning a J male falsely acknowledges paternity of an NJ child to get that child Japanese citizenship), and false adoption (I hope this won’t now target Japan’s Douseiaisha).  Although not mentioning NJ in specific, the poster’s multilinguality means it’s meant for an international audience (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, English, and I think either Tagalog or Bahasa Indonesia).

(Again, I would love a larger graphic so we could read it all:  Eyes peeled, Debito.org denizens of Kanagawa!)

COMMENT:  The interesting bit is in the bottom green section, where it talks about the Hanzai Infura [illegible] Taisaku (Crime Infrastructure Countermeasures).

What’s meant by “crime infura”?  It’s a new enough concept to warrant an explanation from the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Site:

hanzaiinfrakanagawakenkeisatsuJune2013

Courtesy http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_04.gif

“Infrastructure” is the things and organizations that are the basic foundation of a society, meaning roads, rails, plumbing, etc.

By “Crime Infrastructure”, this is meant to be the the same thing to undergird crime, such as cellphones under false names, fake websites, false marriages, false adoptions, and false IDs.

The Ibaraki Prefectural Police have a more elaborate explanation, with helpful illustrations of eight cases.  Three talk about the shyster groups and internet sites who offer drugs, fake subscriptions, loans and financing schemes, etc. But five of the eight talk about NJ criminal activity, including money laundering through “illegal overstayers”, employers of the same, underground hospitals that engage in illegal medical activities and drug dispensing (!!), underground taxis, false IDs, and false paternity scams to get Japanese citizenship.  As I said, complete with helpful illustrations (note the absence of hakujin, so the illustrator has to play with noses to gaijinize them properly):

hanzaiinfuraibarakijune2013

Courtesy http://www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/a01_safety/security/infra.html

In fact, this “foreign crime infrastructure” meme is not new.  The first Debito.org heard about it was in 2009, when the NPA circulated its regular crime reports:  NJ crime was down year on year, so they had to find a way to sex up the numbers.

Hey presto!  Shift the focus from about foreign criminals as INDIVIDUALS, and towards foreign crime in GROUPS:   Then we can talk about NJ crooks targeting Japan and spreading their invisible tentacles nationwide. (Never mind the already well-established tentacles of organized crime in Japan, naturally — as Tokyo Governor Ishihara said, NJ crimes are so heinous in comparison that there are some parts of Japan where allegedly Japanese yakuza fear to tread! (Ishihara, Nihon Yo, 2002: 100))  To raise the fear factor further, we’ll even tell the media that Gaijin groupism means the NPA can’t measure foreign crime statistically!  

By 2010, this is exactly what happened.  And as of 2013, the NPA is now trying to popularize a new concept (since NJ crime still isn’t cooperating by going up anymore) of a “crime infrastructure”, as if it’s now embedded and endemic, invisible and unmeasurable — because it’s connected to NJ.  It’s part of the externality of once-peaceful Japan’s contact with the outside world and internationalization.

This new campaign conveniently occasions those posters made by anonymous vigilantes. Now we have a propaganda infrastructure that normalizes public displays of xenophobia in Japan.  Arudou Debito

2012 revisions to immigration and registry laws shaking down NJ for Pension & Health Insurance back payments

mytest

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Hi Blog. This entry is more of a query than a conclusive essay. I raise the question because we’re seeing the intended aftereffects of the 2012 revisions to the Immigration law (which allowed for NJ to be properly registered as residents on the Juuminhyou, but also centralized control of IC-Chipped Gaijin Cards in the national government) emerge. And allegedly more targeting of NJ in terms of social welfare schemes.

A friend of mine writes in (edited):

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

Don’t know if you’ve heard about the latest moves by the GOJ to milk foreign residents of their hard-earned cash. They are looking into NJ with the help of that new IC chip torokusho card and making people pay for the kokumin hoken health insurance AND nenkin pension they have never paid into.

I know several people who have been hit with this and it has drained their bank accounts.  They can’t even afford the plane ticket to go back home and see ailing parents. They said a lien would be put on their account/pay checks if they didn’t pay.

A teacher I know (in his 40s) has been here some 10 years and has NEVER paid into the health insurance scheme nor nenkin. He called up city hall inquring about this and they said yes indeed he is delinquent will have to pay up all those missed years! They asked his name and he said thank you and hung up the phone! 

Another friend of mine got zapped for back payments. Every month he was being charged fines/penalties for late payments. So even if he negotiated returning to a monthly fee he would still have to pay a huge amount in extra fees. So he paid it off lump-sum and has depleted all of his savings.

The health insurance is important as one needs that to ensure treatment here, but having NJ pay into the nenkin scheme if they feel they will not be here forever to pay into it is ridiculous.  Any advice on how to get around this? I’d love to hear what you think on the matter.

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

COMMENT: We talk about Japan’s social welfare systems in detail in HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS (and my eBook GUIDEBOOK FOR RELOCATION AND ASSIMILATION INTO JAPAN). Personally, I take the side of everyone paying in. I believe that everyone in a society should support the national umbrella insurance systems, because opting out by saying, for example, “I’m not sick now so I don’t need it; I’ll only sign up when I get sick,” is fair-weather freeloading, as if you’re expecting a return on an investment when you need it but you didn’t make the investment in the first place.  (National systems can’t remain solvent like that. These issues were developed and ironed out during the Obamacare debates.)   Also, saying that “I can’t see myself retiring in Japan so I shouldn’t have to pay into Japanese pension” is also bad logic, especially given Totalization Agreements Japan has arranged with a number of societies (also covered in HANDBOOK/GUIDEBOOK) for pensions to be started and completed in different countries.

That said, there are a couple of issues that affect NJ differently here.  One is that one of the reasons why some J have not paid in is because their employer (who is responsible to pay in half of their employees welfare benefits if they work 30 hours a week and up, i.e., full time) didn’t pay in their half.  This is often unbeknownst to the NJ employee and a tax dodge by the employer.  Yet the person who gets chased down for the back payments is the NJ employee.

Another issue that affects everyone is that Japan’s pension system basically requires 300 months (25 years) of work before you qualify for any pension (although I have heard that might be changing to 10 years’ minimum investment).  That’s the longest minimum pension investment for any industrialized society.  But since that affects everyone, that’s part of the price you pay to live in Japan.

The difference is that for the Japanese public you get a nicer attitude and less draconian enforcement.  Japanese just get official posters nicely cajoling them to pay into the social welfare schemes, but there is no real enforcement unless they want future pension payments (or to avoid public shame, as was seen in 2004 when Japanese politicians were caught not paying in).  But for NJ, now that all of their visa and registry issues have been consolidated behind Central Control, their very visa renewals are contingent upon paying into social welfare, and they’re being chased and shaken down for the money.  It’s a very different approach, and the newfound dragnet further encourages bureaucrats to scrutinize and treat NJ as potential social deadbeats.  It’s one more official way to treat NJ as “different”.

Anyone else out there being officially shaken down?  And for how much?  Arudou Debito

Aichi Police online announcement about Junkai Renraku door-to-door cop visits. Happening in your neighborhood?

mytest

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Hello Blog. This post comes to you as a query. Are any Debito.org Readers noticing that the Japanese police are keeping closer tabs on people by going door-to-door to survey occupants (junkai renraku), asking them to fill out Junkai Renraku Cards?

(To see what information is required for the Junkai Renraku, especially for NJ residents, here’s one translated into English by the NPA).

We’ve talked about this before on Debito.org, where we have seen the police doing door-to-door surveys of residents, with a special emphasis on how that involves Gaijin Carding for people living in Gaijin Houses.  Some people have said that this has never happened to them (for example, it never happened to me despite living in various places in Hokkaido over the course of 25 years), others it has (they think it’s cop SOP).

But the interesting thing is that at a prefectural level, Aichi, for example, is making public announcements to their residents that they will be making the rounds to households (katei).  (If this was all that normal a SOP, why the need for a public service announcement?)  This will be in order to:

  • Give advice on how not to become victims of crime,
  • Take measures for people who have been victims of crime,
  • Contact neighborhoods that have recently been victims of crime (such as sneak thievery and car break-ins) and advise them how to take measures against crime in the future,
  • Prevent youth crime (shounen no hankou boushi),
  • Have lists of occupants (renraku hyou) on hand and phone numbers in case of disasters,

and more. See http://www.pref.aichi.jp/police/safety/houmon/

We are seeing these PSAs in other prefectures, such as Kanagawa (http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/mes/mesg1001.htm), and door to door checks apparently elsewhere.

A couple of funny things going on here. First, information about neighborhood occupancy should be available through the juuminhyou system in the first place.  Much of this information is also surveyed by the National Census (kokusei chousa), where, I might add, providing any information is optional (note how the optionality of providing personal information is not mentioned in the Aichi Police website). Why do the police feel the need to compile their own data set?

Well, because police are control freaks, and given the degree of power the Japanese police have in Japan, privacy issues are of less importance than maintaining order.  And you just know that if they catch a NJ at his or her home, there’s going to be much more intrusive questioning than just phone numbers and occupants — they will demand to see your Gaijin Card and ascertain that your visa is current, all on your front doorstep.  Have a nice day.  It’s not just on the street at random anymore, meaning they’ll intrude upon where you live.  Moreover I doubt that for NJ targeted, answering questions will be optional (plead the Fifth (mokuhiken) and arouse suspicion — something that leads to more thorough investigations downtown).

Of course, the Aichi Police offer themselves and their questioning as all sweetness, with benign photos of the police at work in their communities:

aichiprefjunkairenraku4

Subtext:  “Like you, even [female] cops have maternal instincts…”

aichiprefjunkairenraku3

“Now now, you needn’t be afraid of this man in uniform who has approached us for some unknown reason during our very traditional daily constitutional.  Especially since he’s even gotten down on his knees for you…”

aichprefjunkairenraku2

“This is how we will approach you to demand personal information” (outside a place that is clearly not a household).  We can only hope that our boys in blue will be so smiley and unaggressive.

Here’s the best one:

aichijunkairenraku042713

“OMG!  I’m so glad to see a cop knocking at my door.  I just love a man in uniform!  Come inside!”

Now, you might think I’m making too much of this.  But naturally I would argue not.  Especially since we have had cases of police agencies doing one thing (like putting out racist anti-NJ flyers) while offering sweetness and light on their official English website.  There’s a lot of tatemae here, and you only have to be a minority in Japan before you understand just how much intent and enforcement differ from the sloganeering.

My advice:  If you get an unexpected knock one day and see (through the peep sight) a cop at your front door, don’t answer.  Because if they visually identify you in any way as NJ, you are automatically suspicious and you’ll get the Third Degree.

Anyone else noticing their local police becoming more intrusive these days?  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 63, May 14, 2013: “Police, media must consider plight of those caught in linguistic dragnet”

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

Police, media must consider plight of those caught in linguistic dragnet
Racialized terms thrown about by cops and parroted by news outlets have consequences

The Japan Times, JUST BE CAUSE Column 63, May 14, 2013
By ARUDOU Debito
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/05/14/issues/police-media-must-consider-plight-of-those-caught-in-linguistic-dragnet
Version with links to sources

A national media exerts a powerful influence over the lives of members of its society. For example, rumors or untruths disseminated through print or broadcast can destroy livelihoods and leave reputations in ruins.

This is why judiciaries provide mechanisms to keep media accountable. In Japan, laws against libel and slander exist to punish those who put out misleading or false information about individuals.

But what about broadcasting misleading or false information about groups? That’s a different issue, because Japan has no laws against “hate speech” (ken’o hatsugen). Consequently, Japanese media get away with routine pigeonholing and stereotyping of people by nationality and social origin.

An example? The best ones can be found in Japan’s crime reportage. If there is a crime where the perpetrator might be a non-Japanese (NJ), the National Police Agency (and by extension the media, which often parrots police reports without analysis) tends to use racialized typology in its search for suspects.

The NPA’s labels include hakujin for Caucasians (often with Hispanics lumped in), kokujin for Africans or the African diaspora, burajirujin-kei for all South Americans, and ajia-kei for garden-variety “Asians” (who must somehow not look sufficiently “Japanese,” although it’s unclear clear how that limits the search: aren’t Japanese technically “Asian” too?).

Typology such as this has long been criticized by scholars of racism for lacking objectivity and scientific rigor. Social scientist Paul R. Spickard puts it succinctly: “Races are not types.”

Even hard scientists such as geneticist J.C. King agree: “Both what constitutes a race and how one recognizes a racial difference are culturally determined. Whether two individuals regard themselves as of the same or of different races depends not on the degree of similarity of their genetic material but on whether history, tradition, and personal training and experiences have brought them to regard themselves as belonging to the same groups or to different groups . . . there are no objective boundaries to set off one subspecies from another.”

The NPA has in recent years gotten more sophisticated with its descriptors. One might see tōnan ajia-jin fū for Southeast Asians, chūtō-kei for Middle Easterners, indo-kei for all peoples from the Indian subcontinent or thereabouts, or the occasional chūgokujin-kei, firipin-kei, etc., for suspects involved in organized crime or the “water trade.”

But when the suspect is of uncertain ethnic origin but somehow clearly “not Japanese,” the media’s default term is gaikokujin-fū (foreign-looking).

[For example, do a search for 外国人風 at http://sitesearch.asahi.com/.cgi/sitesearch/sitesearch.pl]

Lumping suspects into a “Japanese” or “not Japanese” binary is in fact extremely unhelpful during a search for a suspected criminal, because it puts any NJ, or visible minority in Japan (including many Japanese citizens), under the dragnet.

Not only does this normalize racial profiling; it also encourages the normalization and copycatting of stereotypes. I have seen cases where people assumed that “foreigners” were involved in a crime just because they saw people who “looked different” or “acted different” (which has in the past encouraged criminals to adopt accented speech, or blame fictitious foreign perps to throw cops off their trail).

[See for example http://www.debito.org/aichibikergangpatsy.htmlhttp://www.debito.org/?p=841http://www.debito.org/?p=3060]

There are two other bad habits reinforced by publicly racializing criminality. One is the creation of a public discourse (discussed many times on these pages) on how “foreigners” in particular are a source of crime, and thus destabilizing to Japanese society.

The other is that any careless typology winds up associating nationality/phenotype/social origin with criminal behavior, as in, “He’s a criminal because he’s Chinese.”

Both habits must be stopped because they are, statistically, damned incorrect.

How should the NPA remedy this?

Easy, really. They should amend, if not outright abandon, any race-based typology when reporting crime to the media. The police and the media should try this instead:

1) When there is a suspect on the run, and the public is being alerted to be on the lookout, then give phenotypical details (e.g., gender, height, hair color) — the same as you would for any Japanese fugitive. Do not reveal any nationality (or use the generic word “foreign”). Why? Because nationality is not a matter of phenotype.

2) When there is a suspect in custody for interrogation (as in, not yet charged for prosecution), then it is not necessary to give phenotypical or nationality details. Why? Because an accusation without charge is not yet a crime statistic, so those details are irrelevant to the case. It is also not yet a fact of the case that this particular crime has been committed by this particular person — innocent before proven guilty, remember.

3) When there is an arrest, giving out details on specific nationality is permissible, as it is now a fact of the case. Pointing out phenotypical details, however, is unnecessary, as it may draw undue attention to how criminals supposedly “look.” (Readers will have their curiosity sated by seeing the inevitable photograph, now also a fact of the case.)

4) When there is a conviction, refer to 3 above. But when there is an acquittal, the police and media should mention the nationality of the former suspect in a public statement, to counteract the social damage caused by any media coverage that may have inadvertently linked criminality to a nationality.

Remember that at any time during criminal procedure, it is never necessary to use the generic word “foreign,” what with all the potential for overgeneralization and stereotyping. In addition, the police should repeatedly caution the media against any tone associating nationality with criminality.

Now, why am I devoting a column to this? Because the media must not only watch the watchers; it must watch itself. I also know that policymakers read the Japan Times Community pages and this column, because they have changed their policies after withering criticisms here.

Remedial actions inspired by this space include the Takamadonomiya All Japan Junior High School English Speech Contests amending their rules to disqualify “native English speakers” instead of just “all foreigners” (Zeit Gist, Jan. 6, 2004), NTT DoCoMo repealing their “security deposit” for all foreigners only (ZG, Aug. 29, 2002), the Cabinet’s human rights survey rewriting questions that once made human rights “optional” for foreign humans (ZG, Oct. 23, 2007) and, most significantly, the National Research Institute of Police Science discontinuing its racist “foreigner DNA” research scheme for crime scenes (ZG, Jan. 13, 2004).

Here’s hoping that the police and media realize what careless reportage does to NJ residents, and start monitoring themselves better. It’s time to make amends for all the social damage done thus far.

After all, both are generally more careful if the suspects are Japanese. Anyone ready to say in public “He’s a criminal because he’s from Osaka”? Thought not. Consistency regardless of nationality or social origin, please.

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

Arudou Debito’s “Japanese Only: The Otaru Onsens Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” is now on sale as a 10th anniversary e-book on Amazon for ¥975. See www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.
ENDS

Another genre of discriminatory sign: Genky Stores in Gifu threaten NJ shoplifters with arrest and employment reprisal. Odd, what with J shoplifting increasing

mytest

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Hi Blog. As a followup to the previous blog post talking about racist public notices by the Japanese police forces, here is another type of discriminatory sign that is also worthy of discussion — one that warns the public that NJ are criminals:

GenkyStoresBewareNJCrime022813

=====================================
(in Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and English)

警告
外国人による犯罪行為については、警察だけではなく
職場や派遣会社にも「必ず」連絡します。

WARNING
If we find any kinds of criminal acts of foreigners, we SURELY report not only to the police but also to your workplace and your agency.

— GENKY Stores Inc (a drugstore in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken, dated February 28, 2013, taken by HSD, courtesy of shared links on Facebook through SM)

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

We have talked about this on Debito.org for years now:  If you want to call for an end to criminal activity, we suggest drawing attention to the CRIME, not the NATIONALITY.  It’s not as if Japanese are innocent of, for example, shoplifting.  In 2009, we had the Tokyo MPD deciding to survey (as opposed to arrest and snitch on their workplace) 2000 shoplifting suspects to find out their crime patterns (how nice and mellow of them; nicer than getting them fired and deported) — especially of the “lonely elderly”:

=====================================
Police combat crime by “lonely” elderly
Reuters.com  By Colin Parrott

TOKYO | Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:41pm EDT

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/08/27/us-japan-elderly-idUSTRE57Q48D20090827

(Reuters) – Tokyo police will try to rein in a wave of shoplifting by lonely elderly people by involving them in community service, a police spokesman said Thursday.

One out of four elderly shoplifters in the capital blamed their crime on loneliness, Japanese media quoted a police survey as saying. Another 8 percent said it was because they had “no reason to live.”

More than half the elderly shoplifters said they had no friends and 40 percent of them lived alone, media said.

“Making shoplifters do volunteer work in the community is effective,” the Tokyo Shimbun quoted J.F. Oberlin University professor Akihiro Sakai, head of a police research panel set up to tackle shoplifting, as saying.

“Instead of increased punishment, I hope we can rehabilitate shoplifters with special care.”

A police spokesman declined to confirm the details of the survey but said it would be released to the public soon.

Elderly shoplifting cases in Tokyo reached all-time highs last year, nearly catching up with the number of cases involving young offenders.

People 65 years or older accounted for 23 percent of the 17,800 known shoplifting cases in 2008, more than doubling in the past five years, media said.

An example cited in the Ministry of Justice’s annual report on crime describes a 76-year-old woman who turned to shoplifting several years ago as a way to battle loneliness after her parents died.

Over 20 percent of Japan’s population is aged 65 or over, with that figure set to double by 2050.

ENDS

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

And these crimes just keep rising:

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

BBC News, 27 January 2011
Japanese pensioners’ shoplifting hits record high
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12296077

More than a quarter of shoplifters arrested in Japan in 2010 were over the age of 65, police have said, as the number of pensioners committing the crime hit a record high.

In an annual report, the National Police Agency said 27,362 pensioners were arrested for shoplifting in 2010 – almost equalling teenagers.

Most of them stole food or clothes rather than luxury items, the NPA said.

Japanese society is ageing rapidly and its economy remains stalled.

More than 20% of the population are now over the age of 65 – a figure which is expected to rise to about 40% by 2050.

A police official told the Mainichi newspaper that pensioners were shoplifting not just for financial reasons “but also out of a sense of isolation peculiar to the age”.

In recent decades the traditional three-generation household structure has changed – more young people have moved to cities to find employment, leaving elderly parents on their own.

Pensioners who want to work have also found it harder to find jobs because of the economic crunch.

Police say the record high – with pensioners comprising 26.1% of all shoplifters – represents a persistent trend.

When record keeping began in 1986, the number of pensioners arrested stood at 4,918. It has climbed since then, hitting 10,000 in 1999 and 20,000 in 2004.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  How sweet and understanding our police forces are towards these lonely oldies that need some kid-gloved “rehabilitation”.  Although there are some doubts as to how much of an “epidemic” this is (i.e., more old people means more old shoplifters, statistically), the fact remains that Japanese shoplift too (104,827 arrests in 2011 alone; arrests, mind you, not catch and release with a warning ‘cos “they’re so lonely” (cue South Park music)).

Also, note how signs by the police warning the public against shoplifting do NOT target oldsters as a demographic:

chibamanbikichuuisign062111
(Courtesy Japan Times Yen For Living Blog)

For even more sweetness, blog authors Philip Brasor and Masako Tsubuku write:

====================================
At least one blogger writes that, statistically speaking, it’s to be expected. Masamizu Kibashiri (an obvious pseudonym) points out that the fatalist tone of the reporting on elder shoplifting hides a salient and very apparent fact: The number of old people has risen sharply during the past decade while the number of minors has declined at almost the same rate. In the past 20 years, the over-65 population of Japan has jumped from 15 million to 27 million. Given this increase, the slighter rise in shoplifting arrests could actually be taken as being encouraging: Not as many older people are shoplifting as might be expected.

Kibashiri proposes a different statistical model for gauging the phenomenon: Number of elder arrests per 10,000 population of over-65s. Using that statistical model, he finds that the percentage of elder shoplifters has, in fact, risen significantly, from 2.8 in 1989 to 9.5 in 2009, with the largest jump coming around 2005. Obviously, there is a meaningful increase here, but the media needs to qualify its reporting of an “epidemic.”
====================================

Well, good. I’m glad the method behind the statistical analysis gets properly scrutinized if there are Japanese being targeted by it. Now how about the same thing for NJ crime? Nuh-uh. Not so far. Again, signs and notices concerning NJ crime zero in on the criminal, not the crime, making criminality a function of nationality in Japan’s public discourse. No intelligent qualification or caveat necessary unless we’re dealing with Japanese (because, after all, we have to be gentle).  Again, its not a fair debate.

Returning to the Genky Stores genre of signs, here are a few more examples from Debito.org from as far back as 2002:
nakanooldsign
mitakapolice0702
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police
shizuokakeisatsucover
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/shizuokakeisatsuhandbook.html

Arudou Debito
================
UPDATE: RM reports the signs at the Genky store in Minokamo have been taken down.
http://japansociology.com/2013/03/06/update-after-protests-genky-store-takes-down-foreigner-crime-sign/

— Great visuals on the YouTubed video. Watch to the end where the local NJ get to crumple up the sign. Bravo.

Racist flyer from Osaka Pref Police, this time with stereotypical drawings of black people

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Japanese police are back up to their old tricks. Check this poster out from the Osaka Prefectural Government Minami Police Station Safe Livelhoods Section (courtesy of @feitclub and Tom, photo taken February 13, 2013, by SMBC in Namba Nankai Station), warning the public about “foreign gang crimes” including for no clear reason a gratuitous illustration of some “darkies”…

osakananbukeisatsuflyer021813

Translating:

================================
BEWARE OF THEFTS BY FOREIGN GROUPS TARGETING PEOPLE RETURNING HOME FROM BANKS AND POST OFFICES!

— Overview of the incident —
When the victim was walking back to his/her office after withdrawing cash from a bank teller, he/she was called out to by a group of three foreigners, who stopped him/her with a “You’ve got something stuck to the back of your coat.” When the victim stopped on the spot to check his/her back, that foreigner group snatched his/her bag that he/she had placed at his/her feet.

About the perps…

  • They are aiming for people who have withdrawn large amounts of cash from a financial institution.
  • They are shooting for times when the victim is distracted, using means such as “dropping small change all around”, “staining clothes with paint”, “saying you’ve got a puncture [to your bike tyre]”

Report these incidents to the police by dialing 110…

  • When you see someone in a store with no clear business who is hanging around there for a long time.
  • When you see a suspicious-looking car stopped around a store area.

If you are carrying a large amount of cash…
There are incidents of theft involving foreign groups.
Beware of being targeted for theft when heading back from your financial institution.

et cetera. Please contact us. OSAKA PREFECTURAL POLICE

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

Nice notice. I can’t quite tell why there is a need to include racist caricatures of black people in this clarion call for vigilance against “foreign gangs” (after all, Japanese gangs never steal, so we have to target foreigners, right?). And it’s not the first time we’ve had these sorts of racist caricatures, either, recorded on Debito.org for posterity:

Just a few for your reference:

Ueno Police racist caricatures in 2002 flyer

uenokeisatsu1002

 

More information on the above here.kanagawaracistNPAposter2010More information on the above here.

ikunokeisatsuJune07

More information on the above here.

One day I would love to have leaked to Debito.org NPA training manuals that talk about how NJ suspects are supposed to be treated in public and in custody.  We already have a former public prosecutor acknowledging in 2011 that he was trained to believe that “foreigners have no human rights” in Japan.  If I could get some sections of those training manuals scanned, we would have proof positive and undeniable that Japan’s police forces are not only innately racist, but also systematically racist.  Anyone out there with connections?  Would appreciate it.  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE FEBRUARY 27:  Debito.org Reader AS sends this:

Hi Debito, I thought I’d share this quick parody of the NPA’s page on “furikome sagi”… http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/seian/koreisagi/koreisagi.htm
Sauce for the goose…

ORIGINAL:

furikomesagiNPAoriginal

PARODY:
furikomesagi
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks everyone for putting this article in the Top Ten Most Read once again for most of New Year’s Day (and to the JT for distinguishing this with another “Editor’s Pick”). Great illustrations as always by Chris Mackenzie.  Here’s hoping I have more positive things to say in next year’s roundup… This version with links to sources. Enjoy. And Happy New Year 2013.  Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

The year for non-Japanese in ’12: a top 10

By ARUDOU DEBITO

Back by popular demand, here is JBC’s roundup of the top 10 human rights events that most affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan in 2012, in ascending order.

10. Keene’s naturalization (March 7)
News photo

This should have occasioned great celebration in Japan’s era of crisis, but instead, scholar Donald Keene’s anointment as a Japanese citizen became a cautionary tale, for two reasons. One was his very public denigration of other NJ (despite their contributions as full-time Japan residents, taxpayers and family creators) as alleged criminals and “flyjin” deserters (JBC, Apr. 3), demonstrating how Old Japan Hands eat their young. The other was the lengths one apparently must go for acceptance: If you spend the better part of a century promoting Japanese literature to the world, then if you live to, oh, the age of 90, you might be considered “one of us.”

It seems Japan would rather celebrate a pensioner salving a wounded Japan than young multiethnic Japanese workers potentially saving it.

9. Liberty Osaka defunded (June 2)
News photo

Liberty Osaka (www.liberty.or.jp), Japan’s only human rights museum archiving the historical grass-roots struggles of disenfranchised minorities, faces probable closure because its government funding is being cut off. Mayor Toru Hashimoto, of hard-right Japan Restoration Party fame (and from a disenfranchised minority himself), explicitly said the divestment is due to the museum’s displays being “limited to discrimination and human rights,” thereby failing to present Japan’s children with a future of “hopes and dreams.”

In a country with the most peace museums in the world, this politically motivated ethnic cleansing of the past augurs ill for cultural heterogeneity under Japan’s right-wing swing (see below).

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10619 http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3818

8. Nationality Law ruling (March 23)
News photo

In a throwback to prewar eugenics, Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional a section of the Nationality Law’s Article 12 stating that a) if a man sires a child with a foreigner b) overseas, and c) does not file for the child’s Japanese citizenship within three months of birth, then citizenship may legally be denied.

Not only did this decision erode the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that granted citizenship to international children born out of wedlock, but it also made clear that having “foreign blood” (in a country where citizenship is blood-based) penalizes Japanese children — because if two Japanese nationals have a child overseas, or if the child is born to a Japanese woman, Article 12 does not apply. The ruling thus reinforced a legal loophole helping Japanese men evade responsibility if they fool around with foreign women.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10060 http://www.debito.org/?p=1715

7. No Hague signing (September 8)
News photo

Japan’s endorsement of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction became a casualty of months of political gridlock, as the opposition Liberal Democratic Party blocked about a third of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s bills.

The treaty outlines protocol for how children of broken marriages can avoid international tugs of war. As the Community Pages have reported umpteen times, Japan, one of the few developed countries that is not a signatory, remains a haven for postdivorce parental alienation and child abductions.

Since joint custody does not legally exist and visitation rights are not guaranteed, after a Japanese divorce one parent (regardless of nationality) is generally expected to disappear from their child’s life. Former Diet member Masae Ido (a parental child abductor herself) glibly called this “a Japanese custom.” If so, it is one of the most psychologically damaging customs possible for a child, and despite years of international pressure on Japan to join the Hague, there is now little hope of that changing.

Sources:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=10548

6. Immigration talks (May 24-August 27)
News photo

In one of the few potentially bright spots for NJ in Japan this year, the Yoshihiko Noda Cabinet convened several meetings on how Japan might go about creating a “coexistence society” that could “accept” NJ (JBC, July 3). A well-intentioned start, the talks included leaders of activist groups, local governments and one nikkei academic.

Sadly, it fell into old ideological traps: 1) Participants were mostly older male Japanese bureaucrats; 2) those bureaucrats were more interested in policing NJ than in making them more comfortable and offering them a stake in society; 3) no NJ leader was consulted about what NJ themselves might want; and 4) the Cabinet itself confined its concerns to the welfare of nikkei residents, reflecting the decades-old (but by now obviously erroneous) presumption that only people with “Japanese bloodlines” could “become Japanese.”

In sum, even though the government explicitly stated in its goals that NJ immigration (without using the word, imin) would revitalize our economy, it still has no clue how to make NJ into “New Japanese.”

Source:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10396

5. Mainali, Suraj cases (June 7, July 3)
News photo

2012 saw the first time an NJ serving a life sentence in Japan was declared wrongfully convicted, in the case of Govinda Prasad Mainali. The last time that happened (Toshikazu Sugaya in 2009), the victim was released with a very public apology from public prosecutors. Mainali, however, despite 15 years in the clink, was transferred to an immigration cell and deported. At least both are now free men.

On the other hand, the case of Abubakar Awudu Suraj (from last year’s top 10), who died after brutal handling by Japanese immigration officers during his deportation on March 22, 2010, was dropped by public prosecutors who found “no causal relationship” between the treatment and his death.

Thus, given the “hostage justice” (hitojichi shihō) within the Japanese criminal prosecution system, and the closed-circuit investigation system that protects its own, the Japanese police can incarcerate you indefinitely and even get away with murder — particularly if you are an NJ facing Japan’s double standards of jurisprudence (Zeit Gist, Mar. 24, 2009).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=9265
http://www.debito.org/?p=10407
“Hostage justice”: http://www.debito.org/?p=1426

4. Visa regimes close loop (August)
News photo

Over the past two decades, we have seen Japan’s visa regimes favoring immigration through blood ties — offering limited-term work visas with no labor law rights to Chinese “trainees” while giving quasi-permanent-residency “returnee” visas to nikkei South Americans, for example.

However, after 2007’s economic downturn, blood was judged to be thinner than unemployment statistics, and the government offered the nikkei (and the nikkei only) bribes of free airfares home if they forfeited their visa status (JBC, Apr. 7, 2009). They left in droves, and down went Japan’s registered NJ population for the first time in nearly a half-century — and in 2012 the Brazilian population probably dropped to fourth place behind Filipinos.

But last year was also when the cynical machinations of Japan’s “revolving door” labor market became apparent to the world (JBC, March 6) as applications for Japan’s latest exploitative visa wheeze, “trainee” nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines, declined — and even some of the tiny number of NJ nurses who did pass the arduous qualifying exam left. Naturally, Japan’s media (e.g., Kyodo, June 20; Aug. 4) sought to portray NJ as ungrateful and fickle deserters, but nevertheless doubts remain as to whether the nursing program will continue. The point remains that Japan is increasingly seen as a place to avoid in the world’s unprecedented movement of international labor.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10010
http://www.debito.org/?p=10497
http://www.debito.org/?p=10340
International labor migration stats http://www.oecd.org/els/internationalmigrationpoliciesanddata/internationalmigrationoutlook2012.htm

3. New NJ registry system (July 5)
News photo

One of the most stupefying things about postwar Japan has been how NJ could not be registered with their Japanese families on the local residency registry system (jūmin kihon daichō) — meaning NJ often went uncounted in local population tallies despite being taxpaying residents! In 2012, this exclusionary system was finally abolished along with the Foreign Registry Law.

Unfortunately, this good news was offset by a) NJ still not being properly registered on family registries (koseki), b) NJ still having to carry gaijin cards at all times (except now with potentially remotely readable computer chips), and c) NJ still being singled out for racial profiling in spot ID checks by Japanese police (even though the remaining applicable law requires probable cause). It seems that old habits die hard, or else just get rejiggered with loopholes.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10414
http://www.debito.org/?p=9718
Remotely readable computer chips http://www.debito.org/?p=10750

2. Post-Fukushima Japan is bust
News photo

After the multiple disasters of March 11, 2011, there was wan hope that Japan’s electorate would be energized enough to demand better governance. Nope. And this despite the revelations in December 2011 that the fund for tsunami victims was diverted to whaling “research.” And the confusing and suppressed official reports about radioactive contamination of the ecosystem. And the tsunami victims who still live in temporary housing. And the independent parliamentary report that vaguely blamed “Japanese culture” for the disaster (and, moreover, offered different interpretations for English- and Japanese-reading audiences). And the reports in October that even more rescue money had been “slush-funded” to unrelated projects, including road building in Okinawa, a contact lens factory in central Japan and renovations of Tokyo government offices.

Voters had ample reason for outrage, yet they responded (see below) by reinstating the original architects of this system, the LDP.

For everyone living in Japan (not just NJ), 2012 demonstrated that the Japanese system is beyond repair or reform.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=9745
http://www.debito.org/?p=9756
http://www.debito.org/?p=10706
http://www.debito.org/?p=10428
http://www.debito.org/?p=9698
http://japanfocus.org/-Iwata-Wataru/3841

1. Japan swings right (December)
News photo

Two columns ago (JBC, Nov. 6), I challenged former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara (whose rabble-rousing bigotry has caused innumerable headaches for disenfranchised people in Japan, particularly NJ) to “bring it on” and show Japan’s true colors to the world in political debates. Well, he did. After a full decade of successfully encouraging Japanese society to see NJ (particularly Chinese) as innately criminal, Ishihara ratcheted things up by threatening to buy three of the privately-owned Senkaku islets (which forced the Noda administration to purchase them instead, fanning international tensions). Then Ishihara resigned his governorship, formed a “restorationist” party and rode the wave of xenophobia caused by the territorial disputes into the Diet’s Lower House (along with 53 other party members) in December’s general election.

Also benefiting from Ishihara’s ruses was the LDP, who with political ally New Komeito swept back into power with 325 seats. As this is more than the 320 necessary to override Upper House vetoes, Japan’s bicameral legislature is now effectively unicameral. I anticipate policy proposals (such as constitutional revisions to allow for a genuine military, fueling an accelerated arms race in Asia) reflecting the same corporatist rot that created the corrupt system we saw malfunctioning after the Fukushima disaster. (Note that if these crises had happened on the LDP’s watch, I bet the DPJ would have enjoyed the crushing victory instead — tough luck.)

In regards to NJ, since Japan’s left is now decimated and three-quarters of the 480-seat Lower House is in the hands of conservatives, I foresee a chauvinistic movement enforcing bloodline-based patriotism (never mind the multiculturalism created by decades of labor influx and international marriage), love of a “beautiful Japan” as defined by the elites, and more officially sanctioned history that downplays, ignores and overwrites the contributions of NJ and minorities to Japanese society.

In sum, if 2011 exposed a Japan in decline, 2012 showed a Japan closing.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10854
New arms race:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20302604 (Watch the video from minute 5.30:  the Hyuuga, Postwar Japan’s first new aircraft carrier is now in commission, two new big aircraft carriers are in production.)

Bubbling under (in descending order):

• China’s anti-Japan riots (September) and Senkaku-area maneuvers (October to now).

• North Korea’s missile test timed for Japan’s elections (December 12).

• NJ workers’ right to strike reaffirmed in court defeat of Berlitz (February 27).

• NJ on welfare deprived of waiver of public pension payments (August 10), later reinstated after public outcry (October 21).

• Statistics show 2011’s postdisaster exodus of NJ “flyjin” to be a myth (see JBC, Apr. 3).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10055
http://www.debito.org/?p=10081

Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012’s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp.
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013
ENDS

Irony: GOJ pushes citizen ID law despite outcry over J privacy rights. Sadly, never similar concerns for NJ privacy, natch.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As a follow-up to the Debito.org post a few weeks ago on putting trackable chips on all non-citizens, we have the same kind of push happening for Japan’s citizens (as per this old article that got buried in my draft blog posts, sorry) for very different express reasons (except for the oft-claimed “convenience” of those being identified, with the unescapable whiff of policing).  That said, note how whenever there is an issue involving the infringement of civil/human rights for “citizens”, there is also an ameliorating push to protect those rights with legislation (see second article below).  For “foreigners”, however, all civil, political, and human rights are essentially left to the mandate of the policing Ministry of Justice, which frequently makes a hash of things.  But all this public concern over, say, privacy rights (whereas foreigners in Japan have had no guaranteed right to privacy in the Postwar Era, since the creation of the Foreign Registry Law)…  Again, it’s one differentiation within Japan’s discourse that alienates Newcomers and Oldcomers, and sets the stage for making disenfranchised exceptions for people who don’t appear to be “Japanese”.  Have a think about this dichotomy, and how the GOJ a) normalizes discrimination, while b) ironically tries to foist the same style of rights abrogations on the general public that have been long-tested upon the “gaijin guinea pigs“.  Arudou Debito

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

2012 February 15 – 21 [POLITICS]
Cabinet pushes citizen ID law
Japan Press February 15, 2012, courtesy of MMT
http://www.japan-press.co.jp/modules/news/index.php?id=2728

The Noda Cabinet approved bills at its meeting on February 14 that will assign an identification number to every citizen and every company, without regard to concerns over privacy abuse or to apprehensions about the possibility of having to pay more in taxes in order to receive better welfare services.

The identification system will collate personal information currently administrated under different programs such as for pension, healthcare, and taxation. The government states that it wants to implement a national ID system in January 2015.

There is now growing concern that such a national identity system could lead to invasion of privacy issues and may also be used to restrict government social security payments.

The government claims that a national ID system will provide easier access to social welfare programs for low-income families.

If that is the aim, it can use other means to provide benefits. What is the government’s true motive?

Akahata reports that the true intention is the promotion of the idea that “social welfare is a benefit one pays for,” which contradicts the established idea of social welfare as a basic human right. The government, in essence, aims to cut back on its payments for social welfare benefits and increase social welfare premiums on the general public.

Democratic Party of Japan member of the Lower House Tamura Kenji during a Cabinet workgroup meeting candidly stated that the introduction of a national ID system is aimed at strengthening tax collection.

The DPJ has since 2009 called for a national ID system as “essential” to “avoid paying unneeded or excessive social security benefits.”

Japanese business leaders have also pushed for a national ID system. Chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) Yonekura Hiromasa said point-blank, “That’s for the purpose of cutting social security expenditures.”

An opinion poll conducted in November last year by the Cabinet Office shows that more than 80% of respondents “do not know” about the proposal to introduce a national ID system. The government should not be allowed to proceed with the plan to introduce such a system while keeping it secret from the general public.

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

The “Jinken Kyuusai Houan” wends its way through political channels

民主部門会議、人権救済法案を了承 反対派の意見押し切り
産經新聞 2012.8.29 11:24 [民主党]
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/news/120829/stt12082911250005-n1.htm

民主党は29日、法務部門会議(座長・小川敏夫前法相)を開き、人権侵害救済機関「人権委員会」を法務省の外局に新設する人権救済機関設置法案(人権救済法案)を了承した。今後、党政策調査会で了承され、今国会中にも閣議決定される見通しだが、与野党の多数派が衆参両院で異なる「ねじれ国会」のため成立する可能性は極めて低い。

同法案をめぐっては「人権侵害の拡大解釈で憲法21条の表現の自由が侵される恐れがある」といった反対論が党内でも根強く、今国会での閣議決定は見送られてきた。だが、野田佳彦首相は8月23日の衆院予算委員会で今国会での法案提出に向け「必要な作業を進めていきたい」と答弁し、立法化を促していた。

この日の会議で、小川座長らは「党内での議論をもっと丁寧にやるべきだ」といった、立法化に慎重な議員らの反対意見を一方的に押し切り、了承した。小川座長は会議後、記者団に「これ以上議論してもいずれ党内がまとまる雰囲気ではなく、このタイミングで結論を出した」と述べた。

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

 ENDS

SITYS: IC Chips in new NJ Gaijin Cards are remotely scannable, as witnessed in USG’s Faraday Envelopes to protect cardholders’ privacy

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A little follow-up on something I have been reporting on for years now:

As Readers of Debito.org know, Japan instituted its new Gaijin Cards (Zairyuu Kaado, or ZRK) from July 15, 2012, promising to promote the “convenience” of NJ residents by streamlining bureaucratic procedures.  But as I have argued, the Ministry of Justice’s main interest is not the convenience of NJ (or else it would have not left NJ in legal limbo when Japan’s Postal Authorities arbitrarily decided not to honor the old Gaijin Cards as a valid form of ID any longer — even though the MOJ acknowledged the old Gaijin Cards issued by them were still legal for at most three more years).  No, the MOJ’s interest is in policing NJ (well, “administering” (kanri) is how they benignly put it, as they explicitly noted in their Cabinet-level presentation last May about how to “co-exist” with NJ in future — essentially by cracking down on visa overstayers further).

To that end, the ZRK has an embedded IC Chip with RFID technology, which, as I have argued for years now, is a means to remotely track NJ in a crowd and beef up racial profiling.  After all, if the NPA scans a crowd and sees somebody walking while visibly “foreign”, they now have probable cause to stop them for one of their patented ID checkpoints formerly permitted under the Foreign Registry Law.  Hey you, gaijin, why aren’t you showing up on our scanners?  Woe betide the naturalized citizen or Japanese of international roots, who now have the burden of proving somehow that they are not “foreign”…

(As an aside, I have been told by at least one legal expert that spot checks are apparently no longer legally permitted, since the Foreign Registry Law has been abolished, but never mind — it’s still happening.  In fact, I just heard word the other day that somebody who got zapped for a Gaijin Card check in Tokyo wasn’t carrying it, had to be escorted home for proof of valid visa, and after showing it was still slapped with a 200,000 yen fine.  Waiting for final confirmation on that…)

However, here’s where the SITYS (See I Told You So) comes in:  People who should know better have constantly argued that I’m donning a tinfoil hat for saying that embedded IC Chips are remotely trackable, and will be used not only for identity theft (for NJ only, since only they are legally required by law to carry ZRK at all times or face criminal penalty), but also for enhanced policing.  No amount of evidence presented (even “the scan-proof travel pouches” long on sale) has convinced them.  So let’s try again:

Look, even the US Government acknowledges that their cards (in this case, my friends’ “Green Card” and Global Entry Card) need to be issued with Faraday Cage envelopes “to protect their privacy”.  If these cards were not remotely trackable, why would the USG bother issuing them with the following instructions?

“Green Card” Faraday Envelope:

Global Entry Card Faraday Envelope:

Do you think the GOJ will ever issue a Faraday Envelope to NJ with their ZRKs?  Nosiree.  That would defeat the point of inserting the IC Chip in the first place.  (For the record, taking off the tinfoil hat and wrapping it around your card protects your privacy — until you get remotely racially profiled, of course…)

Remember, protecting the privacy of NJ is not a priority of the MOJ.  As far as they’re concerned, NJ have no right to privacy, for who knows what they’ll get up to in Japan if they’re not properly “administrated”?

So let’s face facts, everyone:  Embedded chips are there to track NJ and legally NJ only.  No more denialism please.  SITYS.  Arudou Debito

Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht

mytest

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Hi Blog. Something came up over the past month that deserves mention on Debito.org when it comes to putting all the “violent Chinese etc. protests against Japan” into some perspective. Something that was not given much audience in the Japanese media — far-rightists targeting domestic minorities in Japan due to the recent flap over some offshore rocks.

Yes, people say “both sides are guilty of saber rattling and banging nationalist drums.”  But one thing I like to remind people is:  Who picked this most recent fight over the Senkakus? And who keeps perpetually stirring things up by having what I would consider a denialist view of history when it comes to being an aggressor and colonizer over the past hundred years? Sorry, but many of Japan’s prominent leaders do. And they (deliberately, in this case) serve to stir up passions overseas. Then when people overseas protest this, who then suddenly claims that the foreigners are overreacting or Japanese are being targeted and victimized? Japan’s leaders. And Japan’s media, to rally the rest of the public.

However, Japan’s victimization trope is being overplayed.  Japanese media, according to the Japan Times, is turning up the invective to compare Chinese protests to Kristallnacht. See here:

============================
The Japan Times, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012
BIG IN JAPAN
Tabloids return fire, urge China business pullout

By MARK SCHREIBER
On Sept. 29, the 40th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, Sankei Shimbun editorial writer Ryutaro Kobayashi asked how it would be possible for Japan to continue discussions with a China that had “lost its national dignity.”

Kobayashi was referring to the sometimes-destructive renhai (human wave) demonstrations in over 100 cities in China protesting Japan’s nationalization of the disputed islands in the East China Sea, which resulted in billions of yen in damages to Japanese-owned businesses.

Scenes of angry mobs trashing stores and factories have led, not surprisingly, to viscerally emotional reactions in Japan’s media. One common response has been a palpable sense of victimhood, of which perhaps the most extreme example appears in a 98-page “mook” (a short book in glossy A4 magazine format) from Shukan Asahi Geino devoted entirely to China, under the headline “Chugoku, fuyukai na shinjitsu” (“China: The unpleasant facts”). Superimposed over a photo of the ransacked branch of the Heiwado supermarket in Changsha, Hunan Province, is a caption that reads, “Sept. 16, 2012 will be inscribed in history as China’s version of the Kristallnacht” (a reference to the notorious pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany and Austria on Nov. 9, 1938).

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fd20121007bj.html
============================

Well, consider the following domestic actions by Japanese far-rightists against not just foreign business communities overseas, but actual NJ residents of Japan who have been living in Japan for generations (who, by all reasonable standards — including fighting and dying for the Japanese Empire — should be Japanese citizens by now). Are we seeing the same comparisons to Krystallnacht? And will we see those comparisons in the media once we get glass in the gutter and bloodied faces? If the standard for violence in Japan is also “verbal” (as in kotoba no bouryoku), then we’re on our way.

Stop it, everyone, before you do something you might regret later. (Then again, perhaps not, if Japan’s revisionist attitudes towards history continue to hold sway.) Arudou Debito

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

Nationalists converge on Shin-Okubo’s Koreatown
JapanToday.com KUCHIKOMI SEP. 18, 2012
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/nasty-nationalists-converge-on-shin-okubos-koreatown

Sandwiched between two major streets running parallel, the “Shin-Okubo Koreatown” in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district is home to dozens of Korean-style restaurants and retail shops proffering goods that range from Korean cosmetics to items appealing to fans of “Hanryu” dramas.

Shukan Kinyobi (Sept 14) reports that on Aug 25, a large demonstration of rightists—who are upset over South Korea’s territorial claims to Takeshima island (referred to as Dokdo in Korean)—marched through the neighborhood. The demonstration, whose organizers had tabbed “The Citizens’ Great March to Subjugate South Korea,” consisted of an estimated 500 demonstrators, many of who waved the militaristic “kyokujitsuki” (rising-sun flag), and who chanted such slogans as “Kankokujin wa kaere” (South Koreans go home) and “Chosenjin wa dete yuke!” (Koreans get out).

Things got even nastier after the march ended, when the marchers broke off into smaller groups of around 10 and moved from the main drag to the neighborhood’s many small lanes, where they confronted shopkeepers with even more hostile remarks, such as “Chon-ko wa karere” (Go home, you Korean bastard”) or “We’ll kill you.” They also intimidated compatriots they encountered with veiled warnings like “If you’re a Japanese, then don’t come to this area.”

“It’s very aggravating,” a worker of a street stall selling confections is quoted as saying. “Some young visitors from South Korea got harangued by the protesters. Since that day, the number our customers has tapered off.”

“It appears that the Zaitokukai (short for Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai or group opposed to special rights for Koreans in Japan) thinks it can build momentum for its movement by harping on the Takeshima and Senkaku issues,” says journalist Koichi Yasuda, who authored a book titled “Pursuing the ‘darkness’ of Internet patriots, the Zaitokukai” (Kodansha), about the noisy group that has been boosting its membership through skillful use of the Internet.

“While I don’t see any signs yet that they are increasing their influence, they still bear watching,” Yasuda adds. “As far as they are concerned, discriminating against the ‘zainichi’ (Koreans in Japan) is everything, and they aren’t terribly concerned about what will become of the disputed territories in the future. But they can use the timing of the dispute as a pretext for pushing their own agenda.”

Some rightists also provoked clashes in the Chinese enclave adjacent to the north exit of JR Ikebukuro station, resulting in police being summoned.

When such run-ins occur, however, Shukan Kinyobi notes that it has been rare for Japan’s mainstream media to devote much coverage. And even those who are confronted by the rightists tend to refrain from seeking sympathy from society, perhaps out of fears that any negative publicity will drive away their customers.

When the Shin-Okubo Merchants’ Association was approached by Shukan Kinyobi for a comment, it declined on the grounds that “We haven’t grasped the details.” The Shinjuku branch of the Zainichi Korean Association replied, “There’s nothing to discuss.” The Chinese in Ikebukuro were also reluctant to speak to reporters.

A staff member at one Korean firm in Shin-Okubo confided to the magazine, “The South Korean embassy here sent out a warning advisory to Korean businesses and groups to the effect that from Aug 25, we should not approach demonstrators or make inflammatory remarks. ‘Refrain from any activities that would put your safety at risk,’ it advised.

“If trouble were to break out, nothing good would come from it, as far as we’re concerned,” he added.

As long as this country has no statute against hate crimes, Shukan Kinyobi opines, this kind of ethnic and racial discrimination will remain out of control. Sixty-seven years since the end of the Pacific War, the issue of “territorial disputes” is being used as a new pretext to abet what are long-term trends.

ENDS

Kyodo: J airport “random body searches” start October. On “int’l passengers”, naturally, so not so random, considering police precedents of racial profiling

mytest

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Hi Blog. A policy trial balloon floated last December by the Transport Ministry has become a full-fledged policy measure:

///////////////////////////////
Japan to start random body searches at airports in October
Kyodo News, Friday, September 14th 2012, courtesy of MD
http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2012/09/182144.html

The transport ministry said Thursday it will start conducting random body searches on international passengers at 29 airports across the country in October to prevent explosives from slipping through metal detectors.

At present, body searches are only performed on passengers who set off metal detectors before boarding, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry [sic]. The ministry did not elaborate on how the body searches would be carried out or by whom.

The ministry is taking the step because terrorist plots involving the use of liquid or solid explosives have been reported in Britain and the United States. It did not say if it was referring to recent events.

The International Civil Aviation Organization recommends that countries conduct random contact inspections or full-body scans on passengers to enhance security.
ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Well, the ministry might well use the word “random”, but precedent dictates that enforcement of any policing operation in favor of “security” tends to see anyone who “looks foreign” as the security threat.  Examples are Legion here on Debito.org, but see a few here, here, here, here, and here.  My point is that we’re just making racial profiling, which is standard procedure in policing operations in Japan, ever more systematic and justified under formal policy.  After all, without the “probable cause” of a metal detector alarm, the procedure has now become completely discretionary.

Remember, this policy is from the same set of Keystone Kop travel authorities that have engaged in such unprofessional activities as planting boxes of cannabis (“randomly”, of course) in NJ bags to test their sniffer dogs.  Problem was, not only was the act of planting their drugs in actual people’s bags formally prohibited, airport authorities did so without notice 160 times over the course of eight months between 2007 and 2008!  We only know about this because one time the fools lost track of the bag they had spiked, and the owner went all the way to downtown Tokyo and checked into his hotel before he realized what was going on.  Now what if he had faced that “random” search while en route?  “Gee officer, I don’t know how that got there,” will certainly convince flinty-eyed NPA representatives trained to target “foreigners”.  Sources:

CNN: Narita Customs spike HK passenger’s bag with cannabis

Narita Customs Cannabis and Sniffer Dog Training part 2: Kyodo says it’s happened 160 times since last September

So attention all you transit passengers going through Japan to other points in Asia:  Even though you haven’t formally been “admitted” into Japan’s Constitutionally-governed territory (such as it is), you’re still going to be treated as an internal security threat, and subject to searches for the sake of preventing terrorism.  Because after all, under Japanese laws and policies, only foreigners are potential terrorists (and carriers of infectious diseases, too).  Enjoy your trip.  Youkoso Japan!  Arudou Debito

Hurrah, the separate Alien Registration System is abolished after 60 years. Now let’s consider the GOJ give & take regarding tracking NJ under this policy

mytest

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Hi Blog. After many years of bureaucratic policy trial balloons and lots of advance warning, July 9, 2012 has finally come to pass, and the longstanding Alien Registration System, promulgated in 1952 to help the GOJ keep track of the pesky aliens (mostly former citizens of the Japanese Empire who were stripped of their Japanese citizenship) who wouldn’t go back to “their country” (staying on in Japan as Zainichi, generational “foreigners” born in Japan to this day), has been abolished sixty years later. In its place, NJ are now registered on Japan’s juuminhyou Residency Certificatesclosing up a ludicrous system where only citizens could be registered as “residents” (juumin) despite paying Residents’ Tax (yup, juuminzei), and teeth-grindlingly stupid moves such as local governments giving animals and fictional characters their own honorary “juuminhyou” despite untaxable status.  Now NJ can also now be listed with their Japanese (and non-Japanese) families properly as family members and heads of household (no longer excluded even from local population tallies for not being listed in the juumin kihon daicho). Finally, closure to that. Good riddance.

That said, the new system also includes new Gaijin Cards (Zairyuu Kaado), which are higher-tech versions (I say remotely trackable due to the RFID technology inside, by design; see below) and still required under criminal law to be carried 24-7 under penalty of search, seizure, and possible incarceration for a week or three. That hasn’t changed. In fact I would now argue it’s gotten worse — since Japanese citizens (even if computer chip technology has also been introduced into J driver licenses and passports, which not all Japanese get anyway) are not required by law to carry any ID whatsoever at all times. Some historical links regarding the true intention of the ZRK (tracking and control of untrustworthy NJ, not convenience for them as is generally sold) follow.

Japan Times IC Chip Gaijin Card Pt 3: View of Bureaucrats: Control of NJ at all costs

Japan Times May 20, 2009: “IC you: Bugging the Alien” article on new Gaijin Cards

Bus. consortium to track Ginza shoppers, then IC Gaijin Cards?

Kyodo: GOJ proposes GPS tracking of criminals. SITYS.

Mysterious Asahi translation: “IC cards planned to track ‘nikkeijin’”

Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”

Follow-up: More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

New Japanese driver licenses now have IC Chips, no honseki

Alright, I’ll paste some articles below and let’s see what the media has made of this. Feel free to tell us how the changes have been affecting you as well. Arudou Debito

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

Alien system ends; foreigners to be issued resident cards
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 10, 2012), courtesy of JT
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120709004610.htm

A new management system for foreign residents in Japan started Monday. As part of the changes, the previous alien registration system will be abolished and a new resident card will be issued to foreign residents in Japan.

The new system is designed to reduce the number of foreign residents staying in Japan illegally and to be more convenient for bona fide foreign residents.

In the previous alien registration system that began in 1952, local municipalities issued alien registration certificates to foreign residents without examining their resident status. This enabled foreigners staying in Japan illegally to obtain the certificates.

Under the new system, the Justice Ministry will issue a resident card to foreign residents, excluding certain people such as diplomats, who have been granted a status of residence in Japan with a period of stay for more than three months. The card will hold information that includes the name, nationality, date of birth and address of the cardholder.

For special permanent residents such as Korean residents in Japan, a special permanent resident certificate will be issued instead of a resident card.

The period of stay limit for foreign residents has been extended from three years to five years. Under the new system, people leaving Japan will not be required in principle to obtain a re-entry permit if they hold a passport and a resident card and return to Japan within a year and before their period of stay expires.

Foreigners with a resident card or a special permanent resident certificate are included in the national resident registry and they will be able to obtain a copy of their certificate of residence from their local municipality.

On the other hand, those who stay in Japan illegally will not be included in the registry. This could prevent them from obtaining administrative services including education services and medical assistance because local municipalities will not be able to obtain necessary information, such as their address.
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////////

The Japan Times Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Re-entry permits soon consigned to history
Foreigners flock for new residence IDs
By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer

A large number of foreign residents flocked to the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on Monday, the first day it is issuing new “zairyu,” or residence, cards to replace alien registration cards.

At 8:30 a.m., more than 100 people had lined up for the applications to obtain a new card, an official at the center in Minato Ward said.

Those who arrived at around 8 a.m. had to wait about two hours. People who didn’t bring a head shot measuring 4 cm by 3 cm also had to line up at the photo booths.

Eight regional bureaus, six district immigration offices and 63 branch offices across the nation are now issuing the residence card. Applicants can go to a bureau or office, fill out the application form and receive the card the same day.

“I feel like a part of society,” Yang Chunying, 52, a Chinese national, said after receiving her residence card at the Tokyo bureau. “I am glad to have the card because things will be more convenient.”

The new immigration control system that began Monday has unified the administrative work on foreign residents under the Immigration Bureau.

While some fear that controls on non-Japanese will be tightened, the government has made it more convenient for law-abiding foreigners by extending visa lengths to five years from the current three, and eliminating the requirement to obtain a re-entry permit before leaving Japan for any period less than a year.

The system is designed to be tougher on illegal residents, however.

Such people have been receiving various public services because municipalities usually don’t care about who is here legally or illegally, but this may not last under the Immigration Bureau’s watch.

Some 130 people, mainly Asians, held a demonstration Monday against the new immigration control system at Hibiya Park in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, saying it is overly harsh on illegal residents.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120710a1.html

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

First new residency cards for foreign nationals issued at Haneda
July 09, 2012 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120709p2a00m0na013000c.html

Two people on a flight from the United States became the first to get Japan’s new foreign resident cards early on the morning of July 9, the first day of the Ministry of Justice’s new mid- to long-term residency management system for foreign nationals.

Late on July 8, staff from the Immigration Bureau — administered by the justice ministry — stood by at Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) in preparation for the switch to the new system. When the clock struck midnight, they changed the signs above the immigration counters, and those indicating card-issuance counters for mid- to long-term residents.

Two passengers from a flight from Los Angeles, California, were the first to apply for the new resident cards at around 4:30 a.m. on July 9. The first recipient was Carlos Shaw, a 37-year-old Tennessee native who was coming to Japan for the first time. Shaw, who is here to teach English at an elementary and junior high school in Yamagata, said he felt lucky to be the first recipient of the new card.

Because the alien registration certificates that had heretofore been issued are being replaced by the new resident cards, mid- to long-term residents already in Japan must exchange their old cards for new ones when they renew their visas. Foreign nationals residing in Japan illegally are not eligible for resident cards under the new system.
ENDS
Original Japanese

在留管理:新制度スタート 「カード」を交付
毎日新聞 2012年07月09日 10時14分(最終更新 07月09日 11時08分)
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20120709k0000e010074000c.html

3カ月以内の短期滞在者などを除く外国人正規滞在者(中長期在留者)に「在留カード」を交付する「新しい在留管理制度」が9日、スタートした。同日早朝、羽田空港(東京都大田区)の入国審査場では、米国籍の男性が同制度で初の在留カードを手にした。

羽田空港では、8日深夜から法務省入国管理局の担当者らが新制度への移行に向けて待機。日付が9日に変わると、入国審査ゲート上の看板の表示を新しくする作業を行い、カード交付用窓口の表示を「中長期在留外国人」に変えた。

9日午前4時半過ぎ、米ロサンゼルスからの航空機に搭乗していたうち2人が初めて在留カードの交付手続きを実施。第1号の取得者となった米テネシー州のカルロス・ショーさん(37)は「山形の小中学校で英語を教えるため、初めて日本に来た。今日から在留管理制度が新しくなることは知らなかったので、第1号だと聞いて、とてもラッキーな気分だ」と驚いていた。

新制度の導入により外国人登録証が失効するため、既に国内に滞在している中長期在留者は9日以降、在留カードへの切り替えを行うことになるが、不法滞在者は新制度の適用外で、カードを取得できない。【伊藤一郎】
ENDS

Suraj Case: Chiba prosecutors decide not to indict 10 Immigration officers in whose custody he died

mytest

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Hi Blog. Sad news. The Suraj Case, which has been covered in various media reproduced here on Debito.org, has wound up as predicted: With the Immigration officers getting off with no indictment and the GOJ getting away with murder (if not negligence leading to homicide while in official custody). Even the Japan Times called his death “brutal”. It’s bad enough when you have a criminal justice system where even citizens are victims of “hostage justice”.  It’s another when you can get away with killing somebody during deportation just because they’re foreign.  One more brick in the wall to demonstrate that once the Japanese police get your hands on you as a NJ, you don’t stand a Chinaman’s Chance, be it in Japan’s criminal investigations, incarceration systems, jurisprudence and standards of evidence, criminal court, or civil court afterwards. In a word, disgusting. Arudou Debito

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

Chiba prosecutors decide not to indict 10 immigration officers over death of Ghanaian man
Mainichi Shimbun July 4, 2012, courtesy of MD
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120704p2a00m0na006000c.html

CHIBA — The Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office decided on July 3 not to indict 10 officers of the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau on charges of assault and cruelty resulting in a Ghanaian man’s death when they overpowered him aboard an aircraft.

In deciding to drop the case, the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office said, “There is no causal relationship between the action (by the immigration officers) and the death (of the Ghanaian man), and the action was legitimate.”

According to Chiba Prefectural Police and other sources, Ghanaian national Abubakar Awudu Suraji, who had overstayed his visa, became violent when he was taken aboard a plane for deportation at Narita Airport on March 22, 2010. The 45-year-old man passed out when immigration officials tried to restrain him with handcuffs, towels and other means. He was taken to a hospital at the airport but died shortly thereafter. The cause of his death remained unknown as a legal autopsy showed no noticeable bodily injuries.

The man’s Japanese wife filed a complaint with the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office in June 2010, arguing that “there is a high possibility that (her Ghanaian husband) died from a violent assault while being escorted.” In December 2010, the Chiba Prefectural Police sent papers on the case to the Chiba District Public Prosecutors Office.
ENDS

////////////////////////////////////////
Original Japanese article

強制送還中に死亡:入管警備官10人 不起訴処分に
毎日新聞 2012年07月03日 22時41分
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20120704k0000m040091000c.html

成田空港で一昨年3月、強制送還中のガーナ人男性(当時45歳)が東京入国管理局の入国警備官の制止を受けた後に死亡した事件で、千葉地検は3日、特別公務員暴行陵虐致死容疑で書類送検された警備官10人を容疑なしで、いずれも不起訴処分とした。地検は「行為と死亡の因果関係はなく、行為は適法だった」と説明している。

千葉県警などによると、不法滞在していたアブバカル・アウドゥ・スラジュさんは10年3月22日、強制送還のため旅客機に搭乗した際に暴れ、警備官が手錠やタオルなどで制止した後に意識を失い、空港内の病院に搬送されたが死亡した。司法解剖の結果、目立った外傷もなく、死因も不明だった。

男性の日本人妻が「護送中の暴行で死亡した可能性が高い」として同年6月に地検に告訴。同12月、県警が書類送検していた。【黒川晋史】

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 53 July 3, 2012: “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for NJ”

mytest

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Hi Blog. My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 53 dated July 3, 2012, is on the Japanese Government’s renewed policy debate on creating conditions conducive to immigration (without actually portraying it in any way as “immigration” (imin), just more NJ residents). It’s their attempt to address Japan’s demographic and probable economic nosedive despite their assiduous efforts over the decades to a) exploit NJ as temporary workers on a revolving-door labor visa regime, b) blame NJ for all manner of social ills, including foreign crime and desertion, and in the process c) poison the public debate arena for productive discussion about ever treating NJ well enough that they might want to actually stay (since the past three years have seen the NJ population continuously dropping, after 48 years of unbroken rise). The writing’s on the wall, and the GOJ is finally doing something constructive. But (as usual) the bureaucracy is controlling the agenda, and the typical blind spots are coming into play, so as things stand now I think the policy drive will be ineffective.  Have a read and a think.  Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for non-Japanese

The Japan Times: Tuesday, July 3, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE Column 53 for the Community Page
By ARUDOU Debito
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120703ad.html

Last month the Japanese government took baby steps toward an official immigration policy. Ten ministries and several specialist “people of awareness” (yūshikisha) held meetings aimed at creating a “coexistence society” (kyōsei shakai) within which non-Japanese (NJ) would be “accepted” (uke ire).

This is a positive change from the past two decades, when Japan cultivated an unofficial unskilled labor visa regime that a) imported NJ as cheap work units to keep Japanese factories from going bankrupt or moving overseas, and then b) saw NJ as an inconvenient unemployment statistic, fixable by canceling visas or buying them tickets home (JBC, Apr. 7, 2009).

Yes, we’ve seen this kyōsei sloganeering before. Remember the empty “kokusaika” internationalization mantra of Japan’s ’80s bubble era?

But this time the government is serious. Sponsored by the Cabinet, these meetings are considering assimilationist ideas suggested by local governments and ignored for a decade.

Why? Attendees acknowledged that Japan needs NJ to revitalize its future economy.

Unusually, their discussions were open to public scrutiny (www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/kyousei/index.html) Thank you. And here scrutiny comes . . .

The good news is that the meetings’ heart is in the right place. A fuller analysis of the materials can be found at www.debito.org/?p=10271, but what they’re getting right includes:

• State-supported Japanese language education for all NJ.

• State-supported education for all NJ children (so they don’t wind up as an illiterate unskilled underclass).

• More multilingual information online and in public access areas.

• Proper enrolment for NJ in Japan’s health, unemployment and social welfare systems.

• More assistance with finding NJ employment and resolving unemployment.

• Some attention to “cultural sensitivity” and “mutual respect” issues (not just the one-way gripe of “how NJ inconvenience us Japanese on garbage day”).

• Better coordination between all levels of government for more comprehensive policies, etc.

Bravo. But there are some shortcomings:

First, definitions. What do “coexistence” and “acceptance” mean? Just letting people across the border? Gated communities? Official recognition of ethnic minorities and domestic “foreign cultures”? Acceptance of ethnic differences as “also Japanese”? Or repressing and overwriting those “foreign cultures” (a la the Ainu, Okinawans, Koreans and Taiwanese in Meiji Japan). Without making the terms of discussion clear, we can’t see ultimate intentions.

Second, hard-wired in the proceedings is a narrative that “offsets” and “others” NJ. We have the standard embedded policy invective of “our country” (wagakuni — but isn’t Japan the country of all its residents?), with the issue couched negatively as “the foreign laborer problem” (gaikokujin rōdōsha mondai). If NJ are not treated as intruders, then they are “guests” (as opposed to just human beings) being indulgently granted something from above.

Third, the ministries are considering vague “environmental preparations” (kankyō seibi) before more NJ get here. (But wait, aren’t NJ already here? Or are we somehow wiping the slate clean?)

OK, fine — semantics. But then you read how each ministry’s proposal further betrays an odd predisposition toward NJ:

The Justice Ministry complained that they can’t “administer” (kanri) NJ properly once they cross the border. But with upcoming reforms to NJ registration systems ferreting out more visa miscreants, that’s fixed, they added. Phew. Not much else was proposed.

The health ministry suggested making some important improvements to welfare and employment systems. But nothing too legalistic — after all, discrimination against NJ as workers is already forbidden (kinshi) by law (as if that’s made much difference so far). They also heralded the preferential treatment for “high-quality” (shitsu no takai) NJ from now on through a new “points system” (critiqued as problematic in my March 6 column).

The Cabinet talked exclusively about assisting nikkei — NJ of Japanese descent. Never mind residents from, say, China or the Philippines; bloodlines take priority.

The education ministry recycled old ideas, saying that we need to teach NJ the Japanese language and, er, not much else — not even any antibullying proposals.

Nothing at all from the attending ministries of foreign affairs, finance, trade and industry, transport and tourism, or forest and fisheries.

The most useless report was from the National Police Agency, who, with a single page of statistics cooking up a NJ crime rise (despite a dramatic fall across the board (JBC, April 3)), advocated more policing, much like the Justice Ministry did. (Funny thing, that: Are the police invited to every policy meeting on the treatment of Japan’s residents, or only for policies concerning those inherently untrustworthy NJ residents?)

The biggest problem was the lack of diversity. As this article went to press, all attendees were older Japanese men (OK, two women), with approximately the same socioeconomic status and life experience. Not one NJ attended.

Thus everyone relied on third-party “reports from the field” (genba de), as if NJ are exotic animals studied from binoculars in their habitat. Not even the token Gregory Clark (who never misses an opportunity within these pages to claim how open-minded the Japanese are because they plonk him on blue-ribbon panels) was shoehorned in.

If the people for whom this policy is being created are not present at the agenda-setting stage, the inevitable happens: blind spots.

Here’s the major one: Where is the legal apparatus (hō seibi) to back up those “environmental preparations”?

For example, where is a proposed amendment to the Basic Education Law (to remove the conceit of kokumin, or Japanese national) to ensure that Japanese schools can no longer refuse NJ children an education?

Where is a proposed punishment for the employer who treats his NJ workers unequally, such as by not coughing up their required half of social insurance payments?

What about that law against racial discrimination? Again, these meetings are a well-intentioned start. But I think the outcome will still be policy failure. For there is still no discussion about making NJ feel like they “belong,” as “members” of Japan.

Academic Yumiko Iida (a Japanese, so no claims of cultural imperialism, please), in her award-winning research about Japanese identity (see www.debito.org/?p=10215), argued that there are four things any viable nation-state must create to make its people feel like “members”:

1) A shared memory of the past (i.e., a national narrative) that links them all.

2) A sense of community, with moral obligations attached to it.

3) A world view that makes sense.

4) Hope for the future that other people share.

Consider how NJ are denied these things:

1) NJ have little presence in Japan’s history (remember the old saw, “Japan merely borrows ‘things’ from overseas and then uniquely ‘Japanizes’ them”) so, as these meetings indicate by their very attendance roster, NJ are forever an exogenous force to Japanese society.

2) As discussed on these pages (JBC, June 5), NJ are systematically othered, if not completely ignored as even a minority community within Japan, and that will naturally discourage a feeling of moral obligation to Japan.

3) A world view that does not acknowledge the existence of entire minority peoples cannot possibly make sense to those peoples.

4) Hope for the future in a Japan in decline is a hard sell even for Japanese these days.

The point is, if this policy discussion is to go beyond political theater, the GOJ must now use the dreaded word “immigration” (imin). It must also prepare the public to see immigrants as members of Japanese society — as minority Japanese.

This committee has not. It had better start.

In this era of unprecedented opportunities for world labor migration, Japan must be more competitive. Above all, it must lose the arrogant assumption that people will want to come to Japan just because it’s Japan.

Japan must seriously think about how to be nice — yes, nice — enough to NJ so that they’ll want to stay. And that means making them feel equal in terms of importance and inclusion — as though they belong — with everyone else.

So you want to create public policy that reflects, not dictates, what NJ need? Then listen to those of us already here. The government has admitted you need us. Treat us as an exogenous force at your peril.

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

Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp. For readers’ views on last month’s column, please visit www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120703hs.html
ENDS

GOJ embryonic policymaking reboot for “co-existence with foreigners”: Some good stuff, but once again, policy about NJ without any input from them

mytest

Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  We have an important announcement courtesy of academic listserv H-JAPAN:

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

H-JAPAN
May 31, 2012
Date: Thu, 31 May 2012
From: JFMorris
Subject: Multiculturalism in Japan

Dear List members,

A committee has been set up within the Cabinet Office of Japan, composed of the vice-ministers of the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Ministiry of Law, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education etc, Health etc, Agricutlure etc, Industry etc, Land etc, Police to investigate and recommend policy on “co-existence with foreigners”. Information on the committee can be found at the following URL.

http://www.cas.go.jp/jp/seisaku/kyousei/index.html

The documentation provided here gives a very succinct summary of what the government (national level bureaucrats?) of Japan think about “foreigners” here, and how they formulate their perceptions of what the “problems” are, and very vaguely hint at where they see future solutions.

John Morris
Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University

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

COMMENT:  Many thanks to John Morris for the link.  I wish he would have elaborated on the contents of the summaries, so I will.

As concerns the goals of Debito.org (inter alia the promotion of multiracial/multicultural tolerance and and of diversity in Japanese society), here are some points of note:

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

SUMMARY:  This is not the first time the organs of the Japanese government have talked about “coexistence with foreigners” (gaikokujin to no kyousei shakai jitsugen), but more likely than not these happen at the local level (cf. the Hamamatsu Sengen, which happened repeatedly from over a decade ago yet was studiously ignored at the national level).  Now that discussion on this is taking place at the national, Cabinet level, this is a positive development.  However, these meetings (two so far, the first one was less than an hour) at the outset show the hallmarks of so much Japanese policymaking:  a biased agenda (with all the normalized invective of “wagakuni” (our country) semantically offsetting those foreigners (who have to “co-exist” with Japanese, not merge into one polity)) regarding the policy treatment of people without any input from the people being treated.  Inevitable blind spots, such as an overemphasis on Nikkei and children’s education, are already latent in the materials below.  In any case, this is a very interesting and rare view into the dialogs and mindsets behind the creation of public policy re Non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan.  More detailed summaries and analysis follow below.

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

Here is the cover of the anchor site for this policy debate (click to enlarge):

The goal written therein is interesting:  “This deliberative meeting on ‘a society coexisting with foreigners’ has been set up so that related government ministries can deliberate comprehensively in close cooperation with one another, regarding the various problems related to environmental preparations (kankyou seibi) for realizing a society where we can coexist with foreigners who have livelihoods in Japan, in order to promote the undertaking of related policies at all levels of government.” (my translation)

Okay, we’re coordinating something regarding “policy issues” (which is good, since in Japan’s tate-wari bureaucracy the ministries don’t coordinate much with each other).  So who’s attending?  According to the attached konkyo kouseiin for the May 24, 2012 meeting (click to enlarge):

It’s all governmental vice ministers (fuku daijin) from The Cabinet, Internal Affairs & Communications (Soumusho), Justice, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Education, Health & Welfare, Agriculture, Forests & Fisheries (how are they related?), METI, Posts and Communications, and the National Police Agency (there as a jichou).  The chair is former Education Minister Nakagawa Masaharu (under the interestingly-named title of “State Minister in Charge of the Foreign Laborer Problem” (gaikokujin roudousha mondai o tantou suru kokumu daijin), meaning semantically we’ve already problematized a latent “problem” of foreigners into foreign laborers). (More on Nakagawa in Japanese at the renewed Noda Cabinet Profiles here)

Note that there is not a single Non-Japanese (NJ) involved anywhere at the agenda-setting stage.  (Not even the token Gregory Clark, who never misses an opportunity to claim how open-minded the Japanese must be because officials insert him on blue-ribbon shingikai deliberation councils and committees.  Maybe that’s for the better this time, since we really don’t need bigoted geriatric liars with an incredible sense of entitlement telling the GOJ what to do about NJ residents who have completely different socioeconomic statuses to his.)  Anyway, it seems the government obviously knows best what to do with the “foreign laborer problem” from the outset.  Who needs foreign residents’ involvement when it’s a Japan issue?

Note how there is some vital lack of definition.  What does “coexistence” mean exactly — tolerance, acceptance, gated communities, patchwork cultural neighborhoods, or complete subsumption of “foreign cultures” in favor of “Japanese culture” (douka)?  Nor is the “kankyou seibi” made all that clear.  For example, does this this include a law (with actual penalties for offenders) against racial discrimination?  People won’t leave home without it.

You can see the materials submitted to participants in the first meeting, including several reference materials from each ministry from the following links (this was clearly a meeting planned well in advance; good):

【配付資料】
 資料1-1 「外国人との共生社会」実現検討会議の開催について
 資料1-2 「外国人との共生社会」実現検討会議の開催について(開催要綱)
 資料1-3 当面の検討会議スケジュール(案)
 資料1-4 有識者ヒアリング候補者(案)
 資料2 外国人との共生社会の実現に向けた主な論点、検討課題(例)
 資料3 法務省提出資料
 資料4 厚生労働省提出資料
 資料5 文部科学省提出資料
 資料6 警察庁提出資料
 資料7 内閣府提出資料

Material 1-1 is interesting in that the main goals are listed as:

  1. What form a society coexisting with foreigners will take
  2. What “environmental preparations” (kankyou seibi) will be undertaken to realize this society
  3. How to enliven (kasseika) the national debate (kokumin teki giron) which will also include the acceptance (uke ire) of foreigners
  4. What other topics and issues of special attention (ryuu i ten) will be involved in realizing this coexistence with foreigners

Those goals are elaborated in greater detail within Material 1-1 (more below).  Prima facie, these are all positive directions, especially the national debate bit to get the public on board to convince them that NJ are also a part of society. However, unclear (as always) is the word “uke ire“, which can run the gamut of meanings from “acceptance and embracement” to “just letting them cross the border into Japan” (as in the yahoo dictionary definition example:  “この国は移民の受け入れに年間2,000人の枠を設けている The quota of immigrants to be received [acceptedinto this country is set at 2,000 per year.”)  Given Japan’s record on immigration policy (and the fact that even the word “imin” (immigrant/immigration) doesn’t seem to be appearing anywhere, this word does not conjure as positive an example of acceptance *as Japanese residents and Japanese citizens* as one would like.

Material 1-1 also mentions in that greater detail the two steps that this plan will take:  1) GOJ deliberations on the kankyou seibi, 2) public debate on how to “accept foreigners”.  However, this will take place ONLY AFTER the kankyou seibi are firmly established.  The policy aim also stresses that it policy is not to be expanded to accept more foreigners (uke ire kakudai), but rather it is important first “to improve the many problems of foreigners who are actually living in our country”, listed as issues of lifestyles, education, labor conditions etc..  Kankyou seibi must be done first, however.  Then, however, if I’m not somehow misunderstanding this, it stresses in the next paragraph how our country must increase its attractiveness and appeal as a place that will “draw foreigners in to revitalize our society” (wagakuni shakai ni katsuryoku o motarasu gaikokujin o hikitsukeru).  Somehow I have the feeling I’ve heard this before.  And again, a “smooth public debate” is fine.  But how about seibi-ing that legal environment to outlaw discrimination?  Not clear.

It’s not any clearer when you read the finer print.  Material 2 above lists these as the problems to be addressed already (paraphrases):

  1. Our country needs high-quality people (koudo jinzai) to keep us vibrant in this era of globalization and aging/falling Japanese population, so for that dynamism we need foreigners.  
  2. There have been “social costs” (shakaiteki kosuto) to bringing foreigners into our country before, particularly in regards to lifestyles, education, and labor, so this should not be broadened due to [and I’m seriously translating this bit:] “being opened up as an international society will probably lead to our country’s reputation being downgraded” (kokusai shakai ni okeru hirakareta kuni to shite no hyouka o teika saseru koto ni mo tsunagaru). [Moodys, are you listening?]
  3. We want to attract “better foreigners” (again, koudo jinzai), given what happened with the Nikkei South Americans and NJ residents living here so far, with more systematic policies to bring them in and maintain our country’s reputation.
  4. We need these plans to be medium- and long-term, given the demographics.
  5. We need to keep our people (kokumin) in the debate loop and build consensus for the future about bringing in foreign labor.

Wow, what paroxysms of grief those lackluster NJ entrants up to now have put Japanese society through!  That said, these are the things (page 3) this panel is thinking about regarding how to treat NJ (in other words, its not just what we can take from NJ, but also what we need to give them):

  1. Policies that will make them functional in Japanese (e.g., promotion of J language learning in local areas, with appraisals, encouragement of teachers, and possible requirement (gimu zukeru koto) [for visa renewals?])
  2. Educating their children (e.g., stopping school absenteeism, putting in qualified J language teachers in public schools, assisting NJ children into higher-quality education, promoting education in NJ schools [!!!], promoting J language education for their parents, offering NJ children other educational opportunities, etc.)
  3. How they will be hired and will work (e.g., not merely treating them as cheap labor but improving their working conditions and social insurance, with job training in sectors such as nursing, agriculture etc., through bringing in higher-skilled workers, and even think about a “foreign employment law” (gaikokujin koyouhou) [!!!]  This would not be limited to the Nikkei South American workers [was it implicitly before?])
  4. How they will have medical treatment and social security (e.g., get them on Social Insurance, get their kids covered, and think about to set up an effective translation system)
  5. Stable places for them to live (e.g., offer basic information about how and where to live, and take measures to alleviate the fears of private-sector landlords afraid of NJ)
  6. How to deal with “public safety” problems (e.g., how to police NJ in this age of globalized crime)
  7. How to make information available in several languages (e.g., multilingual internet sites, more information sent overseas [??], one-stop information and assistance centers, multilingual disaster information, multilingual traffic information and driver license tests)
  8. Mutual respect for each others’ culture and promoting understandings (e.g., multicultural education, and thinking about introducing an integrated program for Japanese studies as soon as people enter Japan)
  9. How to work in coordination with local governments and burden-share (e.g., have local governments understand the needs of their local NJ and offer them concrete and customized service)  Etc.

There are further clarifications for each subject from page 4 onwards (listed in parentheses afterwards).  This is some very heady and prescient stuff (I can see why bureaucrats don’t want sweaty-headed public debate meddling until they get the “environment” set up first), and something which if carried out will be a great improvement over the past.  However, unclear again is how some issues (such as apartment refusals) will be enforced through the existing legal/administrative framework, or how the present system will be changed to make jobs more secure and equal in treatment (such as in Japanese academia (which I happen to know a bit about), which advertises that it wants foreign PhDs but then only offers them limited-term contracts, not tenure or an equal collegial footing).  Nice to have this wish list.  Better to say, however, that we need legal structure (hou seibi) to back it up, even at this drawing-board stage.

The MOJ’s brief (Material 3 above) starts out with bare stats of who and how many NJ are here and what they are up to.  But then on page 7 they get into how NJ should be administered (kanri — natch, that’s their job).  But it uses the hackneyed kokusaika (internationalization) of Japan just in terms of numbers without (as usual) indicating an understanding about what true internationalization really means (as in making NJ into Japanese).  Instead, the MOJ focuses (as usual) on how little control they have over NJ once they pass through Japan’s borders, and advocates the quick implementation of policy carrots and sticks — carrots portrayed as keeping tabs on NJ’s social welfare and children’s education (as if that’s within their mandate), and sticks meaning visa overstayers get rooted out ever more efficiently.  We’ve seen this in action in the upcoming end of the Gaijin Cards (in favor of remotely-trackable Zairyuu Cards (mentioned on page 8 ) that link visa approval to enrollment in Japan’s insolvent pension schemes), and it’s pretty plain to see who’s engineered that future fiasco.  If you’re ready for a giggle, check out the smiling “example NJ” on page 9 being subjected to this proposal, complete with white skin and blue eyes (even though most of the NJ these labor policies will attract are probably not White people — because they never have been).  In sum, the MOJ offers nothing new except more policing.

The Health & Welfare Ministry’s brief (Material 4 above) offers the background information on what NJ are up to again, but has on page 2 a special focus (over half the page) on how to care for Nikkei NJ (displaying once again that GOJ focus on offering more assistance “to the family” linked by Japanese blood).  The measures proposed are decent (mentioned in the Material 2 outline above).  For the the garden-variety NJ, however, it’s not clear what’s to be done as discrimination by nationality in working conditions and in introductions to jobs is already “outlawed” (kinshi) (as if that’s made much difference up to now).  But the Ministry points out (page 3) how there’s no clause in the laws guaranteeing equal treatment regardless of nationality in the social insurance system, and wants improvements made regarding how foreigners are employed.  The solution to this Ministry is the upcoming revisions in the registry rules to make everyone accountable under the pension and social welfare systems.  Not much new here — no mention of how to stop J employers screwing their NJ workers out of social insurance by not paying their half of the required contributions, for example.  A newer idea, however, is on page 4, where they outline the policy for attracting higher-quality NJ (again, koudo jinzai), i.e., a “points system” (itself highly problematic) for which came into effect May 7 of this year; the Ministry wants 300,000 “shitsu no takai” foreign students etc. to be handled under “job matching” systems at Hello Work unemployment agencies nationwide.  It also wants GOJ assistance with post-university job searches and internships, and reformed personnel management with clearer hiring practices for international workers.  Okay, decent stuff, but let’s wait and see if any of this comes to fruition.

The Ministry of Education’s brief (Material 5 above) is brief indeed, with a rehash of what they say they concluded in May 2010:  Deliberation of how to institute Japanese language education environments in Grade School and Junior High, and allowing NJ schools in Japan to become educational foundations [!!!].  More details are on page 2, where details of note include an increase of Japanese-language teachers by 350 souls (to a total of 1385 people nationwide) since 2009, making and distributing educational guidebooks, yada yada.  Also notable is the lumped treatment of J “returnee children” (rendered as kikoku/gaikokujin jidousei) as foreigners.  No mention of reforming the Basic Education Law (kyouiku kihon hou) to also guarantee education to non-citizens (given the restrictive kokumin clauses already within it, which still enables Japanese schools to refuse NJ children).  No anti-bullying discussions, either, or possible sensitivity training workshops for teachers if not students.  MoE’s assumptions within its lackluster proposals seem to be that if you make some motions to teach foreigners (and somehow by extension returnee Japanese) the Japanese language, they’ve done their job and all’s resolved nationwide.

The National Police Agency’s brief (Material 6 above) is even briefer, with one page of crime stats (which has dramatically fallen across the board yet they managed to squeeze in a crime rise somehow — i.e., NJ as collaborators with Japanese in Japanese crimes) with fingers pointed at Chinese, Vietnamese, Peruvians, and Brazilians as inter alia thieves and marriage visa defrauders.

They offer no proposals whatsoever.  Why are they even in on this discussion?  (The MoJ is already offering enough policing.)  Do we get the police involved on every social policy reform council, or is it just because we’re dealing with inherently untrustworthy criminal NJ?

The Cabinet’s brief (Material 7 above) offers a full overview of “our own” — with seven pages concentrating solely on Nikkei NJ.  Aside from this more-than-just-a-little offensive blood-fixation prioritizing of foreigners in Japan, we have observations about how these days Nikkei cannot get jobs or get Japanese language skills, their kids cannot get an education, and how they’ve taken emergency policies since January 2009 (as opposed to the GOJ’s emergency airlift of Nikkei — only — back to South America from April 2009?).  The rest of the proposals are basically as above, in what seems to be a summary of everyone’s positions.

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

Future discussions (a total of five meetings, through July, according to Material 1-3 above) will involve a hearing with experts in the field on “the shape of the NJ coexistence society” (Meeting 2, June 1, details below); another meeting with those experts “about taking on the issues ‘in the field’ (genba de) where NJ have their livelihoods” (Meeting 3, June 15, preliminary details below); yet another meeting with those experts about accepting those NJ (regarding “views” (shiten) and “issues warranting special attention” (ryuu i ten) in accordance with realizing that co-existence society) (Meeting 4).  And finally, the last scheduled meeting for now will bring the previous meetings’ discussions together to consider a 25-year tentative plan for realizing those concrete policies for kankyou seibi.

It’s a better-formed plan and timetable for discussing these issues than I’ve ever seen before (and it’s also been opened to public scrutiny).  All good, but here’s your scrutiny:

I still have no idea what kankyou seibi is (neither do they, I think; that’s why they’re getting together to discuss it).  But the inputs are as usual limited to people (presumably no women, no young people, and no working-class people) who will never be directly affected by this policy because they have never been foreigners in Japan.  I’m probably reading too much into the following, but semantically, NJ are seen as almost a different breed of animal that needs to be studied in their natural habitat.  Still no sign of any of those NJ animals being let in on any GOJ meetings to speak for themselves.

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

Meeting Two was held very promptly afterwards, on June 1, 2012, and for what looks to have been a longer time (two hours on paper).  Here’s the cover page (click to enlarge):

Now involved are three “persons of awareness” (yuushikisha), who are a Mr. Ikegami Shigehiro (a full professor from Shizuoka’s University of Art and Culture, who writes a lot about Indonesian culture and migrant Indonesians; even uses the word “emigrants”), a Mr. Iguchi Yasushi (a former bureaucrat at the Ministry of Labor turned full professor at Kansai Gakuin University, whose specialty is the unemployed and labor migration; here’s his CV in English), and a Mr Satou Gun’ei (Vice Dean at Tokyo Gakugei University’s Center for Research in International Awareness, whose specialty is on transnationals and Japanese language education, particularly Japanese children overseas).

Again, these people are no doubt well-intentioned and well-researched about situations facing NJ in Japan.  But they are not NJ, with “NJ awareness”; there is no substitute for that.

You can see their submitted materials here (along with other materials from that meeting) from these links:

【配付資料】
 資料1 池上氏提出資料
 資料2 井口氏提出資料
 資料3 佐藤氏提出資料
 参考資料1 「外国人との共生社会」実現検討会議の開催について(要綱)
 参考資料2 当面の検討会議スケジュール
 参考資料3 有識者ヒアリング参集者
 参考資料4 外国人との共生社会の実現に向けた主な論点、検討課題(例)

Another brief summary of the materials above:

Mr Ikegami (Material 1) offers an overview that goes beyond Nikkei to include Chinese and Filipinas/nos too.  Aside from overviews of the economic forces at work on NJ labor, he saliently proposes (of note): 1) officially defining “multicultural coexistence” (tabunka kyousei), 2) coordinated entry and social integration procedures, 3) regional coordination that includes NJ, etc.  He also endorses an awareness of “transnational livelihoods”, not dividing the issue into “Japanese and foreigners”, etc.  His heart’s in the right place, but proposals are still at the slogan stage.  I assume he elaborated on his points orally.

Mr Iguchi (Material 2) has a five-pager that still resorts to the divisive “wagakuni” (our country) invective, but still endeavors to portray NJ as deserving something more than just a ticket home.  He stresses the issue of “social integration” (shakai tougou).  He writes a bit of fluff here and there that the bureaucrats are probably not interested in (such as the treatment of Burmese refugees), but does overturn a few unconsidered stones:  how the mixed bag of overseas policies towards foreign “cultural identities” have resulted in potential backlashes if they are not respected; how “multicultural coexistence” is not an imported concept in Japan’s case, but one generated from Japan’s grassroots — i.e., from Japan’s local governments, such as when Kawasaki City passed policies in the 1990s benefiting “foreign-national residents”; how important language is for not only communication, but also for securing permanent residency and citizenship [!!]; how NJ rights must be respected and enforced through Hello Work and local governments [!!], etc.  He advocates immediately 1) the GOJ use the July NJ registration reforms as an opportunity to get Hello Work and local governments helping NJ enlisted in employment insurance and social insurance, as well as to promote secure jobs for them, and 2) get employers to properly insure their NJ employees and ensure flexibility towards covering their families.  He advocates that within the next five years NJ get up to speed in Japanese through standardized education, evaluation, and systematic accreditation of J language teachers.  Beyond that, mid-term suggestions include 1) proper technical accreditation for young NJ trained technicians aimed at properly matched markets, 2) periodic lists of vocations in desperate need of workers and training programs for NJ to fill them, 3) exchanges through educational accords with other countries at the university level to bring in foreign researchers and students (as well as beef up language accreditation for imported NJ workers, with targeted language education for them; example cited being the plight thus far of foreign nurses and health care workers).  His final, underlined conclusion was that to restore Japan’s economic vitality, it is essential to bring in NJ (specifically high-quality foreign labor, Nikkei, technical trainees, and refugees [!!] for specific industries, and to accomplish that, concrete policies are necessary to encourage proper administration of NJ as well as encourage social integration at the national, regional, and local levels.  Surely true.  The attitude, however, is still one of “we’re going to wipe the slate clean and start treating foreigners better from when they enter at the border”, not one of making things better for the NJ already here.  Ah well, gotta start somewhere, I suppose.

Mr Satou (Material 3) offered a bullet-point summary, focusing on 1) the present state of NJ children’s education, 2) evolution of the characteristics of educational policies towards NJ children, 3) issues within those education policies, and 4) future issues with a view towards multicultural coexistence.  Quite frankly, it was jolly difficult for me to understand within which was an observation and which was policy advice.  Some points made that don’t overlap Ikegami’s and Iguchi’s, to wit:  1) education of NJ has not developed into talk of reform of the education system to accommodate them, but rather of how individuals will cope with their education, 2) basic principles of guarantees of rights from the perspective of multiculturalism must be made clear before proper “acceptance” (uke ire) can take place, 3) Japanese children should be schooled in tolerance of others as fellow residents (shimin — rendered later as “citizens” (as in shiminsei no kyouiku, “citizenship education”)).  Good stuff and better constructs included, especially the new civics lessons, but in the end, this came off as a laundry-list outline/survey of issues and problems with relatively unclear proposals.

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

Meeting 3, according to Material 1-4 distributed May 24, 2012, says that the June 15 hearing will involve the mayor of Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture (since so many NJ are clustered there working in factories), the unnamed head of Tokyo Shinjuku-ku (where “a lawless zone of foreign crime” Kabukicho is; I assume a bureaucrat?), a Mr Tamura Taro, representative of the Multicultural Center Osaka (which works a lot with Nikkei Brazilian issues), and a Ms Sakamoto Kumiko, head of NPO Aidensha (which works with Portuguese speakers etc. in Mie Prefecture explaining Japan’s rules, helping them get homes and proper insurances, and assisting in translations etc.)

Again, all no doubt well-intentioned people.  A bit top-heavy on the Nikkei Brazilian front, again.  I guess Chinese aren’t prioritized as highly due to a lack of blood ties, and where are the Peruvians, Filippinas/nos, and other NJ?

The remaining materials were essentially repeats of the earlier materials.  Enough; my eyes are tired.  Points I missed or got wrong, please feel free to correct.  Thanks for reading. Arudou Debito

UPDATE JUNE 27, 2012:  MEETING THREE OF JUNE 15, 2012 CRITIQUED HERE:

GOJ Cabinet “Coexistence with NJ” Pt. 2: Critique of June 15, 2012 meeting — a very positive Third Act to this Political Theatre

WSJ: “‘Expats’ Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card”, needs more research beyond “Expat” conceits

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here we have the Wall Street Journal up to its old tricks: Representing the “Expat” community’s attitudes towards Japan, doing “Japan Real Time” research that is essentially navel-gazing about Japan from a skyscraper window (or a computer screen, as it were).

Even though the reporter, Sarah Berlow, parrots much of the net-researched stuff (courtesy of the GOJ, sharing the same blinkered viewpoint of life in Japan for NJ residents) accurately, check this bit out:

“New residents will instead be given a “residence card” similar to the ones Japanese citizens carry, except for a special marking designating the holder’s nationality.”

Err… wrong. Japanese citizens have no residence cards to carry, as we’ve discussed here on Debito.org for years. This fact has long seeped into the consciousness of people who ACTUALLY live here, as one of the WSJ commenters duly notes:

There is no such residence card for Japanese nationals. Japanese citizens usually use drivers licences, health insurance cards or passports for ID if necessary. They most certainly are not issued with these or similar residency-based cards currently, I am aware of no plans to do so, and there is no compulsory carrying of ID required for Japanese citizens (except to enter an airport). The previous system required non-Japanese to carry a credit card-sized ID card at all times (subject to penalty if not carried) and will still do so. Japanese citizens do not have to carry ID and will still not be required to do so.
Source for comments relating to requirements for resident non-Japanese :
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/newimmiact/q_a_details1_english.html , especially under Q1-9

And how about this: “These new changes come as the government attempts to increase this number [of foreigners entering Japan], to an “era of 25 million foreign visitors to Japan” by 2020, a goal established in 2011.”

Err… foreign tourists never had to carry Gaijin Cards in the first place (only people who had to register with residency visas of three months and up), so these changes have no connection and will have no effect. Does Ms. Berlow even have a residency visa in Japan so she might know about this from personal experience?  If not, there are whole books on this, ones so easy even the busy-getting-rich-off-their-Expat-packages-and-enjoying-their-Expat-Bubble-Enclaves Expats can read them (cf. HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS), so bone up.

And there is no mention of the RIFD Gaijin Card Chipping for the new “Gaijin Residency Cards” only, something I’ve made a fuss about in the past.  Ms. Berlow uses the word “track” in regards to NJ within the article, which is appropriate, for reasons she probably didn’t research enough to anticipate.  RFID enables remote tracking of people’s credit card numbers, to begin with.

http://www.businessinsider.com/watch-this-is-how-easy-it-is-for-thieves-to-steal-everything-in-your-wallet-2012-5

And with technological advances, as I’ve argued before, it is only a matter of time and degree before it’s capable at long distances — if it’s not already. Don your tinfoil hats, but RFID technology is already being used in military drone guidance systems for long-distance precision targeting. You think the GOJ’s going to abdicate its wet-dream ability to keep physical track of potential foreign “illegal overstayers”, now that it has the ability to RFID chip every foreign resident from now on? Oh well, the “Expats” need not worry. They’re not in Japan forever.

Finally, what’s the reason I’m jumping on the WSJ so much?  Because, as I’ve said, they’re up to their old tricks.  Don’t forget, it was the WSJ who first broke (and legitimized in English and Japanese) the story about the fictitious “Flyjin” Phenomenon, setting the agenda to tar the NJ who left (or worse, stayed for the stigma).  Thus the WSJ’s record of “spoiling things” for NJ in Japan is on par with what critics claim Debito.org does.  Sorry, we might not have their media reach or legitimacy, but at least we do better research here, for free.  That’s a deal even a non-“Expat” can afford.  Arudou Debito

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

The Wall Street Journal May 7, 2012, 3:57 PM JST
Expats Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card
JAPAN REAL TIME HOME PAGE
By Sarah Berlow Courtesy of TS
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2012/05/07/expats-say-goodbye-to-gaijin-card/

This summer marks the end of an era for foreigners residing in Japan. Starting July 9, the 60-year-old “certificate of alien registration” — the credit-card sized i.d. informally known as “the gaijin card” — will go the way of yakiimo carts, weekly Astroboy broadcasts, and uniformed men punching train tickets.

New residents will instead be given a “residence card” similar to the ones Japanese citizens carry, except for a special marking designating the holder’s nationality. It’s part of a series of amendments to Japanese immigration law designed to create a simpler system for the government, and a way for foreigners to feel, well, slightly less alien.

One main change: foreign residents and Japanese nationals can sign up with the government under the same resident registration system, rather than filing under separate categories, as currently required. That means foreigners generally can handle more of their bureaucratic needs only with their local municipal office, reducing the need to deal with immigration authorities. The new law is also designed to make life easier for Japanese with non-Japanese spouses. The entire family can be registered in one system, and the foreign spouse can be listed as the head of the family. Under current law, those families have to register under two different systems.

Another significant change: longer stay periods on certain visas. Some specialized workers, like engineers, can stay for up to five years instead of the current three; students can stay for up to four years and three months, up from the current maximum of two years and three months. Re-entry permits are being extended to five years from the current three years.

According to the Immigration Bureau of Japan, the new system will better track “the residency of foreign nationals residing in Japan for the mid-to long-term with resident status, and ensure greater convenience for those foreign nationals.”

The “gaijin card” was first created in 1952, and for many years included the holder’s fingerprint — a requirement that drew complaints from foreign residents who felt they were being treated as criminals. That feature was dropped by 1999.

The changes come as Japan faces a sharp drop in foreign residents, a trend prompted by the long recession, the reduction in financial jobs following the 2008 global financial crisis, and the rising cost of living due to the strong yen. Last year’s quake, tsunami, and nuclear accident didn’t do much to encourage foreigners to stay.

At the end of 2011, the number of registered foreigners in Japan had dropped by about 56,000 from 2010 to 2,078,480, the third consecutive decline, according to Japan’s Ministry of Justice.

The number of foreigners who entered Japan 2011 was 7.1 million down 24.4% from 2010. These new changes come as the government attempts to increase this number, to an “era of 25 million foreign visitors to Japan” by 2020, a goal established in 2011.

Read this post in Japanese/日本語訳はこちら≫

WSJ 2012/5/8 14:56
外国人登録制度、7月9日に廃止へ 60年の歴史に幕
http://jp.wsj.com/japanrealtime/blog/archives/11055/

今夏、日本に居住する外国人にとって1つの時代が終了する。過去60年間在留外国人の身分証明書として使用されてきた「外国人登録証明書」が7月9日に廃止される。

これまでの外国人登録証明書に代わり、今後、入管法上の在留資格をもって日本に中長期間在留する外国人である中期在留者には「在留カード」が交付されることになる。日本国民に交付されるのと同じようなカードだが、所有者の国籍を示していることが異なる。政府にとってより単純な制度の創設と在留外国人に対するある種の配慮を目指す一連の入管法改正の一部。

大きな違いは、外国人居住者と日本国民が、現行で義務付けられた異なるカテゴリーではなく、同様の住民基本台帳制度の下で登録できるようになる。これにより、外国人居住者には一般的に、市区町村でできる手続きの範囲が拡大し、入国管理局とのやり取りが減少することになる。また、新しい在留管理制度の導入により、外国人と結婚している日本人にとっても利便性が高まる見込みだ。家族全員が1つの制度の下での手続きが可能になる上、外国人の配偶者も世帯主となり得る。現行法の下では、こうした家族は2つの異なる制度の下で登録する必要がある。

もう1つの著しい変更は、特定の査証に対する在留期間の延長だ。例えば、エンジニアといった一部の特別技能労働者は現行の3年から5年に、また学生は現行の2年3カ月から4年3カ月に在留期間が延長される。さらに、再入国許可についても、有効期間が現行の3年から5年に延ばされる。

法務省入国管理局は、新しい在留管理制度の導入により、「在留状況をこれまで以上に正確に把握できるようになる」とともに、「適法に在留する外国人の方々に対する利便性を向上する措置も可能になる」と説明している。

中長期在留者が所持する外国人登録証明書は1952年に導入され、長年にわたり、指紋押捺制度を伴うものだった。指紋押捺は1999年までに廃止された。

長期に及ぶリセッション(景気後退)や2008年の世界金融危機に伴う金融関連職の減少、円高による生活費の上昇などを背景に、日本の外国人居住者数は大幅減少に直面している。また、昨年の東日本大震災とそれに伴う福島第1原発事故の影響も考えられる。

法務省によると、2011年末時点での在留資格別外国人登録者総数は前年から約5万6000人減少し、207万8480人となった。減少は3年連続。

11年の訪日外国人数は710万人と、前年比24.4%減少した。一方、政府は訪日外国人を2020年までに2500万人に増加させるという目標を掲げている。

記者:Sarah Berlow
ENDS

Mainichi: NJ held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules

mytest

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Hi Blog. Speaking of incarceration of NJ under unreviewed circumstances (start here), here is what happens when the GOJ suddenly starts, as encouraged by the United Nations and even domestic think tanks such as JIPI, to actually REVIEW its own rules:  They discover that not as many NJ need to be incarcerated.  Quite a few of not as many.  Very high percentages, even.

Well, how about that.  Glad this happened, and got some press too.  May it happen more often, so that the NPA and Immigration realize that there are some boundaries to their power of interrogation and incarceration, even if (and especially if) the incarcerated happen to be NJ (who are even, according to here as well as the article below, committing suicide rather than take any more of this inhumane treatment).  Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////////
Foreigners held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules
(Mainichi Japan) February 4, 2012, courtesy of JK
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120204p2g00m0dm013000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The number of foreign nationals detained one year or longer by Japanese immigration officials dropped significantly after a review of procedural rules for a more flexible approach in response to criticisms about the treatment of long-term detainees, data for last year showed.

As of August 2011, a total of 167 foreign nationals were held for at least six months at immigration facilities in Ibaraki, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures, according to the Justice Ministry.

Many of them are believed to have overstayed their visas and were waiting to be deported to their native countries or undergoing procedures to seek asylum in Japan.

Those who were held for at least one year totaled 47, down sharply from 115 at the end of 2009. The Justice Ministry said it has been actively releasing those who are subject to deportation but it sees no need for holding in custody since July 2010.

The Japanese government came under fire for its long-term detentions in 2007 by the United Nations, which recommended that detention periods should be limited.

A large number of detainees staged hunger strikes as well, as a string of suicides ensued apparently over their dissatisfaction with how they were treated while in detention.

Support groups and lawyers’ associations have repeatedly called on the government to make improvements on the treatment of detainees.

Faced with claims that it was taking too long to conduct asylum reviews, the Justice Ministry has since adopted a policy to process them within six months in principle.

As a result, the number of cases without any decision to grant asylum after six months dropped to 35 as of March 31, 2011, a whopping drop from 612 at the end of June 2010.

Immigration officials also took an average 12.6 months to review asylum cases between July and September 2010 and 14.4 months between October and December 2010.

The periods were curtailed to 4.7 months and 5.2 months in the same periods the following year.

(Mainichi Japan) February 4, 2012
ends

Shock/Horror on Japanese TV show, where Japanese under new Arizona laws could be treated as foreigners, with ID checks! Kibishii!?

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  In line with the current theme of the GOJ targeting NJ, here’s some idea of just how ignorant Japanese are of what happens to foreigners in Japan, e.g., Gaijin Card Checks.  Submitted as a comment in November 2010 by Marius, it deserves resurrecting as a separate blog entry today:

This is an excerpt of a variety show called “Manaberu News” (date unknown, sometime in 2010) discussing new laws to catch illegal aliens in Arizona (permanent carrying of ID and criminal penalties if caught not doing so) signed into law in April 2010, which critics have argued increases the probability of racial profiling and wanton detention of suspects.

The show mentions the requirement for foreigners in Arizona to carry ID 24/7, and how they could be arrested for not doing so.  We get gasps all around at how “kibishii” this is.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xffp4d_arizona-omg_webcam


arizona omg by percyjpnprb

COMMENT:  I find this amusing, less because the ditzy Japanese panelists don’t seem to realize that once outside of Japan THEY become foreigners, more because nobody there seems to realize (or, for the purposes of balance in this admittedly short segment, have it pointed out) that this practice of random search with criminal penalties is already standard procedure in Japan.  NJ have been profiled this way for at least two generations now, regardless of whether or not they’re tourists!

No shock/horror here except for the ignorance.  Most people I’ve ever talked to in Japan (save for bureaucrats and employers of NJ) even know that there’s a Gaijin Card system in existence for tracking and targeting foreigners, not to mention a separate regime for registering (or not registering, as in Juuminhyou) them.

Lack of public awareness of this issue is part of the problem, and it enables the Japanese police, as we have seen on Debito.org, to feel like they can take liberties with their law enforcement as soon as a foreigner is involved.  “Do unto others…” should also entail that regular Japanese folk consider what might happen to them if THEY were foreigners (but as this show demonstrates, for many that is simply pin to konai).  Arudou Debito

PS on Gaijin Card Checkpoint at his apartment — Immigration doing door-to-door checks, using physical force (photos included)

mytest

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New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  Something I’ve noticed about Japan’s anti-crime campaigns:  1) These campaigns are not temporary (as in, “the campaign expires on this date”), meaning inevitable future crackdowns are cumulative (see for example here and here), 2) they quickly take on a racist bent (as NJ are officially depicted as more likely to commit crime, or even just be criminals by existing, as potential “illegal visa overstayers”) and encourage racial profiling in practice (see here and here), and 3) a general lack of legal oversight over the Japanese police means the cops go too far, bending laws (see for example here and here) and in this case targeting politically-disenfranchised people (NJ) who can’t fight back through the system or the media, or even through their political representative (who are basically in on the gaijin bashing for political capital and budgetary gain).

These are all elements of a police state, and the systematic mistrust of foreigners in Japan enables the bureaucracy to carry out in microcosm what Submitter PS (a pseudonym) reports below.  Fortunately this time, PS had the presence of mind to take photographs of these toughs from Immigration, who clearly felt their need to police gaijin overrode their need to treat people with respect and dignity (not to mention without resorting to physical force and with due process under the law).  Arudou Debito

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

January 23, 2012
Dear Debito,

My name is PS. I’m a 45-year-old American living and working in Tokyo, where I’ve resided for the last 8 and a half years. I have a valid working visa, pay my Japanese taxes (both national and local), and have never had any unpleasant encounters with the authorities; that is, until last Thursday, Jan. 19. It’s something that I think you should know about.

That morning, an Immigration official showed up at the door of my apartment, unannounced, and demanded to see my passport. I was very suspicious that Immigration (not the police) would make a sudden home visit to do a spot-check, especially since I’ve lived in the same apartment since 2003, and since my address has been registered with the Shinagawa Ward office for over 8 years. Anyway, I asked this gentleman to show me his badge so that I could write down his name and badge number. He quickly flashed me some ID, but I pointed out that I didn’t have the opportunity to see, much less write down, the details. In a belligerent tone, he said in English, “Passport first!” I refused, bid him a good day, and started to close my door. It was at this point that things got out of hand.

The aforementioned gentleman physically blocked my door from closing, and we got into a shoving match that led to my door getting knocked off its tracks. Then, suddenly, four of his associates (2 men and 2 women), who’d apparently been hiding in the stairwell, appeared en masse. Things continued to verbally escalate, though with no further physicality, until one of them finally relented and let me take a photo of his badge. I took the further liberty of photographing the three “men” who were harassing me. The photos are attached. The person wearing the surgical mask in Photos #2 and 3 is the one with whom I tussled. The name stitched on his uniform was “S. Maeda.”

(NB from Debito: This crappy rubber-stamped and handwritten note passes for GOJ ID??)

After I was satisfied that these people were who they claimed to be, I retrieved my alien registration card, which I presented to them. One of these individuals tried to take it from me, but I made it quite clear that the card wasn’t leaving my hand. My name and number were written down, and these people finally took their leave. I will admit to getting very upset and giving them quite the tongue-lashing as they were walking away. I couldn’t help but point out the infringements on my human rights, not to mention the ridiculous waste of manpower – 5 officials to harass one law-abiding “gaijin” who pays their salaries through his tax payments.

After they left, I called my landlady, who rang Immigration on my behalf. The official she spoke said to confirmed that it was indeed their staff who paid me a visit, though the reason was not forthcoming. After I got to work, I rang the U.S. Embassy to report the matter and told my employer as well. My deep concern was that I might “disappear” and wind up in some windowless dungeon, so I wanted to be sure I had some lifelines established.

This experience has left me terribly shaken and deeply resentful. Given my long tenure in Japan, I was aware that the police on occasion took certain liberties that would not be tolerated in most Western countries (e.g. no Habeas Corpus statute, leading to lengthy incarcerations without charges being filed). However, I had no idea that I was living in a virtual police state in which my home could be practically invaded without cause, and I could be harassed by what struck me as a pack of Gestapo agents, the presence of the two women notwithstanding.

Thanks to the excellent resources available on your website, I was able to do some research. As far as I can tell, what Immigration did to me was not legal. I know that the Foreign Registry Law, Section 13, compels me to present my alien registration card to a Ministry of Justice official if he/she asks for it. But can such a person just show up at my doorstep out of the blue and make me produce said ID? The people at issue in my case had no just cause to suspect me and produced no warrant, without which I can’t see how they could justify blocking my door and getting physical with me.

I know you get a lot of e-mail, so I won’t go on any further. However, if you can shed any light on what happened to me (and perhaps spread the word), I’d be very grateful. As I said, this is the first incident of its kind I’ve ever heard of taking place in this country. Thanks for your time in reading this long e-mail.

Best regards, PS

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

FOLLOW-UP FROM PS:

Yes, by all means, please post my story (with the photos) at your website.  It’s fine to use my initials:  “P.S.”

By the way, the American Embassy also got back to me.  They were not much help, just referring me to a link where I could find a lawyer.  In closing, they gently reminded me that, as a foreigner, I was obliged to obey the laws of the country in which I reside, even if they are very different from those of the U.S.  That’s not a point I was disputing, so I wonder if they read my e-mail carefully.

ENDS

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

FINAL COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Ironic how the USG expects their citizens to obey the laws of the land when even Japanese law enforcement won’t.  Would be nice if the USG et.al would at least make their citizens less disenfranchised by giving them an avenue for channeling complaints of this nature.

Mainichi: Transport ministry mulling random body search of 10% of all airport passengers at Narita etc. Random? Not likely.

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  Relating to the current Debito.org topics of racial profiling, searches, horrendous detentions, and even killings of NJ in Japanese airports, here is a harbinger of future policy:  More of the same.  In fact, according to the Mainichi, a “strengthened” more of the same — affecting 10% of all air passengers.  All in the name of anti-terrorism.  Sounds jolly.  It’s still in the “mulling” stage (but it’s at the bureaucratic level, so no doubt it’ll be smoothly rubber-stamped into law by politicians loath to “touch the controls” when the “safety of wagakuni, the kokutai and kokumin” (i.e., not foreigners) is at stake.

Proponents claim these searches will be “random”.  Yeah, sure.  Just like they have been so far.  After all, GOJ official policy has long been that foreigners are more likely to be terrorists.  So, find the foreigner, and Bob’s your uncle, yuppers; it’s a short cut.  Narita Airport, a pretty crappy and inconvenient airport to begin with, sounds like it’s becoming a real funhouse.  Shall we try Haneda, Chubu, or KIX, anyone?  Arudou Debito

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Transport ministry mulling random body search of airport passengers
(Mainichi Japan) December 25, 2011, courtesy JK
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20111225p2g00m0dm061000c.html

CHIBA (Kyodo) — The transport ministry is considering strengthening antiterrorism measures at international airports in Japan from as early as April by conducting body searches on randomly selected passengers, airport sources said Sunday.

Departing passengers who do not pass screening at walk-through metal detectors are currently asked to go through a body search. With the new inspection procedure, about 10 percent of passengers will be randomly selected for a body search and baggage check, the sources said.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism expects the reinforced inspection procedures to act as a deterrent to terrorism, including acts involving explosives and weapons which metal detectors do not pick up, they said.

The new airport security practice is expected to be introduced at Narita airport and some other international airports, the sources said.

The ministry and airlines are discussing whether the longer time needed for the security inspection would cause significant delays in plane boarding.

ENDS

Chris Johnson on his 2011 experiences in the “Narita Airport Gaijin Gulag”, a complement to Amnesty’s 2002 expose (Amended)

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  Last blog entry I talked about Amnesty International’s 2002 report on horrendous treatment and conditions of NJ detainees in Narita Airport. As a complement, here is Chris Johnson, photojournalist at venues such as CNNGo and The Japan Times, offering his unexpurgated experiences there last December.  Despite having a valid visa, he was denied entry, he believes, due to his critical press coverage of TEPCO and government responses to the Fukushima disasters.  He spent 30 hours in the Narita Airport “Gaijin Tank” (which he calls a gulag) before being forced to buy an overpriced one-way ticket and deported, and it changed his views dramatically on Japan’s legal and policing system.

Excerpt follows.  Full report at http://globalite.posterous.com/inside-the-gaijin-tank-dungeon-at-narita-airp-91122

This issue deserves more attention.  Extralegality may be the norm in Customs and Immigration Zones around the world, but extreme treatment is exactly what happens when policing is unfettered and unmonitored.  It is, to put it mildly, unbefitting a society such as Japan’s, with official pretensions towards respecting the rule of law. Especially when you read about Chris’s experience with the private security goons, who seem to have gone beyond any plausible mitigation (“just following orders”) by Milgram.  Were these the people who killed Abubakar Awadu Suraj in 2010 while deporting him, and to this day have not been charged with any crime?  Arudou Debito

NB:  What follows is an updated version of Chris’s report as of January 18, 2011, amending allegations about a private security company called G4S.  Read on for disclaimers:

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Inside the Gaijin Tank dungeon at Narita Airport in Japan

By Christopher Johnson, freelance photojournalist at CNNGo, The Japan Times, etc.

Globalite Magazine

News, photos and fiction from around the world

Version updated January 18, 2012

Full article at http://globalite.posterous.com/inside-the-gaijin-tank-dungeon-at-narita-airp-91122

Detained for 30 hours and expelled from Japan, a veteran Tokyo-based journalist gets a harrowing glimpse into the trap door at Narita Airport leading into a secretive gulag of rights abuses against thousands of foreign visitors and expats, often by guards hired by airlines 

(((This is a revised, tightened version of an earlier post. It includes a correction based on a comment from a spokesman for g4s, one of the world’s largest companies, which supplies security guards to more than 60 airports. A spokesman says g4s staff are NOT working at Narita. It is not clear who employs the guards accused of mistreating foreigners at Narita.

It includes information about other Westerners wrongfully jailed and expelled from Japan. Also includes comments via Japan Times from former immigration chief, one of the most important critics of detention policy. As previously noted, it is a raw work in progress, unedited, unpolished. Please send comments, anecdotes and info for inclusion in this story.)))

—-When you line up to get your passport stamped at Narita international airport outside Tokyo, look to your right toward a set of “special examination rooms.” That is where the trap door into Japan’s secretive gulag begins.

Most travellers, who regard Japan as a safe country of civilized people, have no idea that thousands of foreign arrivals — just like them — have fallen down that trap door into windowless dungeons in the bowels of the airport. From there, foreigners of all nationalities — seeking a pleasant vacation or a better life in Japan — have vanished into a horrific network of “detention centres” imprisoning thousands of innocent foreigners in appalling conditions.

Most red-eyed foreign arrivals also don’t realize that the immigration officers taking their fingerprints and scanning their passports are working with xenophobic colleagues who have deported on average about 20,000 foreigners every year since 2005, and who have been on trial for themurder of a longtime foreign resident of Japan last year at Narita.

They also don’t realize that airlines, according to the Immigration Bureau, are technically responsible for providing nightmarish dungeons and hiring “security guards” accused of human rights abuses — everything from extortion to theft, torture and denial of rights to call embassies, lawyers or family.

Instead of taking a public stand against the flagrant abuse of their valued customers over the last 15 years, airlines at Narita — knowingly or not — have been reaping windfalls from thousands of expelled passengers forced to purchase one-way tickets at exorbitant prices. Airline officials have not yet replied to requests over the past week for comments on the matter. 

Whether you are a fresh-minded explorer or a jaded expat fluent in the language and culture, the numbers are shocking, and an embarrassing revelation into the darkest side of Japan, a country that prides itself on safety and rule of law.

Amnesty International’s annual report for 2011 says Japan accepted 30 refugees out of about 1000 applicants this past year. It’s not clear what happened to the other 970 or so applicants. Many of them could still be incarcerated.

According to the Immigration Bureau, Japan deports on average 20,000 foreigners every year, including  33,000 in 2005, and another 18,578 in 2010. In other words, Japan kicked out about one-fifth the number of people — 91,778 — who were, as of January 2010, “overstaying their visas”. In reality, “overstaying” means they were dedicating their lives to working for Japanese bosses or employing Japanese in their own businesses, in a country that desperately needs entrepreneurs and job creators. These people, who would normally become immigrants or refugees in other countries, often become prisoners and suicide cases in Japan. All of these people were customers of airlines at Narita. 

That 2010 number — 18,578 individuals with names and families, often in Japan — is enough to fill about 100 jets flying out of Japan during the mass foreign exodus from aftershocks and radiation fears in March.

That number — 18,578 — is similar to the official death toll from the March 11 tsunami, which triggered a wave of international sympathy for the plight of Japan.

Yet other than Amnesty, the UNHCR and some courageous NGOs, few foreign organizations or celebrities have done anything about a system of abuses that ultimately damages Japan’s relations with its key trading partners, causes more than 100,000 people to bear grudges against Japan, andstains the image and balance sheets of airlines who have lost thousands of expelled foreigners as customers. 

Many immigration officers are aware of these issues, and some are trying to reform from within. One of the bureau’s main critics is their former chief, Hidenori Sakanaka. “One year of confinement is mentally tough,” Hidenori Sakanaka, who headed the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau from April 2002 to March 2005, told the Japan Times in July, 2010. The JT noted reports of suicides by a Brazilian and South Korean earlier that year, and hunger strikes at detention centers. “The Immigration Bureau must stop suicides and hunger strikes.”

He said detention centers and the Immigration Bureau must go public about the suicides and treatment of detainees, and also explain how a Ghanaian man, who had been working in Japan for 22 years, died in the custody of immigration officers at Narita airport in March 2010. “The incidents give the Immigration Bureau a chance to improve itself.”

Sakanaka has also authored a book asking readers whether they want “a Bigger Japan” teeming with immigrants, or a “Smaller Japan” with few foreign faces.

Japan’s Immigration Bureau declares on its website (http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/) that it’s motto is “internationalization in compliance with the rules.” It says the bureau makes “contributions to sound development of Japanese society” by “making efforts for smoother cross-border human mobility” and “deporting undesirable aliens”.

The problem, activists say, is their view of who is “undesirable.” In fact, few of the 18,578 deportees in 2010 were hardcore criminals threatening Japanese society. The Japanese media stereotype of them as being poor, dirty, uneducated miscreants is completely wrong. Many deportees have Japanese wives, children, friends and pets. Many are fluent in Japanese, with college degrees and successful careers.

“Jim” is a white male college professor from the United States, who began teaching in Japan about 30 years ago. I first met him in the airport’s “special examination room”. He was wearing a suit and tie like other middle-aged businessmen. He had just walked off a United Airlines flight from America. He wanted to spend Christmas with his 20-year old son, now living with his ex-wife in the Tokyo area. “I got a really cheap ticket, and decided to go for it to see my son,” he says. “The airline let me on, so there shouldn’t have been a problem.”

Jim would spend Christmas in the dank, windowless dungeon, where for 72 hours he was a victim of extortion, theft, strip-searching, abuse, denial of rights and expulsion from Japan at a rip-off price. (I would later discover that he had given speeches supporting anti-nuke protesters in Japan.)

((But even Jim was fortunate compared with Danny Bloom, an American journalist who, after working for five years at the Daily Yomiuri, says he was arrested on charges of overstaying his visa, held in solitary confinement for 41 days in 1995, and deported from Japan. He says he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which affects an estimated 30 million Americans, due to a plane crash in Alaska, and couldn’t fly to Seoul to obtain a work permit. Now exiled in Taiwan, he says he can never return to “the police state” of Japan, even though he still loves Japanese people.)) 

((Other educated white males from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia, who have contacted me since this story first appeared, say privately that they were also victims of wrongful deportation and similar abuses.))

 

x–x—x—x—x—x—x–x–x—x–x–x—x–x–x

 

WHO IS WATCHING THE GUARDS?

 

Jim’s ordeal, and my own experience during a 30-hour detention at Narita and expulsion on Christmas Eve from Japan, confirms Amnesty’s reports dating back to the year 2000, when they first discovered a secret gulag housing thousands of foreigners.

As other victims have told Amnesty, it’s a scam, and a money-maker for the airlines and security guards. At Narita, they have arbitrary powers, and they use them. They can decide “Entry Denied”, and then find a rule or excuse to justify it. They don’t have to explain their reasons, and the appeal process is a sham.

Since there aren’t many reports of these abuses at Haneda and other airports in Japan, victims suspect there is a criminal syndicate operating at Narita since at least 1996. One guy marks a paper “Entry Denied.” He hands you off to a guy who shakes you down for 30,000 yen, who then hands you off to another guy who takes away your rights in the dungeon, who then hands you off to another guy who forces you to buy a rip-off plane ticket. If Amnesty is correct in estimating 7 cases per day on average, this syndicate could earn 200,000 yen per day in extortion fees, and 300,000 to perhaps a million yen per day on marked up airline tickets. Where does the money go? Who can stop them from doing this?

My own experience is consistent with several previous cases cited by Amnesty, and at least five other victims who have emailed me their stories. In my case, Asiana Airlines staff at the check-in counter in Seoul saw that I had a proper visa for Japan, and let me board a flight to Tokyo. The immigration officer at Narita, however, didn’t even look through my Canadian passport, where he would have found proper stamps, working visas, and multiple re-entry permits dating back years. While taking my fingerprints, he saw my name pop up on a list on his computer. (I have strong reason to believe that I have been blacklisted due to my critical coverage of TEPCO, Japan Tobacco, Olympus, JAL, the yakuza, fascists, and state neglect of tsunami survivors and nuclear refugees.) He marked a paper and gave my passport to another officer.

After leading me to the “special examinations room”, hostile immigration officials at Narita falsified my statements, disregarded my proof, confiscated my passport and belongings, and arbitrarily denied me permission to enter Japan, where I have built up a career as a journalist covering Asia since 1987.  They gave no sensible explanation for their decision. An officer simply wrote “no proof, entry denied” on a document, and asked me to sign it. I refused.

I was shocked that they could do that. But I shouldn’t have been. Thousands of foreigners arriving at Narita have been victimized by brutal thugs and racists — some of whom are not ethnically Japanese. According to Amnesty, airlines at Narita hire “security guards” to “escort” their passengers to the “detention facilities” — which are de facto maximum security jails. These guards also deny basic human rights, such as phone calls to lawyers, embassies or UNHCR. These guards harass, beat, or torture airline customers into paying “service fees”. In Jim’s case, they abused him until he finally coughed up 30,000 yen, about 400 US. They demanded the same from me, and also took money from my wallet. Gear was also stolen from my baggage.

Then, after passengers have been deported or denied landing rights, they are forced to acquire an overpriced one-way ticket. Since nobody can stop them from stealing or confiscating your possessions, the guards can use your credit cards or cash to buy tickets against your will. Since nobody is overseeing their extra-legal actions, it’s possible that the guards are taking kickbacks from airline staff selling the outrageously priced tickets.

In my case, employees at the airport said that I would have to pay as much as 400,000 yen ($5000) for a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Vancouver and Calgary. With a one-way ticket “purchased” against my will, they forced me onto a flight to Canada without much winter clothing for minus 40 temperatures in Alberta. They even called my longtime Japanese partner in Tokyo and threatened her, saying that if she didn’t pay for the ticket, her partner would face lengthy jail time.

 

After nearly 25 years of life in Asia, I arrived in Canada with 3-days clothing, far away from my house in Tokyo.

 

(((Who are these guards? Who is employing them? In my delirium during detention, I originally thought I saw “gas” written on their uniforms and van. After a rough draft of this story first appeared, several people wrote to say the guards are working for g4s, a UK-based company founded more than 100 years ago. A spokesman for g4s says this is not true. 

 

Adam Mynott, director of media relations at g4s, has kindly requested a correction of this. After being contacted by a reporter with The Economist, Mr. Mynott told me in an email that g4s “does not have any security business whatsoever at Narita Airport, nor are there any g4s affiliated Japanese companies working as security guards at the airport.”

 

I also have found no proof that g4s is operating at Narita. 

 

This raises key questions: who are the guards escorting detainees at Narita? What company are they working for? Why is “gas” written on the side of their van? Since “gAs” and “g4s” look quite similar, is that company “pirating” the logo of g4s, a respected international company? Or is it simply a coincidence?

 

A security company working behind the scenes in Japan might have good reason for wanting to somehow draw upon the global success of g4s. 

 

According to links sent by readers after this story first appeared, g4s is indeed one of the world’s largest companies, with more than 600,000 employees in 125 countries. They reportedly supply security guards to more than 60 airports including Heathrow, Oslo and Vancouver, US military bases in South Korea, Immigration Removal Centers in the UK and detention centres in Australia, a state prison in Birmingham, England, the 2012 London Olympics, US nuclear power plants, oil tankers facing pirate attacks off Somalia, and Japanese embassies around the world. (Note the photo of an armed woman guarding a nuclear reactor: http://careers.g4s.com/2010/11/g4s-nuclear-security-services-corporation-nssc/

 

It’s not clear where g4s operates in Japan. In South Korea, the US military on December 15 (only a week before I returned from Seoul), accused g4s of violating a contract to guard their bases there, according to Stars and Stripes. Former guards have refused to work for the new company for longer hours and lower wages.  These guards have protested outside U.S. Army bases, including Yongsan Garrison, Camp Red Cloud, Camp Casey, Camp Humphreys, Camp Henry and Camp Carroll. (http://www.stripes.com/news/gis-still-manning-gates-in-s-korea-as-contractor-struggles-to-fill-slots-1.163646)

 

A company press release said they won a $400 million contract to screen passengers and baggage at 20 airports in Canada, beginning November 1, 2011. When I passed through airports in Vancouver and Calgary on December 24, I found the security staff to be exceptionally friendly and professional. 

 

The company’s official website (www.g4s.com.) says they help ensure “the safety and welfare” of millions of people worldwide. “We secure airports and embassies, protect cash and valuables for banks and retailers across the globe, safeguard some of the most exciting events in the global sporting and entertainment calendar, and are a trusted partner to governments worldwide,keeping personnel and some of the world’s most important buildings safe and secure. What we do touches people’s lives in nearly every area you can imagine.”

 

((http://www.g4s.com) (info@jp-g4s.com, +81-42-519-9303) US media contact: Fiona Walters, Chief Communications Officer,+1 561 691 6459)

 

(As of January 17, it remains unclear who hired the guards accused of extortion and abuses at Narita since at least 1996. It’s also unclear if the guards, speaking foreign languages during my detention, were Gurkhas from Nepal or nationals of other countries.) 

 

The immigration bureau’s own documents confirm that airlines are responsible for hiring the security guards at Narita. “Concerning your expenses for being in Japan (meal, lodging, guard etc.) till your departure, the Immigration Bureau cannot take any responsibility,” said an officially stamped notice of the Ministry of Justice Tokyo Immigration Bureau, given to me a few hours before my expulsion. “This is a matter between you and your carrier (airline company).”

Many airlines gained respect for flying passengers for free or reduced prices out of danger zones after the 2004 tsunami and 2011 nuclear disaster. ANA and JAL, which use Narita as a hub for their global operations, are among the most respected airlines in the world, and they are highly-regarded for their service and safety. Yet credit card and airline employees have stated that they would not normally reimburse payments in such cases, since their passengers had technically“authorized” purchase by signing forms. As one victim of this scam has noted, it’s the moral equivalent of an armed bank robber getting off because the victimized bank teller, fearing for her life, “signed” the withdrawal slip.

ENDS

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

UPDATE JANUARY 20, 2012 FROM DEBITO

In related news regarding violence/homicide by private security companies towards their detainees, Private Eye (UK) Issue 1291 24 June – July 7, 2011 reported the following:

=======================
PRIVATE SECURITY
G4S locks up the captive market

Scan of the article at
http://www.claresambrook.com/campaign-page/Images-campaign-page/Private-Eye-(21-June-Issue-1291).jpg

CONGRATULATIONS to G4S, the gigantic “Securing Your World” security company that has made sales of GBP 4.2 billion to the Ministry of Justice [UK] alone. Justice secretary Ken Clarke, in reply to a parliamentary question, listed ten contracts with G4S, including running prisons, escorting prisoners and tagging offenders.

This is in addition to its GBP 42 million in Foreign Office security deals (GBP million in Afghanistan alone) — although these are believed to represent the mere tip of an iceberg, because the FO said details of its numerous contracts around world “are not kept centrally and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost”.

Then there is the company’s Welfare to Work bonanza, which, as chief executive David Taylor-Smith told financial analysts last month, “when clocked in next year will be GBP 130 million”, not to mention to the “very strong pipeline”that he boasted was heading G4S’s way from the Department of Health.

Evidently profiting from the public sector carve-up, G4S is the ideal lucrative refuge for former well-connected government ministers such as John Reid, former home secretary and minister of health, defence and transport. Reid, now a peer, went on the G4S payroll in 2008 when he was a backbench MP and is now a G4S non-executive director.

Amid all this good news, only a party pooper would point out that G4S may face corporate manslaughter charges over the death last year of deportee Jimmy Mubenga, after use of “restraint” at Heathrow; or that the company is awaiting sentence in Australia in the case of an Aboriginal elder who was cooked to death (dying of heatstroke and suffer third-degree burns) as he was transported across the outback in the back of a badly maintained G4S van with no air conditioning, little water, and no way of alerting drivers in the front to his dreadful plight. The company has pleaded guilty to charges of failing to ensure the man’s health and wellbeing.

But then, with a maximum penalty of a mere AU$ 400,000 (GBP 260,000), it won’t eat into the profits too much.

——-

Last week it emerged that G4S received 773 complaints last year from removal centre detainees — an increase of 240 on the previous year.
=======================

ENDS

COMMENT: Sorry to bring in an unrelated American political “talking point”, but if “corporations are people”, it seems that unlike people, corporations really CAN get away with murder. And even if G4S was uninvolved in the Narita Airport events discussed on Debito.org, the rot and unaccountability of the thuggish private security firms managing the post 9-11 bonanza seems to be systemwide. This must be known about and done away with.

Amnesty International 2002 report on human rights abuses, including extortion and physical abuse, at the Narita Airport “Gaijin Tank” detention center

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
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Hi Blog. What follow are some shocking allegations of ill-treatment of NJ at Narita Airport, and this time I’m not referring to the routine racial profiling done by Narita police in the airport after you’ve entered Japan. I’m talking about what happens to NJ in that extralegal zone known as Customs and Immigration, where people are neither in their own country nor under Japanese constitutional protections (since they officially have not entered Japan yet). Below, according to Amnesty International, we have allegations of renditioning to non-MOJ private policing forces, denial of basic human comforts, physical abuse, extortion, etc., all done without proper oversight or accountability. Sadly, this AI report is now ten years old and underreported; I was alerted to this situation by a journalist who underwent this procedure (including the extortion) over the past year. It’s not merely a matter of turning somebody away at the border — it is in my view a matter of prison screws extracting a perverse satisfaction (as will happen, cf. Zimbardo experiment) by lording it over foreigners, because nobody will stop them.

And that’s Narita. I wonder how the situation is at Japan’s other international ports of entry. Sickening.  Arudou Debito

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

DOCUMENT – JAPAN: WELCOME TO JAPAN?

Entire report at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA22/002/2002/en/58b534dc-d840-11dd-9df8-936c90684588/asa220022002en.html

The Landing Prevention Facility (Jouriku Boushi Shisetsuor LPF hereafter) was first drawn to Amnesty International’s attention in June 2000 when two Tunisian male tourists were reportedly beaten by staff belonging to a private security agency X (not real name of the security agency) in Narita Airport. During their five day detention at the LPF, the two men were denied access to medical facilities despite suffering injuries from the beatings, and only allowed to contact the police after three days in detention. They were denied the opportunity to contact the Tunisian embassy in Tokyo during their detention.

The two men , Thameur Hichem (20) and Thameur Mouez (22) had arrived on 20 June 2000 by Turkish Airlines, but were denied entry by Japanese immigration authorities at Second Terminal Building of Narita Airport despite possessing adequate travel documents.

The Immigration authorities handed the two Tunisian men to the custody of security personnel belonging to private security agency X contracted by Turkish Airlines. The security agency asked the two Tunisians to pay US$240 each as security charges. They refused to pay, which resulted in the security personnel forcing them to pay by use of physical force and verbal abuse. Thameur Hichem and Thameur Mouez were taken to the parking lot of Terminal 1 of Narita Airport by three guards who were staff of Security Company X. One of them hit and kicked Thameur Hichem on his left leg and then hit his head several times against the wall. Another staff member forced his shoulders to the floor and took US$300 from his pocket. Thameur Mouez was taken separately and was subjected to beatings until he paid US$300 to staff of Security Company X. Thameur Hichem and Thameur Mouez were detained for five days in a small windowless room until they were deported on 25 June 2000. They were not allowed access to a medical doctor despite their repeated requests. The reason given to them by Security Agency X was that their injuries were not serious enough. They were only allowed to contact their parents by phone after two days into their detention on 22 June 2000. They were also not allowed access to the police. The allegations against staff belonging to Security Company X were not adequately investigated.

Introduction

Foreign nationals entering Japan may be at risk of ill-treatment by immigration authorities during interrogations at Special Examination Rooms and by private security guards in detention facilities located at Japanese ports of entry, including Narita Airport.

During the period after denial of entry into Japan and before they were issued ”orders to leave” or issued deportation orders, foreign nationals have allegedly been detained in detention facilities located within the airport premises known as Landing Prevention Facilities (LPFs) or at an ”Airport Rest House” outside the airport site. Amnesty International has found evidence of ill-treatment of detainees at LPFs. It forms part of a pattern of arbitrary denial of entry to foreign nationals and systematic detention of those denied entry – a process which falls short of international standards. Amnesty International has received reports of detained foreign nationals being forced to pay for their ”room and board” and for being guarded by private security agencies that operate the LPFs. Foreign nationals have allegedly been strip-searched, beaten or denied food by security guards at these facilities if they have been unwilling to pay. The LPFs have detention cells that have no windows and there have been reports of foreign nationals being detained in these cells for several weeks without sunlight(1)and not being allowed to exercise.

Asylum-seekers have also had their requests for asylum rejected with no or inadequate consideration of the serious risk to their lives they face on deportation. These asylum seekers have been denied access to a fair and satisfactory asylum procedure; they are frequently not allowed access to interpreters and lawyers. Furthermore, they are forced to sign documents in languages they do not understand and of the content of which they have not been adequately informed. These documents may include a document signed by the deportee waiving his or her rights to appeal against decisions made by the immigration officials such as denial of entry into Japan. Amnesty International believes that the lack of access to independent inspections and the secrecy that surround LPFs and other centres of detention in Japan make them fertile ground for human rights abuses. Detained foreign nationals in the LPFs or immigration detention centres are not informed adequately about their rights.In particular, they do not always have prompt access to a lawyer or advice in a language they understand. The Japanese government should recognize the rights of people in detention to information, legal counsel, access to the outside world and adequate medical treatment. Those who had sought to contact United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have had their request turned down. In many cases, detainees at LPFs have been refused medical treatment by staff of security companies and by immigration officials. Decisions and actions of immigration officials and staff of security companies reveal a widespread lack of awareness of international human rights standards.

This report highlights Amnesty International’s concerns at the procedure adopted by immigration authorities and the abuses within the LPFs. It documents examples of discrimination that have underlined the arbitrary denial of entry to Japan. The report details cases where foreign nationals, including asylum-seekers, have been denied entry to Japan and have been detained in detention facilities like the LPF and have been threatened with deportation. The report also highlights cases of ill-treatment suffered by foreign nationals in detention at the LPF in recent years. These incidents suggest that, in practice, Japan has failed to respect its obligations under international human rights standards.

Concerns about procedures adopted by immigration authorities and the abuses within Landing Prevention Facilities: falling short of international standards

Amnesty International is concerned

  1. about reported ill-treatment in the course of interrogations and the process of deportation or exclusion of foreign nationals who are denied entry to Japan and are detained at the LPF or at an ‘Airport Rest House’ outside the airport. Ill-treatment is alleged to have taken place during different stages of interrogations conducted by immigration authorities. Such treatment is alleged to have taken place during interrogations shortly after foreign nationals have landed in Narita airport and where the decision to deny entry to the foreign national is made. Additionally, ill-treatment has been alleged during interrogations held by immigration officials during subsequent detention of foreign nationals in the LPFs. These interrogations are allegedly held to force foreign nationals to sign documents waiving their rights to appeal against decisions by immigration authorities.(2) Ill-treatment of those in detention constitutes a violation of Articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)(3) which Japan ratified in June 1979. The failure of the Japanese government to initiate a prompt and impartial investigation into these allegations constitutes a violation of Article 12 of the Convention against Torture(4) which Japan acceded in June 1999. The ICCPR also carries with it a duty on states to ensure that complaints about torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment must be investigated promptly and impartially by competent authorities;(5)
  2. that there have been incidents where the immigration authorities have failed to provide adequate translation facilities while questioning foreign nationals in Special Examination Rooms at Narita Airport to determine their status. This failure to provide adequate interpretation facilities constitutes the non-observance of Principle 14 of the 1988 Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment (Body of Principles)(6);
  3. that some detainees at the LPF have been held incommunicado. They have often been denied access to their families in violation of Principles 16 (1)(7) and 19(8) of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment; they have also reportedly not been allowed to communicate with their consular or diplomatic missions in Japan or to contact representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in contravention of Principle 16 (2) of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment(9) and international standards for refugee determination. Detainees have also not been allowed to communicate with independent legal advisors in violation of Principle 17 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment;(10)
  4. that detainees were only informed verbally by immigration officials at entry ports in Japan including Narita Airport about the refugee status determination process and that information on the procedure in Narita Airport was not available freely. Immigration officials informed an Amnesty International delegation in December 2000 that they only kept pamphlets containing information on the refugee status determination procedure in Japanese at Narita airport. It appears that detainees are not given any written information on the asylum procedure in Japan in a language that they can understand. The failure to provide adequate information about the rights of detainees in a language that they can understand constitutes non-observation of Principles 13(11) and 14 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment;
  5. that many asylum-seekers are denied access to fair and satisfactory asylum procedures by the immigration authorities. Denial of access to a fair and satisfactory asylum procedure, to independent legal counsel and to the UNHCR may lead to refoulement. The principle of non-refoulement is enshrined in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees(11) and the 1984 Convention against Torture,(12) to both of which Japan is a state party.

The law and practice of an arbitrary ‘fast-track’ detention-deportation procedure: providing opportunities for human rights abuses

The two Tunisian nationals mentioned above are among thousands of foreign nationals who are detained in the LPF at Narita Airport every year, prior to being deported on the next available flight of the same air carrier on which they had flown into Japan. Detention at the LPF, or at an ”Airport Rest House”, forms part of the procedure followed by Japanese authorities after foreign nationals are refused entry and before they are deported from Japan (the Jouriku Boushi Gyoumu procedure).

The legal framework for this procedure is provided for in the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (the ICRR Act). This Act provides for a Special Inquiry Officer to interview a foreign national once an Immigration Inspector finds that his or her documents to enter or depart do not conform with requirements of the Ministry of Justice Ordinance (Article 6(2) and 9(4) of the ICRR Act provides for this procedure). If the Special Inquiry Officer finds as a result of the interview that the foreign national does not meet conditions of landing (provided for in Article 7(1)), the officer has to inform the foreign national of this decision, and give reasons for that decision (Article 10(9)).

These interviews do not meet international standards, in particular denial of access to adequate interpretation facilities(13) and have resulted in ill-treatment of foreign nationals. For example, there have been allegations that foreign nationals, some of whom may have been asylum-seekers, have not had access to adequate interpretation facilities during such interviews, which at times have lasted several hours.

 […]

Concerns regarding private security companies

Private security companies have been contracted by air carriers to transport foreign nationals from Special Examination Rooms of the immigration authorities to their detention facilities and back from their detention facilities to the air carrier on the day of their flight. Private security companies also supervise these foreign nationals in their detention facilities, including at the LPF; they guard them round the clock to ensure that the foreign nationals are prevented from leaving the rooms and from entering Japan. Companies such as Security Agency X (not the real name of the company) try to make the foreign nationals pay the cost for their ”accommodation”. It appears that when Security Agency X failed to receive the payments from foreign nationals, they asked the flight operator to reimburse the amounts owed.(17)

Up until the summer of 1999, Security Agency X was contracted by air carriers to transport foreign nationals and also supervise the security of the LPF at Narita Airport. The agency could ask foreign nationals to pay the costs for this accommodation during the period of their stay. When they did not pay, they were allegedly strip-searched.Force was allegedly used by the security company when foreign nationals protested and questioned these requests.

When Security Agency X lost the contract to be in charge of security at the LPF at Narita Airport, it still continued to be contracted by airline carriers to transport foreign nationals who had been denied entry into Japan from the Examination Room to the LPF and from the LPF to the air carrier when the foreign national was being deported. Its reduced security responsibilities had diminished opportunities for Security Agency X to force foreign nationals to pay during their detention at the LPF. Thameur Hichem and Thameur Mouez were beaten not inside the LPF but outside in a building located at the parking lot in Narita Airport when they showed unwillingness to pay up to the demands of the staff members of Security Agency X. When Amnesty International asked immigration officials about actions they had taken against Security Agency X, the officials stated that they had been satisfied with the reply from the security agency and that the company had done no wrong. No action had apparently been taken by the immigration authorities though they had admitted to Amnesty International that the LPF was under the overall supervision of the immigration authorities at Narita Airport. The lack of prompt and impartial investigation by the authorities into such allegations of ill-treatment contravenes Article 12 of the Convention against Torture.

The LPF in Narita Airport: a secret detention facility

Not much was known of the LPF until the case of the two Tunisian nationals became public. The LPF is used for the physical detention within the airport complex of those foreign nationals who are denied entry into Japan usually after they have been issued ”orders to leave”.(18)When an Amnesty International delegation was granted access to the LPF in December 2000, there were two facilities which were located in the administrative wing on the second floor of Terminal 2 of Narita Airport.(19)The LPF in Narita Airport comprises at least two detention facilities, at least one is reserved for men and at least one facility is reserved exclusively for women detainees. According to Immigration officials questioned by the Amnesty International delegation, a daily average of some seven persons were detained in the LPF. Both of the facilities in Narita Airport consisted of four windowless rooms.

In the room to which Amnesty International was allowed access, there were narrow benches (which former detainees have informed Amnesty International doubled up as beds) and large dust-bins. The room, which was in the LPF allocated to women, was not occupied by any detainees at that time. There were five benches in the room, possibly indicating that the room was meant for five detainees. The room was about 10 feet by 8 feet and 7 feet high and was the only room that was not behind a locked steel gate. All other rooms (three in the women’s facility, and four rooms in the men’s facility) were behind a locked steel gate which was guarded throughout the day by two guards on 12 hour shifts. The rooms were always locked, the keys were held by the guards. In cases of emergencies like sickness or fire in the room, detainees had no choice but to bang the door hard to raise alarm and catch the attention of the guards. A vertical glass window fitted into the door which enabled the guards to have a good view of the room. This meant that detainees were effectively denied privacy. The guard room, in turn, was locked. Detainees’ luggage was kept separately in a room next to the guard room.

Despite requests, the Amnesty International delegation was not allowed to meet detainees. Amnesty International has been informed that two delegations of Japanese Diet (National Assembly) members were also denied access to those detained in the LPF at the time of their visits. The refusal to allow visits by qualified persons to places of detention constitutes a violation of Principle 29 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment.(20)

Discrimination on the basis of nationality

There appears to be a link between the denial of entry by immigration authorities, ill-treatment during questioning of entry or asylum applicants, detention at the LPF and the nationality of the person. There have been denials of entry on the basis of superficial generalisations of persons belonging to certain countries revealing a xenophobic bias of immigration officials. A Colombian national, who was denied entry into Japan in October 1996, claimed to have been told by the Immigration official that ”You don’t have to be in Japan. Only one out of five Colombians can enter Japan. Colombians are untrustworthy, selling drugs, involved in prostitution and robbery.” There have been, since 11 September 2001, several cases of asylum seekers being refused entry into Japan apparently because they are from particular countries, such as Afghanistan or the Middle East region. Most of them have been forced to sign documents facilitating their deportation with little regard paid to the non-refoulementprinciple enshrined in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (the Refugee Convention) and the Convention against Torture.

Changes to Alien Registration Act July 2012 — NJ to be registered on Juuminhyou Residency Certificates at last

mytest

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Hi Blog. As the first real post of the new year, I thought we should start with a bit of unexpected good news.  Let’s talk about the changes in Immigration’s registration of NJ residents coming up in July.

It’s been in the news for quite a bit of time now (my thanks to the many people who have notified me), and there is some good news within:  NJ will finally be registered on Residency Certificates (juuminhyou) with their families like any other taxpayer.  Maximum visa durations will also increase from 3 to 5 years, and it looks like the “Gaijin Tax” (Re-Entry Permits for NJ who dare to leave the country and think they can come back on the same Status of Residence without paying a tariff) is being amended (although it’s unclear below whether tariffs are being completely abolished).

But where GOJ giveth, GOJ taketh.  The requirement for jouji keitai (24/7 carrying of Gaijin Cards) is still the same (and noncompliance I assume is still a criminal, arrestable offense), and I have expressed trepidation at the proposed IC-Chipped Cards due to their remote trackability (and how they could potentially encourage even more racial profiling).

Anyway, resolving the Juuminhyou Mondai is a big step, especially given the past insults of awarding residence certificates to sea mammals and fictional characters but not live, contributing NJ residents (not to mention omitting said NJ residents from local government population tallies).  Positive steps to eliminate an eye-blinkingly stupid and xenophobic GOJ policy.  Read on.  Arudou Debito

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The Japan Times Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011
Immigration changes to come as new law takes effect in July
By JUN HONGO Staff writer
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20111221a5.html

The revised immigration law will take effect next July 9 and the government will start accepting applications for new residence registration cards on Jan. 13, the Cabinet decided Tuesday, paving the way for increased government scrutiny through a centralized immigration control of foreign nationals.

The amendment will affect foreign nationals who are residing here under medium- to long-term residence status as stipulated by the Immigration Control Act. While some will be exempt from the change, such as special permanent residents of Korean descent, most foreign residents will be required to make a few major changes, including obtaining new registration cards.

The current alien registration cards, overseen by local municipalities, will be replaced with the cards issued by the central government.

According to the Justice Ministry, foreign residents can apply for the new card at their nearest regional immigration office beginning Jan. 13 but won’t receive it until July. However, valid alien registration certificates will be acceptable until the cardholder’s next application for a visa extension takes place.

At that point, the old card will be replaced with the new residence card, which will have a special embedded IC chip to prevent counterfeiting.

The government claims that centralized management of data on foreign residents will allow easier access to all personal information of the cardholder, such as type of visa, home address and work address, and in return enable officials to more conveniently provide services for legal aliens.

For example, documented foreigners will have their maximum period of stay extended to five years instead of the current three years. Re-entry to Japan will also be allowed without applying for a permit as long as the time away is less than a year, according to the Justice Ministry.

Permanent residents, meanwhile, will have to apply for a new residence card within three years from July 2012. Required materials necessary for an application have not been determined yet.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20111221a5.html
ENDS

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

Changes coming to foreign registration, visa system
Japan Today LIFESTYLE JAN. 05, 2012
Courtesy http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/changes-coming-to-foreign-registration-visa-system

TOKYO — On July 9, a new system of residence management will be implemented that combines the information collected via the Immigration Control Act and the Alien Registration Law respectively. Foreign nationals residing legally in Japan for a medium to long term are subject to this new system.

The government will start accepting applications for new residence registration cards on Jan 13, which will then be issued after July 9. To apply for the new card, you are required to appear in person at the nearest regional immigration bureau.

The Ministry of Justice says the new system ensures further convenience for such persons by extending the maximum period of stay from 3 years to 5 years. In addition, a system of “presumed permit of re-entry,” which essentially exempts the need to file an application for permission for re-entry when re-entering Japan within one year of departure, will be implemented.

Upon introduction of the new system of residence management, the current alien registration system shall become defunct. Medium- to long-term residents will get a new residence card which they will be required to always carry with them. Children under the age of 16 are exempt from the obligation to always carry the residence card.

Foreign nationals residing legally for a medium to long term with a status of residence under the Immigration Control Act, EXCLUDING the persons described below, shall be subject to the new system of residence management:

—Persons granted permission to stay for not more than 3 months
—Persons granted the status of residence of “Temporary Visitor”
—Persons granted the status of residence of “Diplomat” or “Official”
—Persons whom a Ministry of Justice ordinance recognizes as equivalent to the aforementioned foreign nationals
—Special permanent residents (for example, of Korean descent)
—Persons with no status of residence

Permanent residents, meanwhile, will have to apply for a new residence card within three years from July 2012.

What is the residence card?

The residence card will be issued to applicable persons in addition to landing permission, permission for change of status of residence, and permission for extension of the residence period, etc. The card is equipped with an IC chip to prevent forgery and alteration, and the chip records all or part of the information included on the card. Fingerprint information will not be recorded in the chip.

The card will contain a portrait photo of the individual and the following information:

—Legal items given
—Name in full, date of birth, sex, nationality
—Place of residence in Japan
—Status of residence, period of stay, date of expiration
—Type of permission, date of permission
—Number of the residence card, date of issue, date of expiration
—Existence or absence of working permit
—Existence of permission to engage in an activity other than those permitted under the status of residence previously granted

New visa and re-entry system

(1) Extension of the maximum period of stay

The status of residence with a period of stay of 3 years under the present system, will be extended to 5 years. As for the status of residence of “College Student,” the maximum period of stay will be extended to “4 years and 3 months” from the current “2 years and 3 months” starting from July 1, 2009.

(2) Revision of the Re-entry System

A foreign national with a valid passport and a residence card will be basically exempt from applying for a re-entry permit in cases where he/she re-enters Japan within one year from his/her departure. In cases where a foreign resident already possesses a re-entry permit, the maximum term of validity for the re-entry permit shall be extended from 3 years to 5 years.

Conditions of Revocation of Status of Residence

Implementation of the new system of residence management includes establishment of the following provisions concerning the conditions of revocation of status of residence and deportation, and penal provisions:

—The foreign national has received, by deceit or other wrongful means, special permission to stay
—Failing to continue to engage in activities as a spouse while residing in Japan for more than 6 months (except for cases where the foreign national has justifiable reason for not engaging in the activities while residing in Japan
—Failing to register the place of residence within 90 days after newly entering or leaving a former place of residence in Japan (except for cases with justifiable reason for not registering the place of residence), or registering a false place of residence
—Forgery or alteration of a residence card
—Being sentenced to imprisonment or a heavier punishment for submitting a false notification required of medium to long term residents, or violating the rules concerning receipt or mandatory presentation of the residence card

For further information, visit http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/index.html or call the Immigration Information Center at 0570-013904 (weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.)
ENDS

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

Alien Registration Act will be abolished, and Immigration Control Act and Basic Resident Registration Act will be amended as of July 2012! [Courtesy of MM]

http://www.city.inazawa.aichi.jp/ka_annai/shimin/e_nyuukan.pdf 

《Key Changes》

◎ For a household consisting of Japanese nationals and foreign nationals, the conventional system under which the family members can identify themselves by certified copy of the residence record for Japanese nationals (Jumin-hyo) or by certified copy of alien register for foreign nationals (Gaikokujin tourokugenpyo kisaijiko shomeisho), will be abolished and they will be able to uniformly identify themselves by a single residence record (Jumin-hyo).

◎ Like a Japanese national does, a foreign national who moves from one city to another will need to report to the city he/she used to live of the removal and obtain “Certificate of Removal (Tenshutsu shomeisho)” which then needs to be submitted to the city which he/she moves in.

◎ A foreign national will be released from some burdens. → After the changes, a foreign national who has registered with the Immigration Bureau any change to his/her status of residence, an extension of period of stay, etc. will not need to report as such to the city where he/she lives.

◎ The Alien Registration Card (Gaikokujin torokusho) will be replaced by “Residence Card (Zairyu card)” containing less information. → For permanent residents …

A Residence Card (Zairyu card) will be issued by taking procedures at

Immigration Bureau within three years after the law amendment. For others …

A Residence Card (Zairyu card) will be issued at the first extension of period of stay after law amendment or when any change to the status of residence is made at the Immigration Bureau.

Alien registration system will be abolished and aliens will be subject to Basic Resident Registration Act.

Changes to Immigration Control Act will benefit foreign nationals living in Japan.《Foreign nationals entitled to registration to Residence Record (Jumin-hyo)》 Excluding the persons staying in Japan for short periods of time, foreign nationals residing legally in Japan for more than three months with a status of residence. (1) Medium to long term resident (2) Special permanent resident (3) Person granted landing permission for temporary refuge or person granted permission for provisional stay (4) Person who is to stay in Japan through birth or who has renounced Japanese nationality ⇒ Persons who do not fall within any of the aforementioned categories or who do not qualify for the status of residence as of the law amendment (including those who have not reported to the city under Alien Registration Act any change to the duration of stay) will not be registered to Residence Record (Jumin-hyo) and thus certified copies of the residence record may not be issued. If you will need a certified copy of Residence Record (Jumin-hyo), take necessary procedures as soon as possible.

※ For those subject to the new system, a Provisional Resident Record (Kari jumin-hyo) will be sent to you from April 2012 for you to check information contained in the record.

Neither reference date for making Provisional Resident Record (Kari jumin-hyo) nor effective date of the law amendment has yet been decided. Once decided, it will be announced on the City website and other notices.

See the following websites for further details:

Changes to Immigration Control Act! ” (Ministry of Justice) “Changes to the Basic Resident Registration Law – Foreign residents will be subject to the Basic Resident Registration Law -” (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)
ENDS

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

More from the horse’s mouth at

http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_1/en/index.html

Gaijinwife blog on her house check — is having authorities visit Permanent Residency applicant’s home and throughly photograph its interior now SOP?

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog. Continuing on with arbitrary bureaucracy in Japan (particularly pertaining to NJ, see newfound arbitrary hurdles when getting married or getting rejected for Permanent Residency), check this blog out, excerpted below. This degree of background check used to be the domain of people applying for Japanese citizenship (see what it was like for me back between 1998 and 2000 here, not to mention Sendaiben’s nasty experience here) Now it seems that even PR applicants may have their premises policed and photographed by the authorities. Is this happening to others as well?  Not according to the commenters on Gaijinwife’s blog, but let’s ask Debito.org Readers as well.  Arudou Debito

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“Men in Black”
Gaijinwife blog, Posted on October 21, 2011
http://gaijinwife.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/men-in-black/
Courtesy of MD

Well, actually only one was in black, the other just had on a shirt and tie. Two men from the immigration office – waiting in their car across the street when I got home from shopping at about 3pm.

They show me their ID badges and say they are here to do a checkup on my application for permanent residency that I submitted in August. They give me a piece of paper to sign saying that I give them permission to come into the house and have a look round. I have had no warning they would be coming so it is just pure luck I’m not still in my PJs squiffing wine and watching horny housewife porn on an illegal streaming site.

The first thing they do is take a photo of the array of shoes in the genkan – focussing on the kids shoes. They ask me questions about the kids, where Granny K sleeps and then come into the lounge where they take a photo of the fire – the DVDs and the lego on the mantlepiece above it. We haven’t used the fire this season yet but when we do all the toys and shit will go and the big metal guard will come out – they asked about it. I offered to show them but that wasn’t necessary.

Then they wanted to know where the kids clothes were – as if shoes, lego, DVDs, and a pile of unfolded kids laundry on the sofa wasn’t enough. He even took a picture of a pulled out drawer with kids clothes in it.

I then got quizzed on the futon downstairs – was that the master bedroom? No, I said, it is where I am sleeping cause I’ve got a hacking cough and no point keeping hub up as well. Oh, so you and your hub aren’t sleeping in the same room? No, but we do usually. Would you like to see our bedroom – its upstairs.

So up we go where more photos are taken of our bedroom (bed miraculously made) and kids bedrooms. They inquire about the black and white photo of my parents when they were 20, don’t ask about the empty suitcase out in the hall but do ask about the big backpack by the front door. Hiking? No, that’s an evacuation kit. He wrote something down.

Am presuming it was highly safety conscious gaijin, with relatively clean house who obviously dislikes laundry and sleeping with her husband. Does appear to have all three children as stated on application…

Rest at http://gaijinwife.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/men-in-black/

J on how Japan’s Immigration Bureau uses unlegislated bureaucratic guidelines to trump the letter of the law, in this case re obtaining Permanent Residency

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
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Hi Blog. Second in this series of arbitrary bureaucratic rule in Japan:  Debito.org Reader J sends me this post about the tribulations he’s had getting his Permanent Residency, and how Immigration Bureau bureaucrats feel they are within their mandate to ignore the letter of the law. According to J, even when you show them their guidelines are unlawful under the law, they have replied, “That’s just a law.” Which of course calls into question the rule of law in Japan, and bureaucrats’ attitudes towards being constrained by legislation meant to preserve the consent of the governed in a democracy.  Arudou Debito

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November 8, 2011

Hi Debito, how’s it going? Who do you think is a good lawyer that has appealed a PR declination successfully before?

I think I have an undeniable open-and-shut appeal case in which the courts will most likely overturn an immigration officer’s illegal decline of Permanent Residency.

(Perhaps you remember, I had a car accident once 5 years ago in which I committed a crime – I received probation, since thankfully no people were hurt, only cars damaged.)

What makes [my] PR decline obviously “illegal” is that the following Law was ignored:
(1) 素行が善良であること
(2) 独立の生計を営むに足りる資産又は技能を有すること
(3) その者の永住が日本国の利益に合すると認められること
(注)日本人,永住者又は特別永住者の配偶者又は子の場合は,(1)及び(2)に適合することを要しない。
#1 reason for declination is: having committed a crime.
#2 reason for declination is: being financially too poor.
#3 reason for declination is: not being a profit to Japan.
The Law then nicely goes on to state that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens.

So, this means that if an immigration officer wants to legally decline Permanent Residency to a spouse of a Japanese citizen, he is REQUIRED to claim reason #3.

My case is: I’m married to a Japanese citizen (7 years) and yet the immigration officer declined my Permanent Residence using reason #1, “previous conviction”.

So again, who do you think is a good lawyer? I’m willing to pay his standard price, plus, a 500,000 yen bonus upon successfully overturning this illegal refusal of PR.
Please let me know if you have any good ideas of who I should call. Sincerely, J 

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November 8, 2011

Hi Debito. Turns out I don’t need a lawyer after all.

Whoever wrote the original Law saying that reason #1 and reason #2 can NOT be used to decline spouses of Japanese citizens, their goal was clear: to let foreigners married to Japanese citizens become Permanent Residents, regardless of whether they were convicted criminals, or poor, or both.

But then, some bureaucrats within immigration with the opposite goal (limiting PRs) decided to write some new “Guidelines” which say the exact opposite.

These new “Guidelines” (which the Unelected bureaucrats proclaim “trumps” the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers) say that reason #3 includes convictions.

Any rational person looking at the original Law would say that reason #1 refers to crime (素行が善良であること = 法律を遵守) and reason #3 refers to profit:
http://www.moj.go.jp/ONLINE/IMMIGRATION/16-4.html

But now, check out this crafty Heisei 15/16 “update” to the immigration Guidelines (added by unelected immigration bureaucrats) look at the ア、イ、ウ、オ additions:
(1) 素行が善良であること
法律を遵守し日常生活においても住民として社会的に非難されることのない生活を営んでいること
(2) 独立生計を営むに足りる資産又は技能を有すること
日常生活において公共の負担にならず,その有する資産又は技能等から見て将来において安定した生活が見込まれること
(3) その者の永住が日本国の利益に合すると認められること
ア 原則として引き続き10年以上本邦に在留していること。ただし,この期間のうち,就労資格又は居住資格をもって引き続き5年以上在留していることを要する。
イ 罰金刑や懲役刑などを受けていないこと。納税義務等公的義務を履行していること。
ウ 現に有している在留資格について,出入国管理及び難民認定法施行規則別表第2に規定されている最長の在留期間をもって在留していること。
エ 公衆衛生上の観点から有害となるおそれがないこと
http://www.moj.go.jp/nyuukokukanri/kouhou/nyukan_nyukan50.html

Cute. So since the door was opened “too wide” by the original Law, just type up some “Guidelines” that moves the “crime disqualification” from reason #1 into reason #3, et voila!

Now, if I go to court, the court can simply say, “Well, according to this Heisei 15/16 update/addition to the immigration Guidelines (penned by Unelected bureaucrats) you lose. Boom.”

But, your honor, “reason #1” means “didn’t follow the law” (and “reason #1” doesn’t apply to spouses of Japanese citizens) so how can “didn’t follow the law” be added to “reason #3”?

Guidelines written by Unelected bureaucrats are REVERSING and TRUMPING the Laws written by Elected Lawmakers, plus let’s remember that these Guidelines are usually secret.

For example: the LAW says that Passports only have to be shown to immigration officers, but new GUIDELINES say that every Gaikokujin (for example: your single foreigner cousin, living in your house, with a valid visa, NOT RECEIVING KODOMO TEATE [child allowance]) must come allow the Kodomo Teate Section to copy his Passport, or else the couple with kids are penalized.

Perhaps your single foreigner cousin, living in your house, with a valid visa, NOT RECEIVING KODOMO TEATE, refuses to let some “Kodomo Teate city worker” to copy his Passport?

According to the new Kodomo Teate Guidelines, if ANY Gaikokujin living in the house refuses to hand over his Passport, the Kodomo Teate will be taken away from the couple with kids.

So now the couple with children must force any Gaikokujin roommates they are living with to submit to this unlawful new guideline, or else the couple with children will be penalized.

The couple with children do NOT have to ask their Japanese roommates to submit anything, this unlawful new guideline doesn’t dare ask JAPANESE citizens to show their passport.

The reasoning for this guideline is “foreigners spend Kodomo Teate money vacationing in Thailand, but Japanese citizens would never do that, so we don’t check Japanese passports.”

Try asking the Kodomo Teate section for a copy of this new Guideline, they won’t give a copy of it, they won’t even show it to you, because, “Our Guidelines are secret.” Seriously. (!)

Laws made by the Kokkaigin say that we DON’T have to show our Passport except to immigration officers and when getting our ARC, but: new Guidelines say Kodomo Teate as well.

If you are a Japanese person receiving Kodomo Teate, with a non-Japanese living in your house, the new Guidelines say ALL Gaikokujin MUST come show their Passport – or else.

Do the Elected Lawmakers know that their will has been reversed and trumped? Do the Elected Lawmakers know that these new guidelines are in direct conflict with national Laws?

My conversation recently with an immigration official summed it up perfectly, when I read him the Law stating that reason #1 can’t be used against me, he said, “That’s just a law!”

I couldn’t believe it, this officer actually said, in front of his co-workers, “それはただの法律だけ!” His tone was perfectly clear, “WE make the decisions around here, not laws.”

So, nevermind my request for a lawyer, I can see that since the bureaucrats within immigration have craftily moved crime from reason #1 down to reason #3, I can’t get PR, oh well.

Currently in Japan (in my opinion the best country relative to others) a sad state admittedly exists where Guidelines trump Laws: Unelected bureaucrats trump elected lawmakers.

Thanks anyway for the good work you do. Sincerely, J 🙂

PS – I wonder how the majority of Japanese citizens would feel about a Law that says,
“From now, only Elected Lawmakers (and publicly-voted initiatives) can create Laws.
And any Guidelines written by unelected bureaucrats CANNOT conflict with those Laws.
Plus all Guidelines written by unelected bureaucrats must be Public: no Secret Guidelines.”

ENDS

Suraj Case of police brutality and death during Immigration deportation in Japan Times Nov 1, 2011

mytest

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Hi Blog. Sorry to take a day or two to get to this. Here we have more reported (thanks to assiduous folks at the Community Page at the Japan Times) on the Suraj Case, a mysteriously underinvestigated case we’ve mentioned here before of police brutality and death of an African during deportation. What gets me is that even some of the veto gates at the Japan Times, according to the editor of this article on his facebook entry, took issue with the use of the word “brutal” in the headline; given what finally came to light regarding the condition of Mr. Suraj’s corpse below, “brutal” is obviously appropriate. And it would not have come to light at all had not Mr. Suraj’s widow and these reporters not pursued this case with such tenacity. Keep it up, Japan Times. Who else in a milquetoast Japanese media that is generally unsympathetic to NJ issues would give a toss? Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011

PHOTO CAPTION: Immigration policy on trial: Abubakar Awudu Suraj died after being restrained by immigration officers with hand and ankle cuffs, a rope, four plastic restraints and a towel gag before a flight to Cairo from Narita airport. Below: An illustrated note that Suraj passed to his wife during her visit to an immigration center during one of his periods in detention. COURTESY OF ABUBAKAR AWUDU SURAJ’S WIDOW

THE ZEIT GIST
Justice stalled in brutal death of deportee
Autopsy suggests immigration officers used excessive force in restraining Ghanaian
By SUMIE KAWAKAMI and DAVID MCNEILL
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111101zg.html, thanks to lots of people

Abubakar Awudu Suraj had been in Japan for over two decades when immigration authorities detained him in May 2009. The Ghanaian was told in Yokohama of his deportation to Ghana at 9:15 a.m. on March 22 last year. Six hours later he was dead, allegedly after being excessively restrained by guards.

Jimmy Mubenga also died last year while being held down by three private security guards before takeoff on a British Airways flight from London to Angola. The father of five had lost his appeal to stay in the U.K. and was being deported. Mubenga put up a struggle and died after the guards sat on him for 10 minutes, say witnesses.

But the details of the deportations of two men from rich countries back to their native Africa, and their aftermath, are strikingly different. Mubenga’s death is already the subject of a vigorous police inquiry, front-page stories and an investigation by The Guardian newspaper. The case has been discussed in Parliament, where security minister Baroness Neville-Jones called it “extraordinarily regrettable.”

Suraj has received no such honors. The 45-year-old’s case has largely been ignored in the Japanese media and no politician has answered for his death. An investigation by Chiba prosecutors appears to have stalled. There has been no explanation or apology from the authorities.

His Japanese wife, who had shared a life with him for 22 years, was not even aware he was being deported. She was given no explanation when she identified his body later that day. His body was not returned to her for nearly three months. Supporters believe he put up a struggle because he wanted to tell his wife he was being sent home.

An autopsy report seen in a court document notes abrasions to his face, internal bleeding of muscles on the neck, back, abdomen and upper arm, along with leakage of blood around the eyes, blood congestion in some organs, and dark red blood in the heart. Yet the report bizarrely concluded that the cause of death is “unknown.”

Any movement in the Suraj case is largely down to his wife, who wants to remain anonymous. She won a lawsuit against the Justice Ministry, which oversees immigration issues, demanding it disclose documents related to his death. The documents were finally released in May, more than a year after he died…

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20111101zg.html

////////////////////////////////////
UPDATE: — Economist (London) reports on Suraj Case, and NPA not allowing journalists to investigate, courtesy CR. Debito
==============================

Justice in Japan
An ugly decision
The Economist Nov 4th 2011, 8:05 by K.N.C.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/11/justice-japan?fsrc=scn%2Ffb%2Fwl%2Fblanuglydecision

BOUND and gagged, a man dies in the custody of immigration officers while being forcibly deported. The police investigate slowly. Prosecutors mull the case. The wheels of justice barely turn.

Now, it looks like the case will be dropped completely—and a man’s death go unpunished. Prosecutors in Chiba prefecture, where Tokyo’s Narita airport is located, have decided not to indict the ten officers who carried Abubakar Awudu Suraj’s unconscious body onto an Air Egypt flight in March 2010 before he was declared dead, according to a new report in the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Two official autopsies at the time could not determine the cause of death, though Mr Suraj’s widow saw injuries to his face when she identified the body. A new autopsy however purports to reveal that he had suffered heart disease and says the cause of his death was illness.

This is hard to swallow at face value. Three days after the incident an immigration official told Mr Suraj’s widow “It is a sorry thing that we have done.” Officialdom dragged its heels to such a degree that she had to file criminal charges and later civil charges. The kind of gag that was used to restrain him is prohibited, though its use is said to be commonplace.

Mr Suraj was a Ghanaian national who arrived in Japan in 1988, learned the language, worked odd jobs and married a Japanese woman. He was arrested for overstaying his visa and the courts didn’t accept his requests to remain. The March 2010 deportation was the immigration bureau’s second attempt—after Mr Suraj made such a rumpus the first time round that it had to be stopped. So perhaps officers used a bit of extra force to make sure it didn’t fail.

It is an ugly situation. The authorities surely didn’t mean for Mr Suraj to die in custody. But since he did, the people responsible should be held legally accountable. The Chiba prosecutors, by suggesting they may drop the case, look as complicit as the ten officers themselves.

Addendum, 5 November 2011: When The Economist requested an interview with the Chiba prosecutor’s office, the answer was a firm no. An employee said that interviews are only allowed for members of the prosecutors’ “Kisha Club,” the quasi-formal groups that control the flow of news to major Japanese news organisations (and which tend to turn journalists into stenographers for officialdom, by neutering independent reporting). The employee said that the only time The Economist can prosecutors questions is during an annual “press registration”—whose application deadline is long past. Must every Japanese institution be designed to keep out outsiders?
ENDS

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

RE: Civil suit mentioned above:

Japan’s immigration policy
Gone but not forgotten
The Economist Aug 5th 2011, 9:45 by K.N.C. | TOKYO
http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2011/08/japans-immigration-policy

WRISTS cuffed, ankles bound and with a rolled towel shoved in his mouth, Abubakar Awudu Suraj died in the custody of nine Japanese immigration officers on March 22nd 2010 while being deported to Ghana for overstaying his visa. Since then his widow and friends have sought information—and justice—from the authorities, but have been ignored. On August 5th 2011 they filed a civil suit against the government.

The Chiba prefectural prosecutors have received the results of an investigation but have yet to act. None of the officers have been sanctioned at all, explains Koichi Kodama, a lawyer working on Mr Suraj’s case. He argues that the authorities are trying to cover up misdeeds. For example, restraining a person by using ankles cuffs and a towel is not permitted, he says. And in a videotape of the botched deportation, the supervisor tells the cameraman to stop filming as things get hot, says Mr Kodama.

The civil suit seeks compensation of ¥136m (around $1.5m) from the government for wrongful death. But the real motivation is to hold the authorities to account, explains Mr Suraj’s widow. “I want to reveal the truth without concealing anything,” she says. “They were carrying a human being. I don’t understand why they had to treat him like that. I feel very powerless,” she says.

The Japanese mainstream media have largely ignored the case. (We reported it May 2010 and followed up in December 2010.) The head of the immigration bureau left out unflattering facts about his officers’ conduct when he was called to the Diet (parliament) to explain what happened. A criminal case was filed as well, naming the officers involved, but it has barely budged on the court’s docket. The ministry of justice looks hampered by rather obvious conflicts of interest. The ministry’s agents hold the evidence of wrongdoing that their colleagues are alleged to have committed. The ministry stands responsible for penalising officials within its own ranks.

One small change is that since Mr Suraj’s death, there apparently have not been any other forced deportations. But that only sharpens the question. As long as Mr Suraj’s case is ignored by officialdom, it is Japan’s institutions of justice that fall under suspicion. Every day that the officers who were present when Mr Suraj died don their uniforms and walk into their offices is another day in which the Japanese state looks complicit in a cover-up.
ENDS

2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ

mytest

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Hi Blog. It’s that time of the year again, when the GOJ has its monthlong campaign to enlist the general public in spotting illegal aliens. Just to make sure that anyone can feel empowered to do Immigration’s job to spot check a NJ’s Gaijin Card (when, according to the Gaitouhou, only officials given policing powers by the MOJ are empowered to demand this form of ID), here we have a poster in a public place, issued by Tokyo Metro, with all sorts of cutesy NJ happily complying with the rigmarole. After all, the small print notes that that these NJ are causing “all kinds of problems” (well, at least they’re being less demonized this time; making them well dressed and cute was a nice touch). And also after all, the slogan is “ru-ru o mamotte kokusaika” (internationalization done by the rules); which is fine, except it would be nice if the police followed their own rules regarding enforcement of Gaijin Card checks. Poster follows, courtesy of MMT and here, received June 23, 2011.  Arudou Debito

Rpl on Police Gaijin Card Check in Chitose Airport yesterday — with cops refusing to identify themselves and even getting physical

mytest

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New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. What follows is a report I received last night that left me feeling quite angry — at the NPA’s wanton disregard for their own rules and the laws that govern them. The common solutions suggested on Debito.org — that of carrying around and showing the police copies of the laws they must obey, and of demanding legally-entitled ID to keep the police officers accountable — seem to have been ineffectual yesterday at my local airport, Chitose New International (this after years ago having the same encounter myself there and deciding to make an issue of it with outside GOJ human rights organizations, again to no avail). I have no doubt in my mind that the NPA trains its police to racially profile, moreover to assume that NJ have no civil rights during questioning, as evidenced here. It’s a despicable and dangerous abuse of power, and unchecked it will only get worse. Read on. Arudou Debito

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

June 8, 2011

Hi Debito, I want to share my story written below with you and your readers.

I would like to share the story that happened to me today (June 8th) at New Chitose Airport.

It was 11h55am, I was sitting in the waiting area of the domestic arrival floor, JAL-B-2, waiting for my mother to arrive about 5 minutes later.

A supposed-policeman came to me, flashed a card for less than a second, and asked me to show him my passport. I initially said that if it was voluntary, I would like to be on my way instead. After asking him several times “itte mo ii desuka?” he finally said that I was not free to go or to be on my own and that he requires seeing my ID.

I asked why I was targeted for a control, as I was not doing anything, nor carrying any luggage or any object. He replied that he was checking on me because I was the only foreigner around. He didn’t care about my remark that he had no way to know who is foreigner or not just by looking at people’s face.

The shocking part of the story starts when I required seeing his police ID with his registration number. Even though I asked many times he always refused, pretending that only I was required to show an ID. After I refused to go to the Koban, he asked another policeman, in uniform this time, to come.

After at least ten minutes of the same dialogs again and again, I finally agreed to lead them to my car, about 200 meters away, where I kept my ARC [Gaijin Card].

I took my ARC in my hands flashing it to the policemen, but that was not enough, as they wanted to copy every information written on my ARC.

I then said that I would comply as soon as I would be shown their police ID, with their number written, so I could I least formulate a complaint afterwhile about their behaviour.

They continued to refuse to show me anything, and started to pressure me more and more to let them copy information from my ARC.

As I was carrying my mobile at all time, the non-uniform policeman then accused me of taking pictures of them and requested me to put my mobile in my pocket. I asked many times whether it is illegal to have my mobile phone in my hands, and they replied yes.

After they finished copying my ARC’s info, they finally let me go to meet my mother who had arrived. However, it was not finished, as the un-uniformed policeman followed me, and then requested me (in front of my mother and other random people inside the waiting area) to show every picture from my mobile’s data, as he was scared that I could have taken a picture of him. This lasted about 10 minutes, as he was checking every picture in detail, and even checked each pictures two times.

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

I know some of you will say that I should just have obeyed and followed all their orders.

However, don’t you think it is very strange that the policeman was so scared of being identified, be it by a picture or by his police card?

I mean, if they were not doing anything wrong they would not care about it.

But now this leaves me with no info on the policemen, and even no proof that the control even happened?

Of course I would like to file a formal complaint about the un-uniformed policeman (he was the leader, and also touched me physically many times to prevent me from using my mobile phone) ; but how can I do it without his ID number ??

Anybody here could advice how I could ID him from now on and how should I proceed for complaining about this situation ?

Thank you all in advance for your input. Best regards, Rpl

ENDS

TMC reports on TV Asahi “Super Morning” rupo re Shibuya Center Gai citizen patrols harassing buskers, NJ

mytest

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Hi Blog. I haven’t seen this program myself, but if the below is true, this is some pretty serious stuff: Officially-sanctioned and media-encouraged vigilanteism. Anyone else see the program in question or know about these citizen patrols and their haranguing ways? Arudou Debito

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

From: TMC
Subject: Discrimination in Shibuya’s Center Gai
Date: January 9, 2011

Dear Debito,

This is my first time contacting you but I have been reading your website for a long time. This may have already been brought to your attention but I thought I’d let you know anyway.

I was watching television on Friday morning (January 7th) and caught a segment featured on TV Asahi’s Super Morning about a citizen patrol operating in Shibuya’s Center Gai district that acts in an aggressive and belligerent manner. First, this group is shown breaking up a live music performance by young Japanese. Unlike what you would expect from such patrols, their manner of enforcing ward bylaws was extremely rude and invited escalation of the situation. Instead of simply telling the musicians to discontinue and wait for their response, the oyaji in charge of this band of bullies screamed at the kids like a yakusa to stop playing and continued haranguing them as they were dispersing. In contrast, the young musicians were not shown being argumentative at all.

The other disturbing scene occurred when this gang spotted an African male leaning on a guard rail. From a fair distance away, the patrol (composed of about six Japanese males dressed in their citizens patrol jackets) immediately went over, surrounded the guy and demanded that he pick up some cans that were on the ground next to him. Despite the fact that the African was doing nothing but leaning against a guard rail, they started barking at him (given their close distance to the African, their posture, numbers and tone, it could be perceived as very threatening). The African quite rightly took umbrage at the unprovoked intrusion and got into an argument that escalated into some pushing and shoving, with the African kicking some objects in the street. Eventually the police were called in to settle the dispute. Had it been some oyaji doing the same thing, I highly doubt the patrol would have done anything. In addition, I have so far never seen the police get that aggressive right off the bat in public.

From what I could tell the group was composed mainly of older men with a few younger ones included (two of which had lived in the US for a long time and were fairly fluent in English (as shown when they gave directions to some tourists) so it is ironic that they are spending their time hassling foreigners). Following the story, the panel (including Mr. Baseball’s son, Kazushige Nagashima) discussed how good it was that this group was cleaning up the area (complete with upbeat parade music playing in the background) and that more “ganko oyajis” like these were needed to make Tokyo neighborhoods safe for the elderly. There were no dissenting opinions of course. This use of aggressive vigilante groups that take liberties the cops generally don’t or can’t is disturbing. I think citizen patrols are great but strutting around like brownshirts targeting certain groups and causing trouble is definitely outside of their mandate. Sincerely, TMC

ENDS

Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010” (Director’s Cut)

mytest

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THE TOP TENS FOR 2010 AND THE DECADE
ZEIT GIST 54 / JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 35 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES

justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
DRAFT NINE, VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO EDITOR (Director’s Cut, including text cut out of published article)
WORD COUNT FOR DECADE COLUMN #5-#2: 988 WORDS
WORD COUNT FOR 2010 COLUMN #5-#2: 820 WORDS

Download Top Ten for 2010 at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110104ad.html
Download Top Ten for 2000-2010 at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2011/01/04/general/arudous-alien-almanac-2000-2010/
Download entire newsprint page as PDF with excellent Chris Mackenzie illustrations (recommended) at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/images/community/0104p13.PDF

It’s that time again, when the JUST BE CAUSE column ranks the notable events of last year that affected Non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This time it’s a double feature, also ranking the top events of the past decade.

A TOP TEN FOR THE DECADE 2000-2010

5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)

This lawsuit followed the landmark Ana Bortz case of 1999, where a Brazilian plaintiff sued and won against a jewelry store in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, that denied her entry for looking foreign. Since Japan has no national law against racial discrimination, the Bortz case found that United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination (CERD), which Japan signed in 1995, has the force of law instead. The Otaru case (Just Be Cause, Jun. 3, 2008) (in which, full disclosure, your correspondent was one plaintiff) attempted to apply penalties not only to an exclusionary bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, but also to the Otaru city government for negligence. Results: Sapporo’s district and high courts both ruled the bathhouse must pay damages to multiple excluded patrons. The city government, however, was exonerated.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Although our government has repeatedly said to the U.N. that “racial discrimination” does not exist in Japan (“discrimination against foreigners” exists, but bureaucrats insist this is not covered by the CERD (JBC, Jun. 2, 2009)), the Otaru case proved it does, establishing a cornerstone for any counterargument. However, the Supreme Court in 2005 ruled the Otaru case was “not a constitutional issue,” thereby exposing the judiciary’s unwillingness to penalize discrimination expressly forbidden by Japan’s Constitution. Regardless, the case built on the Bortz precedent, setting standards for NJ seeking court redress for discrimination (providing you don’t try to sue the government). It also helped stem a tide of “Japanese Only” signs spreading nationwide, put up by people who felt justified by events like:

4) ISHIHARA’S SANGOKUJIN RANT (April 9, 2000)

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara set the tone this decade with a calamitous diatribe to the Nerima Ground Self Defense Forces (ZG, Dec. 18, 2007), claiming that NJ (including “sangokujin,” a derogatory term for former citizens of the Japanese Empire) were in Japan “repeatedly committing heinous crimes.” Ishihara called on the SDF to round foreigners up during natural disasters in case they rioted (something, incidentally, that has never happened).

WHY THIS MATTERS: A leader of a world city pinned a putative crime wave on NJ (even though most criminal activity in Japan, both numerically and proportionately, has been homegrown (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007)) and even offered discretionary policing power to the military, yet he has kept his office to this day. This speech made it undisputedly clear that Ishihara’s governorship would be a bully pulpit, and Tokyo would be his turf to campaign against crime — meaning against foreigners. This event emboldened other Japanese politicians to vilify NJ for votes, and influenced government policy at the highest levels with the mantra “heinous crimes by bad foreigners.” Case in point:

3) THE SECOND KOIZUMI CABINET (2003-2005)

Once re-elected to his second term, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi got right down to business targeting NJ. No fewer than three Cabinet members in their opening policy statements mentioned foreign crime, one stressing that his goal was “making Japan the world’s safest country again” — meaning, again, safe from foreigners (ZG, Oct. 7, 2003).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Despite being one of Japan’s most acclaimed prime ministers, Koizumi’s record toward NJ residents was dismal. Policies promulgated “for the recovery of public safety” explicitly increased the peace for kokumin (Japanese nationals) at the expense of NJ residents. In 2005, the “Action Plan for Pre-Empting Terrorism” (ZG, May 24, 2005) portrayed tero as an international phenomenon (ignoring homegrown examples), officially upgrading NJ from mere criminals to terrorists. Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of this bunker mentality were the police, who found their powers enhanced thusly:

2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)

After May 1999, when their “Policy Committee Against Internationalization” (sic) was launched, the National Police Agency found ample funding for policies targeting NJ expressly as criminals, terrorists and “carriers of infectious diseases.” From NPA posters depicting NJ as illegal laborers, members of international criminal organizations and violent, heinous crooks, campaigns soon escalated to ID checks for cycling while foreign (ZG, Jun. 20, 2002), public “snitch sites” (where even today anyone can anonymously rat on any NJ for alleged visa violations (ZG, Mar. 30, 2004)), increased racial profiling on the street and on public transportation, security cameras in “hotbeds of foreign crime” and unscientific “foreigner indexes” applied to forensic crime scene evidence (ZG, Jan. 13, 2004).

Not only were crackdowns on visa overstayers (i.e., on crimes Japanese cannot by definition commit) officially linked to rises in overall crime, but also mandates reserved for the Immigration Bureau were privatized: Hotels were told by police to ignore the actual letter of the law (which required only tourists be checked) and review every NJ’s ID at check-in (ZG, Mar. 8, 2005). Employers were required to check their NJ employees’ visa status and declare their wages to government agencies (ZG, Nov. 13, 2007). SDF members with foreign spouses were “removed from sensitive posts” (ZG, Aug. 28, 2007). Muslims and their friends automatically became al-Qaida suspects, spied on and infiltrated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (ZG, Nov. 9).

There were also orgiastic spending frenzies in the name of international security, e.g., World Cup 2002 and the 2008 Toyako G-8 Summit (JBC, Jul. 1, 2008). Meanwhile, NJ fingerprinting, abolished by the government in 1999 as a “violation of human rights,” was reinstated with a vengeance at the border in 2007. Ultimately, however, the NPA found itself falsifying its data to keep its budgets justified — claiming increases even when NJ crime and overstaying went down (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007). Hence, power based upon fear of the foreigner had become an addiction for officialdom, and few Japanese were making a fuss because they thought it didn’t affect them. They were wrong.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The NPA already has strong powers of search, seizure, interrogation and incarceration granted them by established practice. However, denying human rights to a segment of the population has a habit of then affecting everyone else (ZG, Jul. 8, 2008). Japanese too are now being stopped for bicycle ID checks and bag searches under the same justifications proffered to NJ. Police security cameras — once limited to Tokyo “foreigner zones” suchas Kabukicho, Ikebukuro and Roppongi — are proliferating nationwide. Policing powers are growing stronger because human rights protections have been undermined by precedents set by anti-foreigner policies. Next up: Laws preventing NJ from owning certain kinds of properties for “security reasons,” further tracking of international money transfers, and IC-chipped “gaijin cards” readable from a distance (ZG, May 19, 2009).

1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009

For the first time in 48 years, the number of foreigners living in Japan went down. This could be a temporary blip due to the Nikkei repatriation bribe of 2009-2010 (ZG, Apr. 7, 2009), when the government offered goodbye money only to foreigners with Japanese blood. Since 1990, more than a million Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry have come here on special visas to help keep Japan’s industries humming cheaply. Now tens of thousands are pocketing the bribe and going back, giving up their pensions and becoming somebody else’s unemployment statistic.

WHY THIS MATTERS: NJ numbers will eventually rise again, but the fact that they are going down for the first time in generations is disastrous. For this doesn’t just affect NJ – it affects everyone in Japan. A decade ago, both the U.N. and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi stated that Japan needs 600,000 NJ a year net influx just to maintain its taxpayer base and current standard of living. Yet a decade later, things are going in exactly the opposite way.

It should be no surprise: Japan has become markedly unfriendly these past ten years. Rampant and unbalanced NJ-bashing have shifted Japanese society’s image of foreigner from “misunderstood guest and outsider” to “social bane and criminal.” Why would anyone want to move here and make a life under these conditions?

Despite this, everyone knows that public debt is rising while the Japanese population is aging and dropping. Japan’s very economic vitality depends on demographics. Yet the only thing that can save Japan – a clear and fair policy towards immigration – is taboo for discussion (JBC, Nov. 3, 2009). Even after two decades of economic doldrums, it is still unclear whether Japan has either the sense or the mettle to pull itself up from its nosedive.

The facts of life: NJ will ultimately come to Japan, even if it means that all they find is an elderly society hanging on by its fingernails, or just an empty island. Let’s hope Japan next decade comes to its senses, figuring out not only how to make life here more attractive for NJ, but also how to make foreigners into Japanese.

ENDS

Bubbling under for the decade: U.N. Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s 2005 and 2006 visits to Japan, where he called discrimination in Japan “deep and profound” (ZG, Jun. 27, 2006); Japan’s unsuccessful 2006 bid for a U.N. Security Council seat—the only leverage the U.N. has over Japan to follow international treaty; the demise of the racist “Gaijin Hanzai” magazine and its publisher thanks to NJ grassroots protests (ZG, Mar. 20, 2007); the “Hamamatsu Sengen” and other statements by local governments calling for nicer policies towards NJ (ZG, Jun. 3, 2008); the domination of NJ wrestlers in sumo; the withering of fundamental employers of NJ, including Japan’s export factories and the eikaiwa industry (ZG, Dec. 11, 2007).

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A TOP TEN FOR 2010

5) RENHO BECOMES FIRST MULTIETHNIC CABINET MEMBER (June 8 )

Japanese politicians with international roots are few but not unprecedented. But Taiwanese-Japanese Diet member Renho’s ascension to the Cabinet as minister for administrative reforms has been historic. Requiring the bureaucrats to justify their budgets (famously asking last January, “Why must we aim to develop the world’s number one supercomputer? What’s wrong with being number two?”), she has been Japan’s most vocal policy reformer.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Few reformers are brave enough to withstand the national sport of politician-bashing, especially when exceptionally cruel criticism began targeting Renho’s ethnic background. Far-rightist Diet member Takeo Hiranuma questioned her very loyalty by saying, “She’s not originally Japanese.” (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2) Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara expanded the focus by claiming people in the ruling coalition had foreign backgrounds, therefore were selling Japan out as a “duty to their ancestors” (JBC, May 4). Fortunately, it did not matter. In last July’s elections, Renho garnered a record 1.7 million votes in her constituency, and retained her Cabinet post regardless of her beliefs, or roots.

4) P.M. KAN APOLOGIZES TO KOREA FOR 1910 ANNEXATION (August 10)

After all the bad blood between these strikingly similar societies, Japan’s motion to be nice to South Korea was remarkably easy. No exploitable technicalities about the apology being unofficial, or merely the statements of an individual leader (as was seen in Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s apologies for war misdeeds, or Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s “statement” about “comfort women” – itself a euphemism for war crimes) — just a prime minister using the opportunity of a centennial to formally apologize for Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, backed up by a good-faith return of war spoils.

WHY THIS MATTERS: At a time when crime, terrorism and other social ills in Japan are hastily pinned on the outside world, these honest and earnest reckonings with history are essential for Japan to move on from a fascist past and strengthen ties with the neighbors. Every country has events in its history to be sorry for. Continuous downplaying — if not outright denial by nationalistic elites — of Japan’s conduct within its former empire will not foster improved relations and economic integration. This applies especially as Asia gets richer and needs Japan less, as witnessed through:

3) TOURIST VISAS EASED FOR CHINA (July 1)

Despite a year of bashing Chinese, the government brought in planeloads of them to revitalize our retail economy. Aiming for 10 million visitors this year, Japan lowered visa thresholds for individual Chinese to the point where they came in record numbers, spending, according to the People’s Daily, 160,000 yen per person in August.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Wealthy Chinese gadding about while Japan faced decreasing salaries caused some bellyaching. Our media (displaying amnesia about Bubble Japan’s behavior) kvetched that Chinese were patronizing Chinese businesses in Japan and keeping the money in-house (Yomiuri, May 25), Chinese weren’t spending enough on tourist destinations (Asahi, Jun. 16), Chinese were buying out Japanese companies and creating “Chapan” (Nikkei Business, Jun. 21), or that Chinese were snapping up land and threatening Japan’s security (The Japan Times, Dec. 18). The tone changed this autumn, however, when regional tensions flared, so along with the jingoism we had Japanese politicians and boosters flying to China to smooth things over and keep the consumers coming.

Let’s face it: Japan was once bigger than all the other Asian economies combined. But that was then — 2010 was also the year China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. Japan can no longer ignore Asian investment. No nationalistic whining is going to change that. Next up: longer-duration visas for India.

2) NJ PR SUFFRAGE BILL GOES DOWN IN FLAMES (February 27)

The ruling coalition sponsored a bill last year granting suffrage in local elections to NJ with permanent residency (ZG, Feb. 23) — an uncharacteristically xenophilic move for Japan. True to form, however, nationalists came out of the rice paddies to deafen the public with scare tactics (e.g., Japan would be invaded by Chinese, who would migrate to sparsely-populated Japanese islands and vote to secede, etc.). They then linked NJ suffrage with other “fin-de-Japon” pet peeves, such as foreign crime, North Korean abductions of Japanese, dual nationality, separate surnames after marriage, and even sex education.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The campaign resonated. Months after PR suffrage was moribund, xenophobes were still getting city and prefectural governments to pass resolutions in opposition. Far-rightists used it as a political football in election campaigns to attract votes and portray the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as inept.

They had a point: How could the DPJ sponsor such a controversial bill and not rally behind it as criticisms arose? Where were the potential supporters and spokespeople for the bill, such as naturalized Diet member Marutei Tsurunen? Why were the xenophobes basically the only voice heard during the debate, setting the agenda and talking points? This policy blunder will be a huge setback for future efforts to promote human rights for and integration of NJ residents.

Bubbling under for the year: Oita High Court rules that NJ have no automatic right to welfare benefits; international pressure builds on Japan to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; Tokyo Metropolitan Police spy on Muslims and fumble their secret files to publishers; America’s geopolitical bullying of Japan over Okinawa’s Futenma military base undermines the Hatoyama administration (JBC, Jun. 1); Ibaraki Detention Center hunger strikers, and the Suraj Case of a person dying during deportation, raise questions about Immigration Bureau procedure and accountability.
ENDS